By James Nahikian
On Opening Day across the Cape, shortstop Tim Caputo committed two consecutive fielding errors in the first inning at Y-D’s Red Wilson Field. Forty-five days later, Caputo made his return to Y-D’s home field. But this time — Caputo wasn’t playing in a regular season game – he was representing the Braves in the 2013 Cape League All-Star Game.
“I think those were just first game jitters and just getting them out early is what I needed to do,” said Caputo prior to Saturday’s All-Star Game. “To be back here, I’m just going to try and redeem myself [and] just have fun out there.”
Ironically enough, Caputo went on to make back-to-back impressive plays in the field for the West squad – justifying his selection and more than making up for his Opening Day nerves. Backing his teammate, Trace Dempsey (Ohio State), Caputo made a diving catch in foul territory during the eighth inning before stabbing a line drive for out number two.
From the start of his career, however, the Greenlawn, New York native has had to deal with naysayers. Standing at just 5’7’’ and weighing in at 145 pounds, Caputo’s frame simply adds to his dark horse story.
“I hear that all the time,” explained Caputo of his size, “but you just got to put that past you.”
Keeping his size in mind, it comes to no surprise that Caputo models his game after Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia – who recently singed a seven-year, $100-million contract extension with the Boston Red Sox – is just one inch taller than Caputo.
“He’s a small guy like me and I see him getting after it, and that just gives me more motivation. He [plays] at the highest level that you can get, and I know that I can do that too.”
Although Caputo’s stature is not going to overwhelm any scouts, his speed certainly will. This past spring, Caputo scored a team-high 49 runs for Rhode Island. Currently, Caputo leads the Braves with 23 runs scored. The soon-to-be junior has also swiped a team-best eight bases.
“Obviously, one of my biggest tools is my speed,” said Caputo. “I try and use it whichever way I can.”
“When I’m looking at a pitcher [and] I’m trying to steal – on a righty pitcher I’m looking at his front foot, the minute it leaves the ground, I’m off. [On a] lefty pitcher I’m looking at his front shoulder. It’s good to get out there on the board and get as many steals as I can.”
Alongside his game changing speed, Caputo’s bat has been a mainstay in the Bourne lineup throughout the season. The Braves’ shortstop owns a batting average of .309 –while his 39 hits rank him sixth best in the category amongst the entire Cape League. And much like his teammate, Max Pentecost, Caputo confessed that he prefers a wooden bat over an aluminum bat. But coming off of 227 collegiate at-bats with the latter, Caputo admits that it took patience as well as hard work in order to get used to his new lumber.
“[In] the beginning of the summer, it’s definitely more of a transition period,” said Caputo. “[You] really just got to get comfortable with it – take BP, practice. The wood has more of a natural feel to it [and] it definitely feels better when you really get the ball. It is more natural of a swing and I do like hitting better with a wood.”
There is no doubt that Tim Caputo has continued to turn heads throughout the Cape League season. From his seemingly endless range at shortstop to his unanimous selection into the All-Star Game – Caputo has surprised everybody, but himself. And although Caputo may be an underdog story, he has no problem using his doubters to his advantage.
“No one expected me to do big things in this league – coming from not that small of a school, but not anything big. [I’m] just taking the pressure off of my shoulders and just going out there and trying to have fun.”
James Nahikian is the beat writer for the Bourne Braves and will be entering his second year at Bowling Green State University. Follow James on Twitter @KingNahikian.