06/07/2023 6:46 AM
Article By: Brian Butler
With Opening Day just days away, Cape League teams are putting the final pieces in place to get ready for the first pitch. Before the season kicks off, here is a brief preview of all the West Division teams and a few players on each roster to keep an eye on this summer.
The defending champion Bourne Braves will be looking to make their third consecutive finals appearance in 2023. Led by second-year manager Scott Landers, the Braves will be returning last year’s Championship Series MVP in shortstop Bryce Eblin to the roster. Other key returning members of the championship team include right-handers Bryce Cunningham, Kade Grundy, Nigel Belgrave, and second baseman Joshua Kuroda-Grauer.
In addition to the returnees, the Doran Park faithful will have several new additions to the roster to watch. Outfielder Vance Honeycutt wowed at North Carolina this season, establishing himself as a true five-tool player and one of the most entertaining defensive players in the nation. Joining Honeycutt in the Bourne outfield will be Andrew Patrick, who put together an incredible season at Wright State, hitting 20 homers and stealing 31 bases in the Raiders’ run to a regional. The Braves should have another very strong roster this year, in hopes of defending their title.
The Cotuit Kettleers also have a lot of great talent to look forward to this summer. Last summer’s Relief Pitcher of the Year, Cam Schuelke, will be returning to the roster following a strong season at the College of Central Florida. Catcher Caleb Lomavita will also be returning to Lowell Park, following an impressive sophomore season in Berkeley. Manager Mike Roberts will also be chasing his fourth Cape League championship with the Kettleers.
Cotuit features some very interesting newcomers. Second baseman Christian Moore, who spent much of last summer with Hyannis, will appear in the Kettleer pinstripes coming off a season at Tennessee where he posted a 1.113 OPS. Shortstop Brady Counsell, son of 16-year MLB veteran and Brewers manager Craig Counsell, will suit up at Lowell Park following a solid sophomore campaign at Minnesota. Indiana outfielder Carter Mathison is an intriguing player to watch, following a season in Bloomington where he posted a .970 OPS. The Cotuit fans will have another strong product to watch this summer at Lowell Park.
The Falmouth Commodores have assembled one of the most exciting rosters in the Cape League this summer. The Commodores are expected to be led by two-way standout Jac Caglianone, who astounded baseball fans around the country at Florida this year. Caglianone appeared as both a starting pitcher, where he threw 69 innings with a 3.78 ERA and 81 strikeouts, and a hitter, where he hit .337 and crushed 31 home runs. Caglianone will be joined in the lineup by Sam Houston State’s Joseph Redfield, who hit .402 in 60 games for the Bearkats this spring. Falmouth’s pitching staff will be anchored by righty AJ Causey, who posted a 2.61 ERA in 48.1 innings while picking up nine saves at Jacksonville State.
Falmouth has some returning players fans should be excited to see again. 2022 All-Star Alex Mooney is coming back following a season at Duke where he posted a .321/.440/.514 slash line. First baseman Jacob Walsh will also return to the Commodores, after more than doubling his freshman home run output this spring in Eugene. Led by longtime manager Jeff Trundy, the Commodores are seeking their first Cape League Championship since 1980.
Hyannis Harbor Hawks:
Coming off one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in Cape League history, the Hyannis Harbor Hawks have a lot of momentum going into the 2023 season. Reigning Coach of the Year and CCBL Hall of Famer Eric Beattie will return for his second year, as will many key members of last year’s team. Righthanders Jay Driver and Ty Good will look to have a second strong summer at McKeon Park, and the lineup will again feature outfielder Michael Sirota and the electric Rikuu Nishida, both of whom excelled in their collegiate campaigns.
While the returnees are exciting, the newcomers to Hyannis are just as impressive. Wake Forest outfielder Tommy Hawke will debut, having posted a .364 average across his 117-game collegiate career. Ethan Bates starred as a two-way player at Louisiana Tech, posting a 3.16 ERA in 37 innings with a .281/.384/.573 triple slash in 48 games played in the field. The pitching staff will also feature righty Ryan Johnson, who struck out 116 batters in 87.1 innings at Dallas Baptist. The Hawks will once again have a fun and exciting squad to watch this summer
The Wareham Gatemen will have a new face at the helm this year, as first-year manager Ryan Smyth will take over. The Gatemen have assembled an amazing talent pool, headlined by returning catcher Ryan Campos. Campos slashed .388/.503/.594 this spring in Tempe, and will look to carry on that strong performance in his return to Wareham. His fellow Sun Devil Nick McLain, whose older brother Matt also appeared for the Gatemen, will play for Wareham after slashing an impressive .298/.391/.649 this spring. Outfielder Dylan Goldstein, who hit the first walkoff home run in the Cape League playoffs in at least a decade last summer with Brewster, will join the Gateman this season.
Wareham’s pitching staff looks equally solid, led by San Diego State righty Eldridge Armstrong III, who posted a 2.70 ERA in 46.2 innings for the Aztecs. Another arm poised for a strong summer is Clemson righty Casey Tallent, who made 16 appearances for the Tigers with a 3.43 ERA. One other arm to watch is Dayton southpaw Mark Manfredi, who struck out 96 across 79.1 innings with the Flyers this spring. A very talented Wareham squad rounds out what should be a very competitive West Division.