Every year, hundreds of Cape Cod Baseball League alumni criss-cross the country, one minor league ballpark at a time. These 16 did it best in 2013 and are Right Field Fog’s CCBL Minor League All-Stars. Selections are based largely on performance in the 2013 season, not prospect rankings. This is the first in a series of alumni reports that will include a roundup of each Cape League team’s top performers.
C – CALEB JOSEPH
Baltimore – Double A
The former Cotuit Kettleer was an eighth-round pick of the Orioles in the 2008 draft. He’s moved methodically through the Baltimore system since then, but 2013 might represent his breakout season. In 135 games for Double A Bowie, Joseph batted .299 with 22 home runs and 97 RBI. He earned Eastern League Post-Season All-Star honors. While the season was Joseph’s fourth at Double A, he may have earned himself a promotion this time around.
IN THE RUNNING: Kevin Plawecki, Rob Kral, Andrew Knapp
1B – BEN PAULSEN
Colorado – Triple A
A former Hyannis Met and a third-round pick out of Clemson, Paulsen is another minor league vet, but after a big year in the Pacific Coast League, he finds himself knocking on the door of the big leagues. Paulsen hit .292 for Colorado Springs and belted 18 home runs and 32 doubles. He drove in 79 and racked up an .867 OPS. With longtime Rockies first baseman Todd Helton retiring, Paulsen has put himself into the heir apparent conversation.
IN THE RUNNING: Jayce Boyd, Trey Mancini, Daniel Palka, William Carmona, Max Muncy, Hunter Morris
2B – MICAH JOHNSON
Chicago White Sox – Class A, Double A
The former Cotuit Kettleer and Indiana Hoosier is quite literally speeding his way through the Chicago White Sox system. A ninth-round pick in the 2012 draft, Johnson’s trademark speed carried him all the way to Double A in his first season as a pro. He made three stops in 2013, and his speed played at every one of them. For the year, Johnson stole a minors-best 84 bases. He also hit .312 with seven homers and reached base at a .373 clip. Johnson has his best success in the South Atlantic League, where he hit .342 and stole 61 bags.
IN THE RUNNING: Grant Green, Kolten Wong, Alex Yarbrough, Tommy LaStella, Robert Refsnyder
3B – KRIS BRYANT
Chicago Cubs – Short Season, Class A Advanced
The newest pro on this list wasted no time cementing his status as one of baseball’s best prospects. In the spring, the former Chatham Angler blasted 31 home runs for the University of San Diego. In June, the Cubs made him the second overall pick in the draft. In July, Bryant signed – and he spent the rest of the summer proving his worth. In 18 games in the Northwest League, Bryant hit .354 with four homers. He then skipped Low Class A and went right to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he hit .333 with five more homers and helped Daytona win the league championship. He’s currently lighting up the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League.
IN THE RUNNING: Cal Towey, Ryan Wheeler, Chris Dominguez, Mike Garza
SS – DARNELL SWEENEY
Los Angeles Dodgers – Class A Advanced
The former Harwich Mariner was a 13th-round pick of the Dodgers in 2012 and had a strong debut last summer. In his first full season of pro ball, Sweeney was even better. He hit .275 with 11 homers, 34 doubles and 16 triples, to go with 77 RBI. He reached base at a .348 clip and stole 48 bases. He also hit for the cycle in a game in May.
IN THE RUNNING: J.J. Altobelli, Eric Stamets, Deven Marrero
OF – GEORGE SPRINGER
Houston Astros – Double A, Triple A
Perhaps no player in minor league baseball had a more productive 2013 season than former Wareham star George Springer. The speedy outfielder hit 37 home runs and stole 45 bases, leaving him on the doorstep of becoming the first 40-40 player in the modern history of minor league baseball. Springer also hit .303 with a sparkling .411 on-base percentage. He drove in 108, and the 37 homers ranked third in all of minor league baseball.
OF – ADAM BRETT WALKER
Minnesota Twins – Class A
Walker had some struggles on the Cape in 2011, highlighting the boom-or-bust concerns that had already been attached. After his first full season as a pro, Walker is moving toward the boom side of the equation. The former Hyannis Harbor Hawk hit .278 and blasted 27 homers for Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League. He also tallied 31 doubles and 109 RBI. He earned Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star honors.
OF – ANDREW TOLES
Tampa Bay Rays – Class A
Toles starred for Brewster in 2011, though his collegiate career at Tennessee was abbreviated after he was dismissed from the team. After a season in the juco ranks, Toles was drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft and has made his presence felt. In this his first full season as a pro, Toles hit .326 with 53 extra-base hits and stole 62 bases.
IN THE RUNNING: Jeff Kobernus, John Andreoli, Tom Belza, Adam Engel, Brian Humphries, Stephen Piscotty, Preston Tucker, Josh Elander, Jeremy Baltz, Jordan Patterson, Alex Dickerson, Victor Roache, Kent Matthes, Derek Jones, Brett Eibner, Dan Paolini
DH – TOMMY MEDICA
San Diego Padres – Double A
Medica won a Cape League championship with Harwich in 2008. He was a 14th-round pick out of Santa Clara in 2010 but may prove to be a steal if this season is any indication. Playing in the Texas League, Medica batted .296 with 20 homers, 22 doubles and 65 RBI. He was a September call-up to the Padres.
SP – KYLE HENDRICKS
Chicago Cubs – Double A, Triple A
Hendricks doesn’t get as much love on top prospects lists as a lot of other pitchers, but the former Brewster reliever has put up impressive numbers at every stop on his pro career, culminating with a tremendous season in 2013. Hendricks spent most of the year at Double A Tennessee, where he went 10-3 with a sparkling 1.85 ERA. He made the jump to Triple A for six starts at the end of the year and continued to pitch well, posting a 2.48 ERA. He was named the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
SP – ANTHONY RANAUDO
Boston Red Sox – Double A, Triple A
Ranaudo used the 2010 Cape League season as an opportunity to prove he was healthy to the nearby Red Sox, who had drafted him in June. After excelling with Brewster, Ranaudo inked a deal with the Red Sox and has been one of their top pitching prospects ever since. He didn’t disappoint in 2013, posting solid lines at Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. Combined, Ranaudo went 11-5 with a 2.96 ERA. He struck out 127 in 140 innings.
SP – KYLE ZIMMER
Kansas City – Class A, Double A
Zimmer was a first-round pick in 2012, and the former Cotuit star shined in his pro debut. As he began his first full season on the farm, he had some struggled, but by the end of the year, was exactly where the Royals wanted him. Between two levels, he had a 4.32 ERA with 140 strikeouts in just 108 innings pitched. He topped out at Double A, and actually had more success there. In four starts, he had a 1.93 ERA and a 27-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio.
SP – EDDIE BUTLER
Colorado Rockies – Class A, Double A
Butler was part of a dynamic bullpen for the 2011 Cape League champion Harwich Mariners. After a big spring with Radford, he was drafted in the first round in 2012 and promptly led the Pioneer League in ERA. In 2013, he cruised through three levels, establishing himself as one of the Rockies top prospects at every stop. Butler finished the year with a 9-5 record and a 1.80 ERA, one of the best numbers in all of minor league baseball. He struck out 143 in 149.2 innings.
SP – NATE KARNS
Washington Nationals – Double A
A 2008 Falmouth Commodore, Karns fell behind the curve when he had shoulder surgery before he threw a professional pitch. Karns finally returned to action in 2011 and has made the most of his second chance. He was the National’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012. This year, he went 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA in Double A, and his 155 strikeouts ranked 15th in all of minor league baseball. Karns had a cup of coffee with the Nationals early in the season as an injury fill-in.
IN THE RUNNING: Dylan Floro, Andrew Heaney, Matt Barnes, Pierce Johnson, Mario Hollands, Taylor Rogers, Tim Cooney, Deck McGuire, Jon Moscot, Andy Oliver, Eric Jokisch, Marcus Stroman, Logan Verrett, Nick Tropeano
RP – NICK WITTGREN
Miami Marlins – Class A, Double A
Wittgren saved nine games for Hyannis in 2011 and the Purdue grad continues to pick up saves at a break-neck clip in pro ball. A ninth-round pick in 2012, Wittgren saved 13 games after signing with the Marlins that year. This season, he emerged as one of the best relievers in the minors, tallying 26 saves and giving up just five earned runs the entire year for a 0.83 ERA. He struck out 63 and walked just 10.
RP – VIC BLACK
New York Mets – Triple A
The former Bourne Brave had a tough start to his professional career, but after a move to the bullpen, he took off in 2012. The rise continued this year, as Black saved 17 games in Triple A while striking out 63 in 46.2 innings. His success earned him a promotion to New York.
IN THE RUNNING: Michael Morin, Jake Barrett, Lee Hyde, Michael Nesseth, Ben Rowen, Joshua Turley