'09 Preseason Preview: Brewster Whitecaps

by Dave B. in

white-caps-logoWebsite:   www.brewsterwhitecaps.com Manager: Tom Myers (1st year)

Team USA invitees and statistical info is as of May 23.  

The Brewster Whitecaps finished the 2008 season with a record of 19-21-4. Their 42 points landed them in third place in the Eastern division. The Whitecaps look to better their record and compete for a playoff spot under the leadership of new head coach Tom Myers. Myers replaces Bob Macaluso who coached Brewster for the last seven seasons. Myers is the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Cal-Santa Barbara and he coached the Peninsula Oilers in the Alaska Baseball League last summer. A 1991 draftee of the Oakland A's, Myers spent 5 1/2 years in pro ball in the Oakland, Baltimore and St. Louis systems.

PITCHERS:  When looking at what Brewster's pitchers have done for their college teams this spring, my initial thought is that the staff posted some very average numbers. The good news is that they have not been overworked, so the arms should be fresh for the Cape League season.

The most highly-touted pitcher may be Kevin Miller (RHP; Cal-Berkeley). As a freshman in 2008, Miller went 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA while holding opponents to a .196 batting average. He suffered a reversal of fortune this year as his record dipped to 2-3; 4.50. In 50 innings, opponents batted .305 against him.

Stayton Thomas (RHP; Texas) may be another in a long line of quality pitchers for the Longhorns. On the surface, Thomas' numbers are pretty good:  3-0 with a 2.25 ERA. A closer look though, shows that in 11 appearances, Thomas only threw 20 innings and the opposition hit .303 off him.

A quick look at some of the other incoming Whitecaps pitchers shows that Neal Davis (LHP; Virginia) was 2-0; 4.63. Scott Alexander of Pepperdine posted a record of 4-5 with a 4.11 ERA. Sean Bierman (LHP; Vanderbilt) was 2-1; 4.69. Bierman appeared in ten games for Keene in the New England Collegiate Baseball League last year. Freshman RHP David Goforth (Mississippi) won his only decision while throwing 31 innings, all in relief.

One of only two returning Whitecaps, Iden Nazario (LHP; Miami) was 6-4 with a 6.57 ERA while starting 14 games for the Hurricanes. Nazario was 0-1; 4.05 with one save while striking out 17 in 13 innings for Brewster last year.

The spring numbers get even murkier from there. Sean Hoelscher (RHP; Texas Christian) went 2-2 despite having a 7.03 ERA. Control was a problem for Hoelscher as he walked 20 batters in only 24 innings. Matt Lujan (LHP; San Francisco) started 13 games and went 5-7; 5.74 while opponents batted .296 against him. Danny Sandbrink ((RHP; Stanford) was 1-1 while posting a 7.09 ERA. Opponents batted .305 against Sandbrink. Erik Goeddel (RHP; UCLA) was redshirted in 2008 and did not have a decision this year in the 7 innings he worked. Sean Tierney (LHP; James Madison) redshirted this year after transferring from Virginia. Tierney has not seen much game action in two years. He only pitched 1 1/3 inning for UVA in 2008.

The numbers are just not that good. In some instances, the record may be good, but the few innings pitched may not allow for a true reading. In other cases, the ERA's or opponent batting averages may be much higher than you would expect to see. As we have seen so many times though, you just don't know what a team has until the pitchers get here and realize they can pitch inside, and even make mistakes with location, when batters are forced to use wooden bats.   

CATCHERS:  Everyone laments the lack of quality catching at most levels of baseball. This should not be the case in Brewster this summer. The Whitecaps potentially have three quality catchers in Yasmani Grandal (Miami), Tobias Streich (West Virginia) and Zach Jones (Stanford). 

Grandal may be the other returning Whitecap. I say "may" because the sophomore was included in the first round of invitations to the Team USA trials based on his .306 average to go along with 16 homeruns this spring. He batted .279 in 20 games for Brewster last year. Streich had a very solid season for the Mountaineers. He comes with the reputation of being a very solid defensive catcher, but also posted a .322 average with 6 HR and 57 RBI. Even if Grandal comes to the Cape, Streich should challenge for playing time. Jones played in all 53 games for Stanford but only batted .238. Although he saw a lot of playing time at catcher, he is listed as a catcher/infielder and has the versatility to play a solid third base.

INFIELDERS:  Tim Ferguson (Mississippi) was the Rebels leading hitter with a .357 avg. He stole 17 bases in 18 attempts, so he should be a sparkplug for the Whitecaps this summer. Jedd Gyorko (West Virginia) had an outstanding season which led to a well-deserved invitation to the Team USA trials. As a freshman, Gyorko played second base, but moved to shortstop this year. He batted .421 with 8 HR, 58 RBI and an OBP of .487. Harold Martinez (Miami) started all 56 games for the 'Canes this year. The third baseman put up solid numbers with a .279 avg., 9 HR and 46 RBI. Martinez was drafted in the 19th round of the 2008 MLB draft. Niko Gallego is a sophomore shortstop from UCLA who batted .271 while starting 53 games for the Bruins. The name is likely familiar to baseball fans. Niko's dad, Mike, was a second round draft pick of the Oakland A's in 1981 and played 13 years in the majors with the A's, New York Yankees and St. Louis. The elder Gallego is now a coach with the A's.  Colin Walsh (Stanford) tied for the team lead with a .321 avg. A switch-hitter and leadoff batter for the Cardinal, Walsh has little power but is considered to have good judgement of the strike zone. While playing for the Kelowna Falcons in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League last year, Walsh batted .352. Tant Shepherd batted .259 with 2 HR and 21 RBI while splitting time between third base and the outfield for Texas. He has seen decreased playing time recently. Sophomore Stephen Yarrow hit 13 homeruns and had 44 RBI to go with a .277 avg. for San Francisco. Davy Wright, a utility infielder, had only one at-bat for Texas Christian this year.

OUTFIELDERS:  Jarret Parker (Virginia) might provide the spark that every lineup needs. Parker was the Cavaliers leadoff hitter for most of the season and was batting .383 with 16 HR and 60 RBI. Not many batters provide that type of production at the top of the order. Parker also stole 19 bases. Those credentials earned the 6'4"; 205 lb. lefty hitter an invitation to the Team USA trials. If Parker finds his way to the Cape, he will be fun to watch.

John Barr has put together very solid back-to-back seasons for Virginia. In '08 he led the team with a .325 avg. He followed that up by hitting .313 this year. He provides very little power - no homeruns in two years at UVA - and often bats in the number nine spot in the order. Lyle Allen (Georgia) started 29 of the 53 games he appeared in. He batted .264 with 5 HR. Although listed as a 1B/OF on the Whitecaps roster, much of Allen's playing time for the Bulldogs was spent alternating between the corner outfield positions. Mark Canha is coming off a very good season for Cal-Berkeley. He was the Bears leading batter with a .363 avg. His 12 HR and 43 RBI also led the team. The Whitecaps list Canha as an outfielder but he played a lot at first base for Cal. This will not be Canha's first visit to the Cape. He competed in the 2006 High School All-Star Classic in Wareham. Another player who will allow for great flexibility is Tyler Thornburg (Charleston Southern). As a freshman in 2008, Thornburg started 40 games in the outfield and made 14 appearances on the mound. This year he started 53 games in rightfield and made 16 pitching appearances. Thornburg batted .292 with 12 HR and 49 RBI. He hit three homeruns in one game against Furman. On the hill, he posted a record of 4-4 with a respectable 3.73 ERA. Control was an issue as he walked 24 in 31 innings.

The outfield could be very good. It will be even better if Parker suits up for the Whitecaps.             

One caveat about this preview.....   The Whitecaps posted their roster in mid-January and have not made any changes to it since that time.  Their actual roster probably looks much different from what we see on their website. Brewster  reportedly will have a new look to their website, with many interactive features, before Opening Day.

NOTE:  2008 alum Buddy Baumann (Missouri State) is one of 30 Golden Spikes Award semifinalists. Baumann had an outstanding season for the Bears, posting a record of 11-1 with a 3.23 ERA. He struck out 101 batters in 86.1 innings and held opposing batters to a .220 avg. 

Potential returnees:  Iden Nazario and Yasmani Grandal.

Team USA invitees:  Yasmani Grandal, Jedd Gyorko and Jarret Parker. 

The Whitecaps open up their 2009 season by playing host to the Falmouth Commodores at the Stony Brook school on Friday, June 12 @ 5:00.