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Amateur Notes: 8/9
Amateur Notes: 8/16

Seth Shuman, RHP, Georgia Southern University (Cotuit Kettleers)
From the same Valdosta High School in Valdosta, Georgia, that produced Buck Coats and DL Hall, the 19-year-old Shuman is an intriguing collegiate arm to follow over the next two years. When drafted in the 39th round by Baltimore in 2016, Shuman topped out at around 88 mph and was a pure projection pick. A year and two months later, Shuman is still a projectable right-handed arm, but he has added several ticks to his heater, which now sits primarily in the high end of the 88-92 range; it also boasts one of the highest four-seam spin rates in the entire league. He has advanced command of his fastball and is able to spot it on both sides of the plate. Shuman has a remarkably quick arm and an easy and balanced delivery that he is able to repeat well. He has a mature composure on the mound and has not shown himself to get rattled when pitching under duress or with runners on base. Both his changeup and breaking ball remain significant works in progress, but as a rising sophomore he has time to work on them.

While he only stands around 6’1”, Shuman is a plus athlete and has legitimate starting upside with the proper development. In addition to being a Freshman All-American on the mound, he was the starting QB for Georgia Southern before quitting football this summer to concentrate on baseball. If Shuman continues to add velocity to his projectable frame and is able to develop his offspeed offerings enough over the next 22 months, he could be an early round pick in 2019. He will be an interesting follow over that time and should be a fixture of the Cotuit pitching staff next summer.

Brett Kinneman, OF, North Carolina State University (Cotuit Kettleers)
As an above-average athlete with easy plus bat speed and plus raw power, Kinneman has more than enough tools to be a top follow for the 2018 draft. And while the tools alone should be enough to make him a second-day pick—even as a corner guy who is relatively old for his class—Kinneman has struggled to refine his game to this point in his collegiate career. Kinneman, who primarily played left field for Cotuit this summer, has flashed his tantalizing tools while continuing to have serious strikeout issues. If he is able to shorten his swing, improve his pitch selection, and lower his strikeout rate, his natural bat speed should be more than enough to allow him to continue to hit for power. Defensively, he has above-average range, an above-average arm, and makes fringy reads in left field. Still, he would be playable in either corner outfield spot. At current standing, Kinneman projects as roughly a fifth-round pick, but his stock is volatile and a good spring and improved approach could move him up boards as the 2018 draft draws closer.

Justin Hooper, LHP, UCLA (Cotuit Kettleers)
I saw Hooper start four times this summer and he is one of the biggest names on the Cape, so I feel obligated to share my thoughts on him. With Hooper, the first thing any scout or observer brings up is the caliber of prospect he was coming out of high school two years. An athletic, 6’7” left-hander who touched 97 mph, Hooper was regarded as a legitimate first-round-caliber prospect who fell to the 25th round after he made it clear to all 30 teams that he had no intention of forgoing his college commitment. After two years of walking a lot of guys and failing to crack the weekend rotation at UCLA, the Hooper I saw, while still 6’7” and left-handed, does not bear a striking resemblance to the legends I heard of the Hooper of 2015. The new Hooper, for one, has drastically improved his command and has learned how to consistently throw strikes. The new Hooper also now throws from a low arm slot and, for the first three starts of his that I saw, sat in the 87-91 mph range with his fastball. In his last start of the season, he sat in the 90-93 mph range, which is also where he sat in his final summer appearance at the Cape Cod League All-Star Game. His slider, which ranged from the mid-high 70s to as high as 82 mph in my looks, has the makings of a solid-average secondary offering that can be especially brutal on same-sided batters.

If Hooper is able to repeat his new delivery (he struggled to maintain a consistent release point in his earlier summer starts, with his pitch extension varying by as much as six inches on consecutive pitches) and maintain his command upgrades, he should be able to regain some of his draft stock. Since I have never seen 97 mph Hooper and I can only report on what I actually saw, predicting such from Hooper would be foolish and irresponsible on my part, especially considering he has a different delivery than he did when he apparently touched 97. However, the velocity growth he showed over the course of the summer and his lanky frame give reason to believe that perhaps we should expect him to be closer to the 90-93 mph range than the 87-90 mph range he posted early in the summer. While I don’t expect to see the post-high school version of Hooper walking through the door, the potential range of outcomes for Hooper are seemingly limitless, and trying to peg him down right now is an exercise in futility.

George Janca, SS/3B, Texas A&M (Falmouth Commodores)
A rising junior, Janca entered this summer after a lackluster spring at Texas A&M in which he struck out nearly five times as often as he walked and finished with a .725 OPS. Expected to be no more than a fifth infielder for the Falmouth Commodores, the 6’2” Texan did nothing but hit from the moment he arrived on the Cape from Omaha, establishing himself as one of the Cape’s 2017 breakout performers. Still lacking plate discipline—he walked only seven times in 131 summer plate appearances—Janca showcased above-average bat speed and plus raw power that he was able to manifest into 13 extra-base hits.

Defensively, Janca is equipped with average range and an above-average arm, and looked passable at shortstop and potentially above-average at third base if he outgrows shortstop. Given his athletic upside and impressive hitting display on the Cape, Janca has placed himself on the radar heading into his junior year. However, his lack of production to date at school and glaring lack of plate discipline attaches plenty of risk to his profile. A less aggressive approach at the plate at Texas A&M this coming spring, to go along with improved production, would go a long way toward allowing Janca to continue his rise up draft boards.

Logan Davidson, SS/IF, Clemson (Falmouth Commodores)
The son of former Twins and Astros outfielder Mark Davidson, Logan entered the summer as a First-Team Freshman All-American with high expectations. And while it’s not all that hard to see the basis for the attention being paid to Davidson, he did not flash the level of talent or polish that would justify placing him on the level of fellow underclassmen Michael Toglia and Shea Langeliers. A lean, 6’3” switch-hitting shortstop with a propensity for drawing walks, Davidson has the ideal dimensions and characteristics that scouts dream to see from a 19-year-old. However, at least at present, his tools across the board fail to jump out. His defense at short was surprisingly crude, and his bat speed didn’t stick out as better than fringy over the course of the summer. His power, which was good enough to allow Davidson to belt a dozen homers as a freshman in the ACC and earn an invite to the College Home Run Derby, did not show itself with wood bats over the summer; Davidson only belted a single homer and put up rather ordinary batting practice performances. Davidson could add more strength and power to his game by filling out, but that could hasten his move off shortstop. However, given his struggles at the position this summer, he has a good amount of work to do to stick there regardless of frame.

A lot could and likely will change between now and June 2019, but Davidson is currently tracking as a fifth infielder for me and has earned comparisons to Ryan Flaherty, a former first-round pick out of Vanderbilt who has settled in as a backup utility infielder for the Orioles. While the Cape is often a difficult stop for worn-out freshmen who just played a full season at school (see 2011 Kris Bryant and 2016 Greyson Jenista), Davidson did not do anything to show that he presently has a single standout tool in his arsenal beyond his size and ability to earn free passes.

Noah Davis, RHP, UC Santa Barbara (Cotuit Kettleers)

Davis may not be the flashiest pitcher on the Cape, but he has a reasonable chance to become a major league starter on the back of a full four-pitch mix and a command profile that flashes above-average. The 6’2" Davis features a potential above-average change-up, fringe-average curveball, and a slider/cutter offering in the mid-high 80s that has the ability to be the best offspeed pitch in his entire arsenal and a plus offering. His fastball, while not overwhelming, sits in the 90-94 range and has the appearance of a two-seamer with sinking action. The biggest concern for Davis, and why his command only flashes above-average, is his lack of polish pitching from the stretch. He’s been more hittable to this point than the stuff and profile would suggest, and his shortcomings with runners on base are likely the main culprit here. His mechanics out of the stretch tend to fall out of whack, with his arm lagging behind the rest of his body in his delivery leading to a significant loss of command. If he's able to smooth out his mechanics in and have a strong junior season with the Gauchos, Davis could profile as a second- to third-round arm in June. He has the upside of a No. 3 major league starter and high likelihood of becoming at least a No. 5 starter.

Josh Breaux, C/DH/RHP, McLennan CC (Falmouth Commodores)

A 36th round pick of the Astros this year as a first-year junior college player, Breaux has plus raw power at the plate and a potential plus-plus fastball on the mound. His defense behind the plate is rough and, as a 20 runner, his upside as a position player is limited. As such, his future home likely rests 60 feet and six inches from home plate. Despite having only pitched three innings for the Commodores after tossing 13.1 innings at McLennan, Breaux has managed to skate by with a legitimate plus-plus fastball. The pitch sits in the 93-96 range, topping out at 97 presently, with remarkable vertical movement and elite spin rate (80 spin, if you will). His lack of experience would certainly make him a project on the mound, but the strength of his numero uno makes him a worthy conversion gamble for any team. If he is able to develop into a pitcher and throw an offspeed pitch or two into the mix, there is legitimate major league late-inning potential here.

Quick Hits

LHP Austin Kitchen (Coastal Carolina; Cotuit Kettleers) is an undersized lefty who presently tops out at around 91 mph but has a potential above-average changeup that he spots well. He won’t blow anyone away and his breaking ball has been inconsistent at best this summer, but a strong junior spring in the Chanticleers’ rotation could push him into the back of the draft’s second day as a store-brand version of …

LHP Kris Bubic (Stanford; Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox). The 6’3 Bubic, a rising junior himself, may have the best singular offspeed pitch on the entire Cape. His superlative changeup is at least a plus pitch, and he has advanced command of all three of his pitches. His fastball sits in the 87-91 mph range but has touched as high as 94 in short spurts, and his mid-70s curveball projects as a solid-average offering. Continued strong performance at Stanford and any sort of velocity improvement could land Bubic in the first round in June.

RHP Clark Cota (UNC Wilmington; Cotuit Kettleers) touched 97 mph out of the bullpen for Cotuit and routinely sat in the 92-95 mph range with his heater, save for a late summer velocity dip. A Tommy John survivor, Cota lacks feel for a changeup and his curveball remains crude and lacking in bite.

– RHP Ryan Zeferjahn (Kansas; Falmouth Commodores), flashed a tremendous fastball-slider combination out of the bullpen for Falmouth. A starter at school, Zeferjahn sat in the 93-97 mph range with his fastball as a one-inning reliever on the Cape with a slider that one could stretch to put a future plus grade on. The rough command profile will likely limit him to a long-term relief role, but he will likely continue starting games for the Jayhawks and could go in the first few rounds in 2019.

– RHP Durbin Feltman (Texas Christian; Falmouth Commodores) came to the Cape late after pitching deep into the College World Series as the closer for the Horned Frogs, but did not disappoint in his quick stay. Striking out 11 hitters in his 5.1 innings on the Cape, the thick, 6’0” Texan sat in the 94-97 range with his fastball and flashed a potential plus 12-6 hook that sat in the 80-82 range. He has the mechanics of a reliever, but with his overwhelming stuff it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him popped as early as the second or third round in June as a fast-track reliever.

RHP Chase Shugart (Texas; Cotuit Kettleers) is another hard-throwing reliever (I promise this is the last one), though he got the chance to start three games for Cotuit at the end of the summer. While the command profile and his slight frame will likely keep him a reliever, Shugart generally sits in the 93-95 range with his fastball and throws two breaking balls, with the slider being the better of the two and a potential average secondary piece. Shugart’s numbers at school have been rough to this point, likely as a result of his poor command, but better performance could place him in the second day of the draft.

RHP Michael Byrne (Florida; Cotuit Kettleers) is on the opposite end of the college reliever spectrum as the closer for the National Champion Florida Gators. The 6’2” Byrne, a former walk-on in 2016, has been able to find a remarkable level of success despite topping out at 92 mph with his fastball. The all-time single-season saves leader in Florida history, Byrne has above-average command and generally pitches backwards. His best pitch is an above-average slider with strong horizontal break that he uses against both left-handed and right-handed hitters. He complements it with a changeup that doesn’t lag far behind in terms of effectiveness. The stuff, on the whole, is underwhelming, but Byrne’s absurdly good results at school and on the Cape will likely be enough to make him a second-day pick in 2018 if he is able to repeat his success this coming spring.

– 2B Terrin Vavra (Minnesota; Cotuit Kettleers) is the son of Minnesota Twins bench coach Joe Vavra. He has average raw power and one of the smoothest and most technically sound swings on display this summer. Guys with Vavra’s raw athletic tools are generally organizational depth, but Vavra’s swing and well-polished game give him the ability to become more than that. He could profile as a second-day pick.

– OF Trevor Larnach (Oregon State; Falmouth Commodores), on the other hand, looks the part of an early-round corner outfield talent, but he may not have the in-game power or swing to profile as such. While his eye is advanced and he has flashed the ability to produce hard contact, the 6’4” and well-built Larnach has launched only three homers in two years in Corvallis, and two in as many years in Falmouth. Despite the lack of in-game power, there is presently a fair amount of swing-and-miss in Larnach’s game.

3B John Cresto (Santa Clara; Cotuit Kettleers) has copious amounts of power, both in batting practice and in games. An all-or-nothing hitter, Cresto is a very strong man who can hit a ball a long way whenever he gets a hold of one. However, his issues lie in essentially all the other aspects of his game. His strikeouts are currently a major red flag, while his defense at third base has been somewhere between suspect and alarming. An 18th round pick out of high school, he still could end up a second-day pick on the basis of his easy plus raw power, but he needs to make major strides to become a major league player.

RHP Josiah Gray (Le Moyne; Chatham Anglers), who will perhaps be the youngest college junior in the 2018 draft at 20 years and five months, flashed legitimate late-inning relief ability out of the bullpen for John Schiffner’s Chatham Anglers this summer. Gray, the starting shortstop at tiny Le Moyne College in Syracuse, entered this summer with only 14 collegiate innings to his name through two seasons. With a remarkably fresh arm this summer, Gray sat comfortably in the 94-97 mph range with his fastball to go along with a slider that has the makings of a potential plus secondary offering. As a plus athlete who struck out 23 and walked only a trio in 14.2 innings on the Cape, Gray made it pretty clear this summer that he has a legitimate future on the mound.

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As a person who was paying a lot of attention to the Cape League this summer, it is really nice to contrast my opinions with yours. Although your opinions are much more informed and nuanced, I’m pleased to see that we agree on most of the main points about these players, even if it is only in a general sense.

One of the only things that I would disagree on is the power potential for Kinneman. I fully agree on the volatility of his profile, though. With a good junior season, I would expect him to be a potential second round guy, but there are examples in both directions of potential outcomes for him. For example, I remember people talking about his teammate, Brock Deathrage, as a draft prospect.
What were you thinking in regards to Kinneman's power potential?

His bat speed and raw power were both quite impressive, although he was a bit unfortunate to be on a team where basically everyone has plus raw power. There were probably seven players on Cotuit this summer with at least plus raw power, and that includes a relief pitcher (Christian Demby). I doubt you could come up with more than a limited handful of guys this summer who had more bat speed than Kinneman though. In that regard, he reminds me a bit of Joc Pederson.
I’m open to the idea that I might just be wrong, but I was thinking more of an average power guy than a plus power guy. I do like his swing – particularly his bat speed – but I don’t think that there is a lot of natural loft. I think he could hit a ton of hard line drives but I’m not as sure about over-the-fence power.

You’re right about him playing for Cotuit, though. Also when I saw his for NC State there was Debo and Dunand to contend with.

In general, I seem to underrate strength levels for baseball player, so that may be part of it, too.

I appreciate the response (and the article).