By: Samantha Santos – Intern
The 2021 MLB season was special for many reasons. After the shortened 2020 season due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB was back and full of life. By July, stadiums were increasing their capacities, and the annual All-Star Game was able to be played. For many collegiate baseball players, the 2021 draft was what was most important to them. In total, there were ten of our very own Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox alumni that got the call that they were about to live out their dreams.
The first Y-D alum drafted in 2021 was Right-Handed Pitcher Tommy Mace out of the University of Florida. Mace was with the Red Sox in 2018. He pitched four games for Yarmouth-Dennis, three of which he started. Through the 15.1 innings pitched by Mace, he had a 5.87 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP. In his last start with Y-D on July 24 of that season, Mace had a dominant outing. With 5 scoreless innings against the Wareham Gatemen that night, he played an integral role in their 5-0 win.
During his time at Florida, he had an impressive 22-7 record, starting 41 games for the Gators. He posted a 4.37 ERA over his career in Florida. Some of his major accomplishments include when, during his junior year, he held his opposition to a .256 batting average. His success began much earlier, however, when he began his collegiate career for Florida out of the bullpen, when he pitched a scoreless inning in his first ever appearance.
Mace was the 69th draft pick in the second round of this year’s draft. He was drafted by the Cleveland Guardians. As of August 2021, Mace is a part of the Guardians organization and is a minor league affiliate. The 23-year-old has not made any minor league appearances yet.
Next, we move on to Luke Waddell. Waddell is a shortstop out of Georgia Tech. He was with the Red Sox for the 2018 season and for the beginning of the 2019 season, before going to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. While with Y-D, Waddell hit .243 in 2018. He also shined defensively, with game-changing catches in close games. He even pitched once for the Red Sox, in the 3-7 loss to the Brewster Whitecaps, where he pitched an inning. During this appearance, he only gave up one hit and one walk, but no runs.
Waddell proved to be a versatile player during his time at Georgia Tech. During his first year there, he played at third base, second base and shortstop. It wasn’t until after his sophomore season began that he settled into his role at shortstop. During the shortened 2020 season of only 16 games, he started off strong with a .300 average for the year, and a .419 on-base percentage.
In July 2021, Waddell was signed by the Atlanta Braves, who would go on to win the World Series just months later. After being drafted in the 5th round, he made his minor league debut on August 4 with the Rome Braves, the High-A Affiliate of Atlanta. He would end his first month in the pro’s hitting .313. He only stayed with them for a month, being assigned to the Double-A Mississippi Braves in early September. Throughout his time with both teams, he had 26 hits with 18 runs to cap his first season.
Right-Handed Pitcher Jack Leftwich is our next Y-D alum making it big. He played for the Red Sox in 2019. Over his tenure in the CCBL, his fastball and slider were a major challenge for opponents; his WHIP came in under 1.00 at an impressive .96. Like Tommy Mace’s impressive outing in a 5-0 shutout, Leftwich also had a similar performance that ended in a 5-0 shutout, this one against the Bourne Braves. In his 6.1 scoreless innings, he struck out five and gave up just four hits.
Leftwich and draft classmate Tommy Mace have an interesting connection. Both pitchers played for the University of Florida, but the relationship doesn’t stop there. Not only were they teammates, they were also roommates. Despite these connections, they did not play for the Red Sox at the same time. It still does not stop there. After Mace was drafted by the Cleveland Guardians in the second round, Leftwich was close behind in the seventh round, being drafted by the Guardians as well. It seems this dynamic duo will be staying together for the foreseeable future.
Leftwich has proven to be a powerhouse in his own right. Over his time at Florida, he had many accomplishments that drew all eyes to him. He had 78 strikeouts in the 2021 season, 4 straight scoreless appearances and in 2019 pitched a complete-game shutout.
The only left-handed pitcher on our list is Brant Hurter, out of Georgia Tech. He was with Y-D in 2018. During that season, Hurter had 7 starts in his 8 games with the Red Sox. He had an impressive ERA of 3.09 in the 32 innings he pitched. Hurter had 33 strikeouts and just 9 walks in that time.
In 2019, Hurter underwent Tommy John Surgery during his sophomore year at Georgia Tech. Prior to the surgery, Hurter had 10 appearances for the Yellow Jackets that season. He also missed the shortened 2020 season recovering. Hurter went 5-4 in the 2021 season in the 15 games he started/appeared in.
Hurter was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 7th round of the 2021 draft, the 195th overall pick. He was assigned to the Tigers Florida Complex League affiliate team at the end of December 2021.
Another Red Sox shortstop was also drafted in 2021. Arizona State shortstop Drew Swift played for Y-D in 2019. While with Y-D, Swift made 12 assists and only one error. He only played 11 games with the Sox, but over that time had 3 walks and 3 strikeouts, with just two hits for his 17 plate appearances.
Swift’s last season in Arizona came in 2020, his junior season. During this shortened season, he was very flexible. Not only was he in the infield at shortstop and second base, but he also got playing time in the outfield at centerfield and right field. He had the best batting average on the team that year at .365. He turned 10 double plays while also having 8 games with multiple hits.
Swift was drafted by the Oakland Athletics organization as the 248th overall pick in the eighth round. He spent time briefly in the Arizona Complex League before playing in High-A with the Lansing Lugnuts for about a month. Swift was quickly assigned to the Athletics’ Triple-A Affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators at the end of September, but has yet to play with them. In his 32 High-A games, Swift has one home run, five RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
The only catcher from Y-D drafted in 2021 is Noah Cardenas from UCLA. Having played for the Red Sox in 2019, Cardenas played a part in Y-D’s playoff run that season. While Y-D would be eliminated in the second round of the Eastern Divisional Playoffs, Cardenas brought excitement to one of the earlier playoff games. His multiple base hits brought some of his teammates into scoring position and he picked up an RBI in the process.
Cardenas has played an immensely important role while at UCLA. This past season, he played in every single one of UCLA’s games, starting all but one. He also had his first multi-homerun game in 2021 and hit career highs in many areas such as runs, RBIs, hits and doubles.
Cardenas was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 8th round of the 2021 draft. In August 2021, he was assigned to the Twins’ Rookie Affiliate team of the Florida Complex League. He played 13 games towards the ends of the season when he was with the team. In that time, he had an OPS of .900. As of October 2021, he was assigned to the Twins Organization.
Y-D’s right-handed pitchers seemed to have had some good luck in the 2021 draft. Cullen Kafka out of the University of Oregon adds to the list of righties living their dream. Kafka was a member of the Red Sox in 2019. His first appearance with the Sox was productive, and Kafka was able to pull out a win for the Sox over the Falmouth Commodores. Most of Kafka’s pitching experience came for an inning or two of relief, not starting or closing games.
Over his four years at the University of Oregon, Kafka pitched over 200 innings, starting 39 games. He has the seventh most strikeouts in the Oregon baseball history. In an April 2021 game against New Mexico State, Kafka had an incredible outing. He almost pitched a complete game, going 8.1 innings. In that span, he had 12 strikeouts, only giving up 2 hits, 2 walks, while holding New Mexico to one run.
Kafka was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the ninth round of the draft. His playing time has been spent in the Arizona Complex League beginning in late August for the ACL Rockies. He’s pitched five innings over four games, only giving up three hits. His ERA sits at 0.00 and his WHIP at .60.
Another RHP, Trent Delholm, was next to receive the call he had been drafted. Delholm was with the Red Sox in 2018, where he was nearly perfect in his appearances. Delholm was a relief pitcher during his stint on the Red Sox, and had one save in his 9 appearances. In those 9 games, Delholm allowed zero earned runs. He also struck out 29 batters, with a WHIP of 1.015.
Delholm came to the Cape from The University of California Irvine. There his record for the 2021 season was 6-2, and he had 70 strikeouts in his 82 innings pitched. He was also on the USA Baseball’s watch list for the 2021 Golden Spike Award.
Delholm’s changeup is something that MLB scouts took great notice of. He was picked in the 14th round of the 2021 MLB draft by the Cleveland Guardians. He has yet to play any games with any minor league or rookie affiliate teams.
The ninth Y-D alum drafted in 2021 is another right-handed pitcher, Andrew Marrero. His time with the Red Sox only lasted a few weeks in 2021, towards the beginning-middle of the season before getting drafted in mid-July. He played six games for Y-D and had 13 strikeouts over his 6.2 innings of work.
Marrero appeared in 18 games for the UConn Huskies in his last season before the pros. He had 10 straight scoreless appearances over a month and a half long span as well. In that time, he allowed just one walk and had 17 strikeouts.
Marrero was the 541st pick in the 18th round of the 2021 draft, being picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals. The turnaround was quick for the pitcher, as he was assigned to St. Louis’ Low-A Affiliate, the Palm Beach Cardinals less than two weeks after being drafted. He has pitched 13.1 minor league innings so far, giving up one home run in that time and having 22 strikeouts.
RHP Brandon Dufault from Northeastern University closes out the Y-D alum drafted in 2021. The right-hander played for the Sox in both 2019 and 2021 but didn’t see much action in the latter season. He was more active in 2019, playing in ten total games, starting twice and finishing twice. In 2021, Dufault finished one game and only played three total. He has most commonly been used in relief.
Dufault had an impressive tenure for the Northeastern Huskies. He is certainly very clutch and has quite the resume when it comes to saving games. He currently has the fourth most saves in the program’s history. In 2021 he had the second most saves in CAA at five. In 2020, he was perfect in save opportunities.
Dufault was the 471st overall draft pick, going to the Los Angeles Angels organization. Less than a month after being drafted, he was assigned to their Low-A Affiliate, the Inland Empire 76ers. He stayed with them about a month before moving to the High-A Affiliate, the Tri-City Dust Devils, where he is currently at. He has pitched much better in Low-A than High-A so far, with his ERA nearly quadrupling after the move to High-A. No need to sound the alarms just yet though– Dufault’s sample size in High-A is extremely small at only two games.
Congratulations to all of Y-D’s former players that have found such success doing what they love! Y-D could not be happier for our seven pitchers, two shortstops, and catcher. With the 2022 season coming up fast, we can’t wait for this season’s draft and hope to see more Y-D alumni make it big!