N. England prospect reports
Official League Website
New England Collegiate Baseball League top 40 prospects (list)
New England Collegiate League often gets lost in the formidable
shadow cast by its prominent neighbor, the Cape Cod League, when it
comes to national prestige, but the Cape is the only summer college
league in the country that has a decided edge when it comes to
fielding high-end talent.
worst, the NECBL is the fourth-ranked league in the hierarchy of the
nation’s strongest summer leagues, after the Cape, Northwoods and
Coastal Plain leagues. But none of those leagues boasts the depth of
younger talent that is typically found each summer in the NECBL.
majority of players on the accompanying list of the league’s top
prospects are rising college sophomores, too young to be eligible for
the 2012 draft—and too young, generally, for the tastes of leagues
like the Cape, Northwoods and Coastal Plain, whose emphasis is on
more-experienced college sophomores and juniors. In many cases, the
best NECBL players will simply move on to the Cape or USA Baseball’s
college national team a summer later, essentially cementing the
NECBL’s reputation as a steppingstone league.
12-team NECBL excels at identifying elite college freshmen, players
with unmistakable talent but who may not be quite ready for the
faster pace of competition found on the Cape and in other established
leagues. Righthander Stephen Strasburg, then a relative unknown out
of San Diego State, played as a freshman in the NECBL in 2007, two
years before he became the most-decorated draft pick in baseball
year ago, Stanford freshman righthander Mark Appel was the league’s
top-ranked prospect. After splitting this summer between Team USA and
the Cape, he is an early favorite to be the first college pick in the
top-ranked prospect this year, predictably, is another freshman
righthander with a high upside, Keene’s Jeff Thompson, though he
was not the slam-dunk No. 1 selection that Strasburg and Appel were.
A strapping 6-foot-6, 265-pound University of Louisville product,
Thompson is built more like a defensive end but his fastball
routinely reached the mid-90s this summer. Unlike Strasburg and
Appel, Thompson led his team to a league title.
Thompson headlines an impressive crop of young arms, the most
distinguishing feature about this year’s NECBL talent pool is the
unusually large number of quality position prospects—12 of the top
17, to be specific. The best such talent is Newport outfielder Conrad
Gregor (Vanderbilt), who like Thompson is an Indiana high-school
long-time observers said there was more offense in the league this
season than in any year they can remember, and a total of 22
qualifiers for the league batting title, including the sweet-swinging
Gregor, hit .300 or better.
set a league record by hitting .298 as a team, and two Westerners
outfielders, Andrew Garner (Tulane) and Tyler Horan (Virginia
Tech), led the circuit in the three triple-crown categories. Garner
hit .384, while Horan was tops with 11 homers and 35 RBIs. Both
players cracked the list of the league’s top prospects, as did a
third Westerners outfielder, Tanner Kreitemeier (Iowa Western CC).
Dane Opel (Missouri), a fourth Danbury outfielder, narrowly missed
one position ended up being as strong, though, as catcher and that
point was driven home when USA Baseball’s college national team
lost to an NECBL all-star squad 3-2 in an exhibition game at Boston’s
Fenway Park in late June. Holyoke catcher Tom Murphy, the top
power-hitting prospect in the NECBL, hit a long home run over
Fenway’s Green Monster off USA ace Kevin Gausman, and subsequently
was added to the Team USA roster.
the process, he became the third NECBL catcher picked up by Team USA,
though it was only for a five-game trial. Coincidentally, Holyoke’s
other catcher, Ronnie Freeman (Kennesaw State), joined Team USA
earlier in the summer but ended up returning to Holyoke shortly after
Murphy joined the national team.
and Freeman, both rising juniors, factored prominently into the
league’s list of best prospects—Keene’s David Lyon (Kent
State), the other catcher who got called up to Team USA, did not. The
more powerful Murphy was ranked No. 3, the more-finesse-oriented
Freeman No. 7. Three other catchers also cracked the top 40.
Murphy and Freeman, the only other non-freshman to rank among the
league’s top 13 prospects was Sanford righthander Tyler Mizenko,
who gained notoriety as the NECBL’s No. 1 prospect with the same
club in the summer of 2009. Mizenko’s fastball was clocked in the
mid-90s in a closing role at the time, but he rarely repeated that
velocity last summer in the Cape, or in two subsequent seasons at
Winthrop, and slid to the 28th round of this year’s draft after a mediocre season as a starter.
than sign immediately with the San Francisco Giants, Winthrop elected
to return to the NECBL, the site of his past glory, and had another
dominant summer as his fastball returned to the mid-90s. He
subsequently signed with the Giants for $100,000.
Newport Gulls, a perennial power, posted the best regular-season
record in the league (29-14) and had the most players on the list of
top prospects (7), but the Gulls failed to win a playoff game for the
first time in team history. They lost two straight quarter-final
games to the Laconia Muskrats, even as they had won 12 straight games
entering post-season play. Newport’s unexpected slip-up opened the
door for Keene to win its third league title, and first in eight
years. The Swamp Bats won a tightly-bunched Western Division race,
then went on a 6-2 roll in the playoffs.
swept Laconia in the best-of-3 championship series, in what was an
all-New Hampshire final. The Swamp Bats were powered in the
post-season by Thompson, who went 2-0, 0.71 in two starts and equaled
his regular-season win total, and catcher/DH Brett DeLoach (Georgia),
who hit six home runs with 15 RBIs. DeLoach, No. 29 on the
accompanying list, nearly equaled his regular-season home-run total
of seven in eight post-season games.
League Established: 1993.
Represented in League: Connecticut,
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont.
of Teams in League: 12.
Champion (best overall record):
Champion: Keene Swamp Bats.
PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking:
No. 5 Keene Swamp Bats; No. 19 Holyoke Blue Sox; No. 25 Newport
Gulls; No. 48 Danbury Westerners.
1 Prospect, 2010 (per PG CrossChecker): Mark
Appel, rhp, Newport Gulls (Stanford; played with Team USA, in Cape
Cod League in 2011).
2010 Player Selected, 2011 Draft:
Dan Gamache, 3b, Newport Gulls (Auburn; Pirates/6th round).
Valuable Player: Chris Costantino,
rhp/3b, Laconia Muskrats.
Starting Pitcher: Ben Mount, rhp,
Top Relief Pitcher:
Michael Dimock, rhp, Newport Gulls.
Prospect (as selected by league):
Jeff Thompson, rhp, Kenne Swamp Bats.
LEADERS (League games only)
Average: Andrew Garner, of, Danbury
Percentage: Tyler Horan, of, Danbury
Average: Billy Beresznewicz, of, Old
Orchard Beach Raging Tide (.452).
Runs: Tyler Horan, of, Danbury
Tyler Horan, of, Danbury Westerners (35).
Bases: Brian O’Grady, of, Vermont
LEADERS (League games only)
Taylor Williams, rhp, Keene Swamp Bats (6).
Jacob Lee, rhp, Newport Gulls (0.66).
Kyle Grana, rhp, Vermont Mountaineers (11).
Chris Costantino, rhp, Laconia Muskrats (60).
Athlete: Alex Glenn, of, Holyoke
Hitter: Conrad Gregor, of, Newport
Power: Tom Murphy, c, Holyoke Blue
Base Runner: Kyle Johnson, of,
Defensive Player: Jack Reinheimer,
ss, Newport Gulls.
Velocity: Damien Magnifico, rhp,
Breaking Ball: Ryan Harvey, rhp,
Holyoke Blue Sox.
Command: Ben Mount, rhp, Holyoke
JEFF THOMPSON, rhp, Keene Swamp Bats (Louisville/SO in 2012)
PROFILE: Thompson went undrafted in
2010 out of an Indiana high school, but was very much on the radar of
every big-league club. With his raw athleticism and projectable
frame, though, his appeal extended beyond baseball and there were
college football and basketball teams also courting his services. He
received scholarship offers as both a defensive end and power
forward, but chose to play baseball only at nearby Louisville, where
he was born. The strapping 6-foot-6, 260-pound righthander worked
mostly as a reliever as a freshman for the Cardinals, posting a 2-1,
2.75 record with 18 walks and 43 strikeouts in 39 innings. Moved into
a starting role with Keene this summer, his talent blossomed. Though
he went just 2-2 in eight regular-season starts for the Swamp Bats,
he posted a 1.90 ERA, and struck out 53 in 38 innings while walking
15. Opponents hit just .197. Thompson started the all-star game for
the Western Division squad, and played a key role for Keene in the
playoffs as the Swamp Bats rolled to their first league title in
eight years. He won both his post-season starts, capping his
stellar summer in his last outing by blanking Holyoke over six-plus
innings, while striking out 10, as Keene won Game Three of the
Western Division finals, 4-0. Thompson’s
fastball was inconsistent as a starter, peaking at 94 mph at times,
though was more customarily in the 90-92 range, occasionally dipping
into the high-80s. No matter what the velocity, the pitch stood out
with the way it jumped on hitters. His 79-81 mph slider was generally
a dominant pitch, especially for a pitcher with his experience, and
he made strides this summer in developing his changeup. Though he
gets excellent downhill angle on his pitches, and has a live arm with
a free and easy delivery, Thompson still has work to do in refining
his mechanics and streamlining his big frame. In particular, he
struggled when pitching out of the stretch. Once he makes the
necessary adjustments, he should easily add even more velocity to his
fastball, and possibly even pitch in the mid- to high-90s one day.
More than any player in the league, he oozes projectability.
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