Feature photo courtesy of Nick J. Faleris
Each summer the Cape Cod Baseball League hosts a contingent of the top collegiate talent in the country, offering evaluators an opportunity to see high-level competition with wood over a summer-long season. Veteran pro scout and 2080 Baseball senior advisor Ted Lekas offers his thoughts on some of the top talent he observed in this four-part series. All players are 2018 draft-eligible unless otherwise indicated.
For purposes of these writeups, and summer evaluations at 2080 Baseball, “early designations” fall into three categories: Top Follow (Potential Day One — Top 2 Rounds), High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds), and Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed). Players are shifted from early designation to a more specific “suggested slot/suggested investment” during the spring, leading up to draft day.
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Background: Gilbert enjoyed a stellar season in the Cape Cod League, earning a spot on the East All-Star Team and finishing the regular season with a 1.72 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over seven starts. The Stetson standout struck out 31 and walked just 4 in 31 1/3 innings of work. In his lone playoff start for Orleans, Gilbert earned a win against Chatham, throwing five strong innings in which he struck out 6 and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks. Gilbert’s impressive summer comes on the heels of a strong Spring at Stetson that saw the right post a 10-0 record with a 2.02 ERA over 89 innings. Gilbert racked-up 107 (10.82 SO/9) strikeouts to just 26 walks (2.69 BB/9) and held opposing hitters to a paultry.202 batting average.
Notes: Tall, lanky frame with long arms and room for growth; no windup, minimal step-in to motion; long-armer through a 3/4’s slot; loose, live arm and he throws free and easy; ball explodes out of his hand; double-plus fastball (93-to-97 mph), comfortably sitting 95 mph with plus movement, explosive late life; heavy sink action with hard run and tail; true swing-and-miss pitch; projectable, plus curveball (74-to-76 mph) with two-plane action and solid depth; must stay on top of curveball more consistently; seldom used changeup (84-to-85 mph) with solid fade; plus performance seen on July 18, where he worked five innings giving up two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. Will be one of the premier right-handed college pitchers for the 2018 Draft.
Early Designation: Top Follow (Potential Day One)
Background: Day worked primarily as a middle/long right-handed reliever this summer, with just two of his nine appearances coming as a starter. He finished the Cape regular season with 21 strikeouts (9.00 SO/9) and 16 walks (6.86 BB/9) in 21 innings of work for the Firebirds. During this past spring in Nashville, Day produced similar strikeout numbers as a starter though with slightly better control, totaling 53 strikeouts (9.11 SO/9) and 21 walks (3.61 BB/9) in his 52 1/3 innings of work (12 starts and 13 total appearances).
Notes: Tall, lanky, wirey frame with an athletic build and projection to add additional weight and strength; quick arm with good arm circle through a 3/4’s arm slot; average arm strength with projection to throw on the plus side of average; solid-average present fastball velocity (88-to-92 mph), sitting mostly at 92 mph with good sinking action down in the zone; ability to throw ground balls; projectable, plus fastball movement; fringe-average present fastball command; must learn to work down in the strike zone more consistently, project average fastball command down the road; plus changeup (85-to-87 mph) with good arm speed and late fading action to both sides of the plate; will throw changeup back-to-back to left-handed hitters; inconsistent slider (79-to-81 mph) is a work in progress; gets underneath and around pitch at present but has spin on it; slider development key to success; has projection in both the stuff and body; should be in play for weekend rotation at Vanderbilt next season.
Early Designation: High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)
Background: Paul put together a strong showing on the Cape, earning All-Star honors and finishing up the regular season with a slash line of .304/.437/.437. The middle-infielder drew 22 walks in 162 plate appearances while striking out 35 times in that same span. Paul’s solid Cape showing follows a Spring in which the middle infielder slashed .251/.336/.412, with almost half of his hits going for extra bases (five home runs, 15 doubles and one triple, along with 29 singles).
Notes: Medium frame with some room for additional strength and weight; single & doubles hitter with ability to use the entire field; good bat control and consistent swing path; consistently barrels-up balls and can show some power to pull side; projects to average hit and below-average power; streaky hitter who needs to cut down on strikeout numbers; non-flashy second baseman, steady in the field with average defensive ability; hands, feet, agility and range play to average; average arm; fringe-average runner, better underway but still shy of average; knows how to play the game, good instincts.
Early Designation: Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed)
Matt Mercer, RHP, Univ. of Oregon
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/180 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 9m
Background: Mercer made five starts in six total appearances this summer for Falmouth, posting a 4-1 record, 2.64 ERA, and 1.01 WHIP while totaling 30 2/3 innings of work. The Oregon righty struck out 24 and walked eight while giving up 18 hits over the course of the summer. Mercer finished the 2017 spring season for Oregon with 6-7 record and a 3.16 ERA. He logged 88 1/3 innings of work and struck out 59 while walking 30 in his 15 starts.
Notes: Medium frame with a compact arm; works from a full windup; plus fastball (92-to-96 mph), working primarily at 94 mph; average-to-plus run and tailing action to both sides of the plate; average fastball command; short, quick cutter/short slider (82-to-85 mph); can play with shape, depth and tilt; potential plus breaker; average changeup (81-to-82 mph) with feel; step forward with command on Cape; strong seven-innings of shutout ball during July 18 viewing, allowing one hit and one walk, seven strikeouts; should be a top starter for Oregon in 2018.
Early Designation: High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)