Summer Collegiate : : Story
Monday, November 12, 2012

Coastal Plain Prospect Reports

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Richmond Spiders
Official League Website
Coastal Plain League top 40 prospects (list)
Perfect Game Summer Collegiate top prospect coverage

By almost any count, the Coastal Plain League ranks as one of the nation’s premier summer college leagues. The 14-team circuit, with franchises spread throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, plays a highly-competitive brand of baseball with conditions that closely assimilate the minor leagues. There may not be a league anywhere that is as well run or ably administered.

Located in an area of the country with the most geographically-intense concentration of Division I teams, the CPL doesn’t have to look far for talent as there is plenty of it practically on their doorstep. On the accompanying list of the league’s top 40 prospects for the 2012 season, 17 players have ties to North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia, and five more are from neighboring Georgia or Tennessee, two more fertile baseball states. Only three players came from colleges west of the Mississippi.

By contrast, the only two summer leagues generally acknowledged as superior to the CPL, the Cape Cod (with 10 closely-linked teams in Massachusetts) and Northwoods (with 16 teams in the upper Midwest) have entirely different dynamics geographically, and little choice but to import the bulk of their elite-level talent from far and wide.

With less need for the Coastal Plain League to aggressively recruit talent, its rosters are typically composed of older college players with limited upside, mainly from area schools, and proportionately fewer high-end prospects than are more often found in the Cape Cod and Northwoods leagues. The Edenton Steamers have dominated the CPL during the regular season the last two summers, and have done so with a veteran roster of players almost immune from being lost to the draft.

In this year’s draft, there were only two players who performed in the CPL in 2011 who were selected earlier than the 10th
 round. That number may not change a year from now as scouts and those CPL managers with a keen eye for talent, said unequivocally that the talent level in the CPL this season was down significantly from even 2011, not to mention past years, and the accompanying list reflects that viewpoint, especially with the top three prospects all being sub-6-foot righthanders—a demographic that scouts typically frown on. There are a lot of quality college players represented overall in the top 40 (and throughout the league), but few legitimate pro-level prospects.

Not surprisingly, the current year’s CPL all-star team is dominated by rising college seniors who have never been drafted. Among 40 players selected to its two-deck, end-of-season squad, 25 fit that demographic. Seven more are rising juniors, eligible for the 2013 draft, who haven’t previously been drafted, either.

Both the league’s player (Edenton outfielder Michael Camporeale) and pitcher of the year (Fayetteville righthander Layne Somsen) are rising seniors who had impressive summer seasons, but non-descript spring campaigns and were draft afterthoughts last June. Neither player is even ranked among the 10 best prospects in the league this summer.

Appropriately, the Columbia Blowfish walked off with their first league championship this season, and yet are not represented by a single player in the top 40. By contrast, the Peninsula Pilots, the one CPL team that actively recruits pro-level talent year-in and year-out, are represented by nine players. At 26-28, the Pilots somewhat curiously finished with a sub-.500 record for the second straight season, but got burned again by their aggressive approach to signing talent, losing six key players to the draft, among other difference-makers at various stages of the season.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia.
No. of Teams in League: 14 (15 in 2011).
Regular-Season Champion (best overall record): EAST/First Half—Edenton Steamers (18-8); Second Half—Edenton Steamers (18-9). WEST/First Half—Forest City Owls (20-8); Second Half—Columbia Blowfish; Martinsville Mustangs (15-12).\
Post-Season Champion: Columbia Blowfish.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 15 Edenton Steamers, No. 19 Columbia Blowfish; No. 25 Fayetteville SwampDogs.
No. 1 Prospect, 2011 (per PG CrossChecker): Jake Cave, of/lhp, Peninsula Pilots (Signed, 2011/Yankees, 6th round).
First 2011 Player Selected, 2012 Draft: Joe Wendle, 2b, Edenton Steamers (West Chester, Pa./Indians, 6th round).

Player of the Year:
Michael Camporeale, of, Edenton Steamers.
Pitcher of the Year: Layne Somsen, rhp, Fayetteville Swampdogs.
Top Prospect (as selected by league): None selected.

BATTING LEADERS (League games only)

Batting Average:
Jake Stone, 3b/1b, Martinsville Mustangs (.375).
Slugging Percentage: Michael Camporeale, of, Edenton Steamers (.623).
On-Base Average: Jake Stone, 3b/1b, Martinsville Mustangs (.493).
Home Runs: Michael Camporeale, of, Edenton Steamers; Ryan Cranmer, ut, Morehead City Marlins (9).
RBIs: Michael Camporeale, of, Edenton Steamers (42).
Stolen Bases: Mike Tauchman, of, Fayetteville SwampDogs (35).

PITCHING LEADERS (League games only)

3 tied at 6.
ERA: Alex Caravella, lhp, Petersburg Generals (1.62).
Saves: Jordan Egan, rhp, Edenton Steamers (15).
Strikeouts: Dale Innes, rhp, Gastonia Grizzlies (69).


Best Athlete:
Kyle Brandenburg, of/if, Thomasville Hi-Toms
Best Hitter: Jake Stone, 3b/1b, Martinsville Mustangs
Best Power: Michael Camporeale, of, Edenton Steamers
Fastest Base Runner: Gunnar Heidt, ss, Forest City Owls
Best Defensive Player: Josh Silver, ss, Peninsula Pilots
Best Velocity: Andrew Brockett, rhp, Wilmington Sharks
Best Breaking Ball: Dale Innes, rhp, Gastonia Grizzlies
Best Command: Andrew Istler, rhp, Wilson Tobs


1. ANDREW BROCKETT, rhp, Wilmington Sharks (Richmond/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Scouts got two up-close looks at Brockett this summer, and he responded in both outings. In Team USA’s exhibition outing against Wilmington, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound righthander cranked his fastball up to 95 mph. In the CPL all-star game, he peaked at 94. Brockett went 1-1, 1.47 with 10 saves in 17 regular-season appearances for the Sharks, walking just six and striking 24 in 18 innings with a fastball that was consistently between 91-93 mph, frequently reaching 95. No one in the league threw as hard consistently, or did so with less effort. His fastball was so electric with its running life that he often dominated hitters with that pitch alone, though showed good feel for a second pitch, a slider with tight spin. He lacks a third pitch, so is cut out to be a closer. Brockett evolved into that role as a sophomore at Richmond, where he began the season as a starter before moving to the bullpen, and went 3-8, 3.79 with six saves in 23 appearances (59 IP, 20 BB/64 SO). Scouts appear to have few misgivings about Brockett’s sub-6-foot frame, especially with his future in a short role already mapped out. He has a powerful lower half and balanced delivery, and though he has somewhat of a funky arm slot, the ball explodes out of his hand and is consistently around the plate.

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