Players to Watch: Week One

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

By Zach Leach

With one week of the season down, many players have gotten off to a hot start. Some familiar faces have made the first Watch List of the summer, while new stars have emerged and have caught the eye of fans around the league. Most pitchers have only made one start, but some were so impressive that they have stood out. On the offensive side, a handful of sluggers have already done a great job of separating themselves from the rest with strong early showings.

Edwin Rios (Florida International)

Infielder, Orleans Firebirds

.391 BA, 6 R, 8 RBI, 2 HR, 0 SB

No one has come out swinging in the new season more than Rios, who has shown impressive power game after game. He currently leads the league in RBIs by a solid margin, and also leads the league in slugging percentage (.783) and shares the runs scored and home run lead. His .391 average is no joke either, as he has proven early on that he is a major threat at the plate. Orleans will look to Rios as an offense leader all season, which could possibly fast track him to MVP consideration down the road if he keeps producing at the same level.

Ian Happ (Cincinnati)

Outfielder, Harwich Mariners

.500 BA, 6 R, 1 RBI, 0 HR, 4 SB

For a second year, Happ is showing that he is one of the most dynamic players in the Cape League. Leading an upstart Harwich squad, Happ’s league-best .500 average is no fluke; he has a league-leading ten hits in twenty at-bats to start the season. With a .538 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage, he’s more than getting it done at the plate, and with four stolen bases and a league-leading six runs scored, he’s a threat on the base paths as well. The 2013 All-Star likely has another All-Star selection locked up already, and maybe even more when all is said and done.

Jason Inghram (William & Mary)

Pitcher, Harwich Mariners

7 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 K, .29 WHIP

While many pitchers started off the new campaign with excellent outings, including two of Inghram’s Harwich teammates, he was the best of the best. In his first start, the lefty went seven shutout innings and allowed only two hits and no walks, while striking out eight opposing batters. If Inghram can keep opponents batting .087 against him and racking up over ten strikeouts per nine innings, he would be nearly unbeatable this summer.

Matt Hall (Missouri St.)

Pitcher, Falmouth Commodores

9 IP, 0-0, 1.00 ERA, 11 K, 1.22 WHIP

Of the handful of pitchers who made two starts in Week One, Hall stands out from the rest. Though he has yet to get a win, he has been dominant in each of his outings. With a league-leading eleven strikeouts versus only seven hits allowed and one earned run, Hall has been a tough matchup for opposing batters. If he can remain consistent with allowing a low number of hits and runs and recording a high number of strikeouts, he’ll get a lot of attention this summer.

Kevin Newman (Arizona)

Infielder, Falmouth Commodores

.318 BA, 3 R, 5 RBI, 1 HR, 2 SB

The 2013 batting champ is off to a hot start again, and flashing even more power than last year. Newman hit the first home run of his Cape League career this week, and his 5 RBIs so far, which has him tied for second in the league, have him on pace to easily break his 18 total from last summer. While the Falmouth offense will likely not be as prolific as its 2013 version, that shouldn’t stop Newman from having another great year and again having his name in end of the year award discussions.

Willie Calhoun (Arizona)

Infielder, Wareham Gatemen

.391 BA, 3 R, 3 RBI, 0 HR, 0 SB

Newman’s Arizona teammate Calhoun is off to a strong start himself, batting .391, with a West-leading nine hits, and slugging .609, with a league-leading five doubles. While he has yet to flash big-time power or speed, he has all the tools to hit for a high average and drive in and score runs all summer. Calhoun has established himself as Wareham’s offensive leader already and should he lead them to a strong season, he would surely be in talks as one of the league’s most valuable players.

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