2005 College Summer Leagues: Top Prospects
By Will Kimmey
August 25, 2005
• 2005 Summer
Player of the Year: Andrew Miller
• 2005 Summer
It’s back to school time at college campuses across the nation, with students renewing acquaintances and sharing their summer experiences with one another. It’s no different for the baseball players, a lot of whom enjoyed internships in summer wood-bat leagues.
Baseball America consulted with managers and scouts for 16 summer leagues
to rank the Top 10 Prospects in each one. The
Cape Cod League appeared last week, and here we present
the valedictorians of 16 more leagues. For subscribers, click on any
league for a Top 10 list.
1. Michael Taylor, of, Mat-Su Miners (Stanford)
Extremely physical at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Taylor has an unlimited upside. He has solid tools across the board but has barely tapped into them. He struggled early at the plate, but made adjustments to develop a more fluid stroke and hit .317-4-25. He also led the league with 25 stolen bases, covered a lot of ground in right field with his long stride and showcased an above-average arm for that position. With continued improvement over the next two years at Stanford, particularly in unlocking his power potential, he could be one of the top picks in the 2007 draft.
Vin DiFazio, c, Quakertown (Indian River, Fla., CC)
DiFazio paced the ACBL with 42 RBIs and ranked second in hits, runs, doubles and triples while batting .331/.407/.570 to help lead Quakertown to the best record in the league and a league title. His defense behind the plate impressed just as much, especially his arm strength and sturdy frame (6-foot, 200 pounds). DiFazio played his freshman season at Connecticut and will transfer to Indian River for 2006.
Miles Morgan, rhp, DuPage County (Texas Tech)
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Morgan sat out his freshman year at Texas Tech, not because he wasn’t ready to pitch but because of a situation involving his academic transcript. He more than held his own in the CICL, leading the league with 59 strikeouts in 63 innings while posting a 4-3, 3.02 record. Morgan’s big weapon was a fastball that topped out at 96 mph. His greatest difficulty came in sustaining his velocity, as it frequently dwindled to the high 80s in the middle innings, but he complemented his fastball with a slurve that was effective when he kept it down in the strike zone consistently.
CAL RIPKEN SR. COLLEGIATE
Brett Cecil, lhp, Silver Spring-Takoma (Maryland)
Cecil drew a David Wells comparison; not because of his build—he’s a solid 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds—but based on his plus command of four pitches. Cecil comes with standard equipment (fastball, changeup, curveball and slider) and mixes that repertoire well. His fastball rates about average for a lefty, topping out at 92 mph. After mostly working out of the bullpen as a freshman at Maryland, Cecil went 4-4, 1.46 with 11 walks in 56 innings. His 61 strikeouts led the league.
Scott Maine, lhp, Herndon (Miami)
Maine, who threw 10 innings as a redshirt freshman at Miami while recovering from Tommy John surgery, made just six starts for the league champion Herndon Braves, but that was plenty to earn this ranking. He went 1-1, 1.65 with a 39-7 strikeout-walk ratio in 27 innings, and 11 of those strikeouts came in a dominant start against Fauquier. Maine, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, throws an 89-93 mph fastball that runs away from righthanded hitters and also uses a curveball and changeup.
Wynn Pelzer, rhp, Wilmington (South Carolina)
South Carolina recruiting coordinator Jim Toman called Pelzer a sleeper prior to his freshman year, but the righthander worked just 29 innings behind an all-senior weekend rotation. But when Pelzer’s low- to mid-90s fastball hit 97 at the CPL all-star game and his 84-86 mph slider proved a second plus pitch, there was little doubt about the league’s best prospect. His summer ended before he could play again after he suffered a concussion when an errant throw struck him in the head during pregame infield. His arm works well and he gets good drive from a sturdy lower half despite a 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame that leaves room to add muscle. Pelzer overcame some command issues early in the summer to finish at 4-2, 1.98 with 34 strikeouts in 35 innings.
FLORIDA COLLEGIATE SUMMER
Ty Pryor, rhp, Winter Park (Tennessee)
Pryor earned the league’s most valuable pitcher award after going 4-0, 0.66 with 50 strikeouts in 41 innings. That’s a nice improvement after he went 5-4, 7.28 as a freshman at South Florida, and enough of one that he’ll be transferring to Tennessee for 2006. Pryor’s fastball reaches 95 mph, and he mixes in a solid curveball and changeup. He’s not related to Mark Prior, as their names obviously are spelled differently, but Pryor’s father Jeff played minor league ball with the Angels and his uncle Greg Pryor spent 10 major league seasons as an infielder.
Ben Snyder, lhp, Columbus (Ball State)
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Snyder won only one game during the regular season but handed Stark County its only loss, 4-1 on a three-hitter, in the league’s six-team, double-elimination tournament. He showed the ability to move the ball around well with a fastball in the 89-91 mph range and a cutter and slider that ate up lefthanded hitters. “All our hitters said his breaking stuff was filthy,” Stark County manager Joe Gilhousen said. Snyder’s older brother Brad was a first-round pick of the Indians in 2003 and Ben projects to go in the top five rounds in 2006 as a draft-eligible sophomore. He led Ball State with eight wins and 98 innings pitched as a freshman.
Aaron Breit, rhp, Hays (Garden City, Kan., CC)
Breit, a native of Hays, spent his freshman year at nearby Garden City CC and impressed the Padres enough in more than 100 innings of work to select him in the 12th round of this year’s draft. Despite a tired arm, he enjoyed a big summer for the Larks, leading the league in strikeouts and winning his first eight decisions before dropping the team’s final game of the year to the Alaska Goldpanners in the National Baseball Congress World Series. Very projectable at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Breit generates a fastball with 92-95 mph velocity and commands an above-average breaking ball, but he needs work on his changeup.
NEW ENGLAND COLLEGIATE
Cyle Hankerd, of, Newport (Southern California)
Hankerd easily rated as the best hitting prospect in the league after falling three RBIs shy of earning the triple crown. His plus power, especially on pitches on the inner half of the plate, proved somewhat of a surprise. Hankerd hit only one home run in 218 at-bats as a sophomore for USC before going deep a NECBL-high nine times in half that many at-bats this summer. He added two more home runs in an exhibition against Team USA, and another on a 97 mph fastball from Josh Fields in the all-star game. Hankerd also led the league with a .383 average to draw comparisons to Todd Linden, a former Cape Cod League batting champion. His plus arm plays well in right field, where he’s an average defender.
NEW YORK COLLEGIATE
Elvin Vargas, of, Hornell (Connors State, Okla., JC)
Vargas and Angel Cabrera, a pair of Dominicans from New York, spent the summer tearing up the NYCBL as teammates at Hornell. They are also teammates at Connors State, which plays in a league that uses wood bats. Vargas, strong and athletic at 6-foot-4, hit 12 home runs for Connors State before leading this league with 17 doubles and 42 RBIs. He added a .295 average and two home runs while playing a strong defensive right field and flashing at least an average arm.
Matt Mangini, 3b, Thunder Bay (North Carolina State)
Mangini earned but 31 at-bats as a freshman at N.C. State playing behind senior Matt Devine, but showed he’ll be at least a suitable replacement this summer by hitting .342/.392/.519. Big and strong at 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds, Mangini displayed plus power and solid defensive skills for Thunder Bay. His soft hands and solid-average arm made him one of the league’s best defenders. Mangini’s uppercut swing plane means he’ll sometimes hook balls; he still needs to work on getting more backspin on the ball and trimming his 44-16 strikeout-walk ratio.
Jeremy Jones, of, Kernersville (North Carolina A&T)
Jones’ tools rate at least average across the board and helped lead Kernersville to its third straight league title after a .342-3-20 summer in which his name appeared all over the statistical leaderboard. He ranked among the top five in slugging, runs, hits, doubles, RBIs and steals while tying for the lead in homers thanks to solid power and a knowledge of the strike zone (.423 on-base). He helped lead A&T to the NCAA tournament by ranking 26th in the nation in batting as a sophomore.
Aaron Brown, rhp, Coppell (Houston)
A lanky 6-foot-6 righthander, Brown generated 93-95 mph heat with an easy arm action. He earned freshman of the year honors in the league, going 3-0, 1.43 for Coppell, which posted the best record during the regular season. Still somewhat raw but with a considerable upside, he just needs more time on the mound to refine his stuff. Still, it was good enough to help him record 38 strikeouts in 39 innings as a freshman at Houston.
Collin Cowgill, of, Covington (Kentucky)
Cowgill bounced back from a disappointing freshman season at Kentucky in a huge way. After hitting .200-2-19 in 100 at-bats for the Wildcats this spring, Cowgill led the Valley League in home runs (14), RBIs (39), slugging percentage (.659) and total bases (116) while finishing fifth in batting (.324). Managers raved about his lightning-quick hands and ability to hit hard line drives on any pitch. He also displayed excellent range in the outfield and a plus arm. He was unstoppable in the postseason, carrying Covington to the VBL title. Cowgill has all the tools but is a bit undersized at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds.
WEST COAST COLLEGIATE
Tommy Hanson, rhp, Aloha (Riverside, Calif., CC)
Hanson, a 22nd-round draft pick of the Braves in June, had an outstanding summer, going 7-1, 0.92 with 116 strikeouts in 78 innings. The 6-foot-6, 212-pound righthander threw four pitches for strikes, including a moving 88-92 mph fastball with an easy, effortless delivery. Though he has made a verbal commitment to Arizona State for a year from now, Hanson will return to Riverside CC for his sophomore year—if he doesn’t sign with the Braves first.
Contributing: Josh Cooper, Aaron Fitt, Allan Simpson.