Griffin Conine, RF, Duke University (Cotuit Kettleers)
Following a strong sophomore season at Duke, Griffin Conine, the son of 17-year major league veteran Jeff Conine, entered the summer with high expectations on the Cape. On the back of a league-leading 11 home runs, Conine outperformed even the wildest of expectations and fully established himself as one of the top college prospects in the 2018 draft. Equipped with plus-plus raw power, he has incredibly quick wrists and the most impressive bat speed on the entire Cape. Despite a rather violent swing, Conine showcases remarkable balance and plus barrel control to go along with a smooth and natural hand path. The swing allows him to successfully access his power in-game and consistently produce exceptionally hard contact off the bat despite an unimposing 6-foot-1 frame. Conine has shown a propensity to work the count and a willingness to draw walks and wait for his pitch. While his strikeout rate is a bit higher than you’d expect at this level, the strikeouts are a byproduct of a hitter with plus game power that tends to work deep counts. Otherwise, Conine is a fringy runner with solid reads and an average arm in right field. While he won’t cost you games defensively in left or right field, the bat is the what you’re buying. And as a polished college bat with a future above-average hit tool, plus-plus bat speed, and plus game power, there is more than enough bat to buy to make him a legitimate top half of the first-round talent in 2018.
Zack Kone, SS/3B, Duke University (Cotuit Kettleers)
A teammate of Conine at Pine Crest High School, Duke University, and with the Cotuit Kettleers, Kone has the potential to be a legitimate prospect in his own right. With a 6-foot-3 frame and solid-average athleticism and strength, he has the upside to be a major-league infielder but he has a good deal of work to do to reach that. His performance, especially from a power perspective, has been lacking to this point but the raw physical upside is enough to stay tuned despite the largely unremarkable numbers. His swing is a significant work in progress, as his hands are too low and too close to the pitcher when they’re passing the plate, his shoulders open up too early, and his bat head is further along than it should be from the trigger point until it passes through the plate. Having said that, Kone has flashed the ability to make hard contact and, while he likely won’t stick at shortstop, he can make a fine defensive third baseman with an above-average arm (post-Tommy John surgery) and average range at the hot corner. He’s certainly a project but one that could be worth rolling the dice on during the draft’s second day depending on how his junior year shakes out.
Greyson Jenista, OF, Wichita State University (Cotuit Kettleers)
In the fall of 2015, Jenista stepped foot on the Wichita State campus as a bad-body 240-pound first baseman with limited mobility and speed. Two years later and more than twenty pounds lighter, he is a 6-foot-4 athletic freak with above-average foot speed that stole nine bases over a full summer in the Cape Cod League as an everyday center fielder. Jenista has built up incredible strength that has already translated into easy plus raw power and some 430-plus foot in-game homers. Defensively, he made the drastic move from Cotuit’s starting first baseman in 2016 to the team’s starting center fielder. To start the summer, he was a bit rough in center, struggling to read the ball off the bat and looking out of place up the middle. However, throughout the season, Jenista displayed remarkable improvement at the position to the point that he could at times be considered the best defender on the field for Mike Roberts’ team. There was not a single player who improved as much defensively over the course of a single summer as Jenista did. While he still projects to end up in right field long-term, it would not be a stretch to see him winding up a defensive asset there, given his progress in center and overall plus outfield arm.
A Dustin Pedroia-esque worker, Jenista has about as much pure upside as any rising junior on the Cape this summer. While he is generally hit over power in-game at present, it does not take much squinting to envision a massive power outburst once he reaches the higher levels of pro ball, transforming into a plus power bat in the major leagues. A high-ball hitter, Jenista does an outstanding job of incorporating his entire body in his swing and using all of his natural strength in a relatively low-effort swing. Despite a modest bat wrap, he is an impressive pure hitter who has shown an ability to hit line drives to all fields and keep his strikeouts in check. While there will certainly be a good handful of safer, more polished all-around bats in the 2018 draft than Jenista, it is quite rare to find a college bat with his combination of power potential, athletic ability, and bat-to-ball skills. Given his standout work ethic, character, and baseball intelligence, Jenista is the exact type of guy you hope to take such a leap of faith on. He currently projects as a first-day pick that could slide into the back of the first round but if he is able to get a head start on making the necessary upgrades to his game over the next ten months, he could go even higher than that.
Alec Bohm, 3B/1B/DH, Wichita State University (Falmouth Commodores)
In terms of pure hit tool, there may not be a better bet on the entire Cape than Bohm. Jenista’s teammate at Wichita State, Bohm finished second in the race for the Cape Cod League batting title and struck out just 21 times in 178 plate appearances this summer. Bohm's in-game offensive approach presently prioritizes contact over power. Given his plus-plus raw power, which is regarded by most as the best raw power on the Cape, the upside is there to mature into a legitimate power threat at the next level. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Bohm has a well-built frame filled with a lot of “good weight.” He has a well-balanced and short swing with plus bat control that allows him to cover all parts of the zone and a propensity hit the ball hard all over the field. He carries legitimate questions about his defensive talents and his ultimate defensive home. A third baseman for the Shockers, Bohm failed to impress at the hot corner on the Cape, especially when attempting to come in on balls. His range at the position is poor and, despite plus arm strength, the accuracy of his throwing arm showed itself to be an issue as well. He did not fare much better at first base over the course of the summer, leading to a sizable number of DH appearances down the stretch. Already 21 years old Bohm might find himself as a R/R power bat without a true position. However, that bat alone should be more than enough to make him a first-day pick in June, even if he ends up unable to stick at third or even first base long-term. He very well might be the Will Craig of the 2018 draft, albeit with a drastically better track record with wood bats than Craig ever had.