2011 Futures League Top 5 Prospects
: The Nashua Silver Knights edged the Torrington Titans by a half-game in the regular-season standings, then swept the Titans in the best-of-three championship series to claim the Futures Collegiate League's inaugural title. Nashua outscored Torrington 20-3 in the two games.
The Futures League had just four teams in its inaugural season, so this top prospects list is just five deep. The league plans to expand in future seasons.
1. Eric Perrault, lhp, Nashua (Jr., Keene, N.H., State)
Working as a setup man for Red Sox 39th-round pick Corey Vogt at Division III Keene State, Perrault threw 26 innings this spring, posting a 5.13 ERA and a 35-13 strikeout-walk mark. But once Perrault came to Nashua this summer, he was stretched out and groomed for a starting role. As the summer progressed Perrault got stronger, and he finished with a 1.57 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 46 innings to capture Futures League pitcher of the year honors. A lanky 6-foot-4, 180-pound lefthander, Perrault looks the part of a pro pitcher. In front of scouts from 14 major league organizations on scout day, Perrault sat at 88-92 with some arm-side run on his fastball while flashing a mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup that he is able to locate at times. The only knock on Perrault, as with most young pitchers, is that he must refine his command if he wants to succeed at the next level.
2. Robbie Zinsmeister, ss/2b/of, Martha's Vineyard (Jr., Indiana, Pa.)
Zinsmeister was another small-school player that impressed during his time in the Futures League this summer, taking home MVP honors after hitting .326 with nine homers and 25 stolen bases in 29 attempts. Zinsmeister impressed in nearly every aspect of the game. He is able to consistently square the ball up and generate solid backspin, which allows him to hit for power. He showed excellent baserunning instincts and plus speed, running the 60-yard dash in 6.7 seconds. Defensively, Zinsmeister probably profiles better at second base or center field since he lacks the footwork or arm for shortstop.
3. Jeramy Matos, of, Martha's Vineyard (Jr., Central Florida)
Matos came out of high school as a highly rated corner infielder with true power potential. Since then he has been moved to a corner outfield spot, but the power potential is still there as evidenced by his league-leading 13 home runs. Matos also displayed a pretty good hit tool, finishing second in the batting race with a .346 average. Physically, Matos is built more like an NFL safety than a baseball player, with a very strong top half. At times this leads to him muscling up instead of being quick to the ball. Matos, who played at Bethune-Cookman in 2009 and Palm Beach (Fla.) CC in 2010, sat out 2011 but played well enough this summer to earn some notice. He will walk on at UCF this fall.
4. Donald Hissa, rhp, Seacoast (So., Notre Dame)
Hissa pitched sparingly this spring for Notre Dame, working just seven innings of relief. In the Futures League, Hissa developed over the course of the summer, getting better each start and finally dominating down the stretch. Hissa led the FCBL in strikeouts with 60 in 45 innings, to go along with a 2.82 ERA. On scout day, Hissa worked in the 88-92 mph range with his fastball and flashed a decent slider in the low 80s. Because of his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame, Hissa is able to create a downward plane to the plate with his fastball, but like most big pitchers he has yet to master his mechanics and has bouts of wildness at times. With more time in a strength and conditioning program, Hissa could add a few ticks to his fastball and sharpen his slider.
5. Dylan Maki, rhp, Nashua (Jr., Northeastern)
After going 3-1, 3.38 with six saves and a 29-9 K-BB mark in 27 innings as Northeastern's closer this spring, Maki was lights out this summer in a similar role for Nashua. Maki drew rave reviews from coaches across the league for his dominance on the mound and the run on his fastball. Maki works in the upper 80s an arm slot that varies from sidearm to three-quarters. He mixes in a slider from multiple arm angles as well, giving hitters a different look every time. The downside of changing his arm slot from pitch to pitch is that he sometimes struggles to get on top of his slider and get two-plane break, instead throwing it with more of a Frisbee action.