Thursday, August 27, 2009
A few clandestine notes on collegiate summer baseballPosted by Carson Cistulli
The bad thing about being on a honeymoon in small town New England is that a) it's rather hard to find a dependable internet connection, let alone sit down and watch an entire game with a starting time of 7 pm PDT and b) in the event that you do find yourself, miraculously, in the warm arms of said game, your new wife threatens to, and this is verbatim, "Hurt you... physically."
The good thing about the whole honeymoon/New England sitch, is that it allows the Baseballing Enthusiast to consider other baseball-related matters which he might've never considered otherwise.
In this case, the matter in question is that phenomenon known as collegiate summer baseball. Having been on the Cape for the final game of that league's playoffs, and having found Jim Collins's book The Last Best League in a bookstore in my hometown of Concord, NH, and having then, finally, come across a schedule for the North Adams Steeplecats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) here, in the office of my moderately priced motel, I asked the following, Seinfeld-like question: "What's the deal with collegiate summer baseball?"
Of course, I haven't asked it too hard, lest my new wife launch a surprise attack. Even so, I've spent some of my very precious internet time learning about the world of summer ball and thought these THT Live might be an appropriate place to share them.
The first answer to the question is one that surprised me a little bit—namely, that there appear to be a ton of collegiate summer leagues out there, close to 40 active ones. Of those, eight (including the Cape Cod league) are part of what's known as the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball (NACSB). Another 15 are part of the National Baseball Congress (NBC). Beyond that, there are a number of unaffiliated leagues. These umbrella organizations appear to be dedicated primarily to creating norms among the leagues and fostering cooperation, both between teams/leagues and with the NCAA.
PG Crosschecker, a division of Perfect Game, provides rankings of summer teams across a number of different leagues. The top five were (with league):
1. Forest City (N.C.) Owls, Coastal Plain
2. Bourne Braves, Cape Cod
3. Newport (R.I.) Gulls, New England
4. Rochester (MN) Honkers, Northwoods
5. El Dorado (KS) Broncos, Jayhawk
You can find the rest of the rankings here.
I wasn't able to find a list of top prospects either within each respective league, or—perhaps ideally—across all summer leagues. In an email to Yours Truly, Baseball America's college expert Aaron Fitt, said that they'll be posting league-specific prospect lists of 18 different summer leagues starting today (Thursday) and continuing through the beginning of next week. Such information, I'm guessing, will be found here (although a subscription is probably necessary). PG Crosschecker is currently doing a similar thing, although their lists also require a subscription of some kind.
Certain league-dedicated websites/blogs, such as Greg Schimmel's Cape Cod League Blog, do provide prospect lists. College Summer Ball provides updates across all leagues.
I'll post next week, after BA has finished their lists, to share any interesting findings from them.
Carson Cistulli contributes to FanGraphs and RotoSynthesis and teaches writing in Portland, Ore. Feel free to email him.