KATOH on the Cape: Projecting Cape Cod League Hitters

The college baseball season wrapped up in June when Coastal Carolina defeated Arizona in the College World Series, but most of the top college players’ seasons don’t end when their team’s season does. Players with dreams of going pro often spend the summer months playing in collegiate summer leagues to gain extra reps and exposure. Teams in these leagues are composed entirely of college players, and — unlike at the college level — hitters use wooden bats instead of metal ones.

The most well known of these leagues is the Cape Cod Baseball League, which aptly takes place along Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The Cape attracts most of the best college players, and many of today’s stars spent their college summers playing there. Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey and Mark Teixeira are just a few notable alumni.

As I did with minor-league players and college players, I deployed a series of probit regressions to see what stuck when it came to forecasting major-league performance for Cape League players. I used those results to generate an expected WAR total — in this case, through age 28. These projections are far from gospel. Scouting the stat line is always dangerous. It’s even more dangerous than usual at the college level, where the samples are small, the players are raw, and the quality of opposing pitching runs the gamut. Nonetheless, statistical performance is an often overlooked component of prospect evaluation, and the performers often go on to exceed expectations.

A couple of caveats. Due to the poor quality of publicly available data, these projections do not directly account for players’ defense or defensive position. So you’ll need to mentally adjust for hitters’ defensive prowess. Secondly, these projections take into account only what these players have done this summer. Ideally, they’d account for college stats and summer-league stats. I do plan to link these two data sets at some point, but, unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

Below, you’ll find a few notes on performances that I deemed noteworthy. Below that, you’ll find a giant table for all hitters who recorded at least 100 PAs in the Cape Cod League this year. The two right-most column refers to each prospect’s ranking on Baseball America’s Cape Cod top-30 list and Frankie Piliere’s top-150 list from D1 Baseball.

*****

  • Although he was excluded from Baseball America’s top-30, Nick Dunn did a great job of getting on base as a 19-year-old on the Cape this year. He slashed .311/.372/.402 with very few strikeouts. My college model also liked Dunn due to the on-base skills and doubles power he showed as a freshman at Maryland.
  • Ernie Clement earned MVP honors for his .353/.400/.395 batting line and 19 steals on the Cape. Clement is a contact machine, but his lack of power is somewhat concerning. Clement’s 19 steals might also be a mirage. He stole just six bags as a sophomore at Virginia last year, and therefore didn’t project as well by my college model.
  • Joey Bart slashed .309/.389/.433 on the Cape, which was encouraging coming from a 19-year-old catcher. Bart underwhelmed as a freshman at Georgia Tech — especially in the power department — so it will be interesting to see if that power shows up next year. Bart struggles to make contact, but his high strikeout numbers are justifiable when paired with the type of power he showed this summer.
  • After a strong freshman season at Wake Forest, Justin Yurchak sat out 2016 after transferring to Binghamton. He showed few signs of rust this summer, however, by hitting .295/.393/.363 on the Cape. He missed Baseball America’s top-30, but his performance suggests he’s a legit prospect.
  • Michael Gigliotti built on his two excellent seasons at Lipscomb with a strong showing on the Cape. Though he struck out rather often, he still managed a .404 OBP with some power and speed.
  • Dylan Busby has an exciting combination of power, on-base ability and speed, but his strikeout numbers stifle his projection a bit. My college model was also concerned weary of Busby’s strikeout numbers from his sophomore season at Florida State.
  • Zach Rutherford ranked highly on Baseball America’s list, but scuffled on the Cape. While his .278/.333/.432 batting line wasn’t bad, it came with 41 strikeouts and just 11 walks over 43 games. KATOH doesn’t see Rutherford’s newfound power as being enough to outweigh the issues with his approach.
  • KATOH’s a fan of Cal Stevenson’s even though he didn’t even crack D1’s top-150 list. Though he posted a laughable .009 ISO on the Cape, he walked more than he struck out and swiped 10 bases. Stevenson stands at just 5-foot-9, but controls the strike zone and gets on base.

*****

KATOH Projections for Cape Cod Hitters
Rank Name School 2017 Year MLB% Proj WAR thru 28 BA Rank D1 Rank
1 Nick Dunn Maryland SO 46% 2.9 NR 39
2 Ernie Clement Virginia JR 56% 2.4 22 22
3 Joey Bart Georgia Tech SO 51% 2.3 15 68
4 Justin Yurchak Binghamton R-SO 40% 2.2 NR 113
5 Josh Watson TCU SO 43% 2 NR 84
6 Michael Gigliotti Lipscomb JR 51% 1.8 9 8
7 Ford Proctor Rice SO 38% 1.7 16 37
(8) J.J. Matijevic* Arizona JR 46% 1.7 21 24
8 Pavin Smith Virginia JR 49% 1.7 3 7
9 Ryan Noda Cincinnati JR 48% 1.7 NR 51
10 Greyson Jenista Wichita State SO 47% 1.6 NR 85
11 D.J. Artis Liberty SO 29% 1.6 NR 125
12 Dylan Busby Florida State JR 61% 1.5 4 34
13 Riley Adams San Diego JR 48% 1.3 NR 29
14 Quinn Brodey Stanford JR 44% 1.3 NR 25
15 Cadyn Grenier Oregon State SO 36% 1.2 NR 63
16 Cal Stevenson Chabot JR 26% 1.1 NR NR
17 Deon Stafford St. Joseph’s JR 41% 1.1 11 67
18 Brett Netzer UNC Charlotte JR 34% 1.1 NR 106
19 Jake Mangum Mississippi State SO 36% 1.1 13 38
20 Connor Wong Houston JR 30% 1.1 NR 36
21 Antoine Duplantis LSU SO 31% 1 NR 135
22 Zach Kirtley St. Mary’s JR 29% 0.9 NR 58
23 Kevin Smith Maryland JR 40% 0.9 12 5
24 Joe Dunand NC State JR 38% 0.9 8 10
25 Ethan Paul Vanderbilt SO 29% 0.9 NR 87
26 Adam Haseley Virginia JR 35% 0.9 24 18
27 Evan Mendoza NC State JR 30% 0.9 NR 70
28 Austin Filiere MIT SO 30% 0.8 NR 105
29 Gavin Sheets Wake Forest JR 35% 0.8 NR 94
30 Tristan Gray Rice JR 34% 0.7 NR 57
31 Patrick Dorrian Herkimer CC JR 30% 0.7 NR NR
32 Zach Rutherford Old Dominion JR 33% 0.7 10 49
33 Matt Winaker Stanford JR 28% 0.7 NR 107
34 Matt Davis VA Commonwealth SR 28% 0.7 NR NR
35 Robbie Metz George Washington JR 35% 0.7 NR NR
36 Tyler Lawrence Murray State SR 21% 0.6 NR NR
37 Colton Shaver BYU JR 25% 0.6 NR 98
38 Cal Raleigh Florida State SO 27% 0.6 NR 66
39 Jordan Pearce Nevada JR 23% 0.6 NR NR
40 Willy Yahn UCONN JR 20% 0.6 NR NR
41 Cody Henry Alabama JR 28% 0.6 NR 136
42 Brian Miller North Carolina JR 30% 0.6 NR 17
43 Christopher Hudgins Cal State Fullerton JR 31% 0.6 NR NR
44 Logan Warmoth North Carolina JR 27% 0.6 25 20
45 Will Toffey Vanderbilt JR 30% 0.5 28 65
46 Patrick Mathis University of Texas JR 23% 0.5 NR 54
47 Zach Gahagan North Carolina JR 23% 0.5 NR NR
48 Matt McLaughlin Kansas JR 24% 0.5 NR NR
49 Tim Susnara Oregon State JR 19% 0.5 NR 127
50 Will Golsan Mississippi JR 23% 0.5 NR NR
51 Dillon Persinger Golden West College JR 22% 0.4 NR NR
52 Tyler Houston Butler JR 21% 0.4 NR NR
53 Kyle Adams Richmond JR 21% 0.4 NR NR
54 Johnny Aiello Wake Forrest SO 18% 0.4 NR NR
55 Maxwell Burt Northeastern JR 22% 0.4 NR NR
56 Riles Mahan Kentucky JR 23% 0.4 NR NR
57 Willie Burger Penn Stater SO 19% 0.4 NR 143
58 Cole Freeman LSU SR 18% 0.3 NR 89
59 Trey Truitt Mercer JR 25% 0.3 NR 74
60 Jake Palomaki Boston College JR 14% 0.3 NR NR
61 Jeremy Eierman Missouri State SO 20% 0.3 NR 111
62 Sean Bouchard UCLA JR 22% 0.3 NR 55
63 Jordan Rodgers Tennessee SR 20% 0.3 NR NR
64 Payton Squier UNLV JR 14% 0.3 NR 129
65 Stuart Fairchild Wake Forest JR 17% 0.3 NR 97
66 Alex Destino South Carolina JR 17% 0.3 NR 119
67 Justin Jones Georgia State JR 13% 0.3 NR NR
68 Donovan Casey Boston College JR 17% 0.3 NR 60
69 David MacKinnon Hartford SR 13% 0.2 NR NR
70 Scott Hurst Cal State Fullerton JR 11% 0.2 NR NR
71 Carl Stajduhar New Mexico JR 13% 0.2 NR NR
72 Bryce Jordan LSU JR 11% 0.2 NR NR
73 Michael Cantu Texas JR 14% 0.2 NR NR
74 Brent Rooker Mississippi State JR 17% 0.2 NR 81
75 Beau Jordan LSU JR 7% 0.1 NR NR
76 A.J. Balta Oregon R-JR 10% 0.1 NR NR
77 Corey Dempster USC SR 11% 0.1 NR NR
78 Joey Bartosic George Washington SR 10% 0.1 NR NR
79 Johnny Adams Boston College SR 8% 0.1 NR NR
80 Anthony Critelli Holy Cross SR 13% 0.1 NR NR
81 Connor McVey Cincinnati R-JR 6% 0.1 NR NR
82 Nico Giarratano San Francisco SR 6% 0.1 NR NR
83 Jackson Klein Stanford SR 7% 0.1 NR NR
84 Brendan Skidmore Binghamton SR 7% 0.1 NR NR
(85) Matt Whatley* Oral Roberts JR 1% 0 29 64
85 Ryan Hagan Mercer SR 1% 0 NR NR
*Baseball America Top-30 prospect with fewer than 100 PAs

All data purchased from The Baseball Cube.

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Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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Kevin
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Kevin

Hi Chris – enjoy your work, did you do this last year? If not, have you run against previous CC seasons?