Manager: John Schiffner
Last Season: 25-16-3
The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox won last year’s Cape League championship with an incredible offense. The Chatham A’s have their eyes on the title in 2008, and if they win it, they’ll do it with incredible pitching.
It was clear from the moment Chatham’s roster was released that the pitching staff had a chance to be special. As I read through the alphabetical roster, I was more and more amazed. Start with Brad Boxberger and Charles Brewer, two returning players who had big success last year. Continue to Gavin Brooks, a top prospect, and Kevin Couture, another talented returnee. In the middle is Matt Harvey, one of the highest unsigned picks in last year’s draft. Louisville’s Justin Marks, one of the top pitchers in the Big East is there, too. Then there’s Tom Milone, last year’s Cape League pitcher of the year. And don’t forget Alex White down near the bottom. He’s a surefire first-round pick next year.
So yes, the A’s have some pitching.
Their offense can’t come close to matching it, but with the addition of USC’s Grant Green, it’s no slouch either. Combined, I think that makes the A’s the most complete team in the league, at least on paper. With an unheard of nine players back from last year’s team – and three more from other teams – the A’s should know what it takes to turn potential into success.
Last year, they turned it on late in the season to finish with the second-best record in the league. They were really no match for Y-D in the Eastern finals, but nobody would have been. It was still a historic year for the A’s, who saw longtime manager John Schiffner become the Cape League’s career wins leader.
For all the wins, though, it’s been awhile since the A’s won a championship – 1998, to be exact. It looks like they’ve got the team to do it this year.
Returning players: 9
Freshmen : 5
• Chatham has 28 players on the roster right now. It needs to be at 25, so they’re definitely expecting to make some changes in the coming weeks.
• For the pitching staff to live up to its potential, Brad Boxberger, Charles Brewer and Gavin Brooks have to bounce back. All three had shaky springs, but all three have all-star potential.
• As good as the pitching might be, the offense will have to be good, too. Every team in the Cape has good pitching, so you have to score runs to win.
• Since the A’s are a little pitching heavy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see David Hale – who is listed only as a pitcher despite playing a lot in the field this spring – see some time at the plate, too.
• If Matt Harvey doesn’t end up as the top freshman pitcher on the Cape, don’t be surprised if Sammy Solis does. He just has to crack the starting rotation first.
• Catcher is one spot where the A’s might struggle. Gregg Glime hit .209 this spring and Joe Mercurio hit .222. With this team, though, the most important thing may be for them to simply be solid defensively.
• If we’re penciling in Kyle Bellows at third, Grant Green at short and Casey Haerther at first, the A’s would have a very strong infield. It would be significantly stronger if Kyle Seager doesn’t go to Team USA. Seager is currently the only Chatham player to be invited.
• Chatham’s North Carolina pipeline is certainly a great thing for the franchise, but the Tar Heels have turned into such a powerhouse, that the A’s can’t bank on getting a full season out of anybody from Chapel Hill. UNC is poised to make another trip to Omaha this year.
• As far as Seager goes, the A’s might want to be rooting for UNC to make a deep CWS run. That would cut way into the Team USA trials process, meaning Seager would be much more likely to be one of the invitees who doesn’t make the team. So he’d arrive late to Chatham, but at least he’d be there.
• I’d look for Baylor’s Aaron Miller to have a big summer. He was a major prospect out of high school who had his freshman year cut off by an injury. He was very good this season and is poised to make a name for himself again.
• The fact that the A’s have 12 players on this year’s roster who played on the Cape last year is extremely unusual. It could be a huge advantage for them.
Five Players I’m Excited to See
1. Grant Green
2. Alex White
3. Matt Harvey
4. Gavin Brooks
5. Justin Marks
Brad Boxberger – RHP – 6’2 195 – USC – Sophomore
*Charles Brewer – RHP – 6’5 195 – UCLA – Sophomore
*Gavin Brooks – LHP – 6’3 210 – UCLA – Sophomore
*Kevin Couture – RHP – 6’0 185 – USC – Sophomore
Carmine Giardina – LHP – 6’3 210 – Central Florida – Sophomore
David Hale – RHP – 6’2 195 – Princeton – Sophomore
Matt Harvey – RHP – 6’4 200 – North Carolina – Freshman
*Jeff Lorick – LHP – 6’1 185 – Virginia – Sophomore
Justin Marks – LHP – 6’2 180 – Louisville – Sophomore
*Tom Milone – LHP – 6’0 205 – USC – Junior
Joe Serafin – LHP – 5’11 190 – Vermont – Junior
Sammy Solis – LHP – 6’4 215 – San Diego – Freshman
Jake Thompson – RHP – 6’3 200 – Long Beach State – Freshman
Adam Warren – RHP – 6’2 205 – North Carolina – Junior
*Alex White – RHP – 6’3 191 – North Carolina – Sophomore
Matt Zoltak – LHP – 5’11 200 – Clemson – Sophomore
* returning player
Brad Boxberger – RHP – 6’2 195
Boxberger was on his way to a huge summer for Orleans when an injury sent him home a little early. He still made seven appearances and finished with a 1.24 ERA. He made a pretty big impression, too. Baseball America tabbed him as the 24th best prospect in the league, which made him the fourth-best freshman pitcher. Boxberger’s spring wasn’t spectacular, though. He finished with decent peripheral numbers – 52 strikeouts in 50 innings – but his ERA was 6.12.
Charles Brewer – RHP – 6’5 195
Brewer was one of two UCLA frosh pitching for the A’s last year, and he had a better showing than Gavin Brooks, who will also be back in Chatham. He finished the summer with a 1.94 ERA, the best mark on the team among starters. Like Boxberger, his spring was a little uneven. He went 8-4 but had a 5.09 ERA.
Gavin Brooks – LHP – 6’3 210
In terms of potential, Brooks probably is a little bit ahead of his teammate Brewer. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much of a chance to show it last summer. He was impressive in two early starts but then left for the remainder of the season. He’ll be trying to leave a more lasting impression this summer after posting a 4.91 ERA this spring.
Kevin Couture – RHP – 6’0 185
Couture was one of the most dominant relievers on the Cape last year, finishing with a .90 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 30 innings. He spent the spring in USC’s rotation, going 6-2 with a 4.27 ERA. Whatever role he plays for Chatham, he’s got the potential to be a major contributor.
Carmine Giardina – LHP – 6’3 210
Giardina was a 28th-round pick out of high school in 2006 and had a decent freshman season for the Knights. But he saw his ERA balloon to 8.92 this season. He still struck out 45 in 38.1 innings.
David Hale – RHP – 6’2 195
Hale was a starter all season for the Tigers and was somewhat of a workhorse, finishing with three complete games. He had a 5.04 ERA but struck out 47 in 44.2 innings of work. Hale also played a lot in the field, finishing with a .339 batting average and five home runs.
Matt Harvey – RHP – 6’4 200
Harvey was a first-round talent last year who dropped to the third round. He still ended up as one of the highest unsigned picks in the draft, and he has lived up to the hype with the Tar Heels. Through the regional, which UNC won, Harvey had a 7-2 record and a 2.52 ERA. He has struck out 74 in 60.2 innings. Based on hype and those numbers, Harvey could be the top freshman pitcher in the league.
Jeff Lorick – LHP – 6’1 185
Lorick is kind of the forgotten man when you list who’s coming back from last year’s team, but he should be a valuable player. He had his ups and downs in relief for the A’s last summer, finishing with an ERA above 6, but he still has the potential to be a good left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. With as many starters as the A’s have, they’ll need Lorick to be a big part of the pen.
Justin Marks – LHP – 6’2 180
Marks had a great freshman season with the Cardinals, and after struggling through the early part of this season, he really turned it on. He finished with a 9-1 record, a 2.21 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 85.2 innings. Marks looks like a guy who’s just coming into his own, so he could make a big splash this summer.
Tom Milone – LHP – 6’0 205
Milone was last year’s Cape League Pitcher of the Year, but for whatever reason, scouts don’t love him. That’s probably why he’s on the A’s roster again, despite being eligible for the draft this year. He was taken in the 10th round, so we’ll see what happens with him. If he comes, he gives the A’s something no other team has – a veteran lefty who has already had major success on the Cape.
Joe Serafin – LHP – 5’11 190
I actually saw Serafin in the NECBL last year, and though he doesn’t have the prototypical pitcher look, he’s very good. The typical crafty lefthander, Serafin went 6-5 this spring with a 2.51 ERA and earned America East Pitcher of the Year honors. Without the size or the hype or the big school, Serafin is a guy who will be easy to root for this summer.
Sammy Solis – LHP – 6’4 215
Solis was an 18th-round pick in last year’s draft and showed why in his freshman year with the Toreros. He made 17 appearances – seven starts – and went 3-1 with a 3.83 ERA. He struck out 42 and walked 12, an outstanding ratio, especially for a freshman.
Jake Thompson – RHP – 6’3 200
Long Beach State
Like Robert Stock at USC a year ago, Thompson enrolled at Long Beach after skipping his senior year of high school. He’s not quite as young as Stock was when he did it, but this is still an interesting case. Thompson went 2-5 this spring with a 4.95 ERA.
Adam Warren – RHP – 6’2 205
Of the three UNC pitchers on the Chatham roster, Warren comes with the least amount of hype. But he’s been a very consistent starter for the Tar Heels, posting an 8-1 record with a 4.42 ERA. His 71.1 innings pitched rank second on the team. Last summer, Warren played for Brewster, finishing the season with a 7.71 ERA.
Alex White – RHP – 6’3 191
White was a 14th-round pick out of high school and lived up to the hype last year, both for the Tar Heels and the A’s. After finishing sixth in the ACC in strikeouts in the spring, he came to Chatham and was impressive despite a late arrival, finishing with a 2.10 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. He’s been great this spring, with a 9-3 record, a 2.66 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 81.1 innings.
Matt Zoltak – LHP – 5’11 200
Zoltak has been used almost exclusively as a reliever in his two years at Clemson. He finished this season with a 6.30 ERA after posting a 5.66 ERA as a freshman.
*Gregg Glime – C – 5’11 210 – Baylor – Sophomore
Joe Mercurio – C – 6’2 185 – Maine – Sophomore
Kyle Bellows – 3B – 6’3 205 – San Jose State – Sophomore
Grant Green – SS – 6’0 180 – USC – Sophomore
Casey Haerther – 1B – 6’2 210 – UCLA – Sophomore
Devin Lohman – INF – 6’1 185 – Long Beach State – Freshman
Victor Sanchez – INF – 6’2 180 – San Diego – Freshman
*Kyle Seager – 2B – 6’1 194 – North Carolina – Sophomore
Dylan Brown – OF – 6’2 201 – Oklahoma State – Sophomore
Aaron Miller – OF – 6’3 220 – Baylor – Sophomore
Corey Overholtzer – OF – 5’11 160 – UNC Greensboro – Sophomore
*Jeremy Synan – OF – 5’11 192 – NC State – Junior
* returning player
Gregg Glime – C – 5’11 210
Glime saw part-time action his freshman year at Baylor then played for Chatham last summer. He struggled with the A’s, finishing with a .150 average, and he hit only .209 this spring for Baylor.
Joe Mercurio – C – 6’2 185
Chatham has had a Maine connection in the past and they’ve used it again to bring in Mercurio. The lanky sophomore played his freshman year at Illinois before transferring to Maine. He played in 36 games for the Black Bears, finishing with a .222 batting average.
Kyle Bellows – 3B – 6’3 205
San Jose State
Bellows earned Freshman All-America nods from several publications after hitting .343 last season. He continued his strong year by hitting .343 in the NECBL, which helped him earn the No. 2 spot on BA’s list of the league’s top prospects. His numbers weren’t quite as good this spring – .276 with four home runs.
Grant Green – SS – 6’0 180
Based on what he did last year for Y-D and what he did this spring for USC, Green will enter the summer as the top returning player, in my book. He hit .291 with four home runs for the Red Sox last summer. This season for the Trojans, he hit .390 with nine home runs. He was rated 18th on BA’s list of top Cape League prospects last year, and he’s got a good shot to move way up this year.
Casey Haerther – 1B – 6’2 210
Haerther was the top all-around hitter for the Bruins this spring, finishing the year with a .324 average and team-highs of 12 home runs and 52 RBI. Out of high school, Haerther was a 34th-round pick.
Devin Lohman – INF – 6’1 185
Long Beach State
Lohman was a late addition to the Chatham roster, likely an insurance policy if Seager goes to Team USA, and a very good backup if he doesn’t. He should be a good player regardless of how big a role he plays. He was drafted in the 42nd round out of high school and played fairly well for Long Beach this spring.
Victor Sanchez – INF – 6’2 180
Sanchez was another piece in San Diego’s big recruiting class and he made a pretty big impact. Holding down the starting job at third, Sanchez didn’t hit that well in the average department (.268) but he made up for it with 12 home runs, best on the team.
Kyle Seager – 2B – 6’1 194
Seager was a valuable contributor for the Tar Heels as a freshman then had a strong showing for Chatham, hitting .274 after arriving late from the College World Series. He’s been a star for the Tar Heels this year, hitting .365 with eight home runs and 67 RBI. He has been invited to Team USA.
Dylan Brown – OF – 6’2 201
Brown has been very solid in his sophomore year for the Cowboys, hitting .294 with four home runs. This will be his first summer on the Cape, but he has a big connection to Chatham. His brother Corey, also from Oklahoma State, played for Chatham in 2006 and is now in the Oakland A’s organization.
Aaron Miller – OF – 6’3 220
Miller was a big-time player out of high school. His senior year, he was rated No. 23 nationally by Baseball America. Once he arrived at Baylor, he started from day one, before a broken arm ended his season and kept him out all of last summer. He was very good this year though, finishing with a .295 average and 12 home runs.
Corey Overholtzer – OF – 5’11 160
Overholtzer is another player coming from a smaller school who could have a big impact. He hit .350 this spring with five home runs.
Jeremy Synan – OF – 5’11 192
Synan came to Chatham for the second half of the season last summer and gave the A’s a pretty big boost. He ended up hitting .388 in 18 games. For NC State this spring, he’s hit .306. Synan is another junior who may be trying to raise his stock.