Clark Griffith League Top 10 Prospects
Vienna (39-5) and Fairfax (33-11) were neck and neck all season, then faced off for the Clark Griffith League tournament championship, with Vienna scoring a 6-2 victory. The Senators scored five runs in the eighth inning with a bunt single, error, wild pitch, three walks and a balk.
1. Aaron Loup, lhp, Vienna (So., Tulane)
At 6-feet, 175 pounds, Loup is undersized, but he makes up for it with an electric, resilient arm, excellent command and good mound presence. Loup fell just three strikeouts shy of winning the CGBL's pitching triple crown, going 8-0, 0.98 with 63 strikeouts and 14 walks in 55 innings. His 88-90 mph fastball is a tick above average from the left side, and the ball jumps out of his hand because of his smooth arm action and deception from a three-quarters arm slot. His hard slider with 10-4 break is a true plus pitch, and he has good feel for a changeup, though he slows his arm a bit when he throws it. Loup worked mostly in relief for Tulane this spring, but he could be the Green Wave's Saturday starter next year, and a top-five-rounds pick in two years.2. Nate Newman, rhp, Vienna (Jr., Pepperdine)
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Newman is so athletic that he belted 15 homers to win the CGBL home run derby even though he spent the entire summer exclusively as a pitcher. Newman was a Division I quarterback recruit out of high school but elected to play baseball at Tulane, then transferred to Grayson County CC to work on solely pitching for his sophomore year, which was sullied by injuries. He was healthy this summer, going 6-0, 1.80 with with 66 strikeouts and 20 walks in 55 innings to team with Aaron Loup and give Vienna a dynamic one-two pitching punch. Newman’s sinking, boring fastball sits in the 89-91 mph range and touched 93 this summer. He has good command of a sharp slurve and dabbles with a promising hard split-finger. Newman transferred to Pepperdine this summer and figures to be a key cog in the Waves’s weekend rotation.3. Juan Mujica, of, D.C. Grays (Jr., Southern)
Mujica, a Venezuelan who attends Southern on a student visa, led the CGBL in batting (.359), runs (39), doubles (13) and stolen bases (23 in 25 attempts). His above-average speed (6.6-second 60-yard das) is his best tool, and he knows how to put it to use on the basepaths, constantly applying pressure on the defense. He’s also a terrific bunter who can get up the line in 3.85 seconds from the left side. He has some gap power in his compact 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame, and he has good range and instincts in the outfield. His below-average arm is his weakest tool, but it should be playable in center field. 4. Robbie Shields, ss, McLean (So., Florida Southern)
Shields tied Vienna's Sam Honeck and Fairfield’s Alex Gregory with 10 home runs this summer, part of his .307/.377/.613 campaign that included 13 stolen bases in 15 attempts. Shields has a solid all-around tools package and a sturdy 6-foot-1, 190-pound build. He has a smooth, compact swing from the right side and the ability to hit to all fields, though most of his pop is to the left-center-field power alley. Shields is a steady defender at shortstop with an above-average arm and adequate range, and he’s an average runner. He flashes enough tools to warrant a look at shortstop in pro ball, but he might profile better as an offense-oriented second baseman. He draws comparisons to Aaron Hill.5. Sam Honeck, 1b, Vienna (Jr., Tulane)
Honeck, who transferred from Grayson County (Texas) CC to Tulane this summer, has big-time lefthanded power potential in his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. He tied for the CGBL home run title (10) while batting .307/.451/.640 in 137 at-bats. Honeck is a streaky hitter who can get hot and carry his team for a week or two at a time. He’s a dead pull hitter with a surprisingly quick swing, and he has the ability to shorten up and go the other way with two strikes. He’s also a patient hitter, as evidenced by his 30-23 walk-strikeout ratio this summer. Honeck needs to become a more consistent defender at first base, but he’s strong enough to become the next in a line of slugging Tulane first baseman to play professional ball, following Michael Aubrey and Mark Hamilton.6. LaDale Hayes, of, D.C. Grays (Jr., Alabama A&M)
Hayes batted .371 as a freshman at Alabama A&M but slumped to .302 as a sophomore this spring. He followed it up with a solid summer, batting .296/.402/.444 with eight stolen bases in 12 attempts. Hayes remains raw in all facets of the game, but he flashes all five tools, including the CGBL’s best outfield arm and above-average speed. He’s also a plus defender in center field (pushing Juan Mujica to left for the Grays) with great instincts and first-step quickness. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Hayes possesses at least average raw power, but he has yet to unlock it, and he tries to pull everything. He also needs to work on becoming a more patient hitter (23 strikeouts and eight walks in 108 at-bats this summer). His speed could become a more dangerous weapon if he can become more aggressive on the basepaths.7. Alex Gregory, 1b/3b, Fairfax (Jr., Radford)
Gregory’s .430 average this spring led the Big South Conference, and he didn’t even have the benefit of feasting on Radford’s dismal pitching staff (conference-worst 6.82 ERA). He followed his big spring up with a big summer, batting .353/.437/.673 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs in 156 at-bats. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Gregory had the best raw power of anyone in the CGBL. He blasted long home runs all summer and put on a show in the home run derby, though he fell in the finals to Nate Newman. He has good power to all fields and a mature offensive approach. Defensively, Gregory had to play third base for Fairfax because the Nationals had no better alternatives, but he’s really a first baseman. He displays good footwork, soft hands and an average arm at first base, and he understands how to play the position. As a righthanded-hitting first baseman, Gregory will have to hit for power at every level, but his strength and approach give him a chance.8. Nick Schreiber, rhp, Fairfax (Jr., California, Pa.)
Schreiber struggled with his control as a starter this spring at Division II California (Pa.), posting 37 walks and 35 strikeouts in 60 innings, but he was the polar opposite for Fairfax this summer, posting a 20-2 K-BB ratio in 18 innings out of the bullpen. He posted a 0.98 ERA and racked up a league-best 11 saves. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Schreiber is durable enough to start, but his explosive two-pitch repertoire might be better suited for the back of the bullpen. He throws his lively fastball in the 91-92 mph range, and his above-average slider is hard and tight with devastating late break.9. Ryan Eden, of, Vienna (So., New Orleans)
Eden made just 10 starts for New Orleans as a freshman, but he had a breakout summer for the Senators, batting .404/.484/.500 in 104 at-bats, just short of the cutoff for the league batting title. At 6-feet, 190 pounds, Eden lacks strength but is an excellent contact hitter from the right side with superb pitch recognition. He’s an above-average runner who stole 15 bases in 18 attempts, and he coves plenty of ground in center field. His best tool might be his well-above-average, accurate arm.10. Darrin Campbell, rhp, Vienna (R-Fr., San Diego)
Campbell missed all of 2007 after having Tommy John surgery in January 2006, but he bounced back strong this summer, going 2-0, 1.53 with 19 strikeouts and six walks in 18 innings. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Campbell pitches with a good downward angle, and his 89-92 mph fastball has plenty of sink and run. Campbell worked consistently in the 90-93 range in the National Baseball Congress World Series, and he commanded a good slider and promising changeup. Campbell still has plenty of projection left in his frame, though he’ll have his work cut out for him finding innings in San Diego’s loaded pitching staff next spring.