New England Collegiate League Top 10 Prospects
The Sanford Mainers put their clutch hitting, pitching and defense on display to win their second-ever NECBL championship with a 4-1 victory against the Newport Gulls. Sanford broke a 1-1 tie with a pair of unearned runs in the fourth inning, then turned a key double play with runners on the corners and league home run leader Alex Gregory at the plate in the eighth. The Mainers last won it all in 2004, when they also defeated Newport.
The final two teams standing are well represented on this list. Newport and Sanford combined to place five players on the top 10. The league's overall talent level was down from a year ago, when Steven Strasburg led a strong group of NECBL prospects, but the league did have decent depth.
1. Michael Olt, ss, Danbury (So., Connecticut)
Olt emerged as a star in his freshman year at UConn, batting .318/.386/.577 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs, and he followed it up with a solid summer in the NECBL, going .279/.355/.469 with six homers and 31 RBIs. Olt has a prototype 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame and the ability to effortlessly generate plus power with a loose swing. He's got huge pull power but also has a mature approach and can hit the ball authoritatively the other way. He's an exceptional athlete and a gamer who has a chance to stick at shortstop in pro ball, though he needs to become more consistent (he posted a .912 fielding percentage this summer). Even if he has to move to third, second or the outfield down the road, his bat will carry him.
2. Dan Mahoney, rhp, Newport (So., Connecticut)
Mahoney ranked as the No. 2 prep prospect in Massachusetts (behind only Jack McGeary) coming out of Ashburnham's Cushing Academy in 2007, and as a raw, projectable New Englander he's just scratching the surface of his ability. At 6-foot-4, 204 pounds, Mahoney has a classic pitcher's frame and figures to add velocity as he fills out. He bounced back from a rough freshman year at UConn (during which he worked on changes to his delivery) to emerge as the most dominant closer in the NECBL this summer, going 1-1, 1.66 with seven saves and a 36-9 K-BB ratio in 22 innings. Mahoney's fastball reached 92-93 mph at times but usually sat around 90-91. He also throws an average or slightly better overhand curveball in the 75-77 range. Mahoney will be a draft-eligible sophomore next spring and projects as an intriguing bullpen arm in pro ball.
3. Neal Davis, lhp, Newport (Jr., Virginia)
Davis has been on the prospect landscape for a while now, having ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Cal Ripken Sr. League as a rising high school senior in 2005, then as the No. 7 prospect in the Ripken League the following year. After taking his lumps as a freshman, Davis dominated in a setup role for the Cavaliers this spring, going 4-0, 1.58 with a 39-13 K-BB ratio in 40 innings of work. He shifted to a starting role this summer, going 4-0, 3.55 with a 25-15 K-BB ratio in 33 innings. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound lefty still has some projection, and he worked in the upper 80s with his deceptive fastball this summer. He also flashes a plus curveball.
4. Casey Harman, lhp, Vermont (So., Clemson)
Harman, a Vermont native, had a fine freshman season for Clemson coach Jack Leggett (another Vermont native), posting a 3.89 ERA and a 44-10 strikeout-walk ratio in 44 innings, mostly in relief. He returned home this summer to pitch for the Mountaineers and continued to pound the strike zone, going 4-0, 0.68 with a 47-12 K-BB ratio in 40 innings, mostly as a starter. Harman is starting to add strength to his projectable 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame, and he could add a few more ticks to his 86-88 mph fastball as he continues to mature. His fastball plays up because of its deception and riding life, and he commands it well. He also mixes speeds with a solid-average curveball with tight 1-to-7 break, and he's confident enough to throw it in any count. His changeup also projects as an average pitch.
5. Corey Jones, 2b, Holyoke (Jr., Cal State Fullerton)
After a disappointing freshman year, Jones held his own for the Titans as a sophomore, batting .302/.365/.389 in 49 games. He was better with a wood bat this summer, hitting .325/.377/.419 with 12 stolen bases in 13 tries. Jones is an average runner, but his best tool is his bat. His lefthanded swing produces hard line drive to all fields, and he makes consistent contact. Jones has added 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot frame since his freshman year, and he projects for occasional gap power. He's also a sound defensive second baseman with smooth actions, a reliable arm and the ability to turn the double play very well.
6. Jack Murphy, c, Newport (Jr., Princeton)
Murphy actually backed up Mike Melillo behind the plate for much of the summer, but scouts prefer Murphy as a prospect. A 6-foot-4, 230-pound switch-hitter, Murphy had a breakout spring for Princeton, batting .391/.476/.628 with eight homers. He followed it up with a strong summer at Newport, hitting .329/.402/.549 with three homers in 82 at-bats. Murphy shows decent power from both sides of the plate and has a good swing. He's also a quality defensive catcher with plenty of arm strength, and he led the NECBL in fielding percentage (.996) while throwing out nine of 33 basestealers (27 percent).
7. Devin Harris, of, Sanford (R-So., East Carolina)
A raw, athletic outfielder, Harris redshirted in 2007 and earned just 12 at-bats in 2008 for East Carolina, but he made a quantum leap forward this summer in the NECBL. In 123 at-bats, Harris hit .293/.362/.455 with four homers and nine steals in nine attempts. The 6-foot-3, 227-pound specimen shows huge raw power to all fields in batting practice, and he's just learning to translate it into games. Harris does have some length to his swing, helping account for his 49 strikeouts and 14 walks this summer. He runs and throws well and is capable of playing any outfield position, though he profiles best in a corner.
8. Pat Lehman, rhp, Sanford (Sr., George Washington)
The Twins drafted Lehman in the 41st round in June after he went 6-5, 5.28 as a junior this spring. He dominated for league-champion Sanford this summer, going 4-1, 1.52 with a 42-11 K-BB ratio in 47 innings. Lehman was one of the most mature pitchers in the league, with a physical 6-foot-4, 215-pound build and the ability to throw strikes with three pitches. His fringe-average 87-91 mph fastball sometimes touches 92, and he features a changeup and an 83-84 mph breaking ball that both rate as slightly above-average offerings. Lehman has an imposing mound presence and does a good job holding runners thanks to an advanced pickoff move.
9. James Wood, of, Holyoke (Jr., Trinity, Conn.)
Wood led Division III national champion Trinity with 12 homers this spring while batting .356/.455/.638. He followed it up with a fine summer in the NECBL, hitting .293/.417/.552 with three homers in 58 at-bats. Wood has a good professional body at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and features a varied skill set. He has a smooth lefthanded stroke and projects for average power. He's also an average runner and a good defender at a corner outfield spot, though his below-average arm will tie him to left field in pro ball.
10. Cody Stanley, c, North Adams (So., UNC Wilmington)
Stanley had a solid freshman year for UNCW, batting .288 with five homers, and he carried his momentum over to the summer, hitting .352/.390/.602 with five homers in 108 at-bats. He's an athletic catcher who can even run, as evidenced by his nine stolen bases in 11 attempts. The biggest knock on Stanley is his size (5-foot-10, 178 pounds), but he has some strength in his compact lefthanded swing. He's also a quality defensive catcher who showed 1.7- to 1.8-second pop times to second base.