Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24 for July 23 Update

I went to Boston on Thursday for the Cape League All-Star Game. It was a really cool experience to have free rein over any section in Fenway Park, and the players were obviously having a blast taking BP, shagging balls and then playing a game in a Major League ballpark.

The persisting rain cut everything short and gave the West a 3-0, 5-inning win, but it didn't really put a damper on the experience while it lasted.

I still advocate keeping the All-Star Game on the Cape because it makes it easier for the diehard fans and volunteers to attend, but it was a lot of fun and would be a good idea to hold the festivities at Fenway once every few years. The announced crowd of 14,317 was bigger than I anticipated.

A lot of guys seemed to be overswinging during batting practice, but a few players stood out for taking solid rounds of BP. Chatham's Mike Murray from Wake Forest kept hitting solid line drives from his wide-base stance. Cotuit's Cameron Rupp from the University of Texas crushed a couple balls out of the stadium. Rupp also has the best arm among catchers. Orleans' Gary Brown from Cal State Fullerton, Y-D's Mickey Wiswall from Boston College and Falmouth's B.A. Vollmuth from Southern Mississippi hit well too.

I decided to make a random list of guys who hit at least one ball over the Green Monster seats during batting practice. They were Brown, Harwich's Connor Powers from Mississippi State, Orleans' Alex Hassan from Duke, Brewster's Harold Martinez from the University of Miami, Y-D's Micah Gibbs from LSU, Brewster's Jedd Gyorko from West Virginia and Rupp.

I didn't pay much attention to the Home Run Derby because I was actually talking to my former employer Peter Gammons during most of it (always good to name drop). It was almost an uncomfortable situation for the league when the first couple of guys struggled to find their home run swings. Congratulations to Powers, who beat Rupp in the finals.

Because each pitcher only threw one inning, I spent the game focusly mostly on them. Like many scouts I went to a section farther from the plate so I could sit under cover during the game, and I had to rely on the stadium radar gun for pitchers' velocities. As far as I can tell it was accurate compared to velocities I had seen from most guys earlier in the summer, considering each guy could let loose for his short appearance.

Wareham righthander Brandon Workman from the University of Texas looked like an All-Star starter in his inning of work. His fastball sat in the 94-95 mph range, and his 77-78 mph hammer curveball looked tremendous even from a more distant vantage point. Barring injury I would be very surprised if he didn't go in the first round of next June's draft.

Orleans lefthander Rob Rasmussmen from UCLA impressed me in my first live look of him since last summer. He is the only All-Star who appeared yesterday who I hadn't seen yet, and I had been meaning to catch him since one American League front office guy said earlier this summer that Rasmussen is a "Randy Wolf clone." Rasmussen is undersized at 5'11" 160, but he has tight mechanics and good arm action and throws with some effort but not extreme effort. His fastball sat in the 92-93 mph range and touched 94. His 81-82 mph curveball was a good pitch with tight break and it complemented his 85-87 mph slider well. He also threw a good 83 mph changeup with good tailing action down and in on left-handed hitters. He is another guy who should go in the first few rounds next year.

Wareham righthander Jack Armstrong from Vanderbilt put up the best velocity numbers of the day, as his fastball sat in the 95-96 mph range and he did a great job pounding it in on hitters' hands. His 83 mph changeup is a good pitch he is able to throw for strikes. He only threw one 78 mph slider with hard run, and he threw two curveballs, one at 80 mph and the other at 81. The one curveball he threw well had really impressive downward break.

Brewster righthander Kyle Blair from the University of San Diego struggled with his control. He was throwing across his body which really hurt his command. Blair's fastball sat around 92 mph, his 78 mph slider had good, hard run, his 79-81 mph changeup tailed in on right-handed hitters and he threw a decent 77 mph curve with steep break.

Wareham lefthander Eric Pfisterer from Duke still strikes me as more of a good college pitcher but he pitched effectively in his inning of work. His fastball sat in the 86-88 mph range and once touched 90. He threw a 78 mph curveball with sweeping 3/8 break and an average 81 mph slider with harder break. His best pitch is a deceptive 78-79 mph changeup with good downward movement.

Y-D lefthander Chris Sale from Florida Gulf Coast was the East Division MVP, but his inning was so quick we didn't get to see much from him. His goofy, deceptive motion is probably still his best asset, as the tall and very thin Sale flies at the hitter with all arms and legs. Sale's fastball sat in the 93-94 mph range and he also showed a good 80 mph slider. He is another guy scouts are talking about as a potential high pick next year.

Hyannis righthander Dallas Gallant from Sam Houston State pitched a quick fourth inning. His fastball sat around 93 mph and had good tailing action in on right-handed hitters. He showed a 79-80 mph curveball with sweeping break and a really good, hard 85 mph slider.

Orleans lefthander Elliot Glynn from UConn was probably the pitcher who impressed me the least, even though he didn't allow a run in his inning. He slings his pitches and has slight balance issues. His fastball sat around 87 mph and he threw an average slider that would run out of the strike zone.

Finally, Bourne righthander Stephen Harrold from UNC Wilmington came in and struggled with his control before a double play bailed him out to preserve the win. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range and had some tail in on right-handed hitters. His 80-82 mph slider had sharp break and he also showed an 80-81 mph curveball.

To me, Workman was the most impressive pitcher, followed by Armstrong, Rasmussen and Sale in that order.

It is also worth mentioning Cotuit third baseman Zack Cox looked great in his two at-bats which earned him the West Division MVP award. He crushed a triple off the centerfield fence against Rasmussen. It hit right near the garage door and must have travelled about 400 feet. He then went with an outside pitch for a single to left in his second at-bat. I like Cox's aggressive approach at the plate and he often swings at the first good pitch he sees and hits it well. It has been a struggle for me for the past couple of weeks now whether to make him or Gibbs my No. 1 position player prospect.

I will most likely be at Chatham at Y-D on Friday.


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