Baseball players spend summer in Cape Cod League

Eight Tech baseball players participated in the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) over the summer. The CCBL is a ten-team summer amateur league in which numerous top college baseball players participate to keep playing during the offseason. It is one of the eight leagues in the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, which is sanctioned by the NCAA. Many future Major League Baseball players have played in the Cape Cod League during their college years, and MLB has provided financial support to the league for over 40 years. Because it attracts top-tier college players, the level of competition in the league is often considered the equivalent of high-A Minor League Baseball.

Of the eight Jackets in the league, three are playing for the Cotuit Kettleers, who play their home games in Lowell Park and were 20-18-5 through August 4. First baseman Tony Plagman is one of the three; the rising senior was Tech’s cleanup hitter for much of last season, batting .354 with a team-leading 87 hits and 73 RBI. He has struggled during his time in the CCBL, hitting just .195 with a .283 slugging percentage. Rising junior center fielder Jeff Rowland is doing slightly better with a .238 average, but his 36 strikeouts are third-most on the team, and the speedster has only seven stolen bases through more than 40 games. Still, the league has historically been dominated by pitching, and the Tech hitters are hardly the only ones to be struggling offensively. Junior Brandon Cumpton is no exception; the right-handed starter has made three starts, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and allowing just three runs and three walks in 17 innings.

Three Tech juniors—left-handed pitcher Zach Brewster, shortstop Derek Dietrich and catcher Cole Leonida—have joined the Wareham Gatemen, who play at Clem Spillane Field and were 19-18-6 through August 4. Brewster was the Jackets’ primary left-handed reliever in 2009, finishing the season with a 3.73 ERA in 31.1 innings pitched with a solid 35 strikeouts and just 16 walks. He has struggled in six appearances with the Gatemen, though, allowing 12 baserunners in 6.2 innings and amassing a 5.40 ERA.

Dietrich’s numbers were slightly down with the Jackets in 2009 after he earned Freshman Hitter of the Year honors the previous season, but he still had a solid year, batting .311 with 10 home runs and a .937 OPS. With Wareham the shortstop’s batting eye has allowedw him to lead the team with 27 walks, 26 runs scored and 50 total bases. Leonida — who was the main backup to Jason Haniger last season — has seen limited action, with only 54 at-bats, but he has posted a strong .385 on-base percentage when he has played and scored 10 runs.

The last two Jackets in the CCBL, sophomore pitcher Mark Pope and sophomore third baseman Matt Skole, are on the Falmouth Commodores, who are 17-23-2. Pope, who notched eight saves as Tech’s closer in 2009, has seen time as both a starter and reliever with Falmouth and has thrived in both roles; the right-hander is 2-2 in 34.1 innings with a 2.10 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and 32 strikeouts. Skole, who earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors, has struggled to find his power at the plate with a .178 average and just one home run in 90 at-bats, but he does have a solid ratio of 20 walks against just 28 strikeouts.

In addition to these eight players participating in this summer league, several other Tech players have kept the baseball mindset in other leagues throughout the nation. Five players are competing in the Sunbelt Baseball League, including junior outfielder Chase Burnette; four in the Coastal Plain League, including two players who split time between pitching and hitting in senior Patrick Long and sophomore Jake Davies; two in the Cal Ripken Sr. League, sophomore left-handed starter Jed Bradley and sophomore infielder Connor Winn; and one player each in the Alaska Baseball League, Great South League, Hampton’s Collegiate Baseball, Northwoods League and Valley Baseball League.