2011 Texas Collegiate League Top 10 Prospects
The Coppell Copperheads swept Brazos Valley 2-0 to claim the league title. The Copperheads jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game Two at home and held on to win 3-1. Coppell starter Skye Severns (St. Mary's, Texas) went 6 2/3 innings in the clinching win and gave up only one run to the Bombers.
1. Tyler Collins, of, Coppell (SIGNED: Tigers)
Collins was the 2011 NJCAA Division I national player of the year after hitting .488/.561/.949 with 19 homers at Howard (Texas) JC. He played in 35 games this summer with Coppell, hitting .310/.357/.510 with two triples, four doubles and six steals. Collins stands just 5-foot-11 but has good strength in his 205-pound frame. He's a lefthanded hitter with plenty of bat speed, a knack for making solid contact and a good all-fields approach. He has a chance to hit for average as well as power. Collins has solid speed and good defensive instincts in left field, but his arm is fringy at best. He was the highest-drafted player in the TCL this year, as the Tigers signed him out of a commitment to Texas Christian with a $210,000 bonus. Collins hit .324/.369/.544 through 136 at-bats between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and the short-season New York-Penn League after signing.
2. Taylor Dugas, of, Acadiana (Sr., Alabama)
Dugas earned TCL player of the year honors this summer after hitting .329/.381/.467. The 5-foot-7 outfielder was a first-team All-American at Alabama in 2010, and the Cubs drafted him in the eighth round in the spring. Dugas is what he is—a patient, mature hitter with a line-drive stroke, baseball savvy and slightly above-average speed. He doesn't have a high ceiling, and his modest arm strength somewhat limits his potential to be a fourth outfielder. He lacks power, and his overall ceiling is similar to that of Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, who coincidentally originally signed with the Cubs.
3. Hunter Dozier, 3b, East Texas (So., Stephen F. Austin)
Dozier was selected as the TCL freshman of the year for his strong arm at third base and power at the plate. Pump Jacks manager Ben Taylor believes Dozier, a shortstop with the Lumberjacks, will be the best player in the Southland Conference in 2012, after hitting .315/.363/.467 in the spring. Using his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, Dozier creates power at the plate. He's a solid athlete, having played quarterback at Denton (Texas) High, and he has arm strength for the left side of the infield. Dozier has out-grown short, at least for the pro side, and struggled a bit defensively at third, making 12 errors in 47 games. He showed the present strength to hit with wood, batting .300/.360/.383.
4. Josh Burris, rhp, Acadiana (SIGNED: Twins)
The 5-foot-10 Burris has one tool that stands out—arm strength. He worked out of the LSU-Eunice bullpen when he wasn't catching and went 1-1, 4.64. But he touched 92 mph and showed a power breaking ball. Coaches in the TCL were impressed with his velocity as well as his overall athleticism. He's raw, though, and pitched just 10 innings for the Cane Cutters with an ERA of 7.84, striking out 14 and walking six. He performed better as a catcher, as he hit .261/.358/.296 and stole 23 bases this summer in 27 attempts. The Twins drafted him as a pitcher in the 17th round and wound up signing him a day before the mid-August deadline, though he didn't begin his pro career.
5. Alec Mills, rhp, Brazos Valley (Jr., Tennessee-Martin)
Mills is a lanky righty at 6-foot-4, 170 pounds, a former walk-on who got hot in late May for Tennessee-Martin, then kept the momentum going in the summer. Mills made 30 appearances in the spring, 7-4, 6.82, but moved into the rotation down the stretch and won twice in the season's final week. In the TCL he made 11 appearances, eight of them starts, and went 4-3, 1.98. He stands out more for his projection and command; he had a 55-7 strikeout-walk ratio in 59 innings and won the league ERA title while ranking second in strikeouts. Mills throws strikes with an upper-80s fastball and a solid-average breaking ball with slurve action. He has started throwing a changeup now that he's more of a starter.
6. Jason Jester, rhp, East Texas (Jr., Texas A&M)
Jester is a small-bodied, quick-armed righthander who rivaled teammate Jaden Dillon as the league's hardest throwers. He had a big spring as a starter for Tyler (Texas) JC, going 9-2, 1.84 with 17 walks and 87 strikeouts in 78 innings. Conserving his arm, he moved to a bullpen role for the summer and was the TCL reliever of the year, posting a 1.95 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 32 innings. He showcased good velocity this summer with a 93-96 fastball partnered with a strong slider. Manager Ben Taylor called him the best pure arm in the league, and he's taking it to Texas A&M's bullpen for the 2012 season.
7. Jaden Dillon, rhp, East Texas (Sr., Texas A&M-Kingsville)
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Dillon had a big sophomore season for McNeese State, going 8-0, 4.61 in 82 innings, but he had a 34-43 walk-strikeout ratio and wasn't able to repeat his success. His bad case of draftitis as a junior resulted in a 10.45 ERA and 24 walks and 21 strikeouts in 27 innings. He's transferring as a senior to Texas A&M-Kingsville. Dillon posted an impressive 7-1, 2.48 mark for the Pump Jacks this summer, and league coaches said he was among the league's hardest throwers. His fastball sat in the low 90s and reportedly touched 95 mph. Dillon's arm works well, and he throws a slider that at times gives him a second solid pitch. He's not overly physical and profiles as a reliever down the line if he can regain his ability to throw strikes.
8. Adam Smith, ss/rhp, Brazos Valley (SIGNED: Yankees)
Smith was the starting third baseman for Texas A&M in its 2011 College World Series run, and started in the infield for most of his three seasons, batting .258 with 26 home runs overall. Smith played 16 games this summer for the Bombers as well, but the swing-and-miss tendencies (193 strikeouts in 542 at-bats) that plagued him in college followed him to summer ball. He struck out 16 times in his 54 at-bats. Smith never pitched in a game in three seasons for the Aggies, but his 70 arm strength on the 20-80 scouting scale was a key for him playing shortstop and third in college, and the Yankees drafted him as a pitcher. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder made five appearances on the mound in the summer, striking out 12 in 10 innings and reaching the 90s. Brazos Valley coach Brent Alumbaugh is an associate scout for the Yankees.
9. Kirby Pellant, ss/2b, East Texas (Jr., Ohio State)
Pellant has a baseball pedigree, as his father Gary is a White Sox scout who played at Long Beach State. He was drafted in the 38th round out of high school by the Dodgers in 2009. An Arizona prep product, Pellant played at Marshall as a freshman (hitting .283) before transferring to Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) JC as a sophomore. He's a lefthanded hitter with some quickness and arm strength, and his speed and savvy were on display this summer as he led the TCL with 33 stolen bases (in 42 attempts). Pellant doesn't have much pop, with just two extra-base hits (both doubles) all summer. He has enough arm strength for shortstop, but the 5-foot-10, 170-pounder probably fits better as a utility player or second baseman down the line. A 47th-round pick of the Reds in 2011, he's transferring to Ohio State for the 2012 season.
10. Damian Rivera, lhp, Brazos Valley (So., Saint Louis)
After a productive freshman season for the Billikens, in which he went 3-1, 3.11, Rivera was a perfect 7-0, 2.01 for the Bombers. League coaches named him the pitcher of the year. Rivera, a South Florida prep product, is generously listed as a 6-footer and has reshaped his body since his high school days. He has a deceptive delivery and throws strikes with his mid-80s fastball, setting up his best pitch, a changeup that is above-average for the college level. Rivera has added a cutter to help him combat righthanded hitters.