FALMOUTH, Mass. - The Cape Cod Baseball League is an important stepping-stone for college baseball players on their journey to professional baseball. It is an opportunity to play against the supreme competition in the country while using wood bats, which is a significant reason scouts are attracted to the league.
Jack Marder (Oregon) capitalized on his chance with the Falmouth Commodores, and recently signed with the Seattle Mariners as a 16th round pick. Most Cape Leaguers are freshman and sophomores and thus not draft eligible, but Marder was an exception. He was a draft-eligible sophomore because he turned 21 within 50 days after the draft.
This gave him bargaining leverage over the Mariners. If he returned to school for his junior year, he could be drafted again next summer. As a result, he received a signing bonus equivalent to fifth round money.
The Commodores will sorely miss his hitting, his versatile defense, and his leadership as they make a push to the playoffs. Although the Cape League is a developmental league where players try to improve their draft stock, Marder always fostered a team-first attitude, which earned respect from players and coaches,
"Everyone misses Jack," field manager Jeff Trundy said. "I thought he brought a lot on and off the field. His play motivated everyone else to play hard. At the same time, he was a kid everyone enjoyed being around."
Pitcher Joe Bircher (Bradley) echoed those feelings. "Jack was a really good teammate," he said. "A lot of guys who play in summer leagues play for themselves. Jack had no problem going up to the plate and laying down a bunt to help us win. He was an important piece to our success."
An example came when the Commodores were digging out of their horrid 0-7 start. They were tied 1-1 with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the top of the 8th inning with one out and a runner on third base. Realizing that each game was increasingly important in order to position them for the playoffs, Marder laid down a safety squeeze to score the go-ahead run, leading to a critical victory.
Marder had many such sacrifices, but that did not affect his performance at the plate. He hit .298 with 18 RBIs and four stolen bases. "He always gave us great, tough at-bats for, and he was also clutch," Trundy said.
Marder’s defensive versatility might have been his most impressive attribute. He initially played first base, but when starting shortstop Eric Garcia (Missouri) went down with a hand injury, Marder was asked to fill in. Even more surprising, he was drafted as a catcher. "Jack is a very good catcher, but, ironically, we only caught him once," Trundy said.
Although recruited by Oregon as an infielder, Marder became a catcher when the need arose. Unfortunately, he was returning from a hand injury this summer, which prevented him from catching for the Commodores. But he manned first base and shortstop admirably. "Jack’s versatility was very obvious," Trundy said. "He was one of the most versatile kids I had here in Falmouth. He could probably play everywhere on the diamond except pitcher and center field. But if we were under unusual circumstances, we could have thrown him in at center and still survived."