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It doesn't take a lot of research to find out just how prestigious the Cape Cod Baseball League is when it comes to producing major league talent.

Billed as being the premier collegiate summer league in the country, more than 1,100 current and former big league baseball players spent a summer or two of their college life on the Massachusetts peninsula. 

Proudly displayed on the league's website is a list of all alumni to come through the league and later make it to the game's highest level. Names such as Kris Bryant, Jeff Bagwell, Ryan Braun, Josh Donaldson and Jacoby Ellsbury grace the list, along with so many others.

Brett Kinneman would love to, someday, add his name to that constantly growing list.

"You're playing the best players in the country every day, so you have to be at your best all the time," Kinneman said. "But, I've had some success. I'd like to be a little bit more consistent at times, but it's been awesome."

Playing among the best: Kinneman, who is a 2015 graduate of West York and just completed his sophomore season with NC State, plays for the Cotuit Kettlers, winners of a record 16 Cape Cod League titles. 

The league began in 1885 and became sanctioned by the NCAA in 1963. It started using wooden bats in 1985 and this summer's regular season consists of 44 games, spanning from the middle of June through the beginning of August, capped with three rounds of playoffs in best-of-three format.

Made up of 10 teams in the league, in order to get one of the select roster spots on any of the teams, you either need a strong recommendation from your college coach, or are recruited to play. 

After having a strong sophomore season that built off a freshman campaign that earned him Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman team honors, Kinneman was recommended to Cotuit through his coaches at NC State.

"I was extremely grateful," Kinneman said. "It's been an awesome opportunity to come up here and play in a very prestigious league like this."

The Cape loves its baseball and, whether it's a group of vacationers in town for the week, or people who live up there for the summer or year-round, games are always packed. If you're a member of one of the 10 teams in the league, you morph into a small-town celebrity for the summer, with most evenings for the vacationers and locals centered on taking in the baseball games.

At the moment, the Kettlers are the hottest team in the Cape League, winners of five consecutive games heading into Sunday's action, putting them atop the West Division standings with a 13-9 record.

Kinneman's production at the plate has taken a dip recently, with his average slipping down to .250. But, he's played in all 22 of Cotuit's games and leads the team in stolen bases (7), is second on the team in runs scored (15) and fourth in RBIs (10).

Big league dreams: With this experience on the Cape, and his first two years with the Wolfpack, Kinneman has gotten a better understanding on what he needs to improve on as a baseball player. As an outfielder, he wants to focus on getting quicker jumps on fly balls; while at the plate, he need to get better with his discipline and cutting down on his swings and misses.

Between playing in one of the best conferences in college baseball, his time this summer in the Cape Cod League and making slight improvements to his all-around game, Kinneman hopes all of it translates into his lifelong dream of getting drafted next summer and pursuing a professional baseball career.

"It's definitely something I think about every day," he said. "It would be an awesome opportunity to have a career in professional baseball. I don't like to let it overshadow anything. I try to stay in the moment, but it would be an awesome opportunity to pursue something that I've wanted to do my whole life."

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com

 

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