2012 Futures League Top 10 Prospects
After amassing the Futures Collegiate Baseball League's best record (39-13) in the regular season, the Nashua Silver Knights won their first two games of the playoffs, edging the Brockton Rox 11-9 and 3-2 to take the best-of-three series and advance to the championship series. The North Shore Navigators, who sported the FCBL's second-best regular season record (32-20), similarly made quick work of their first round opponents, the Torrington Titans, winning 9-3 and 4-1 to advance to the championship series. Buoyed by strong starts from pitchers Lamarre Rey (Bentley, Mass.) and Alek Morrency (Merrimack, Mass.), Nashua defeated North Shore 3-1 in Game One and 6-2 in Game Two to capture its second straight FCBL championship.
After debuting last summer with just four teams, the Futures League of New England welcomed the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs, Pittsfield Suns, Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide, North Shore Navigators and Brockton Rox into the league this summer. With the addition of the five new franchises, the Futures League was able to expand the regular-season schedule to 54 games. Scouts were particularly impressed with the league's development, with one scout saying the league's all-star game and scout day were as organized, professional and well-run as any that he had ever been to. Similarly, the scout noted that the league's talent was improving rapidly.
1. Rhett Wiseman, of, Brockton (Fr., Vanderbilt)
Ranked No. 136 in the BA 500 heading into the 2012 draft, Wiseman slipped to the 25th round by the Cubs due to signability, and he elected to stick with his commitment to Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Massachusetts native impressed league coaches with his athleticism and ability to cover both gaps. Although there are some holes in Wiseman's lefthanded swing, evidenced by a .224/.313/.344 line this summer, league managers observed that the ball exploded off his bat, and most were convinced that he would hit for average and power as he developed and gained more experience. The 18-year-old also swiped 13 bases and was praised for an advanced approach at the plate and outstanding work ethic.
2. Tyler Bashlor, rhp, Torrington (So., South Georgia JC)
This spring Bashlor threw just 6.1 innings for South Georgia, as he spent the majority of his freshman season in the outfield. And despite working out of the Torrington bullpen and throwing just seven innings this summer, Bashlor still managed to make a name for himself as a pitcher. The righthander worked in the 92-94 mph range and hit 95 on the radar gun while throwing a bullpen for scouts before the FCBL all-star game. The Savannah, Ga., native also displayed a willingness to throw a late-breaking slider in any count or game situation. Despite his limited pitching experience, the 6-foot, 190-pound Bashlor is extremely athletic and has had little trouble repeating his delivery and consistently throwing strikes.
3. Chris Shaw, 1b, Nashua (Fr., Boston College)
A Lexington, Mass., native, Shaw was drafted by the New York Mets in the 26th round in June, but he elected to stick with his commitment to Boston College and spend his summer preparing for college baseball by playing with Nashua. The 18-year-old is a bit raw, which is to be expected for a Northeast high school prospect, and he struggled to consistently cover the outer half of the plate and adjust to quality breaking pitches, striking out 42 times in 174 at-bats. However, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound first baseman impressed league coaches with his bat speed and showcased his lefthanded power potential by hitting eight home runs and 13 doubles.
4. Mike Joseph, rhp, Torrington (SIGNED: Orioles)
The 6-foot-7, 215-pound Joseph originally attended Division III Middlebury (Vt.) College with the intention of playing basketball. Instead, Joseph decided to play baseball, and given his relative lack of experience, Joseph remains a project. Despite being utilized as a starting pitcher at Middlebury, league coaches believe Joseph's future lies in the bullpen because it allows him to dial up his fastball. Though he worked in the mid-80s as a starter, Joseph ran his fastball up to 93 mph this summer, to go along with a promising hard breaking ball. Joseph's newfound velocity paid dividends, as he struck out 22 batters and allowed just 17 hits in 24 innings. Shorter stints from the bullpen might also help to alleviate some mechanical issues, as one opposing coach was concerned with Joseph's inconsistent delivery and propensity to tap his toe on every pitch. But he attracted interest from a number of scouts during the league's talent showcase, eventually signing with the Orioles as a free agent in August.
5. Corey Stump, lhp, North Shore (So., Florida)
Stump caught some scouts' attention when his velocity spiked into the 88-92 range with good run during the summer and fall of his senior year of high school, but he showed less velocity and movement during an uneven senior spring, causing his stock to drop. After throwing just four innings in his freshman season with the talent-laden Gators, Stump was able to gain some valuable experience this summer, as he rotated between the bullpen and rotation, logging 34 innings. The lefthander's fastball sits in the low 90s, and he has flashed a feel for both a breaking ball and changeup. The Lakeland, Fla., native showed promising command of his entire arsenal and figures to be in line for more playing time next spring after striking out 26 and walking just six batters all summer.
6. Donnie Hissa, rhp, Seacoast (Jr., Notre Dame)
Hissa returned to Seacoast for the second straight summer. And for the second straight summer, the Notre Dame righthander pitched well and drew some high praise from league managers. Deployed as a reliever by the Fighting Irish, Hissa started eight games this summer and went 4-0, 1.62 with 35 strikeouts in 50 innings. He utilizes a fastball that sits between 89-91 and touches 93, along with a decent slider in the low 80s that keeps hitters off balance. Like many other big-bodied pitchers, the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Hissa needs to work on repeating his delivery and developing his command, as it often takes him a few innings to settle in. With more seasoning and further development of a third pitch, Hissa could become an intriguing prospect.
7. Bryan Langlois, of, Seacoast (R-So., Pepperdine)
Langlois, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound outfielder, flashed some of his potential this spring, hitting .310/.370/.393 in 84 at-bats as a redshirt freshman with Pepperdine. Langlois hit .372/.408/.500 this summer, and although he just hit two home runs, the righthanded hitter impressed a number of league coaches with his ability to consistently square up a high percentage of pitches. Despite stealing 16 bases, Langlois is only a fringe-average runner. He does boast above-average arm strength, so while he saw time in center field this summer, he would probably profile best as a corner outfielder.
8. Saige Jenco, of, Old Orchard Beach (Fr., Virginia Tech)
Jenco, like Wiseman and Shaw, is a 2012 high school graduate who posted rather pedestrian statistics against older competition this summer. However, given his age and raw tools, the level of competition, and the wood bats, Jenco managed to hold his own and impress a handful of league coaches. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound outfielder hit .253/.341/.267, but coaches believed he could change the game with his speed. Clocked at 6.5 seconds in the 60-yard dash, the lefthanded-hitting Jenco also showed that he could handle the bat, lay down bunts and constantly put pressure on opposing defenses. Jenco's plus-plus speed translates defensively, as coaches lauded the 17-year-old's ability to cover the gaps. And despite playing in just 25 games, Jenco managed to swipe 15 bases. The State College, Pa., native will suit up for Virginia Tech in 2013.
9. Conor Bierfeldt, of, Torrington (Sr., Western Connecticut State)
Bierfeldt hit .430/.470/.838 with 10 home runs as a junior for Division III Western Connecticut State in the spring and was named the 2012 Eastern College Athletic Conference New England player of the year. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound outfielder has a muscular build, and although his swing can get a bit long, he continued to rake in the summer, launching nine home runs and hitting .329/.426/.618. The Torrington, Conn., native is a fringy runner, as he turned in 6.8- to 6.9-second 60-yard dash times, but his solid-average arm should play in an outfield corner.
10. Jon Minucci, of, Nashua (Sr., Southern New Hampshire)
At a chiseled 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Minucci does not fit the typical small college profile. Last summer he hit .238 for Nashua, but coaches have noticed that an improved approach has allowed Minucci to take the next step forward. "He always looked like he could play," said one league manager. "He has a pro body, but the hits didn't fall for him last year. He made some adjustments and they started to fall for him this summer."
Minucci hit .309/396/.545 and led the Futures League with 13 home runs. However, throughout the summer Minucci showed that he is more than just another big body with raw power, as the rising senior ran a 6.6-second 60-yard dash at the FCBL scout day and displayed impressive athleticism while patrolling the outfield.