2011 Valley League Top 10
: Covington beat Rockbridge, 10-4, in the decisive third game of the VBL championship series to capture the title. Matt Shoemaker (Christopher Newport, Va.) delivered the big blow—a three-run homer in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach. Covington went just 27-25 in the regular season but won postseason series against the Nos. 4, 2 and 6 seeds to win the championship.
1. Mac Williamson, of, Harrisonburg (Jr., Wake Forest)
Williamson arrived at Wake Forest as a two-way player who was more highly regarded on the mound, but shoulder surgery short-circuited his pitching career. He re-emerged as a power hitter in the middle of Wake's lineup, slugging 12 homers this spring and getting drafted in the 46th round by the Red Sox as a redshirt sophomore. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Williamson has above-average power potential from the right side. He led the Valley League with a .706 slugging percentage and was near the top in four other categories: batting (.381), homers (10), RBIs (38) and total bases (89). Primarily a pull hitter, he stands in a square, upright position, holding his hands shoulder high, which enables him to extend his arms and drop the bat head. He's strong enough to be fooled on a given pitch and still hit the ball hard. One key to his summer success was an improved walk-strikeout ratio (15-21 BB-K) over his college season (25-56 BB-K), indicating more patience and better pitch recognition. Williamson has below-average speed up the line and runs better underway. He has an average arm and playable range for a corner outfield spot.
2. Matt Snyder, 1b, Winchester (Sr., Mississippi)
At 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, Snyder is the poster player for a lefthanded power bat. The Nationals drafted him in the 44th round this June, but he declined to sign and will return to Ole Miss for his senior season. Snyder has plenty of current power from the left side and projects to have above-average pop as a pro. He could be an average hitter at the next level, but his other tools are below-average. He has above-average upper-body strength that allows him to lift pitches from an upright stance. In limited Valley action, he hit .311/.436/.822 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in 45 at-bats. Snyder, who has hit 27 home runs in three college seasons, will be limited to first base at the next level, as he lacks the mobility to hold down a corner outfield spot.
3. Chris Devenski, rhp, Woodstock (SIGNED: White Sox)
A converted shortstop who transferred from Golden West (Calif.) JC to Cal State Fullerton for his junior year, Devenski caught scouts' attention when he ran his fastball up to 94 mph last fall, but he fell to the White Sox in the 25th round after an up-and-down spring. He returned to his dominating ways this summer in the Valley League, posting a 2.50 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and a 53-14 K-BB mark in 40 innings, then signed with Chicago at the end of the summer. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Devenski is a power pitcher who attacks hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball thrown from a high three-quarters arm slot. He mixes in a 76-78 change and a 73-75 curve with 11-to-5 action. His offspeed pitches show promise but have below-average movement at this point. He rocks his back in his delivery, slowing his arm speed and putting pressure on his shoulder. His pitches often finish up in the zone, reducing his effectiveness. He profiles as a power-armed reliever in pro ball.
4. Dale Carey, of, Luray (So., Miami)
Carey was drafted by the Pirates in the 21st round out of high school in Georgia and opted instead to attend Miami rather than sign. He continues the U's long tradition of Valley Leaguers that includes the likes of Yonder Alonso, Blake Tekotte and Gaby Sanchez, to name just a few. He's a toolsy, slender outfielder with above-average speed. On defense, he gets good reads off the bat, allowing him to fill the outfield gaps. His arm is below-average. He's been clocked down the line at 4.15 seconds, and his speed should eventually make him a threat to steal bases, though he swiped just five bags in 58 games this spring and six more in 32 games this summer. Carey has a projectable 6-foot-2, 184-pound frame, and he could develop some power as he matures physically. He hit just .233/.363/.291 in 103 at-bats for Luray this summer, but his 12-16 BB-K mark is an indicator of his solid plate judgment. He was also hit by nine pitches, tied for most in the league.
5. Jay Gonzalez, of, Harrisonburg (So., Auburn)
A 27th-round pick by the Red Sox out of high school, Gonzalez hit .171 in just 35 at-bats as a freshman this spring, but he showed plenty of offensive potential from the left side this summer, hitting .344/.483/.389 in 157 at-bats. Just six of his 54 hits were for extra-bases, and he'll need to continue to get stronger to have a chance to become an everyday player at the next level. Gonzalez struck out 44 times this summer, but he also drew 43 walks, illustrating that he is not afraid to work deep counts. Gonzalez, who bats and throws left, has plus-plus speed and reads pitchers well on the basepaths. He scored a league-leading 42 runs and stole 32 bases in 38 tries, tied for most in the Valley. His defense is adequate, and he's capable of playing all three outfield positions.
6. Brady Wilson, of, Winchester (Jr., West Virginia)
Wilson is a speedster who placed second in the state of Maryland in the 55-meter dash and the 300 meters in high school. He tied Gonzalez for the Valley lead with 32 stolen bases in 34 attempts this summer. Wilson is still developing as a baseball player, but he showed good progress at the plate in 2011, hitting .330/.418/.405 in the spring and .301/.367/.459 for Winchester this summer. He'll need to improve his plate discipline—he struck out 42 times while drawing 19 walks this summer—but his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame produced good power to the gaps in the Valley. He is a good defender in the outfield, and his ability to fill in at second base gives him valuable versatility.
7. Brad Zebedis, 1b, Strasburg (So., Presbyterian)
Zebedis hit .425/.492/.717 with 13 homers and 57 RBIs to earn freshman All-America honors this spring. He kept on mashing this summer, hitting .420/.490/.638 with five homers and 36 RBIs in 174 at-bats, leading the Valley in batting by 41 points. At this point, he's an above-average college hitter with power potential, but he is limited defensively by below-average speed and arm strength. He blistered Valley pitching with a compact swing and an upright stance from the right side. He has above-average strength in his 6-foot, 205-pound frame, as well as excellent hand-eye coordination and a fluid swing. All his value is in his potent righthanded bat.
8. Jake Boyd, rhp, Luray (Sr., Stetson)
Boyd followed up a successful spring season at Stetson with a 2.05 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 22 relief innings for Luray. Tall and strong at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Boyd pitches with a 90-92 mph fastball with average movement, backed up by an 80-83 slider that sometimes breaks too early. He stands tall on the pitching rubber, kicks his left leg back and releases from a mid-three-quarters arm slot. He repeats his delivery, adding consistency and making his offerings appear to reach the plate more quickly. Boyd had a 32-10 K-BB ratio and gave up just 13 hits for the season—just three for extra bases. He profiles as a reliever in pro ball.
9. Tanner Leighton, of, Woodstock (Jr., The Master's, Calif.)
Leighton could be the Valley's 2011 version of a pop-up player. Unknown east of the Mississippi, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound outfielder hit .335/.449/.427 in the Valley. He's had quite an interesting college career so far, starting at Skagit Valley (Wash.) CC, sitting out 2010 with family issues and transferring to NAIA The Master's College (which both former White Sox speedster Jerry Owens and veteran lefthander Mark Redman attended) for 2011. He also changed positions this summer, moving from shortstop to the outfield. He's an above-average runner (he runs the 60-yard sash in 6.7 seconds), helping him steal 43 bases in 52 tries this spring. He stole 29 bases in 34 attempts this summer. Leighton bats lefthanded, didn't hit into a double play in college and hit into just two this summer in 41 games. On defense, he sees the ball well off the bat, allowing him to get excellent reads on fly balls and line drives in the gap. He has an average arm.
10. Dodson McPherson, of/1b, Harrisonburg (Sr., Wingate, N.C.)
Like Zebedis, McPherson is a "bat" in scouting parlance—a player whose future depends on how well he hits. His Valley numbers were impressive: .325/.394/.542 with 44 RBIs in 194 at-bats. He hits lefthanded from an open stance with above-average swing speed. McPherson's power production (this summer he hit 15 doubles, three triples and seven home runs) is critical to his future since he is a below-average runner and is limited to playing first base or possibly left field at the next level.