06/08/2023 7:17 AM
Article By: Daniel Curren
Opening Day for the Cape Cod Baseball League is just two days away. Below is a preview of how the five teams in the Eastern Division stack up heading into this season.
After finishing the 2022 with a record of 19-17-8, the Whitecaps were tied for the best record in the East. Brewster defeated Harwich and Yarmouth-Dennis in the playoffs before falling to Bourne in the Championship round. Manager Jamie Shevchik and his team will look to finish business in 2023. Returning to the Whitecaps from the 2022 team include shortstop Davis Diaz, pitcher Randy Reyes, and third-baseman Trevor Werner.
Players joining the Whitecaps in 2023 include LSU catcher Jared Jones and Arizona shortstop Mason White. Jones, a freshman at LSU, slashed .299/.424/.637 for a 1.061 OPS in debut season for the Tigers. He hit 11 doubles and 14 home runs in 198 plate appearances. White, also a freshman, slashed .313/.379/.611 for a .989 OPS in his first collegiate season. The 19-year-old tallied 18 doubles, seven triples, and 10 home runs for the Wildcats. These additions and many others are poised to make Brewster a strong contender in 2023.
Chatham is looking to rebound from their 15-20-9 season in 2022, where the Anglers finished last in the East and missed the playoffs. Returning for the 2023 season will be third baseman Aidan Meola, first baseman Will Butcher, catcher Kaden Hopson, and outfielder Lyle Miller-Green, as well as pitchers Tommy Molsky, Hayden Durke, Brian Holiday, Ben Peterson, Carlos Rey, and Cameron Brown.
The Anglers also have several additions coming to Veterans Field this season. Iowa pitcher Brody Brecht will be lighting up the radar this summer. Brecht posted 109 strikeouts in 77 innings this season, giving him the 14th highest strikeouts per nine innings in Division I this year (12.74). Also joining Chatham this year is Texas Tech catcher Hudson White. White slashed .296/.397/.550 for a .947 OPS in 204 plate appearances for the Red Raiders. This group of returners and newcomers will aim to win a championship under the helm of manager Tom Holliday.
The Mariners will be hosting the 2023 Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game on July 22nd, and they will also look to host a playoff game once again. Harwich finished 17-21-6 last season and lost in the first round of the postseason. Returns for the Mariners include catcher Bryan Arendt, third baseman Kenny Levari, second baseman David Smith, and pitchers Sean Sullivan, Sean Hard, Jake Neuman, Shane Probst, and Gage Ziehl.
Newcomers for the Mariners include Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz. Throughout the 2023 season, Kurtz has slashed .384/.552/.843 for an astonishing 1.395 OPS in 242 plate appearances. His OBP and SLG both rank in the top four throughout Division I. Also coming to Harwich this year is Maine second baseman Quinn McDaniel and West Virginia second baseman JJ Wetherholt. After an all-star season in the NECBL last summer, McDaniel slashed .354/.513/.688/1.201 for the Black Bears in 2023. Wetherholt hit a Division I leading .449 for the Mountaineers in 2023 and put up an OPS of 1.304. Manager Steve Englert and this group will look to bring a championship to Harwich this season.
After finishing 2022 with a record of 18-22-4, manager Kelly Nicholson will look to lead his team back to the playoffs after they were eliminated in the first round last year. Returners from last year include third baseman Drew Metzdorf, as well as pitcher Chris Clark and JD Urso.
Joining the Firebirds will be Kent State outfielder Jake Casey. He is the son of 12-year MLB veteran and former Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey. In 2023, he slashed .249/.385/.527 for a .911 OPS with Kent State. Also joining the Firebirds will be UCF pitcher Cam Leiter. He is the son of former Orioles minor leaguer Kurt Leiter, the nephew of former MLB pitchers Al Leiter and Mark Leiter, and the cousin of current MLB/MiLB pitchers Jack Leiter and Mark Leiter Jr. During his first year in Central Florida, he struck out 80 batters in 56.2 IP
Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox:
The Y-D Sox finished tied with the Whitecaps at the top of the East in 2022, but the Sox were bounced by Brewster in the second round of the playoffs. Manager Scott Pickler will look to avenge that loss as he enters his 25th season at the helm. Returning for Y-D will be shortstop Woody Hadeen and pitcher Eric Yost
Those joining the Red Sox this year include Mississippi State first baseman Hunter Hines and Kansas State shortstop Brady Day. Hines posted a slash line of .297/.375/.683 for a 1.058 OPS this season with Mississippi State in 232 plate appearances. Day slashed .356/.492/.459 for a .951 OPS. His OBP ranked tied for 41st in Division I.