Summer Collegiate : : Story
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Far West Lg. prospect reports

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Washington

Official League Website

League Strength: **

Far West League top 20 prospects (list)

The Far West League may have been a brand-new summer college league in 2011, but several of its member clubs were hardly new.

Teams like the Arcata-based Humboldt Crabs and San Jose-based Fontanetti’s A’s have been fixtures in northern California baseball circles for years. For perspective, the Crabs recently completed their 67
th season, while Fontanetti’s has been around since 1965.

The booming interest in summer baseball around the country in recent years spurred on the Crabs and Fontanetti’s to get behind the formation of a new 10-team league based in northern California that included most of the better established summer programs in the area, and the Far West League was born.

Appropriately, the Humboldt Crabs won the first league championship, though they had to come all the way back through the loser’s bracket of the league’s six-team post-season double-elimination tournament to secure the title after dropping their first game, 1-0. The Crabs beat the first-year Neptune Beach Pearl 5-1 in the final.

The Crabs also showed their dominance by grabbing the first two spots on the accompanying list of the league’s top prospects with ace righthander Aaron West, a University of Washington product, securing the No. 1 spot after a dominating season.

FAST FACTS

Year League Established:
2011.
States Represented in League: California, Nevada, Oregon.
No. of Teams in League: 10.
Regular-Season Champion (best overall record): Humboldt Crabs.
Post-Season Champion: Humboldt Crabs.
Teams, PG Crosschecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 20 Humboldt Crabs.

Most Valuable Player:
None selected.
Most Outstanding Pitcher: None selected.
Top Prospect (as selected by league): None selected.

NOTE: Statistics/leaders unavailable.

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete:
Ivory Thomas, of, Humboldt Crabs.
Best Hitter: Kevin Taylor, 3b, Nevada Bullets.
Best Power: Spencer Branigan, 1b, Atwater Aviators.
Fastest Base Runner: Ivory Thomas, of, Humboldt Crabs.
Best Defensive Player: Adam Young, ss, Redding Colt .45s.
Best Velocity: Aaron West, rhp, Humboldt Crabs.
Best Breaking Ball: Aaron West, rhp, Humboldt Crabs.
Best Command: Gene Escat, rhp, Humboldt Crabs.

TOP 20 PROSPECTS

1. AARON WEST, rhp, Humboldt Crabs (Washington/JR in 2012)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Even after he went 1-8, 5.18 as a junior at Washington, a year after coming off Tommy John surgery, West was expected to be selected in the top 10 rounds of the 2011 draft. Not only did that not happen, but he was unexpectedly passed over altogether. That oversight became all the more glaring during the summer when the 6-foot-1, 195-pound West fashioned possibly the most dominant season for any pitcher in the nation’s summer college ranks. He went 7-0, 0.17 with 11 walks and 83 strikeouts in 54 innings for the Humboldt Crabs. In a non-league, seven-inning outing against the Menlo Park Legends, West spun a two-hit shutout while striking out 18. He punctuated his spectacular season in his final outing by authoring another shutout, while walking one and striking out 12, as the Crabs beat the Atwater Aviators 2-0 in the Far West League post-season tournament on their way to four wins in 24 hours and a league title. West dominated with a fastball that was consistently at 92-93 mph and peaked at 95. His slider was often in the mid-80s with good bite, but he struggled to always command that pitch. West also earned high marks for his confident, composed approach on the mound and also for one of the best pickoff moves in the college ranks for a righthander. His career was temporarily put on hold March 11, 2010, when he injured his elbow after going 0-1, 9.00 in four starts for Washington. He subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery, missed the balance of the 2010 season and was awarded a medical red-shirt. Given the success that he enjoyed this summer, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be overlooked in the draft again in 2012 as a red-shirt junior.


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