I had an opportunity over my lunch break today to join by phone a very upbeat press event held at Fenway Park to promote the upcoming Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game. The game is scheduled for Thursday, July 23, at Fenway at 7:05 pm. The press conference had two key themes. First, the Red Sox (both the team's brass and player Mike Lowell) sang the praises of the Cape League. And the Cape League mostly made a case for why fans will want to buy lots of tickets.
Red Sox Assistant General Manager Ben Cherington (right) said that his team has had an intimate relationship with the Cape League, and that they put more stock in the performance of players coming from the league than any other collegiate league. He recalled his first scouting trip to the league in 200 when he saw Kevin Youkilis (Bourne) play shortstop. He recalled that was a pretty worthwhile scouting trip.
Mike Lowell (Chatham, 1994) joined the press conference and told a poignant story about how he was a weak-hitting second baseman in college until he hit .310 or so in the Cape League. It gave him the confidence to become the power third baseman he became for the Red Sox.
I was able to ask a couple of questions during the press conference. I directed my questions to the Red Sox management. I was curious to know two things. One, what do the Red Sox scouts look for when they scout the summer league that they can't learn during the regular college season. Second, I wanted to know if they feel the league is a showcase for pitchers or for hitters.
Cherington took both questions from CodBall. He said scouts want to see college players make the transition from aluminum to wood, and they want to see them face the very best college pitching. He described that combination as a "double-whammy."
"For those hitters that succeed there (on the Cape) they can succeed in the majors,' Cherington said. "We are trying to find things that translate. There is a strong correlation for us with a strong performance in the Cape League."
As to whether it's a hitters league or a pitchers league, Cherington pointed out that there are not a lot of runs scored in the league.
"It's pitching dominant. So if you are hitting in the Cape League it's meaningful. The hitters that go there and perform really stand out."
League President Judy Scarafile said the league has not played a game there in 23 years and she expects there to be a strong showing later this month. She said the game will also be broadcast on NPR and NESN.
"It's going to be a packed and fun-filled day," she said.
REMINDER: come to the CodBall pre-game gathering.