06/06/2014 9:14 AM
Article By: Joe Sherman
Twenty-one former Cape Cod Baseball League players were among the 74 chosen during the first day of Major League Baseball’s annual First-Year Player Draft. The nationally televised event took place at MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, N.J., where representatives from the 30 major league teams selected players they hope will be the future of their franchises.
Thirteen Cape League alumni were picked in the first round, two were drafted among the seven competitive balance “A” selections which followed, and the second round yielded six additional CCBL grads.
First to be chosen, at No. 4 by the Chicago Cubs, was Indiana University catcher Kyle Schwarber (Wareham, 2012-13), who hit home runs in the ninth and 10th innings to deliver the Gatemen’s 8-6 victory over Yarmouth-Dennis in the deciding game of the 2012 playoffs. For his efforts, he was named MVP of the playoffs.
The Philadelphia Phillies used their No. 7 pick to take LSU pitcher Aaron Nola (Harwich, 2012). Nola pitched in just two games for the Mariners before joining the U.S. National Collegiate Team, but left a lasting impression. In 11 innings, he notched two wins, allowed just one run and struck out 15, leaving behind a 0.82 ERA and a 0.640 WHIP when he left the Cape.
The eighth and ninth picks went to two former Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The Colorado Rockies chose left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeman (Hyannis, 2013) of Evansville and the Toronto Blue Jays, using the first of their two picks in the first round, selected southpaw hurler Jeff Hoffman (Hyannis, 2012-13) of East Carolina.
Next to go was Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost (Bourne, 2013), the ’13 winner of the Pat Sorenti Award as Cape League MVP. Pentecost was the Blue Jays’ second first-round pick at No. 11.
Other ex-Cape Leaguers drafted in the first round were Hartford left-handed pitcher Sean Newcomb (Wareham, 2012-13), No. 15 by the Los Angeles Angels; TCU southpaw Brandon Finnegan (Falmouth, 2013), No. 17 by the Kansas City Royals; UNLV righty Erick Fedde (Y-D, 2013), No. 18 by the Washington Nationals, and Virginia right-hander Nick Howard (Harwich, 2013), No. 19 by the Cincinnati Reds.
Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie (Falmouth, 2013) was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 20th pick. Gillaspie outdid older brother Conor Gillaspie, now the Chicago White Sox’s third baseman, who also starred for the Shockers and at Falmouth. Conor was the Cape League’s MVP and batting champion in 2007 and was chosen by the San Francisco Giants as a compensation first-round pick at No. 37 in the 2008 draft.
San Francisco Dons outfielder Brad Zimmer (Cotuit, 2013) was selected at No. 21 by the Cleveland Indians, Florida State right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver (Brewster, 2012) went to St. Louis at No. 27 and Stanford shortstop Alex Blandino (Y-D, 2012-13) was chosen by Cincinnati with the 29th pick.
Competitive balance “A,” considered an extension of the first round, saw Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher (Harwich, 2013) selected by Cleveland at No. 37 and San Diego outfielder Connor Joe (Chatham, 2013) chosen by Miami at No. 39.
The first player picked in the second round was University of Kentucky first baseman A.J. Reed (Harwich, 2012-13), who went to the Houston Astros at No. 42. The Astros had opened the draft shortly after 7 p.m., making San Diego high school pitching sensation Brady Aiken the first player selected in 2014.
Other Cape Leaguers taken in the second round were Maryland righty Jake Stinnett (Brewster, 2013), No. 45 by the Cubs; Louisville righty Nick Burdi (Chatham, 2012), No. 46 by the Minnesota Twins; Florida International catcher Aramis Garcia (Cotuit, 2012-13), No. 52 by the Giants; Alabama righty Spencer Turnbull (Wareham, 2013), No. 63 by the Detroit Tigers, and Indiana first baseman Sam Travis (Y-D, 2012), No. 67 by the Boston Red Sox.
There were no Cape Leaguers among the six competitive balance “B” choices.
Selections in Rounds 3-10 were scheduled today with Rounds 11-40 taking place on Saturday. Both days’ activities are being streamed live at mlb.com.
It will be interesting to see whether the Cape League can come close to matching its record of 258 players taken in a single draft. That would be a tall order, considering that the mark was set in 2011 when the draft lasted 50 rounds. Last year, the second in which the draft ended after 40 rounds, 208 former CCBL players were chosen.