Just a few weeks ago, East Carolina was eliminated from the Conference USA tournament by host Southern Miss. Luke Lowery and Bryce Harman now set their sights on honing their craft this summer in the Cape Cod League.
Major League Baseball scouts frequent Cape Cod, Mass. not for vacation, but rather to get a look at some of college baseball's best prospects. There's no better example of the kinds of players that spend their summers in the league than former ECU ace pitcher and ninth-overall MLB draft pick Jeff Hoffman.
This summer, the Pirates will be well represented. First baseman Bryce Harman, who was named to the All-Conference USA Freshman Team, is playing for the Bourne Braves. Catcher Luke Lowery, who is gearing up for his junior campaign, is playing for the Brewster Whitecaps.
Both players will aim to develop areas of their game in which they struggled this season. Harman batted .244 in his debut season in the Pirate uniform, so he'll surely be looking to become a more consistent batter. He did lead the team with seven home runs, so he'll also hope to continue making an impact in that regard.
Harman will be an asset in the field for the Braves. He led the squad in putouts (388) and double plays (31). He also accumulated a .990 fielding percentage. Brett Lang is listed as the only other first baseman on the roster. With 281 putouts, five double plays and a .981 fielding percentage for UNC Charlotte this season, it seems Harman's defensive prowess will earn him significant playing time.
Lowery's situation is the opposite. He was one of ECU's best in terms of batting average (.288) and scored 14 runs while pushing another 19 runners across. His work at the plate alone will make him an important player for the Whitecaps.
This summer should provide Lowery more time to settle in as a catcher. He started the season at first base, but Travis Watkins' season-ending injury forced a shakeup that saw Lowery move behind the plate. The opening at first base ended up being filled by Harman.
Lowery should get plenty of opportunities to continue developing as a catcher, too. He and Kevin Martir are the only two catchers on Brewster's roster. Lowery will have to fight, though, as Martir had an impressive season with Maryland. He had a .993 fielding percentage with 366 putouts. Lowery, on the other hand, finished with a .977 fielding percentage and 260 putouts.
With two years at ECU already behind him, Lowery is going to want to take advantage of the scouting attention in his two months in Cape Cod this summer. At most, he has two more seasons at ECU and one last summer in the Cape Cod League ahead of him.
The exposure worked wonders for Hoffman. He posted a 3-2 record his freshman season and allowed 33 runs (30 earned) on 60 hits in 73.2 innings pitched. He followed that with an impressive showing that summer with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, where he played alongside teammates Ben Fultz and Andy Smithmyer, He pitched in seven games and started five of those, finishing with a 2.32 earned run average and 30 strikeouts.
Harman's youth affords him the luxury of focusing much more on his development as a player.
The summer season started this week and each Pirate's club has played a pair of games. It will be intriguing to follow these two as they get the chance to not only continue playing through the summer, but also play in a different environment.