2017 Alaska League Top Prospects
Quin Cotton (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
|Alaska Summer League Top Prospects|
|Quin Cotton, of, Mat-Su (So., Grand Canyon)|
|John Doxakis, lhp, Mat-Su (So., Texas A&M)|
|Todd Lott, of, Anchorage (So., Louisiana-Lafayette)|
|Logan Boyer, rhp, Anchorage Bucs (So., San Diego State)|
|Armani Smith, inf/of, Anchorage (So., UC Santa Barbara)|
|Josh Green, rhp, Mat-Su (Sr., Southeastern Louisiana)|
|Elijah MacNamee, of, Mat-Su (Jr., Mississippi State)|
|Ray Kerr, lhp, Peninsula (Jr., Lassen (Calif.) CC)|
|Eli Villalobos, Jr., RHP, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (Long Beach State)|
|Thaddeus Ward, Jr., RHP, Mat-Su Miners (Central Florida)|
SEE ALSO: Summer College League Top Prospects
Postseason Recap: After yet another dominant regular season, the Mat-Su Miners won their second-straight Alaska League championship after beating the Anchorage Bucs twice in a row to come from behind and win the three-game series. The Miners were on the brink of elimination after the Bucs blanked them, 4-0, in Game 1 behind eight scoreless innings from Jared Morton (UC Riverside) and three hits from infielder Michael Fuchs (Vanguard, Calif.). But the Miners regrouped and bludgeoned the Bucs, 13-3, in Game 2 thanks to a grand slam from third baseman Rainer Ausmus (Kansas State) and 5.2 scoreless innings of relief from Thaddeus Ward (Central Florida). Game 3 was played later that evening and Mat-Su wasted no time jumping all over Anchorage. Catcher Alex Thomas (Baylor), outfielder Quin Cotton (Grand Canyon) and shortstop Austin Bull (Grand Canyon) led the hit parade with two each and starter Payton Robinson (Southeastern Louisiana) set the tone in a 7-1 victory.
1. Quin Cotton, OF, Mat-Su (So., Grand Canyon)
Just a rising sophomore, Cotton was the Alaska Summer League’s wire-to-wire hitting leader (.331/.382/.474) for the league-winning Miners and, according to league coaches and scouts, that wasn’t by accident. At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Cotton isn’t the most physically imposing player, but his advanced feel for hitting stood out to evaluators. It wasn’t just Cotton’s impressive bat speed or his ability to barrel up fastballs and offspeed pitches alike, coaches also lauded his ability to make adjustments at the plate on the fly and his legitimate gap-to-gap power. Miners coach Ben Taylor marveled at how long Cotton was able to keep the bat in the zone and also said that his thick lower half meant that as he adds strength, he will also add power. Cotton is not athletic enough to play center field and his arm is slightly below average, but he runs well enough to be a good corner outfielder.
2. John Doxakis, LHP, Mat-Su (So., Texas A&M)
Doxakis was one of the few pitchers on the circuit who scouts thought projected as a starter thanks to his 6-foot-4, 205-pound, projectable frame and his ability to throw three pitches for strikes. Armed with a fastball that sat 88-90 mph with run to both sides of the plate, a changeup with late sink, a developing slider and a late shoulder turn in his delivery that added deception to his stuff, Doxakis baffled hitters all summer, and he is hardly done improving. Scouts and coaches agreed that the rising sophomore will gain velocity as he continues to add strength, and his present polish on the mound gives him a solid foundation to build upon. He will need to continue to work on his secondary offerings if he wants to have success as a starter at the pro level, but his command of all three pitches from the left side meant scouts will give him a long look once he is draft-eligible.
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3. Todd Lott, OF, Anchorage (So., Louisiana-Lafayette)
Raw athletic ability is the name of the game for Lott, who, at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, was impossible for scouts not to notice this summer. The cousin of NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, Todd Lott looks like a football player playing baseball. He is a bit mechanical at the plate, and there is plenty of swing and miss in his approach (38 strikeouts to 22 walks this summer). But he also has easy bat speed, does an excellent job of keeping the barrel in the strike zone, has solid pitch-recognition skills and boasts some of the most obvious power potential of any player in the country. His arm is a bit below average, and most coaches and scouts thought he would be just an average corner outfielder. But if he can harness his power potential, his ceiling is quite high.
4. Logan Boyer, RHP, Anchorage Bucs (So., San Diego State)
Boyer had arguably the most impressive numbers of any pitcher in the league this summer, striking out 48 hitters in just 31.1 innings pitched, and at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he has the frame that pro scouts are looking for. The reason he didn’t end up higher on the list is that his lack of a plus secondary pitch and funky delivery meant most scouts and coaches felt he was best suited for the bullpen as a pro. He likes to attack the zone with a 90-91 mph heavy fastball and occasionally mixed in a two-plane, yet inconsistent, breaking ball. He comes set with a closed-off stance, which meant that, when he uncoiled, he was deceptive, but he also had a tough time repeating that delivery. Coaches thought he would add velocity as he firmed up his body, but the development of an average second pitch will determine his success at the next level.
5. Armani Smith, IF/OF, Anchorage (So., UC Santa Barbara)
The numbers weren’t pretty for Smith this summer (.204/.319/.276), but the fact remains that as a 6-foot-3 and 200-pound specimen with the athleticism to play up the middle in the infield or the outfield, Smith is a definite pro prospect. A finesse hitter who struggles with breaking balls and whose swing is still too long, Smith isn’t hopeless at the plate, but there are concerns about whether he will ever be even an average hitter. He also still has a long way to go with his footwork and actions if he wants to stay in the infield. But he just turned 19, is still filling out his frame and has the speed and instincts to play center field if the infield doesn’t work out. If he can develop into a competent hitter, he should get plenty of chances to prove his worth as a pro.
6. Josh Green, RHP, Mat-Su (Sr., Southeastern Louisiana)
A rising senior, Green caught the eye of scouts and coaches thanks to his heavy fastball, which he ran up to 94 mph at times, and his slightly above-average breaking ball. Green spent the summer as the Miners' closer and filled the role beautifully by not allowing an earned run in 18.2 innings this summer. At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Green has present physicality and a powerful lower half that helped him generate plus velocity. His fastball has late, power sink that cut through opposing hitters, and his curveball was more than just a show-me pitch. His lack of a dependable third pitch and his inconsistent command means that he is bound for the bullpen at the next level. But his live arm and impressive frame made some scouts think that he will be a good senior sign for some organization next year.
7. Elijah MacNamee, OF, Mat-Su (Jr., Mississippi State)
After starting nearly 50 games as a sophomore at Mississippi State, MacNamee took another step forward this summer, impressing scouts and coaches not just with his projectable frame and above-average athleticism but also with his improved approach at the plate. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, the Texas native has the look of a prototypical corner outfielder and has the above-average speed and arm strength to be a good defender. The question is whether he will hit enough to play there at the next level. The rising junior worked hard to improve his pitch recognition and his ability to drive offspeed pitches this summer, and his numbers back up (.319/.416/.483) that observation. But his swing is still a bit long and he will swing and miss, especially against velocity. The real concern is his power. For a big athlete, MacNamee doesn’t project as more than a gap-to-gap power guy, which may be tough for some organizations to swallow at a corner outfield spot.
8. Ray Kerr, LHP, Peninsula (Jr., Cumberland, Tenn.)
A 22-year-old lefthander who spent last season as a two-way player at Lassen (Calif.) JC, Kerr doesn’t seem like much of a prospect on paper. But scouts and coaches who know his backstory say that Kerr only started focusing on pitching this summer and took a year off from college after playing at Mendocino (Calif.) JC in 2014. Kerr's age will always be a concern, but at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Kerr has plenty of room to add strength to his frame. Kerr uses his plus athleticism to repeat his delivery consistently and pound the strike zone, and he uses his loose, whippy arm to throw a 90-91 mph cutter and a two-seam fastball with some arm-side run. All the coaches agreed that he got better as the summer went on, developing an effective pickoff move and slide step along the way. His secondary pitches are below average right now, but multiple scouts lamented that their organization didn’t have room for Kerr, who transferred to NAIA Cumberland for the 2018 season.
9. Eli Villalobos, Jr., RHP, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (Long Beach State)
Villalobos left Alaska in the middle of July because of elbow trouble, which is part of the reason why he fell to No. 9 on this list. When he was healthy, he showed off one of the best arms on the circuit. A former catcher, Villalobos is still very much an unfinished product on the bump, but he sat 90-92 mph with his fastball this summer and touched 93 more than once. He projects best in the bullpen where his fastball-slider mix will play better and his inconsistent command won’t hurt as much, but there is projection left in his 6-foot-3 and 180-pound frame. His delivery has some effort, and he occasionally struggles to repeat it, but if he can continue to develop his secondary stuff and add a mile per hour or two to his fastball, he will get a shot in pro ball.
10. Thaddeus Ward, Jr., RHP, Mat-Su Miners (Central Florida)
“Live arm” was the first shorthand phrase scribbled in multiple scouts’ notes about Ward this summer. The rising junior sat 92-93 mph and touched 94 on a fastball with power sink and some run away from lefthanded hitters. There is some effort and funk in his delivery thanks to his long limbs, and his secondary pitch is not nearly as effective as his fastball, but the velocity will play at the next level. Despite his projectable 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame, Ward is destined for the bullpen at the next level, but he should be able to add some strength to his legs and add some velocity as a result. He is athletic enough that he doesn’t suffer from too many control issues, but developing a trustworthy secondary pitch will bode well for his success at the next level.