California Collegiate League Top 10 Prospects




Postseason recap: The Santa Barbara Foresters again won the California Collegiate League and were the league's top team in the NBC World Series, but the Foresters were unable to defend their 2006 championship. Santa Barbara has dominated the CCL in recent years, but now that the Santa Maria Indians and San Luis Obispo Blues have become stronger franchises, the CCL has gained strength, and league managers said the talent in the bottom teams of the league was improved over past years.

1. Devin Shepherd, of, Santa Barbara (So., CC of Southern Nevada)

Shepherd was the Twins' fifth-round pick in 2006 but didn't sign, attending Oklahoma as a freshman. He left the team halfway through the season and will transfer to Community College of Southern Nevada, making him eligible for the 2008 draft. After his drama-filled spring, he reestablished himself over the summer by helping lead Santa Barbara to the NBC World Series semifinals. Shepherd went 11-for-26 with 10 RBIs in seven NBC games, showing his above-average strength, raw power and hitting ability. Shepherd has the arm strength and athletic ability to profile for right field as well.

2. Kyle Russell, of, Santa Barbara (Jr., Texas)

After setting a single-season home run record for the Longhorns and being drafted in the fourth round by the Cardinals, Russell didn't figure to be in summer ball. But the eligible sophomore, who struggled significantly in the Cape Cod League last year, opted not to sign and went to the low-pressure environment of the Foresters. His raw tools remain impressive--he's an average runner and fielder with an above-average throwing arm and immense raw power. Russell's future comes down to making contact--the lanky 6-foot-5 stringbean has lots of holes in his swing and has never made consistent contact with wood, either in Area Code Games as a prep or in the Cape or with Santa Barbara, where he struck out 22 times in 15 games.

3. Rebel Ridling, 1b/of, Santa Barbara (Sr., Oklahoma State)

The league's top performer, Ridling also didn't expect to be in the league but wasn't drafted as a junior. He led the league in batting (.414) and home runs (11 counting postseason play, a Foresters record). He's just starting to tap into his raw power and learn which balls he can drive and which ones he can't. Ridling is at his best when he uses the whole field and did that this summer, where he also showed improved versatility by playing a capable left field. His bat is his best tool and will have to carry him at either spot, but he's poised to be an excellent senior sign.

4. Josh Walter, rhp, Santa Maria (Sr., Texas State)

On the older and bigger side for a pitcher, the 22-year-old Walter also was on the dominant side, giving up his only earned runs of the season in his final appearance (when he gave up six). At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Walter pumps his fastball up to 95 mph, and his control was vastly improved from the spring, when he issued 16 walks in 10 2/3 innings and posted an ERA over 11. Walter still walked nine this summer but his 25 strikeouts (and nine hits allowed) attest to his improved ability to throw his big heater in the strike zone.

5. Jason Zinser, rhp, Santa Barbara (R-Jr., North Carolina State)

Zinser passes the scouts' eye test with excellent size for a righthander at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds. He had the league's best raw stuff and arm strength, pitching off his fastball in the 90-92 mph range and hitting 94 regularly. He's messed around with various offspeed pitches but has yet to settle on a true second pitch. His command of his fastball comes and goes. Zinser's intimidating size and mound presence helps profile him as a closer, the role N.C. State hopes he will play. He transferred there from UCLA.

6. Anthony Capra, lhp, Santa Barbara (Jr., Wichita State)

Capra built off a successful spring when he jumped into the Wichita State rotation to replace injured righthander Aaron Shafer and wound up leading the team in ERA. He shook off a walk-off super-regional loss (in relief) to UC Irvine and had an excellent summer working off his 87-90 mph fastball that touched 91 and featured plus command. His breaking ball showed flashes over the summer, though it's below-average, and his changeup has potential to be a third average pitch.

7. Andrew Taylor, lhp, Santa Barbara (Jr., North Carolina State)

After two years as a swing man for the Wolfpack, Taylor got three starts in the Foresters rotation and made the most of his opportunity, striking out 18 in 14 frames. He's a lefthander with arm strength who started to harness his stuff this summer, starting with an 88-91 mph fastball with arm-side run. Taylor throws a solid, hard slider and has shown flashes with his changeup. Taylor needs more repetitions so he can command the fastball better to truly realize his potential.

8. David Van Ostrand, 1b, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly)

Van Ostrand has followed in the footsteps of his older brother Jimmy, who went to Cal Poly, was drafted by the Astros and played in the Futures Game this year (hitting a home run). The Canadian has big raw power from the left side, more than his older brother thanks in part to his monstrous size (6-foot-7, 225 pounds). He hits for average now (including a school-record .430 at Allan Hancock, Calif., JC this spring), and his raw power hasn't come into play. He has some holes in his swing and has focused more on making contact rather than trying to drive the ball to this point. Van Ostrand has some athletic ability around the bag at first and isn't a slug on the bases.

9. Chase Leavitt, of, Santa Maria (R-Jr., Arkansas)

Leavitt is a fourth-year player who played two years of junior college sandwiched around a two-year Mormon mission. He'd rank higher if he weren't 22 already, but he has tools that should make him at the very least a quality Southeastern Conference player for the Razorbacks. Leavitt has plus speed, a solid line-drive swing and good range in center field. He's a passable second baseman as well, though his arm is better suited for the outfield with his longer arm stroke. He's a good athlete who knows how to play the game and knows his limitations.

10. Blake Crosby, 3b, Santa Maria (R-Jr., Sacramento State)

The younger brother of Athletics shortstop Bobby Crosby, Blake Crosby has some attributes that reminded coaches of his sibling, though they aren't necessarily his tools. He's a hard worker and baseball rat with outstanding makeup. The former BYU transfer spent two years on a Mormon mission and doesn't have a classic pro toolbox, as he doesn't run well and lacks power. However, he's a savvy hitter who uses the whole field, a smart baserunner and an excellent defender at third base.