2017 Northwoods League Top Prospects

Zach Watson (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Northwoods League Top Prospects
Zach Watson, OF, Rockford (So., Louisiana State)
Tyler Dyson, RHP, Madison (So., Florida)
Bryson Stott, SS, Wisconsin Rapids (So., UNLV)
Hunter Feduccia, C, Rockford (Jr., LSU)
Kenyon Yovan, RHP, Rochester (So., Oregon)
Zach Zubia, 1B/DH, Rochester (R-Fr., Texas)
Michael Busch, IF, St. Cloud (North Carolina, So.)
Jake Guenther, OF, Wisconsin Rapids (R-So., Sacramento (Calif.) City CC)
Daniel Ritcheson, RHP, Kalamazoo (Fr., San Diego State)
Parker Sanburn, RHP, Lakeshore (SIGNED: Rangers)

SEE ALSO: Summer College League Top Prospects

Postseason Recap: The St. Cloud Rox won their first-ever Northwoods League championship in three games over the Battle Creek Bombers. The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters easily had the best regular season record, going 52-20, but the Bombers knocked them off with a 6-1 victory to reach the championship series. The Rox beat the Mankato Moondogs 5-2 in 12 innings to set up the final matchup. After St. Cloud beat Battle Creek 7-5 in the first game of the championship series, Battle Creek pulled out a 3-2 win in 10 innings in Game 2. The Rox clinched the series with a 5-3 win in Game 3, with Nick Morreale (Georgetown) and Jackson Rose (Minnesota) combining for three scoreless, hitless innings of relief for St. Cloud.

1. Zach Watson, OF, Rockford (So., Louisiana State)

LSU’s frenetic offensive attack helped the Tigers reach the College World Series championship series this year, and Watson was a key piece of that unit. The draft-eligible sophomore has speed and range on par with former LSU star and current big leaguer Andrew Stevenson, getting down the line in around 4.1 seconds from the righthanded batter’s box and running the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds. Watson, lithely built at 6-foot, 165 pounds, has quick, strong hands and excellent pop for his size. His swing plane is built for line drives, but he often scalds balls hard enough to send them over the fence, and his speed is probably best suited for a gap approach anyways. Watson’s arm is just average, but even with that, his toolsy skill set stands out to evaluators.

2. Tyler Dyson, RHP, Madison (So., Florida)

Dyson was mainly a position player in high school before beginning to pitch full-time as a senior. Then, as a freshman at Florida, he made two of the team’s most important starts of the year, holding Wake Forest to two hits over five innings to clinch the super regional and limiting LSU to three hits and one run over six innings to win the deciding game of the CWS Finals. Dyson has a powerful arm and touched 98 mph coming out of the bullpen for the Gators early in the year, but he’s destined for a starter’s role. He has a thick, athletic body, listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, and he fields his position very well. He throws a four-seamer and two-seamer from a three-quarters slot, with the latter exhibiting excellent late run, and his slider sits in the mid-80s with good depth and bite. As a starter, Dyson’s fastball is more of a 90-95 mph offering. His changeup is a clear third pitch at this point, but it can have tumbling action and Dyson has shown feel for it. While Dyson’s motion isn’t devoid of effort, his whippy arm action is quick and clean.

3. Bryson Stott, SS, Wisconsin Rapids (So., UNLV)

Stott is a product of the surging Las Vegas baseball scene that has alums like Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant in the majors, and his aptitude and feel for the game reflect that. He showed stellar plate discipline this summer, with his walks easily outpacing his strikeouts. Stott has a full, aggressive lefthanded swing from an open stance, with his hands coming from a high set, and while his power is mostly gap-to-gap now, he sprays line drives to all fields and should add power as he gets stronger. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Stott is an average to above-average runner with strong instincts on the basepaths. He was UNLV’s primary shortstop this spring, and he has the hands and arm to stick at that position for the foreseeable future.

4. Hunter Feduccia, C, Rockford (Jr., LSU)

Feduccia might have been the best all-around hitter in the Northwoods this summer. He’s part of the newest group of the historically successful LSU-Eunice-to-LSU pipeline, and he’ll have a strong chance to be a regular for the Tigers next spring. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Feduccia has a buttery lefthanded swing with little extra movement or wasted motion. His power is mostly to the gaps and pull side at this point and grades out as average at best, but he can easily access it. While Feduccia isn’t a stellar defensive prospect like LSU-Eunice product Stuart Turner (who went to Mississippi), he’s solid across the board defensively, with pop times consistently in the 1.9-second range, and can vary his rhythm and pace to adjust to the runner. Feduccia is a good runner for a catcher, with 60 time in the 6.8-second range.

5. Kenyon Yovan, RHP, Rochester (So., Oregon)

Yovan began his summer coming out of the bullpen for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team before heading to Rochester, where he has been both a reliever and starter. He had a stellar freshman campaign as Oregon’s closer, racking up 15 saves and holding batters to a .213 average in 32 innings, but he could also move into a starting role for the Ducks. Yovan is far from a max-effort closer, and while there isn’t much projection left in his 6-foot-3, 220-pound body, he’s a good athlete and repeats his mechanics well. He throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball and sits in the low 90s, bumping 94 at times. Yovan’s slider is his top secondary offering now, with good late tilt in the low 80s at his best, and he’s working to develop a changeup and curveball. His command hasn’t been great during the summer, but it was sterling during the spring, when Yovan walked just six in 32 innings. He also hit this summer, with a .205/.333/.422 line with four home runs in 83 at-bats, but is a better prospect on the mound.

6. Zach Zubia, 1B/DH, Rochester (R-Fr., Texas)

When Zubia first committed to play for head coach David Pierce and his staff, he was a pitcher with a chance to hit in college. Quite a bit has changed since then: Zubia had Tommy John surgery, followed Pierce from Tulane to Texas, and became a bat-first player with serious power. He easily led the Northwoods with 22 home runs and showed good plate discipline, with his walk and strikeout totals closely aligned. Zubia has a short, compact swing that emphasizes his raw strength, and he knows how to work at-bats—he faced some of Texas’ best arms this spring and didn’t look overmatched. He’s every bit of his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame, and while Zubia’s defensive home will have to be first base, he has shown promising footwork and actions at that position. He’s a solid athlete for his size, having played quarterback in high school.

7. Michael Busch, 1B, St. Cloud (North Carolina, So.)

Busch played shortstop in high school, but he shifted to first base when he got to Chapel Hill. The skills that allowed him to play that position still apply to a corner infield spot, though, and Busch already profiles as an above-average defensive first baseman, with excellent hands and actions. Busch has a built-out frame at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, and he could probably get even bigger and stronger. His real carrying tools are at the plate: Busch has a smooth, flat lefthanded swing, keeps the barrel in the zone and has shown strong discipline, walking a good deal more than he struck out this summer. Busch has also shown above-average power that plays to all fields, which makes his below-average speed much less of an issue. He could play second or third down the line in college.

8. Jake Guenther, OF, Wisconsin Rapids (RSo., Sacramento City JC)

At this point, Guenther is mostly projection and potential, but he’s shown an intriguing set of tools. The Wisconsin native came to Sac City JC as a pitcher, but arm troubles scrapped his freshman year and pushed him to convert to a full-time position player. Guenther’s arm is still a bit stiff, but his best tools are at the plate. He shows solid bat speed and pop from the left side, and Guenther’s strike-zone discipline is advanced considering his lack of experience, as he walked nearly as much as he struck out this summer. His swing is short and compact with some present tightness, but he’s working on establishing qualities like a more active lower half, looser hands and bat lag. Guenther has plenty of athleticism in his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, and he can handle a corner outfield spot perfectly fine.

9. Daniel Ritcheson, RHP, Kalamazoo (Fr., San Diego State)

Ritcheson had some serious draft helium during the high school season, with his fastball bumping the mid-90s, but concerns with his rawness and makeup saw his stock fall, and he’s headed to join the Aztecs. His youth and relative newness to pitching showed with the Growlers, as he racked up a 6.12 ERA and 17 walks in 25 innings, but he also had 25 strikeouts and showed some of the tools that drew scouts to him. Ritcheson already has a starter’s body, at 6-foot-3 and around 210 pounds, and he shows excellent arm strength without much effort. He mainly pitches off his fastball, which ranges from 90-94 with run, and while his curveball, slider and changeup are still in their nascent stages, Ritcheson shows the ability to spin a breaking ball. When he misses, it’s typically to the arm side, due to his front half flying open. Ritcheson also made significant strides in his maturity and work ethic during the summer.

10. Parker Sanburn, RHP, Lakeshore (SIGNED: Rangers)

Sanburn is the brother of Nationals farmhand Nolan Sanburn, and while Parker began his college career at Arkansas like his brother, he left after two seasons with the Razorbacks, took a season off to recover from a fractured vertebrae and pitched at Des Moines Area JC this past spring. His age, injury history—he also had shoulder surgery—and clear two-pitch reliever profile work against him as a prospect, but he commands a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 95, and his wicked mid-80s curveball already grades out as a plus pitch. Sanburn destroyed Northwoods competition this summer, totaling 48 strikeouts in 24.1 innings with just eight hits allowed.

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