Summer Collegiate : : Story
Monday, October 07, 2013

California Lg. prospect reports

Allan Simpson        

Official League Website:
2013 Summer Collegiate Top Prospect coverage
California Collegiate League Top Prospect list (free)

The Santa Barbara Foresters have forged their reputation as the flagship franchise in the California Collegiate League, and one of the elite teams in the summer college ranks nationally, largely on the strength of dominant pitching.

Over the last five years, the No. 1 prospect in the CCL has been a fire-balling Santa Barbara pitcher, and this summer stands out as much as any for the depth of power arms on the Foresters staff. No fewer than six Santa Barbara pitchers are represented in the top 10 on the accompanying list of the league’s top prospects, including righthanders Riley Ferrell and Patrick Weigel, ranked 1-2. Both were clocked as high as 97 mph on the summer, while three of their pitching mates ranked in the top 10 topped out at 94.

As a staff, Santa Barbara posted a 2.51 ERA with 532 strikeouts in 484 innings—or about 10 per nine innings. That compares to 2.41 in 2012, with 530 strikeouts in 520 innings, when Oklahoma State righthander Jason Hursh ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the CCL on his way to being selected in the first round of this year’s draft by the Atlanta Braves.

Yet for all their depth of power arms, the Foresters had a down season in 2013—at least, by their own lofty standards. They walked away empty-handed in both league and national play, losing out to the upstart Los Angeles Brewers with the CCL title on the line, while finishing fourth at the National Baseball Congress World Series with a third consecutive championship within their grasp.

The Brewers defeated the 10-time defending league champions at their own game, beating the Foresters 3-0 and 6-1 in a best-of-3 final, after surging to a Southern Division title on the strength of the heavy hitting of first baseman Rob Fonseca, the league’s top hitter; shortstop/third baseman Matt Tietz, the CCL home run leader; and second baseman/third baseman Caleb Whelan, the league MVP. At No. 21, Whelan was the highest-ranked prospect on the Brewers roster.

Even though the Foresters did not have a full complement of arms in Wichita for their run at a fifth NBC World Series title in eight years, they still had easily the most prospect-rich staff of all 32 teams in the competition. They won their first three games by shutout, before losing their next two games at the double-elimination event.

Prior to 2013, the CCL was essentially a one-team league with Santa Barbara winning or sharing 19 of 20 championships. But with the expansion and general upgrade of the league in 2013 from six to eight teams, the San Luis Obispo Blues continuing to nip at the heels of the Foresters, and now the Brewers dethroning the mighty Foresters, the CCL hardly ranks any longer as a league that is the domain of one team. In the process, it has crossed the threshold to rank among the nation’s elite summer leagues.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: California
No. of Teams in League: 8 (6 in 2012)
Regular-Season Champions (record): North--Santa Barbara Foresters (22-16, 36-18 overall); South—Los Angeles Brewers (25-13, 29-14 overall)
Post-Season Champion: Los Angeles Brewers. Santa Barbara Foresters/San Luis Obispo Blues advanced to National Baseball Congress World Series, Wichita, Kan.
Teams, Perfect Game Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 17 Santa Barbara Foresters; No. 24 Los Angeles Brewers; No. 38 San Luis Obispo Blues
No. 1 Prospect, 2012 (per PG CrossChecker): Jason Hursh, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters (Oklahoma State; Braves/first round, 31st pick in 2013 draft)
First 2012 Player Selected, 2013 Draft: Jason Hursh, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters (Oklahoma State; Braves/1st round, 31st pick)

Player of the Year:
Rob Fonseca, 1b, Los Angeles Brewers (Northeastern)
Pitcher of the Year: Dalton Saberhagen, lhp, Conejo Oaks (Tennessee)
Top Batting Prospect (as selected by league): Rob Fonseca, 1b, Los Angeles Brewers
Top Pitching Prospect (as selected by league): Riley Ferrell, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters

BATTING LEADERS (League games only)

Batting Average:
Michael Pritchard, of, San Luis Obispo Blues (.386)
Slugging Percentage: Rob Fonseca, 1b, Los Angeles Brewers (.638)
On-Base Average: Michael Pritchard, of, San Luis Obispo (.478)
Home Runs: Matt Tietz, ss/3b, Los Angeles Brewers (9)
RBI: Conor Smith, 1b, Southern California Catch (41)
Stolen Bases: Three tied at 18

PITCHING LEADERS (League games only)

Dalton Saberhagen, lhp, Conejo Oaks (7)
ERA: Billy Kirkpatrick, lhp, Southern California Catch (0.52)
Saves: Drake Owenby, lhp, San Luis Obispo (8)
Strikeouts: Drew Van Orden, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters (65)


Best Athlete:
Ben Johnson, of, Santa Barbara Foresters
Best Hitter: Caleb Whelan, 3b/of, Los Angeles Brewers
Best Power: Rob Fonseca, 1b, Los Angeles Brewers
Fastest Base Runner: Ben Johnson, of, Santa Barbara Foresters
Best Defensive Player: Jean Ramirez, c, Conejo Oaks
Best Velocity: Riley Ferrell, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters; Patrick Weigel, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters
Best Breaking Ball: Riley Ferrell, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters
Best Command: Parker French, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters


1. RILEY FERRELL, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters (Texas Christian/SO in 2014)
Ferrell went undrafted out of a Texas high school in 2012 but enjoyed a successful freshman season at TCU despite going 0-2. In 23 relief appearances, mostly in a set-up role, Ferrell posted a 2.20 ERA in 33 innings, walking 11 and striking out 39. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound righthander took his game to another level being used in a similar role in summer ball, first in a trial run for the Foresters and ultimately for USA Baseball’s college national team. With a fastball that peaked at 97 mph and a slider up to 87, Ferrell has serious raw arm strength and was overpowering in four relief outings for Santa Barbara, walking three and striking out 10 in seven innings. Word quickly reached Jim Schlossnagle, Ferrell’s coach at TCU who served as Team USA’s head coach this summer, and Schlossnagle found a last-minute spot for him on the national-team roster. Ferrell assumed a meaningful role in the back end of the bullpen, initially as a set-up man for the team’s established closer, Ryan Burr (Arizona State), before saving two games himself. In nine scoreless innings spread over nine appearances, he allowed one hit, walked four and struck out 15, throwing mostly a fastball that ranged from 95-98 mph. He had excellent life on his fastball, and also impressive command, particularly on the inner half of the plate against righthanded hitters, though had difficulty at times locating his breaking stuff. Ferrell’s arm action and aggressive approach to pitching are geared to a closer role, though it’s possible he could start down the road if he can develop his changeup into a reliable third pitch. On the strength of his breakout summer, he now profiles as one of the top college draft picks in 2015.

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