CAPE COD, Mass. -- Go to any Cape Cod Baseball League game and you will likely see six future major leaguers, three from each team.
A recent analysis by John Wylde, the Cape League’s head statistician, illustrates that the Cape League, long considered by professional scouts and college baseball players the premier summer collegiate wood bat league, continues to recruit the best college baseball players in the country.
John Wylde, General Manager of the Wareham Gatemen
and Statistician for the CCBL
swilson/ ccbl 2006
“Over the last two or three years, there has been an emergence of new wood bat leagues, and several existing leagues have added new franchises,” said Wylde. “We must keep measuring ourselves to continue to play the lead role as far as Major League Baseball is concerned. The players come because the scouts are here, and the scouts come because the players are here. It’s a circle. We’ve got to keep providing the top talent to keep the scouts coming to keep the top talent coming.”
Seeking to keep scouts and players coming to the Cape each summer, Wylde used statistics compiled by SportsTicker to determine how many recent CCBL alumni have played in Major League games. He was most concerned with players from four-year college programs, as the CCBL does not recruit heavily from junior college programs. Analyzing data from the past six years, Wylde found CCBL alumni participation from 4 year colleges has increased from 170 players in 2001 to 192 players in 2006.
In 2001, CCBL alumni participation in the Major Leagues was 14% of all players (183), and in 2006 it reached a high of 198 (15%). Despite the yearly changes in active players on Major League rosters, CCBL alumni remains very consistent at approximately 15% of all players in MLB during each of the last six years. That means one in seven active Major League baseball players is a CCBL alumni.
Counting only the number of players from four-year colleges, the percentage of CCBL alumni who attended these colleges and played in the Major Leagues ranges from 32.44% of all players in 2001 to a high of 37.28% in 2006. That means that among those who played baseball at a four-year college, more than one of every three players on a Major League roster played in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
A factor negatively affecting the number of CCBL alumni who play in the big leagues is Team USA, which scouts the same college players and eventually takes some of them from the CCBL rosters, making it impossible to claim them as CCBL alumni.
Another factor impacting the number of CCBL alumni in the majors is that the CCBL shies away from players attending junior colleges for two years, as they are draft eligible both years. Even if they transfer to a four-year school, they would then be draft eligible juniors, likely to be drafted and signed. Since the Cape League is working against these negative factors, the figures Wylde complied are even more remarkable.
Breaking figures into hitters and pitchers, Wylde says of the 192 active CCBL alumni in the majors in 2006 (198 CCBL alumni including players on the Disabled List), 111 were hitters and 81 were pitchers . This is of particular interest because of the opinion widely held among professional scouts and heard at CCBL fields every summer that the CCBL is a “pitcher’s league,” meaning pitching talent is better than the hitting talent.
Additionally, looking at Major League baseball players from four-year college programs and those drafted out of high school, Wylde found the number of players who make it to the Major Leagues and came from four-year college programs (41.47%) is significantly greater than those who make it to the big leagues and were drafted out of high school (24.07%). This is contrary to the notion among many baseball people that the number of Major League players drafted out of high school and the number of those drafted out of college are relatively equal.
Examining the number of CCBL alumni playing in the Major Leagues is important, but another side of the story involves Cape League players who are playing in the minor leagues. Wylde has analyzed the number of players who are in the MLB organizations, but who have yet to make it to Major League Baseball. “We have to measure our participation at every level,” Wylde says.
Using Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, Wylde counted the top 30 prospects in each Major League organization, and found Cape League participation among those players from four-year colleges has increased from 40.13% in 2003 to 47.09% in 2006. These numbers mean that CCBL alumni participation in the Major Leagues will increase from 37.28% in 2006 to a more impressive figure over the next several years, Wylde predicts. Looking at the top 10 prospects from each Major League team (those considered virtual certainties to make the big leagues) and who attended four-year colleges, CCBL participation in 2006 is even higher, at a remarkable 46.77% of all players.
Interestingly, no matter how he examined the figures, Wylde found the numbers to be impressive, he says. Even though there were 35 different CCBL alumni on major league rosters in 2006 than there were in 2005, the total number of 192 remained the same. The individual players may change, some retire, some may be placed on the disabled list, and some may bounce up and down between the minor and Major League rosters, but the total number of CCBL alumni remained relatively constant.
“Are we maintaining our role?” asks Wylde. A recent analysis of the draft by a Major League organization showed that 25% of those drafted were CCBL alumni. The summer collegiate league that was second highest after the Cape League in percentage of draftees came in at 5%.
Given these results, the CCBL can justify the support it gets from Major League Baseball. Also, these numbers confirm for the scouts who come to Cape League games every summer that they will be watching the best college players in the country, many of whom will eventually play in the big leagues. Also, the best four-year college players can come to Cape Cod, knowing the scouts will be here to watch them. The circle continues.