Outfield was an interesting position on the Cape this summer. Guys who were supposed to be can't miss looked very average, and other players who weren't supposed to be that great had big summers and entered a lot of prospect discussions. Because there are three times as many outfielders as there are players at each infield position, I decided to rank 10 instead of 5. (I realize 5 x 3 is 15 but I'm only ranking 10 anyway). Because it has taken me a long time each morning to file these rankings, I am splitting outfielders into two days, continuing to drag out this process as long as possible. Here are outfielders 10-6 from this summer, with the Top 5 outfielders coming tomorrow.
10. Mark Canha, Brewster/California. Bats R/Throws R. 6'2" 195. San Jose, Calif.
2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .257 BA/3 HR/11 RBI/.800 OPS
Canha looked like one of the best hitters in the league during the first couple weeks of the summer, then went through a big slump and eventually left the Cape early with an injury. Canha is the type of player who doesn't look particularly good or athletic when you just look at him standing on the field or doing anything, but when he is going well he is a really good hitter. Canha led Cal in all three Triple Crown categories with a .366 average, 12 home runs and 43 RBIs. He has a short but powerful swing and does a good job using the whole field. Canha looked like he was pressing at the plate at times which contributed to his struggles. Defensively, Canha is not very good in the outfield and may be better suited to play first base, where he has spent some time for his college team. He does have an above-average arm. Canha's draft status is going to depend on how he hits next spring. He has the potential to be a top-caliber hitter, but he has to do it more consistently.
9. Austin Wates, Y-D/Virginia Tech. Bats R/Throws R. 6'1" 174. Richmond, Va.
2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .312 BA/0 HR/21 RBI/.794 OPS/12 SB
Wates is a good all-around player who was absolutely locked in at the plate for several weeks during the summer, and he ended up with the highest batting average on the best team during the regular season. I'm told Wates is sneaking into the conversation about being a first-round pick, and while I don't think I would want my team to use its first pick on him, he is a solid prospect. He had a very strong season at Virginia Tech, hitting .395 with five home runs and 42 RBIs for the Hokies. Wates is mostly a singles and doubles hitter, but he often makes solid contact and seems to have a knack for finding holes and gaps. He does a good job going with pitches and driving the ball to all fields. Wates is an athletic kid with good speed, and he can cover a lot of ground in the outfield when he really goes after balls. He tends to drift on fly balls sometimes, though. I would definitely take Wates in the first few rounds next June, but the very first round might be a stretch.
8. Zach Cone, Cotuit/Georgia. Bats R/Throws R. 6'2" 204. Stone Mountain, Ga.
2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .243 BA/3 HR/20 RBI/.599 OPS
Cone is a high-ceiling, all-around talent for the 2011 draft class who still has some developing to do. He started to look better and better as the season progressed and he got more comfortable with the wood bat. As a part-time player for Georgia this spring, Cone hit .323 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 45 games (20 starts). Cone is mostly a line drive hitter at this point but has shown hints of power potential. He has an athletic build that looks like it belongs on a Major League diamond. Cone swings hard and has a slightly long swing which led to a lot of strikeouts this summer. It looked like later in the summer he was doing a better job with situational hiting and using the whole field. He is a good bunter. Cone is athletic in the outfield and runs well on the bases. He has a strong arm. Cone is a player to watch for the 2011 draft. He needs to work on his approach at the plate and develop more consistent power.
7. Kevin Keyes, Cotuit/Texas. Bats R/Throws R. 6'4" 225. Austin, Texas.
2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .185 BA/2 HR/7 RBI/.583 OPS
Keyes arrived at the Cape after the College World Series with high expectations, but he struggled to get anything going during his half-season with Cotuit. This ranking is therefore based mostly on the reputation that preceded him. Keyes had a good year for the national runners-up, hitting .305 with nine home runs and 46 RBI. Keyes was one of the physically bigger players in the league, and he certainly has power potential. He swings hard and can drive the ball to all fields. Keyes is kind of a free swinger, and he tends to get out in front on good off-speed pitches. He is slow in the outfield and on the basepaths, and has just an average arm. Of any player on my own list, I am most dubious about Keyes, but because he is so highly-regarded by others I am keeping him up here for now. If he harnesses his power he could be a very good pro, but there are a lot of holes in his game.
6. Johnny Ruettiger, Hyannis/Arizona State. Bats L/Throws L. 6'2" 175. Joliet, Ill.
2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .255 BA/0 HR/6 RBI/.697 OPS
Ruettiger is a really good athlete and a contact hitter who is not going to hit for power but who will do everything else well. The movie "Rudy" is based on the life of his uncle who played football at Notre Dame in the 1970s. Ruettiger quarterbacked his high school football team to a state championship. As a freshman for College World Series participant Arizona State, Ruettiger hit .360 with one home run and 13 RBIs as a part-time starter. Even though his once-lofty batting average at the Cape dropped by the end of his summer, he is everything that you want out of a leadoff hitter. Ruettiger is patient at the plate and does a good job working the count. He is short to the ball and does a good job taking pitches to left field. He swings with mostly his hands and he does get off-balance occasionally, but he will hit for a high average over the course of a long season. Ruettiger has very good speed, and is a threat to steal a base whenever he gets on. He is a good defensive outfielder. Ruettiger is another player to watch for in the 2011 draft.
Saturday: Outfielders 5-1
Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Third Basemen, Shortstops
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