Players to Watch: Pre-Season Edition

A weekly list of the top six performers of the 2014 season

By Zach Leach

Opening Day has arrived and the new season brings a whole new group of college stars. Every year, a portion of players stand out from the rest, catching the eye of Cape League fans as well as scouts around the country. Tracking these players on a weekly basis allows all fans to keep up with the best of the best throughout the summer. A small subset of last year’s group of stars has returned for another season on the Cape, immediately regaining the spotlight and leading the charge to be the best player in the league in 2014.

Kevin Newman (Arizona)

Infielder, Falmouth Commodores

2013: .375 BA, 36 R, 18 RBI, 0 HR, 16 SB

The 2013 batting champion is back and is looking to play an even bigger role for the Falmouth Commodores this time around. Last season, Newman led the league with an outstanding .375 batting average, and was also in the top five league leaders in run scored and stolen bases, yet wasn’t even the most talked about batter on his own team. In an offense loaded with talent like 2014 first rounder Casey Gillaspie (Wichita St.) and the #1, #2, and #3 league leaders in RBIs, Rhys Hoskins (Sacramento St.), Dylan Davis (Oregon St.) and Kevin Cron (TCU), Newman was just the one who got on base and came around to score. This, he’ll look to take a leadership role in the offensive game and try to better his All-Star 2013 campaign if possible.

Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt)

Outfielder, Cotuit Kettleers

2013: .294 BA, 24 R, 25 RBI, 4 HR, 12 SB

Wiseman made several appearances on last season’s “Players to Watch” list as he put up big numbers and was the offensive leader for the Cape League champs. Cotuit’s All-Star outfielder led the league in doubles and extra-base hits, finished in the top ten in runs scored, RBIs, slugging percentage, and stolen bases, and was the only player in the league to drive in 25+ runs while also having double digit stolen bases. Wiseman is truly a threat in every facet of the game, and will try to boost those numbers for an even more incredible year. A similar stat line to 2013 with a slight boost in batting average would put the Mansfield, Mass near the top the MVP conversation at the end of the year.

Ryan Kellogg (Arizona St.)

Pitcher, Bourne Braves

2013: 33 IP, 3-0, 1.36 ERA, 26 K, .97 WHIP

Kellogg was downright dominant in his six starts with the Braves last season, and was an easy All-Star selection. He finished second only to Pitcher of the Year Lukas Schiraldi in earned run average, and struck out 26 batters while only giving up 27 hits. Kellogg is easily the best returning pitcher from last summer, and if he can have the same success over 40+ innings this season, he’ll be a shoo-in for another All-Star selection and an end of the year award.

 Ian Happ (Cincinnati)

Infielder, Harwich Mariners

2013: .293 BA, 22 R, 22 RBI, 5 HR, 13 SB

Happ has the potential to blow everyone away in his second season on the Cape. As a freshman last year with Harwich, he proved himself to be a true five-tool player and he still has room to grow. He is threat at the plate, as he showed with top ten finishes in home runs, RBIs and slugging, as well as on the base paths with top five finishes in triples and stolen bases. With 2014 first rounder Derek Fisher gone, Happ is the go-to guy for the Mariners. He needs the strikeouts to go way down, which would help the batting average go up, and he could be looking at a monster season.

Mitchell Gunsolus (Gonzaga)

Infielder, Chatham Anglers

2013: .293 BA, 18 R, 11 RBI, 0 HR, 8 SB

Gunsolus wasn’t an All-Star last season, and his numbers seem modest compared to others on this list, but a closer look shows that he could make a lot of noise this season now that he’s going to be relied upon as a larger source of offense for Chatham. Gunsolus finished in the top ten in the East last summer in both runs scored and stolen bases, and he also excels at getting on base, evidenced by his near .300 batting average and league-leading 27 walks last summer. He also moves well on the base paths and is solid in the field. It has yet to be seen if Gunsolus has any more pop to his bat, but if he can boost his power numbers then his second Cape League season will be even better.

Andro Cutura (Southeastern Louisiana)

Pitcher, Wareham Gatemen

2013: 43.2 IP, 2-3, 3.91 ERA, 29 K, 1.19 WHIP

Like Gunsolus, Cutura flew under the radar, but is primed for a breakout summer in his second Cape League season. It was a tough year for Wareham in 2013, as they struggled to provide their pitchers with much run support. Nonetheless, Cutura managed to win a couple games and keep his earned run average below 4.00, while logging a ton of innings and striking out opposing batters at a strong clip. With a new group of players on the Gatemen in his second season, Cutura could benefit from a stronger team and post numbers that better match up with his skill.

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