If the 2011 draft class was stronger than usual, early indications are that 2012 could be a down year, at least on the college side. The talent level across college summer baseball is down, according to scouts.
"It's OK," a National League scouting director said of the talent in the Cape Cod League. "There's some arm strength, some big bodies. All the guys that have good arms have hickies, but there's a few. And a few good hitters."
The Northwoods League typically has the next-most talent, and scouts came away from Monday's NWL all-star game saying there was less high-end talent on display than there has been in recent years.
"It was fairly lackluster, compared to the last three years," an American League area scout said. "There wasn't anybody who really jumped out and it was like, 'Wow, I'd really love to have that guy.' There were some guys with some arm strength, but they're missing this or that. I think I saw 92 once all night on the gun; there was not anybody that was 91-94. There was a lot of 84-87s, and one or two guys who were maybe 88-89, 90, and one or two guys that may have been pitching at 90, touching 92. Offensively, there really wasn't anything that was too impressive."
The North Division beat the South, 6-3, in front of 2,408 fans in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Brainerd Lakes Area third baseman Dan Olinger (Minnesota) was named the "Star of Stars" after going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Madison slugger Nate Theunissen (Central Michigan) starred for the South, going 2-for-4 with a homer. The physical Theunissen hit .384 with a team-high seven homers and 54 RBIs as a sophomore this spring, and he has built upon that success this summer, hitting .329 with six homers in 140 at-bats with wood.
"He's a big-bodied kid, and he's having a good year," the scout said.
The best arm on display belonged to 6-foot-8, 235-pound Rochester righthander Nick Dolsky (Nebraska), who pitched sparingly as a redshirt freshman this spring. Dolsky sat at 89-91 and bumped higher, and he'll need to refine his slurvy breaking ball, but he has upside.
"In high school, I thought he needed to mature physically and grow into that big body," the scout said. "He's a big, strong kid, but he still has a long way to go."
Theunissen doubled off the right-center-field wall against Dolsky, and Waterloo's Cameron Perkins (Purdue) drove him home with an RBI single, also against Dolsky.
The Texas Collegiate League all-star game was Monday as well, and scouts were nonplussed by the talent on display there, as well. One area scout on hand said just two pitchers—the two starters—topped 90 mph in the game, which was won by the South all-stars, 7-4. The arm that stood out the most was East Texas righthander Jaden Dillon, a 6-foot, 170-pound rising senior at McNeese State.
"He was up to 93," the scout said. "He was kind of a drop-and-drive guy, and it was hard for him to get on top of his breaking ball, but he's all right."
Dillon's South counterpart, Brazos Valley's 6-foot-4 righty Alex Mills (Tennessee-Martin), reached 90-91 and stood out for his loose arm and projection, though he's a rising senior as well, and his secondary stuff was fringy.
The position player who stood out most was Coppell catcher Joe Andrade (Dixie State, Utah), who went 1-for-2 with two runs and an RBI. He also showed some arm strength behind the plate.
"Those were the best of the bunch," the scout said.
Stephens, Armstrong Stand Out At CPL All-Star Game
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.—On Monday night, the Coastal Plain League continued a trend of dramatic summer league all-star games, as the National all-stars defeated the American team, 3-2. The National team waited until the top of the ninth to take their first lead of the game, getting a leadoff single from Brian Blasik (Dayton) before Zach Stephens (Tennessee Tech) blasted a two-run shot to left. Stephens, a rising sophomore who led the Golden Eagles in home runs, doubles, RBIs, and total bases this spring, was named the game’s MVP.
To start the game, the American team sent Virginia Commonwealth's Seth Cutler-Voltz to the hill while the Nationals echoed with Catawba (N.C.) College's Jordan Jankowski. After threatening in the first two innings but coming up empty, the American all-stars took a two-run lead in the third, thanks in part to a leadoff triple from rising senior Patrick Koontz of UNC Asheville.
Second baseman Eric Grabe (Tampa) singled in Koontz two batters later, and then scored on an RBI base hit to center field from Texas Christian rising sophomore outfielder Axel Johnson. Grabe was the only player to record two hits in the game.
The National team scraped one across the board in the top half of the fourth off the bat of Chase McDonald (East Carolina), cutting the American lead in half, but that would mark the end of the game’s scoring until Stephens’ long ball in the ninth.
Both teams’ bats were tamed by a plethora of good-looking CPL arms, led by defensive MVP Shawn Armstrong (East Carolina), who mowed down all three hitters he faced in an easy seventh frame.
Michael Anarumo, a lanky lefthander from Le Moyne, impressed in his lone inning of relief, reaching 87 mph while mixing in a mid-70s slider. One of the game’s bigger arms came from 5-foot-10 righthander Cody Davis, a junior out of Tampa. Davis, who started the game as the American team’s DH, worked from 91-93 with some arm-side run but had trouble hitting his spots.
Despite the low scoring, several bats also stood out. Jake Cave, a rising freshman at Louisiana State who was drafted by the Yankees in the sixth round, hit third and started at first base for the American team, going 1-for-2. In his first at-bat with a runner going, Cave found the open 5-6 hole, slapping a base hit to left.
In his second at-bat, Cave took a big rip at a 3-and-0 fastball, nearly falling over. He would pop out just shy of the left-field warning track pitches later but showed his abundant tools in five innings of play. West Chester’s Joe Wendle also looked good at the plate, and N.C. State’s Ryan Mathews, the league leader in home runs with 12, showed his all-around abilities in workouts before the game.
Daniel Aldrich, a Baseball America first-team freshman All-American from the College of Charleston, won the home run derby with 18 home runs on Sunday night. He also captured the TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby crown in Omaha just weeks ago.
There were several all-star games last week as well. Among the standouts were Alex Mendez, a rising senior outfielder from South Florida, who was named the Florida Collegiate League all-star game MVP, and Bruce Maxwell, a rising junior first baseman from Birmingham Southern, who was named the Prospect League all-star game MVP.
Mendez had two hits in the game and made a run-saving catch in left field, while Maxwell went 2-for-3 with an RBI in his game. Other MVPs include the Great Lakes League’s Taylor Karpive (Palm Beach Atlantic) and the Alaska League’s Carl Brockmeyer (Cal State Bakersfield).
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