T.J. Collett Ranks No. 1 Among Prospect League Prospects

Prospect League Top Prospects
T.J. Collett, c, Terre Haute (Fr., Kentucky)
Joey Polak, 3b/1b, Quincy (Fr., South Carolina)
Aaron Meyer, 2b, DuPage (Sr., Missouri State)
Brian Hobbie , rhp, Terra Haute (Jr., Indiana)
Zane Collins, lhp, Champion City (So., Wright State)
Jake Anchia, c, DuPage (So., Nova Southeastern, Fla.)
Connor Coward, rhp, Butler (Jr., Virginia Tech)
Tanner Allison, lhp, Chillicothe (Jr., Western Michigan)
Jacob Belinda, rhp, West Virginia (Sr., Lock Haven, Pa.)
Brendan Burns, rhp, Chillicothe (Jr., Ball State)

SEE ALSO: Summer College League Top Prospects

Postseason Recap: For the third time in the Prospect League’s eight-year history, the West Virginia Miners emerged as champions, culminating a perfect 4-0 playoffs with a 9-6, 11-inning victory over the Quincy Gems. It was premier pitching that helped the Miners cruise through the playoffs. The West Virginia staff complied a 1.89 ERA with 35 strikeouts across the four playoff games. In addition to the mound work, the Miners also got a big-time performance from slugger Dan Ward (Eastern New Mexico), whoe went 9-for-17 in the playoffs with 6 runs scored and 6 RBIs. The title is the first for the team since 2013.

1. T.J. Collett, c, Terre Haute (Fr., Kentucky)

Collet ranked No. 364 in Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects this spring—he passed on signing as a 40th round pick—and showed why over the summer. The rising freshman at Kentucky has a potential plus hit tool and above-average power as well. His pitch recognition has earned the praise of scouts and also helped him grind out a .345 average this summer. At 6-foot, 225 pounds, he has good size to project explosive power in his big lefthanded swing. His receiving and blocking are serviceable right now but will need development in college, while his arm is clearly his best tool defensively.

2. Joey Polak, 3b/1b, Quincy (Fr., South Carolina)

Like Collett, Polak was impressive before even stepping foot on a college campus. The incoming freshman raked this summer, ripping off 26 extra base hits in 188 at-bats. His nine homers and .537 slugging percentage were both second best in the league, but his big swing costs him some contact. He racked up a league-high 61 strikeouts and drew an alarmingly low five walks. Still, he was able to hit .298 in his summer campaign and the power he showed in games is hard to walk away from. He has three years to work on his craft in the Southeastern Conference, and could find himself creeping up draft boards come 2018.

3. Aaron Meyer, 2b, DuPage (Sr., Missouri State)

Meyer’s bat has improved with each of his college seasons. He hit .226 as a freshman, .298 as a sophomore and .315 as a junior, but he blew all of those away this summer. Meyer exploded, hitting .423—a Prospect League record—with a .598 slugging percentage. He showed good bat-to-ball skills from the left side of the plate and has improved his strike zone awareness. He walked 26 times while striking out 28 across 194 at-bats this summer, and he went on to lead the league in all three triple slash categories. His performance led to him being named both MVP and prospect of the year in the league.

4. Brian Hobbie , rhp, Terra Haute (Jr., Indiana)

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Hobbie has the prototypical size for a starting pitcher, and he was a workhorse this summer for the Rex. Hobbie went six or more innings in six of his eight starts, while making four relief appearances on short rest in between. The rising junior compiled a 4-2, 0.82 record on the summer. He allowed just 36 hits over 54.2 innings, while only allowing 4 earned runs. Coaches around the league praise his stuff—a high 80s to low 90s fastball and quality breaking ball—and although he doesn’t get too many swing and misses yet, he put together a 34-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio thanks to his command.

5. Zane Collins, lhp, Champion City (So., Wright State)

A rising sophomore at Wright State, Collins has huge upside. As a freshman, Collins held his own, but his pitching IQ showed improvement this summer. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Collins has nice size with which to work. He gets natural movement on his pitches as a lefthander, but that did cause him some control issues this spring—20 walks in 44.2 innings for Wright State. Collins looked to have moved past that, improving both his fastball and breaking ball command this summer. Coaches in the league applauded Collins’ arm speed and ability to improve.

6. Jake Anchia, c, DuPage (So., Nova Southeastern, Fla.)

Anchia showed monster pop this spring, blasting 8 home runs in just 73 at-bats for the Sharks. While that power wasn’t the same this summer, as he hit just three homers in the Prospect League, but he still held his own with the bat, hitting .287/.340/.419 in 43 games. There were times he pressed at the plate, striking out 37 times against 11 walks, so he’ll need to show a more relaxed approach consistently. He garnered positive reviews behind the plate, where he’s a mobile catcher with good receiving skills and an above-average arm.

7. Connor Coward, rhp, Butler (Jr., Virginia Tech)

The rising junior at Virginia Tech pitches off an 88-92 mph fastball, which he compliments with a 12-to-6 curveball that flashes plus potential. He will keep hitters off balance with a decent changeup as well. Coward had trouble with control this spring, but seems to have ironed it out this summer. After walking 21 in 30.1 innings for the Hokies, he allowed just seven free passes for Butler, piling up an impressive 68-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 56.2 innings this summer that opened eyes around the league.

8. Tanner Allison, lhp, Chillicothe (Jr., Western Michigan)

Allison topped this list a year ago after posting a 1.07 ERA for Chillicothe, but his second tour of the Prospect League didn’t go as smoothly, as he ended the summer 2-1, 4.54. While flashing swing and miss stuff, as evidenced by 41 strikeouts in 33.2 innings this summer, Allison hasn’t put it all together yet. The rising junior sits 90-92 mph and tops out at 94 with a solid curve and an average changeup that shows depth at times. A two-way player, Allison has been losing mound time but he should be able to develop as a pitching prospect whenever he decides to make it his sole focus.

9. Jacob Belinda, rhp, West Virginia (Sr., Lock Haven, Pa.)

Even though Belinda had a hard time keeping his ERA down this spring, going 3-5, 4.82 at Division II Lock Haven, scouts were still interested in his swing and miss stuff. He works with a good fastball, a decent changeup and a sharp slider, which contributed to his league-leading strikeout total of 69 in 52.1 innings. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Belinda has nice size to build on, and he goes deep in games—he went six-plus innings in eight of 11 starts while posting a 2.06 ERA to compliment his 5-2 record.

10. Brendan Burns, rhp, Chillicothe (Jr., Ball State)

Burns has a lot of room to project. The 6-foot-6, 190 pound righthander possesses an 88-90 mph fastball, with a solid curveball and changeup. His age and size give reason to believe his fastball could increase a couple ticks as he fills out his lanky frame. One of his issues is an inability to replicate his delivery, which impacts his control. While he cut down his walks this summer compared to the spring, he still issued 17 in 38.2 innings, so he will have to improve his control heading into his junior year.

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