2011 Cal Collegiate Top 10 Prospects
: Team Vegas took two of three from perennial CCL powerhouse Santa Barbara during the season's finale weekend, giving the San Luis Obispo Blues a share of the league championship with the Foresters. This marked the first time in nine years that Santa Barbara didn't claim the championship outright. But the Foresters went on to win their third National Baseball Congress World Series in the last six years, beating Kenai Peninsula of the Alaska League 1-0 in the championship.
1. Austin Kubitza, rhp, Santa Barbara (So., Rice)
After going 6-5, 2.34 with 102 strikeouts in 100 innings to earn freshman All-America honors this spring, Kubitza shouldered a lighter workload for Santa Barbara this summer, splitting time between starting and relieving and going 3-1, 3.46 with a 51-16 K-BB mark in 39 innings. The younger brother of former Texas State third baseman and current Braves farmhand Kyle Kubitza, Austin has a lean, ultra-projectable 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame. He pitches downhill with a 91-94 mph fastball that has incredible run and sink, and he can carve up both halves of the plate. Like his two-seamer, Kubitza's mid-80s slider disappears late on hitters, resulting in plenty of swings and misses. Rice wanted Kubitza to work on developing his four-seamer this summer to help him bust lefthanded hitters on the inner half, and it remains a work in progress. Like all young pitchers, he can get into trouble when he leaves the ball up. He has the makings of a changeup but seldom used it this summer. With some more polish and added strength, Kubitza has a very good chance to climb into the first round of the 2013 draft and has front-half-of-the-rotation big league potential.
2. Greg Bird, 1b/c, Team Vegas (SIGNED: Yankees)
Bird arrived on the scouting landscape while catching for high school teammate Kevin Gausman (a likely first-round pick at Louisiana State next year and a 2010 member of Team Vegas) in Colorado. The Yankees drafted him in the fifth round and signed him away from a commitment to Arkansas for a $1.1 million bonus after he hit .273/.446/.494 with three homers in 77 at-bats against older competition this summer. Though he started behind the plate in the CCL all-star game, Bird mostly played first base this summer for Vegas, and he profiles best at first. Though his plus-plus arm is a weapon behind the plate, Bird's 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame lacks the mobility to stick behind the plate. He's not a good runner, and his range is limited at first, but he has soft hands and good enough instincts to be an average first baseman in time. The Yankees signed Bird for his bat, not his glove. He has well above-average raw power from the left side, and he can hit the ball out of the park to all fields. He excels at driving balls middle-away but is vulnerable against pitches on the inner half, at this stage. But his hands work, he has plenty of bat speed, and he doesn't back down from hard work, giving him a chance to be a quality hitter with big-time power down the road.
3. Aaron Brown, of, Glendale (Fr., Pepperdine)
After completing his standout career as a two-way player for powerhouse Chatsworth (Calif.) High, Brown ranked as the No. 149 prospect in BA's national Top 200 for the 2011 draft. His commitment to Pepperdine caused him to drop to the 17th round, and the Waves say he turned down third-round money from the Pirates to attend school. Brown stole the show at the CCL all-star game, pulling a slider down the line for an RBI double, taking a fastball to the opposite field for a home run, and making a fantastic leaping catch against the wall in center field. He finished the summer hitting .303/.365/.535 with seven homers, 28 RBIs and 23 steals in 25 attempts, production that hints at his legitimate five-tool potential. Brown has good strength in his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, and he flashes easy plus power potential in batting practice. He still needs to fine-tune his pitch recognition and do a better job staying back on offspeed stuff, but he made a concerted effort this spring and summer to stay closed longer and drive the ball to the opposite field. His lefthanded bat projects as an average tool. Brown is an average runner with good instincts on the basepaths and in center field, and his solid-average-to-plus arm should play in right field if he outgrows center. He plays the game with confidence, even a bit of swagger.
4. Stephen Johnson, rhp, Santa Barbara (Jr., St. Edward's, Texas)
A wiry, raw, projectable Colorado prep product, Johnson has made progress in two years at Division II St. Edward's, but he's still just scratching the surface of his potential. He mostly just pumped fastballs as a freshman and essentially just started throwing a breaking ball this summer, and he showed some aptitude for the pitch—a sharp slurve in the 77-79 mph range. He dabbles with a changeup, but he usually tends to throw it too hard, in the 88-89 range. Johnson has a loose 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and an electric arm that easily produces 94-96 mph heat in relief—a role in which he thrived this summer, posting a 1.31 ERA and a 23-6 strikeout-walk mark in 21 innings. He ran his fastball into the high 90s at the NBC World Series. Johnson has a tendency to wrap his arm in the back at times, but he made some progress smoothing out his delivery this summer. A more consistent delivery would also lead to more consistent command, as Johnson remains more of a thrower than a polished pitcher at this stage of his development. Still, his summer was a big step in the right direction, and his upside is tantalizing.
5. Michael Ratterree, 2b, Santa Barbara (Jr., Rice)
Ratterree has been a run-producing mainstay for two years at Rice, but he developed problems throwing the ball to first base as a sophomore, when he committed 20 errors. The problem went away early in the summer at Santa Barbara, then suddenly re-emerged—he started lobbing the ball to first base, and the Foresters wound up making a defensive subsitution late in games at the NBC World Series. He finished the summer with an .889 fielding percentage. Ratterree is a good athlete who showed excellent range up the middle, and his arm is plenty strong, but he needs to work through the mental part of his throwing struggles. Even if he winds up having to move to the outfield, Ratterree's bat could carry him. He hit .304/.378/.530 with five homers and 27 RBIs in 115 at-bats this summer, showing good bat speed and an improved ability to drive the ball the opposite way. He has above-average righthanded power potential in his 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame. Ratteree is a solid-average runner with good instincts on the basepaths.
6. Ricky Jacquez, rhp, Team Vegas (Fr., Texas)
A two-way star for USA Baseball's 16-and-under national team in 2009, Jacquez ranked 190th on Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects list for the 2011 draft, and his strong commitment to Texas caused him to drop to the 39th round out of an El Paso high school. He had an up-and-down summer against older competition in the CCL, going 2-3, 5.45 with 36 strikeouts and 18 walks in 38 innings. Just 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, Jacquez makes up for his lack of size with explosive arm strength. He can run his fastball up to 96-97 mph, though he's more effective when he pitches at 90-93 with better location. He complements it with a downer curveball that can be a wipeout hammer in the 80-83 range when it's on, but he needs to repeat it better. His changeup is in its nascent stages. Jacquez has a lot of growing up to do. His poise evaporates when things start to go wrong—he tends to visibly express his frustration with teammates, and when he gets upset he overthrows and leaves pitches up in the zone. He also needs to improve his work ethic.
7. Mitch Mormann, rhp, Santa Barbara (Sr., Wichita State)
Mormann has been on the scouting landscape since running his fastball into the mid-90s as a freshman at Des Moines Area CC in 2008. He was drafted inside the top 20 rounds as a freshman and a sophomore, then transferred to Louisiana State for his junior year, where he struggled in a relief role. He sat out 2011 after transferring to Wichita State, but he thrived in a starting role for the Foresters this summer, going 4-3, 2.75 with 39 strikeouts and 15 walks in 39
innings. He also picked up the win in the NBC World Series championship game. Mormann has a hulking 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame and premium arm strength. His fastball sat at 93-94 mph and topped out at 96 this summer, and it has good sink and run. For years, the knock on Mormann has been that his secondary stuff is underdeveloped, and it remains so. He flashes an average 83-85 slider, but its action is inconsistent, it often lacks depth, and he has a tendency to hang it. He also made some progress this summer with his changeup, which remains a work in progress.
8. Travis Radke, lhp, Conejo (Fr., Portland)
A 45th-round pick by the Reds out of Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif., Radke heads to Portland for his freshman year this fall. He took some lumps against older competition this summer in the CCL, posting a 6.08 ERA, but he also struck out 33 in 24 innings of work. Radke has a durable 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame and a loose arm action, and some front-side funk adds some deception to his delivery. He has advanced feel for pitching and good command of his high-80s fastball, which could add some velocity as he matures. He also flashes a pair of promising secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup, although both still need refinement.
9. Nick Grim, rhp, San Luis Obispo (Jr., Cal Poly)
Grim was a 14th-round pick by the Marlins this June out of Monterey Peninsula (Calif.) JC, but he elected to head to Cal Poly rather than sign. Grim posted a 5.12 ERA in the CCL this summer, but he struck out 51 in 32 innings, a reflection of his swing-and-miss stuff. Grim has a nice pitcher's frame at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, and at his best, he works in the 90-93 range with some run and sink. His delivery does have some effort, and his stuff is inconsistent as a result. His velocity dipped into the 86-87 range at times, and he struggled to command his low-80s slider. At his best, he showed the ability to throw his low-80s slider for strikes or use it as a chase pitch. He lacks a quality third pitch and profiles best as a reliever.
10. Austin Dicharry, rhp, Santa Barbara (Sr., Texas)
Dicharry was a key swingman for Texas' 2009 College World Series runner-up team, going 8-2, 2.30. He came down with a bad case of shoulder tendinitis that summer, causing his velocity to drop, his command and confidence to falter and his delivery to get out of sync. Dicharry was limited to 27 innings as a sophomore and only one inning as a junior in 2011, but he got back on track this summer, going 2-0, 2.38 with 28 strikeouts and 12 walks in 23 innings for the Foresters. Dicharry's best pitch is an above-average changeup that he throws with excellent arm speed, and he also has good feel for a solid-average breaking ball with 11-to-5 break. He had a tendency to fall in love with his secondary stuff and cut himself off when throwing his fastball, so the Foresters forced him to throw exclusively fastballs until the middle innings of his outings late in the summer, and he made progress with his fastball command. He also rediscovered his fastball velocity, working in the 90-92 range. A 41st-round pick by the Philies this June, Dicharry has a quality three-pitch mix and a good pitcher's frame at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds. If he proves to scouts that he's healthy, he could be drafted much higher in 2012.