Cape Cod to the Big Leagues: MLB's 2024 Cape League alumni debuts


Since the Cape Cod Baseball League became NCAA sanctioned, it has been the premier pipeline for the top collegiate stars. Many Cape League players have been drafted to the pros, worked their way through the Minor Leagues, and made their way to MLB. Every year, rookies make their debuts in “The Show” and that marks the beginning of their rise to stardom. For many, the journey to their major league debut dates years back to their summers on Cape Cod and even before. 2024 is no different, and this year’s MLB rookie class features some of the biggest names to play on the Cape.

Unquestionably the most hyped debut of any MLB prospect in the last decade came just a few weeks ago when RHP Paul Skenes (Wareham’ 19) of the Pittsburgh Pirates took the ball for his first MLB start (pictured above). The buzz around his first start was the talking point of the sports world and made national headlines. Less than a year after being drafted No. 1 overall, Skenes was promoted to the majors after posting a 0.99 ERA in Triple-A Indianapolis. In his second start, Skenes dazzled hitters, pitching six no-hit innings and striking out 11. Every start, expect to see him throwing 100+ mph over the entire course of his outing. Skenes almost certainly has one of the brightest futures of any young arm in MLB, and less than a year after winning the College World Series with LSU, he’s already beginning to dominate the major league level.

The San Francisco Giants have had three former Cape League players debut for them in 2024. LHP Erik Miller (Orleans ‘18) and RHP Landen Roupp (Wareham ‘19) made the roster out of Spring Training, and have been solid in relief roles. Miller comes from Stanford after being drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round in 2019, getting traded to San Francisco in 2023. Roupp was a Giants 12th round draft pick in 2021 from UNC-Wilmington. Another 2021 draft pick, Third rounder RHP Mason Black (Brewster ‘19) also debuted for the Giants at the beginning of May. As one of their top prospects, he began the season in Triple-A Sacramento and was promoted after just seven games. One of the Giants’ California rivals also had a Cape Cod alumni debut this year; Erik Miller’s former teammate RHP Zac Kristofak (Orleans ‘18) made a relief appearance for the Angels on April 28. He was a seventh round pick in 2019 from Georgia.

Former Cape Cod teammates 3B Graham Pauley (Cotuit/Harwich ‘22) and OF Victor Scott II (Cotuit ‘22) were among the other alumni to break camp with their respective clubs after Spring Training. Pauley, the San Diego Padres' 13th round 2022 draft pick from Duke, impressed in the Arizona Fall League last October, blasting five homers in just under a month of play. He has one of the prettier swings in their organization, as the short stroke allows him to elevate the ball even when up in the zone. Scott, St. Louis Cardinals speedster and top prospect, stole 94 bases in the Minors last year. He also played in the Fall League before his Major League debut, showcasing his elite glove in center field which has been the talk of scouts since his college days at West Virginia, which contributed to him being drafted in the fifth round in 2022.

3B Trey Lipscomb (Wareham ‘19) of the Washington Nationals and C Kyle McCann (Chatham ‘18) of the Oakland Athletics also made the Majors on Opening Day. Lipscomb (pictured below), a 2022 third round pick from Tennessee, has been up and down multiple times since the start of the season, but he’s had some big moments in his young MLB career. In his second game, Lipscomb crushed a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning in a tied game. He’s a versatile player that can field more than one position too. McCann, a 2019 4th rounder from Georgia Tech, has had a fantastic start to his Big League career. In 22 games, he’s slashing .327/.422/.545 for a .967 OPS. For someone that wasn’t a highly ranked prospect, McCann has proved to be a good backup catcher, providing very solid innings in Oakland.


Next, two sets of 2018 Cape League teammates all made MLB in the early part of the 2024 season. 3B Oliver Dunn (Wareham ‘18) and 1B Austin Shenton (Wareham ‘18) debuted for the Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively. Both were 2019 draft picks to teams that they eventually traded them: Dunn in the 11th round from Utah to the Yankees and Shenton in the fifth round from Florida International to the Mariners. Shenton’s offense was enough for the Rays to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft last December, and he made the big leagues after a slew of injuries and vision issues. 3B Davis Wendzel (Hyannis ‘18) and C Pedro Pagés (Hyannis ‘18) are another set of teammates that have debuted this season. Wendzel, a Texas Rangers first round pick in 2019 from Baylor, gave them some starts at third after his scorching hot spring and first couple games in the minor leagues. Amidst injuries behind the plate, Pagés, the Cardinals 2019 sixth round draft pick from Florida Atlantic, played in a handful of games for them. As the catching prospect furthest along in their development system, he was the easy choice to receive the call up.

The Chicago White Sox also had a pair of Cape League alumni pitchers make their MLB debuts this season. In a deadline move with the Dodgers last July, they received RHP Nick Nastrini (Falmouth ‘19), fourth round pick in 2021 from UCLA. Nastrini's devastating slider has been his best pitch, and with limited innings he’s still settling into the Majors. RHP Jonathan Cannon (Orleans ‘21) had a shorter leash than Nastrini, as he's thrown has pitched far fewer innings. The Southside’s 2022 third rounder out of Georgia was featured in the 2023 Futures Game in Los Angeles, and struck out more than 100 hitters last season. Both Nastrini and Cannon are talented, young arms that the White Sox will be relying on much more heavily in upcoming years.

Two more high profile bats that made noise through their Major League ascension debuted in MLB on the same day. On April 30th, OF Jordan Beck (Harwich ‘21) of the Colorado Rockies debuted, as well as OF Joey Loperfido (Cotuit ‘19) with the Houston Astros. Beck, the Rockies 2022 first rounder from Tennessee, was called up after breezing through Triple-A Albuquerque. A broken hand halted his rookie campaign though, which has sidelined him for the time being. Loperfido, a former Duke Blue Devil drafted in the seventh round in 2021, was excellent in his first stint in Houston. Although he was optioned due to an outfield logjam, Loperfido posted an .817 OPS with the Astros, and will likely be recalled sooner than later.

The two most recent debuts come from top prospects in their organizations. The Mariners’ SS/2B Ryan Bliss (Brewster ‘19) has a ton of upside as a potential super-utility player. In 2023, Bliss stole 55 bases and hit 23 homers between the D-backs' and Mariners' Minor League systems. After he was drafted by Arizona in the 2021 second round out of Auburn, Bliss was moved at the deadline last year. He was called up to the Majors at the end of May. Cincinnati Reds OF Jacob Hurtubise (Orleans/Harwich ‘19) is maybe the fastest prospect in the Reds system, and that was enough for him to get the call in May. The Mariners drafted him in the 39th round in 2019 out of Army, but didn’t sign until after the 2020 Draft, this time to the Reds. He has had an unconventional rise to MLB, since the bat will never blow you away; Hurtubise didn’t hit a home run until he was in Double-A in 2022. His unique skill set was still enough to earn him a Major League promotion.

One of the coolest stories from a Cape League alumni came from 30 year-old LHP Tyler Jay (Y-D ‘14). The sixth overall pick to the Minnesota Twins back in 2015 out of Illinois, Jay spent four years in their Minor League system before being traded to the Reds. He was diagnosed with an allergic condition which was a massive roadblock in his career. He was cut in 2020 and went to play independent ball. However, in August 2023, the Mets signed him to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Syracuse. On April 11, Jay realized his dream after all these years and pitched the eighth and ninth innings for the Mets in a 16-4 win over the Braves. With his family in attendance, Jay was named pitcher of the game.

So far, 23 Cape Cod League alumni have debuted in the majors this year. Who are some of the alumni that could debut later this season though? Here are a few names making some noise in Triple-A, with a shot at earning promotions later in 2024.

OF Bryce Teodosio (Hyannis ‘19) is playing for the Salt Lake City Bees, the Angels Triple-A affiliate. Teodosio signed as an undrafted free agent in 2021 from Clemson, and is slashing .318/.377/.506. Teodosio could be the answer to the recent shaky play from Angels right fielders. 1B Niko Kavadas (Harwich ‘19) has been raking for Boston's Triple-A Worcester Red Sox. Kavadas was a 2021 11th round pick from Notre Dame. With the Red Sox injuries at first base, slotting in a hitter that’s already hit ten home runs with a .985 OPS this season could be a good stopgap option. 2B/OF Darren Baker (Brewster ‘18/Bourne ‘19) could be a candidate to platoon for the Washington Nationals. The 2021 10th round pick from UC-Berkeley has great range and would provide above average defense. He’s currently with the Rochester Red Wings, hitting .291 with 16 stolen bases. Lastly, the Astros 2020 fifth round pick, SS/3B Shay Whitcomb (Orleans ‘19) out of UC-San Diego has impressed with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. A good base runner with above average power, Whitcomb would be a solid option to cover some innings around the diamond for the Astros.

To find more about Cape Cod Baseball League alumni, follow this link to view player stats, historical standings, manager records, and more:

(Photos courtesy of MLB Photos)