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Summer Collegiate  | Story  | 11/19/2012

NECBL Top Prospect Reports

Allan Simpson     
Photo: Roger Crowley
Official League Website
New England Collegiate Baseball League top 40 prospects (list)
Perfect Game Summer Collegiate top prospect coverage

The nation’s summer college leagues underwent a major offensive transformation on a number of fronts this summer, and the New England Collegiate League was at the forefront of the unprecedented surge.

Not only did the league slug at a collective .433 clip and see a significant uptick in the number of home runs hit, jumping from 291 in 2011 to 451 in 2012—with two less teams, no less—but team and individual records fell in the process.

Both Keene and Laconia broke the NECBL record for homers in a season with 73, with Keene adding 14 more homers in four playoff games. Laconia third baseman Danny Collins shattered the league single-season mark by hitting 19 and also established records for slugging percentage, total bases and extra-base hits. Vermont first baseman Rob Kelly set a new single-season standard for RBIs (45).

Newport scored more runs (347 in the regular season, 64 in the regular season) than any NECBL team on record, but wasn’t even the league’s most prolific offensive club. Keene outhit the Gulls in both the regular season (.314 to .313, with both teams eclipsing the previous mark for batting average) and playoffs (.348 to .328), and outslugged them by a noticeable margin.

The offensive surge, which was primarily a result of a juiced-up baseball, overshadowed an otherwise historic season enjoyed by Newport, which won its fifth NECBL title in 12 years, and in the process set yet another league record by winning 37 games overall. For their efforts, the Gulls were saluted by Perfect Game as the nation’s No. 1 summer team—a first for a NECBL club.

Newport posted the best regular-season record in the NECBL at 31-10, in handily winning the Eastern Division, and advanced through three rounds of playoffs with relative ease, going 6-1. Expected to be a team dominated at the outset by a fleet of talented young pitching arms with electric stuff, the Gulls instead became an offensive juggernaut, breaking numerous team and league records, and relied on some of the veteran, less-projectable arms to tie things down on the pitching end. Including regular season and post-season games, the Gulls outscored their opponents 411-220.

In the accompanying ranking of the league’s Top 40 Prospects, the Gulls are represented by 13 players, led by outfielder Yale Rosen (Washington State) at No. 2. Rosen broke the team record for home runs (12), even though his season ended prematurely with a shoulder injury. Catcher Jeff Melillo ranked no better than 28th overall, even as he led the NECBL in batting, at .404, and set a league record for on-base percentage, at .548.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont.
No. of Teams in League: 10 (12 in 2011).
Regular-Season Champion (best overall record) EAST—Newport Gulls (31-10); WEST—Keene Swamp Bats (29-13).
Post-Season Champion: Newport Gulls.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 1 Newport Gulls, No. 16 Keene Swamp Bats; No. 44 Danbury Westerners.
No. 1 Prospect, 2011 (per PG CrossChecker): Jeff Thompson, rhp, Keene Swamp Bats (Louisville; played in Cape Cod League in 2012).
First 2011 Player Selected, 2012 Draft: Tom Murphy, c, Holyoke Blue Sox (Buffalo; Rockies/3rd round).

Most Valuable Player:
Danny Collins, 3b, Laconia Muskrats.
Top Pitcher: Alex Haines, lhp, Vermont Mountaineers.
Top Prospect (as selected by league): Alex Haines, lhp, Vermont Mountaineers.

BATTING LEADERS (League games only)

Batting Average:
Jeff Melillo, c, Newport Gulls (.404).
Slugging Percentage: Danny Collins, 3b, Laconia Muskrats (.818).
On-Base Average: Jeff Melillo, c, Newport Gulls (.548).
Home Runs: Danny Collins, 3b, Laconia Muskrats (19).
RBIs: Rob Kelly, 1b, Vermont Mountaineers (45).
Stolen Bases: Jeff Roy, of, North Adams SteepleCats (24).

PITCHING LEADERS (League games only)

Daniel Wright, rhp, Newport Gulls; Brett Houseal, rhp, Danbury Westerners (6).
ERA: Alex Haines, lhp, Vermont Mountaineers (0.90).
Saves: Nic Manuppelli, rhp, Laconia Muskrats (8).
Strikeouts: Alex Haines, lhp, Vermont Mountaineers (54).


Best Athlete:
Johnny Norwood, of, Newport Gulls
Best Hitter: Grant Kay, 2b/3b, Keene Swamp Bats
Best Power: Yale Rosen, of, Newport Gulls
Fastest Base Runner: Jeff Roy, of, North Adams SteepleCats
Best Defensive Player: Peyton Hart, ss, New Bedford Bay Sox
Best Velocity: Alex Haines, lhp, Vermont Mountaineers
Best Breaking Ball: Artie Lewicki, rhp, Keene Swamp Bats
Best Command: Peter Kelich, rhp, Newport Gulls


1. ALEX HAINES, lhp, Vermont Mountaineers (Seton Hill, Pa./JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: The NECBL is normally dominated by players from major Division I colleges, but an unheralded talent from little Seton Hill, a non-descript Division II college in Pennsylvania, stole the show this summer on his way to earning league pitcher-of-the-year honors. A 6-foot-4, 215-pound power lefthander, Haines stood out by leading the league in both ERA (0.90, vs. 1.91 by his closest pursuer) and strikeouts (54), while going 5-2. In 40 innings, he allowed only 24 hits and six walks, and his .168 opponent average led the league by a wide margin. With a fastball that sat at 90-95 mph, with good arm-side run, and peaked at 96 in a one-inning stint at the league all-star game, his velocity was the equal of any pitcher in the league. He often dominated on that pitch alone as his secondary stuff, particularly his breaking ball, remained largely a work in progress, though his changeup evolved into a solid pitch over the course of the summer. Haines has an easy, effortless arm action in his long, sculpted frame, and worked hard over the course of the summer to build up his strength and stamina, mainly through a strenuous long-toss program similar to that used by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Bauer. He has been on a mission to improve his arm strength since throwing only 86-87 as a high-school senior, when he hurt his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery. With no Division I teams courting his services at the time, he had little recourse but to hook on with Seton Hill, an obscure Division II college located little more than 15 miles from his home in Greensburg, Pa. By his freshman year of college, Haines had worked his velocity up to 91, and was mainly at 92-93 as a sophomore, when he posted a 7-2, 4.24 record with 38 walks and 108 strikeouts in 70 innings. With a continued spike in his velocity this summer, he became one of the few NECBL pitchers in recent years that prompted scouts to make a specific point to come and see him in most of his outings as the season progressed. He could surge into the top 2-3 rounds with continued advancement next spring.

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