Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 6 for July 5 Update

I went to Cotuit on Sunday evening mainly to see right-handed starter Justin Grimm from the University of Georgia pitch for the Kettleers, but ended up being much more impressed by two of the last late-arriving position players who I hadn't seen yet.

Grimm entered the game with a 0.57 ERA, and I was considering placing him among my Top 5 pitching prospects after seeing him a couple of weeks ago in Hyannis. But he made me question that decision when really struggled Sunday and Falmouth exposed all of his potential weaknesses. Terrible defense by Cotuit made things a lot worse and Falmouth won 14-9.

Grimm's fastball still sat in the 91-93 mph range, but it was a lot flatter than I remembered it. He threw a 75 mph curveball with big break and a good 81-83 mph changeup with downward movement. Grimm has good stuff and good size with a thin, athletic build at 6'4" 195, but he threw a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate and Falmouth took advantage. Once Falmouth started reaching on some bloopers and misplayed balls, Grimm seemed to lose his concentration, showing poor body language and failing to hit his spots. He really struggled to miss bats, and once the ball was put in play it was bad news for Cotuit.

The two late-arriving position players who immediately stand out as two of the best players in the league are Cotuit third baseman Zack Cox from the University of Arkansas and Falmouth first baseman Hunter Morris from Auburn.

Cox, who will be a draft-eligible sophomore next summer, is probably the best all-around player on the Cape. He went 3-for-5 on Sunday and is the closest thing to a five-tool prospect that I've seen. Cox has a solid, mature body at 6'0 215, but he is really athletic as well. He shows good balance at the plate, has strong hands and is really quick to the ball. He shows good plate coverage and is not afraid to use the whole field as all three of his hits Sunday went to the opposite field. He also showed some pop during batting practice. Cox is an average runner with 4.3 speed from the left side of the plate, and he is also a very good defensive player. Cox has smooth hands, and he showed off his range Sunday with a diving stop on a hard-hit ground ball. He's got a strong arm too. I'm hearing good things about Yarmouth-Dennis catcher Micah Gibbs from LSU, but until I see Gibbs in person later this week Cox is my No. 1 overall position player.

Morris has the best raw power on the Cape, and he can really crush a fastball. He put on the best power display I've seen this summer in his batting practice session on Sunday, and absolutely demolished a Grimm fastball for a home run that must have traveled farther than 400 feet. Morris has a powerful body at 6'4" 205, and he looks like he still has more room to fill out. He swings hard with a slight uppercut but he has good balance and is generally in control at the plate, though he does tend to get out in front of good off-speed pitches. He's not very athletic in the field but he's servicable as a first baseman. Morris, like Cox, is very likely to be a first-round pick next year.

Falmouth centerfielder Todd Cunningham from Jacksonville State also stood out Sunday when he went 3-for-5 with a walk. With his .364 batting average entering the game he has been one of the best hitters in the league in the first third of the season. Cunningham has a slightly long swing, but it doesn't prevent him from making contact as he has a pretty low strikeout rate. He is not afraid to hit the ball where it is pitched and he can hit with authority to all fields. He could be another Jacksonville State product who makes a name for himself in Falmouth after right-handed reliever Ben Tootle did it when he touched 98 mph as the Commodores' closer last summer.

Rightfielder Brian Fletcher from Auburn also had three hits for Falmouth. He's a free-swinger who swings hard to the point where he bucks his head upon contact, but when he connects he can drive the ball. Sticking with Auburn, designated hitter Kevin Patterson struggled for Cotuit, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. He got way out in front of several off-speed pitches, and continually looked bad waving at changeups. Patterson has good raw power, but he needs to learn to stay within himself at the plate.

The 23 runs and 28 hits make me feel like I don't want to discuss any of the other pitchers today besides Grimm. None was that good.

I've now gotten multiple requests to mention where I'm going to be the following day. Right now the plan is to catch one or both games of the Wareham at Hyannis doubleheader on Monday, then go see Gibbs play for Y-D in Orleans on Tuesday.


Chatham 1 Orleans 0: Left-handed pitcher Tyler Lyons from Oklahoma State, the Yankees' 10th round pick last month, pitched seven shutout innings for Chatham, allowing two hits and striking out one. Centerfielder Steven Brooks from Wake Forest went 2-for-3 for Chatham and third baseman Michael Olt from UConn went 2-for-3 for Orleans.

Bourne 8 Wareham 5: Designated hitter Kyle Roller from East Carolina homered for Bourne and third baseman Shea Vucinich from Washington State homered for Wareham.

Y-D 9 Hyannis 8: Y-D catcher Micah Gibbs from LSU hit two home runs, finishing 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Hyannis first baseman Ryan Cuneo from Delaware went 3-for-5 including a grand slam and finished with six RBIs. Leftfielder Steve Chatwood went 3-for-4 for Y-D.

Brewster 5 Harwich 3: First baseman Lyle Allen from Georgia homered for Brewster.


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