COMPILED BY ALLAN SIMPSONIn Association with League Managers and ScoutsOfficial League Website: www.scbl.org
Little changed in the Southern Collegiate League from 2008 to 2009 as the Tennessee Thunder posted the best regular-season record and breezed through the playoffs for the second year in a row. The biggest difference may have been in the Thunder itself as it transitioned from an older, more experienced team with few legitimate prospects to a younger, more prospect-oriented team this summer.
The Thunder repeated as champions despite losing the services of Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg, a South African-born first baseman by way of Florida’s Nova Southeastern University and a 16th-round draft pick in June of the Atlanta Braves, and second baseman D.J. Fitzgerald, a 22nd-round pick of the Chicago Cubs from Tennessee’s Dyersburg State JC, on the eve of the 2009 season.
Spanjer-Furstenburg, who went on to earn Rookie-level Appalachian League player-of-the-year honors (and played several games in Johnson City, home of the Thunder, in the process) would almost certainly have been the league’s top power prospect and Fitzgerald the fastest base runner had they remained with the Thunder. The loss of the pair was more than offset by big seasons enjoyed by third baseman Sam Eberle, who led the league in homers, and the sterling relief tandem of Sean Albury and Jason Trivette, who saved 12 games between them.
With the early departure of Spanjer-Furstenburg and Fitzgerald, the distinction of best overall prospect fell to Lake Norman outfielder Brian Litwin, who still must prove his superior athletic ability can translate to baseball, and Albury, an ex-outfielder who thoroughly dominated the league this summer as a pitcher.
FAST FACTSYear League Established: 1999.States Represented in League: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee.Level of Competition (1-to-4 Scale, 1 being highest): 4.No. of Teams in League: 7.Regular-Season Champion: Tennessee Tornado.Post-Season Champion: Tennessee Tornado.Teams, PG Crosschecker Summer 25/Final Ranking: None.No. 1 Prospect, 2008: Anthony Sosnoskie, c, Lake Norman Copperheads (Virginia Tech; played in Cape Cod League in 2009).First 2008 Player Selected, 2009 Draft: Teddy Fallon, rhp, Carolina Thunder (USC Upstate; Pirates/43rd round).Most Valuable Player: Zeke Blanton, dh, Morganton Aggies.Most Outstanding Pitcher: Adam Beach, rhp, Carolina Stingers.Top Prospect (as selected by league): None selected.
BATTING LEADERSBatting Average: Zeke Blanton, dh, Morganton Aggies (.415).Slugging Percentage: Samson Williams, of, Morganton Aggies (.619).On-Base Average: Zeke Blanton, dh, Morgantpon Aggies (.482).Home Runs: Sam Eberle, 3b, Tennessee Tornado (7).RBIs: Samson Williams, of, Morganton Aggies (34).Stolen Bases: Zeke Blanton, dh, Morganton Aggies; Fabian Harper, ss, Tennessee Thunder (18).
PITCHING LEADERSWins: Kevin Bratcher, rhp, Morganton Aggies; Wes McIntyre, rhp, Spartanburg Blue Eagles (6).ERA: Adam Beach, rhp, Carolina Stingers (1.36).Saves: Jason Trivette, rhp, Tennessee Thunder (9).Strikeouts: Wes McIntyre, rhp, Spartanburg Blue Eagles (65).Opponent Batting Average: Sean Albury, rhp, Tennessee Thunder (.127).
BEST TOOLSBest Hitter: Sam Eberle, 3b, Tennessee Tornado.Best Power: Joaquin Valdes, 3b, Carolina Stingers.Fastest Base Runner: Shane Brown, of, Lake Norman Copperheads.Best Defensive Player: Brian Litwin, of, Lake Norman Copperheads.Best Velocity: Sean Albury, rhp, Tennessee Tornado.Best Breaking Ball: Sean Albury, rthp, Tennessee Tornado.
TOP 10 PROSPECTS