2011 Ripken League Top 10 Prospects
: For the third consecutive season, the Bethesda Big Train beat the Baltimore Redbirds in the Ripken League championship series. Michael Aldrete (San Jose State) was named the finals MVP of the finals after going 5-for-9 in the series and hitting a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning of the final game. That capped a dominant summer for Bethesda, which went 33-9 in the regular season to finish eight games ahead of second-place Youse's Orioles and Southern Maryland. Youse's Orioles, an under-20 team, went on to win the All-American Amateur Baseball Association tournament in Johnstown, Pa., for the second year in a row and the 28th time overall.
1. K.J. Hockaday, 3b/of, Youse's Orioles (Fr., Maryland)
Hockaday passes the scout's eye test: He looks like a player as soon as he walks off the team bus. He's a solid 6-foot-3, 210-pound righthanded hitter who should be physical enough to profile at third base or a corner outfield spot. Playing fresh out of high school in a college wood-bat league, Hockaday started slowly. His last 11 games (including one in the playoffs) showed why the Orioles drafted him in the 14th round this June. In that stretch, he hit .353 with a .421 on-base percentage against college pitchers. Hockaday has strong wrists and will hit pitches on the outer half to the right-center gap and to right. He's a slightly below-average runner but not a base clogger. On defense, his reflexes are quick enough to play third base at the next level. He has average arm strength and throws from a quirky, low three-quarters slot.
2. Ryan Farrar, lhp, Youse's Orioles (Jr., Virginia Commonwealth)
Given the perennial pro interest in lefthanded pitching, Farrar is a player to watch next spring. Used only in relief this summer, Farrar posted a 1.13 ERA in 24 innings with a 36-5 strikeout-walk mark, a 0.83 WHIP and a .176 batting average against. He moves his 89-93 mph fastball around the zone and mixes an average 78-80 curve from a mid-three-quarters slot. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Farrar has a projectable body and a loose, easy motion. He also has shown an above-average pickoff move.
3. Austin Urban, rhp, Youse's Orioles, (SIGNED: Cubs)
Scouts took notice of Urban during his senior year of high school in Pennsylvania, when he flashed an 89-93 mph fastball with life. Originally committed to Penn State, Urban wound up at Des Moines Area (Iowa) CC after declining to sign with the Orioles as a 27th-round pick out of high school. After a rough start to the spring, he came on strong down the stretch and helped lead his team to the Division II Junior College World Series. The Cubs took him in the 41st round in June and signed him later in the summer for $100,000. This summer in the Ripken League, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthander showed an average fastball in the 88-92 range from a high three-quarters slot. His second pitch is an 80-84 slider with late downward break. The pitch lacks polish but could be an out pitch if he can learn to repeat it more consistently. He also throws an occasional changeup in the 80-82 range that needs work. Urban posted a 3.42 ERA in 26 innings.
4. Hunter Renfroe, c/rhp, Bethesda, (So., Mississippi State)
Renfroe burst onto the prospect landscape as a high school senior, when he bashed 20 home runs and ran his fastball up to 94 mph off the mound. An unpolished player with big raw tools, Renfroe had originally committed to Meridian (Miss.) JC, but Mississippi State signed him late, and he headed to Starkville after declining to sign with the Red Sox as a 31st-round pick. He played sparingly as a freshman for MSU's veteran-laden team, hitting .154 in 26 at-bats and posting a 9.64 ERA in five innings, though he did flash 95-97 mph heat. The physical 6-foot-2, 200-pounder showed flashes of potential this summer in his first extensive action at the college level. He showed above-average raw power (eight home runs, 30 RBIs in 105 at-bats), but he struggled against better competition, hitting .237 against teams that finished with winning records and .347 against losing teams. He ended up with a .305 average on the summer. The righthanded-hitting Renfroe stands upright in the batter's box, pulls the ball hard to the left side and likes the ball up in the zone. On defense, his pop times ranged from 2.05 to 2.10 seconds in game conditions, but he flashed above-average times in workouts. His accuracy was uneven. He also had one inning as a reliever, and his future could be on the mound if his bat and defense behind the plate fail to develop.
5. Sander Beck, rhp, Youse's Orioles (Sr., Maryland)
Beck showed signs of harnessing his potential last summer in the Northwoods League, but poor control (58 strikeouts and 50 walks in 58 innings) torpedoed his junior year for Maryland this spring, and he slipped to the Orioles in the 33rd round of the draft. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Beck looks the part for a pro pitcher. Used in a starting role, his fastball sits at 88-92 mph, and his mid- to high three-quarters arm slot helps him generate occasional arm-side run or late sink. His strikeout pitch is a 75-78 curve with 11-to-5 action, breaking sharply away from righthanded hitters. Beck is most effective when he controls the corners, which he did for much of the summer, helping him post a 2.25 ERA and a 41-14 K-BB mark in 32 innings. He allowed just 23 hits, holding hitters to a .197 average. Beck returns to Maryland for his senior year, and he has a chance to improve his draft stock if he can carry his summer success over to the spring.
6. Tucker Donahue, rhp, Bethesda (Sr., Stetson)
Donahue made eight starts as a junior this spring, ranking second on his team in innings and winding up as the moment-of-truth reliever for a team that earned a No. 2 seed in the Columbia Regional. He was drafted by the Rangers in the 38th round, but he did not sign and will return for his senior year. Donahue is a strong, 6-foot-1, 210-pound reliever who throws his 92-94 mph fastball from a high three-quarters slot. He attacks hitters but often overthrows his fastball, leaving it up in the zone where it's often fouled off. It's a much better offering when it's located down in the zone with sinking action. He throws a hard curve at 77-80, but the pitch needs work. His changeup is below-average, and he mostly pitches off his sinker. Donahue finished the summer with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP and .239 opponents' batting average.
7. Ben Lively, rhp, Youse's Orioles (So., Central Florida)
Lively was drafted by the Indians in the 26th round out of high school, but the Golden Knights said he turned down nearly $200,000 to go to UCF. He went 5-1, 5.05 in 57 innings this spring, then posted a 3.10 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 20 innings this summer. Lively throws from a mid-three quarters slot and pitches off an average to plus fastball in the 88-92 range with arm-side run and sink when he's on. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he has a pro pitcher's build, although he needs to get stronger in his lower half to get more movement on his pitches. The ball comes easily out of his glove. Lively needs to get out in front more often on his 73-76 curve. The pitch has 11-to-5 action but breaks early too often. His changeup is below-average at this stage.
8. Matt Bowman, rhp, Bethesda (Jr., Princeton)
A two-way star for Princeton's NCAA tournament team this spring, Bowman served as the Tigers' ace off the mound as well as their starting shortstop. He dominated in the Ripken League, posting a 0.82 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP in 55 innings, striking out 46 and walking just six. Bowman has a slender frame at 6 feet, 165 pounds and a mid-three-quarters slot. None of Bowman's pitches overpowers, but he has above-average command of his four-pitch mix. Bowman turns away from hitters in his delivery, adding torque, ball movement and deception as he comes back over the top. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 93. He's quick over the top and his pitches get on hitters quickly. His changeup and slider are average, and his 74-76 mph curveball has 11-to-5 action but sometimes gets loopy. As an undersized righty who figures to be difficult to sign as a junior at Princeton, Bowman looks like a quality senior sign in 2013.
9. Sean Godfrey, of, Southern Maryland (So., Ball State)
After hitting .272 in a part-time role as a freshman this spring, Godfrey finished fifth in the Ripken League in batting (.357) and runs (28). Although he had just 13 extra-base hits in 142 at-bats, those numbers should increase as his 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame fills out. He's a righthand hitter with an upright stance, and he often inside-outs pitches to right field. Godfrey hasn't shown premium speed up the line, but he is an above-average baserunner underway, as his 20 stolen bases attest. He has a knack for playing the game smart and was hit by pitches seven times (tied for first in the league).
10. Adam Barry, 3b, Bethesda (Sr., Cal State Northridge)
Barry has bounced around in his college career, changing primary sports in the process. He began with two years of football at Wyoming, then transferred to Ventura (Calif.) JC to play baseball, and finally to Cal State Northridge this spring. Barry went undrafted after hitting .288/.339/.350 in 160 at-bats as a junior this spring, then set a Ripken League record with a .414 average this summer. He also broke single-season benchmarks for hits (67) and RBIs (43). Barry is a solid 6-foot, 215-pounder with above-average hand-eye coordination. He plays with intensity, but his below-average speed figures to keep him at the infield corners, where he'll have to show more power potential in professional ball.