ORLEANS – A slight smirk appeared on Kelly Nicholson’s face as the longtime Orleans manager discussed the future of Jonathan Cannon, a 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher from the University of Georgia who on Sunday made what will likely be his last appearance for the Firebirds.
“He’s welcome back if the draft doesn’t go well,” said Nicholson. “He’s more than welcome back, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Cannon was among the Major League Baseball draft-eligible prospects who were able to get a small taste of the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer.
Because the MLB draft typically takes place in June, many top prospects are unable to play in the Cape League during the summer months. However, due to COVID-19, MLB pushed back its draft by roughly a month, giving many prospects like Cannon an opportunity to stay sharp in the weeks between the end of their college seasons and the draft, scheduled for July 11-13.
“It was a great three weeks that I was up here,” said Cannon, an Alpharetta, Ga. native who recently completed his sophomore season at UGA. “I’ve learned so much and being able to meet everyone — all of the teammates and the great fans — it’s been a tremendous experience.”
Cannon made his summer debut June 20 in Orleans’ 8-1 opening day victory over Harwich at Eldredge Park. He struck out two, walked one and allowed two hits and no runs in that start, which set the tone for the next couple weeks. He pitched five scoreless innings in his second outing June 27 — a 0-0 tie vs. Yarmouth-Dennis — before tossing four frames of one-run ball Sunday night.
In all, Cannon gave up one run (earned) and nine hits while striking out eight and walking three in 13 innings pitched. The righty felt he took a step forward in his development while pitching on the Cape, especially as it pertains to his fastball, which reaches the low to mid-90s.
“I think I was able to really lock in with my fastball and command my fastball in all three starts,” he said. “The off-speed pitches were a little bit inconsistent in the beginning, but I was able to get my feel back and I think it was really good [Sunday].”
“He looks like a number one starter in college. He looks like a Friday guy,” Nicholson said, alluding to the fact college coaches generally start their best pitcher during Friday matchups.
“I think the draft is going to go well for him,” Nicholson continued. “I would be surprised if it doesn’t. He’s good. He’s a strike-thrower, he’s got good sink, he knows how to tunnel pitches, has a good changeup and he’s competitive. It’s a clean delivery.”
Regardless of what big-league franchise ultimately lands Cannon, the righty will have fond memories of his small taste of Cape League baseball. After Sunday’s victory, he noted he was grateful to have the opportunity to play in front of the Firebirds’ faithful, especially after last season was canceled due to COVID-19.
“I’m really happy after the way it got canceled last year everyone was able to come out and enjoy the games,” he said. “There’s such a great fan base here and such great people. It’s been a tremendous experience. I’m so thankful for all the people up here and my host family and my teammates. It’s a time that I’ll never forget.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent/Upcoming Games for Orleans (6-5-1)
July 4: Orleans 8, Chatham 3
July 5: Brewster 5, Orleans 2
July 8: Orleans at Hyannis, 6 p.m.
July 9: Orleans at Brewster, 5 p.m.