I spent the July 4th weekend in Cape Cod this year, which is far from the worst place to be for that holiday. Beyond the pleasant weather and plentiful beaches there was, of course, lots of baseball being played in the prestigious Cape Code League. Below are some of my observations of a few of the college players I saw.
Daniel Cabrera, OF, LSU
Cabrera opened a lot of eyes as a freshman in Baton Rouge, hitting .315/.405/.525 with 36 strikeouts against 34 walks in 63 games. He followed up with a sophomore campaign that saw him hit 12 home runs but also decrease his walks (24) and increase his strikeouts (54) in 59 games. He steps into this 2019 Cape Cod League campaign ranked 21st on THE BOARD for the 2020 draft.
Cabrera has a smooth and polished left-handed swing with a good path to the ball. He gets into his back hip well and transfers weight quickly, and has a handsy, athletic-looking swing. In my look, he showed solid average bat speed and an aggressive, pull-oriented approach geared for power. Cabrera’s aggressiveness was a negative in this look – he expanded the zone on several occasions against pitchers with below average fastballs – enough so that I think there’s a chance it holds him back from reaching his peak potential hit tool. A swing like Cabrera’s could project as one of an above average hitter, but I think he settles more in the 45-grade hit range with a propensity to swing and miss. However, the power should play at least average and I would be comfortable projecting more. It is likely more 55-grade power than anything above it, but the ball jumps off his bat and his hands’ quickness should allow him to jump on hittable pitches and drive them more often than not.
Cabrera played right field and was fine there, seemingly an average runner with average reads. He showed a 45-grade arm on two throws, which were accurate. There’s a chance he migrates to left field if the arm strength isn’t stronger in time, and I don’t believe he can play center field.
A power-over-hit corner outfielder with a history of SEC performance and some swing-and-miss question marks probably doesn’t go in the first round of the draft, but there is a good chance Cabrera doesn’t last too much longer past then, as his offensive ingredients are very intriguing. I think he fits in the second to third round range right now and would be a priority look at LSU early in the spring to assess any plate discipline improvements. At the moment, he projects as a left-handed bench bat.
Joe Boyle, RHP, Notre Dame
Boyle was a highly touted projection high school pitcher from Kentucky who was raw with big arm strength. He opted out of the draft in 2017 and decided to enroll at Notre Dame. He remains raw and has little in the way of performance for the Fighting Irish – he’s walked 35 batters in 26 career innings. The big arm strength, however, is still very much still present.
Boyle started Saturday evening against the Wareham Gatemen and left the scouts in attendance both scratching their heads and visibly excited. The 6-foot-7 right-hander’s first five fastballs clocked in at 99, 99, 98, 100, and 100 mph, and he didn’t throw a fastball below 97 until his third inning of work. The fastball had run and explosive life to the arm side. His breaking ball was a bit inconsistent but flashed plus when right. It was a true 11-to-5 curveball that worked 85-87 mph with teeth and late tilt below the zone.
Boyle’s command faltered in his third inning of work and he was pulled in the fourth, likely due to a pitch count limit because of his history of relieving. The command overall on the day was below average, but it was far better than his college numbers indicate. Boyle has a medium length arm circle with a three-quarters release. He lands slightly open and his direction is a bit inconsistent, but the arm action and delivery overall lead to no definitive explanations regarding his command issues.
Two-pitch RHPs are a dime a dozen at major colleges, but there are a very small handful who are as big as Boyle and run up triple digits on radar guns with the ability to spin the ball like he does. Prospects like Boyle are very difficult to scout- his pure stuff puts him firmly in the early stages of Day 2 of the draft as a reliever with a chance to move really quickly through a system and pitch at the back of a big league bullpen. His command woes – whatever the cause may be – make him one of the more volatile prospects for the 2020 draft.
Jacob Palisch, LHP, Stanford
Palisch has had two solid if unspectacular seasons at Stanford but has looked like a vastly different pitcher in his first three Cape Cod League starts. As of this writing, the Dallas-area native has thrown 22 innings and struck out 26 against just three walks, yielding a 1.22 ERA. I saw him pitch the first game of Harwich’s July 6 doubleheader and he threw a gem, punching out 10 in seven innings and throwing 73 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
Palisch worked in the upper 80s with his fastball for the majority of his outing and was up to 91, showing very good command to both sides of the plate. The fastball has solid run and sink, and it looks like his shorter arm action provides some deception for hitters. He worked with a low-80s slider that was very consistently average, and he also showed feel to command it to both sides of the plate. He flashed a fringy changeup that was obviously his third pitch, and wasn’t really needed much in this outing. Palisch’s delivery is clean and efficient. He has a short arm circle and stays on-line with home plate well. It’s not the loosest or quickest arm, but he repeats well and there isn’t much wasted movement.
Palisch’s impressive performance was clouded a bit by the fact that he’s a rising college junior who lacks any semblance of a major league out pitch presently, but he’s also a rare college pitcher who has projection remaining. His 6-foot-5 frame is long and lanky and looks like it could still hold 15-20 pounds comfortably. Should Palisch get stronger this offseason and begin the spring in the Cardinal’s weekend rotation with an additional half-grade of velocity on his fastball, he turns from a nice pitchability lefty to someone with a few formidable offerings with which to attack professional hitters. I have no issues projecting his changeup to be average in time, with more usage due to his present feel and his simple delivery, and a LHP with deception, solid average sink, and two average offspeed pitches who has a chance to start is a really good profile.
Hayden Cantrelle, IF, Louisiana-Lafayette
Cantrelle swiped 48 bags and walked 14.10% of the time in his two years as a Rajin’ Cajun, and has continued his trend of successful aggressiveness on the bases and a good plate approach in the Cape Cod League. A short, athletic switch hitting infielder, Cantrelle has loads of confidence in the field and good feel to play. He has a rhythmic load from both sides of the plate. It looks like his hands work better left-handed, as he sort of forces the barrel through the zone right-handed. He showed average bat speed and fringe average raw power, with the ability to drive the ball to the pull side. His approach is likely geared more for gap-to-gap extra base hits long term. He knows the strike zone well and didn’t expand often in my look.
Cantrelle is a plus runner with a quick first step and good instincts, showing solid range in the field and a good internal clock on the bases. I heard some rumblings in the scout section of 70-grade run times during the spring and although he was a 60 in my look, the speed plays well on the field. He was playing second base for Falmouth and looked comfortable, though on one occasion he played an in-between hop on a chopper that he likely should have charged. He showed fringy arm strength, though he wasn’t required to let it loose on any throw.
Cantrelle is a greater than the sum of his parts type player; no tool outside of his run tool is plus but he has an array of tools that are near average and a chance to reach his ceiling. I liked him a bit during this look and think there is a chance he turns into an average hitter with an ability to draw walks long term. I also would not rule out the possibility that he can play center field, as the speed and instincts would likely play there. A middle-of-the-field defender with a chance to get to an average hit tool typically goes within the first three rounds of the draft, and I see Cantrelle being no different. Right now, the projection is a utility type player off the bench, with some more upside should there be more power and/or a more refined right-handed swing.
Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
Gonzales hit .423 with 16 home runs and more walks than strikeouts as a sophomore. He has a very aggressive approach, is twitchy at the plate, and has solid average bat speed with chance for solid average power. His hands are fine defensively, but the footwork is inconsistent. He’s an average runner. He’ll need to work to get to average at second base. He’s an offense-oriented second base prospect from a hitter-friendly D-I, and has a chance to hit. This type of prospect typically goes in rounds four to five.
Trei Cruz, SS, Rice
Cruz has a good frame and comes from a very good big league family. He’s long and lanky, and wiry strong, with some room to grow. He has sound actions defensively, but occasionally choppy or inconsistent footwork. He’s a switch hitter, but has a much better swing left-handed, with average bat speed with a solid path through zone. Cruz is an average runner. There aren’t any standout tools here but he has a chance to stay in the middle of the field with some pop. Like Gonzales, he seems the type to go in the fourth or fifth round.
Zavier Warren, IF, Central Michigan
Warren is a switch-hitter, and is better hitting lefty than righty. He showed some twitch, but had a tendency to leak onto front foot. He has a solid average arm, and is a solid average runner. He played third in my look, and has a chance to be fringy-to-average in time. His arm stroke is short and he showed good balance; I would consider a catcher conversion. He looks like someone who would go in the fifth or sixth round to me.
Blake Dunn, CF, Western Michigan
Dunn is a stocky, strong, plus runner, who stole 30 bags this spring. There’s a chance for some right-handed pop and solid average defense in center. The swing is very rotational with a flat path, and he could get beaten by velocity. He provides power and hit off the bench with center field defense. He’s a sixth or seventh round guy for me.
Josh Herzenberg has served as an area scout and a minor league coach for the Dodgers. He can be found on Twitter @JoshHerzenberg.