2017 Jayhawk League Top Prospects
Colin Simpson (Courtesy of Oklahoma State Athletics)
|Jayhawk League Top Prospects|
|Colin Simpson, c, Hays (Jr., Oklahoma State)|
|Gabe Constantine, lhp, Derby (So., Grayson College)|
|Tyler Starks, lhp, Hays (Jr., Stephen F. Austin)|
|Benjamin Sems, ss, Great Bend (So., Kansas)|
|Jaron Robinson, ss, Liberal (Jr., Murray State)|
|Trevor Boone, of, Hays (So., Oklahoma State)|
|Chance Carner, rhp, Liberal (R-Jr., Murray State)|
|Joe Corbett, rhp, Oklahoma City (Jr., West Texas A&M)|
|Jordan Wilkerson, of, Great Bend (Jr., Fort Hays State)|
|Clayton Rasbeary, of, Hays (So., Grayson College)|
SEE ALSO: Summer College League Top Prospects
Postseason Recap: The Liberal BeeJays and Hays Larks battled down to the wire for the Jayhawk League title and in fact finished tied at 30-12 overall, but the BeeJays won the title by virtue of a 4-2 head-to-head record against the Larks. Both teams advanced to the National Baseball Congress World Series, with the third-place Derby Twins (28-14) and fourth-place Great Bend Bat Cats (23-19) joining them. Though the Larks didn’t win the title, their head coach, Frank Leo, achieved a significant milestone when he earned his 1,000th win with the Larks on June 14.
1. Colin Simpson, c, Hays (Jr., Oklahoma State)
Simpson mainly caught this summer for Hays, but the lefty’s bat was so devastating he DHed when not behind the dish. When a person imagines a DHing catcher, that is what Simpson looks like at 5-foot-9, 221 pounds. His compact size keeps him small behind the plate, but his power is going to carry him to the next level. In his sophomore season, he led Oklahoma State in home runs (11). He continued his power hitting into the summer with a Jayhawk League-leading 12 home runs. He finished the season with a .451/.500/.797 slash line, and his 1.297 OPS easily led the league (min 20 PA). Even with his ability to barrel up the ball, he showed some surprising athleticism and speed. He made it to second base in 8.51 seconds on a hustle double.
2. Gabe Constantine, lhp, Derby (R-So., Grayson, Texas, JC)
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty, who started his career at Wichita State, showed the most potential of any pitcher in the Jayhawk League. He threw from a three-quarters slot and kept the ball down in the strike zone. His fastball sat at 86-89 but topped out at 92 mph. Besides his fastball, he threw a 73 mph curve and 82-85 mph cutter/slider. In the Jayhawk League, he posted a 2.45 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 33 innings (11.5 K/9). His control needs to be worked on as he has problems finding the plate. In those same 33 innings this summer, he walked 24 batters (6.5 BB/9). With a solid frame and strikeout ability, he has a potential to be a major contributor if he can find the strike zone more regularly.
3. Tyler Starks, lhp, Hays (Jr., Stephen F. Austin)
The slightly built 5-foot-8, 140-pound lefty closer for Hays dominated his competition in the Jayhawk League. He posted a 1.46 ERA, and his seven saves led the league. Once the Larks called on him, he mowed down the competition with 44 strikeouts in just 24 innings (16.5 K/9). He put up similar numbers in his sophomore season Stephen F. Austin with four saves, a 2.39 ERA and 50 strikeouts (12.2 K/9) in 37 innings. Besides striking nearly everyone out, he improved his walk rate from 4.9 BB/9 in college to 2.2 BB/9 in the Jayhawk League. He throws four pitches: fastball (90-94 mph), slider (78-81 mph), curve (76-78 mph) and change (74-76). Starks was likely wearing down at season’s end, when he was mainly throwing an 87-88 mph straight fastball.
4. Benjamin Sems, ss, Great Bend (So., Kansas)
Sems helped to carry Great Bend down the stretch and to the NBC tournament. The slick-fielding shortstop stood out in the field and at the plate. With a tall athletic frame (6-foot-2, 165 pounds), he plays passable defense at shortstop but will probably need to move down the defensive spectrum if drafted. The lefthanded hitter put up a .350/.407/.560 slash line with five home runs. His bat improved from his freshman at Kansas where he hit .179/.233/.179 in just 28 at-bats. Additionally, he struggled against breaking balls and will need to improve his approach against them.
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5. Jaron Robinson, ss, Liberal (Jr., Murray State)
Robinson anchored the middle of the regular season league champs’ lineup and defense. While slight of build (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), his bat still packed a punch. He posted a slash line of .372/.399/.569, similar to the numbers he put up in his sophomore season at Murray State. (.325/.410/.426). He did show a bit more power in the summer and could continue to do so as he grows into his body. He’s not the fastest of players (4.3 seconds to first base) and went 3-for-5 in stolen-base attempts this summer after going 11 for 14 at Murray State. Even with the lack of speed, he plays acceptable defense at shortstop with a cannon for an arm and could move to the outfield if needed.
6. Trevor Boone, of, Hays (So., Oklahoma State)
While Colin Simpson outshined Boone at Oklahoma State and on Hays, Boone has raw power that makes him worth a look. The righthanded right fielder attacks the ball with a long swing. By leveraging his large frame (6-foot-2, 217 pounds) he tied Simpson with 12 home runs for the Jayhawk League title. Some swing-and-miss in his game limited him to just .234/.306/.416 with Oklahoma State, but he improved to .328/.390/.672 in the Jayhawk League. Boone will need to develop his other skills as his power will only take him so far.
7. Chance Carner, rhp, Liberal (R-Jr., Murray State)
While Carner didn’t record a single save, he became a late-inning specialist for Liberal. The righthander launched his fastball consistently at 93-94 mph and mixed in a slider. He finished the season with 33 strikeouts (17.5 K/9) and walked just three batters (16 BB/9) in 17.2 innings of work. The 11/1 K/BB ratio helped him post a 1.53 ERA. The improved control was a welcome sight after his season at Murray State when he posted a 5.1 BB/9, which led to a 5.54 ERA. Even with the improvement over the summer, he has room to grow on his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame to make him even more of a weapon.
8. Joe Corbett, rhp, Oklahoma City (Jr., West Texas A&M)
Corbett started the season with Oklahoma City, before Liberal picked him up for the NBC tournament. The righthander only used two pitches in the tournament, an 87-91 mph fastball and a 78-82 hard-breaking slider in three innings of work striking out five batters and throwing from a three-quarters slot. The incoming junior began his career at Arkansas-Little Rock and has transitioned from a starter to the bullpen. In 17 relief appearances in 2017, he posted an 11.8 K/9. While a shorthanded Oklahoma City was forced to start him four games, he was still able to post a respectable 9.0 K/9. This upcoming season, he will be pitching for Division II West Texas A&M.
9. Jordan Wilkerson, of, Great Bend (Jr., Fort Hays, Kan., State)
Wilkerson doesn’t have a huge carrying tool but does a little of everything to help his team win. He played good defense in right field with an average arm. He showed average speed to first base (4.32 seconds). If one trait possibly sticks out, it’s his power. After hitting seven home runs for Saint Mary’s last year, he finished third in the Jayhawk League with nine dingers. The power wasn’t just from small parks, as he hit a 390-foot blast out of Lawrence Dumont Stadium in the NBC World Series. He started his college career at Dakota County Tech (Minn.) JC, transferred to Saint Mary’s where he hit .364/.440/.693, and next season will play his junior season at Fort Hays State (Kan.).
10. Clayton Rasbeary, of, Hays (So., Grayson, Texas, JC)
Rasbeary is an athletic outfielder who could see his stock rise if he begins to hit for power. The tall lefthanded hitter can add bulk to his frame (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) to facilitate the change. He’s like Wilkerson in that he has several average tools but nothing that stands out. He can use his speed (4.2 seconds to first base) to help himself on the basepaths and outfield defense. While he struggled off the bench for Stephen F. Austin (.091/.091/.091), he used a good eye (1.1 K/BB) to post a .346/.433/.529 line for Hays. Rasbeary is stilling learning to play at a higher level, but if everything eventually clicks, his stock could take off.