12 July 2006

Cape League

Tim Lincecum of the University of Washington, who pitched for the Harwich Mariners, last year is getting a new pair of cleats.

This is no ordinary pair of baseball cleats, though, because this pair is only given to the best player in amateur baseball. USA Baseball recently announced that Lincecum had won the Golden Spikes Award -- college baseball's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

Lincecum was chosen over four other finalists for the award after a season in which he also received Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year honors and was named national player of the week six times by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

This marks the second time Lincecum was named the Pac-10's top pitcher, earning that honor in his freshman season of 2004. He also received Pac-10 Freshman of the Year accolades in 2004, becoming the first Husky to win both pitcher and player of the year honors.

In three years at Washington, Lincecum set several career records: 30 wins, 51 starts, 342 innings pitched and 491 strikeouts (against only 216 walks). In 2006, he compiled a 12-4 record, 1.94 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 125 1/3 innings.

His 12 wins and 199 strikeouts set single-season records for the Huskies. The San Francisco Giants chose Lincecum with the 10th overall pick of this year's draft/

Lincecum became a reliable closer for the Mariners in 2005, pitching 39 1/3 innings in 19 games and saving seven games. He also started three games, including one complete-game effort, and had of 68 strikeouts and only 11 walks.

Holding opponents to a .104 batting average, Lincecum's 0.69 ERA earned him a place on the all-star and a place in the record books with the ninth-best ERA of the Cape League's modern era. He was also named to the all-league for 2005 and received the Mariners' Al Graeber Pitcher of the Year Award.

The Cape League proved to be vital to Lincecum's success in his junior year for the Huskies. When pro scouts were looking at him during his freshman and sophomore seasons, they had their doubts because of his stature and his reliance on two pitches - a mid-90s fastball and an impressive curve.

While playing for the Mariners, Lincecum worked hard to develop and perfect two more pitches, a slider and a changeup.

"When you're in the closer's role, you can get away with two pitches that are quality. With him wanting to be in the starter's role when he went back to school, he started working on his pitches, and it really helped him out a lot this past spring," said Harwich manager Steve Englert.

With four weapons in his arsenal, Lincecum dominated in his final college season, where his phenomenal numbers as a starter in 2006 turned him into yet another CCBL alum drafted into the majors.

"He was a pretty easy-going kid off the field," Englert said. "He was - what we say - a left-handed mentality that throws righty. Those lefties can be a little goofy at times."

Englert noted Lincecum's peculiar delivery; having a great deal of flexibility, Lincecum turns his back to the plate, tying his entire body into a tight knot before unraveling himself in a fluid motion towards the plate.

"With his size and the motion that he had, he was a pleasure to watch," Englert said.

By Adam McGillen