2003 College Summer Leagues: Top Prospects
CAPE COD LEAGUE
Yarmouth-Dennis first baseman Wes Whisler was the best prospect in the Cape Cod League last year, joining Mark Teixeira as the only freshmen to attain that status since Baseball America began ranking talent in the nation's top summer amateur circuit in 1990. Managers and scouts alike marveled at the power packed in Whisler's 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame.
This year, Cape observers again shook their heads in amazement while watching Whisler. This time, they were wondering what happened to his stroke. Whisler hit just .162 with one homer in 32 games, and pro teams now consider him more of a prospect as a lefthanded pitcher.
Whisler wasn't the only disappointment. Two-time defending champion Wareham assembled perhaps the most talented pitching staff in league history—four of its members made our Cape Top 10—and had the best position-player prospect as well. But if rain hadn't wiped out a game the Gatemen were losing on the final day of the season, they would have tied for the league's worst record.
1. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Harwich (Rice).
After tying an NCAA record by
going 17-0 for the Owls, Niemann didn't allow an earned run in 19
innings for Harwich despite shelving his nasty slider. Niemann wanted
to take a break from the pitch, so he went after hitters with a 91-95
mph fastball and improved curveball. The downhill angle he generates
with his 6-foot-9 frame makes it difficult to lift his pitches.
2. Wade Townsend, rhp, Wareham (Rice).
Scouts tabbed Townsend as the
Cape's best prospect in the league's own survey. He has the most
consistent velocity of the Rice stars, usually working at 90-94 mph and
reaching 97. Though he focused on improving his knuckle-curve and
changeup this summer, hitters rarely got good swings. If there's a
concern about Townsend, it's that he was immature and easily rattled
with the Gatemen.
3. Andy LaRoche, ss/1b, Wareham (Grayson County CC).
Despite missing half the summer after breaking a bone in his left leg in a collision at first base, LaRoche opened more eyes than any position player on the Cape. He has a lot going for him: hitting ability (.326 average), power (tied for third in the league with six homers), arm strength, instincts, even bloodlines (father Dave was a two-time all-star, brother Adam played in the 2003 Futures Game as a Braves first baseman). His range is fringy at shortstop, but he makes the routine plays and easily could handle second or third base if needed. After drafting LaRoche in the 39th round in June, the Dodgers made a serious run at him after the season and before he was scheduled to enroll at Rice. Their efforts were successful as they signed him for a reported $1 million bonus.
4. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Wareham (Vanderbilt).
A Reds first-round pick out of high school, Sowers ranks as the Cape's top southpaw prospect for the second straight year. He's just 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, usually pitches in the high 80s and tops out at 91—but he's all pitcher. He can spot his fastball, curveball and changeup wherever he wants and has exceptional feel for pitching. His pickoff move also is deadly. "He can pitch without his best stuff," a National League East crosschecker said. "He can exploit a hitter's weaknesses better than anyone on the Cape. You know day in and day out what you're getting with him. He can throw three pitches for strikes, any time."
5. John Mayberry Jr., of/1b, Yarmouth-Dennis (Stanford).
Another high school first-rounder (Mariners, 2002), Mayberry lost his starting job this spring as a Stanford freshman yet hit .370 on the Cape with a line-drive swing. The son of the former Royals all-star is an athletic 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, and should get better with more playing time. "Every time that kid is at the plate, you shudder," Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. "He hits balls so doggone hard."
6. Mark McCormick, rhp, Wareham (Baylor).
Of all the talented arms he had at his disposal, Gatemen manager Cooper Farris said McCormick was the best prospect. He's a classic power pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and a hard (though inconsistent) curveball. Not as polished as the pitchers ahead of him on this list, he needs better command and mound presence.
One constant, however, was the success of Rice righthanders Jeff Niemann, Wade Townsend and Philip Humber. After pitching the Owls to the College World Series championship, they weren't in peak form but continued to establish themselves as prime draft picks for 2004. Humber didn't fare as well as Niemann and Townsend, the league's top two talents, but didn't hurt his stock.
"I've ranked Niemann, Townsend and Humber in every possible order the last two years," an American League scouting director said. "They could all go in the top five picks next year."
7. Philip Humber, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (Rice).
After winning the deciding game of the CWS, Humber went 1-4, 5.28 for Y-D. He used more of a drop-and-drive delivery and a lower arm angle than usual, but got straightened out in time to showcase a low-90s fastball, one of the better curves in the league and a strong changeup in his final start.
8. David Purcey, lhp, Orleans (Oklahoma).
Purcey had the best physical package among Cape southpaws, with a 91-95 fastball, 80-83 mph slider and a 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame. His command is still an issue but was better than he showed as a draft-eligible sophomore this spring. The Yankees drafted him in the 17th round and can sign him until he returns to class. "I know he's inconsistent," a NL Central crosschecker said, "but the stuff coming out of his hand was electric."
9. Chris Lambert, rhp, Chatham (Boston College).
A high school shortstop, Lambert has pitched for just two years. Though his 93-97 mph fastball was his lone reliable pitch, he limited hitters to a .136 average. His power curveball buckles knees when he throws it for strikes, which is only sporadically. If his command and secondary pitches don't improve, he'll project as a late-inning reliever.
10. Jason Neighborgall, rhp, Wareham (Georgia Tech).
Neighborgall had the best pure stuff of any Cape pitcher, with a fastball that sat at 95-97 mph and reached 102, plus a curveball that can freeze hitters. He once fanned league home run leader Joey Metropoulos on three pitches—and Metropoulos' bat never left his shoulder. But Neighborgall's delivery and command are all suspect, which is why he went 0-5, 3.81 and walked more than a batter per inning. "He has as good an arm as there is in the United States," a National League scouting director said. "It's just electric stuff and he's still not filled out physically. There's more to him."
11. Eric Beattie, rhp, Bourne (Tampa).
Though Beattie led NCAA Division II with 15 victories during the spring, he wasn't well-known outside the scouting community. That changed after he was named Cape pitcher of the year and posted a 0.39 ERA, the second-lowest in league history. For an encore, he pitched eight shutout innings against Hyannis in the playoffs, allowing just two balls hit out of the infield while fanning 12. Beattie has a lot of heavy life on his 90-92 mph two-seamer, generating more downhill plane than would be expected from a 6-foot-3 frame. His curveball and command ranked among the Cape's best, and his changeup was an effective third pitch. His velocity improved from 86-88 earlier in the summer, and there's room for projection with his 175-pound build. "He elevated himself as much as anyone for the 2004 draft," the AL scouting director said.
12. Jonathan Zeringue, of, Orleans (Louisiana State).
If LaRoche signs with the Dodgers, Zeringue has a good chance to be the first Cape position player drafted in 2004. A White Sox third-round pick as a high school catcher, Zeringue was always an offensive standout and now plays the outfield. He needs to shorten his swing and tighten his strike zone, but he's loaded with power and has fewer holes than the league's other sluggers. His arm strength gives him a chance to play right field.
13. Justin Maxwell, of, Bourne (Maryland).
Maxwell didn't have a Cape gig lined up after the college season, and Bourne signed him out of a tryout camp. Six-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he quickly established himself as the best athlete in the league, drawing physical comparisons to Dave Winfield. He's a center fielder with solid or better tools across the board, though he'll need to get stronger and pull more pitches to realize his power potential. Maxwell also has outstanding makeup, as he's a top student and won the Cape's 10th player award.
14. Garrett Mock, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (Houston).
Houston lost two first-round pitchers (Ryan Wagner, Brad Sullivan) to the pros but has another ace in the making in Mock. His command was spotty at times, but he was lights out in front of a bevy of scouts at the Cape all-star game. He has size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and two plus pitches (91-93 mph sinker, power curveball) in his favor.
15. Kyle Schmidt, rhp, Bourne (Georgia Tech).
If there's such a thing as a crafty righthander, Schmidt is it. He's not spectacular at 6-foot-2 or with an 88-90 mph fastball, but he thrives with an above-average curveball and the ability to locate his pitches down in the strike zone. He's transferring from Georgia Tech to South Florida.
16. Zach Jackson, lhp, Hyannis (Louisville).
Jackson is a bigger (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), less accomplished version of Sowers. He has an uncanny ability to pitch inside with an 87-90 mph fastball, thanks to its 6-8 inches of armside run. He keeps hitters off balance with a plus changeup, though his curveball is inconsistent and easy to read because he slows down his arm action. Another transfer, Jackson's destination for his junior season hasn't been finalized.
17. Garry Bakker, rhp, Cotuit (North Carolina).
Bakker saved his best for last, fanning 14 in 7 1/3 innings (including 11 of his first 12 outs) against Hyannis in his final outing. His bread-and-butter slider was 82-83 mph, while his fastball was harder than usual, sitting at 90-91 mph. He's not tall, but scouts like his sturdy 6-foot-2 frame. "That slider kept disappearing at the plate," Hyannis manager Keith Stohr said. "We looked foolish. Guys were just waving at the ball."
18. Jeremy Slayden, of, Falmouth (Georgia Tech).
Slayden never has been completely healthy on the Cape, battling hamstring problems in 2002 and an infected foot this summer. He wasn't at his best, but scouts liked his stroke enough to project him as a first- or second-round pick next year. He has power, works counts and uses the whole field. "He scares me when he swings the bat," Cotuit manager Garrett Quinn said. "It's a good swing, and you don't dare throw him a curveball because he'll crush it. He hits the curve as well as anyone in the league."
19. Matt Macri, 3b, Brewster (Notre Dame).
Scouts liked Macri more as a pitcher coming out of high school, when he would have been a first-round pick had he been signable. After having Tommy John surgery as a Notre Dame freshman, Macri is now destined to be a hitter. He had an all-or-nothing summer, leading the Cape in walks (30) and finishing second in homers (seven) while batting .172 and fanning 40 times in 122 at-bats. Macri has plenty of bat speed and power, but he needs to tone down his uppercut and propensity for pulling pitches. He looked better at third base for Brewster than he did at shortstop for Notre Dame, and has the arm and the power for the hot corner.
20. Luke Hochevar, rhp, Cotuit (Tennessee).
Quinn called Hochevar the most polished freshman he had seen since he had Kyle Sleeth two years ago. Like Sleeth, the third overall pick in the 2003 draft, Hochevar is a Colorado native and potential first-rounder. He throws downhill at 6-foot-4 and has a deceptive arm action that makes it that much more difficult to hit his low-90s fastball, plus slider and good changeup.
21. C.J. Smith, 1b, Cotuit (Florida).
Smith could be the first college first baseman drafted in 2004 if he doesn't sign as a sophomore-eligible sixth-rounder with the Pirates. He initially struggled with wood before his bat speed picked up, and he was as dangerous as any Cape hitter in the last two weeks. Smith tied for the Cape lead with 17 extra-base hits. A decent athlete, he might be able to move to an outfield corner.
22. Jeff Frazier, of, Chatham (Rutgers).
Frazier was Maxwell's closest rival for the best package of tools on the Cape. Frazier has a quick bat and is very projectable at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. But scouts aren't as sold on Frazier's swing or approach, as he lacks balance and discipline. His brother Todd, a high school outfielder and the hero of Tom's River, N.J.'s run to the Little League World Series title in 1998, has a chance to be a solid 2004 draft pick as well.
23. Billy Mohl, rhp, Falmouth (Tulane).
Mohl is yet another righthander who thrived without lighting up radar guns. One of the youngest players in the league, hitters couldn't touch his 86-89 mph sinker or slider because he changed speeds and locations at will. He's projectable at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, though the AL scouting director wondered whether his arm action would allow him to eat up innings as a starter. "The big thing to me is his mound presence," Trundy said. "He doesn't get rattled. He's a freshman, and you never know what you're getting with a freshman, but nothing bothered him."
24. Joey Metropoulos, 1b, Falmouth (Southern California).
At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, Metropoulos was the strongest player on the Cape and topped all hitters with 11 homers and a .493 slugging percentage. "When he slams the ball, he slams the ball," the NL Central crosschecker said. He's not particularly athletic, but his power is hard to come by and he's willing to take a walk.
25. Mark Sauls, rhp, Hyannis (Florida State).
A Twins third-round pick out of high school in 2002, Sauls has improved over the last year and could become a first-rounder in 2005. While he's not very projectable at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, he has improved his arm action and cleaned up his delivery. All three of his pitches (90-93 mph fastball, hard slider, changeup) dart to one side of the plate or the other. Sauls needed just 95 pitches to blank Bourne on two hits in Hyannis' playoff opener.
26. Brad McCann, 3b, Harwich (Clemson).
There was debate as to who projected better at third base, McCann or Falmouth shortstop Darryl Lawhorn (East Carolina). McCann outhit Lawhorn by 79 points and is proven defensively at the hot corner. He makes better adjustments and uses the whole field better than Macri or Lawhorn.
27. J.C. Holt, of, Brewster (Louisiana State).
Though it's hard to get scouts interested in a sub-6-foot outfielder, it's also difficult to dismiss the 5-foot-9 Holt after he won the Cape MVP award and batting title (.388, the highest average since Mark Smith hit .408 in 1990). Holt projects to have a better pro future than 5-foot-10 Sam Fuld (Hyannis/Stanford) or 5-foot-11 Trevor Crowe (Yarmouth-Dennis/Arizona) because he has plus speed. He needs to draw more walks to make better use of it, and some scouts think he'd be helped if he moved back to second base, where he played as a freshman at Louisiana State.
28. Cesar Nicolas, 1b, Orleans (Vanderbilt).
Undrafted after a disappointing junior season, Nicolas became one of four Vanderbilt players to make the Cape's postseason all-star team, joining Sowers, Wareham third baseman Warner Jones and Chatham shortstop Ryan Klosterman. Nicolas still showed holes in his swing and flailed at curveballs, but his power was undeniable—especially when he dominated the home run derby at the all-star game. He topped the Cape in RBIs (28), tied for the lead in doubles (11) and extra-base hits (17) and was named playoff MVP after Orleans swept four games to win the championship.
29. Bill Bray, lhp, Orleans (William & Mary).
Chris Ray parlayed a strong Cape performance in 2002 into getting drafted 74th overall in 2003, making him the highest pick in William & Mary history. That gives Bray something to shoot for. He doesn't throw as hard as Ray, but he got his solid average fastball in on hitters and touched 94 mph. His velocity pales in comparison to his late-breaking slider and pinpoint control.
30. Justin Meier, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (Louisiana State).
Meier's 42-4 strikeout-walk ratio is all the more eye-popping considering that he was a freshman and pitched just 23 innings. He gets great run on his low-90s fastball, backs it up with a plus slider and has learned to use his changeup. At 6 feet and 210 pounds he doesn't figure to add more velocity, but he doesn't need to.
Through consultation with scouts and Team USA coaches and officials, here's how Baseball America ranked the 10 best professional prospects on this year's college national team:
1. Jered Weaver, rhp, Long Beach State.
Weaver will compete with Rice's threesome of righthanders (Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend) for the title of top college pitcher in 2004. He has a good frame (6-foot-6, 200 pounds), good bloodlines (older brother Jeff Weaver) and wicked stuff. After battling through a dead-arm period in mid-summer, Weaver rebounded with more rest to get his fastball velocity back into the low-90s, even touching 94 and 96 at times. His slider is his next-best pitch, but he also has a solid curveball that works as an offspeed offering.
2. Tyler Greene, ss/3b, Georgia Tech.
A second-round pick out of high school in 2002, Greene was considered advanced defensively but behind with the bat when he went to Georgia Tech. He hasn't come full circle, but he has started answering questions about his bat with his strong showing this summer, as he led Team USA in batting and tied for second in home runs despite starting just over half the team's games. He showed good actions at third base, but will become a premium pick in 2005 if he can handle shortstop.
3. Justin Verlander, rhp, Old Dominion.
Verlander has a pro pitcher's frame (6-foot-4, 179 pounds) that projects to add strength and durability. He's an emotional pitcher with electric stuff, including a fastball that touches 97 mph and sits in the low 90s. He still needs polish and pitchability, as well as the maturity to handle adversity better. But with that fastball and a power curveball that at times is a plus pitch, Verlander has plenty of upside.
4. Justin Orenduff, rhp, Virginia Commonwealth.
After finishing strong, Orenduff offers a good contrast to Verlander, his Colonial Athletic Association rival. He's more physically (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and emotionally mature than Verlander, with a more advanced approach to pitching combined with a devastating slider and major league-average (90-92 mph) fastball. A reliever as a freshman at George Washington, he was still tweaking his windup after transferring to VCU and could add better command as he becomes more comfortable as a starter.
5. Seth Smith, of, Mississippi.
As the summer went on, Smith became more and more comfortable and started marrying his athletic ability and size to his growing skills. He's not a true five-tool player, but he doesn't have a weak tool, either. After hitting better than .400 as a freshman at Ole Miss, Smith slipped as a sophomore but rebounded to hit .322 this summer and showed developing power (four homers). Once he stops being Eli Manning's backup QB and turns his full attention to baseball, he could take off.
6. Huston Street, rhp, Texas.
At just 6 feet and 179 pounds, Street doesn't have a prospect's body, but he has everything else. A fresher arm helped Street show improved velocity; his 100th pitch against Mexico in an 8 2/3-inning outing was 94 mph, boosting his stock. Street has plus command of the fastball and an above-average changeup, and he's had nothing but success at Texas. The 2002 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, who is the son of former Texas two-sport star James Street, has off-the-charts makeup.
7. Jeff Larish, 1b/3b, Arizona State.
A professional hitter, Larish has a smooth leftanded stroke that generates good power to go with an advanced approach and plate discipline. At times, Larish can almost be too patient, but he has a knack for RBI situations and can go the other way with authority. He's athletic enough to be solid defensively at first base and has been tried at third base, though his arm is erratic at times. If he succeeds at third in the spring for the Sun Devils, he should vault up this list.
8. Eric Patterson, 2b, Georgia Tech.
Patterson's plus speed and bloodlines (older brother Corey plays for the Cubs) will keep him high on draft boards, but his swing needs work. He fails to incorporate his lower half in his swing, resulting in a lot of lazy fly-ball outs. He's also overpowered by good fastballs and needs to get physically stronger. Defensively, he has excellent range and actions at second base, and turns the double play well. His bat will ultimately determine how far he goes.
9. Jeff Clement, c, Southern California.
The all-time high school home run king bashed four homers while sharing catching duties with Mike Nickeas (Georgia Tech) this summer. Nickeas has more polish behind the plate; the lefthanded-hitting Clement has a ways to go as a receiver (as evidenced by four passed balls in a loss to Nicaragua) and his arm is just average. But the ball jumps off his bat; Clement's raw power was unsurpassed on Team USA.
10. Matt Campbell, lhp, South Carolina.
After bursting on the scene as a freshman during the 2002 College World Series, Campbell struggled with command as a sophomore but had a strong summer. His ceiling is higher than Stanford's Mark Romanczuk because of his average (88-90 mph) fastball, tight, big-breaking curveball and projectable frame (6-foot-2, 170 pounds). Campbell has a knack for missing bats and averaged a team-best 15.75 strikeouts per nine innings.
The following top 10 prospect lists for summer college leagues were compiled by Baseball America editor Allan Simpson and national writer John Manuel. They were assembled through consultation with league managers and area scouts. The lists reflect the projected professional worth of the players.
1. Mike Pelfrey, rhp, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (Wichita State).
One of the nation's top freshman pitchers last spring at Wichita State and a projected first-rounder in 2005, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Pelfrey showed good command of explosive stuff and rare polish for his age as he posted a 1.07 ERA while striking out 37 and walking 10 in 34 innings.
2. Jeremy Accardo, rhp, Athletes In Action (Illinois State).
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Accardo didn't attract much attention playing shortstop and hitting third in the order for the North Pole, Alaska-based AIA squad, a surprise qualifier for the National Baseball Congress World Series. But a rare opportunity to pitch in Alaska's season-ending Wood Bat tournament, in front of dozens of scouts, sent Accardo's stock skyrocketing. His fastball was clocked at an easy 92-93 mph and he supplemented it with a plus slider. Suddenly in demand after going undrafted in June, Accardo was signed by the San Francisco Giants after the NBC tournament rather than return to Illinois State for his senior year.
3. Ricky Fairchild, rhp, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (Tulane).
The NBC World Series defending champion Alaska Goldpanners lost the services of their three best pitching prospects—Will Fenton (Washington), Dustin Miller (Cal State Fullerton) and Cesar Ramos (Long Beach State)—during the season, and yet still repeated as Alaska League champions. To bolster their staff as they went for a second straight and record seventh NBC title, they picked up Fairchild, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound righthander who led the league in saves for the rival Glacier Pilots. Fairchild has two plus pitches: a 92-93 sinking fastball and slider.
4. Travis Buck, of, Peninsula Oilers (Arizona State).
Buck followed up a solid freshman season at Arizona State with a strong showing in Alaska before his season ended prematurely when he broke his hand. One of the league's few .300 hitters, he showed an advanced feel with the bat and solid tools across the board.
5. Jacoby Ellsbury, of, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (Oregon State).
Ellsbury hit .338 and led the league in steals. Managers praised him for his baseball instincts and ability to get on base and chase down fly balls. He should add power as he fills out his 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame.
6. Andrew Kown, rhp, Anchorage Bucs (Georgia Tech).
The 6-foot-7, 205-pound Georgia Tech product demonstrated solid command of an 88-92 mph fastball, striking out a team-high 50 and walking just 17 in 54 innings.
7. Wes Letson, lhp, Athletes In Action (Birmingham-Southern).
AIA coach Perry Roth, an assistant at Birmingham-Southern during the school year, brought Letson with him to Alaska and installed him as the team's No. 1 starter. Letson responded with a solid 46-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54 innings, earning all-league honors. He showcased a power arm with a fastball in the 88-91 mph range.
8. Emerson Frostad, c/3b, Alaska Goldpanners (Lewis-Clark State, Idaho).
A 13th-round draft pick in June and the only selection of the Texas Rangers in the first 17 rounds not to sign, Frostad chose to spend the summer with his college coach Ed Cheff, who led Lewis-Clark State to a record 13th NAIA national title this year and was in his second season coaching the Goldpanners. A third baseman in school ball, Frostad was moved behind the plate this summer and shared the job with LCSC teammate Travis Best. A good lefthanded hitter with power potential, Frostad led the Goldpanners in RBIs. Best topped the team with a .352 average.
9. Steve Uhlmansiek, lhp, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (Wichita State).
Wichita State sent its three best pitchers and pitching coach Jaime Bluma, a former Shockers All-American, to the Glacier Pilots this summer. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Uhlmansiek, whose frame and mechanics remind scouts of ex-big leaguer Chuck Finley, responded with a 3-3, 3.03 season and 33 strikeouts in 39 innings. Consistently in the 87-90 mph range with good movement on his fastball, he was equally tough on righthanded hitters as lefthanders.
10. Jake Postlewaite, lhp, Peninsula Oilers (Oregon State).
The 6-foot, 190-pound lefthander earned all-league honors by posting a 1.02 ERA in 53 innings. He showed good command of an 88-91 mph fastball and his breaking stuff.
CENTRAL ILLINOIS LEAGUE
1. Van Pope, 3b, Danville (Meridian, Miss., JC).
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Pope exudes athleticism and tools. Mississippi's high school Mr. Baseball in 2002 at Terry High, he was a 28th-round pick of the White Sox this June out of junior college. He'll head back to Meridian after hitting .295-4-26 and wowing league managers with his glove. Plate discipline (50-5 K-BB ratio) is a concern, however.
2. Matt Daley, rhp, Danville (Bucknell).
Danville's pitching ruled the league, and Daley led the way as the team's setup man, not giving up a run in 32 innings while allowing 19 baserunners. He struck out 39, working off a low-90s fastball that hit 94 during the CICL all-star game. His changeup is his second-best pitch, and the Tommy John surgery alumnus lacks a consistent breaking ball.
3. Kyle Bloom, lhp, Twin City (Illinois State).
A lanky (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) southpaw with an average fastball (88-91 mph) with good life and a good changeup, Bloom was the league's most consistent starter. He finished second in the league in strikeouts (and struck out the side in his only inning during the all-star game), ranked fourth in ERA and was extra tough when he threw his inconsistent curveball for strikes.
4. Anthony Albano, of, Quincy (Evansville).
One of the league's better physical specimens at 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds, Albano was a 20th-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2001 because of his body and tools. He has a power arm and a power bat from the left side, ranking tied for fourth in the league in home runs. Albano runs adequately but figures to be a corner outfielder down the line.
5. Reid Brees, of, Danville (Baylor).
The younger brother of NFL quarterback Drew Brees, Reid was the key offensive player during Danville's drive to the league title, leading the league in RBIs and tying for the home run lead. Stocky and powerful at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, he also showed solid athleticism, stealing 13 bases in 14 attempts. And as expected with his last name, his arm is solid.
6. Justin Blaine, lhp, Danville (San Diego).
Another lanky starter, Blaine (6-foot-4, 175) doesn't throw as hard as Bloom but still has an average fastball augmented by a deceptive delivery. His best pitch was his slider, helping him lead the league in ERA (1.13) and opponents batting average (.174).
7. Jose Tadeo, rhp, Quincy (Culver Stockton, Mo.).
A slight (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) frame belied Tadeo's solid average fastball, which sat in the 88-92 mph range. After struggling in the spring against NAIA competition, Tadeo thrived in relief in the CICL before joining Quincy's rotation and finishing fifth in the league in ERA (2.12). He has a loose arm and commands his changeup and breaking ball well.
8. Jeremy Pickrel, of, Twin City (Illinois State).
Bloom's college teammate, Pickrel led the league in stolen bases (22 of 26) and was one of the league's fastest players. He's not just a speed guy, though—after hitting 12 homers in the spring (third in the Missouri Valley Conference), the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Pickrel hit three during the summer. He also added 20 walks (fifth in the league) and has an above-average throwing arm.
9. Jesse Krause, rhp, Springfield (Purdue).
A redshirt freshman, Krause pitched just 15 innings for the Boilermakers this spring and brought a fresh arm to the CICL. He also brought a strong pitcher's body at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and a power arm with a live fastball and power curve, though he needs to show better command and was uncomfortable at times throwing from the stretch. He was a 26th-round pick in 2001 by the Chicago White Sox.
10. Grover Benton, of, Springfield (Webber, Fla.).
Just 5-foot-8, Benton hit his way to the league batting championships at .364 and posted a .452 on-base percentage. Another NAIA performer, he's athletic enough to have been drafted in the 49th round by the New York Mets in June after setting school marks for hits (65) and stolen bases (41) at Webber.
COASTAL PLAIN LEAGUE
1. Marshall Hubbard, of, Outer Banks (North Carolina).
Hubbard ranked 10th on the league's prospect list last year, and the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder earned his way back onto the list with a bigger year out of a bigger, stronger body. In between, Hubbard transferred from William & Mary to North Carolina, but didn't get his release and had to sit out the 2003 season. So the CPL was his first live action, and he showed solid athleticism to go with a power bat from the left side. Outer Banks plays in a bandbox, and Hubbard took advantage to lead the league in slugging (.566) and RBIs (37) while ranking second in homers, but his swing should play in larger yards.
2. Ryan Gordon, of, Thomasville (UNC Greensboro).
A two-way talent, Gordon has become a better prospect at the plate after having had Tommy John surgery two years ago. Gordon was one of the league's top runners though his speed probably profiles as average by big league standards. He won the league batting title with a line-drive bat spraying lasers from line to line. With more experience in the outfield and with his still-plus arm, he could develop into a center fielder.
3. Chip Cannon, 3b, Thomasville (The Citadel)
. In a wood-bat league, it's unusual for coaches to be so enamored with power bats, but Hubbard, Juan Figueroa and Cannon provided three mature hitters for league managers to ogle. Cannon also can pitch but is more effective in the field. His size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and strength make him the best power prospect of the trio and helped him lead the league with eight homers. He has good hands at either corner infield spot his lack of speed held him back in the draft.
4. Juan Figueroa, 1b, Petersburg (Bethune-Cookman).
Aside from Hubbard, no league hitter was more feared than Figueroa, who also has a power bat from the left side. A squat 6-footer who also was effective on the mound (3-1, 2.54) as a thumbing lefthander, the 200-pound Figueroa had a smoother swing than Hubbard, though not as much power potential. He also ranked second in the league in walks (35) and slugging (.546) and first in on-base percentage (.479). His stocky body and lack of speed kept him from being drafted in June, but he could be one of the CPL's many solid senior signs in 2004.
5. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b/ss, Peninsula (Virginia).
An athletic infielder coming off a solid freshman season, Zimmerman doesn't hit for corner-infield power yet but he does hit. His 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame has room to fill, and his smooth swing helped him finish sixth in the league in batting. As he learns which pitches to drive, he should develop the pop to drive doubles to the gaps. He also has a solid throwing arm and smooth hands, making all the routine plays when he played shortstop and prompting higher praise at third.
6. Jake Hurry, lhp, Florence (Coastal Carolina).
Hurry was among the league's most dominant pitchers despite a low strikeout rate. The stuff is there, though, as evidenced by the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Hurry's low hits-per-innings ratio (6.2 per nine). He throws a high-80s fastball that scraped the low 90s, slinging it from a low three-quarters release that creates good sink. When he commands it, his curveball is an above-average pitch with solid depth, and he has room to grow into a good pitcher's body.
7. Mike Davern, rhp, Wilson (UC Irvine).
Davern was an 18th-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2000 but chose to attend UCLA instead. The move backfired when he had two rough years with the Bruins, unable to command his low-90s fastball, slider or changeup. He took a redshirt year in 2003 after transferring to UC Irvine and came back healthy in the CPL, striking out 45 in 33 innings. He has a great pitcher's body (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and still has loads of potential, but he needs to stay healthy and throw strikes. He walked 26 in 33 innings.
8. Stephen Tolleson, ss, Spartanburg (South Carolina).
The son of former big leaguer Wayne Tolleson, Stephen played like he had grown up around the game. He has excellent instincts in the field, on the bases (12-of-14 stealing) and at the plate. Tolleson's a solid shortstop like his father with average tools, and needs to get stronger at the plate to join South Carolina's recent tradition at the position; the Gamecocks have had three first-round picks play there in recent years. Tolleson doesn't have the tools of a Drew Meyer, Adam Everett or even Brian Roberts, but he should join them in pro ball eventually.
9. Josh Cribb, rhp, Florence (Clemson).
Cribb has everything scouts want to see out of pitchers except for the body—he's just 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds. He came on strong at the end of his redshirt freshman year for Clemson, and all his stuff moves, particularly his high 80s fastball, which he spots to both sides of the plate. Cribb was in command when he threw his changeup and curve for strikes, as in a 10-inning shutout effort against Wilmington in which he fanned 18.
10. Brett Harker, rhp, Peninsula (Charleston).
While several relievers in the league posted good summers—like Wilmington submariner Scott Senatore (North Carolina) and Florence fireman Matt Norfleet (Tennessee Wesleyan)—none was as dominating as Harker, who worked as a setup man. Hit hard as a starter in the spring, Harker thrived in the relief role, averaging 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings thanks to a low-90s fastball and power curveball. Coaches also praised his aggressiveness and attitude.
GREAT LAKES LEAGUE
1. Ricky Romero, lhp, Northern Ohio (Cal State Fullerton).
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Romero had a reputation as mostly a breaking ball pitcher during his freshman year at Cal State Fullerton, but that changed this summer when his fastball was clocked consistently from 92-94 mph. Scouts likened his arm action and delivery to that of Florida Marlins rookie lefthander Dontrelle Willis.
2. Eric Dworkis, rhp, Northern Ohio (Gonzaga).
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Dworkis was eligible for the 2003 draft as a sophomore because his 21st birthday fell within 45 days of this year's draft, but he was mysteriously passed over. It would surprise few league managers if he was one of the first 100 players drafted a year from now. Dworkis handcuffed Team USA for eight innings in one of his starts and was steady every time out this summer after an up-and-down spring at Gonzaga. His fastball was consistently at 91-92 mph and reached 94, and he supplemented it with a nasty slider from a three-quarters arm slot.
3. Grant Psomas, ss, Pittsburgh (West Virginia).
Winner of the league's Tony Lucadello Award as the league's top position prospect, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Psomas earned universal praise from managers. Because of his tall, lanky frame, he was likened to Cal Ripken—right down to questions whether he's better suited for third base or shortstop. "He's not that pretty or that fast," one scout said, "but he makes every play."
4. Daniel Carte, of, Columbus All-Americans (Winthrop).
A freshman All-American during the spring at Winthrop, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Carte continued to sting the ball during the summer, finishing among league leaders in batting (.419), doubles (16) and RBIs (35). His bat will have to carry him as his other skills are average at best.
5. Ryan Doherty, rhp, Delaware Cows (Notre Dame).
At 7-foot-2, Doherty is the tallest pitcher ever to play Division I baseball. He also distinguished himself on the field this summer, allowing only one earned run during the regular season as Delaware's closer. He then struck out five of the six batters he faced while eliminating perennial league power Northern Ohio in the playoffs. Because he experienced some minor tendinitis in his pitching arm, Doherty junked his slider for the summer. He used only a fastball and changeup and routinely reached the low- to mid-90s, though his velocity often dipped quickly if used for more than an inning.
6. Marc Jecmen, rhp, Stark County Terriers (Stanford).
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Jecmen has such an impressive arm that he began his freshman year at Stanford in 2002 in the Cardinal rotation. But his inability to throw strikes consistently cost him that job and he has pitched sparingly since. He started the summer in the Cape Cod League but moved on to the Great Lakes Leagues when he didn't get a regular opportunity to pitch. Command issues and a lack of confidence in his breaking ball continued to dog him, but scouts say he has first-round potential if everything ever comes together for him.
7. Chris Bova, rhp, Stark County Terriers (Ohio).
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Bova took a back seat during the spring to teammate Marc Cornell, who would have been a first-round pick in June had he not encountered arm problems. Cornell, who has picked in the fifth round by the Reds, spent the entire summer on the Delaware roster working on the side and hoping to see game action. It never happened. In his place, Bova stepped up and became one of the league's most effective pitchers. He showed command of three pitches, including an 88-90 mph fastball and an outstanding changeup, and was especially tough on righthanded hitters with his three-quarters delivery.
8. Chris Gutierrez, ss, Delaware Cows (Oklahoma State).
Gutierrez hit more than .400 and might have won the batting title if he hadn't missed half the season with a pulled hamstring. He had little difficulty with the transition to wood bats and demonstrated fluid middle infield skills, but his lack of size may impede his development at the next level.
9. Andrew Butera, c, Northern Ohio (Central Florida).
Butera showcased a lot of the same defensive skills that enabled his father Sal to catch in the big leagues for nine years, despite being just a .227 hitter. His arm was easily the best in the league among catchers. He also hit .340, even though his bat is generally considered the weakest part of his game.
10. Mike Martinez, 3b/rhp, Northern Ohio (Cal State Fullerton).
Martinez was drafted in the 44th round by the Yankees in June, even after redshirting during the spring at Cal State Fullerton. He'll return to school as a fifth-year senior with another weapon in his arsenal as he began to pitch this summer. He worked 13 innings without allowing a run while continuing to play everyday in the field. He showed excellent movement on his fastball and good bite on his breaking pitches.
1. Dave Haehnel, lhp, El Dorado Broncos (Illinois-Chicago).
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Haehnel was selected the league's all-star closer after leading the league in wins (5) and strikeouts (51) while finishing second with a 1.41 ERA. He challenged hitters with a sinking fastball that normally ranged from 91-93 mph and topped out at 94. He threw strikes consistently and his fluid delivery reminded veteran scouts of Ron Guidry's.
2. Cory Patton, of, Liberal BeeJays (Texas A&M).
Patton was drafted in the sixth round by San Diego in June but spent the summer in Kansas (where he had 31 homers and 119 RBIs as a junior college player in 2002) when the Padres wouldn't budge on their offer. He hit .357-4-28 for the BeeJays. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Patton might have been a higher pick if he came in a bigger package. He has above-average power for a corner outfielder and is a sound defender.
3. Robert Ray, rhp, Liberal BeeJays (Texas A&M).
Ray didn't accompany his team to the NBC World Series because of a sore elbow, but he showed plenty during the regular season. He posted a 0.86 ERA and struck out an average of 12.9 hitters per nine innings. His 94 mph fastball has scouts projecting him as a possible first-round pick in 2005.
4. Joe Ness, rhp, Elkhart Dusters (Ball State).
Ness hooked up with Ray in a classic 1-0 pitcher's duel that featured 27 strikeouts—14 for Ray, 13 for Ness. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Ness doesn't throw as hard as Ray, in the 88-91 mph range, but has good sinking action on his fastball and an outstanding changeup.
5. Mike Sillman, rhp, Nevada Griffons (Nebraska).
Silliman posted nine saves and was unscored on in 17 regular season innings. A funky, almost submarine delivery made him especially effective as his 88-92 mph fastball had good running and sinking action.
6. Hunter Pence, of, Liberal BeeJays (Texas-Arlington).
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Pence was the league's top offensive performer. He hit .420-7-39 and had managers predicting he will hit 25 homers with aluminum next spring at Texas-Arlington. The rest of his game doesn't measure up as his speed and outfield skills are rated below average.
7. Josh Asanovich, ss, Elkhart Dusters (Arizona State).
With above-average feet, hands and arm strength, Asanovich earned an easy nod as the league's best defensive shortstop. Offensively, however, he has a ways to go as he projects as nothing more than a 2-hole or 9-hole hitter.
8. Kevin Whalen, rhp, Liberal BeeJays (Texas A&M).
Whalen hit only .189 as a backup catcher for the BeeJays but was electrifying when he was given a chance to pitch in the second half. In limited appearances, his fastball routinely ranged from 91-96 mph and even touched 98 on occasion. His slider was clocked at 86. The 6-foot, 205-pound righthander allowed only one hit and struck out nine in six innings of work. His arm action is similar to that of Anaheim Angels closer Troy Percival, whose career took off when he made the conversion from catcher to pitcher. Whalen, who threw only 88-89 in high school and had only one bullpen session last spring at Texas A&M, will be given an extended trial on the mound once he returns to school.
9. Craig Cooper, of, Hays Larks (Notre Dame).
The 6-foot-2, 197-pound Cooper had the best athletic ability in the league. He showed speed, leading the league in stolen bases, solid hitting ability with an average over .300 and five home runs and sound outfield skills.
10. Josh Wahpepah, rhp, Elkhart Dusters (Cowley County, Kan., JC).
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Wahpepah had one of the league's best arms, with a lively fastball in the 92-95 mph range, but had control problems and lacked a consistent second pitch.
NEW ENGLAND COLLEGIATE LEAGUE
1. Ryan Mullins, lhp, Riverpoint (Vanderbilt).
Long, lean and lanky, Mullins dominated the NECBL with a two-pitch mix that started with an 85-88 mph fastball. He throws it fairly downhill and has the mechanics to increase his velocity when he matures physically. His key pitch is a big power curveball that some have compared to that of Barry Zito. It was the curve that allowed him to strike out 89 in just 69 innings, and the plus command of his fastball helped him walk just 10.
2. Kyle Keen, of, Keene (Georgia).
Keene is the best offensive park in the NECBL, and the aptly-named Keen made good use of the park to dominate the league offensively. He hit .384 (the next-best mark by a regular was .349) and stole 22 bases in 25 attempts. Keen runs well and augments his speed with excellent instincts. However, Keen needs to be more selective (6-34 BB-K ratio) and needs to use his good size to hit for a bit more power (eight extra-base hits).
3. Adam Kalkhof, lhp, North Adams (North Carolina).
Using a fastball-changeup approach and pinpoint command, Kalkhof led the league with a 0.65 ERA and ranked second behind Mullins with 69 strikeouts in 55 innings. Kalkhof pitches like Angels ace Jarrod Washburn in that he has some deception in his delivery that makes his 86-88 mph fastball get on top of hitters quickly and likes to work up in the zone, but his out pitch is a plus changeup. He'll throw it anytime in the count and can put it where he wants. His breaking ball is fringy for now.
4. Jason Berken, rhp, Keene (Clemson).
Berken came on down the stretch for Clemson, logging key innings in regional play, and had one of the best power arms in the league. He usually pitches in the 89-91 mph range but touched 94 mph three times during the NECBL all-star game. Though he's not the biggest righthander, his arm works well and he's aggressive with his fastball inside. He eats up a lot of bats.
5. Matt Torra, rhp, Torrington (Massachusetts).
Torra is a more traditional power pitcher in that he's got good size (6-foot-3) and throws downhill with his 90-91 mph fastball. He's also aggressive inside with the fastball, setting up his knockout slider. It was one of the best pitches in the league, and he commanded both the slider and fastball well, as evidenced by his 8-53 walk-strikeout ratio.
6. Kyle Brown, of, Sanford (Le Moyne).
Brown missed the final three weeks of the NECBL season with an ankle injury, but still made an impression on managers with his speed and overall tools. Brown's speed merits special mention because he motors over 60 yards in 6.4 seconds, rating near the top of the scouts' 20-80 scale. He stole 31 bases in 35 tries in just 28 games; he had to get on base to steal all those bases and did so at a .434 clip, third in the league. Brown's speed and plus arm made him the league's premier defensive outfielder, and he figures to be a good senior sign in 2004.
7. Dennis Robinson, rhp, Torrington (Jacksonville).
Robinson has a prospect's body (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and pedigree, having been drafted in 2000 out of high school by the Blue Jays (42nd round). He's had to make his mark in summer ball, as he didn't get his release from North Carolina when he transferred after the 2001 season, and previously played in the Cape Cod and Valley leagues. He led the NECBL in wins thanks in part to excellent control—he walked just seven in 45 innings. His best pitch is a 90-92 mph fastball that he was able to spot on both sides of the plate, and he wasn't afraid to pitch inside.
8. Andy Sonnastine, rhp, Sanford (Kent State).
Sonnastine missed bats as much as any NECBL pitcher with a virtually unhittable slider, a pitch his coach Scott Brown said was "the best slider I've ever seen." Sonnastine throws it in the 79-81 mph range to go with his 88-89 mph fastball, which he commanded well. He adds a long, somewhat funky arm action to the mix, and the result was an average of less than 4.5 hits allowed per nine innings. He has room to fill out and add velocity to his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame.
9. Wes Swackhamer, of, Danbury (Tulane).
Swackhamer was one of the top prospects for the 2001 draft in the New Jersey prep ranks, but questions about his overall athleticism and signability caused him to drop in the draft. Swackhamer headed for Florida even after the Gators made a coaching change, and after a year he transferred to Tulane, where he started to come on down the stretch last spring. He carried that momentum into the summer, tying for second in the league in home runs. Swackhamer has big-time raw power from the left side and runs well for his size but needs more experience to have a better two-strike approach and make more consistent contact.
10. Neil Walton, ss, North Adams (Cal State Fullerton).
Walton didn't get much playing time for the Titans during their College World Series season, and if he does next year it may be in the outfield or at first base. He has a pro body with a long, lean 6-foot-5 frame, and at times his swing was accordingly long. But he has good athleticism, and there's enough to like about his swing to make him an intriguing project for the future.
1. Thomas Diamond, rhp, St. Cloud (New Orleans).
In his second turn through the Northwoods League, Diamond dominated more than any pitcher in recent memory and was nearly a unanimous No. 1 in our poll of managers. His fastball has explosive velocity, reaching 97 mph, and he showed much-improved command of the pitch this summer. Diamond's slider is ahead of his curveball at this point, and his changeup is a workable pitch, but all three need improvement down the line for him to be a starter.
2. Mike Pankratz, of/1b, Wisconsin (San Jacinto, Texas, JC).
Pankratz has good size (6-4, 205 pounds) befitting a former football player; he redshirted a year at Texas A&M. He hit more than enough for a corner position this summer, led the league in batting and showed good power with 12 home runs to rank second in the league. Several league managers, citing his athleticism, swing (one coach called it "heavy on the top hand") and ability to hit to all fields with authority, called him the league's best righthanded hitter. He's transferring to Baylor for 2003-2004.
3. J.P. Martinez, rhp, St. Cloud (New Orleans).
After setting up for Diamond during the spring with the Privateers, Martinez closed behind him this summer and was the league's top reliever. He generally throws 88-92 mph with his fastball, but his best pitch is a hammer curveball in the 75-78 range. His cut fastball and changeup give him enough variety that he could also start for New Orleans next spring.
4. Joe Pietro, of, St. Cloud (New Orleans).
Yes, the Privateers come out of the Northwoods League looking strong for 2004, with three of the four best prospects. Pietro, a transfer from Creighton, has learned how to hit in order to take better advantage of his speed, which is his best tool. He consistently got down the first-base line in less than four seconds and has excellent range in center field. League managers said his arm was improved from last year.
5. Adam Rowe, lhp, Wisconsin (Mount Vernon Nazarene, Ohio).
Rowe, out of the same school that 20 years earlier produced Tim Belcher, led the league in wins and ranked second in strikeouts, thanks to excellent pitchability and average stuff across the board. He spotted his 85-88 mph fastball on both sides of the plate, then attacked hitters with a solid changeup and good curveball. Rowe missed plenty of bats this summer but also shouldered a heavy workload (91 IP).
6. Justin Sokol, rhp, Thunder Bay (Iowa Central CC).
At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Sokol has more projectability than Rowe but isn't as polished at this stage. A 17th-round pick of the Padres as a draft-and-follow, he had one of the league's better fastballs, which he threw in the 88-92 mph range with little effort. He could throw harder in the future as he gains strength. He's still learning to harness his slider and changeup, both of which showed encouraging signs.
7. Ben Zobrist, ss, Wisconsin (Olivet Nazarene, Ill.).
League managers loved Zobrist's makeup and come-to-play attitude, but that's not to say he's without tools. He has excellent hands and enough arm to be a very good college shortstop, though at his size and with his range, he profiles best as a second baseman in pro ball. (His arm strength allows him to pitch in the spring for NAIA power Olivet Nazarene.) He hit with enough pop from both sides and also is an above-average runner.
8. Ben Stanczyk, 3b/rhp, La Crosse (Wisconsin-Milwaukee).
Though he lacks Diamond's pure stuff, Stanczyk rivaled the harder thrower for the title of the league's top pitcher and hit a respectable .267 as well. But his future is on the mound—he throws a fastball in the 87-90 mph range with plus movement, thanks to a low three-quarters arm angle. Stanczyk's offspeed stuff needs refining, but the athletic 6-foot, 200-pounder, a former competitive swimmer and football punter in high school, needs no help in learning how to compete.
9. Jeremiah Piepkorn, if/of, Mankato (Ohio State).
After helping Ohio State to a super-regional berth as a late-season addition to the lineup, Piepkorn showed solid tools in the Northwoods League. He led the league in total bases and was second in RBIs (even though Mankato ranked eighth in the 10-team league in runs). He best tools are his above-average throwing arm and power bat, and he also is an average runner. He profiles better in a corner outfield spot or at third base than at shortstop, which he played the most this summer.
10. Daniel Mocny, 3b, Alexandria (Santa Rosa, Calif., JC).
Another solid infielder, Mocny's plus arm and good hands belied his error total for the summer. While he shows gap power (leading the league with 17 doubles), Mocny plays small ball well, dragging bunts, moving runners and stealing the occasional base. That profile makes sense—he's transferring to Long Beach State.
1. Jeff Van Houten, of, Harrisonburg (Arizona).
Though slightly built at just 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds, Van Houten has built a strong reputation as a hitter. He won the Pacific-10 Conference batting title in the spring, batting .413, and then won the Valley's batting title at .391, a good 34 points higher than his nearest competitor. His gap power was evidenced by his league-best 19 doubles and .688 slugging percentage, and Van Houten also scored points as a sound defender. He'll have to keep hitting to overcome his size, but his track record says he will.
2. Andrew Dobies, lhp, Staunton (Virginia).
Dobies followed a solid spring season where he won his first six starts in Virginia's weekend rotation by dominating the Valley with a two-pitch combination. Dobies' fastball sits in the 86-88 mph range, but his out pitch is a devastating low-to-mid-80s cut fastball that ate up wood bats. He located both pitches well to the inner and outer halves of the plate, leading to a remarkable 92-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
3. Erick San Pedro, c, Staunton (Miami).
Miami has a long tradition of placing top talents in the Valley League (such as Pat Burrell), and San Pedro was the best of the Hurricanes in the league this summer. Not only did he show above-average catch-and-throw skills (he's a strong receiver with a plus arm but needs to improve his footwork), but San Pedro showed great improvement at the plate in his second Valley season. He has good athletic ability and even better makeup, standing out as a leader on the league's winningest club.
4. Worth Scott, of, Staunton (Vanderbilt).
It was a big summer for the Commodores, who placed four players on the Cape Cod League's all-star team and had top prospects in other leagues, including two in the Valley. Scott had a difficult spring as he pressed at the plate for a team that struggled offensively, but put his solid average tools to work in the Valley, leading the league in hits. He doesn't have a standout tool (hit bat might be his best one) but also doesn't have a glaring weakness.
5. Phillip Bartlesky, rhp, New Market (William & Mary).
After a rough freshman season in which he posted a 7.22 ERA, Bartlesky led the Valley in ERA at 1.38 and helped lead the Rebels back to the league championship series. His 6-foot-7, 220-pound frame has plenty of projection left, and he has good command of a three-pitch repertoire; he walked just seven while striking out 64 in 65 innings. His 86-88 mph fastball touches the occasional 90 and figures to remain there as he gains strength and maturity. His slider is a solid second pitch, but he needs to tighten up his get-me-over curveball.
6. Antoan Richardson, of, Winchester (Palm Beach, Fla., CC).
Perhaps no one in the league had more intriguing tools than Richardson, who will transfer to Vanderbilt for 2004. Just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, Richardson was a 27th-round pick of the Orioles in 2002 because of his plus-plus speed (6.4 seconds in the 60). His mother was a track star in Richardson's native Bahamas, and he showed enough plate discipline (league-leading .473 on-base percentage, 35 walks) to put his speed to use.
7. Gaby Sanchez, 3b, Staunton (Miami).
A 15th-round pick out of high school, Sanchez had a solid freshman season, helping the Hurricanes reach the College World Series as their everyday third baseman. He played some shortstop over the summer and showed good hands, though not enough range for short. Offensively, Sanchez would rank higher on the list if he had shown more power, but he has a smooth swing without many holes and had a good two-strike approach. He had just 11 strikeouts in 119 at-bats.
8. Joe Koshansky, 1b, Staunton (Virginia).
As a two-way player last spring, Koshansky led Virginia in wins (seven) and tied for the club lead in home runs (nine). After going undrafted as a junior in June, he didn't pitch in the Valley and won the home run derby during the league all-star game festivities. He also was able to make adjustments to pitchers to compensate for his long swing, so his bat may be his ticket. Big (6-foot-4), thick (225 pounds) and physical, Koshansky's a lefthanded hitter who pulls everything, but his raw power is hard to ignore.
9. Kevin White, of, New Market (Presbyterian, S.C.).
White carried New Market back to the postseason by leading the Valley League in home runs and RBIs despite an average 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame. He generates good power with strong wrists and hands that produce good bat speed. Another undrafted junior, White is a poor runner and doesn't make consistent enough contact, but the ball jumps off his bat. A part-time closer for the Blue Hose, he has an average arm.
10. E.J. Shanks, rhp, Harrisonburg (Oklahoma City).
After sitting atop the league's prospect list last summer, Shanks had a dominant spring, going 14-1, 3.16 in NAIA play. However, the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder wasn't drafted as a junior (scouts wish he had a higher arm angle to improve command of his secondary pitches), and he wasn't as dominant this summer in a return engagement in the Valley. His command of his heavy fastball and solid slider (68-2 K-BB ratio last year) wasn't as sharp as he walked 16 and struck out just 50 in 58 innings. The other difference was velocity; his power approach works when he sits in the 88-92 mph range, but too often Shanks was at the lower end of that spectrum.