Justin Volman, @JustinVolman
WAREHAM, Mass.–The Cape League is the most prestigious of the collegiate summer leagues, and has hosted many of the best of the Major Leagues. However, even though this league is the most heavily scrutinized, many players are still overlooked.
A player can be overlooked for numerous reasons–size, shape, and/or an unconventional hitting or pitching motion. However, this organization would like to help bring exposure to these undervalued and overlooked players. As you will see from this piece, I have a particular proclivity for diminutive second basemen and small school pitchers.
2B Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville State): First up is Clayton Daniel. The 5-foot-7 170-pound rising senior has been one of the top hitters at his position for some time. He has earned All-American honors in each of his three years at Jax State. This summer, he is playing for the Falmouth Commodores and has been particularly successful this summer on the Cape. He has shown time and time he can compete with the best in the country. Against the best college baseball has to offer, he has a triple slash line of .363/.384/.747. What Daniel lacks for in size, he more than makes up for with his plate discipline. He has a strikeout-to-walk ratio in his three collegiate seasons of 53/85. That’s right, he has 30 more walks than strikeouts. Surprisingly, the rising senior was not drafted this past year. Even with a triple slash line of .417/.429/.846, he was passed over by those whose success both in college and or high school was lacking.
This is in no way a slight against a player who was drafted, they were determined by the MLB to be one of the players worth drafting. That is a tremendous accomplishment and no one can say any different. However, players are overlooked and Daniel is one of those cases. Diminutive second basemen are constantly overlooked, but we have seen time and time again in the specific cases of Jose Altuve and Dustin Pedroia, size indeed does not matter. Daniel will continue to prove his doubters wrong and I look forward to seeing him at the next level.
2B Cobie Vance (Alabama): Next up is that’s right, another second basemen on the smaller side. Cobie Vance is an infielder out of Fayetteville, North Carolina who plays his college ball for the University of Alabama, and plays this summer for the Harwich Mariners. Vance is 5-foot- 8 and 212 pounds. If he was not playing baseball he could easily play running back, as he is built like a tank. Vance has incredible durability, having started all 112 games in his Alabama baseball career.
He is another player with phenomenal plate discipline, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 51/49. Vance has a compact swing that plays to contact, but he definitely possesses good power potential because of his quick hands and powerful lower half. Using more of his lower half and adding a bit of arch to his swing path will help unlock his power potential. Vance is also a very good athlete. His arm rates as plus, and has the hands to play anywhere in the infield–and could even play centerfield in a pinch. Vance has a tremendous work ethic and has improved in each of his two seasons in college and this summer on the Cape. I am excited to see what the future holds for this young man from the University of Alabama.
RHP Luis Alvarado (Nebraska): Luis Alvarado is a very interesting case. He is a two-way player for the Cornhuskers of Nebraska, and while he has been successful at the plate, there looks to be a brighter future for him on the mound. He led the Cornhuskers with 10 saves this past season and sported a 1.72 ERA. Alvarado’s potential with both the bat and on the mound is evident, as he was drafted by the Mariners in the 13th round just a few weeks ago, but has chosen to return to Nebraska for his senior year. This summer on the Cape for the Bourne Braves, he has exclusively pitched. Alvarado has been phenomenal for the Braves to the tune of a .56 ERA and 16/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 innings pitched. He throws a 90-93 mph fastball, a changeup and as omaha.com describes, “a self-learned slurve.” It will be interesting to see if he can make the transition to starting, as he has the frame for it. One thing is for sure though, this player has a bright future ahead of him.