2019 California Collegiate League Top Prospects
Postseason Recap: Santa Barbara, again loaded with talent, headed into the postseason with the league’s best record (27-8) and took on the Arroyo Seco Saints. The final was a slugfest, as the Foresters topped the Saints, 10-9, with Hunter Breault (Oregon) striking out the game's last batter to strand the tying run on third base.
The Foresters then advanced to the state championship, where the Healdsburg Prune Packers were waiting after defeating Lincoln in the first-round. Righthander Ian Villers (California) stood out against Lincoln, as he threw five no-hit innings.
In the championship, the Foresters and Prune Packers split the first two games, setting up a decisive third game. Healdsburg jumped out to an early lead, but Santa Barbara moved ahead thanks to a two-run home run from Christian Franklin (Arkansas) and never looked back en route to a 6-1 victory.
Santa Barbara advanced to the National Baseball Congress World Series, which it won in 2012. After going 3-0 in pool play, the Foresters were knocked out in tournament play by the Seattle Studs, the eventual champions.
1. Spencer Jones, LHP/OF, Santa Barbara (Freshman, Vanderbilt)
Jones, a top two-way high school prospect in the 2019 class, had his senior year cut short due to surgery to repair a small fracture in his elbow. Because of this, Jones was limited to only hitting this summer. At the plate, Jones has a decent feel for hitting and displays good pull power. As he continues to fill out, he could develop plus power. The 6-foot-7 lefthander is surprisingly athletic and is an above-average runner. Jones also has significant potential on the mound. Before the injury, he had a fastball that sat 89-93 mph and topped out in the mid-90s. He pairs it with 12-to-6 curveball that sits in the mid- to upper 70s and has tremendous depth. He has surprising body control for his large frame. Jones should be a legitimate two-way player at Vanderbilt and could be a first-round pick in 2022.
2. Nick Jones, LHP, Orange County (Junior, Georgia Southern)
Jones is a tall, lanky lefthander listed at 6-foot-6, 195 pounds with plenty of upside. He uses his height to produce great downhill angle on his fastball, which reaches 92 mph and should gain velocity as he fills out his frame. Jones throws from a three-quarter arm slot with a free and easy arm action that creates a heavy fastball. He shows decent feel for both a curveball and changeup, although there is still room for improvement with both pitches. When Jones is on, he is extremely hard to hit, but he still needs to improve his overall command. This year Jones is expected to jump in Georgia Southern’s rotation.
3. Ian Villers, RHP, Healdsburg (Sophomore, California)
Drafted in the 19th round out of high school by the Padres in 2018, Villers dominated this summer for the Prune Packers and started the all-star game. Standing at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Villers has a large presence on the mound that is backed up with a power fastball, ranging from 92-95 mph and touching 97 mph at times. He backs up his fastball with a slider that sits 85-87 mph. By simplifying his mechanics this summer and pitching primarily out of the stretch, Villers has found some sharpness to the pitch, which now produces more swing-and-miss. He also possesses a 78-80 mph, 12-6 curveball that he mixes in, along with a changeup. Villers will compete for a spot in Cal’s rotation this year.
4. Christian Franklin, OF, Santa Barbara (Sophomore, Arkansas)
Franklin, an outfielder from Arkansas, has the best tools of any of the Foresters’ position players and can impact the game in several different ways. Offensively, Franklin’s hit tool is still developing, but it showcased well this summer as he hit .343/.397/.614 for the Foresters. He has solid power as well, which he displayed throughout the summer and in the California State Championship. In the outfield, he has a strong arm and a chance to be a plus defender. He is a plus runner who has recorded a 6.4-second 60-yard time.
5. Hunter Breault, RHP, Santa Barbara (Junior, Oregon)
Breault, who ranked No. 3 on this list a year ago, is a big, physical reliever with power stuff. The Hawaiian native uses his strong, durable frame to produce a fastball that sits 93-96 mph. Breault has great swing-and-miss capabilities with his fastball, and he can effectively elevate the pitch in order to put away hitters. He pairs his plus fastball with a slider that sits 81-82 mph. The pitch is an average offering, and he's working on becoming more consistent with it. The development of his changeup is still a work in progress for Breault, but either way his fastball and slider should play at the next level.
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6. Eric Kennedy, OF, Santa Barbara (Sophomore, Texas)
Kennedy has a strong, athletic body. The outfielder from Texas has a short, compact swing that he used to hit .400/.457/.557 to win the CCL batting title and MVP award. His bat stays in the zone for a long time and he has the ability to hit to all fields. This allows him to hit for a high average to go along with some power. He has plus speed and displays it with push and drag bunts. His speed also allows him to be a constant threat to steal. Kennedy has primarily played left field and is improving defensively, and many believe he will be an adequate defender by the time he leaves college. If his defense continues to get better, his speed will give him the chance to move to center field, where he would profile better.
7. Ryan Bergert, RHP, Santa Barbara (Sophomore, West Virginia)
This past spring, Bergert showed poise as a freshman in a Morgantown Regional start against Texas A&M, when he threw three scoreless innings. He possesses a four-pitch mix that he uses to go right after hitters and keep them off-balance. His repertoire includes a lively fastball that sits 90-94 mph. He backs it up with a mid- 70s curveball, an 82-84 mph slider and a decent changeup. He throws all four of his pitches with confidence. Bergert shows good pitchability and mixes all of his pitches well.
8. Connor Pavolony, C, Santa Barbara (Sophomore, Tennessee)
Pavolony has already shown flashes of his high ceiling last season. During the Chapel Hill Regional, he caught every game and hit a grand slam. Behind the dish, he shows advanced defensive catching skills. Pavolony has a plus-plus arm to pair with an excellent exchange, which has the capability of shutting down the running game. This summer he threw out 50 percent of baserunners. His advanced receiving and framing skills allow him to consistently turn low pitches into strikes. He demonstrates a good understanding of the game, which is apparent with his pitch-calling skills. Pavolony has an athletic, lean, strong body, which allows him to run well for a catcher. Offensively, he has power potential but is still developing into a consistent hitter.
9. Mike Peabody, OF, Orange County (Junior, UC Irvine)
Peabody has the chance to be one of the best outfield prospects in the Big West next year, if not the best. He possesses a sweet, easy swing from the left side that generates great bat whip. He has displayed the ability to hit to all fields and shows occasional big power. Although Peabody is a bit of a free swinger, he does not get cheated at the plate. In the outfield, he has the ability to play all three positions. He tracks down balls very well and has an above-average arm that is extremely accurate. On the bases, Peabody displays plus speed and ability to get great jumps. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Peabody still has plenty of room to grow into his body.
10. Elijah Trest, RHP, Santa Barbara (Sophomore, Arkansas)
Yet another Santa Barbara arm appears on our list, and this time it is Trest. The righthander has some of the most electric stuff on the Foresters’ staff this summer. Trest, listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, uses his strong, well-developed body along with a solid delivery and good arm speed to produce a live, 92-96 mph fastball that has big sink and run. He pairs it with an 81-84 mph slider that he has shown he can consistently locate. Trest is still developing a changeup.