The Rundown: Catching up with CCBL Alums

A quick look around the web at some CCBL alums:

  • Jacob May, a 2012 Cotuit Kettleer now playing for the Kannapolis Indimidators (White Sox Class A affiliate), and 2011/2012 Harwich Mariner Austin Wilson, coming up through the Seattle system (currently on the Everett AquaSox, a Class A Short Season affiliate), were both named players of the week last week. May had a 13-game hitting streak and bat .383/.429/.638 in August, and nearly hit for the cycle last Thursday–falling a triple shy. Wilson hit three of his five career home runs last week, and plated at least one run in all six games.
  • You have to be a subscriber to Boston Globe for this next one for the whole story, but former Kettleer (and Vandy Boy) Michael Yastrzemski (Aberdeen IronBirds) celebrated a homecoming of sorts last week against the Lowell Spinners.
  • Former Y-D Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale (2009) has been making his presence known pitching for the White Sox this season. He racked up 12 Ks in a win against Houston on August 28th. He probably deserves a little more recognition than he’s getting, but with poor run support from the AL Central last-place team, he’s not exactly in Cy Young conversation circles.
  • Dustin Ackley, who played for the Harwich Mariners a few years back, is hitting well for the Seattle Mariners. His performance last Friday illustrated why he was drafted by Seattle in 2009, despite some struggles at the plate.

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A History on the Championship Series

Tonight is Game 2 of the CCBL Championship Series between the Orleans Firebirds and Cotuit Kettleers, and in looking through the lore of league history, I found some interesting tidbits.

First off, let it be noted than when I first started with the league in 2008, all I heard about was how Y-D and Orleans were the emerging dynasties, trading years as champions. Y-D had won in 07, 06 and 04; Orleans took home the title in 05 and 03. For five years, these teams dominated the title series. Cotuit and Harwich, the two teams I was assigned to, hadn’t won since 99 and 87, respectively, and in my eyes were the consummate underdogs (and therefore more loveable). Sidenote: even though Falmouth, Bourne and Hyannis also had not won in years, they were Western rivals to Cotuit, the team I grew up cheering for and was then writing for. Falmouth is also the town my high school plays in our Thanksgiving football game and is one of our biggest rivals (and one of the country’s oldest rivalries)…so my view of Falmouth was skewed (and has since been changed–I love Trundy and his team, along with the rest of that organization).

Needless to say, I rooted on the underdogs…as neutrally as possible. And in 2008, Cotuit and Harwich made it to the championship series. It began a six year stint of a relatively consistent trend–Cotuit dominating in the West and Harwich in the East. Of course there were off-years, but for the most part, it could be expected that the two would make it to the playoffs. Harwich won in 2008 and again in 2011, sweeping Cotuit and then Falmouth for the coveted trophy. Cotuit would make it to the final series in 08 and 09 (where they lost to Bourne–their first championship title in their 22 year history), finally bringing the Arnold Mycock Trophy (named after longtime Cotuit volunteer and fan, Arnold Mycock, who still attends every Cotuit game he can) back home in 2010 with an extraordinary win against Y-D.

This year, I decided to dig deeper into the archives (the league is, after all, 128 years old). It turns out that, of all the teams in the league, Cotuit should be the ones considered the dynasty–not Y-D, not Orleans, not the infamous Chatham (forever popularized by Summer Catch). Cotuit has 13 championship titles since 1963, when the “modern era” began. They also had two before that (records only date back to 1946). Orleans? Four modern day titles. Four, the last coming in 2005. They’ve come in second seven times–making it to the championships but losing in the finals. (Cotuit, for the record, has done that five times). If we consider the pre-modern era championship titles, Orleans has 12 titles…but that was before the league became a strictly college athlete league, adhering to NCAA rules.

Interestingly, Orleans and Cotuit have faced each other in the playoffs before…in 1986, with Orleans the winner that year, and in 81, 74, and 63–all Cotuit victories. In the modern era, Orleans has faced Cotuit more often than any other team in the playoffs (5; they faced Wareham in 88, 93 and 02, Falmouth in 70 and 71, and Bourne in 03 and 05). Historically, they haven’t been able to top the Kettleers…and having lost 4-2 in an incredibly close game yesterday, they’re on the brink of adding to that history.

We’ll see if the Firebirds change history tonight, or Cotuit makes history, adding a 14th modern day title to their storied program (far more than any other organization). Game starts at 7 in Orleans.

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Cape League Loses a Family Member

I have been blessed these past six years to be a part of something more special and unique than you’ll find anywhere else in the sports world. The Cape Cod Baseball League is renowned as the premier college summer league in the country, showcasing hundreds (over a thousand now, in fact) of major league stars over the years. But what people don’t necessarily know is that this league is a family, one that lasts far beyond the short eight weeks of summer where ball is played on quaint and almost humble fields.

While the rest of the sports world turns over faster than you can buy a new jersey, with players, coaches and staff often creating a revolving door of cast members, the Cape League has kept many of the same names and faces around for not only years, but decades. John Schiffner, the Chatham coach, has been around for over forty years, as has league president Judy Walden Scarafile. Host families, volunteers, managers, the folks selling you hotdogs or burgers on donuts–and even some of our sponsors–have been around long enough to remember when the fathers of some of our players this season once played on the Cape. We work together and stay in touch during the fall and winter, and come summer, we revel in the family reunion as we welcome in a new batch of players and interns and fans, reminisce on the sweet summer-stained memories of seasons past, and make new memories to pass along.

Which is why the loss of one of our own strikes so near to the heart of all of us. We lose, not a coach or an umpire or a coworker, but a family member, someone whom we talk to, look forward to, and wish we had more time with.

Jim McNally (Photo by Sportpix)

Jim McNally (Photo by Sportpix)

The loss of Deputy Commissioner Jim McNally, a long-time umpire and friend of this league, is particularly difficult. I first met McNally in his role as an umpire, and mine as a member of the CCBL media department, and was fortunate enough to work with him several times in 2011 when I first began scoring for the league as well. I always looked forward to scoring games with the Curly Clement Award recipient (for CCBL Umpire of the Year), and was working at his last game that season when he retired from officiating. I wasn’t sure if I’d see him again after that (especially as I was preparing to move to Nashville), but the league finds a way into our hearts here, and we both returned. He even took on the role as Deputy Commissioner for the Western Division this season, throwing himself into the league as those who truly love it find themselves doing.

His is a presence I will miss immeasurably–from our conversations about family, work, and this game we all love, to the jokes and friendly smiles and waves every time we bumped into each other at the fields. This is a deep reminder that baseball is just a game, and that our families and friends–including those we consider family in this league–are the things that matter most in this world.

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My All Star Predictions

This Saturday, the CCBL will select their All Star rosters. Being selected is an honor, as these 50 players represent what the ten field managers believe are the best of the best college players here on the Cape this summer. Past All Stars include Tim Lincecum (Harwich 05) and Buster Posey (YD 06,07), who made news with Lincecum’s 148 pitch no-no against the Padres last week.

The selection process typically takes place in a hot classroom at some local school (the past few years, it’s been at Pope John Paul II in Hyannis), with the ten coaches meeting in gym clothes or surf shorts–a far cry from their buttoned up appearance at the fields.

asg 13 logoThe teams were expanded to include 25 players this year, and will be broken down like this:
9 pitchers
6 outfielders
2 catchers
7 infielders
1 designated hitter

Players have to have played at least one inning in the position they’re selected for; hitters must have two plate appearances per team game by the time of the selection meeting; starting pitchers must have 0.6 innings pitched per team game by the time of the meeting; and relief pitchers must have 0.3 innings of work per team game by the meeting.

Here’s a peak at what I think the All Star rosters will look like when we publish them tomorrow (and they are in no particular order…I’ve actually just randomly been inserting them as I drop players off and re-add them. Yes, I’ve gone over this list every day for two weeks before I decided to post it):

West Division
C: Pentecost (Bou) & Stein (Fal) … (Ewing was another choice for catcher here but I put him in INF here)
INF: Caputo (Bou), Cron (Fal), Baum (Hya), Ewing (Hya), Newman (Fal), Byrd (Fal), and Spoon (Hya) or Gillaspie (Fal)
OF: Hoskins (Fal), Davis (Fal), Freeman (Bou), Boyd (Bou), Robbins (Bou), Wiseman (Cot)
P: J. Long (Bou)*, J. Walsh (Cot), Ellis (Cot), Riga (War), Simpson (War), Kubat (Bou), Freeland (Hya) Kellogg (Bou), Eck (Hya)…Seddon (Cot), B. Miller (Cot), Means (Fal) are also on my radar, as was Thome (Hya), though he dropped off a bit last week.

*potential starting pitcher

Many of these players were shoe-ins in my mind. And of course, Mike Ford (Cot) was my top pick, and he just signed with the Yankees. I digress, but only because I lost two of my predictions on the East side.

East Division
C: Joe (Cha), Slaybaugh (Orl)
INF: Flores (Cha), Happ (Har), Blandino (YD),  Mitsui (Bre), Davidson (Orl), Pehl (YD),…and in 7th I’ve split between Brizeula (Bre), Gunsolus (Cha), and Kivett (Orl), who somehow snuck up there with his avg this week
OF: Fisher (Har), Heineman (Bre), Marconcini (Orl), Stewart (YD), Luplow (Orl), Fish (Orl)
P: Bummer (Har)*, Szkutnik (Orl), Shepherd (Har), Kamplain (Bre), Poyner (Orl), Schiraldi (Cha), Savas (YD), Troupe (Orl), Hunter (YD), and I’ll keep Fedde (YD) in the wings in case the promise of him coming back from Team USA earns him a spot in absentia (he has the innings and as long as he stays active on the roster, he’ll be eligible).

*potential starting pitcher

Barbosa (Har) was another guaranteed outfield pick in my mind, until he signed with Seattle on Thursday.

All that said, these predictions are total conjecture, and if I bat .300 I will be pretty excited. For the record, the reason I didn’t place these in order of who would be picked in what order is the coaches won’t do it that way tomorrow.

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“The Game” in the early season

I recently wrote an article for the CCBL site. Here’s an excerpt:

Every so often, Cape League fans have the opportunity to watch “the game.”

It’s not the All-Star game, or the championship final, or even a playoff matchup. Instead, it’s the random regular-season game pitting two hot teams facing off in what promises to be — and often is — a truly remarkable battle between the lines.

In 2011, it was an early-season matchup between the Orleans Firebirds and the Harwich Mariners. Orleans and Harwich were, early on, in a race to see who could stand atop the Eastern Division. When they met on June 29, their second matchup in as many weeks, projections were that this was a game we’d see again — in the division playoffs. We weren’t entirely wrong…

….This year, the matchup to watch is between the Mariners and the Cotuit Kettleers. Since overcoming 21- and 11-year droughts, respectively, the two have become mainstays in the championship hunt, and are consistently among the more formidable postseason teams.

Click here to read the whole article. 

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List of CCBL Players Drafted on the First Day

Here’s a list of CCBL players who were drafted yesterday in the first and second rounds (and competitive balance rounds as well). I wrote a column for the CCBL website as well and will post a link to it as soon as it goes up. Stay tuned…I’ll update this list as we go along.

1. Mark Appel, RHP (Stanford, YD ’11) ASTROS
2. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF (San Diego, Chatham ’11) CUBS
6. Colin Moran, 3B (UNC, Bourne ’11, ’12) MARLINS
12. DJ Peterson, 3B (New Mexico, Hyannis ’11) MARINERS
18. Chris Anderson, RHP (Jacksonville, YD ’12) DODGERS
19. Marco Gonzales, LHP (Gonzaga, Falmouth ’12) CARDINALS
23. Alex Gonzalez, RHP (Oral Roberts, YD ’11, ’12) RANGERS
26. Eric Jagielo, 3B (Notre Dame, Harwich ’12) YANKEES
27. Phil Ervin, OF (Samford, Harwich ’12) REDS
29. Ryne Stanek, RHP (Arkansas, Bourne ’11) RAYS
32. Aaron Judge, OF (Fresno St, Brewster ’12) YANKEES
34. Sean Manaea, LHP (Indiana St, Hyannis ’12) ROYALS
36. Aaron Blair, RHP (Marshall, YD ’12) DIAMONDBACKS
38. Michael Lorenzen, OF (Cal St Fullerton, Brewster ’12) REDS
40. Andrew Thurman, INF/RHP (UC Irvine, YD ’11) ASTROS
43. Ryan Eades, RHP (LSU, Bourne ’11) TWINS
44. Trevor Williams, RHP (Arizona St, Orleans ’12) MARLINS
49. Austin Wilson, OF (Stanford, Harwich ’11, ’12) MARINERS
53. Andrew Knapp, INF (UCLA, Chatham ’12) PHILLIES
56. Tom Windle, LHP (Minnesota, Brewster ’12) DODGERS
58. Kevin Ziomek, LHP (Vanderbilt, Cotuit ’11, ’12) TIGERS
71. Chad Pinder, 3B (Virginia Tech, Chatham ’12) ATHLETICS
73. Colby Suggs, RHP (Arkansas, Wareham ’12) MARLINS

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CCBL’ers Who Will Go In The Second Round of the 2013 MLB Draft

The other day, I looked at the players projected to go in the first round of this year’s MLB Amateur Draft that played on the Cape, so I figured today I’d look at the second round now before the draft starts today!

There are potentially 11 CCBL alums who will go in the second round of the draft this week (give or take a few…there are some who could go in the third, or some in the third who may go in the second). This grouping includes four Cape League All Stars–Aaron Blair (Marshall, YD 2012), Tom Windle (Minnesota, Brewster 2012), Trey Masek (Texas Tech, Hyannis 2011, Falmouth 2012), and Andrew Knapp (Cal Berkeley, Chatham 2012). Knapp put up impressive numbers for Chatham last summer, hitting .293 overall with 8 home runs and 13 doubles in 40 games–considerable power. Blair’s 8-0 record, 1.05 ERA, and 60 SO more than earned him the trip to the All Star Game, where he got the starting nod for the East Squad. Then there’s Masek, who was already good his first summer in Hyannis, and who built on that to his earn a trip to the All Star Game as a member of the Falmouth Commodores in 2012.

There are a couple two-year CCBL veterans in this round as well. Masek, for one, played for Hyannis in 2011 and Falmouth in 2012. Then there’s Vanderbilt’s Kevin Ziomek, who played for Cotuit in 2011 and 2012, and Kansas State’s Jared King, who played for Falmouth both years. I’m a little biased thinking that Ziomek should go higher in the draft (I’ve seen big strides in his performance since the first year with Cotuit, and I worked with him at Vanderbilt, so I’m definitely biased). Zo went from a 2-3 record and 4.35 ERA in 20.2 innings of work 2011–with 16 strikeouts and 12 walks–to a 3-0, 1.27 ERA, 36 SO, 6 BB 28.1 innings of work, showing improved control and command. King was another player who made huge strides from his first to second year on the Cape. His batting average jumped from .202 to .308 as he adjusted to the wood bats and highly competitive playing field.

The rest of the projected second rounders had mediocre performances on the Cape; Andrew Thurman (UC Irvine, YD 2011), Chris Anderson (Jacksonville, YD 2012), Michael Lorenzen (Cal St Fullerton, Brewster 2012), Kent Emanuel (UNC, Falmouth 2011), and Tyler Skulina (Kent State, Bourne 2012).

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