Bourne Braves Begin New Cape League Season
By: Dan Crowley
The minute the Cape Cod Baseball League season ends, it begins again for coaches and general managers as they work to put together the next season’s teams. On paper they assemble the best teams possible with some of the best players in the nation but then, as always seems to happen, over the course of the winter, those carefully thought-out rosters come apart.
The reasons are predictable, yet unpredictable. In August or September, a Division 1 college shortstop, for example, who appears to be a solid prospect for the Cape and spends the winter holding down a roster spot, goes high in the Major League Baseball draft the next June and signs a contract. This suddenly leaves that Cape League team with the task of finding a replacement shortstop a week or so before the summer season opens. The problem is that because of the growth of so many summer leagues, most of the other shortstops capable of playing at an advanced summer level are committed to other teams in other leagues.
It’s possible that a player destined all winter for the Cape might receive an offer to play for Team USA or a college coach may want to rest a pitcher, shutting him down for the summer, once again leaving his Cape club shorthanded. The College World Series runs into the Cape’s summer season and that delays the arrival of players fortunate enough to reach Omaha. And then there are injuries, unpredictable and oftentimes happening at the worst of times, which can rewrite a Cape League roster.
On the Cape, as in other summer leagues, coaches and general managers scramble to find temporary players to fill the void. These players, oftentimes solid baseball players, join a team knowing that, while it is possible to earn a permanent roster spot, the odds are that once a shortstop is found, their days in the Cape League are over.
Coaches and general managers rely on their connections in the world of college baseball to find a replacement. Division 1 college coaches are for the most part eager to have their players on a summer league team, but what is believed to be the cream of the crop is already committed somewhere. Still there are diamonds in the rough.
That is what Bourne Braves Head Coach Harvey Shapiro hopes he has found. Back with Bourne for his 10th season, Shapiro will open the 2012 season of Cape Cod Baseball with a dozen temporary players on his 28-man roster.
“The number of summer leagues has an impact on finding players this late,” Shapiro said. “It’s a hectic first week. I’ve spent the spring recruiting, trying to replace what we lost. Everything is new.”
The Braves are not alone. Every Cape League team is certainly in the same situation. It happens every year. For the first few weeks, rosters will be changing faster than our New England weather, and every night at the ballpark, fans will be asking themselves, as did Abbott & Costello many years ago, “Who’s on first?”
And the players from whom everyone expects so much, remember, are for the most part 20- or 21-year-old kids. They’ve come here from around the country; they’re living with families they’ve known for only a week; they’ll be under the microscope of scouts from every Major League team in the nation, the media and the fans. Their baseball future might weigh in the balance. The first weeks are unsettling and only add to the task facing coaches of getting the team on a solid footing and off to a good start.
The College World Series opens in Omaha tomorrow, a day after the Cape League summer season begins. The Braves have players on three of the Omaha teams. Left-handed-hitting- shortstop Trent Gilbert from the University of Arizona, who was drafted out of high school by the Florida Marlins; University of Arkansas right-handed-reliever Brandon Moore, who finished the regular college season with an ERA of 2.18, and Kent State righty Tyler Skulina, who played for the Keene Swamp Bats last summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, are all in Omaha.
William & Mary closer John Farrell is returning to the Braves this summer. He made a dozen appearances for Bourne last summer, striking out 22 over 15.2 innings and compiling an ERA of 2.30. Also joining the pitching staff will be Ole Miss right-handed-reliever Hawtin Buchanan, who was drafted out of high school by the Washington Nationals and finished the spring season with the Rebels, posting a 3.98 ERA. The Rebels will also be sending right-hander Mike Mayers to the Cape this summer. Mayers made eight starts for Ole Miss this spring, finishing with an ERA of 4.15.
Right-hander Chad Green from the University of Louisville was drafted out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays. He made six starts in 22 appearances for the Cardinals, compiling an ERA of 2.70. Louisville teammate Jeff Thompson, also a right-handed pitcher, was named to the All-Star team and was the top prospect in the NECBL last summer as a member of the Keene Swamp Bats. He started 15 games for the Cardinals, finishing this spring with a 9-4 record and an ERA of 4.00.
The Braves will have two pitchers from the Nebraska Cornhuskers in right-hander Jon Keller and lefty Tyler King. Keller, who was drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners, made 10 starts this spring for the Cornhuskers, posting a 4-1 record and an ERA of 5.37. King worked mostly out of the bullpen for Nebraska, making two starts in 27 appearances and posting an ERA of 5.40.
University of North Carolina right-hander Shane Taylor played for the La Crosse Loggers in the Northwoods League last summer. This spring he made 24 appearances for the Tar Heels and two starts, building an ERA of 3.09.
Villanova right-hander Pat Young made 14 starts for the Wildcats this spring, finishing with a 6-5 record and an ERA of 4.39. Also expected to be rejoining the team will be Louisiana State University righty Ryan Eades. Last summer Eades was named to the CCBL All-Star team. He left the Cape with a 3-0 record and an 0.84 ERA. This spring he made 17 starts for the Tigers, finishing with a 3.83 ERA.
Right-hander Jaron Long from Ohio State made 16 appearances and 13 starts for the Buckeyes this spring. He finished with a record of 6-2 and an ERA of 2.66. His father, Kevin, is in his sixth season as the hitting coach for the New York Yankees.
The Braves will carry two catchers on the roster this summer. Will Allen (Ole Miss) got 56 starts this spring, hitting .302. He can also play first base. Chris Harvey (Vanderbilt) saw action in 30 games this spring, compiling a batting average of .216.
Ohio State’s Josh Dezse was drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees. A big, strong first baseman, Dezse hit .306 for the Buckeyes that included five home runs. He can also pitch, earning seven saves this spring. East Carolina’s Chase McDonald, another power- hitting first baseman, made 46 appearances this spring for the Pirates. He hit four home runs, finishing with a batting average of .283. He played last summer for the Morehead City Marlins of the Coastal Plain League. Infielder Jack Reinheimer, also a member of the East Carolina Pirates, made 61 appearances this spring, hitting .294. Last summer he played for the Newport Gulls of the NECBL and was named Most Valuable Player of the league All-Star game.
Jordan Hankins started 64 times in the infield this spring for the Austin Peay Governors. He hit 10 home runs, compiling an average at the plate of .336.
Last summer Bourne third-baseman Colin Moran (UNC) hit .289 in 26 games, earning a trip to the All-Star game. Last spring he played in 34 games for the Tar Heels, hitting .384.
Middle-infielder Aaron Payne (Oregon) played in eight games for the Rochester Honkers of the Northwoods League last summer. A left-handed batter, he hit .188 in 16 at bats for the Ducks this spring.
Drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees, Wake Forest outfielder Kevin Jordan played in 45 games this spring for the Demon Deacons. A left-handed batter who throws from the right side, he hit .224 this season. Left-handed pitcher and outfielder Jordan Patterson from the University of South Alabama played in 56 games for the Jaguars, hitting .323 with eight home runs. He made six appearances on the mound, posting a 3.60 ERA. When called upon to do so, he can also play the infield. University of Southern Mississippi’s Mason Robbins is another two-way player who bats and throws from the left side. He hit .330 for the Golden Eagles last spring in 54 appearances in the outfield. On the mound he made six starts in 10 appearances, finishing with a 4.01 ERA.
Last year the Braves finished in a tie with Wareham for second place in the Western Division with a record of 22-20-2. A year earlier Bourne won the Western Division title (24-20) but lost in the playoffs. It will be the summer season of 2009 that the Braves will be looking to duplicate as that summer the team won the West (25-17-2) and the League Championship, defeating Cotuit in the finals.
This season Coach Shapiro is assisted by Coaches Ted Regan, an assistant coach at Eckerd College back for his third summer, and Dustin Coffman, a two-season Bourne veteran and the hitting coach at Wabash Valley College. Assistant Coach John Slusarz from the University of Hartford will join the club this summer as pitching coach.
Leave a Reply
In order to comment you need to be logged in.