Summer Collegiate : : Story
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cal Ripken Lg. prospect reports

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Cal Ripken League
Official League Website

League Strength: ***

Cal Ripken Collegiate League top 30 prospects (list)

The Cal Ripken League was in just its seventh season of operation this summer, but a solid case can be made that the league came of age in 2011.

On the strength of its wire-to-wire domination of the league, the Bethesda Big Train finished the season atop Perfect Game CrossChecker’s weekly ranking of the nation’s top summer league clubs. In the process, the Maryland-based franchise secured an unofficial national summer-league championship.

Youse’s Maryland Orioles, who finished a distant second behind the Big Train in the Ripken League standings, further added to the prestige the league gained in 2011 by capturing an official national title in convincingly winning the All-American Amateur Baseball Association championship for the second year in a row and 28
th time in the club’s celebrated history.

Such national recognition by two of its original clubs has only added to the prestige of the nine-team Cal Ripken League, and enabled it to safely secure a foothold among the top summer college leagues in the country.

From a talent standpoint, the league continues to attract its share of prospects from around the country, though still has a way to go catch the Cape Cod League and 3-4 other more established summer leagues.

Most of the talent this summer not unexpectedly was assembled on the league’s two marquee clubs, the Big Train and Orioles, who have pretty much dominated the Cal Ripken League from the outset. Of the top 30 prospects on the accompanying list, 17 players came from the Big Train (nine) and Orioles (eight), including the top six.

Led by the league’s player (Adam Barry) and pitcher of the year (Matt Bowman), and No. 1 overall prospect (Hunter Renfroe), the Big Train handily took care of its competition in the Ripken League this summer, finishing first with a league-record 33 wins. It then closed out its season in style by capturing its third straight league title with three straight playoff wins. Overall, the Big Train went 36-9 on the season.

Barry wasn’t drafted in June as a red-shirt sophomore out of Cal State Northridge, but set league records with a .414 batting average, 67 hits and 43 RBIs. Though he homered just once on the summer, the powerfully-built Barry roped a league-best 14 doubles and enjoyed his greatest success as he continues his transition to baseball after playing two years of football at Wyoming in 2008-09. In the process, the league’s 13
th-ranked prospect may have taken big strides in improving his standing for the 2012 draft.

The Big Train joined the Cal Ripken League as an original franchise in 2005 after leaving the since-disbanded Clark Griffith League, while the Orioles, who have been in existence since 1952 under various names and sponsorships, came on board the same season after dominating the annual AAABA World Series in Johnstown, Pa., through the years. That team is named in honor of the late Walter Youse, a long-time area scout who coached the team from 1957 until his death in 2005.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: Maryland, Virginia.
No. of Teams in League: 9 (8 in 2010).
Regular-Season Champion: Bethesda Big Train.
Post-Season Champion: Bethesda Big Train.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 1 Bethesda Big Train, No. 28 Youse’s Maryland Orioles,
No. 1 Prospect, 2010 (per PG CrossChecker): Glynn Davis, of, Youse’s Maryland Orioles (SIGNED/Orioles, 2010).
First 2010 Player Selected, 2011 Draft: Danny Stienstra, 1b/2b, Bethesda Big Train (San Jose State; Cardinals/12th round).

Most Valuable Player:
Adam Barry, 3b, Bethesda Big Train.
Most Outstanding Pitcher: Matt Bowman, rhp, Bethesda Big Train.
Top Prospect (as selected by league): None selected.

BATTING LEADERS (League games only)

Batting Average:
Adam Barry, 3b, Bethesda Big Train (.414).
Slugging Percentage: Hunter Renfroe, c, Bethesda Big Train (.581).
On-Base Average: Adam Barry, 3b, Bethesda Big Train (.481).
Home Runs: Jordan Poole, 1b, Baltimore Redbirds (9).
RBIs: Adam Barry, 3b, Bethesda Big Train (43).
Stolen Bases: Angel Ibanez, ss, Rockville Express (21).

PITCHING LEADERS (League games only)

Four tied at 5.
ERA: Matt Bowman, rhp, Bethesda Big Train (0.82).
Saves: John-Austin Shepard, rhp, Southern Maryland Nationals (15).
Strikeouts: Josh Constable, rhp, Herndon Braves (57).


Best Athlete:
K.J. Hockaday, ss, Youse’s Maryland Orioles.
Best Hitter: Adam Barry, 3b, Bethesda Big Train.
Best Power: Hunter Renfroe, c, Bethesda Big Train.
Fastest Base Runner: Sean Godfrey, of, Southern Maryland Nationals.
Best Defensive Player: Angel Ibanez, ss, Rockville Express.
Best Velocity: Hunter Renfroe, rhp, Bethesda Big Train.
Best Breaking Ball: Ben Lively, rhp, Youse’s Maryland Orioles.
Best Command: Matt Bowman, rhp, Bethesda Big Train.


1. HUNTER RENFROE, c/rhp, Bethesda Big Train (Mississippi State/SO in 2012)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Despite the record-breaking performance this season of third baseman Adam Barry, Bethesda’s best prospect was unquestionably Renfroe, a freshman from Mississippi State and projected first-round draft pick in 2013. On the season, he hit .305-8-30 while topping the league with a .581 slugging average. He excelled on both sides of the ball, showcasing easily the best raw power in the Cal Ripken League and extraordinary arm strength behind the plate. He flashed a 1.7 pop time during the league’s Scout Day and also reached 98-99 mph in limited pitching action. Only time will tell whether the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Renfroe will be a pitcher or catcher, but his focus this summer was playing an everyday role. He launched a number of tape-measure home runs, while learning to stop pulling off everything and start hitting breaking balls with more authority. He largely accomplished that objective with five of his eight homers coming on breaking balls. He was also entrusted with the responsibility this summer of improving his receiving and blocking skills to be ready to take over the regular catching duties at Mississippi State as a sophomore after he got only 26 at-bats for the Bulldogs as a freshman. He also pitched infrequently in college, going 0-0, 9.64 in five innings, and made just one appearance on the mound for the Big Train, though earned a save in his one inning of work. With his massive arm strength, along with the makings of a quality slider, it’s a given that Renfroe will be afforded every opportunity to pitch in a meaningful role at Mississippi State in the spring, probably as a closer, while also holding down regular catching duties. Though Renfroe was something of a revelation this summer coming off a nondescript freshman season, his reputation preceded him as he made headlines as a feared slugger in the Mississippi high-school ranks as a senior by hitting .583-20-70 and setting a state independent school record for homers in a season. Moreover, he was walked a record 62 times, including seven times intentionally in one doubleheader, and hit over .400 all four seasons he played at the high-school level. Renfroe had initially committed to play baseball at Meridian (Miss.) CC at the time, but changed gears after turning down a 31st-round offer from the Boston Red Sox and enrolled at Mississippi State.

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