HARWICH – Brock Wilken knew the Cape Cod Baseball League attracted some of the nation’s top college baseball players. He just didn’t know how good the nation’s top college baseball players would be.
“I knew the talent up here was good, but I didn’t really grasp how good it could be,” Wilken said after Monday’s 5-3 victory over the Wareham Gatemen, a game in which the 6-foot-4 slugger from Valrico, Fla., finished 2 for 3 with a pair of walks, an RBI and a run scored. “It’s really blown me away how much talent there is. It’s really shocking to me.”
Wilken washed ashore this summer after a dominant spring at Wake Forest University. He was named to multiple freshman All-American teams after batting .279 with 44 RBIs and 17 homers, a new freshman home run record for the Demon Deacons.
The infielder has established himself as a player to watch this summer after getting off to a quick start in Harwich. Wilken has embraced his role in the heart of the Mariners’ lineup and has produced results, too. He is batting .326 and leads the team in homers (2) and RBIs (11) through 12 games.
Wilken attributes much of his success to his confidence. He entered the league as a top prospect and he expects to leave with the same title.
“That’s one of my big things personally — going out there and feeling like I’m the best guy,” he said. “If anyone can do that, I think you can be a great person at your job or on the field. Whatever it is, if anyone has that, I think they can be great at anything they do.”
While it might not be unusual for a player to experience success in their debut summer on the Cape, Harwich manager Steve Englert said it is unique for a player to thrive in the batter’s box after only completing their freshman year of college.
“It’s really tough,” the skipper said. “We don’t take too many freshmen up here because it’s tough to handle the adversity, but that kid is mature beyond his years as far as playing is concerned. He still needs to work, obviously, like everybody does, but so far, he’s been good.”
Wilken’s hitting acumen was on full display in Monday’s victory. He showed his patience during the two walks he drew in the third and fourth innings, working a full count in both at-bats before eventually earning free passes to first base.
Remaining patient at the plate is one aspect of the mental side of the game Wilken has worked to keep sharp this summer. He also has tried to implement a relaxed approach at the plate, and said he tries not to think too much when he’s in the batter’s box because that is when he gets himself into trouble and grounds out or doesn’t get the best piece of the ball.
“I’m just staying within myself,” he said. “If I try to do too much, that’s when I don’t have success. That’s when I start rolling over baseballs — that’s not what I do, that’s not my game. So, when I stay within myself and stay to the big part of the field, I’m pretty good.”
Although he has only had a few weeks living and playing on Cape Cod, Wilken has enjoyed his time in Harwich thus far. Beyond how great the league’s talent is, there have been additional new discoveries for the Cape rookie.
“Outdoor showers,” he said with a smile. “I had never seen them before.”
Wilken noted the outdoor showers, like every other aspect of his summer, have been enjoyable.
“I couldn’t imagine anything better than up here,” he said. “I love it up here.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent/Upcoming games for Harwich (5-6-1)
July 4: Brewster 7, Harwich 0
July 5: Harwich 5, Wareham 3
July 7: Harwich at Wareham, 7 p.m.
July 8: Yarmouth-Dennis at Harwich, 7 p.m.
July 9: Harwich at Cotuit, 5 p.m.