Nicole Auerbach is a sports intern for the Cape Cod Times and a student at the University of Michigan, where she is the sports editor of The Michigan Daily.
She also reads this blog and volunteered to give a little breakdown on some Yankees draft picks who played in the Cape Cod League this summer. Here is her report:
5. Caleb Cotham: Short but sweet could be the perfect way to sum up Cotham’s summer on the Cape. He showed up late this summer after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in June (the day before the MLB Draft), but once Cotham arrived, he made the most of each outing. He had a couple of short 3-4 inning starts (due to pitch count limitations) and a couple of really dominant performances out of the bullpen for Brewster. Cotham pitched just 14 innings on the Cape, but in them, he struck out 15, walked one, gave up seven hits and allowed no runs.
His 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame gives him power and a strong low-90s fastball. He also has a good breaking ball and changeup. I’ve been hearing that Cotham could have easily been a higher-round draft pick before news of the knee surgery got out, but he’s still expected to sign with the Yankees soon — and maybe for better than fifth-round slot money.
10. Tyler Lyons: Lyons was been one of the most consistent pitchers on the Cape this summer. His 2-4 record was misleading – his two recent losses were due to six unearned runs and then a 1-0 heartbreaker. Throw in a no-decision after seven scoreless innings, and, well, you get my point. Lyons’ most impressive pitch is a jaw-dropping curveball, usually in the 75-mph range. He has a four-seam and two-seam fastball (high 80s, low 90s), a solid slider and a change-up to fill out his repertoire. His velocity increased as the summer went on, according to Chatham’s pitching coach.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Lyons was named the Cape League’s pitcher of the week in late July, Chatham’s most outstanding pitcher overall and has posted an impressive 1.77 ERA in 45.2 innings of work. He was Oklahoma State’s workhorse in the spring and has been Chatham’s this summer. He’s shown he’s more than capable of handling that kind of responsibility – and he’ll find success in that role.
On July 20, Lyons was a part of the best pitchers’ duel I’ve seen all summer. He tossed a complete game shutout, striking out 11 and allowing just two hits while walking none. His control was impeccable, his breaking pitches baffling and his game management was excellent. He definitely fed off the speed of the game, as Texas right-hander Cole Green almost went the distance in the 1-0 contest, too. Lyons said he just sat quietly in the dugout drinking water between innings, retaining his focus. It certainly paid off. People around the Chatham organization are very surprised that Lyons has stuck around the Cape this long. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t sign.
20. Tom Keeling: If Lyons was the definition of consistency this summer, his antithesis was Keeling. At times, Keeling has been lights-out. He pitched quite well recently out of the bullpen, actually. But on June 29, he walked four Orleans batters and allowed two runs to score from five wild pitches — and that was just first inning. In 12.1 innings of work for Chatham, Keeling struck out 15. But the wild pitches (7) and walks (13) raise concerns.
Chatham’s pitching coach said Keeling’s biggest problem early this season was that he couldn’t repeat fastball locations. Since adjusting his approach to batters – going with two-seam fastballs away from righties and four-seamers away from lefties – Keeling has found success and limited walks in recent outings. Still, the silver lining on Keeling’s inconsistency is that he’s got good stuff. His slider is an especially deadly two-strike pitch. Keeling’s ability is there – it seems like it might be a mental block preventing him from pitching well all the time. He’s very flexible, too. He has been a starter, a middle reliever and even a closer for Chatham this summer, so that’s also a good sign. It doesn’t seem likely that Keeling will sign with the Yankees.
28. Aaron Meade: It can be difficult for good pitchers to get noticed in the Cape League — because there are so many of them. But Meade reached the level of recognition some dominant starters missed. He was selected to the Eastern Division All-Star squad. He didn’t get to throw his inning at Fenway on July 23 because of the rain-shortened game, but the selection still puts him among the best on the Cape. Meade, a hard-throwing 6-foot-3, 185-pound lefty from Missouri State, was one of Harwich’s top starting pitchers all summer. He has thrown 42.1 innings, walking 17 and striking out 47. His ERA of 1.91 shows how well he’s shut down the Cape’s best hitters.
Harwich’s manager said Meade has given the team outstanding performances deep into games every start.In the final week of the season, Meade faced off against Lyons in a battle of Yankees’ draft picks and Cape aces. Meade won the duel 1-0 with seven shutout innings and five strikeouts. Meade’s motion is smooth, and his fastball can touch 90. His changeup is his go-to strikeout pitch, but a solid slider helps keep batters off-balance, too.
I don’t have any indication whether Meade is ready to sign or not – but his impressive summer certainly provides a bargaining chip.
Note: 29th-rounder Scott Maytas spent a week on the Cape in the beginning of the season before returning home. He’ll likely return to school in the fall.
Great stuff, Nicole. Thanks. It’s a treat for Yankees fans to get a first-hand account of these players.