The Cape Cod Baseball League held its annual Frank Finn Cape League Invitational Tryout on a gorgeous afternoon Saturday, which yielded the signing of four pitchers.
The tryout, designed to give collegiate baseball players from around the country a shot at being signed by one of the 10 Cape League teams, was held at Clem Spillane Field in Wareham, the home of the league's own Wareham Gatemen. Invited to this year's tryout were 74 student-athletes from 46 different schools nationwide. Of the 74, 48 of those invited were positional players while the remaining 26 were pitchers.
The positional players were featured in both batting practice and extended infield/outfield drills, followed by a multi-inning scrimmage. The pitchers were provided approximately an inning each to showcase their skills against the other players in the scrimmage. In attendance were coaches and representatives from all 10 Cape League teams scouting the players and looking for those worthy of being signed to a contract for the 2014 summer season.
At the conclusion of the tryout, four players had shown they had what it takes to compete in the CCBL this summer. All four players - two from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., and two from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. - who were subsequently signed are pitchers for their respective schools. Jason Harper, a 195-pound, 6-1 sophomore from Saugus, Mass., was signed to the Wareham Gatemen. The right-handed Harper, out of Franklin Pierce, put on a dazzling performance, tossing one inning of no-hit baseball and striking out two batters swinging along with a third looking.
Harper, who did not appear in the 2014 season for Franklin Pierce, was named The Boston Globe player of the year as well as a Boston Globe all-scholastic selection in his senior year at Northeast Metro Tech High School.
His teammate, 6-foot, 200-pound junior Brendan O'Rourke, was picked up by the Bourne Braves. The Shrewsbury, Mass., native appeared in 13 games for Franklin Pierce this season, posting a strong 7-2 record to go along with a nifty 2.42 earned run average and 79 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings pitched. The righty held his opponents to an incredible .175 batting average for the season.
His performance at the tryout included a strikeout, a walk and an infield single on 17 pitches.
Nick Cooney, a 6-3, 205-pound junior from Rehoboth, Mass., was selected by the Falmouth Commodores. The Wesleyan pitcher went 6-3 in 14 appearances in 2014, with a 3.31 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings pitched. Cooney pitched three complete games during the season and held opponents to a .192 batting average. At the tryout, the left-hander backed up his solid season statistics by striking out two batters swinging as well as a third looking in one inning.
The final player signed, also out of Wesleyan, was 6-3, 225-pound sophomore Gavin Pittore of Roslindale, Mass. The right-handed Pittore, picked up by the Harwich Mariners, finished the 2014 season with a sparkling 7-1 record in 13 appearances. He held opponents to a .232 batting average while posting a 2.88 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings pitched. Pittore retired the side in order on one inning pitched in the tryout, throwing a total of 15 pitches. The four pitchers will join the rosters of the many talented players already hoping to join the list of elite professional greats who once played in the CCBL.
In the past, the Frank Finn tryout has provided a pivotal stepping stone for amateur players vying for bids for a career at the professional level. Justin Maxwell, a former member of the Bourne Braves in 2003 and the Cotuit Ketleers in 2004, was one such product of this yearly tryout. Maxwell, an outfielder, was later drafted by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2005 Major League Baseball amateur draft. He debuted during the 2007 season with the Nationals before spending time with the Houston Astros and landing with his current team, the Kansas City Royals.
Another recent success story resulting from the tryout is that of current Seattle Mariners left-handed relief pitcher Charlie Furbush. Taking part in the tryout in 2006, Furbush impressed those in attendance when he struck out the side using the minimum nine pitches needed. His performance was so stunning that he was signed by Hyannis for the 2006 season. Following his stint with the Cape League, Furbush was taken by the Detroit Tigers in the fourth round of the 2007 amateur draft before making his major league debut in 2011 and being traded to the Mariners that same year.