Cape Cod Top Prospects: 2017 Draft Class
By our count, 424 different players took at least one at-bat or made an appearance on the mound in the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2015. That’s up from last year and it will likely continue to rise in 2016. Why point this out? Increasingly so, the rosters of the ten teams on the Cape are not so much a single collection of players, but instead are comprised of wave after wave of players.
The minimum requirement for hitters to be eligible for our list is for players to have participated in at least 20 games on the Cape. For pitchers, they had to have crossed a five appearance or 13 inning threshold. For perspective, 59 different pitchers and 89 different position players that played on the Cape in 2015 were not eligible for consideration.
Aside from explaining the process behind our list and providing further explanation as to why familiar star names like Zack Burdi, Bryson Brigman, Zack Collins, Robert Tyler, and many, many others are absent, understanding this revolving door of players is important to understanding what Cape Cod League baseball presently is. Scouts are often contending with shorter windows to evaluate some of the best players, but at the same time it’s giving us a look at more players playing on the Cape than ever before.
2015 was not a banner year in terms of top shelf, future superstar talent on the Cape. But, in terms of depth, the Cape was never better than it was this summer. Particularly since a number of players that also suited up for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team returned to action in mid-July after their tour, we saw a number of talented waves of player come through the league this year.
If you look beyond the slam dunk first round type of talent, the Cape League was simply brimming with players that teams could easily envision themselves taking in the top three to four round of next year’s draft. Kyle Lewis, Bryan Reynolds, Nick Senzel, as well as arms look like excellent bets to go in the that range, as do other hitters, but the pitching on the Cape came much more in the form of wildcard varieties. Matt Krook and Jordan Sheffield have monstrous talent, but did not dominate the league from a statistical standpoint. Arms like Dakota Hudson and Corbin Burnes broke out in a big way, but also still have something to proven in terms of consistency next spring.
The list of players who could further blossom into potential first round selections is a longer one than we usually see from a Cape League crop. The proven, college star commodities might have been in somewhat short supply, but the upside and depth still deserved to be marveled at.
Now, after breaking down the best of the 2016 crop, we further examine the ten best 2017 draft prospects to perform on the Cape this summer. We’ll continue our in-depth look at the Cape later this week with a breakdown the “best of the rest” list, featuring even more talented names to keep a close eye on in the 2016 and 2017 classes.
1. Bryce Montes de Oca, rhp, Missouri (Falmouth)
It comes as a shock to no one when we say that Bryce Montes de Oca has one of the most truly gifted arms in the country. A 14th-round draft pick in 2014 by the Chicago White Sox, it was well known that the towering righty would be a tough sign out of high school, given his indications that he wanted to attend Missouri and that he was coming off of Tommy John surgery.
Montes de Oca did indeed end up Missouri, and the best way to put it would be that his freshman season in 2015 was a learning experience. And, that’s precisely what this summer pitching for Falmouth would end up being. The 6-foot-8 righty had 13 walks in his first 14.1 innings on the Cape, after bottoming out command wise with a six walk, three inning performance against Orleans in June, but seemed to grow in small increments in his outings that would follow.
To say that the Missouri righty has an explosive fastball would be understatement, as he worked at 95-97 mph with his fastball for most of the summer. He ended up carrying that for the most part, occasionally dipping to 94 mph or 93 mph, later in outings. When he got ahead in counts, he showed that he could elevate and completely overwhelm even plus bat speed type hitters with his fastball. The problem is, however, is that Montes de Oca will have to refine and repeat his delivery enough to be able to consistently locate his exploding fastball.
When it’s all clicking, Montes de Oca’s breaking ball does flash swing and miss, above average potential. But, besides having an issue getting to it, he also needs to be careful of getting around the pitch. It’s a slurve in terms of characteristics, throwing at 77-81 mph but showing slider shape at times. But, his best ones at 80-81 mph show two plane action and can be a devastating weapon against righty batters.
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