MINK League Top 10 Prospects
Beatrice finished with the best record in the MINK League (24-6) and clinched an automatic berth to the NBC World Series, where they finished in third place. Chillicothe and Ozark also represented the league and went a combined 3-4.
1. Jordan Danks, of, Beatrice (SIGNED: White Sox)
Possessing legitimate five-tool ability, Danks led Beatrice to another MINK championship and shaped himself up as the league's best prospect. In 2005, the 6-foot-5 center fielder was considered one of the best prep power hitters heading into the June draft, but he did not realize his potential with the bat in three seasons at Texas, hitting just 12 home runs in his college career. Danks didn't find his power stroke with Beatrice either, but managed a .388/.505/.612 line for the summer and displayed a selective approach at the plate. If he is to augment his present gap power, he will need to add 10-20 pounds to a projectable frame. Danks is a plus defender with above-average range in center field, which can be attributed to his rare athleticism for a player his size. His speed on defense also plays well on the basepaths, where he's regarded as an instinctive runner. Danks signed with the White Sox for $525,000 as a seventh-round pick.
2. Brian Feekin, lhp, Beatrice (R-So., Iowa Western CC)
After redshirting at Nebraska in 2007, Feekin transferred to Iowa Western and struggled this spring, but he bounced back with a strong MINK campaign by going 6-0, 1.50 for the Bruins. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound lefthander tallied 62 strikeouts in 54 innings using an 11-to-5 curveball that he typically got hitters to chase out of the zone. He also featured a low-90s four-seam fastball and a developing changeup. The Rangers saw enough promise in the big southpaw to take Feekin with their 41st-round selection in this year's draft, but he did not sign.
3. Shane Minks, rhp, Beatrice (Jr., Texas A&M)
Minks displayed impressive durability this summer, as the 6-foot-3 righthander went 3-1, 1.29 with 65 strikeouts in 56 innings as a starter, reliever and closer. He was used exclusively out of the bullpen at the NBC World Series, where he notched 20 strikeouts in 12 scoreless frames on his way to earning a place on the tournament's all-America team. Minks, who ranked second on this list a year ago, operates from a low-three-quarters arm slot that allows him to get better sink on his fastball, which sits at 88-91. His slider is average and his changeup is still a work in progress, but coaches and scouts praise his competitive spirit on the mound.
4. Tant Shepherd, 3b, Beatrice (So., Texas)
After a freshman season in which he hit .357 in 57 at-bats for the Longhorns, Shepherd came to the MINK and thrived in the heart of Beatrice's order. He continued to show off his pure hitting ability and above-average power potential, batting .370/.427/.583 with 10 doubles, five home runs and 43 RBIs. His offense is ahead of his glove at this stage in his development, as he will need to refine his fielding mechanics and improve his throwing accuracy if he is to stay at third base. Shepherd should compete for an everyday spot in the Texas lineup as a sophomore.
5. Cam Seitzer, 1b, Mac-N-Seitz (Fr., Oklahoma)
The son of former big leaguer Kevin Seitzer, Cam showed a similar proficiency at the plate this summer, batting .407 for first-year league member Mac-N-Seitz. He has a disciplined approach and good bat speed from the left side of the plate, allowing him to spray pitches to all fields. He has a solid glove and an adequate arm that plays well at first base, but his power lags behind his hit tool, raising positional profile concerns. Seitzer committed to Oklahoma, where he is expected to remain at the position for the Sooners.
6. Dallas Hord, c, Chillicothe (Jr., Missouri State)
Hord is an athletic, pro-bodied catcher who uses a strong lower half to generate power to both gaps. After batting just .214 in his sophomore year for the Bears, he widened his stance during the summer and posted a .333/.381/.518 line for Chillicothe, adding six triples in a rare display of speed for a catcher. Hord is sound defensively, as he is considered a good receiver who blocks stray pitches effectively. His most advanced tool, however, is a plus arm that can be credited for his consistent 1.8- to 1.9-second pop times.
7. Matty Johnson, of, Chillicothe (Jr., Bellevue, Neb.)
A 70 runner who draws comparisons to Joey Gathright, Johnson's tremendous speed helped him earn NJCAA Gold Glove recognition while playing center field for Crowder College last spring. Although he tracks fly balls well, his arm grades as just adequate. Johnson has little pop in his bat, but he makes solid contact consistently and is considered a good bunter, making him an ideal leadoff man. He is also a switch-hitter, although several coaches have noted that he is significantly better from the left side. Johnson has signed on to play with NAIA power Bellevue next spring.
8. Aaron Meade, lhp, Chillicothe (So., Missouri State)
With an effective three-pitch mix and an advanced feel for pitching, Meade logged 54 strikeouts in 50 innings while going 4-1, 3.24 for Chillicothe. He uses a smooth arm action to run his fastball into the high-80s and shows good command of his breaking pitches, featuring a 12-to-6 curveball that sits in the 68-70 mph range and changeup that has some downward movement. Meade also began to develop a cutter this summer, which he will have the chance to refine as he returns to the Bears' rotation in the spring.
9. Dominic D'Anna, 1b, Chillicothe (Jr., Cal State Northridge)
D'Anna is a lefthanded-hitting first baseman who seemed to enjoy the MINK confines this summer, finishing the season hitting .404/.500/.602. He also exhibited an advanced knowledge of the strike zone, walking 29 times compared to his 17 strikeouts. His 15 doubles and five home runs in 161 at-bats reaffirmed his impressive power, which was absent last spring as he recovered from a severe bout of pneumonia. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, D'Anna lacks the foot speed to play a corner outfield spot, but is an adequate defender at first base.
10. Taylor McInnis, rhp, Ozark (So., Lamar)
McInnis, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound righthander, consistently clocked in the high 80s but occasionally touched the low 90s. He throws a slider and a changeup, but his 12-to-6 curveball functions as his out-pitch, and he can throw it for a strike at any time in the count. After serving mostly in relief as a freshman, McInnis will have the chance to make the rotation next spring as the Cardinal sent their top three starters to the pro ranks.