America's League

Where the Stars of Tomorrow Shine Tonight!


Cape League Alumni Shine In Spring Breakout Series

03/21/2024 11:42 AM

Article By: Adam Greene

 In mid-December last year, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced a new initiative called the “Spring Breakout” series that would showcase a full roster of each organization's top prospects. Each team would be pitted against another squad in their respective Spring Training location. As always, many of the minor league’s best are former Cape Cod Baseball League standouts, and the Spring Breakout series was yet another indication of how top Cape League talent carry results into the pros, while reinforcing the league’s rich history of players finding success following their time on the Cape.

The Grapefruit League teams, MLB teams located in Florida for Spring Training, all completed their inaugural Spring Breakout games, with the first occurring on Thursday, March 14th.

Grapefruit League Spring Breakout started off with a bang, as the Pirates took on the Orioles with the #1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, and the top ranked pitching prospect in baseball Paul Skenes (Wareham ‘21) on the bump. He recorded a perfect 1st inning with 2 Ks, and his fastball hit 100 against all three batters faced.

Enrique Bradfield Jr. (Cotuit ‘22) recorded the only Orioles base hit of the evening with a bunt single in the 3rd. The Pirates pitching staff dominated thereafter, with Patrick Reilly (Orleans ‘21/’22) recording three strikeouts and a hold in his inning of work.

Other Cape League alumni in the starting lineups included Jack Brannigan (Wareham ‘21), Tres Gonzalez (Wareham ‘21), and Mitch Jebb (Hyannis ‘22) for the Pirates, and Dylan Beavers (Cotuit ‘21) and Jud Fabian (Bourne ‘19) for the Orioles.

Friday, March 15th marked the next two Breakout games, featuring the Marlins playing the Cardinals and the Nationals playing the Mets. Griffin Conine’s (Cotuit ‘17) 2/3 day including a solo shot and RBI single led the way for the victorious Marlins. On the pitching side, Gordon Graceffo (Bourne ‘21), Ike Buxton (Falmouth ‘22), and Nigel Belgrave (Bourne ‘22) all tossed one inning, with the pair of Marlins earning holds. Aidan Maldonado (Falmouth ‘19) recorded the save for the Mets. Cardinals pitcher Max Rajcic (Orleans ‘21) threw two innings and struck out two.

Cardinals top prospect Victor Scott II (Cotuit ‘22) led off for his team, and took a walk in the 2nd with the bases loaded for an RBI. In a pinch-hit appearance, Chase Davis (Wareham ‘22) singled to center. Other Cape League alumni in the Cardinals starting lineups included Pedro Pagés (Hyannis ‘18) and R.J. Yeager (Falmouth ‘18/Y-D ‘19).

The action continued in Port St. Lucie where Mets pitcher Nolan McLean (Chatham ‘21) picked up the win. Tyler Stuart (Bourne ‘21) and Brandon Sproat (Chatham ‘21) also appeared, and Sproat struck out two with the heater touching 99. Kevin Parada (Chatham ‘21) tied the game on an RBI single, which turned out to be the momentum shifter for the Mets.

Drew Millas (Wareham ‘18) and Nationals top third-base prospect Yohandy Morales (Wareham ‘21) each got a knock at the plate. Darren Baker (Wareham ‘18/‘19), son of the legendary Dusty Baker, started for the Nats, as did Trey Lipscomb (Wareham ‘19) and Andrew Pinckney (Falmouth ‘22).

Spring Breakout rolled on into Saturday, March 16th for a four-game slate beginning with the Tigers and Phillies. Standout prospect Jace Jung (Orleans ‘21) blasted two home runs for the Tigers, surely leaving his mark on the showcase. Brant Hurter (Y-D ‘18) started for the Tigers and struck out four in three innings, and was followed by Ty Madden (Chatham ‘19) who picked up the win. For the Phillies, Griff McGarry (Hyannis ‘21) threw an inning and recorded all three outs via strikeout.

In pinch-hit appearances for the Tigers, Max Anderson (Bourne ‘21/Wareham ‘22) singled up the middle, and Josh Crouch (Brewster ‘19) doubled to drive in a run. Trei Cruz (Falmouth ‘19) was also in their lineup.

The next game was played between the Braves and Red Sox at Fenway South. One of MLB’s best catching prospects, Kyle Teel (Harwich ‘22) had a great performance for the Red Sox roping a single in his first at bat, and lining an RBI double in his next. His teammate Chase Meidroth (Y-D ‘22) drove in a run on a sac fly and also went up the middle for a base hit.

Braves second baseman Luke Waddell (Y-D ‘18/’19) hit an RBI single off of Richard Fitts (Wareham ‘21) in the 4th, but Fitts would settle in after and pitch three strong innings, striking out three and earning a hold.

Moving just up the road in Fort Myers, the Rays battled the Twins in the next Breakout game. Trevor Martin (Chatham ‘21/’22) got the start for the Rays and pitched 2 1/3 innings. The breaking ball looked filthy, and he tallied three strikeouts. Both Kyle Whitten (Hyannis ‘19) and Austin Vernon (Chatham ‘19/’21) would follow Martin and pitch scoreless frames. The Twins' Jack Noble (Wareham ‘21) pitched two innings and was credited with a hold.

Catching for all of the Rays Cape League alumni was Dominic Keegan (Orleans ‘19/‘21), and was accompanied in the lineup by Ray’s leadoff hitter, Chandler Simpson (Cotuit ‘22). Simpson played center field and looked great defensively.

The other leadoff hitter was top Twins prospect Brooks Lee (Y-D ‘21), who drove in a run on a single in the 3rd. In that same inning, Tanner Schobel (Bourne ‘21) had an RBI single which gave the Twins their first lead and Pat Winkel (Harwich ‘19/’21) added onto that with a sac fly. Schobel walked away with a two hit day. Luke Keaschall (Orleans ‘21/’22) was also in the lineup for the game, which concluded in an 8-8 tie.

The last game of the day was between the Blue Jays and Yankees, which turned out to be a very one-sided affair. The Yankees took this one 9-1, with their top prospect Spencer Jones (Brewster ‘21) crushing two home runs in his 3/4 day with three RBIs. The second homer was measured at 427 feet to right-center field. Ben Rice (Cotuit ‘21) also had a knock for the Yankees.

It was a tough day at the plate for the Blue Jays Breakout squad, however Alan Roden (Wareham ‘22) and Jace Bohrofen (Falmouth ‘21/’22) were in the starting lineups as the left fielder and DH.

The final Breakout game in Florida took place early on Sunday, March 17th with a 10:05 AM first pitch. The Astros took the field against the host Cardinals, who were appearing in their second breakout game due to an odd number of teams in the Grapefruit League.

Nick Dunn (Brewster ‘17/’18) of the Cardinals would get the start at third this time around and singled in his second at bat, just before he moved over to play second. Jimmy Crooks (Wareham ‘21) caught a few innings, including the final three outs pitched by Quinn Mathews (Cotuit ‘21), who struck out one and got the save in the 1-0 game.

The Astros Breakout team wasn’t able to get anything going at the plate, but arguably their best prospect, Joey Loperfido (Cotuit ‘19) manned left field for the first four innings. Replacing him was Cam Fisher (Brewster ‘22), who covered the last three.

Since the game ended 1-0, there were clearly some elite pitching performances. A.J. Blubaugh (Orleans ‘22) came in to pitch the 3rd and 4th innings for the ‘Stros, and retired four of the Cardinals top fifteen prospects. Of them, he struck out Victor Scott II. The Astros needed an out to get out of the bottom of the 6th, and called upon Andrew Taylor (Bourne ‘21) who battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out the only batter he faced.

Spring Breakout delivered in manner that should make it a staple of MLB Spring Training, from social media buzz and star power, including many of our Cape League alumni. The inaugural Spring Breakout series was another sign of Cape League success carrying on into the pros for so many of the Cape’s best.