2012 Northwoods League Top 10 Prospects
For the second-straight year, a team swept the Mankato MoonDogs to win the Northwoods League championship in a best-of-three series. This year, it was the La Crosse Loggers who were victorious, winning 12-2 in the first game and then 8-1 in the second game. Not surprisingly, the Loggers had two of the top three prospects in the league this summer. The high-scoring games were typical this summer, as most coaches agreed that pitching in the league was way down this year, and just three full-time pitchers made the top 10 list.
1. Derek Fisher, of, Madison (So., Virginia)
Fisher was a high-profile prospect out of high school, but a bit of a down senior year combined with a strong commitment to Virginia caused him to slip to the Rangers in the sixth round and wind up on campus. Fisher hit well as a freshman, leading the Cavaliers in home runs, and hit .315 this summer with more walks (39) than strikeouts (32). Power is his best tool. He has natural loft in his lefthanded swing and the ball really jumps off his bat. He's best when he stays with a gap-to-gap approach and focuses on driving the ball back up the middle. He can fly open and overswing sometimes in hitter's counts, but he has easy power from the left-center gap to the right-field foul pole. Defensively, Fisher is limited to a corner outfield spot. He's a solid-average runner but is a little slow to get going, both out of the batter's box and in the field. While he runs the bases well, he will never be a basestealing threat. Fisher will also need to work on not getting too up or down mentally over the course of a long season. That should come with maturity, as Fisher just turned 19 in August.
2. Matt Chapman, ss, La Crosse (So., Cal State Fullerton)
After going undrafted out of high school, Chapman earned the most consistent playing time of any Fullerton freshman this spring. That's because Chapman can impact a game several different ways. He is a physical specimen, a weight-room fanatic with very little fat on his rock-solid 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame. That strength shows up in the batter's box, where the ball explodes off Chapman's bat. The thing that Chapman could improve upon as a hitter is to flatten his swing out a little bit. He has a high start and a high finish to his swing, giving his swing a bit of a "V" shape. But he still shows a good feel for hitting, consistently barrels balls up and has legitimate power. Chapman showed he can handle velocity, as one of his seven home runs this summer came off a mid-90s fastball from righthander Will LaMarche, who will pitch for Louisiana State next season. Chapman shows very good actions in the field and above-average arm strength. His only tool that lags behind is his speed, as Chapman is a tick below-average as a runner.
3. Richard Prigatano, of, La Crosse (So., Long Beach State)
A breakout player his senior year of high school, Prigatano was drafted in the 16th round by the Blue Jays, but didn't sign and headed to Long Beach State. A 6-foot-3, 200-pound righthanded hitter, Prigatano has natural hitting ability and above-average raw power. His swing is loose with good leverage, and he can drive the ball to all fields. His 11 homers tied for sixth in the league. Where Prigatano can improve is with his approach. He's a free swinger who strikes out a lot and frequently chases breaking balls down in the zone. If he can smooth some things out in his swing—he has a big load and lands hard in his stride—and develop a better approach, Prigatano will be even more dangerous. Prigatano is an average runner and will be limited to a corner outfield spot or first base, but has above-average arm strength.
4. Michael Suchy, of, Willmar (So., Florida Gulf Coast)
Despite earning Paul Bunyan body comparisons with his impressive, 6-foot-3, 221-pound frame, Suchy actually played shortstop in high school. He's a good athlete for his size and moves around the diamond well, even spending some time in center field this summer. An average runner with an average arm, Suchy will have to play a corner outfield spot at the next level, but certainly has the power scouts look for from those positions. His swing can get a little long—hence his 67 strikeouts, which ranked third in the Northwoods—but his bat stays in the hitting zone a long time and he shows above-average raw power, helping him hit .349. He has a quiet, balanced approach at the plate. He's a smart hitter who already shows the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field.
5. Casey Gillaspie, 1b, Eau Claire (So., Wichita State)
The younger brother of Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie, Casey is much more physical at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. With his size, Gillaspie doesn't offer much speed or defense—it's all about the bat. Fortunately, the bat has impact potential. Gillaspie is a switch-hitter who showed some of the best bat speed in the league. After hitting .274/.378/.442 as a freshman for the Shockers, Gillaspie hit .332/.432/.536 with 12 doubles and 12 home runs for Eau Claire. Gillaspie is comfortable from both sides of the plate and has a knack for centering balls on the barrel. His swing can get a little uphill at times, especially from the left side, where he shows more loft. From the right side, Gillaspie is more of a line-drive hitter and has the strength to drive balls to all parts of the field.
6. Jerrick Suiter, of/rhp, Thunder Bay (So., Texas Christian)
Suiter came to the Northwoods League late in the season. He hit well and showed plenty of tools over his 16 games with the Border Cats. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Suiter was a three-sport standout in high school and has always shown intriguing athleticism. At the plate, Suiter hits from a crouched stance and uses his legs well. He can drive the ball to both gaps and with his size and strength, there's some untapped power there. He has a sound approach at the plate, sees the ball well, shows a good feel for pitch sequencing and is confident and comfortable in any count, helping him hit .294 with a .457 slugging percentage. The biggest question with Suiter will be where he fits best on the field. He played all three outfield positions this summer, though his fringe-average speed should push him to a corner as a pro. He has plenty of arm strength for right field and even caught some bullpens this summer, as Texas Christian is toying with the idea of trying him out behind the plate. Seen as more of a pitcher when he was drafted out of high school, Suiter threw just five innings this summer, but showed a fastball in the 91-94 mph range.
7. Justin Topa, rhp, Madison (Jr., Long Island)
Topa had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and did not pitch at all for Long Island in 2012. The Reds still took a chance on him in the 33rd round of the draft this year. Topa has a lean, 6-foot-4, 190-pound build with a tapered waist and room to add strength. His clean, effortless delivery is smooth as silk, but the ball explodes out of his hand and he throws his fastball in the 91-93 mph range and tops out at 95. He throws a very good Vulcan changeup but hasn't regained the feel for his breaking ball after the surgery. Topa threw 14 innings for the Mallards this summer after experiencing some tightness in his forearm, posting a 5.79 ERA while walking eight and striking out 14. If he remains healthy next spring, his upside is intriguing.
8. Wes Parsons, rhp, Thunder Bay (SIGNED: Braves)
Parsons wasn't drafted out of high school and wasn't drafted out of Jackson State (Tenn.) CC. After opening some eyes in the Northwoods League this summer, the Braves—Parsons' favorite team growing up—outbid the Rays and Royals to sign Parsons for $200,000. Parsons' fastball routinely sat in the 90-93 mph range, and he mixed in a fringy slider around 81-82 and a below-average changeup. Parsons has a free and easy delivery with a clean, loose arm action. That, along with the fact that he has a lot of room to fill out his 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame, means that scouts can project on Parsons, and he could add a few more ticks to his fastball as he gets stronger. Parsons shouldn't have trouble with that, as he showed a strong work ethic this summer while going 6-2, 2.62 with a 14-35 walk-strikeout ratio in 55 innings.
9. Anthony Bazzani, rhp, Alexandria (Sr., Eastern Kentucky)
Bazzani made this list last year as well, coming in at No. 7. He was the closer for Eastern Kentucky last season, helping the Colonels win the Ohio Valley Conference, but had more walks (32) than strikeouts (29) over 42 innings and wasn't drafted until the 31st round, choosing not to sign. He has a solid build at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds with some power to his delivery. Bazzani showed the same electric arm as last year, consistently sitting in the 94-96 mph range with his fastball while mixing in a hard slider and a splitter. He's been working to smooth out his delivery and showed a better line to the plate this summer. He went 2-1, 1.76 with 17 saves, 47 strikeouts and 13 walks over 31 innings.
10. Eric Filia-Snyder, of, Wisconsin (So., UCLA)
Before heading to UCLA, Filia-Snyder was part of an Edison High team in Huntington Beach, Calif., that also included Red Sox lefthander Henry Owens and Blue Jays second baseman Christian Lopes. This was Filia-Snyder's second summer in a college summer league, as he played for the Wenatchee AppleSox in the West Coast League before his freshman year with the Bruins. The 6-foot, 180-pound lefthander hitter has a sweet swing, and some opposing coaches felt he was the best pure hitter in the league. He hit .383 and struck out just 13 times over 141 at-bats. Filia-Snyder's swing is built for line drives, but he does have quick hands and also popped six home runs this summer. He's an above-average runner who can cover a lot of ground in the outfield, though his arm is below-average. He's a smart player who shows excellent instincts on the bases, going 24-for-30 in stolen base attempts. With a birthdate of July 6, 1992, Filia-Snyder will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2013.