Jayhawk League Top 10 Prospects
Hays held off Derby for the regular-season title. Afterward, both teams, as well as Liberal and El Dorado, advanced to the National Baseball Congress World Series. Each team won at least one game, but Hays and Liberal ended up playing each other with a quarterfinal berth on the line. Led by former big league manager Mike Hargrove, Liberal got revenge on the league's regular-season champion by defeating Hays 7-1. But Liberal fell to Beatrice of the MINK League in the quarterfinals.
1. Patrick Cooper, rhp, Hays (So., Des Moines Area CC)
Cooper was roughed up in his freshman year at Eastern Kentucky, going 1-6, 7.71. Still, he has a good frame at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, and throws 92-93 mph with a good slider and a decent changeup. The ace of Hays' staff, Cooper went 5-3, 3.23 and struck out 42 in 53 innings. He retired 21 batters in a row in one game this summer while building a reputation as the premier arm in the league. Cooper transferred from Eastern Kentucky to Des Moines Area CC this summer, and he could be a prime 2009 draftee.
2. Cameron Monger, of, Dodge City (Jr., New Mexico)
Monger offers plus speed in a physical 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame, certainly a reason he was able to transfer from Howard (Texas) JC (where he was a teammate of Twins draftee Tyler Ladendorf) to New Mexico for the 2008-09 school year. He led the NJCAA in the spring with 57 stolen bases and was an effective basestealer this summer, joining the Hays Larks roster for the NBC World Series. He also showed off his plus arm and the ability to hit for power.
3. Preston Springer, 3b/1b, El Dorado (So., Odessa JC)
Springer hit .424 in the spring, so the question this summer was whether he could sustain that level of hitting. Springer didn't disappoint, hitting .415 to rank second in the league while slugging five home runs for the Broncos. He has the arm to stick at third base and a strong swing from the left side.
4. Nick Zaleski, 1b/of, Liberal (Sr., Sam Houston State)
Zaleski may have gotten lost on a college team full of hitters at Sam Houston State this last spring. He hit .317 with eight home runs, but the average was only good enough for ninth on the team. This summer though, Zaleski was in his own world in the Jayhawk League, leading the league by hitting .441. He is not seen as a speed or power guy, but is a pure hitter with a good approach. He'll need to tap into more power to fit the profile of a corner outfielder.
5. Steven Mazur, rhp, Hays (Jr., Notre Dame)
The consensus was that Mazur had the best summer of any pitcher in the Jayhawk League despite average stuff. In 24 appearances (all but one in relief) Mazur went 5-0, 0.99 with a league-leading 69 strikeouts in 45 innings. His fastball was 87-89 and he had a good slider, but he tired late in the summer.
6. Rich Michalek, 2b, Hays (Sr., Slippery Rock, Pa.)
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Michalek hit .364 and knocked in 27 runs during the summer, building upon a successful junior season at Slippery Rock, where he was the team's shortstop. He is a good hitter, adding four home runs to his average (which ranked third in the league). He showed above-average speed and played solid defense despite an ankle sprain that hampered him this summer.
7. Eric Roof, c, Hays (Sr., Michigan State)
Roof is a thin and lean catcher with a lot of athleticism. A late draft pick this past summer by the Tigers, Roof can swing the bat with pop. A monster home run at his home park really stuck out in one coach's mind, revealing Roof's raw power. Roof was recently converted to be a catcher and his skills are developing. He is a solid catch-and-throw guy, though Hays' teammate Rafael Neda (New Mexico), who didn't play enough due to a finger injury to qualify for the list, is his superior defensively.
8. Chase Johnson, rhp, Hays (So., Central Arizona)
Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, was right behind Cooper when it came to power arms in the league. He was a reliever for Hays and his fastball was at 93-95 all summer, a big reason why he struck out 51 in 34 innings. He struggled in the spring, posting a 7.20 ERA in 15 innings in a wood-bat league as he wrestled with control problems, but he flashed this kind of velocity in high school in Arizona as well.
9. Jeremiah Sammy, ss, Liberal (Sr., Lamar)
Sammy was regarded as the best defensive shortstop in the league. He made jaw-dropping plays and had plenty of range—too much in some cases as he picked up errors on balls other shortstops couldn't get to. One coach said Sammy drops his hands at the plate, which may tie him up against better pitching, but he was still eighth in the league in hitting at .330. He has solid speed.
10. Taylor Rogers, rhp, Liberal (Jr., Tulane)
Rogers served as Liberal's ace after being used primarily out of the bullpen for Tulane in the spring. He was on an innings limit for the summer, working 36 innings, but he showed an 89-90 mph fastball with some decent life.