Just across the canal, on the other side of the Bourne Bridge, is a typical New England rotary with large, green hedges surrounded by colorful flowers spelling out Cape Cod. It’s a beautiful welcoming to a gorgeous place.
But as you come over the bridge and slow into the rotary traffic, there is another sign on the side of the road that grabs the attention of it’s on lookers. It reads, “Bourne Braves Baseball, 6:00 P.M., Doran Park”. And if you take the third exit of the round-about, travel three minutes up Sandwich Road, and hang a right into Upper Cape Cod Regional Tech High School, you would find yourself at a mediocre baseball diamond among many vacationers watching some of the best talent in college baseball.
The Cape Cod League is midway through their season, which means the Mid-Cape Highway and Route 28 will be packed with scouts and baseball fans eager to watch rising stars for the next three-to-four weeks.
The Cape League has seen some incredible players come through their ranks, like Kris Bryant, Buster Posey, Chris Sale, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Braun, Kyle Schwarber, and Chase Utley just to name a few. Many players make a name for themselves there, and many struggle to adjust to wood bats and facing top tier talent every night.
Either way, it is a growing process for many young prospects who will certainly move on to the next level of baseball.
First, we will take a look at the West Division and those who have made some noise. The five teams noted in this preview include the Bourne Braves, Hyannis Harbor Hawks, Cotuit Kettleers, Falmouth Commodores, and the Wareham Gatemen. Also, special thanks to Blake Benard (Falmouth), Jacob Tobey (Wareham), and Kyle Kercheval (Bourne) for their assistance.
Falmouth has a loaded roster this summer, including a third baseman who is off to a hot start. Bohm is hitting .402/.429/1.005 with seven 2B, three HR, 16 RBIs and 37 hits, good for a top 3 finish in nearly every offensive category. He is a massive infielder (6’5’’, 240 pounds) but has surprisingly great mobility at third base, including a cannon of an arm.
He works well side to side and coming in, yet his size dictates he transitions across the diamond to first base at the next level. For now, his defense combined his with fluid swing from the right side are enough to entice scouts and fans alike. He hits to all fields and has the ability to do so with power. That is something Bohm is working on, and a guy his size is bound to produce results as he progresses.
Last summer, in the Coastal Plains League, Bohm smacked 11 homers and was ranked as the No.1 prospect in the CPL. So far, his hitting has translated to the Cape, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses in the heart of the summer.
(video from 2016 in Coastal Plains League)
Jake Mangum, Mississippi State
It’s been a rough start to the summer for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks who sit in last in the division, although they did pick up Mangum in the offseason, who played for the Bourne Braves last summer. In 35 games in 2016, he hit .300 with 11 SB and nine RBIs after he won the SEC batting title (.408) and was named SEC Freshman of the Year.
He earned a spot on the Cape Cod League All-Star team in 2016 and is having an even better campaign this year despite breaking his hand during the season. The switch hitter struggled to bat right-handed with a broken left hand... which he played through. He didn’t miss an SEC game despite barely being able to throw (he’s a lefty). It seems he has fully recovered, hitting .354/.408 with five RBIs in just 16 games.
He is stellar defensively (he threw out a runner when his hand was broken) and has great speed to flag down fly balls. He stole 14 bases in college this year and that number would be bigger without his injury. He will almost certainly play center field.
The one concern is his below average power. He has one career college home run and hit just three more doubles in his sophomore season compared to his freshman season despite more than 70 at-bats. He needs to work on stealing bags to compensate for his lack of power. Click here for his MLB Draft video.
Justin Montgomery, Cal Baptist
Not a prospect on most people’s radar but his numbers, or lack there of, are significant: no runs in 21 innings pitched and 24 strikeouts with a 3-0 record. He struck out eight batters in a five inning start, and hitters are batting just .178 against the 6’5’’ right hander pitching for Wareham.
The startling thing is his stuff is not that great. He has a fastball that is mid-nineties but his off speed isn’t lights out. It’s his command that has given hitters such a difficult time tagging the California native. He is very similar to last year’s Pitcher of the Year Jeffrey Passantino.
According to Blake Benard, Falmouth catcher’s raved about Passantino’s ability to hit the glove whenever and where ever, almost like a video game. Montgomery is similar with his command, and while he has a great fastball to go with it, he needs to develop his secondary pitches if he wants scouts to take him seriously.
Wareham pitching coach Jim Lawler has a great feel for Cape pitchers and will no doubt work well with Montgomery.
In short, the freshman came out of nowhere, and his talent is impressive a lot of folks in Falmouth and beyond. The left hander pitched in 6 games for Clemson and only 3.1 innings and gave up six hits (.353 OAVG) but he has been a completely different pitcher on the Cape. The southpaw has surrendered just one run in 14 IP with 21 Ks and just one walk.
The southpaw stands at 6’4’’ and has a sidearm delivery that scares left handed hitters. He has a nasty curveball to go along with his mid-nineties fastball. He has got two more years with Clemson until the draft and could be a big name come 2019. He has got the talent and is raw enough to develop into a standout pitcher with great stuff if he can bring it all together.
Yes, his dad is former big-leaguer Jeff Conine and yes, Griffin was drafted by the Marlins, who Jeff won two World Series with (1997, 2003) and broadcasted for. The younger Conine is making a name for himself in similar ways his father did, just from the other side of the plate.
He swings from the left side, and does so with power. In 2017, he led Duke in home runs (13), RBIs (56), walks (41), OBP (.425) and SLG (.546) and that’s against very good ACC pitching. This year for Cotuit, Conine has hit .345/.427/1.022 with five HRs and 20 RBIs. In his last three games, the outfielder has hit three dingers and driven in seven runs.
Conine had a great summer last year when he led the Northwoods League with 16 home runs and was one of the top prospects to watch during the summer. His success has continued with his power, and he has hit well enough for average. Conine is a corner outfielder in the foreseeable future and should impress with his smooth swing from the left side and raw power.
The Bourne Braves have found their closer in an unlikely candidate. Feltner really struggled at OSU his sophomore year after a solid freshman campaign. His ERA blew up to 6.58 and he pitched in just 10 games, half the amount of appearances he made his freshman year.
The former 2015 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Ohio may have hurt his draft stock if he doesn’t turn it around his junior season. That turn around has started on the Cape. Feltner has been untouchable out of the bullpen. In eight appearances, the righty has struck out 12 batters while surrendering just six hits and two walks in 9.1 IP. He also has collected five saves.
Feltner sits 95-96 and has topped out at 98. His command with his fastball has made up for his average secondary pitches, although he has had a couple outings where the off speed has looked pretty as a compliment to the fastball.
He reminds me of Garrett Cave who was the best reliever in the Cape League in 2016, but Cave’s issue was consistent command which he found down the stretch. Either way, Feltner has got something going for Bourne right now and scouts love how he lights up the radar gun.
We will cover the East Division and also the Cape Cod League All-Star Game later this summer.