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2017 West Coast League Top 10 Prospects

Chris-Lincoln

 
Chris Lincoln

West Coast League Top Prospects
Chris Lincoln, rhp, Walla Walla (So., UC Santa Barbara)
Jordan Qsar, of/rhp, Corvallis (R-Jr., Pepperdine)
Chase Illig, c, Bellingham (R-So., West Virginia)
Austin Shenton, 3b, Bellingham (So., FIU)
Louis Crow, rhp, Corvallis (So., San Diego)
Devlin Granberg, of, Cowlitz (Sr., Dallas Baptist)
Holden Powell, rhp, Bellingham (Fr., UCLA)
Darius Vines, rhp, Walla Walla (So., Yavapai (Ariz.) CC)
Jackson Thoreson, c, Gresham (Sr., Saint Mary’s)
Chase Kaplan, lhp, Corvallis (Sr., Kansas)

SEE ALSO: Summer College League Top Prospects

Postseason Recap: The Corvallis Knights repeated as league champions by defeating the Victoria HarbourCats in a best-of-three series. However, it wasn’t a typical summer in the Pacific Northwest.

The West Coast League is typically dominated by pitchers, but that was not the case this year. Corvallis, which had led the WCL in ERA in five of the previous seven years, was the runner-up in that category during the regular season. Nothing new there, but the Knights staff posted a 4.20 ERA while league-leader Wenatchee had a 4.13—0.87 more than the highest since 2010.

Corvallis recorded the best regular-season record at 34-20, and its pitching saved its best for when it mattered most. After dropping the first game of the championship series to Victoria, the Knights received a combined two-hit shutout from Dakota Donovan (Oregon State) and Kolby Somers (Oregon) in Game 2 to even the series. Trenton Toplikar (UC Riverside) then earned the win in a decisive Game 3 by going seven innings and allowing one unearned run in a 4-2 victory over the HarbourCats. Toplikar also threw seven solid innings in the Game 2 of the semifinal round against Yakima Valley.


1. Chris Lincoln, RHP, Walla Walla (So., UC Santa Barbara)

Lincoln has the size and stuff that projects well moving forward. He’s 6-foot-4, 175 pounds and showed a three-pitch mix that left some raving about the native of Moreno Valley, Calif. “He was 91-93, touching 94,” said one league manager. “He has the kind of curveball that makes righthanded hitters jump out of the box and a changeup that made our lefties miss by 8-12 inches. I think the most impressive part is how easy it looked; very smooth.” Lincoln had a good but not great summer with a 4.05 ERA and 36 strikeouts to 18 walks in 33.1 innings. He was a 13th-round pick by Toronto last summer and is clearly on radars. But there are some inconsistencies that need to be fixed before he starts contributing out of the Gauchos' rotation. Lincoln had an ERA just south of five as a freshman this spring.


2. Jordan Qsar, OF/RHP, Corvallis (R-Jr., Pepperdine)

Qsar is a two-way player in college and did both for the Knights, but his future appeared brighter as an everyday guy this summer. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Qsar has some untapped power potential from the left side that could show up sooner than later. He ranked second in the league with 13 home runs and fourth with 49 RBIs after slugging just .374 as a sophomore for the Waves in the spring. “Tons of power from the left side,” one league manager said, “and a very balanced hitter. He made loud outs, and when he’s in the field he has solid range and a plus arm." Qsar struggled on the mound this summer but recorded a 3.19 ERA in 26 innings out of the Pepperdine bullpen. He’s a good athlete and could go either way as a pro with good athleticism and a three-pitch mix and fastball in the low-90s.


3. Chase Illig, C, Bellingham (R-So., West Virginia)

Ranked the top prospect by at least two league managers, arguably nobody had a better summer offensively than Illig. As a switch-hitter, he batted .360/.409/.683 with a league-leading 15 homers and drove in 52. “The purest power in the league in my opinion,” one manager said. “He’s a dangerous switch-hitter and a plus catcher.” Illig could be poised for a big year with the Mountaineers, with whom he batted just .242 as a freshman but also worked counts and finished with a .389 on-base percentage in 91 at-bats. Behind the dish, Illig is physical at 6-foot and 210 pounds. He also recorded sub-2.0 pop times fairly consistently. His receiving and blocking abilities need refinement, but he could have a nice future if he can improve upon those skills or continues to progress at the plate.

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4. Austin Shenton, 3B, Bellingham (So., Florida International)

Shenton was ranked at No. 7 on this league’s top 10 last year and appeared to be headed to the University of Washington. Instead, he was let out of his letter-of-intent and enrolled at Bellevue (Wash.) CC, where he did quite well. Shenton batted .395/.494/.600 from the left side but went unsigned and committed to FIU. He continued to hit over the summer by leading the league with a .409 average and ranking fifth with 47 RBI. He’s a pure hitter with gap power who offers little projection in his 6-foot, 210-pound frame. Shenton was a potential top 10-round pick as a senior in high school, but an ankle injury hampered him and opposing teams pitched around him so scouts didn’t get many good looks at him. He’ll receive plenty more of them this spring if he can continue to hit. Shenton is said to have made strides defensively with his footwork. If he can stick at third and show he can hit for more pop, then his future could be bright.


5. Louis Crow, RHP, Corvallis (So., San Diego)

A 16th-round pick by Milwaukee last summer, Crow was rated by managers as high as No. 2 and as low as entirely out of their top 15. That inconsistency is for good reason. He’s projectable at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds with a low-90s fastball and the ability to spin a quality breaking ball. He struck out 34 in 25.1 innings this summer but also walked 16 and was hit around to the tune of a 5.68 ERA. Crow’s command and control took a step backward from the spring with the Toreros, with whom he had a 3.67 ERA across 49 innings with 41 strikeouts and 21 walks. But he’s still young, has quality stuff and a good frame to keep attracting scouts to his games.


6. Devlin Granberg, OF, Cowlitz (Sr., Dallas Baptist)

After tearing it up at Cisco (Texas) JC, Granberg transferred to DBU and has continued to rake. He slashed .359/.439/.564 this spring for the best team in the Missouri Valley Conference and had a strong summer with Cowlitz, batting .347/.445/.653 with eight homers in 101 at-bats. “This guy was the best overall hitter we’ve seen this summer,” one manager said. “He has opposite-field power, and despite having long arms he can reach the inside pitch, as well.” Listed 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Granberg plays left field for DBU and did the same this summer but coaches said he didn't look very comfortable out there, which leads to concern over his future position. But he can hit and should be a top-10 rounder as a senior sign.


7. Holden Powell, RHP, Bellingham (Fr., UCLA)

A four-year starter at shortstop in high school, Powell didn’t stand out on the mound until his senior year and it’s there that UCLA likes him the most. The 6-foot righthander more than held his own this summer with Bellingham: 4-3, 4.07 with 43 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. Powell sat between 89-93 and has a three-pitch mix: a power sinker, swing-and-miss breaking ball and developing changeup. He showed an advanced feel for pitching despite being relatively green and threw strikes early in the summer before appearing to hit a wall, which is normal for a recently graduated high schooler. Powell is one to keep an eye on as he gets under the tutelage of John Savage.


8. Darius Vines, RHP, Walla Walla (So., Yavapai (Ariz.) JC)

Vines will transfer to Yavapai after his freshman year at Oxnard (Calif.) CC, where he played both ways but stood out more on the mound. He had a 1.94 ERA with 95 strikeouts to 26 walks in 83.2 innings and then was plucked in the 27th round by the Cubs. Vines decided not to sign and will transfer after a solid showing for Walla Walla. He had a 4.19 ERA but struck out 42 in 34.1 innings and limited opposing hitters to a .187 average. Vines, who’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, struggled out of the bullpen but was comfortable and dominated as a starter. He threw six perfect innings with 10 strikeouts on July 14 against the Bend Elks and followed that up a week later with six innings of two-hit, one-run ball. Vines will look to either improve his draft position or find a solid Division I program to transfer to.


9. Jackson Thoreson, C, Gresham (Sr., Saint Mary’s)

Thoreson has been the Gaels’ rock behind the plate for the past two years, and he showed why this summer for Gresham. “He has a bulldog mentality—the kind of kid you want behind the dish,” one manager said. Thoreson recorded pop times in the 1.7s this summer and did so with accuracy. The 6-foot, 205-pounder slashed .289/.374/.421 in 114 at-bats this summer after putting up a .772 OPS as a junior. Thoreson isn’t a sexy prospect, but there’s a chance a team could take a flier on him with another consistent spring as a senior.


10. Chase Kaplan, LHP, Corvallis (Sr., Kansas)

Kaplan makes his way back at No. 10 on this list because 6-foot-6 lefties with a fastball that can reach 93-94 don’t grow on trees. Yet, he went undrafted after transferring to the Jayhawks this past year, due in part because he only threw 11 innings. Kaplan returned to Corvallis this summer to iron out whatever problems kept him from contributing at Kansas. He pitched out of the bullpen and recorded a 2.41 ERA while striking out 31 and walked six in 22.1 innings for the Knights. He’ll look to ride that momentum back to Lawrence and could be an intriguing senior sign.

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