Coastal Plain League Top 10 Prospects
Fayetteville set a Coastal Plain League record with 41 regular-season wins, but Thomasville won its second straight Petitt Cup championship with a walk-off home run by Jorge Castillo (Louisville), beating Peninsula 4-3. Castillo was the tournament MVP as he added a grand slam in a semifinal game against Martinsville.
The talent level was very high across the CPL in 2007, but no team could match Thomasville's firepower. Other coaches said the Hi-Toms should have taken on the rest of the league in the CPL all-star game. Not surprisingly, Thomasville leads the way with four of the league's top 10 prospects, and Hi-Toms David Thomas (the CPL offensive player of the year), Chris Swauger (the league's home runs leader) and power-armed closer Aaron Lorio (the league's saves leader) just missed the cut.
1. Chris Gloor, lhp, New Bern (Jr., Quinnipiac)
Gloor made a strong impression in the CPL all-star game, striking out three over two hitless innings. Gloor made 25 relief appearances for New Bern in 2006, but he has started for two years at Quinnipiac and he thrived in that role this summer for the River Rats, going 3-2, 1.30 with an eye-popping 78-18 strikeout-walk ratio in 48 innings. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Gloor is a true power pitcher who relies upon his above-average 90-94 mph fastball early in the game and early in counts, then gets hitters to chase his secondary pitches the second or third time through the lineup and when he's ahead in the count. He has good command of a changeup that projects as at least an average pitch, and he is not afraid to throw it to righties or lefties. Gloor flashes a promising curveball, but he needs to improve the pitch in order to stick as a starter in pro ball. For a lefthander as big as he is, Gloor's delivery is repeatable, and his over-the-top arm slot adds deception.2. Rich Poythress, 3b/1b, Thomasville (So., Georgia)
Poythress had surgery last fall to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, but he recovered in time to make his collegiate debut on Feb. 11, and by late March he had seized an everyday role for the Bulldogs. He carried that momentum to the summer, leading the CPL in slugging percentage (.616), RBIs (49) and walks (42) and finishing second in home runs (13) and on-base percentage (.450). At 6-foot-4, 236 pounds, Poythress has very good power to all fields. He's surprisingly athletic and runs the bases well despite below-average speed, thanks to his ability to read pitchers and get good jumps. Poythress has a strong arm and can play third base, but he projects as a first baseman down the road. He has a solid approach at the plate and is a good two-strike hitter. 3. Kevin Mattison, of, Edenton (Sr., UNC Asheville)
The No. 9 prospect in the Southern Collegiate League a year ago, Mattison proved himself on a bigger stage this summer, leading the CPL in stolen bases (30), ranking fourth in homers (11) and third in RBIs (47). Mattison is a slightly above-average runner, but his baseball speed plays up because of his terrific instincts, particularly in center field, where his outstanding range sets him apart and his fringe-average arm is very accurate. The lefthanded-hitting Mattison used to be pull-happy but has worked hard on driving the ball to all fields and hitting the ball on the ground more to take advantage of his speed. Though he has enough bat speed to hit for some power despite a modest 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame, his future seems to be as a table-setter if he can make better use of the hole between third base and shortstop. Mattison is a gritty, aggressive player with a solid all-around tools package; he just needs some offensive refinement.4. Stephen Batts, 2b/3b, Wilmington (Jr., East Carolina)
An exceptional athlete, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Batts was a three-time all-state soccer player as a goalkeeper for E.A. Laney High in Wilmington, N.C., and he actually went to East Carolina as a soccer player before deciding to walk on to the baseball team. He redshirted as a freshman in 2005 but decided to give up soccer and focus on baseball, and he has emerged as a key player for East Carolina. Batts' versatility is one of his strongest assets--he can play any infield position and both corner outfield spots ably, though he projects best as a second baseman or utilityman. Batts is an excellent pure hitter with a patient approach who makes consistent, hard contact and hit .341 with a wood bat this summer. Batts is mostly a gap-to-gap hitter with below-average power, but he has occasional home run pop. He's an average runner with a strong arm, but he needs to get a little more consistent with his throwing. His baseball instincts are already very good and continue to improve the more he plays the game.5. Dexter Carter, rhp, Peninsula (Jr., Old Dominion)
Carter was one of the highest-profile draft-and-follows out of the 2005 draft, when the Rangers took him in the 12th round and he went to Louisburg (N.C.) Community College. Rather than sign, Carter transferred to Old Dominion, where he had a solid but unspectacular 2007 season. With a projectable 6-foot-6, 198-pound frame and an electric arm, Carter has always shown flashes of brilliance, and he did so again this summer, going 1-4, 2.92 with 72 strikeouts and 28 walks in 49 innings. Command is his bugaboo--he rarely gets hit hard, but sometimes he struggles to spot his fastball and gets himself into trouble with walks. His fastball has been up to 92-93 mph in the past, though he worked in the 88-91 range this summer. His legs are very skinny, and he figures to add velocity once he adds mass to his lower half. Carter, a former prep teammate of Justin Upton, pitches off his lively fastball, but he flashes an 11-5 downer curveball, though sometimes he gets around it and it gets slurvy. He started throwing a circle changeup this summer, and it is a promising offering with good run and fade. Carter has a long stride and throws across his body, cutting himself off, and he struggles to repeat his delivery. With some mechanical tweaks and more time in the weight room, Carter could be a front-line starting pitcher in pro ball.6. Jerry Sands, of, Wilson (Jr., Catawba, N.C., College)
Sands led the Coastal Plain League in doubles a year ago but hit just three home runs in 50 games. He's beginning to tap into his significant raw power, as evidenced by his 10 homers in 52 games this summer for Wilson, on the heels of a 21-homer spring for Division II Catawba. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Sands looks the part of a power-hitting outfielder, and he generates huge bat speed with an aggressive but controlled righthanded swing. He strikes out a lot--56 times in 194 at-bats this summer--and needs to work on making contact more consistently, but his swing works. Sands is a solid defender with a plus right-field arm, though he's a below-average runner. 7. Kyle Roller, 1b, Thomasville (So., East Carolina)
One coach described the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Roller as a "big mountain of a man," and power is his calling card--he can squat well over 500 pounds. He slugged 20 home runs in 299 at-bats between ECU and Thomasville this year, and many of them were no-doubters. There is a body shop across the road beyond the right-center-field fence at Thomasville, and the lefthanded-hitting Roller crushed so many balls there that they had to put up a big net between the light poles. Roller also has power to the opposite field, and he showed the ability to hit for average this summer, batting .351 with wood bats after posting a .306 average this spring with metal. Still, Roller doesn't project to hit for a high average, because his swing has holes that can be exploited by savvy pitchers. After spending most of the spring as a DH, Roller played a solid first base for the Hi-Toms, showing aptitude for putting himself in the right spots in different situations. 8. Rob Lyerly, 3b, Asheboro (So., Campbell)
Lyerly struggled as a freshman at Campbell this spring, batting .178 in 101 at-bats, but everything clicked this summer, when he hit .329/.381/.531 with eight homers and 44 RBIs for the Copperheads. Lyerly has always been gangly, but he's gotten much bigger lately and is still trying to grow into his body. He stands out most for his smooth lefthanded swing, which produces line drives to the gaps with occasional home run power, and he figures to add more pop as he fills out. Lyerly is a solid defender at third base and more than serviceable at shortstop and second, and he projects as an offensive second baseman in professional ball.9. Justin Cryer, rhp, Thomasville (RS-Jr., Mississippi)
Cryer missed all of 2005 and 2006 after having Tommy John surgery, but came on late in the spring in Mississippi's bullpen and carried his momentum over to the summer. In 14 appearances out of Thomasville's bullpen, Cryer posted a 0.75 ERA and a 31-6 K-BB ratio in 24 innings. Cryer's best pitch is a 90-93 mph fastball that he sometimes runs into the mid-90s, and his low-80s slider is an out pitch. He has a sturdy 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame and a power repertoire that seems well suited for the back of the bullpen; he has a good shot at Ole Miss' closer job next spring and could be a top-10-rounds pick in the 2008 draft.10. Wade Broyles, rhp, Thomasville (RS-So., Mississippi)
Broyles was a major recruit for Ole Miss out of high school, when he threw his fastball in the 88-92 range, but he never threw a pitch over 87 mph in his first two years in Oxford until the very end of this spring, when he started dialing his fastball up to 91-92. He threw just two innings in his redshirt freshman year this spring, but he dominated as part of Thomasville's lights-out bullpen this summer, going 6-0, 0.24 with 57 strikeouts and 17 walks in 38 innings over 24 appearances. Many of the strikeouts came on his outstanding 12-to-6 hammer curveball, which he throws in the 77-79 mph range with huge, sharp break. He pitched most of the summer in the 87-88 range and touched 90, but if he can regain and hold his former velocity next spring, he'll be a crucial part of Mississippi's pitching staff. Broyles worked on improving his circle changeup this summer, but he still works primarily off his fastball and curve. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Broyles lacks projection, but his exceptional curveball gives him a chance in pro ball.