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The California Collegiate League has become very formidable over the past few years.
Last summer, the league featured some very talented players and prospects. For instance, Pepperdine freshman Aaron Brown competed in the league, while Rice right-handed pitcher Austin Kubitza was one of the league's top prospects and overall players.
This summer was no exception to what has become quite an impressive trend.
It was another exciting summer at the CCL, as the Santa Barbara Foresters and San Luis Obispo Blues tied for the league lead with 20-10 overall records. Meanwhile, those two teams were well ahead of everyone else, with the Academy Barons coming in third with a 14-16 overall record.
From a production standpoint, Harvard outfielder Mike Martin couldn't have taken a much bigger stride this summer, while on the mound, Texas A&M's Gandy Stubblefield was a big-time strikeout pitcher and Mississippi State reliever Chad Girodo was almost unhittable.
We take an inside look at the top performers at the California Collegiate League.
OF Mike Martin, Harvard -- After finishing this past spring with a lackluster .270 batting average, Martin took a significant step forward this summer with the CCL's offensive crown. He batted an outstanding .426 with nine doubles, three triples and 22 RBIs. He also had a fantastic .509 OBP.
1B Austin O'Neal, Texas State -- O'Neal spent last season in the junior college ranks, but should help the Bobcats from the get go in the spring. O'Neal had a fabulous summer, hitting .349 with six triples, four homers and 19 RBIs for the Orange County Pioneers. He also had a .523 slugging percentage.
OF Matt Shortall, Texas-Arlington -- Shortall finished the 2012 collegiate season with just a .270 batting average, but took a significant step forward this summer. He batted .336 with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers and 25 RBIs. He also had a .415 OBP.
OF Evan Ocello, Holy Cross -- Few players showed as much improvement this summer as Ocello. He batted .320 with three doubles, two triples, a home run and 17 RBIs this summer. That's very much a stark contrast from his spring with the Crusaders, where he had just a .242 average in over 100 at bats.
OF John Sewald, Arizona State -- The Sun Devils will have a solid infusion of young talent this fall, and Sewald is a talented freshman who can help right off the bat. He had a very solid summer at the CCL, hitting .316 with two doubles, a triple and 20 RBIs. He also had an OBP over .400.
OF Austin Grisham, Eastern Kentucky -- Grisham has put together quite a consistent year on the baseball diamond. He batted over .300 for the Colonels this past season, and he took a step forward this summer, hitting .309 with four doubles, two triples, a home run and 33 RBIs. The one area he could improve in is reducing strikeouts. He also had 24 stolen bases.
1B Eric Fisher, Arkansas -- Fisher didn't factor into the equation for the Hogs last season, but hopes to do so in 2012. He had a very solid summer, hitting .307 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers and 29 RBIs. He also had a .423 OBP with nine stolen bases.
INF Austin Davidson, Pepperdine -- Davidson certainly didn't have a great spring for the Waves, but showed some promise this summer. He batted .290 with six doubles, a home run and 16 RBIs. He also had a .407 OBP with four stolen bases.
OF Taylor Stell, Texas -- Stell had a very solid freshman campaign for the Longhorns despite an injury cutting things short. Stell also had a solid summer, hitting .280 with two doubles, two triples and 11 RBIs. He also had a .421 OBP with 14 stolen bases.
1B Ryan O'Hearn, Sam Houston State -- O'Hearn really showed a lot of potential as a pure hitter and power producer in his first season with the Bearkats. He also had a good summer, hitting .294 with 10 doubles, a triple, two home runs and 27 RBIs. He also had a 22:15 SO:BB ratio.
LHP Chad Girodo, Mississippi State -- The talented left-handed pitcher had just a 5.87 ERA for the Bulldogs this past spring, but really blossomed this summer with a strong showing. He made 16 appearances and had a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. He also struck out 44 and walked three.
RHP Hunter Lemke, Texas State -- The talented right-hander had a 1.25 ERA for the Bobcats this past spring. He had an equally impressive summer, making 23 appearances, recording 12 saves and tallying a 1.48 ERA in 24 1/3 innings of work. HE also struck out 34 and walked four, while teams hit him at a .233 clip.
RHP Parker Ray, Texas A&M -- Ray just occasionally factored into the equation for the Aggies this past spring, but his role certainly is expected to increase in 2013, especially after the summer he put together. Ray appeared in 17 games, recorded five saves and had a 1.82 ERA in 29 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out 58 and walked 21, while teams hit him at a .143 clip.
LHP Dylan Munger, Alabama-Birmingham -- Munger had a less than stellar spring for the Blazers, tallying a 5.98 ERA. However, he blossomed this summer with a 1.91 ERA in nine appearances and 37 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out 38 and walked nine, while teams hit him at a .209 clip.
RHP Ian McCarthy, USC -- McCarthy hopes to factor into the equation for the Trojans in his final season with the program. He made 10 appearances and had a 1.93 ERA in 42 innings. He also struck out 39 and walked 11, while teams hit him at a .216 clip.
LHP Albert Minnis, Wichita State -- Minnis had a very respectable spring for the Shockers, tallying a 3.82 ERA. He also had an outstanding summer, making 22 appearances and compiling a 2.10 ERA in 25 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out 32 and walked six, while teams hit him at a .213 clip.
RHP Kory Delange, Nicholls State -- Delange put together a 5.74 ERA last season and followed the spring up with a big-time summer at the CCL. He made 10 appearances and had a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings of work. He also struck out 59 and walked 20, while teams hit him at a .233 clip.
RHP Brandon Pierce, Nebraska -- Pierce entered the spring with some high hopes with the Huskers, but control issues plagued him at times. Pierce put together a very good summer season, making nine appearances and having a 2.45 ERA in 44 innings. He also struck out 30 and walked 15, while teams hit him at a .229 clip.
RHP Will Cox, Mississippi State -- Cox had a 4.64 ERA in 21 1/3 innings for the Bulldogs this past spring. He hopes to establish an even larger role for himself in 2013 after having a good summer. He made 11 appearances and had a 2.56 ERA in 45 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out 46 and walked 10.
RHP Nick Palewicz, Washington -- Palewicz had just an OK spring for the Huskies, but showed some serious strides this summer. He made nine appearances and had a 2.92 ERA in 37 innings of work. He also struck out 36 and walked six, while teams hit him at a .248 clip.
RHP Gandy Stubblefield, Texas A&M -- Stubblefield has a big-time arm, but struggled with his command in the spring for the Aggies. This summer, he was very consistent and put up some solid numbers. He made eight appearances and had a 3.46 ERA in 39 innings. He also struck out 53 and walked 16, while teams hit him at a .213 clip.