Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt recently ranked his top 30 prospects from the Cape Cod Baseball League. Two Hyannis Harbor Hawks were included — Marc Brakeman (Stanford) at No. 7 and Ryan Perez (Judson) at No. 27.
I covered the Hawks this summer as a writing intern, so I had the opportunity to watch both pitchers. Both of these pitchers have a lot of upside and will be drafted next year barring any injuries or disastrous college seasons.
Brakeman has an effortless pitching motion. It’s a smooth, sweeping motion, one that is also slightly deceiving to hitters, as he hides the ball well before delivering a pitch. He had outstanding command on the Cape, walking just 7 batters in 33 innings during the regular season. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s, though with more development he could easily generate more speed. Brakeman topped out at 95 MPH this summer. His slider was effective, too. He was quietly a strikeout machine, tying the Cape regular season league lead with 47.
He obviously elevated his draft stock this summer. He began the summer pitching in relief for Hyannis. But once he became a starter he started piling up the strikeouts and scoreless innings. As his numbers indicate, Brakeman does not walk many batters. In watching him pitch, he seemed more likely to challenge a hitter than to walk them. As for his physique, Fitt is right about Brakeman—he’s not intimidating with his size, but there’s plenty of room for growth. He’s athletic and while teams like right-handers to be as tall as possible, I don’t think his height will hurt his draft stock. A good junior season should result in Brakeman being selected high in the 2015 MLB Draft. Based on his performance on the Cape, if he puts together a solid junior season and stays healthy, he should be picked somewhere in the first five rounds.
Who he reminds me of: Justin Masterson, St. Louis Cardinals
Brakeman doesn’t have Masterson’s size, and he doesn’t bring his arm as high up as Masterson does, but the smooth delivery, athletic motion and fast arm action are all similarities.
As for Perez, he came to the Cape as a temporary pitcher and quickly generated a lot of buzz, earning himself a full-time contract. He became one of the Hawks’ best, most reliable relievers, posting a sub-2 ERA in the regular season. He was named an All-Star, and then won MVP honors as he struck out the side in an inning of work. Oh, and he did all of this pitching with both arms.
He mostly threw from the left side because he had surgery on his right elbow not long ago. Perez’s fastball approaches the mid-90s from the left, and he tops out at around 91 MPH from the right. His pitching motion from both sides is a little herky-jerky, as he twists his body, brings his knee up into his chest and quickly uncoils toward home plate.
The first time I saw Perez switch from the left to the right side and fire a pitch in an almost identical motion, I thought it was a joke. But he proved it wasn’t a gimmick. Perez, like Brakeman, was a strikeout pitcher for the Hawks. In the regular season, he struck out 39 in 27 1/3 innings. That said, he is definitely more effective from the left side. Perez induced many swing-and-misses, as he has good life on his fastball and what sometimes looks like a 12-6 curveball that drops on batters at the last second. While Fitt thinks some teams could use him as a two-way pitcher, I think Perez’s focus should be on the left side. He’s better from the left—his stuff is better from the left and he hasn’t had surgery on that arm. He is definitely not a starter. His best bet is to make it as a lefty-specialist. Fitt sees Perez possibly landing somewhere in the top five rounds, calling him “more than just a novelty.” I find it hard to imagine that he will get drafted that high, simply because I think his being a Division II pitcher will hurt his draft stock—though it shouldn’t. It’s more reasonable to figure he falls somewhere between the fifth and eighth round.
Who he reminds me of: Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies
Perez’s leg kick and the way his arm goes back and quickly whips through are similar to that of Bastardo.