MLB Draft: How Cape Cod League led Kaden Polcovich to Seattle Mariners
Kaden Polcovich treated last summer’s Cape Cod League as a personal test.
The Deer Creek High School product was already signed to play at Oklahoma State, returning home after two years at Northwestern Florida State.
But he wanted to prove he belonged with elite college baseball players. He wanted to prove he had matured.
The Seattle Mariners took notice.
“It has been unbelievable what he’s done,” said Scott Hunter, the Mariners’ director of amatuer scouting. “What he’s able to do now in a shortened season on top of what he did in the Cape, which he may have hit the ball just as hard as some of our big power hitters we’ve taken.”
Polcovich was OSU’s lone player selected in the two-day MLB Draft, going in in the third round at No. 78 overall to Seattle. He played just 18 games with the Cowboys, but it was his summer season that turned his career around.
“That was some of the best competition I’ve ever played against,” Polcovich told The Oklahoman. “I saw how I stacked up and I was able to do pretty good. That’s something to build on.”
During a year that the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the spring college season and shortened the draft to five rounds, major league teams were forced to get creative in scouting. Seattle relied on its extensive scouting of the most famous college baseball summer league.
The Mariners sent two waves of scouts last summer. Hunter also went.
“It is a great place to go to watch games and see baseball, but it is an opportunity for us to see the best players in the country and really see if some of these kids are trending in the right direction,” Hunter said.
“Looking into what they did in the Cape, seeing how they came out in the spring and seeing if some of those trends and that ability and those swing changes that were taking place is so important to us.”
Polcovich put himself on Seattle’s radar, becoming a league All-Star under former OSU coach Tom Holliday. Seattle scouts also watched Polcovich play when the Cowboys opened the season in Arizona.
His play just confirmed what they saw in Chatham, Massachusetts.
Polcovich is just 5 feet 8 and 180 pounds, but he’s a switch-hitting second baseman with deceiving power. He’s got speed, which Hunter grades at a 60 on the scout’s scale that tops at 80.
“Some of the things that this kid was able to do at the smaller stature and just what he’s done across his career and his life, he’s hit everywhere he’s been,” Hunter said. “We do think there’s some real power in there for a smaller guy.
“He’s got tools. It comes in a smaller frame, but if you watch the video on him he is strong as heck and he gets everything out of his body and the game. It’s easy to like a kid like that when you watch him play. There’s real tools and a real hitter here.”
Hunter said Polcovich, who played second base and third base for OSU, will start out as a second baseman. He could also become a super-utility player.
Either way, Polcovich is ready to prove he’s ready for the next step.
“People think size matters in baseball and it really doesn’t,” Polcovich said. “I’ve carried that edge throughout my entire life and just proven people wrong.”