Clark Griffith Summer League Top 10 Prospects
The Beltway Blue Caps won the 2008 Jacobs Cup as the sixth seed in the tournament, winning both games of a doubleheader against the best team in the league, the Vienna Senators, and another game against the second-best Fairfax Nationals in the finals. Blue Caps starter Davis Hall (Tennessee) threw six scoreless innings and got some help from DH Shane Brown (Central Florida), who hit a home run in the sixth inning as the Blue Caps beat Fairfax, 6-2.
1. Dan Tillman, rhp, McLean (So., Florida Southern)
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Tillman went 3-1, 3.28 with an impressive 61-10 K-BB ratio in 49 innings for McLean, before joining Vienna for the NBC World Series. He has an efficient, compact delivery and does a good job commanding his 90-94 mph fastball, which has good arm-side run. He sets hitters up by getting ahead early in counts and then throwing his 75-77 mph curveball down and away from righthanded hitters, or busting them inside with a fastball. He also has good feel for an 83-84 mph changeup with quick sink.
2. Eric Cantrell, rhp, Vienna (So., George Washington)
Cantrell led the CGBL with a 2.38 ERA and posted a sterling 52-7 strikeout-walk ratio in 45 innings. He has a prototype pitcher's frame at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, and his mid-three-quarters delivery is easy and efficient. Cantrell's fastball currently sits in the 88-91 mph range and touches 92, and his 74-77 mph curveball with 11-to-5 break is a potential plus pitch. He also commands a slider and a changeup that he can throw in any count.
3. Evan Scott, rhp, Carney (Fr., James Madison)
The Angels drafted Scott in the 37th round in June out of Battlefield High in Haymarket, Va., and he showed a glimpse of a promising collegiate career to come this summer against older competition. Scott went 2-0, 1.76 with 16 strikeouts and two walks in 15 innings for Carney. His 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame has projection, and he already throws his fastball in the 87-89 range with late sink, touching 92 now and then. Scott's low-70s curveball has a chance to be a plus pitch if he can add some depth and learn to locate it better. Scott is an intense competitor who could thrive in a closer or starter role at James Madison.
4. Shane Brown, 3b/1b/c, Beltway (Jr., Central Florida)
When UCF slugger Kiko Vasquez was sidelined this spring, Brown stepped in at first base and hit .367/.447/.609 with nine homers in 169 at-bats. He carried his success over to the summer, batting .366/.441/.607 with six homers for the Bluecaps. His bat is his best tool—he stays inside most pitches and has average power to all fields. A natural catcher, Brown did not catch this summer because of a knee injury, but he's a below-average defender at third base and doesn't profile at first. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound is at best an average runner when healthy, but his knee injury hampered his running this summer.
5. Michael Graham, lhp, Vienna (So., Virginia Commonwealth)
Graham went just 2-3, 7.44 as a freshman at VCU this spring, but he was much better this summer, going 5-0, 2.50 with 26 strikeouts and 17 walks in 40 innings. A 6-foot-7, 210-pound lefty, Graham's upside is tantalizing, but he's still fighting inconsistency. His fastball generally sits in the 84-87 mph range but occasionally flirts with the 89-92 range with armside run. He improved his slider and changeup from the spring to the summer, and at times his slider can be an out pitch. He needs to command it and his fastball better and smooth out his mechanics, but it's easy to dream on Graham.
6. Wade Kirkland, ss, McLean (So., Florida Southern)
Kirkland's teammate at Division II Florida Southern, Robbie Shields, played shortstop for McLean last summer and ranked fourth on this list. Shields hit .349 for Cotuit this summer and landed on the Cape Cod League's top prospects list. Kirkland proved a worthy replacement for Shields at McLean, batting .327/.401/.527 with five homers, 15 doubles and 10 steals. Despite a 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame, Kirkland has average power to both gaps, excellent hand-eye coordination and an advanced feel for the strike zone. He is an average runner underway and a smart baserunner. Defensively, he reads balls well off the bat and has an average arm, though he projects best as a utility player down the road because of his size.
7. Richard Cary, rhp, Vienna (Jr., Marist)
Cary led the CGBL with seven wins while posting a 2.79 ERA and a 36-5 K-BB ratio in 42 innings. Despite his good control, Cary tends to overextend his delivery at times, which keeps his fastball up in the zone. He has a live arm that produces 88-91 mph fastballs that touch 93. He worked hard on his 83-85 mph slider this summer and began to improve the pitch's below-average depth toward the end of the summer. His 80-81 mph changeup is promising but needs refinement.
8. A.J. Kirby-Jones, rhp/1b, Fairfax (So., Tennessee Tech)
Kirby-Jones emerged as a valuable two-way player for Tennessee Tech as a freshman, batting .326/.424/.482 in 193 at-bats while going 4-1, 2.92 in 40 innings of relief. He showed more of the same in the CGBL, batting .281/.372/.568 with 10 homers and going 1-0, 0.96 with a 12-1 K-BB ratio in nine innings of relief. He has an explosive arm and sits in the low-90s in relief, topping out at 93. His slider is an out pitch at times. Offensively he has good power but has holes in his swing. He's adequate at best defensively at first base.
9. Jay Joines, rhp, Beltway (Jr., Richmond)
Joines has struggled in two years at Richmond, going 0-2, 7.22 in 29 career innings over two seasons, but he seemed to turn a corner this summer, going 4-2, 2.98 with a 43-13 K-BB ratio in 42 innings. At 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, Joines pitches downhill from a mid- to high-three-quarters delivery from the far right side of the rubber. His sinking fastball reaches 90-91 when he's on, but his 78-79 mph changeup and 77 mph curve need more depth. Joines has plenty of upside but needs to do a better job attacking hitters.
10. Jim Duggan, rhp, Vienna (Sr., George Washington)
Like Joines, Duggan has a tantalizing pro body (6-foot-7, 230 pounds) and an ugly collegiate track record (1-6, 8.04 over three seasons). He worked exclusively in relief this summer, going 2-1, 0.79 with a league-leading seven saves and a 27-8 K-BB ratio in 23 innings. Duggan has a mid- to high-three-quarters delivery and an 88-91 mph fastball that touches 93, but it stays up in the zone more than it should. It does have some sink and arm-side run to righthanded hitters. His 75-76 mph curveball has late-breaking action. If it all comes together for Duggan, he could be a setup man in the Jon Rauch mold.