BREWSTER – A wooden bat is the same in any baseball league. That’s the reasoning Brewster Whitecaps field manager Jamie Shevchik used when he was scouting outfielder Dominic Canzone last summer.

Canzone batted over .400 in an All-Star season in the Valley Baseball League in Virginia.

“We got him primarily based on what he did last summer,” Shevchik said. “If you can hit with wood, you can hit with wood.”

Canzone has locked down the leadoff spot in the Whitecaps lineup since his activation on June 20. He’s emerged as one of the top hitters in the Cape League. His .351 batting average is the best on the team and good enough for third in the league once he gets a few more at-bats.

Canzone’s secret: don’t lay off pitches he knows he can hit.

“My approach to the plate is being a little bit more aggressive, being fastball ready and not taking outside fastballs,” Canzone said. “In college it seemed like I could kind of get away with that, but right now you have to be able to go that way no matter what count.”

Listen to the latest episode of Cape League Corner

 

That ability to hit is no surprise given his two years at Ohio State University. Canzone led the Buckeyes with a .343 batting average while earning Big Ten All-Freshman Team and Third Team All-Big Ten honors in 2017. He started all 60 games as a sophomore this year, hitting .323 and leading the team in hits, runs and at-bats.

Canzone grew up in Hudson, Ohio, adding an extra thrill to performing so well at OSU.

“Since I was little I always followed everything Ohio State, so it was definitely my dream school,” Canzone said. “This last year was so much fun. It was awesome to make an (NCAA) regional and experience that. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”

Multiple Buckeyes have come through the Cape League over the years. Canzone said he knew he was coming to the Cape back in September, then sought out Ohio State teammate Ryan Feltner, an All-Star pitcher with Bourne last summer and a 2018 MLB fourth-round draft choice, for advice on the league.

“It’s just where every college baseball player wants to be,” Canzone said. “The main thing was to just absorb all the information that everybody has out here for you because everybody is so good at what they do.”

Brewster, to put it charitably, has had an up-and-down season. But the Whitecaps won their second game in a row Wednesday night, leaving them just six points out of a playoff spot in the East Division.

They were just the third seed in the East when they won the league championship last year.

“We’re really starting to hit and pitch well,” Canzone said. “I think the one area that we just need to clean up a little bit is on defense, both infield and outfield.”

Canzone “wasn’t very high-profile coming out of high school,” in his own words, so the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Draft came and went without his name getting called. His next chance to go pro will come next June, after the conclusion of his junior year.

“I try not to focus too much on the draft, just because it’s a year away, and I still want to definitely focus on this (summer) and my college year coming up,” Canzone said.

Canzone might not be thinking about getting drafted, but Shevchik is already confident.

“He knows when to lay off the bad pitches, and he’s starting to get himself in good hitters counts where he’s in command now rather than the pitcher,” Shevchik said. “He’s a competitor, he wants to play, he’s fiery, and he should be. I think that’s the recipe for success.”