Wichita State Shockers

Bohm find fit with wood bats in Cape Cod League

Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm has had a strong Cape Cod League season this summer.
Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm has had a strong Cape Cod League season this summer. File photo

Hitters are not supposed to thrive in the Cape Cod League, where the best college pitchers go to get revenge on hitters swinging wood bats.

That warning does not apply to Wichita State’s Alec Bohm, who entered the weekend hitting .388 (second in the league) with eight doubles and three home runs in 26 games for Falmouth (Mass.). His .553 slugging percentage ranked fourth and his .413 on-base percentage ninth entering the weekend.

“Sometimes that transition (to wood bats) isn’t good coming from school,” Falmouth general manager Eric Zmuda said. “We didn’t see much of a problem.”

Nope. Bohm, a junior third baseman from Omaha, went 4 for 8 in his first two games in the Cape Cod and didn’t go hitless in back-to-back games until last week.

“The wood bat is not really a disadvantage to me,” he said. “I’ve always made the transition from metal to wood pretty easily. It’s been real simple. I’m seeing the ball and slowing the game down.”

Bohm built up to this summer — and the June draft — with a strong end to his freshman season and a sophomore season in which he hit .305 with 11 home runs. Baseball America named him the Coastal Plain League’s top prospect last summer after he hit .330 with 11 home runs.

Now word is out that he is one of the top hitters in the Cape and a must-see for the many scouts visiting. Good numbers in the Cape can set a player up for the first five rounds of the draft in a conservative projection. The Cape’s top five hitters in 2016 all went in the first four rounds, led by Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith at No. 7 overall.

“I was excited to come out and here and prove what I can do with the best of the best,” he said. “Every pitcher that comes out there is got really good stuff and were (among) the top guys from their school.”

Shocker coach Todd Butler sent him to the Coastal Plain League last summer to work on his defense with the Wilmington (N.C.) Sharks and it showed with increased range and agility. With his fielding improved, Butler wanted Bohm’s bat in the Cape.

“I’ve said all along he’s going to be one of the premier hitters in college baseball,” Butler said. “There’s not many hitters you coach that have the vision to see the ball out of the pitcher’s hand like he does. He sees the ball early and he’s a big, powerful, physical player.”

▪  Shocker first baseman Greyson Jenista, in the Cape for a second summer, hit .325 with one home run and one double in his first 21 games for Cotuit (Mass.). Jenista hit .229 in 42 games last summer.

▪  Outfielder Jacob Katzfey played in the Florida Collegiate Summer League All-Star game and went 2 for 4. He hit .280 with five home runs in 22 games for Winter Park. Infielder Luke Ritter went 1 for 2 and drove in a run in the California Collegiate League All-Star game. Ritter hit .391 in 23 games with two doubles, two triples and a home run.

Summer hot in Vegas — Former Shocker Fred VanVleet led the Raptors with an average of 18.8 points and five assists in four NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas.

He made 26 of 47 shots (55.3 percent). Thursday, he scored 31 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, on 10 of 17 shooting in a 91-85 loss to Portland.

“He has a quiet force about him,” Toronto assistant coach Patrick Mutombo said after the 31-point performance. “He gets the paint and tries to finish. He’s not very tall, so he’s got to be skilled in there. He puts in a lot of work.”

Toronto went 3-2 after winning its first three games to earn the top seed in the playoffs. Friday’s 78-75 loss to Cleveland ended the summer league for the Raptors, a game that VanVleet sat out.

New look at NCAA bracket — The NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee will recognize that playing a good opponent on the road is often as difficult as playing a great opponent at home.

It will bump up the importance of road wins when it compiles the “team sheets” that guide the selection and seeding of NCAA Tournament teams in 2018.

This would seem to benefit teams that play non-conference road games, a category that Wichita State falls into more often than, say, Duke or Syracuse.

I’m not sure it will have a game-changing influence on how the committee views the Shockers, but it’s another plus, especially combined with the American Athletic Conference. It would seem to provide another marker between teams that schedule aggressively in November and December and those that do not.

Last season, for example, WSU’s win at Colorado State (No. 66 in the RPI on selection day) becomes more prominent in the new format.

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee is altering its definition of a quality win, placing greater emphasis on winning road games by changing the team sheets that include the results of every team being evaluated for selection and seeding for the men’s basketball championship,” wrote David Worlock of the NCAA on Friday.

Previous team sheets grouped games by RPI in columns with 1-50, 51-100, 101-200 and 201 plus, with designations for home, away and neutral. It told committee members, at least in part, that beating No. 49 at home is more significant than beating No. 55 on the road.

“Beating elite competition, regardless of the game location, will still be rewarded, but the committee wanted the team sheets to reflect that a road game against a team ranked 60th is mathematically more difficult and of higher quality than a home game versus a team ranked 35th,” said committee chair Mark Hollis in a news release.”

The development and use of a “composite metric” to de-emphasize the RPI is still under consideration and may take place for 2018-19, the NCAA said in a news release.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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