Summer Collegiate : : Story
Friday, September 09, 2011

California Lg. prospect reports

Allan Simpson        

Official League Website

League Strength: ***

California Collegiate League top 35 prospects (list)

The Santa Barbara Foresters have made the California Collegiate League their own personal domain since the league was formed in 1993. In the 19 seasons since, they have claimed 18 league championships.

No. 18 came this season, though the Foresters had to share the title with the San Luis Obispo Blues when they lost two of three games to Team Vegas on the final weekend of the season. Both the Foresters and Blues finished at 24-12. That was the closest that any CCL team had come to dethroning the mighty Foresters since 2002.

But if the Foresters took that as an affront to their run of near invincibility, they quickly enacted a measure of revenge over the next two weeks by blitzing the 32-team field at the 77
th annual National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., going a perfect 7-0. It was their third national title in six years.

Santa Barbara’s recent domination of an event that is the closest thing to a national championship among summer teams, plus their track record of success in the CCL, has positioned it as the premier summer college program in the nation, west of the Cape Cod League. And a case can be made that the elite crop of pitching arms that the Foresters assembled this summer would have enabled it to compete on equal footing with any team on the Cape. Not only do the Foresters again dominate the Cal Collegiate League’s list of elite-level prospects, but four of the top six players are Foresters pitchers.

Promising Rice righthander Austin Kubitza, who projects as a near-certain early first-round pick in 2013, heads up the list of prospects, but fellow Foresters righthanders Mitch Mormann and Stephen Johnson were the two Santa Barbara arms that created the most buzz on the team’s run to their latest NBC World Series title. As a staff, the Foresters posted a 2.08 ERA.

Mormann, a Wichita State product, was named the event’s top pro prospect after touching 96 mph in a third-round Santa Barbara win, and then justified that selection by working the first seven innings of his team’s 1-0 win over the Alaska League’s Kenai Peninsula Oilers in the championship game. The 6-foot-4 Johnson, a product of tiny St. Edwards University in Texas, was consistently the hardest thrower in the CCL most of the 2011 season, and outdid himself in a relief appearance at the NBC tournament, when his fastball topped out at 100 mph, though it was generally acknowledged that the scoreboard radar gun at Wichita’s Lawrence-Dumont Stadium was overly generous by 2-3 mph.

While Foresters players, as expected, dominate the accompanying list of CCL prospects, the list is otherwise noteworthy for the abundance of high-school products—seven in all, including six of the first 12.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: California, Nevada.
No. of Teams in League: 7.
Regular-Season Co-Champions: Santa Barbara Foresters; San Luis Obispo Blues.
Post-Season Champion: NONE. Santa Barbara Foresters advanced to National Baseball Congress World Series, Wichita, Kan. Won championship.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 2 Santa Barbara Foresters; No. 13 San Luis Obispo Blues.
No. 1 Prospect, 2010 (per PG CrossChecker): Carson Smith, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters (Texas State; Mariners/8th round).
First 2010 Player Selected, 2011 Draft: Sam Stafford, lhp, Santa Barbara Foresters (Texas; Yankees/2nd round).

Player of the Year:
Jeff McVaney, of, Santa Barbara Foresters.
Pitcher of the Year: J.C. Aguayo, lhp, Conejo Oaks.
Top Batting Prospect (as selected by league): Aaron Brown, of, Glendale Angelenos.
Top Pitching Prospect (as selected by league): Austin Kubitza, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters.

BATTING LEADERS (League games only)

Batting Average:
Jeff McVaney, of, Santa Barbara Foresters (.412).
Slugging Percentage: Jeff McVaney, of, Santa Barbara Foresters (.632).
On-Base Average: Jeff McVaney, of, Santa Barbara Foresters (.491).
Home Runs: Sako Chapjian, 3b, Glendale Angelenos (10).
RBIs: James Wharton, 1b, Santa Barbara Foresters (34).
Stolen Bases: Arby Fields, of, MLB Academy Barons (25).

PITCHING LEADERS (League games only)

J.C. Aguayo, lhp, Conejo Oaks (7).
ERA: Harmen Sidhu, rhp, San Luis Obispo Rattlers (0.26).
Saves: Kyle Martin, rhp, San Luis Obispo Blues; Kyle DiMartino, rhp, Team Vegas (6).
Strikeouts: J.C. Aguayo, lhp, Conejo Oaks (84).


Best Athlete:
Aaron Brown, of, Glendale Angelenos.
Best Hitter: Jeff McVaney, of, Santa Barbara Foresters.
Best Power: Greg Bird, c/1b, Team Vegas.
Fastest Base Runner: Arby Fields, of, MLB Academy Barons.
Best Defensive Player: Christian Summers, ss, Santa Barbara Foresters.
Best Velocity: Stephen Johnson, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters.
Best Breaking Ball: Austin Kubitza, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters.
Best Command: J.C. Aguayo, lhp, Conejo Oaks.


1. AUSTIN KUBITZA, rhp, Santa Barbara Foresters (Rice/SO in 2012)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Instant stardom at the college level was predicted for the 6-foot-5, 190-pound Kubitza from the moment he turned down a seventh-round offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 draft. He responded as a Rice freshman by going 6-5, 2.34 with 24 walks and 102 strikeouts in 100 innings, spread over 15 starts. Rice coaches understandably wanted him to curtail his workload this summer, and he initially worked in the back end of the bullpen for the Foresters before returning to the rotation late in the season as the team geared up for the NBC World Series. Overall, he went 3-1, 3.46 with three saves, along with 16 walks and 51 strikeouts in 39 innings. As a closer, Kubitza’s fastball was a customary 93-95 mph; as a starter, it was usually in the 90-92 range. His two-seamer had hard, boring action, while his slider was a swing-and-miss pitch with its late break. He seldom threw his changeup in a short role, but his return to the rotation enabled him to break out that pitch again. Kubitza routinely carved up hitters on both sides of the plate with command of his raw stuff, but had a tendency to elevate his pitches. He also created unusually good deception on his pitches with his Jered Weaver-like, cross-body delivery. Kubitza’s brother Kyle, a lefthanded-hitting third baseman from Texas State, played for the Foresters a year ago on his way to being drafted in the third round of this year’s draft by the Atlanta Braves. With more polish and added strength, Kubitza should blow right by his brother in the draft two years from now.

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