Florida Collegiate League Top 10 Prospects
Two inaugural teams faced off at Tropicana Field for the FCSL championship. In the end, the Clermont Maverics defeated the Belleview Bulldogs 9-1. Clermont, which had the best offense in the league, knocked around Bulldogs ace Bo O'Dell (Florida State), who entered the game with a 1.15 ERA. O'Dell did strike out seven, but he gave up six runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings. Clermont's leading hitter, outfielder Brayan Valencia (Nova Southeastern, Fla.) put some icing on the cake with a two-run home run in the ninth inning.
1. Jeff Walters, rhp, Winter Park (Jr., Georgia)
Walters ran his sinking fastball up to 93 at times this spring for St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC, and the Indians drafted him in the 30th round, but he enrolled at Georgia instead of signing. His control wavered at times this spring, and he walked 10 while striking out 11 in 16 innings this summer, going 0-1, 4.60. But he also touched 94 with his sinker and showed a promising slider with hard, late break. He has a durable 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame and could compete to replace closer Joshua Fields at Georgia. Walters, who ranked second on this list a year ago, profiles as a power middle reliever in pro ball.
2. Scott Shuman, rhp, Orlando (Jr., Auburn)
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Shuman had a disappointing sophomore year for Auburn, going 2-2, 6.07 in 30 innings, mostly in relief. He shifted to a starting role in the FCSL and bounced back well, going 2-0, 3.21 with a 25-9 strikeout-walk ratio in 28 innings. Shuman's bread and butter is a quality sinker that tops out at 92. He complements it with a good slider with some tilt.
3. Chris Heston, rhp, Sanford (Jr., East Carolina)
After going 2-5, 5.08 for Seminole (Fla.) CC this spring, Heston turned a corner this summer, posting a miniscule 1.00 ERA and an impressive 32-8 K-BB ratio in 36 innings. He has an ideal pitcher's frame at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, and his arm action is loose and easy. Heston, a 29th-round pick by the Nationals this June, runs his fastball up to 92 mph to go along with a very good slider. He also has good feel for a changeup. He'll compete for a spot in ECU's rotation in 2008 and could climb draft charts quickly if he can build upon his progress this summer.
4. Nick DelGuidice, ss/2b, Leesburg, (So., Florida Atlantic)
After hitting .314/.346/.459 as a freshman for Lake Sumter (Fla.) CC, DelGuidice led the FCSL in hits (47) and ranked fifth in batting (.309). He's undersized at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, but he makes up for it with excellent baseball instincts and a strong work ethic. DelGuidice is a sound defensive middle infielder with a strong arm and sure hands. Offensively, he has a righthanded, line-drive stroke and knows how to use the whole field. He could step right into the Florida Atlantic infield as a sophomore.
5. Tony Caldwell, c, Winter Park (So., Auburn)
Caldwell started 17 games for Auburn as a freshman, batting .270/.400/.413 in 63 at-bats. He got more regular playing time this summer for Winter Park, hitting a team-best .283 and slugging .434, fifth-best in the league. He generates good bat speed and makes consistent, hard contact, though he needs to improve his plate discipline. Sturdily built at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Caldwell is a good receiver with a strong arm and a quick release. He's an instinctive player who always plays hard.
6. Roberto Perez, c, Belleview (SIGNED: Indians)
Perez, a native of Puerto Rico, stands out most for his defense behind the plate. He's capable of shutting down opposing running games and showed 1.85-1.95-second pop times this summer. He's more of a gap-to-gap hitter than a true power hitter, but he did belt 15 homers as a sophomore for Lake City (Fla.) CC this spring. Perez signed as a 33rd-round pick of the Indians after 27 games in the FCSL, during which he hit .232/.322/.343.
7. Bo O'Dell, rhp, Belleview (Sr., Florida State)
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound O'Dell pitched mostly in relief for Florida State this spring and went 5-1, 3.60 with 37 strikeouts in 55 innings. He missed quite a few more bats this summer, whiffing an FCSL-leading 67 in 52 innings of work. O'Dell has good command of a four-pitch repertoire. His fastball tops out at 90 mph, his curveball has good depth and he gets hitters to chase his slider and split-finger.
8. Brayan Valencia, of, Clermont (Jr., Nova Southeastern, Fla.)
Valencia captured the FCSL's most outstanding offensive player award leading the league in doubles (11), RBIs (34) and total bases (67); ranking second in hits (44) and slugging (.479); and ranking third in batting (.314). He also packs some punch into his 5-foot-8, 180-pound frame, as he belted four home runs. Valencia's lefthanded swing produces good power to the gaps, and he's an above-average runner. He's also a good outfielder with a solid arm.
9. John Michael Blake, rhp, Leesburg (So., Lake Sumter, Fla., CC)
A converted third baseman, Blake has a physical 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and a live arm. Working in a relief role this summer, Blake posted a 0.90 ERA, six saves and 22 strikeouts in 20 innings. He ran his fastball up to 94 mph and sat in the 90-93 range. He hasn't been pitching long and his secondary stuff remains raw, but he shows a decent feel for pitching.
10. Ty Pryor, rhp, Winter Park (R-Sr., North Florida)
Pryor, whose uncle Greg was a big league infielder for 10 seasons, has been on the prospect landscape for years—he topped this list in 2006. But he hasn't been able to stay put in his college career, transferring from South Florida to Tennessee to North Florida, and thus sitting out the 2007 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He passed the time off by serving as UNF's radio color analyst for home games and was drafted (for the third time) by the Angels in the 28th round that spring, but he did not sign. He finally took the mound for North Florida this spring and had a disappointing year, going 6-5, 4.46. He struck out 41 and walked 22 in 38 innings this summer for Winter Park. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Pryor can still run his fastball up to 93, and his 85-86 mph cutter is a quality second pitch. He also mixes in a curveball and change. Pryor still needs to show more command of his all his pitches, and he needs to get the clock ticking on his pro career, as he turned 23 this summer.