Crow and Gibson Named Top Cape Cod League Prospects

MUTIGERS.COM Mizzou's Aaron Crow
MUTIGERS.COM
Mizzou's Aaron Crow
MUTIGERS.COM

Aug. 30, 2007

The following is an excerpt that of an article that appeared on BaseballAmerica.com. Mizzou pitchers Aaron Crow and Kyle Gibson were named among the top prospects of the Cape Cod League this past summer. Crow will be a junior for the Tigers in 2007-08, while Gibson is entering his sophomore year at Missouri.

Mighty Missouri
2007 Cape Cod League Top 30 Prospects

Power arms dominate top of Cape prospect heap.

By Jim Callis
August 28, 2007

Outside of USA Baseball's college national team, the Cape Cod League remains the most prospect-rich environment in summer baseball. Roughly one in six active major leaguers played on the Cape, and that figure has held steady for a while. In the 2007 draft, seven first-rounders and 14 supplemental first-rounders were Cape alumni.

This summer, the Cape hitters combined to bat .245/.333/.341 while pitchers posted a collective 3.54 ERA. Those numbers represented an explosion of offense, as they were easily the highest this decade. Despite the upswing in scoring, pitchers continued to stand out most, claiming seven of the spots on our Cape Top 10 Prospects list.

Four of the top eight prospects pitched for the Falmouth Commodores, who had the deepest staff in recent memory. Falmouth had the top overall prospect (Missouri righthander Aaron Crow), the top freshman pitching prospect (Missouri righty Kyle Gibson), the top lefty pitching prospect (Eastern Kentucky's Christian Friedrich) and the top relief pitching prospect (Louisiana Tech's Luke Burnett). Commodores righthanders Shooter Hunt (Tulane), Aaron Shafer (Wichita State), Kyle Weiland (Notre Dame) and Brett Graffy (Notre Dame) also impressed managers and scouts.

 

 

Falmouth rode its pitching to the Cape finals, where it was swept in two games by Yarmouth-Dennis. Yarmouth-Dennis, which won its second straight title and third in four years, had the league's deepest lineup, led by shortstops Gordon Beckham (Georgia) and Grant Green (Southern California) and catchers Buster Posey (Florida State) and Jason Castro (Stanford). None of them cracked the Top 10, where the lone Red Sox representative is righthander Scott Green (Kentucky).

1. Aaron Crow, rhp, Falmouth (Jr., Missouri)

Crow wasn't a complete unknown as a Kansas high school senior, but he wasn't a priority for pro teams either because his fastball velocity was 84-86 mph. That has changed quickly in two years, and he sat at 93-96 mph throughout the summer and touched 98 while winning the Cape's ERA title (0.67) and Robert A. McNeese award as the top pro prospect, voted on by scouts.

"I'll bet if the draft was tomorrow," a National League scouting director said, "Crow would go No. 1."

Crow doesn't just light up radar guns. He keeps the ball down and pitches to both sides of the plate. He backs up his fastball with a good slider and an effective changeup.

The lone question with Crow is his durability, as he's not big (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) and there's some effort to his delivery. His mechanics aren't violent, however, as he generates his velocity with arm speed and athleticism.

2. Yonder Alonso, 1b, Brewster (Jr., Miami)

Alonso was the consensus choice as the Cape's top all-around hitter. He had the best approach in the league, and it was tested when the Whitecaps lost all of their other power threats to injuries and early departures. Alonso remained patient and continued to use the whole field, finishing with league highs in walks (36) and on-base percentage (.468) while hitting .338.

"He's more than a power bat," a second NL scouting director said. "He's a hitter with power, so that's all the better. He's pretty advanced."

Alonso has a loose, compact stroke and excellent balance, and most of his current power comes in the form of line drives to the gaps. He should become more of a home run threat once he turns on and lifts more pitches. He's a below-average athlete who could work harder on his conditioning and defense, and even then he probably still will be limited to first base.

3. Kyle Gibson, rhp, Falmouth (So., Missouri)

Gibson was Missouri's go-to reliever as a freshman, so it was no surprise he was able to handle Cape hitters despite being one of the youngest pitchers in the league. He finished second to Tigers and Commodores teammate Crow in ERA at 1.17, and established himself as a potential early first-round pick for 2009.

Gibson was the most projectable pitcher on the Cape. At 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, he's far from a finished product. He has an easy delivery and throws all three of his pitches on a steep, downhill plane. His fastball presently is more notable for its command than for its velocity (88-92 mph), and he mixes it well with a solid slider and changeup.

"He has outstanding pitchability, and makeup off the charts," Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. "He really knows how to pitch and go after hitters. And he's still a rail. He'll easily add 20-30 pounds and be throwing 95-96 in time."

4. Christian Friedrich, lhp, Falmouth (Jr., Eastern Kentucky)

Friedrich has made even greater strides than Crow after pitching in the low 80s as an Illinois high school senior. Unrecruited by colleges in his home state, he saw his fastball spike into the low 90s as soon as he arrived at Eastern Kentucky.

Friedrich now pitches with a solid-average fastball, but it's his over-the-top curveball that devastates hitters. He was untouchable when it was on, as he showed by striking out Posey, Castro and Beckham in order to finish his final inning of the summer. A strong 6-foot-3, 210-pounder with a clean delivery, he needs to improve the command of his souped-up heater.

"He's the closest to the big leagues of anyone in this league," Chatham manager John Schiffner said. "That 12-6 curveball is just deadly. It's like Rich Hill's--you just can't hit it. And his 89-92 is fine, especially with that curveball."

5. Robert Stock, c, Cotuit (So., Southern California)

Stock is believed to be the youngest player in the Cape League's college era, which began in 1963. He might have been a first-round pick in June had he not given up his final year of high school to enter college early, and he won't turn 18 until November.

As expected, Stock showed more upside than polish. He's still learning to make adjustments at the plate (he hit .228 with five walks in 135 plate appearances), needs to refine his all-around catching skills and wore down by the end of the summer. But it's impossible not to notice his big lefthanded power potential and his arm strength, the best among the league's catchers.

"That kid has a great future," Trundy said. "He swings the bat well and he has a great arm behind the plate. He's also an extremely cerebral kid. He didn't look 17 years old. I was so amazed at how well he handled himself."

To see the rest of the list, visit BaseballAmerica.com

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