2018 Valley League Top 10 Prospects
Postseason Recap: Taking the lead on a go-ahead, seventh-inning grand slam by right fielder Adan Fernandez, the New Market Rebels defeated Charlottesville, 8-5, to win their fourth title in Valley League history—and first since 2002.
1. Jeremy Cook, LHP, Staunton, (So., Miami)
Cook is a savvy lefty who controls the strike zone with a fastball that sits 90-92 mph and occasionally touches 93-94 mph. Used only in relief, he also gets outs with a 79-80 mph sharp slider that breaks low and away from lefty hitters. He'll also show an occasional 11-to-5 high-arc curveball as a spot offering. Cook went 4-2, 3.04 in 20 games for the Braves, all in relief. He struck out 41 hitters with 18 walks in 23.2 innings pitched. He throws from a mid-3/4 slot and moves his pitches to both the arm- and glove-side. He battles lefty hitters with a fastball that moves down and away. He spots his fastball center-in with sink to righties. One challenge going forward will be to widen the strike zone in order to reduce his walks in late innings, when he pitches most often.
2. Andrew Eyster, OF, New Market, (So., South Carolina)
Eyster will attend South Carolina this fall after a year at Santa Fe College in Florida. When the current summer season ended, the 19-year-old had played 41 games and had 151 at-bats with 59 hits and a .391 batting average. Eyster logged 29 extra-base hits with 18 doubles, 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound outfielder stands upright at the plate with an open stance and has above-average plate discipline with 30 strikeouts to go with 19 walks for New Market. He speed is average, but he added seven stolen bases to his offensive mix. He'll likely play corner outfield at South Carolina.
3. Fred Villarreal, RHP, Waynesboro (Jr., Houston)
Villarreal enters his junior year at Houston after a solid summer with the Generals. He pitched mostly in relief and ended with a 2-3 record in 35 innings. Villarreal pitches with poise and savvy, using his 91-94 mph fastball to rack up 42 strikeouts with only six walks in summer play. He works quickly from a three-quarter slot and gave up 33 hits with a 2.55 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. His secondary pitches are an 84-86 mph slider and an 80-81 mph changeup. He works quickly from a stretch and his ball movement expands the strike zone on the corners.
4. Anu Oraj, OF, New Market, (So., Wallace (Ala.) JC)
Oraj is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound switch-hitting outfielder who can also throw with either hand. He hit .358 in 33 games for New Market this summer with only 18 strikeouts vs. 11 walks in 123 at-bats. While focused on making solid contact, Oraj showed potential with 44 hits and 17 for extra bases including eight doubles, one triple and eight home runs. He drove in 26 runs mostly from the left side. He returns to Wallace JC this fall and will be eligible for the 2019 draft.
5. Kyle Arjona, RHP, Harrisonburg, (Sr., New Orleans)
Arjona pitches from a standard three-quarter slot and mixes a fastball, slider and curveball. His fastball is an average 88-92 mph offering that touches 93 mph and gets movement through the zone. His slider breaks down and away from righthanded hitters with 10-to-4 movement, while his 78-80 mph curveball is another offering altogether. Control and location is key to Arjona's approach. In 27.1 relief innings pitched, he ended with a 1.31 ERA and .886 WHIP. He struck out 33 batters with only two walks, giving up 22 hits with four earned runs.
6. Trevin Eubanks, RHP, New Market (Sr., Southern Mississippi)
A big, 6-foot-3, 230-pound presence on the mound, Eubanks relies on his 89-93 mph fastball to get most of his outs via strikeouts. There's no real deception in his high three-quarters delivery. He winds, raises his left leg, comes forward, plants and releases. He pitched only in relief this summer over 24 innings for the Rebels with 40 strikeouts and 15 walks. He allowed 14 hits and eight runs (six earned), ending with a 2.25 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. His secondary pitches include a 77-79 mph slider with occasional 11-to-5 action and a 78-80 mph changeup. His pitches need to add movement to become more effective.
2018 Recruiting Rankings: The Next 10
On the heels of last week's top 25, we looked at 10 teams who just missed the cut, but still have impressive classes entering 2019.
7. Dominic D'Alessandro, UTIL, Charlottesville (Sr., George Washington)
D'Alessandro's righthanded swing places a priority on having a goal for an at-bat. The swing is easy and fluid and he'll hit the ball to all fields. The approach led to 49 RBIs (tied, league first) in 139 at-bats. With strong wrists and a solid lower half, he had 46 hits including 10 doubles and six home runs in Valley play. He finished with a .331 batting average. His steady approach to contact led to steady contact with only 26 strikeouts and 10 walks for the season.
8. Rafe Schindler, RHP, Harrisonburg (So., New Orleans)
Schindler has the size (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) and control to become at front-line pitcher at the college level. He needs experience to refine an 88-92 mph fastball, which was his primary pitch this summer for the Turks. Using a mid- to high three-quarters slot, his fastball often gets sinking action in the zone and is difficult for hitters to square up. His prime offspeed pitch is a 77-80 mph slider that ends up down and away when sharp to righthanded hitters. He ended his summer with a 3.05 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. In 17.2 innings pitched, he struck out 23 hitters, walking only five while giving up 16 hits.
9. Anthony Zimmerman, RHP, Purcellville, (Sr., Fordham)
At 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, Zimmerman can be an intimidating presence on the mound. He remade his spring season at Fordham with excellent results in Valley play. While pitching only in relief, he issued seven walks and had three strikeouts this spring. For the Cannons this summer, he logged 16.1 relief innings over 13 games, striking out 33 while walking only four batters. He allowed one earned run all summer on seven hits with a 0.55 ERA and 0.68 WHIP. His fastball sits 90-93, occasionally touching 94 mph. His second pitch is a 76-78 mph curve with 10-to-4 action. While Zimmerman shows arm strength, his offerings need less effort and more movement to use his large frame to its best advantage.
10. Jared Wetherbee, LHP, Charlottesville, (So., Elon)
While sometimes fighting his control, Wetherbee works to pressure hitters by simply getting ahead in counts. While his fastball (90-92 mph) is an average pitch, it's at its best when thrown in or near the strike zone. He works hard to expand the zone as the game progresses. Primarily used in relief this summer, his second pitch is a 78-81 mph slider. In 11 games (three starts), he threw 25.1 innings with 44 strikeouts and 14 walks. He gave up only seven hits and three runs for a 1.06 ERA and 0.83 WHIP.