California Collegiate League Top 10 Prospects
The Santa Barbara Foresters continued to be the top franchise in the CCL, going 40-9 overall and 29-7 in league games to claim first place by five games over the San Luis Obispo Blues (32-17, 24-12). The Foresters reached the NBC World Series semifinals as the league's lone representatives. Santa Barbara lefthander Chris Joyce (Central Arizona JC) was named the league's pitcher of the year, while Santa Maria's Chris Mallory (Fresno State) was named player of the year.
1. Ryon Healy, 3b, Conejo Oaks (Fr., Oregon)
In a league heavy in pitching potential, the bat of a potential two-way player stood out. Healy wasn't drafted this spring after floating a seven-figure signing bonus out of famed Crespi High in Encino, Calif. While he was a dominant pitcher as a high school junior and could pitch again for Oregon—he's bumped 95 mph in the past in short stints and has a 6-foot-4 frame—he impressed with the bat this summer, hitting .360/.432/.522 with a league-best 17 doubles and 38 RBIs for Conejo. Healy's swing, size and third-base position evoked comparisons to Evan Longoria and Scott Rolen from league managers. One scout said Healy's hit tool was more advanced, while another said his best tool eventually would be his power. He has strong forearms and hands that help him generate good bat speed. Healy lacks polish defensively at the hot corner, making 16 errors this summer, and may wind up at first or in an outfield corner, though he's a below-average runner.
2. Hoby Milner, lhp, Santa Barbara (So., Texas)
Highly recruited, Milner had to work primarily in relief to get innings as a freshman on Texas' amazing, crowded staff, logging 32 innings and posting a 1.97 ERA for the Longhorns. He split time between starting and relieving in the CCL but couldn't hide his projectable 6-foot-3, 165-pound frame, quick, loose arm and lively repertoire. Milner went 2-0, 2.01 with 39 strikeouts in 31 innings for the Foresters. He has good velocity despite his slight frame, sitting in the 88-91 mph range with excellent movement to go with it. He throws strikes with his fastball and two breaking balls, both a power slider and a slower breaking ball. His changeup has promise as well. Milner has the feel for pitching, projection, command and stuff to profile as a future big league starter.
3. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Team Vegas (Fr., Louisiana State)
The Dodgers' sixth-round pick, Gausman began the season as one of the top prep arms in the country and had a high price tag that the Dodgers didn't come close to meeting. He had the league's best arm, with reports he hit 100 and many reports of him hitting 97 mph, including at the league all-star game. Of course he also gave up a homer on a 96 mph pitch, and opponents hit .305 off Gausman. His 5.69 ERA was the highest in the league for pitchers who qualified for the ERA title. Still, Gausman's velocity comes fairly easily, not with a max-effort delivery. He needs to get stronger to maintain his mechanics, helping him stay healthy and throw more strikes, and to hold his velocity deeper into games. His secondary stuff remains fringy, with his curveball showing potential if he'd throw it with more power. He should be a factor as a freshman at LSU and will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2012.
4. Sam Stafford, lhp, Santa Barbara (Jr., Texas)
Stafford has made just 11 appearances in his college career at Texas, including seven starts in 2010. He struck out 29 in 21 innings for the Longhorns but still couldn't break through into a stellar rotation, so he needed the work he got with the Foresters. He dominated again, going 1-0, 0.32 with 51 punchouts and just nine hits allowed—all singles—in 28 innings. Stafford overmatched hitters with two potential plus pitches, a 90-94 mph fastball and power curveball with late depth. At times, Stafford throws more strikes with his curve than with his fastball, and fastball command is the issue for him, as he walked 16. Stafford has a loose arm and a projectable 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame, and there are some very believable reports that he touched 95-96 mph this summer. A stiff back limited his work in the NBC World Series.
5. Carson Smith, rhp, Santa Barbara (Jr., Texas State)
Smith wasn't around the CCL for long, making three starts for the Foresters before heading to USA Baseball's national team trials. He had command issues there and packed it in for the summer after failing to make the team. He struck out 25 and gave up one unearned run in three five-inning starts for the Foresters, flashing 94-95 mph fastball velocity that overmatched hitters in June who were just getting adjusted to wood. He also hides the ball well in his delivery behind a big leg kick. Before hitters could adjust, Smith was gone. His slider and changeup both have their moments, particularly his slider, which has above-average potential. Smith both relieved and started last year at Texas State, and scouts are mixed on whether or not he has the pitchability to remain a starter long-term.
6. Chris Joyce, lhp, Santa Barbara (So., Santa Barbara CC)
Joyce was a 10th-round pick in 2008 out of high school and redshirted at UC Santa Barbara before heading to Central Arizona JC in 2010, going 10-1, 1.51 and getting drafted in the 29th round by the Tigers. He didn't sign and dominated most of the summer with the Foresters, going 5-0, 1.69 with 62 strikeouts in 48 innings, before stumbling in Wichita at the NBC. Joyce has better present stuff than other Foresters pitchers but lacks projection in his thick 6-foot, 200-pound frame, which could go downhill if he doesn't work harder on his conditioning. His fastball sat in the 89-94 mph range this summer, though, and he was able to pitch inside with his fastball and cutter/slider, which at times had some depth. Joyce is going to his third school in three seasons, which raises some red flags, as does his sliding draft position despite his stuff and performance.
7. Jordan Shipers, lhp, Team Vegas (SIGNED: Mariners)
Shipers doesn't fit too many stereotypes. He's from rural Missouri, so much so that his high school didn't have a team. Drafted in the 16th round as a summer follow, he went 2-2, 1.80 in 30 innings, giving up just four extra-base hits, and signed in August for an $800,000 bonus. A quick-twitch athlete at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Shipers has a quick arm and generates excellent velocity, at times sitting in the 91-94 mph range with his fastball. He also has a good changeup despite being raw, and his slider has average potential. Shipers is raw in terms of holding runners, fielding his position and setting up hitters, and some scouts aren't high on his delivery.
8. Kris Bryant, 3b, Team Vegas (Fr., San Diego)
A physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, Bryant turned down the Blue Jays as an 18th-round pick. He would have gone much higher had he been signable but will follow through on his San Diego commitment. Bryant has two premium tools with the league's best power—both raw and usable, as he led the league with nine homers—and excellent arm strength, rating at least a 60 on the 20-80 scale. He's also fairly athletic, improving his play at third base after struggling there in high school. Scouts who like him compare him to Troy Glaus. Bryant's other tools lag behind, and some scouts think he fits the stiff right-right profile. His upside is considerable, and he could put up gaudy numbers with a metal bat.
9. Sean Yost, rhp, SLO Blues (Jr., Nebraska)
At 6-foot-6, 209 pounds, Yost has a projectable, professional body and was drafted as a redshirt sophomore in 2010. He spurned the Red Sox as a 24th-round pick and had a solid summer in the CCL after a good finishing kick for the Huskers this spring, when he had a 3.60 ERA in his final 10 appearances. He struck out 29 in 30 innings for the Blues and has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter if it all comes together. He pounds the bottom of the strike zone with a fastball thrown on a good downhill plane, peaking at 93 mph. He also showed the ability to work both sides of the plate with his heater. His slider showed improvement as the summer went on, becoming his better secondary pitch.
10. Michael Ratterree, 2b, Santa Barbara (So., Rice)
Ratterree's Rice teammate, outfielder Jeremy Rathjen, performed a bit better this summer. Ratterree ranks as the better prospect because of his raw power and potential to stick in the infield. He'll have to smooth out his defense, particularly his hard hands, but Ratterree has a chance to be an offensive second baseman. He has strength in his swing and is learning when to be aggressive and when to be patient. His biggest weakness offensively is recognizing and laying off breaking balls. Defensively, he may fit better in left if he can't improve his footwork, which would put him in better position to handle hops and soften up his hands.