Valley League Top 10 Prospects
The Luray Wranglers swept the Front Royal Cardinals in the best-of-three game championship series by a combined score 11-3. It was Luray's third Lineweaver Cup since joining the Valley in 2001.
1. Jerome Werniuk, rhp, Haymarket (So., Le Moyne)
Big and physical at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Werniuk paired his pro size with performance this summer. In 27 innings as Haymarket's hybrid setup man/closer, he recorded three saves and a 1.98 ERA, allowing 22 hits and 14 walks with 34 strikeouts. Werniuk throws from a high three-quarters release point, allowing him to create good downward angle on a fastball that sits in the high-80s and touches 92 mph. He shows some athleticism in an easy, effortless motion, although his size makes it difficult for him to repeat his delivery, which saps his velocity at times. Werniuk's 76-78 slider breaks late when it's thrown well, but he needs to improve its consistency. He also throws a rudimentary changeup that needs refinement. A member of the Canadian junior national team before being selected in the 20th round of the 2009 draft by the Rangers, Werniuk will return to Le Moyne in the spring to compete for a spot in the Dolphins' weekend rotation.
2. Taylor Sandefur, rhp, Waynesboro (So., Western Carolina)
A power-armed righthander, Sandefur struggled for much of the spring before finishing strong for Western Carolina. He carried over that momentum to the summer. He went a perfect 7-0 for the Generals, posting a 2.26 ERA to go along with 21 walks and 60 strikeouts over 60 innings, numbers that earned him the league's pitcher of the year award. Sandefur is broad and strong at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, and he pounds the bottom half of the zone with a fastball that sits comfortably in the low 90s and bumps 94 mph. He complements above-average velocity with a short mid-80s cutter and a slow 12-to-6 curveball that he can throw to both righties and lefties. His arm action is clean, and he is proficient at keeping his pitches down, which helped limit Valley opponents to just six extra-base hits across 214 batters faced. Sandefur, whose future hinges on the development of his secondary pitches and the maintenance of his physical conditioning, returns to the Western Carolina rotation as a sophomore in 2011.
3. Corey Spangenberg, ss, Winchester (So., Indian River State, Fla., JC)
Spangenberg won the league's MVP award after batting .399/.463/.527 with 21 stolen bases and a 24-27 walk-strikeout ratio as Winchester's everyday shortstop. He shows an advanced feel for hitting with wood, using a short, compact swing to consistently drive pitches to the gaps, although he remains vulnerable to inside fastballs. At shortstop, he exhibits soft hands and sure actions. However, he lacks the arm strength to play on the left side of the infield, which will force him over to second base—where he played this spring at Virginia Military Institute—at the next level. Spangenberg is very instinctive, which is most apparent on the basepaths, where his average speed plays up. After earning Big South freshman of the year honors last season, Spangenberg will transfer to Indian River State JC this spring.
4. Nick Rickles, c, Luray (Jr., Stetson)
Rickles is a physical and durable 6-foot-2, 195-pound backstop with defensive tools that play in pro ball. His setup is quiet and his hands are soft, giving him the ability to frame pitches well. He threw out 44 percent of basestealers this summer, demonstrating solid-average arm strength that produces consistent 2.00-2.05 pop times. At the plate, Rickles shows a discerning eye, as evidenced by his 16-21 walk-strikeout ratio with Luray. His bat speed is a question mark, but he wields some power, as he finished with eight home runs as part of his .284/.357/.489 line over 176 at-bats. Evaluators will take notice of Rickles' defensive promise, but if he is to advance, he will have to make strides offensively.
5. Rudy Flores, 1b, Haymarket (So., Florida International)
A Lone Star State product who went East to join Turtle Thomas' burgeoning Florida International program, Flores batted .357/.444/.536 as a freshman. In 30 games with Haymarket, he hit .405/.455/.579, and he would have landed him among the top five in each category had he accumulated enough at-bats to qualify. Flores draws praise for his bat speed and smooth lefthanded stroke, which produces above-average functional power. He is disciplined at the plate, although there is some length to his swing, which will make him susceptible to strikeouts against more advanced pitching. A below-average runner who is limited to first base, Flores' hitting acumen alone will command the attention of scouts when he becomes draft-eligible in 2012.
6. Vince Voiro, rhp, Woodstock (Jr., Pennsylvania)
Voiro struggled through his sophomore campaign at Penn, tossing 61 innings and allowing 59 hits with 19 walks and 47 strikeouts on his way to a 3-2, 5.04 mark. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder rebounded in the Valley, impressing observers with his improved ability to miss bats. In spite of Woodstock's 17-27 record, he went 5-3, 3.08 over his 53 innings with 59 strikeouts and just 39 hits allowed. Throwing from a mid-three-quarters arm slot, Voiro generates sink on a fastball that ranges from 90-92 mph, which helps to explain why opposing hitters managed only one home run off of him all summer. However, he is still prone to elevating pitches, which more advanced hitters will exploit. He also needs to sharpen his mid-70s curveball, as it features the occasional loop.
7. Cody Weiss, rhp, Luray (Jr., La Salle)
After struggling mightily with his control as a sophomore at La Salle, Weiss found the strike zone with more frequency this summer, going 7-5, 2.51 with 51 hits allowed, 24 walks and 87 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched. A shorter righthander at 6-foot, 195 pounds, Weiss throws from a high three-quarters release point and typically works in the 90-92 mph range, touching 93, with little effort in his delivery. He attacks hitters, showing the confidence to throw his fastball to either half of the plate before going to a sharp, high-70s breaker as an out pitch. Although his stuff is solid, he has trouble pitching downhill consistently, as evidenced by the eight long balls he surrendered this summer. Weiss profiles as a reliever due to his lack of polish and strike-zone command, but his aggressiveness should help him flourish in a bullpen role.
8. Yoandy Barroso, of, Haymarket (Sr., Florida International)
As a junior last spring, Barroso hit .377/.444/.536, helping Florida International to its first NCAA regional since 2002. Barroso finished with a .285/.412/.371 line at Haymarket, adding 11 stolen bases as the Senators compiled the best regular-season record in the Valley. A physical specimen at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Barroso has a level-planed swing that is capable of producing hard line drives, although it currently lacks lift, which hides his power potential. His route-running and defensive instincts are still raw, but he is an above-average runner with above-average arm strength, making right field his likely destination in pro ball. A 40th-round pick by the Rangers out of high school in 2007, Barroso went undrafted as a junior this June, but his sound overall abilities should make him a good senior sign in 2011.
9. Greg Nappo, lhp, Haymarket (Sr., Connecticut)
Nappo, the league's ERA leader at 1.64, smothered his Valley competition, holding opposing hitters to a .191 batting average with 64 strikeouts and 18 walks in 49 innings. At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Nappo doesn't overpower, but he can still miss bats with his command and pitching know-how. He operates primarily with his two-seam fastball and cutter that both sit in the high-80s, and he can also run a four-seamer into the low-90s. His curveball has a slurvy shape to it, although it's a firm offering. Nappo can move the ball to both sides of the plate, and he works very quickly, a recipe that keepers hitters off balance. Although he lacks the physical projection scouts look for in pitching prospects, his present feel for pitching and competitiveness are obvious strengths that give him a chance to have a sustained professional career. His upside is limited, as he went undrafted as a fourth-year junior this spring and turned 22 years old this summer.
10. Drew Granier, rhp, Harrisonburg (Sr., Louisiana-Monroe)
Granier, who compiled a 4-6, 5.56 record as a junior at Louisiana-Monroe last year, showed a much better feel for his three-pitch arsenal this summer. In 73 innings as Harrisonburg's staff ace, he went 6-1, 2.97 with an 84-18 strikeout-walk ratio. Working from a high three-quarters slot, he sits at 88-92 mph with his fastball and is able to hold his velocity into the later innings. Granier's best secondary pitch is a 78-80 changeup, which is thrown with good arm speed and will sink when thrown well. He also mixes in a 71-73 curveball, but it currently lacks the snap to be an effective pitch at the next level. Granier's strength is his feel for pitching, but he still needs to refine his command of the strike zone if he is to get outs in pro ball with just average velocity.