Five Rising Cape Cod League Hitters In 2018
The Cape Cod League annually brings together the best college players in the country for the summer. It is a must-see for scouts as they start evaluating the college talent in the next year’s draft class.
The annals of the Cape are filled with players who used the league to raise their stock and improve their draft position. A year ago, players such as Alec Bohm, Jonathan India, Logan Gilbert and Nico Hoerner were in the Cape laying the foundation for strong junior seasons that made them first-round picks. Further down the draft board, Jake Wong, Hogan Harris and Kyle Isbel all put themselves firmly on the radar in the summer and wound up as top-100 picks.
Who will be those players in the 2019 draft class? As the Cape season hits the home stretch, we look at five hitters who this summer have seen their profiles rise.
Matthew Barefoot, OF, Hyannis (Campbell)
Barefoot has been perhaps the Cape’s biggest surprise. He hit .364/.484/.585 with eight home runs this spring as a redshirt sophomore to win the Big South Conference batting title and helped lead Campbell reach the NCAA Tournament. He has done nothing but hit since arriving at Hyannis in mid-June and at one point had a 22-game hitting streak.
Barefoot is hitting .392/.486/.550 to lead the Cape in batting. He was named an All-Star, has walked about as much as he’s struck out and added three home runs and six stolen bases.
Barefoot said he has been locked in at the plate on his pitches.
“A big thing we learn in college is what pitches we can hit and what zones,” he said. “So, I just sit pitches and zones and when I get it just not miss it.”
Barefoot went undrafted in June but has clearly elevated his profile since then as his track record for hitting has only grown longer. But he still has some limitations to his profile. He’s listed at 6-foot, 205 pounds and is a righthanded hitter primarily playing left field without plus speed or power. He may get a chance in center field in pro ball, but there will be a lot of pressure on his hit tool.
As long as Barefoot keeps hitting, however, he’ll get a chance. And, for now, he’s just enjoying the opportunity to play in the Cape.
“These guys out here I’m seeing everyday are better than the ones I see in college ball,” he said. “I think it’s making me a much better hitter and I’ll be really prepared when I get back to school.”
Andrew Daschbach, 1B/OF, Yarmouth-Dennis (Stanford)
Daschbach had an excellent spring at Stanford and hit 17 home runs, the most by a Cardinal player in a decade. He has brought that power swing to the Cape and is hitting .299/.425/.513 with five home runs.
Daschbach said his biggest key this summer has being on time at the plate. He is also working on his plate discipline after walking 18 times and striking out 60 times this spring. He has brought that ratio more into line with Yarmouth-Dennis, drawing 17 walks and striking out 29 times in 35 games.
“The biggest thing for me is just being able to refine my plate discipline,” he said. “My strikeout to walk ratio during the season was very lopsided. So out here I’m trying to even that out a little bit and I think I’ve done a pretty good job with that. Feeling a lot more comfortable and more than anything just having a fun time out here.”
Daschbach has also worked to refine his defense. He this spring moved to first base and has continued to play there for the Red Sox, while also getting some work in at the outfield corners. The righthanded hitter is listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and has good athleticism for his size.
While he works to improve his game, Daschbach is also trying to enjoy the experience of playing on the Cape as much as he can.
“It’s been a dream come true to play out here and I have a great host family,” he said. “Try to sneak over to the beach every now and then. It’s rare for somebody to have that type of experience so I’m soaking in every minute.”
Blake Sabol, C/OF, Chatham (Southern California)
One of Sabol’s teammates this summer compared him to a famous USC alumnus. It wasn’t Mark McGwire or Jeff Clement or any of the other premier players to come through the Trojans over the years.
Instead, it was Will Ferrell. Not for his role in “Talladega Nights” or “Old School” but for his spring training stunt when he played all nine positions on the same day.
“That’s something since I was a little kid I’ve always loved being able to play all the different positions,” Sabol said. “For me, my favorite part of the game is hitting, and it helps the coach get my name in the lineup being able to put my name in every single slot defensively.”
Sabol has this summer played everywhere on the diamond but pitcher, second base and shortstop. And the lefthanded hitter has done it while batting .329/.423/.600 with seven home runs – the second most in the league – and 11 stolen bases.
Listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Sabol looks the part. He grew up playing behind the plate and was named to the 2015 Perfect Game All-American Classic as a catcher. He expects to next spring play more in the outfield for USC, however.
Wherever Sabol plays this summer, he has produced at the plate. He attributed his success to his relaxed attitude, which he said has partly come from helping out with the youth clinics Chatham puts on.
“We’ve been playing a lot of whiffle ball, tennis ball baseball and I think I’m more relaxed, especially this being my second year on the Cape,” he said. “It just kind of feels like a whiffle ball game out there now. I think I’m just playing more relaxed now. Just trying to hit the ball hard and wherever it goes, it goes.”
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Austin Shenton, 3B, Wareham (Florida International)
Shenton has put together a solidly consistent summer with Wareham, building on his spring at FIU. After hitting .344/.417/.524 with nine home runs this spring, he took a week to refresh after a long spring and then came to the Cape relaxed and ready to go.
Shenton said he got in a good groove at the end of the spring and has stuck to that approach.
“From Game 1, I just felt comfortable and confident,” he said. “I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I just said, ‘Hey you belong here, just do your thing.’”
That’s what Shenton has done this summer. He ranks second on the Cape in batting and is hitting.375/.486/.483. The righthanded hitter hasn’t produced a ton of power – he has nine extra-base hits, but his plate discipline has been a positive and he’s walked 23 times and struck out 24.
Shenton, a Washington native, started his college career at Bellevue (Wash.) JC before transferring to FIU. He quickly found a spot in the starting lineup for the Panthers and now is looking to take the next step in his development going into his junior year.
“Just getting my body in better shape, putting on a little more mass, looking more like a professional,” he said. “There’s stuff I need to fine tune with my swing and my defense. There’s a lot of things I can improve. I feel like that’s been the thing I’ve noticed during college is from year to year to year you can reflect and be like, dang, I really improved this this year. I feel like every year I’ve looked back and realized I can get better every year. I think it’s shown on the field.”
Spencer Steer, 3B/2B, Orleans (Oregon)
Oregon pitchers Ryne Nelson and Kenyon Yovan have made plenty of noise this summer, but Steer has also impressed. He’s hitting .312/.369/.514 with five home runs for the Firebirds.
Steer said the key to his success this summer has been keeping his approach simple.
“Obviously, you’re playing on a pretty big stage out here,” he said. “Just knowing what kind of baseball player you are and sticking to what you know and stay consistent as best as possible.”
Steer has shown a new side as a player on the Cape, however, hitting five home runs in 30 games. That nearly matches his career home run total (six) in 107 career games for Oregon.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, the righthanded hitter’s newfound home run swing is a significant help to his profile.
“Power so far in my college career hasn’t really been a strong suit for me,” he said. “But I’m working hard in the weight room and that’s a part of my game I’m really trying to improve and focus on.”
Steer has also seen some action at second base for Orleans, which is a new position for him. Between that and his uptick in power, Steer is this summer showing a more well-rounded profile.