MINK League Top 10 Prospects

Postseason recap: Beatrice posted the MINK League's top record (24-5), then beat host Clarinda 4-2 to win the NBC regional title. Both teams went to the NBC World Series representing the league and went 2-2.

1.    Charlie Shirek, rhp, Beatrice (SIGNED: White Sox)

The league’s most dominant player and best prospect, Shirek fooled MINK league hitters throughout the summer with his low-to-mid 90s fastball and above-average slider. The 6-foot-3 righthander came off a troubling spring in Lincoln on and off the field, going 2-7, 6.39 and running into minor trouble with the law, but he responded well for Beatrice. Shirek got a late start this summer as he spent the entire month of June rehabbing from a strained oblique muscle suffered in the Big 12 Conference tournament. For the summer, Charlie was 5-0, 0.00 with 27 strikeouts in 17 innings of work and did not give up an extra-base hit in MINK play, though he was hit hard in the NBC World Series. Shirek, who has drawn comparisons to Yankees top prospect and fellow Cornhusker Joba Chamberlain, was the most dominant power pitcher in the MINK League since Chamberlain. Even though Shirek has a heavy 92-95 mph fastball with good sink and run action, some scouts believe his best pitch is his sharp 84-86 mph  slider. The White Sox drafted him in the 23rd round and signed him as a summer follow.

2.    Shane Minks, rhp, Beatrice (So., Texas A&M)

Minks, 19, is a physical 6-foot-3, 200-pounder who was flashing 91-93 on the radar guns while going 3-0, 3.07 with 42 strikeouts in 41 innings this summer. Although Minks lacks pitching experience against college hitters (he got just four innings for the Aggies in the spring), he showed no signs of being intimidated. Minks' ability to put heavy sink on his fastball and locate his low-80s slider with sharp, late break makes him a legitimate contender to find a spot in the Aggies rotation next spring. Scouts like his physical frame and work ethic.

3. Nick Love, rhp, Beatrice (So., Bellevue, Neb.)

Love’s combination of a great pitcher’s body (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) and clean, effortless delivery attracted managers and scouts, including one who said he had the league's highest ceiling due to his projectability. With a fastball that regularly sits in the low 90s, the long-armed righthander was able to throw heat past MINK League batters all summer long. Love’s fastball registered from 88-94 mph throughout the summer, and he showed signs of an above-average slider with late tilt that locked up hitters who were sitting on his fastball. Love led the Bruins with 60 strikeouts in 47 innings, including two dominant relief turns in the NBC World Series. During the spring season, Love ranked third in NAIA with 11.92 strikeouts per nine innings.

4.    Brandon Hayes, of, Clarinda (Fr., Oregon State)

The nephew of former major leaguer Von Hayes evokes his uncle physically and through his style of play. Weeks after graduating high school, Hayes followed his uncle’s footsteps and headed to Clarinda, Iowa, to play for the A’s. Hayes, who was one of the youngest players in the league, has a smooth lefthanded swing and above-average running speed, but his bat hasn’t fully developed. He possesses solid outfield skills due to his ability to chase down balls hit in the gaps. The Oregon State recruit was the Rangers' 49th-round draft pick.

5. Thad Weber, rhp, Beatrice (Sr., Nebraska)

Last summer's Jayhawk League MVP as a two-way player, Weber put up the best numbers in the MINK this summer as a pitcher, going 7-0, 0.78 in 46 innings; opponents batted only .115 off Weber. The Nebraska product found great success by mixing up his high-80s fastball, which occasionally touched the low 90s, with his hard, tight 12-to-6 curveball. Weber has two average pitches in his fastball and curveball, but a second offspeed pitch like a changeup would boost to his stock.

6. Kyle Lafrenz, c, Beatrice (Jr., Indiana State)

Strong and physical, Lafrenz was the league's top defensive catcher, with a plus arm and quick transfer that helped shut down running games. While he hit .368/.465/.552, his bat lags behind his defense due to a long swing. MINK coaches and scouts saw improvements and toward the end of the summer as he started to get a good feel for wood. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder played at Marshalltown (Iowa) CC last spring and has signed to play for head coach Lindsay Meggs and Indiana State next season.
7. Cole White, rhp, Ozark (So., Paris, Texas, JC)

White is a lanky 6-foot-3 righthander with a good pitcher's frame and an above-average arm. White works off a heavy fastball that registers at 89-94 mph. He still needs to develop quality offspeed pitches to complement his fastball. White already throws a low-to-mid 80s slider but it lacks depth and tilt. Once White starts to fill out his long frame, scouts and coaches believe he could add more velocity. White already has been offered a scholarship to play baseball for Dave Van Horn and Arkansas.

8. Landon Hernandez, c, Chillicothe (Jr., Hawaii)

Hernandez entered summer league play after coming off a solid .296/.355/.402 sophomore season for the Rainbows. This summer, Hernandez showed a solid bat and average catch-and-throw skills. At the plate, Hernandez showed he was one of the best power-hitting prospects in the league, putting on a four-homer display during the Mudcats' regional showing. Overall, Hernandez’s best tool is his capability to drive the ball deep to the opposite field and ability to go with the pitch. Behind the plate, Hernandez has a 45 arm that plays up with his quick release.

9. Brooks Kimmey, c, Clarinda (Jr., Baylor)

Kimmey, who spent his first two seasons at two Texas junior colleges, put together one of the best offensive summers in the league, hitting .358 with 23 RBIs even after an 0-for-6 showing in the NBC World Series. He controls the strike zone (24-18 BB-K ratio) but doesn't hit for much power. Behind the plate, Kimmey is polished and blocks well but has a below-average arm, throwing out just two of 17 attempted basestealers.

10. Lendsey Thomson, rhp, Chillicothe (Sr., Missouri)

After going 10-2, 2.01 as a sophomore at Fort Scott (Mo.) CC in the spring of 2006, Thomson transferred to Missouri. Thomson saw limited action for the Tigers this spring, throwing just three innings of relief. This summer, the 5-foot-11 Thomson was motivated to get in his innings and his arm was in good health. Thomson ran his fastball up to 91 mph, and he consistently pitched at 87-89.