Baseball America's John Manuel writes in the latest print edition about the state of baseball programs at America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). One of those universities, Southern, produced the number two draft pick overall, Rickie Weeks, of the Brewers. Manuel, BA's editor-in-chief, makes the case for HBCUs to prioritize baseball programs just as they do basketball and football. (Of course all of this is secondary to academics.) But I believe there is also a case to be made that summer collegiate leagues like the Cape Cod Baseball League and my own West Coast League also need to prioritize recruiting at HBCUs.
If the lure of an NFL or NBA contract motivates players at any college, so does an MLB contract. And we all know that appearances on the Cape can increase the likelihood of an MLB contract. So does an elite summer league like the Cape have an extra responsibility to reach out to HBCUs in recruiting? I believe so.
Over the years since we started CodBall I have written about the issue of diversity in the major leagues and the summer college leagues.
I don't find any record of players from HBCUs on Cape rosters -- this season or ever. There may very well be Cape Leaguers from HBCUs but I can't find any record so perhaps someone can set me straight.
Here's an idea. Why doesn't one of the Cape teams invite Xavier Macklin (pictured) to play the 2010 season? Manuel calls him out as a kid who hit .364 with 12 homers and 14 steals in 2009.
"He's got unbelieveable bat speed, but he's still so raw. He has a chance to be pretty good but he has a lot of developing to do," according to his coach.
Isn't that precisely the role for the Cape and other summer leagues?