Jackson Coutts had a productive and memorable summer in the Cape Cod League for the Falmouth Commodores.
The former Orono High School three-sport star, who is set to begin his junior year at the University of Rhode Island, played first base for the Commodores. He hit .293 in 25 regular-season games with three doubles, a triple and 12 runs batted in. He then went 7-for-19 (.368) with three RBIs in five playoff games.
“It was an incredible experience,” Coutts said. “It was the best summer of my life.”
He was their second-leading hitter in the playoffs behind Texas A&M center fielder Zach Deloach (.450), who was the league’s top hitter during the regular season at .353.
Falmouth had the best regular-season record (27-15-2) in the league but lost to Cotuit in the playoffs.
University of Maine closer and former Bangor High star Trevor DeLaite saw some limited mound duty for Hyannis.
The Cape Cod League features some of the nation’s best college players and has produced lots of major leaguers. The players use wooden bats like those used in professional baseball.
“I love the wooden bats so much more than the metal bats [used in amateur baseball like college and high school],” Coutts said. “There is a real feel to them. You don’t get cheated at the plate.”
The season got off to an auspicious start for Coutts. In his first game, he jammed his finger diving back into second base and missed eight games.
“Being on a temporary contract, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. They could have released me. Thankfully, coach Jeff Trundy and his staff felt I was was worth keeping around. They gave me a chance and I was thankful for the opportunity they gave me,” he said.
Coutts spent time in the dugout nursing his injured finger and it proved to be beneficial.
“You can learn a lot by watching,” Coutts said.
He studied different approaches taken by hitters and what pitchers liked to throw in certain situations and counts.
“The biggest thing I saw is hitters taking early strikes,” said Coutts, who felt that would be counterproductive for him.
“I always swing at the first strike I think I can hit well. It ended up paying off, I guess,” he said.
Coutts benefitted from monitoring Deloach’s hitting approach.
“He was incredible to watch. He knew when to swing early [in the count]. And when he got into a pretty good hitter’s count, I would see what he would swing at,” Coutts said.
After overcoming his injury, it took him awhile to get into a rhythm.
Trundy, who formerly coached on the Cape with Coutts’ dad, Mike, said Jackson Coutts had a good summer.
“What was really impressive was we hit him fifth in the lineup regularly and he was really comfortable coming up with runners in scoring position,” Trundy said.
Trundy noted that Coutts was willing to make adjustments at the plate, which isn’t something every hitter is willing to do.
“He always had a smile on his face. He loves to play the game,” he said. “He brought positive energy to the field every day. He’s an awesome kid.”
Coutts worked at a summer camp and he and his teammates also handled field maintenance to earn money. In their spare time, playing Frisbee was a popular activity.
They also went clamming and boating.
Playing in a league with a lot of high-profile players and seeing how you match up with them can be daunting for a small-town boy from Orono. But Coutts took it in stride.
“It’s still just baseball. I just went out and tried to hit the ball,” Coutts said, adding that it was challenging seeing 90-plus mph fastballs on a daily basis.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Coutts, a left-handed hitter who played football and basketball at Orono in addition to baseball, hit .259 at URI last season. He tied for first on the team with four homers and was second with 29 RBIs. He also had six doubles.
DeLaite struggled for 9-32-3 Hyannis, the worst team in the league. He struck out 11 in just 7 2/3 innings spanning six appearances but allowed 20 hits and 15 earned runs.