Valley League Top 10 Prospects
After dropping the first game of the championship series, Haymarket stormed back against Covington and won three consecutive contests to take the Lineweaver Cup. The title is Haymarket's first since it joined the Valley in 2004.
1. Daniel Bowman, of, Luray (So., Coastal Carolina)
Bowman offers a complete package of tools to go along with a physical 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame. He has obvious strength, which was on display throughout the spring when he batted .333/.382/.590 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs as a freshman for the Chanticleers. And he inflicted similar damage to Valley League pitchers this summer, hitting .298/.354/.489 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs for the Wranglers and winning the Mid-Atlantic Classic home run derby. Although scouts say he has 60 raw power, there is some length in his lefthanded swing and he remains vulnerable against high fastballs. Bowman possesses a solid-average arm from the outfield and has above-average speed, making right field a likely destination for him in pro ball. He also exhibits good instincts for the game, which make an already impressive collection of tools play up. Signability caused Bowman to fall to the Rangers in the 48th round of the 2008 draft, but he has the talent to play himself into the top five rounds once he becomes eligible again.
2. Johnny Dishon, of, Staunton (So., Louisiana State)
Dishon, in the words of one scout, might have been "the most talented outfielder in the Valley" this year. He redshirted last spring, but Dishon revealed his five-tool potential this summer when he hit .304 with 11 doubles, four home runs and 19 stolen bases in as many attempts. He showed good pop with his compact and powerful stroke, although his plate discipline needs work, as he struck out in nearly one-third of his plate appearances. He is also a plus runner with a very good throwing arm that would suit him well in right field. Dishon has obvious present tools to go along with an athletic 5-foot-11, 185-pound build, but he still needs to develop his knowledge of the game, which he will try to do as a redshirt sophomore at LSU next spring.
3. Drew Rucinski, rhp, Luray (Jr., Ohio State)
Rucinski logged nearly 75 innings of relief last spring and finished with an unusual 12-2, 5.54 record. The heavy workload didn't seem to negatively impact Rucinski's performance this summer though, as the 6-foot-2, 175-pound righthander went 3-1, 3.22 with 48 strikeouts and 14 walks for the Wranglers. According to one scout, Rucinski had the best command in the league, using a repeatable delivery to locate three pitches to both sides of the plate. His repertoire includes a running fastball that ranges from 89-93 mph, a late-breaking 11-to-5 curveball that clocks at 79-83, and an 84-86 changeup that tails away from righthanders. Rucinski, an engineering major, has a good understanding of the pitching process and should throw harder as he adds strength to a slender frame.
4. Michael Lang, of, Haymarket (Jr., Rutgers)
Lang starred in the four-game championship series, earning MVP honors after going 11-for-19 with three doubles, a home run, three RBIs and a stolen base to lead the Senators to their first-ever title. With a .357/.455/.579 season line, he was the only player to rank among the top five in all three categories. A good athlete with an aggressive approach, Lang's combination of power and speed made him a dynamic leadoff hitter for Haymarket. He needs to improve his instincts and routes in center field, but his running ability increases the margin for error and his above-average arm keeps baserunners honest. Although Lang lacks physical projection at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, his present tools make him an interesting follow this spring.
5. Stephen McQuail, 3b, Front Royal (Jr., Canisius)
McQuail was the most prolific power hitter in the Valley this summer, leading the league in home runs (16) and slugging percentage (.669) with 31 of his 55 total hits going for extra bases. Standing nearly upright at the plate, McQuail has a smooth load and quick hands that generate explosive power. Although he is a bit pull-conscious because he doesn't stay inside the ball consistently, he showed an aptitude for driving pitches the other way when he hit two opposite-field home runs in a game against Covington. Valley managers observed above-average arm strength and solid-average speed, but he will need to improve his glovework if he is to stay at third base. But even if a move to the outfield is necessary, McQuail will keep scouts interested because of his power.
6. Todd Brazeal, 1b, Staunton (So., South Florida)
A Freshman All-American last spring, Brazeal is a savvy hitter with plus raw power, demonstrated by his .495 slugging percentage and impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio (36-to-32) in his first year with the Bulls. He showed a similar proficiency with a wood bat this summer, belting eight home runs for Staunton and compiling a .507 slugging mark. Brazeal has some length in his swing, but he has advanced pitch recognition. He is a solid defender at first base with good athleticism for his size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), a soft glove and quick feet that could also play at a corner outfield position. He also draws praise for his instinctive play and good work ethic.
7. Greg Hopkins, 3b, Haymarket (Jr., St. John's)
A pure-hitting third baseman, Hopkins anchored the heart of the order for the league champions. In 200 at-bats, he produced 69 hits, which led the Valley, finishing with a .345/.413/.495 season line. Hopkins employs a wide base at the plate, taking a short stride to the ball with a level swing path that results in gap-to-gap power. He stays inside the ball well, letting him take offspeed pitches the other way, but he also has the bat speed to turn on an inside fastball. Hopkins is a solid defender at third base with a sure glove and adequate range, although he might lack the arm strength to stay at the position in pro ball. A position change is probably in his future, but his bat is good enough to play anywhere.
8. Pablo Bermudez, of, Luray (So., Florida International)
Bermudez teamed with No. 1 prospect Daniel Bowman to form the best corner outfielder tandem in the Valley. Bermudez hit .318/.414/.465 on the summer, showing an intriguing blend of speed and pop from the top of Luray's order. Bermudez is a bit of a free swinger right now and strikes out too often as a result of trying to pull offspeed pitches, but he has the bat control to make consistent contact once he becomes more disciplined. An above-average runner, he still needs to improve his instincts on the basepaths before he can be considered a good baserunner. Bermudez is also a versatile defender with a plus arm and good range that plays at all three outfield positions.
9. Bobby Rauh, of, Winchester (SIGNED: Braves)
A plus runner with a knack for reading pitchers' deliveries, Rauh swiped 37 bases in 41 attempts, good enough to lead the Valley despite playing 16 fewer games than his closest competition. He doesn't offer much power at the plate, but his line-drive approach will play well at the top of an order. Although scouts grade him as just an average fielder right now, his speed would be put to good use in center field. Rauh, who attended Daytona Beach (Fla.) CC last spring, had committed to Tampa, but chose to begin his pro career instead when he signed with the Braves as a 29th-rounder.
10. Chris Sorce, rhp, Harrisonburg (SIGNED: Mariners)
As Harrisonburg's closer, Sorce was dominant, recording three saves and compiling a 4-0, 0.98 mark with 25 strikeouts and six walks in 18 innings. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound power righty relies mostly on his 92-93 mph fastball (which touched 94 this summer) and needs to improve the quality of his offspeed pitches. He throws a hard slider that registers at 85-88 mph, although the pitch currently lacks depth. He also mixes in a changeup, but it's usually a straight offering. Sorce signed with the Mariners as a 26th-rounder.