June 25, 2020 9:52 am | by GatemenNews
Gatemen to the Pros: 6 former Gatemen selected in 2020 MLB Draft, 2 sign as Undrafted Free Agents
By: Javik Blake
Elon University ’23
Wareham Gatemen Play-by-Play ’19 – ’21
The 2020 MLB Draft was perhaps the most unusual draft in its history. Gone was the regular 40 round draft, instead replaced by just five rounds. Gone were the usual scouting methods as well, as scouts spent the days leading up the draft on Zoom calls and looked at players through Instagram and YouTube videos. That didn’t stop former Gatemen from dotting the draft board once again, as six alumni were selected between June 10th and 11th, with two more signing as undrafted free agents in the days after the draft. Cade Cavalli (’18), Levi Prater (’19), Trent Palmer (’19), Ian Bedell (’19), Brandon Pfaadt (’19) and Bryce Elder (’19) all had their named called, adding to the 33 Gatemen alumni that were selected a year ago, while Ben Leeper (’19) and Zack Mathis (’19) signed deals after the draft to join major league organizations.
Round 1, Pick 22, Nationals: Cade Cavalli (Oklahoma)
Cade Cavalli came to Wareham after a freshman season that saw the righty split time between pitching and being a DH for an Oklahoma team that reached the NCAA Tournament, falling in the Tallahassee Regional. Cavalli struck out 15 batters in just 13 innings for the 2018 Cape League Championship team. Along with the 15 strikeouts were 12 hits and six earned runs, good for a 4.15 ERA.
Even as a freshman being in the Cape Cod League, sometimes that’s a little too big of an experience for some guys, but it wasn’t for him,” said his former manager Don Sneddon.
The 6-foot-4 226-pound Cavalli became the fourth straight starting pitcher taken by the Nationals in the first round.
Round 3, Pick 77, Blue Jays: Trent Palmer (Jacksonville)
The 2019 Gatemen had a loaded starting pitching staff headlined by Ian Bedell and Levi Prater, but Trent Palmer was a force to be reckoned with out of the pen. In seven games, highlighted by two saves, Palmer pitched to a 1.45 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just eight walks across 18.2 innings.
For Palmer, stamina is what former pitching coach Jim Lawler thought was one of his best qualities.
“He’d go out and throw his five or six innings and his velocity never dropped,” said Lawler, “he just kept throwing 91, 93, 94, and maintained his velocity.”
Palmer relies on three solid pitches: a fastball that can reach up to 96, a changeup, and a slider. Like many, he used his time on the Cape to further improve his draft stock. Greg Amsinger touched on it during MLB Network’s draft coverage saying, “he took a step forward at the Cape last summer. He continued that momentum this spring”.
Round 3, Pick 73, Cardinals: Levi Prater (Oklahoma)
Levi Prater was one of the best stories of the 2019 Gatemen season, and he’ll be one of two Gatemen alumni taking his talents to the Cardinals organization.
Due to a freak lawn-mowing accident when he was a child, Prater has just two fingers on his glove hand, but that doesn’t stop the Sooner product from being dominant on the mound. In seven appearances and four starts, he posted a stellar 0.92 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 19.2 innings with the Gatemen.
“The main reason I want myself to succeed,” said Prater in an interview with the Gatemen Baseball Network’s Addison Van Patten last summer, “is for the hundred thousand kids that have a possibly career-ending injury. For them to see that and say, ‘well he’s in the bigs and he did it.’ That changes people’s lives”.
For Prater, he’s now one step closer to being that inspiration for thousands of kids.
Round 4, Pick 122, Cardinals: Ian Bedell (Cardinals)
There was a saying every time Ian Bedell took the mound last summer across the Cape. All you’d hear around the ballpark was, “hey, did you hear it was a Bedell Day?”.
Bedell Day on the Cape was a sight to behold. The 2019 B.F.C. Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher Award winner, who was the first Gatemen to win the award since Chris Leonard in 2001, was nothing short of electric every time he took the mound.
In six starts across 30.2 innings, Bedell struck out 36, walked four, and allowed just 10 earned runs. He was just 3.1 innings away from qualifying for the ERA title, which he would’ve won by almost a full run with a 0.56 clip.
“He had great routines from the time he got to the ballpark, with his warmup routine, throwing routine and getting ready on the mound for the game,” said Lawler, “out of everyone on the Cape that we coached with or against, he also had the best command.”
Bedell grew up just four hours north of St. Louis, in Davenport, Iowa, which led him to becoming a massive Cardinals fan.
“This is absolutely surreal,” Bedell posted on Twitter, “Growing up a Cardinals fan, this is a dream come true. I can’t thank the people enough who helped me get to this point in my life! I can’t wait to see what’s ahead”.
Round 5, Pick 149, D-Backs: Brandon Pfaadt (Bellarmine)
Before pick 149 of the 2020 MLB Draft, only eight players had been picked out of Bellarmine University, a Division II school in Louisville, and none since Mike Messier heard his name called in 2016. At pick 149, however, the Diamondbacks made Pfaadt the second highest draft pick in school history.
“In the bullpen, he probably had some of the best stuff out of everyone that was out there,” said Lawler, “our goal with him [during the summer] was just to get him more consistent.”
Pitching in 32 innings, he allowed just 10 runs, struck out 34 batters, good for second best on the team and owned a 2.81 ERA. Throughout the summer, Pfaadt used his time on the Cape to shine, and was rewarded with his name being called in the MLB Draft.
Round 5, Pick 156, Braves: Bryce Elder (Texas)
Texas baseball is known for churning out players for the MLB Draft, whether it’s Roger Clemens, Corey Knebel or Huston Street. Elder joins that elite list of more than 350 Longhorn alumni that have been selected.
The Braves prospect pitched in just 8.2 innings this past summer, but put up big strikeout numbers by setting down ten batters while walking five.
“He’s got a high ceiling,” said Lawler, “number one; he’s six-four, 230 and has strength. He’s also got three quality pitches. His fastball, changeup and breaking ball all have plus ability for him.”
Elder moved into a starting role this year before the season was cut short, starting four games and posting a career high 11.1 K/9 in 26 innings.
Cubs: Ben Leeper (Oklahoma)
Leeper was another Gatemen reliever who excelled out of the bullpen a season ago, building off a college season that saw him post a career-high 12.35 K/9.
“He’s an adrenaline pitcher and a max effort one,” said current Gatemen manager Jerry Weinstein, “he’s got a power breaking ball, an above average fastball and he’s aggressive on the mound.”
Those qualities transitioned to his stat line for the year, as he pitched 10 innings across 10 appearances and struck out 12.
Padres: Zack Mathis (LSU)
Mathis didn’t join the Gatemen until July 24, but that didn’t stop the LSU product from becoming a mainstay in the Gatemen lineup in the final stanza of the year. Appearing in 11 games between the regular season and the playoffs, Mathis picked five hits, three of which were extra base hits. His best performance, was just his second game on the Cape. Facing Hyannis in the first game of a doubleheader, Mathis went 2-4 with a homerun, double and two RBI in a 7-1 Gatemen victory.
“The bat always plays,” said Weinstein looking back on Mathis’ hitting with praise, “guys don’t get released if they can hit.”
Mathis is one who has shown throughout the college level that the bat is his strength. In 100 college games, Mathis owns a career .352 average and an OPS of 1.038.