A wild Aaron Judge appears in the Cape League!
As the collegiate baseball season winds down in the months of May and June, players flock to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to continue their path to the majors. The Cape Cod Baseball League is widely accepted as the Mecca of amateur baseball. The list of former major leaguers that ran the gravel infield at Wareham and took aim at the forest surrounding the outfield at Cotuit is massive. Alumni from the league include Aaron Judge, Dallas Keuchel, Matt Harvey, and Justin Smoak. The league continues to develop some of the best prospects that will be available for the 2018 MLB Draft and 2019 MLB Draft. The five players below were some of the of best this summer and will become household names in no time.
1. Joshua Breaux (C)- Falmouth Commodores (McLennan Community College)
Josh Breaux was famously known for being drafted just nine picks apart in the 2017 MLB Draft from his brother Joe in the 36th round. Nine picks! The Houston Astros drafted Josh in June and his play this summer showed why the Astros believe he has the potential to be a catcher in the big leagues (as if the Astros have a lot of issues to worry about). Breaux attends McLennan Community College and in his freshman year hit .401/.473/.773 with 19 HRs and 82 RBIs. In the Cape League, Breaux continued to hit the baseball exceptionally well. He hit .271/.310/.474 with 7 HRs and 24 RBIs, showing a powerful swing with the ability to spray the ball to multiple areas of the park. Like many collegiate players, Breaux lacks opposite field power. However, as one of the youngest players in the league, his timing and hand speed is impressive.
In the batter’s box, Breaux proved an elite hitting catcher in the Cape League. Yet Breaux was also distinctly one of the best defensive catchers this summer. He played the third most innings of any catcher in the league and only committed two errors behind the plate. He finished with a .991 fielding percentage and the second highest number of putouts in the league with 208. (Take note, Gary Sanchez.) With the division race heating up, Falmouth traveled to Cotuit on July 4th. In the 6th inning the game was tied and after a wild pitch Breaux gunned the ball to third to try to get Cotuit SS Chandler Avant. But it rocketed into left field and the error let up two runs. Falmouth ultimately lost the game. What was so impressive about Breaux was his short memory: after that error, Breaux went the remainder of the summer without making another, and in the next three games he hit two homers and had 5 RBIs. Sure, Breaux may have the best last name for a college athlete, but his work on the field backs it up. Expect him behind the plate for a big league team in the future.
2. Alec Bohm (3B)- Falmouth Commodores (Wichita State University)
Bohm was terrific for the Shockers during his sophomore season at Wichita State and carried that momentum into an outstanding summer with Falmouth. Bohm teamed up with his “bro”, Josh Breaux, in the middle of the Commodores lineup and produced a .351/.399/.513 line. He was absolutely sensational this summer as he added 6 HRs and 28 RBIs, both in the top 5 of the league. In a July 1st victory over Cotuit, Bohm blasted two monster home runs with one coming off potential first round pick Jason Bilous (Coastal Carolina). The game summed up Bohm’s terrific summer, as both homers were hit to different areas of Guv Fuller Field. Bohm can play many different positions in the infield but is best suited at third base. He played a majority of the games at the hot corner and only made 4 errors throughout the summer. If Bohm can finish off his college career with a boom, it is very likely that he will be a late first round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.
3. Tyler Baum (RHP)- Harwich Mariners (University of North Carolina)
Sticking with the B last names next is RHP Tyler Baum who was undoubtedly the best righty in the Cape League this year. Baum had a tremendous freshman year at UNC posting a 2.57 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 6.71 K/9. Although Baum was 1-2 years younger than most players in the Cape League he was never fazed and was simply the best player on an atrocious Harwich team. Baum’s fastball touched 94 mph, utilized a solid changeup, and put hitters away with a filthy curveball. His delivery is extremely clever as he winds up, compresses his body together and explodes out of the position. One scout even compared it to how an armadillo curls up into a ball. C’mon, “The Armadillo” would be a fantastic nickname. By doing this, the fastball jumps on batters quicker than expected and the breaking ball consistently provides swings and misses. For a young pitcher Baum was not intimidated by more experienced batters and led the Cape League in, Strikeouts (41) and Wins (5) as well as finishing in the top five in ERA (2.72). His best performance came at Wareham on June 25th where he pitched 7 innings, allowed 4 hits, 1 earned run while striking out 9 and not walking a single batter. Baum’s delivery and electric curveball will see him become a high draft pick in 2019 and a possible front-end starter in the big leagues soon.
4. Ryan Rolison (LHP)- Orleans Firebirds (University of Mississippi)
The southpaw from Ole Miss was absolutely phenomenal in leading the Firebirds to the number one seed in the East Division this summer. Coming off a Freshman All-American team selection with the Rebels, Rolison displayed why he was a highly touted recruit out of Tennessee in High School. Rolison does not nearly have the fastball speed that Baum produced throughout the summer as he typically topped out at 86-87 MPH. Yet Rolison pitches like a veteran when it comes to making timely pitches. Rolison has Jamie Moyer’s pitching knowledge in a 20 year-old’s body. With surgical precision this summer he worked all parts of the zone, varied pitch speeds, and did not depend on one pitch to strike out a batter. (Read that again and think of exactly what Aroldis Chapman has struggled with lately.) Rolison rarely pitched more than six innings but nevertheless he finished with a 1.92 ERA, 35 strikeouts, and only 10 walks. He displayed all of those skills in the rubber match of the first round playoff series against Chatham. Chatham hitters struggled against his tremendous breaking ball as Rolison went six innings, struck out seven and only allowed one hit the entire evening. He claimed the win and Orleans moved on because of his stellar performance. Rolison will be eligible for the 2018 MLB Draft and projects to be a back end starter or an innings eater out of the bullpen who will make teams drool.
5. Michael Toglia (1B)- Cotuit Kettleers (University of California, Los Angeles)
When studying the list of players from the Cotuit Kettleers many names appear to be potential first round picks. Greyson Jenista (Wichita State) won the MVP Award, Griffin Conine (Duke) won the Best Pro Prospect Award, Zane Collins (Wright State) was sensational on the mound, and UCLA teammate Justin Hooper showed all the intangibles to be a dominant MLB pitcher. However, 6’5 First Baseman Michael Toglia still outshined them all with a terrific finish to the season with the Kettleers after early difficulties. At times Toglia struggled to identify pitches, fell behind in the count, and looked awkward at First Base. One writer even joked, “Toglia might actually have two left feet”.
But Toglia’s summer mirrored his freshman year at UCLA as he started slowly but then quickly took off to shine for scouts. Toglia struck out a lot (41) but made up for it with 6 HRs and 25 RBIs. Toglia was three RBIs short of team leader Griffin Conine even though he had 43 less at bats than the star outfielder. He settled into the cleanup spot in the order and gave the Kettleers the power and spark that propelled them to the number two seed in the West Division.
Toglia hits from both sides of the plate, has excellent speed for his size, and can play many positions. What is most exciting about the UCLA product is that he has the highest ceiling with the best tools. His size, speed, fielding ability, and pure power are unique for his age and are the tools for him to become a terrific player. Against Hyannis on July 10th Cotuit trailed 9-7 as Toglia stepped up with a runner on first base. Against Ryan Weiss, Toglia crushed a two-run home run into the right field forest as the crowd at Lowell Park went wild (the bat flip was also superb). The game ended in a tie but it started Toglia’s hot streak that rocketed him up draft boards for the 2019 MLB Draft. Toglia compares very similarly to former Cape League alumni Justin Smoak as a powerful switch hitter who prefers the left side of the plate and can change a game with one swing of the bat.