Cal Ripken Sr. League: Top 10 Prospects
Seth Hester (Southern Mississippi) retired the first 14 batters he faced en route to a two-hit shutout in the Cal Ripken Sr. League championship game, leading the Bethesda Big Train to a 7-0 win against the Maryland Redbirds. Bethesda also won the regular-season title with a 31-10 record, two games ahead of Youse's Orioles.
1. Kevin Brady, rhp, Youse's Orioles, (So., Clemson)
Brady ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Ripken League last year but made just four appearances as a freshman on Clemson's deep pitching staff this spring. He dazzled back in the Ripken League this summer, going 2-2, 1.53 with 38 strikeouts and five walks in 29 innings. Brady shows an average to plus fastball with some sink that he controls at 90-94 mph from a high three-quarters slot. Brady is deceptively strong and holds his fastball velocity beyond the sixth inning. His other pitches are works in progress: a 71-75 mph curve with below-average depth and an average, if firm, 83-85 mph changeup. Brady is still working on commanding the zone with all three offerings, but he has significant upside.
2. Blake Hassebrock, rhp, Youse's Orioles (Jr., UNC Greensboro)
Hassebrock posted a 5.32 ERA in 47 innings of relief as a sophomore this spring, but he was overpowering at times this summer, compiling a 2.55 ERA, seven saves and 29 strikeouts in 25 innings. Hassebrock has a slender but projectable frame at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds. He has average to plus fastball velocity (90-95 mph) with fringe-average movement. He throws from an inconsistent high three-quarters slot, giving him little run on what should be an overpowering pitch. His curveball is below-average at 73-75 and lacks depth. His 78-80 changeup flashes plus at times. Should Hassebeck begin to control and upgrade the quality of either pitch in competition next spring, he's got high-round draft potential.
3. Joe Leonard, 3b, Youse's Orioles (Jr., Pittsburgh)
Scouts are excited about Leonard's varied tool set and his plus potential as a hitter and power bat. Leonard failed to homer in 130 at-bats this summer, but he did go deep 12 times over the last two seasons at Pitt, and his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame is plenty projectable. He showed a knack for making consistent contact and getting on base this summer, batting .346/.390/.415 with eight walks and just 13 strikeouts. On defense, he's agile, anticipates plays and shows a plus arm and solid hands.
4. Beau Taylor, c, Herndon (So., Central Florida)
Smallish (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) by today's pro standards, Taylor had excellent college and summer seasons on offense and defense. He hit .271/.383/.328 for Herndon with just 15 strikeouts in 117 plate appearances, and he threw out six of eight basestealers. Taylor also showed some gap power with a metal bat this spring, hitting .335/.376/.500 with four homers and 15 doubles in 164 at-bats. Taylor has above-average feel and mechanics behind the plate, and he shows average to plus pop times (1.9-2.0 seconds). For now, he projects as a pro backup with a chance to be more than that if his offensive game develops.
5. Scott Swinson, rhp, Youse's Orioles (Sr., Maryland)
The No. 7 prospect in the Ripken League a year ago, Swinson stepped into Maryland's Friday starter this spring and had plenty of ups and downs, going 4-7, 5.54 with 59 strikeouts in 76 innings. He was drafted by the Orioles in the 46th round in June but did not sign, instead returning to Youse's Orioles and going 3-0, 1.67 with 16 strikeouts and four walks in 27 innings. Neither overpowering nor overly physical at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Swinson's best attributes are his control and feel for pitching. He has plus command of an average 88-91 mph fastball that touches 92, and he complements it with a changeup, curveball and slider from a mid-three-quarters slot. He keeps hitters off balance with his savvy and competitiveness.
6. Jed Bradley, lhp, Youse's Orioles, (So., Georgia Tech)
At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Bradley has upside at both the college and pro level. He posted a 6.65 ERA as a freshman this spring but did miss plenty of bats, posting a 49-17 strikeout-walk ratio in 45 innings. Bradley put up similar numbers in the Ripken League (0-1, 5.29 with a 20-7 K-BB ratio in 17 innings) before a muscle strain ended his summer. Bradley throws an average 88-91 mph fastball from mid-to-high three-quarters slot. He also shows an 81-85 mph changeup and a 77-79 curve; both have below-average depth but have a chance to be quality offerings. He throws with a short-arm backside motion and often finishes high in the zone, making his pitches less effective. If he can tweak his mechanics and harness his command, Bradley could be a solid back-end starter in pro ball.
7. Nolan Rudman, rhp, Bethesda (Jr., Lee, Tenn.)
Rudman established a reputation as a strike-thrower at Ventura (Calif.) CC, where he went 2-2, 2.78 with 47 strikeouts and seven walks in 32 innings this spring. He continued pounding the zone this summer, going 2-1, 0.70 with a 31-6 K-BB ratio in 26 innings for Bethesda, and he'll continue his collegiate career at NAIA Lee (Tenn.) next spring. Rudman has shown signs of growing into his 6-foot-3, 190-pound build, and he showed an 87-89 mph fastball early in the summer but worked in the 89-92 range by the end of the summer. He also showed an average 78-80 changeup, and he commanded both pitches in any count.
8. Jarrod Parks, ss/3b, Bethesda, (Sr., Mississippi State)
After seeing limited action (33 at-bats) this spring at Mississippi State, Parks hit .355 this summer and led the Ripken League in on-base percentage (.526), slugging (.593) and home runs (six). Parks has excellent plate discipline, drawing 24 walks and being hit by 21 pitches while striking out just 13 times this summer. A contact hitter with average speed, Parks did not hit into a double play in 168 plate appearances. If he can improve his infield defense, Parks has a chance to be a utility player in pro ball.
9. Curtis Wilson, ss, Silver Spring (Jr., Southern)
Wilson, who is transferring from Northwest Shoals (Ala.) CC to Southern, hit .295/.411/.447 with 14 doubles and seven steals in 37 games for Silver Spring. A jack of all trades, Wilson lacks standout tools but is a solid player across the board. He has a disciplined offensive approach, as evidenced by his 24 walks and 22 strikeouts this summer, and he has good speed and instincts on the basepaths. Wilson should be a quality table-setter for Southern in 2010, and he owns a compact swing with good power to the gaps. He profiles as a second baseman in pro ball.
10. Jim Moran, rhp, Youse's Orioles (Jr., South Florida)
Moran has a slender but projectable pro frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. After struggling in a starting role for Catonsville (Md.) CC this spring, Moran worked exclusively out of the bullpen for Youse's Orioles this summer, posting a 1.93 ERA and four saves in 28 innings. He showed an average fastball in the 88-91 range, though it was fairly straight and he sometimes struggled to command it. His 74-75 mph curveball breaks early and lacks depth. As his body matures, Moran's fastball could show greater velocity. He must also improve his secondary stuff and improve his command in the zone.