Summer Collegiate : : Story
Saturday, September 17, 2011

Florida Lg. prospect reports

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Central Florida

Official League Website

League Strength: ***

Florida Collegiate Summer League top 25 prospects (list)

The Florida Collegiate Summer League maintains a relatively low profile among the nation’s top summer leagues, and yet has quietly established a solid foothold in central Florida in its eight years of existence.

Though most of the state’s better college prospects typically leave the state to play elsewhere each summer, there is such a plentiful supply of college and junior-college talent in Florida that there are more than enough players with pro-level or major-college level ability to stock the league’s six clubs.

The state’s rich junior-college ranks, in particular, set Florida apart from any other state, and the accompanying list of 25 prospects is riddled with players with connections to local junior colleges—most notably players who played at the JC level in 2011 and were in the process of transitioning to four-year programs this fall, or going in the reverse direction.

Twenty of the 25 prospects noted have ties to Florida, including Orlando Freedom lefthander Garrett Nuss, rated the league’s top prospect. Nuss is one of the rare Florida high-school players to participate in, let alone make his mark in the FCSL, and yet was so impressive in seven starts against older competition that he should easily play a meaningful role at Central Florida as a college freshman.

The league also had a sprinkling of prospects from other states, specifically neighboring Alabama and Georgia, but rarely strays too far from home to attract players, thus preserving its national image as more of a regional-based summer league.

The defending champion Winter Park Diamond Dawgs were considered the league’s most talented team this summer, and occupy 12 of the 25 spots on the list of top prospects. It boasted a lineup that scouts said could more than hold its own against many of the nation’s elite summer clubs, though it speaks to the quality of the league that the Diamond Dawgs neither finished in first place during the regular season nor won the league’s five-team playoff in a second kick at the can. In both cases, they finished second.

Leesburg, with just three players in the top 25, pulled away from the Diamond Dawgs in the regular season, while Sanford, with a 16-22 season record and just two players on the accompanying list, upset the Diamond Dawgs 7-5 in the championship game, played at St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: Florida.
No. of Teams in League: 6 (5 in 2010).
Regular-Season Champion: Leesburg Lightning.
Post-Season Champion: Sanford River Rats.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 34 Leesburg Lightning, No. 40 Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
No. 1 Prospect, 2010 (per PG CrossChecker): Brandon Thomas, of, Sanford River Rats (Georgia Tech; played in Cape Cod League in 2011).
First 2010 Player Selected, 2011 Draft: Dejai Oliver, lhp, Sanford River Rats (Seminole State, Fla., JC; Marlins/8th round).

Most Valuable Player:
Teddy Blackman, of, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Most Outstanding Pitcher: Ben Brown, rhp, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Top Prospect (as selected by league): Garrett Nuss, lhp, Orlando Freedom.

BATTING LEADERS (League games only)

Batting Average:
Teddy Blackman, of, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs (.425).
Slugging Percentage: Teddy Blackman, of, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs (.604).
On-Base Average: Teddy Blackman, of, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs (.582).
Home Runs: Matthew Mattone, c, Orlando Freedom (5).
RBIs: B.J. Zimmerman, 1b/3b, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs (30).
Stolen Bases: Stephen Bellantoni, of, DeLand Suns (31).

PITCHING LEADERS (League games only)

Nic Kovacs, rhp, Leesburg Lightning (5).
ERA: Montana DuRapau, rhp, DeLand Suns (1.09).
Saves: Max Rusch, rhp, Leesburg Lightning (8).
Strikeouts: Ethan Bader, rhp, Leesburg Lightning (47).


Best Athlete:
Omar Cotto, of, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Best Hitter: Todd Hankins, 2b, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Best Power: B.J. Zimmerman, 1b, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Fastest Base Runner: Omar Cotto, of, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs,
Best Defensive Player: Alex Cruz, 3b, Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Best Velocity: Michael Heller, rhp, Winter Haven Loggerheads.
Best Breaking Ball: Garrett Nuss, lhp, Orlando Freedom.
Best Command: Ethan Bader, rhp, Leesburg Lightning.


1. GARRETT NUSS, rhp, Orlando Freedom (Central Florida/FR in 2012)
SCOUTING PROFILE: The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Nuss hardly qualified as one of the elite arms in Florida’s deep crop of high-school players for the 2011 draft, and lasted until the 32nd round, where he was drafted by the New York Yankees. But Nuss made a strong impression as a senior at Mt. Dora High by going 11-1, 0.94 with 93 strikeouts in 56 innings while leading that school to its deepest run ever in the Florida 3-A tournament. Nuss suffered his only setback of the season as his team lost to Fort Myers’ Bishop Verot High in the semifinals. His impressive showing led to his pitching this summer in the FCSL and he excelled against faster competition, going 3-1, 2.80 with 43 strikeouts in 35 innings, while allowing just 25 hits and walking 18. More than his impressive raw stuff, the thing that stood out most about Nuss was his excellent feel for pitching, mature mound presence and competitive approach. Nothing phased him and he showed no reluctance in attacking older, more experienced hitters while mixing his pitches like a veteran. His fastball was a steady 89-91 mph, topping at 92 and his curve had excellent 12-to-6 shape. His change was a solid third pitch, but he used it infrequently. He generally threw quality strikes from a low three-quarters arm angle, and was dominant when he had command of all three. He also excelled at holding runners and fielding his position, and even though he had a somewhat unorthodox stand-up delivery, he consistently kept his balance and on-line direction to the plate. Nuss should continue to make progress as he corrects some of the minor mechanical flaws in his delivery and through additional physical maturity to an already durable frame.

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