2006 Northwoods League Top 10 Prospects

1. Jordan Zimmerman, rhp, Eau Claire (Wisconsin-Stevens Point)

Zimmerman
posted a 5-5, 2.08 record as a sophomore at Division III
Wisconsin-Stevens Point before dominating the Northwoods League to
emerge as a top-five rounds talent for 2007. The 6-foot-1 Zimmerman ranked second in
the NWL with 92 strikeouts and his 1.01 ERA led the league. He allowed just 42 hits and 28
walks in an eye-popping 80 innings of work. He took a perfect game into
the eighth inning against Thunder Bay in his penultimate start,
finishing the game with only a hit and a walk surrendered while ringing
up 13 strikeouts. Zimmerman works at 89-92 mph with his fastball, and
still was able to peak at 95 in the late innings while painting the
corners at the knees. He has a feel for a slider and changeup, and his
70 mph looping curveball keeps hitters honest. He’s a good enough
athlete that he hit seven home runs as an outfielder at UW-SP last
spring.

2. Charlie Shirek, rhp, Duluth (Nebraska)

The
top prospect in the league a year ago, Shirek followed a strong
redshirt freshman season at Nebraska (4-2, 3.23) with another strong
summer. He went 3-2, 1.11 and allowed just 34 hits and 12 walks in 49
innings. He struck out 30 batters, but could have picked up that figure
had he the desire. Instead, he pounded hitters with his 88-94 mph
fastball 90 percent of the time. The pitch has so much sink and run,
some thought it was a splitter. Shirek, 6-foot-4, also throws an
average slider (83 mph) and changeup and already owns the command of
all three pitches to profile as a No. 4-5 starter at the major league
level. Fellow Nebraska righthander Mike Nihsen (9-2, 1.04, 0 HR in 78 IP) showed
similar fastball command for Duluth, but not enough feel or development
for his secondary pitches to crack the top 10.

3. Brett Hunter, rhp, Alexandria (Pepperdine)

Hunter
put together another dominant summer a year after a velocity spike made
him a great late addition to Pepperdine’s recruiting class. He emerged
as the Waves’ closer, dominating hitters with an All-Freshman season
that included 11 saves and a 53-16 strikeout-walk ratio. Hunter spent
the summer working out of Alexandria’s rotation and finding plenty of
success while honing his average slider and changeup. One coach said he
had a lightning rod for an arm, one that fires fastballs in the 90-94
mph range with good movement. Hunter held his velocity late into
outings, doubly impressive considering how much time he spent working
out of the bullpen at Pepperdine. He went  4-2, 1.53 with a 47-16
strikeout-walk ratio this summer, allowing 38 hits in 59 innings–all
as a starter.

4. Steven Hensley, rhp, Duluth (Elon)

Hensley
struck out 96 batters in 98 innings as a freshman as Elon earned a
surprise Southern Conference title in the spring. He kept ringing up
hitters in the NWL, with 31 strikeouts in 28 innings against 17
hits and 13 walks. At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds with a wiry frame and
wide shoulders, Hensley stands to add strength and perhaps velocity to
a lively fastball that already sits at 90-92 mph and peaks at 94. His
hard curveball also could be a plus pitch, and he throws a cut
fastball/slider at 87 mph. His changeup also is a good pitch when he
stays through it and doesn’t get too out in front.

5. Chad Dawson, rhp, St. Cloud (Indiana State)

Dawson
ranked among the hardest throwers in the league and ranked second in the league in saves. An easy arm stroke and
a 6-foot-5 frame produced a fastball that blazed up to 96 mph in the
all-start game. He often works more in the 90-94 range with a slider
that rates average. His fastball and slider command vary; he’s guilty
of trying to overthrow his heater at times, and his breaking ball
flattens out when he’s not on top of it. Dawson really competes when he
comes out of the bullpen, and his athleticism and speed make coaches
think he’s going to be able to repeat his delivery and add velocity.
His changeup is average, but Dawson projects more as a reliever/closer
anyway as his sophomore numbers as a starter at Indiana State weren’t
as dominant. He rang up 37 strikeouts in 38 innings for St. Cloud
while allowing 14 walks, 21 hits and a 2.15 ERA.

6. Tim Smith, of, Mankato (Arizona State)

Smith
ranked as a top junior college prospect in the spring and backed up
that status with a .450 average, 22 doubles, 23 steals and 59 RBIs at
Midland (Texas) JC. When the draft arrived, he scared off teams with a
reported bonus demand near $1 million. Smith, who will play for Arizona
State next spring, again showcased himself in the NWL, displaying big
league bat speed and above-average speed and power. The 6-foot-2,
215-pounder led off for Mankato, but looks more like a middle of the
order hitter the way the ball jumps off his bat. He led the league with
75 hits and added 19 steals (in 23 tries) and 36 walks in a
.300/.409/.380 season.

7. Tim Murphy, of/lhp, Duluth (UCLA)

Wrist
and quadriceps injuries limited Murphy to 24 games as a freshman at
UCLA, but he returned to health over the summer and showed all the
tools that made him an 11th-round pick out of high school in 2005. His
quick, quiet lefthanded stroke and thin frame conjure images of a young
Shawn Green. He batted .289 with seven doubles despite a 1-for-22 finishing kick. Murphy also is a fleet outfielder with
an above-average right field arm. He also reaches the low 90s from the
mound.

8. Jeff Richard, rhp, Waterloo (Central Michigan)

Richard
is an imposing figure at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds with a barrel chest,
and he uses that size to creae a steep downhill angle from which to
fire a fastball that topped out at 96 mph at the all-star game. He
routinely worked at 88-92 mph, hitting 94 at times. He also uses a hard
splitter and an average breaking ball. Richard went 2-3, 1.24 but rang
up 47 strikeouts in 44 innings, allowing 28 hits and 19 walks. He
ranked among the league ERA and strikeouts leaders, but left early and
dropped below the innings requirements. His max effort delivery has
some already ticketing him for the bullpen. A high school first
baseman, Richard worked just 10 innings as a freshman at Central
Michigan. He should continue to improve as a two-way player with more
action for the Chippewas.

9. Chris Jones, of, Rochester (Cal State Fullerton)

No
player showed more raw power than Jones, who tied for the league lead with eight
home runs and also drove in 37. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder spent
his freshman year as a little-used two-way player at Texas A&M
before transferring to Cal State Fullerton. The Titans could have used
his pop in 2006, but a lower back injury turned into a redshirt season.
A pulled hamstring cost him time with Rochester, but when healthy he’s
got the ability to post a 20-homer, 20-steal season thanks to
6.7-second speed over 60 yards and his knack for squaring up and
smacking pitches. Jones shows above-average arm strength in right field, though he was primarily a DH this summer,
and also displays a strong knowledge of the game and good work habits.

10. Byron Wiley, of, Duluth (Kansas State)

Like
Thunder Bay outfielders Marcus Jones (North Carolina State) and Gabe
Marchant (Howard, Texas, JC), Wiley is a superior athlete who flashes
five tools. He just edged them out to make the top 10. Built like a
linebacker at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, Wiley shows above-average bat
speed, a compact swing and the ability to hit for power. Fleet afoot,
he can play center field, but a below-average arm may relegate him to
left. He hit .297/.425/.483 with seven steals as a freshman at Kansas
State and started his summer as a role player for Duluth before a
.299/.415/.427 campaign with 10 doubles, a team-best three homers and
14 steals ended with him as
the team’s No. 3 hitter.

College | #2007

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