Jayhawk League Top 10 Prospects
In just their third year since joining the Jayhawk League, the Derby Twins won the league championship and advanced to the National Baseball Congress World Series, where they were seeded No. 2. Derby got off to a good start at the NBC World Series, winning its first two games. The Twins had plenty of power in the lineup, led by outfielders Danny Brown (Oklahoma State) and Dane Embury (Northern Iowa), who combined for 18 home runs in the regular season. Righthander Erik Anderson (Barton County, Kan., CC) anchored a solid pitching staff out of the bullpen, going 4-0, 1.83 with five saves and a 23-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 20 innings.
The Hays Larks outshined Derby in the NBC World Series, however. Hays reached the finals before falling to Havasu (Arizona) Heat 14-2. The Heat took advantage of a Hays pitching staff that was depleted by having to play five games in five days after losing a 12-inning classic to Havasu six days earlier.
"It was a great experience," Hays coach Frank Leo said. "When you get to see a team really get after it the way our guys did, it was fun to watch that team develop. To get into postseason play and being able to run on all cylinders was great.
"We ran a little short on pitching in the championship game."
1. Rob Musgrave, lhp, El Dorado (Sr., Wichita State)
After going 10-2, 2.59 for Wichita State this spring, Musgrave led the Jayhawk League with a 0.68 ERA this summer while posting a 41-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 40 innings. Musgrave is not overpowering, which is why he was not drafted as a junior, but he’s very polished and has adequate velocity from the left side, working in the high 80s and touching 90 mph with a sneaky fastball that seems harder than it is because he keeps hitters so off balance by mixing his pitches. Musgrave will throw two quality secondary pitches—a changeup and a curveball—in any count and locate them wherever he wants to, in the zone or out of it. He’s very efficient, works fast, keeps the ball down in the zone and throws plenty of strikes. Musgrave’s ceiling is a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he figures to move quickly once he gets a chance in pro ball.2. Greg Lagreid, c, Nevada (Jr., Washington State)
Lagreid, whose brother Thomas caught in the Devil Rays system from 2004-'06, had a breakout summer for Nevada, batting. 402/.458/.714 with 11 homers and 66 RBIs in 199 at-bats, including the NBC World Series. Lagreid is a front-foot hitter, but his incredibly quick hands allow him to make adjustments on all kinds of pitches, either turning on inside fastballs or driving breaking balls to the opposite field. He's a very aggressive hitter with line-drive power from pole to pole who can hit pitches in or out of the zone. Lagreid is a solid defensive catcher whose strong arm and quick release allowed him to throw out 16 of 36 basestealers this summer. His footwork needs a little cleaning up, but he has a great baseball mind and calls a good game. At 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, Lagreid is not a burner, but he moves well for a catcher and is a smart baserunner who stole five bases in five attempts.3. Brandon Douglas, ss, Derby (RS-Jr., Northern Iowa)
Douglas has been an all-Missouri Valley Conference shortstop two years in a row, though he had to overcome hamstring problems this spring, and he was drafted in the 32nd round by the Reds as a redshirt sophomore. Douglas hit .328 this summer while showing off a solid all-around tools package. Hitting in the No. 2 hole for Derby, Douglas showed the ability to bunt, hit behind runners and drive balls from gap to gap. He's a solid defender at shortstop, with average range and arm strength, good hands and sound mechanics, but his size (6-feet, 171 pounds) and lack of standout tools makes him a better fit at second base down the road. Douglas is a heady player with a good feel for the game, and he's an average runner whose speed plays up because of his instincts on the basepaths.4. Ryan Allen, rhp, Nevada (So., Missouri)
Allen struggled to find a niche as a freshman on Missouri's loaded pitching staff, but he dominated as Nevada's closer this summer, going 3-0, 1.62 with four saves, 17 strikeouts and two walks in 17 innings. He missed the final three weeks of the summer with biceps tendinitis, but not before showing off a power two-pitch repertoire. Allen worked in the low 90s with his fastball and ran it up to 95-96 mph on multiple occasions, and the pitch has some arm-side run and a little sink. His hard, late-breaking slider has very good depth and is tough for hitters to pick up because he throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. Allen has a projectable 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame and a whip-like arm action, and he has good athleticism. He could compete for a midweek starter role or the closer's job at Missouri next spring.5. Danny Brown, of, Derby (So., Oklahoma State)
Brown, who transferred to Oklahoma State from Lassen (Calif.) CC this summer, didn't arrive at Derby until early July, and he proceeded to belt a league-best 10 home runs in just 71 regular-season at-bats. In an NBC World Series game against Crestonwood (Ill.), he had a single, double and triple in his first three at-bats but was deprived of a chance to hit for the cycle by an intentional walk. That display was indicative of Brown's considerable offensive talent. He has a pure lefthanded swing and power to all fields, though his swing can get long at times. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Brown has played mostly first base so far in his career and is still learning to play the outfield, but he runs well and has a decent outfield arm.6. Jeff Jones, 3b/1b, Liberal (So., Navarro, Texas, JC)
Jones finished third in the Jayhawk League in batting (.356) and showed a mature offensive approach, as illustrated by his 21-21 strikeout-walk ratio. He has a quiet, controlled lefthanded swing and the ability to make adjustments from pitch to pitch. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Jones is not a true home run hitter, but he has gap-to-gap power with the ability to hit occasional long balls. Defensively, Jones isn't always pretty, but he has a knack for making plays and has a strong arm at third base. He needs to improve his footwork and improve on getting to foul pop-ups behind him.7. Anthony Vasquez, lhp/of, Joplin (Jr., Southern California)
who spent his freshman year at Texas A&M before transferring to
USC, threw 75 innings for the Trojans this spring and mostly rested his
arm this summer, throwing just seven innings. Though he finished second
in the Jayhawk League with 11 doubles while batting .277, most scouts
think Vasquez's future is on the mound, where he works in the 87-90 mph
range from the left side and mixes in a plus changeup and a 12-to-6
curveball. Offensively, he demonstrated impressive bat speed for
Joplin, but sometimes his swing got too long. Despite slightly
below-average speed, Vasquez is a plus defender as a corner outfielder
with a strong, accurate outfield arm.
8. Matt Whitaker, rhp, Derby (Sr., Central Arkansas)
Whitaker, the MVP of the 2006 NBC World Series, had another solid summer for Derby, going 5-2, 2.36 with 56 strikeouts and 35 walks in 53 innings. As his walk total indicates, Whitaker sometimes struggles to locate his 88-92 mph fastball, but sometimes he can get into a groove and make hitters look foolish with his tight, slurvy breaking ball. He's still developing his changeup and is mostly a two-pitch guy for now. His 6-foot, 180-pound frame lacks projection, and there is effort in Whitaker's herky-jerky delivery, but there is also good deception.9. Jon Sintes, rhp, Derby (Jr., West Florida)
Sintes had a solid spring for Division II West Florida, going 10-4, 2.81 with 85 strikeouts in 90 innings, and he showed no signs of fatigue despite throwing 51 more innings this summer, going 4-1, 2.10 with 47 strikeouts and 25 walks. Sintes has a durable 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame and a quality four-pitch repertoire. His fastball sits in the high 80s but reaches the 90-92 range at times, and he has a tight slider, a curveball and a changeup. Sintes is an aggressive pitcher who attacks the zone, though he needs to cut down on his walks a bit.10. Ryan Harding, rhp, Joplin (Sr., Nicholls State)
Harding had a max-effort delivery and little command last summer, but he worked hard to clean up his mechanics and fine-tune his command after transferring from Crowder (Mo.) JC to Nicholls State last year. He lowered his arm slot from straight over the top to high three-quarters and significantly improved his tempo to let his 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame generate its own velocity. He worked consistently in the 91-93 mph range this summer, when he went 2-2, 2.35 with a 23-7 K-BB ratio in 24 innings. When he can successfully spot his slider, he's very difficult to hit. He's working on developing a changeup, but right now he still slows his arm a bit when he throws the pitch. Harding gets into trouble when he starts to rush, and his delivery is all arms and legs. But he's got a power arm and could have a bright future if he can ever harness his stuff.