Summer Collegiate : : Story
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Valley Lg. Prospect Reports

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Valley League
Official League Website
Valley League League top 30 prospects (list)
Perfect Game Summer Collegiate top prospect coverage

Prolific hitting may win pennants, but astute pitching more often wins championships, and that adage defined the 2012 Valley League season.

The Winchester Royals (North) and Waynesboro Generals (South) handily won division championships this summer on the strength of wide-open offences, but in the end the Harrisonburg Turks, who led the league in ERA, were the last team standing as they pitched their way to a league title by beating Waynesboro in the semi-finals and Winchester in a best-of-5 final. The Turks had finished a distant second to Waynesboro in the Southern Division during the regular season.

Waynesboro led the Valley League in hitting at .310 and Winchester set a league record by smashing 84 home runs (most homers by any summer-baseball team), but the offensive attacks of both teams were largely neutralized in post-season play by Harrisonburg’s superior pitching staff, led by lefthander Shawn O’Neill, who led the league with a 1.40 ERA while pitching the clinching victories in both series against the Generals and Royals.

Harrisonburg (34-18 overall), Waynesboro (34-15) and Winchester (34-16) dominated the 12-team Valley League to such a degree this season that they were the only clubs to post winning records. Moreover, they dominate the accompanying list of the league’s 30 best prospects with 18 selections among them. Appropriately, six of the seven Winchester players and four of the five Waynesboro players on the list are position players, while five of the six Harrisonburg players represented are pitchers.

For the second year in a row, an outfielder from a North Carolina college occupies the No. 1 spot. In 2011, that player was Wake Forest’s Mac Williamson, who finished second in the league in batting, homers and RBIs and went on to become the initial Valley League player selected in the 2012 draft (Giants, third round). Western Carolina’s Julian Ridings, a multi-purpose talent who topped the league with a .435 average, claimed that distinction this summer.

FAST FACTS

Year League Established:
1961.
States Represented in League: Virginia.
No. of Teams in League: 12 (12 in 2011).
Regular-Season Champion (best overall record): NORTH—Winchester Generals (29-13). SOUTH—Waynesboro Generals (31-13).
Post-Season Champion: Harrisonburg Turks.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 13 Harrisonburg Turks, No. 17 Winchester Royals; No. 36 Waynesboro Generals.
No. 1 Prospect, 2011 (per PG CrossChecker): Mac Williamson, of, Harrisonburg Turks (Wake Forest; drafted by Giants/2012, 3rd round).
First 2011 Player Selected, 2012 Draft: Mac Williamson, of, Harrisonburg Turks (Wake Forest/Giants, third round).

Most Valuable Player:
Unavailable.
Pitcher of the Year: Shawn O’Neill, lhp, Harrisonburg Turks.

BATTING LEADERS (All games)

Batting Average:
Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals (.435).
Slugging Percentage: Joseph Odom, c, Winchester Royals (.706).
On-Base Average: Ryan Sullivan, of, Covington Lumberjacks (.516).
Home Runs: Joseph Odom, c, Winchester Royals (17).
RBIs: Jimmy Yezzo, 3b, Winchester Royals (62).
Stolen Bases: Blake Sipe, of, Staunton Braves (20).

PITCHING LEADERS (All games)

Wins:
Dillon Ortman, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks (7).
ERA: Shawn O’Neill, lhp, Harrisonburg Turks (1.40).
Saves: Josh Bullock, rhp, Waynesboro Generals (10).
Strikeouts: Kevin Herget, rhp, Strasburg Express (77).

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete:
Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals
Best Hitter: Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals
Best Power: Jimmy Yezzo, 3b, Winchester Royals
Fastest Base Runner: Julian Ridings, of, Waynesboro Generals
Best Defensive Player: Ryan Breen, c, Waynesboro Generals
Best Velocity: Shay Maltese, rhp, Haymarket Senators
Best Breaking Ball: Shay Maltese, rhp, Haymarket Senators
Best Command: Dillon Ortman, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks

TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. JULIAN RIDINGS, of, Waynesboro Generals (Western Carolina/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: A highly-athletic talent with a loose, lively body and five-tool potential, Ridings was a key factor in leading Waynesboro to the best regular-season record in the league. Just as important, his absence from the lineup, because of a shoulder injury, in the Generals final game of the season, a 2-1 loss to eventual champion Harrisonburg in the semi-finals, was instrumental in his team’s demise. The lefthanded-hitting Ridings was a significant catalyst atop the Waynesboro batting order, leading the league with a .419 average while also finishing among the leaders in slugging (.657), on-base percentage (.454), runs (45), hits (72) and stolen bases (15). Moreover, he kept defenses honest by dropping down some 20 bunts for base hits. While the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Ridings is a well-rounded player, his raw speed is his biggest weapon. It is a significant asset in all phases of his game and he maximized it this summer, more than ever before, by staying on top of balls more consistently and beating them into the ground. He began making solid strides overall as a hitter during the spring at Western Carolina, hitting .331-3-21, yet his inclination then was to look for pitches he could drive out of the park. Even as he consciously changed his approach at the plate over the summer to make better use of his speed, he still hit seven homers and drove in 39 runs. If anything, Ridings still needs to curb his aggression in order to improve his plate discipline as he posted near-identical and undesirable walk-to-strikeout ratios in the spring (5-25) as the summer (5-27). But that same aggression plays well for Ridings on the bases and in the outfield. He has plenty of range in center field, and his arm definitely plays at the position. Ridings still needs to add physical strength to his lean frame and must continue to work at curbing his emotions as he gets overtly down on himself almost every time he makes an out.

2. JIMMY YEZZO, 3b, Winchester Royals (Delaware/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Yezzo played sparingly as a freshman for Delaware, but had a breakthrough 2012 season—as a hitter for the Blue Hens as a sophomore (.358-8-46, 16 BB/22 SO), as a power hitter during the summer (.362-16-62, 15 BB/36 SO) for Winchester. Not only did the compact lefthanded slugger share the Valley League lead in homers during the regular season (before teammate Joseph Odom hit his 17th in post-season play to assume the overall lead), but he was also tops in hits (79), total bases (148) and doubles (21). On four occasions, he homered twice in one game. Yezzo is very tough to pitch to/defend because he has legitimate power to all fields, and a majority of his 16 homers were struck the opposite way. He has few holes in his short, compact swing and consistently takes tough at-bats with his disciplined approach. Defensively, it’s unclear whether Yezzo has the natural ability to play third base over the long haul, or may have to move across the diamond to first base. He lacks classic third-base actions, but fought to get better at the position over the summer and showed real signs of improvement in making plays both to his left and right. His arm is considered marginal, at best. His speed is a non-factor. If scouts are convinced Yezzo can hold his own at third base in pro ball, he could be a consideration as early as the second or third round in 2013; if not, and first base becomes his only real option, he could dip to the fourth-fifth round range.

3. CHAD KUHL, rhp, New Market Rebels (Delaware/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Kuhl profiles as a durable, front-line starter, and made solid strides in that direction this summer. After posting a mediocre 5-5, 4.42 record (77 IP/86 H/36 BB/64 SO) as a sophomore at Delaware, he improved to 4-0, 1.11 (41 IP/22 H/17 BB/39 SO) in six starts on the summer for New Market. He was acknowledged as the most complete pitcher in the Valley League with a sound delivery from a three-quarters slot and solid command of three pitches: a 90-93 mph fastball, low-80s slider with sharp, late break, and a low-to-mid 80s change. His secondary pitches still need refinement, and while his fastball often lacks late life it peaked at 94 at the league all-star game. Kuhl made his greatest strides on the summer in the area of pitchability by simply throwing more strikes and getting ahead in counts more consistently.

4. SHAY MALTESE, rhp, Haymarket Senators (Cal State Northridge/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Colorado prep product, spent FR year at Northern Colorado, SO year at Santa Barbara (Calif.) CC, JR year at D-II Cal State Stanislaus, now at Cal State Northridge; primarily a slick-fielding SS with a big arm until moved to mound last spring (1-3, 3.82, 1 SV); dominant as closer over summer (2-1, 0.44, 5 SV, 20 IP, 6 BB/40 SO) with FB at 91-94 (96 in all-star game), filthy SL that was best off-speed pitch in league; fresh arm, still learning to pitch.

5. KEVIN HERGET, rhp, Strasburg Express (Kean, N.J./SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Size (5-11/185), D-III background all that hold Herget back; topped at 86 out of HS, now has overpowering stuff with heavy 92-94 FB (touching 96) and downhill tilt, excellent depth on 12-6 CU, plus CH, throws quality strikes with each; passed over in draft in June, despite 7-5, 2.30 (98 IP, 41 BB/113 SO) as JR; even more dominant on summer at 3-1, 3.18 (51 IP, 22 BB/77 SO), led league in strikeouts.

6. BRANDON MURRAY, of, Waynesboro Generals (College of Charleston/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Second LH-hitting OF from Waynesboro to crack list; may have had raw best power in league; went deep 13 times while playing in spacious home park; hit .344 overall, with 41 RBIs; at 5-11/205, lacks frame of prototypical home-run hitter, but power comes from strong lower half, smooth, easy, powerful swing; adequate OF skills/speed, should settle into LF in long run, though arm more than adequate for RF.

7. JAKE McWHIRTER, lhp, Front Royal Cardinals (Tennessee Tech/SO in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: 6-3/190 lefty enacted a dramatic reversal from FR season at Tennessee Tech (0-4, 13.19, 14 IP/27 H/9 BB/10 SO) to summer at Front Royal (2-4, 2.57, 2 SV, 42 IP/33 H/15 BB/59 SO); was a mechanical mess in college, still trying to refine/repeat delivery from three-quarters angle, but FB at 90-93 with hard SL as breaking ball; may throw harder as tightens mechanics, fills out physically.

8. DILLON ORTMAN, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks (Auburn/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Topped league in wins while going 7-2, 2.26 (64 IP, 12 BB/50 SO); came on strong late, best outing of year was 1-hitter in final start of regular season (CG, 0 BB/7 SO, 88 pitches/66 strikes);made sound transition to starting role after going 1-1, 3.20 (25 IP, 13 BB/15 SO) in relief at Auburn; ideal 6-3/185 frame, best pitch is hard SL, but also has 87-91 FB, plus CH, creates deception in delivery, has good command of all pitches.

9. STU JONES, rhp, Winchester Royals (Tennessee-Martin/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Worked 12 IP in spring (0-0, 8.79) for college team that went 13-41 on season; by end of summer, became best arm on Valley League powerhouse; worked only in relief for Royals initially, but made first two starts since HS at end of season, FB up to 92, coupled it with excellent SL, went 2-1, 2.55 overall (35 IP, 19 BB/46 SO); still at elementary stage of development/unorthodox delivery, but very fresh arm, may reach 96 one day.

10. SETH LUCIO, rhp, Waynesboro Generals (Tennessee Tech/SO in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Small frame (5-11/185) limits appeal as potential starter, but very quick arm with 92-94 FB, touched 96 in brief stint at all-star game; went 6-1, 3.86 (58 IP, 31 BB/42 SO), mostly as starter, after going 3-2, 6.84 (49 IP, 31 BB/60 SO), as primary reliever as Tennessee Tech FR; tired noticeably at end of summer, velocity slipped into 80s; needs to work on delivery, also sharpen breaking stuff, develop command of pitch.

11. BRAD PICHA, 1b, Winchester Royals (Lamar/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: As 2-hole hitter, part of fearsome foursome atop Royals lineup that combined for 52 homers; hit .320-1-38 (21 BB/30 SO) as JR at Lamar, bumped numbers up to .370-12-36 (19 BB/32 SO) on summer, had best plate discipline in Winchester batting order; not overly athletic in 6-2/220 frame, but excellent defender at 1B, will run through a wall to win game.

12. SHAWN O’NEILL, lhp, Harrisonburg Turks (La Salle/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Valley League pitcher of year; earned nod after moving to rotation, winning deciding games of semi-final series vs Waynesboro, finals vs Winchester; made just four starts overall on summer (4-1, 1.40, 5 SV, 64 IP, 25 BB/69 SO); FB at 88-92, mixed in plus CH/CH; bulldog approach, very tough on LH hitters; sat out spring season while in process of transferring from Richmond to La Salle.

13. JOSEPH ODOM, c, Winchester Royals (Huntington, Ala./JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Hit robust .350-17-46 on summer, was surprise league HR leader considering modest success in spring at small Alabama college (.325-8-44); has legit power in strong 6-3/205 frame, but handles bat well, was best bunter on team; has strong/accurate arm behind plate, but grinder approach to catching, receiving/blocking skills need work, may end up at 1B in long run.

14. JACOB HOYLE, lhp/1b, Waynesboro Generals (Western Carolina/SO in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Followed up productive FR season at Western Carolina (.308-4-45) with big summer (.348-7-38); has big/powerful frame (6-2/245) with serious juice in bat, excellent backside approach, power mostly from right-center to left-center; solid defender around bag; also pitched this summer with surprising success (2-1, 1.29, 14 IP, 12 BB/22 SO), FB at 88, capable of throwing harder, but mechanics need work.

15. RYAN SULLIVAN, of, Covington Lumberjacks (Seton Hall/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Late pick-up in 2011, made key contribution to Covington’s unlikely run to league title with 5 HR in 8 G; broke every team offensive record in encore, except homers (.375-10-44), also led league in walks (44), on-base average, even though played most of summer with nagging turf-toe injury; LH bat is best tool, has excellent plate discipline, but also solid defender in CF/RF, average speed.

16. MILES WILLIAMS, of, Woodstock Bandits (Cal State Northridge/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Scouts have been intrigued with Williams’ athletic 6-1/205 frame and raw power potential since he was drafted by Dodgers out of California HS in 2010; hit .258-6-25 (19 BB/57 SO) as Cal State Northridge SO, .248-6-27 (7 BB/40 SO) on summer before injuring non-throwing shoulder; power evident with strength in body/lift in swing, but vulnerable to breaking balls; lack of speed limits him to OF corner, but has RF arm strength.

17. LOGAN MOON, of, Winchester Royals (Central Arkansas/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Overshadowed in potent Winchester lineup, but hit solid .288-5-35 (8 BB/27 SO), was a factor on bases (10-of-13 SAB) with 6.4 speed out of 6-hole, also showcased best RF arm in league (clocked at 94); has juice in bat, but doesn’t consistently take quality at-bats, needs a lot of reps to shore up holes in swing; also needs to add strength to lean/wiry 6-2/190 frame for power to develop.

18. CHRIS PIKE, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks (Fordham/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Starter as SO at Fordham (4-2, 5.21, 76 IP, 35 BB/59 SO), late arrival to Valley League, pitched sporadically in relief during regular season (3-0, 1.57, 3 SV, 23 IP, 6 BB/37 SO), saved best outing for last by coming on for league pitcher of year Shawn O’Neill in title-clinching game of playoffs; went 3-2/3 scoreless IP (2 H, 0 BB/5 SO), dominated with excellent control of 92-93 FB, one of best CH in league.

19. HARRISON COONEY, rhp, Front Royal Cardinals (Florida Gulf Coast/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Projectable RHP with long/lean frame (6-3/190), clean/effortless delivery, ability to hold velocity on 88-92 FB deep into games; posted comparable results in relief as college SO (4-3, 5.05, 36 IP, 12 BB/28 SO) as starter on summer for Cardinals (3-3, 4.87, 41 IP, 17 BB/40 SO), but made strides in developing a SL with speed/depth, refining 2-seam FB; still must develop a CH to remain a starter.

20. SETH MILLER, of, Covington Lumberjacks (Florida State/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Struggled as JR at Florida State (.223-3-29, 15 BB/41 SO in 139 AB), but had knack for coming through in clutch as all three homers came with bases loaded; also had 2B/3B in four bases-loaded opportunities on summer while hitting .380-1-11 overall; has smooth LH swing in athletic 6-2/205 frame, solid defender in OF, 6.8 speed in 60 but gets excellent jumps on bases.

21. TREY COCHRAN-GILL, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks (Auburn/SO in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Turks won all 11 games Cochran-Gill pitched in this summer (6-0, 3.62, 1 SV, 60 IP, 31 BB/58 SO); dominant pitch was FB at 92-93 mph with excellent movement, also has 79-81 mph SL that was effective pitch vs RH hitters from three-quarters arm slot; should remain starter in short term with solid stuff/three-pitch mix, but may be earmarked as reliever down road with slight 5-11/170 frame.

22. ALEX CRUZ, rhp, Harrisonburg Turks (Georgia Tech/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Primarily a 3B with sound defensive skills/arm strength, but light bat as Georgia Tech FR, made successful conversion to mound for Yellow Jackets as SO (8-3, 1.83, 2 SV, 74 IP/46 H/23 BB/47 SO); throws 3 pitches for strikes, including solid SL and CH, but struggled during summer (1-3, 6.07, 2 SV, 40 IP/50 H/9 BB/29 SO) putting away hitters when reached 2 strikes, especially LH bats.

23. BLAKE SIPE, of, Staunton Braves (Radford/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Hit just .191-0-11 in 68 ABs as Radford SO, but took full advantage of opportunity to play every day on summer; hit .396-0-26 (26 BB/7 SO), led league with 20 SBs; excels in leadoff role with speed, ability to make consistent contact, spray balls to all fields, run the bases, though power limited in 5-10/175 frame; excellent defender in CF, capable of chasing down balls in all directions.

24. LEO ROJAS, ss, Winchester Royals (Alabama State/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: A sparkplug, high-energy player, Rojas slotted seamlessly into leadoff role for most-explosive lineup in summer baseball; led Valley League in runs (59), hit .357-7-34, a marked upgrade from JR season at Alabama State (.238-0-32); a 6.6-6.7 runner, makes things happen on bases more with superior instincts; played SS on summer, has range to remain there, but arm strength geared to 2B; stepfather Alvaro Espinosa played 12 years in majors.

25. MICHAEL GOMEZ, lhp, Luray Wranglers (Florida International/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Came off 13-SV season at FIU (1-4, 3.76, 38 IP, 26 BB/40 SO), used in a variety of roles on summer with mixed results for streaky Luray club (2-3, 4.20, 3 SV, 30 IP, 14 BB/41 SO) that turned over lot of players/coaching staff; cut out for short role with two-pitch mix (solid-average FB, hard breaking ball), command wanders when stretched out as starter.

26. RYAN LEE, of, Harrisonburg Turks (Fordham/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Had disappointing JR season with bat at Fordham (.250-0-27, team-high 11 SB), but had breakthrough summer for Turks (.339-5-39, 7 SB), capped season with 2-run HR in 5-3 win in deciding game of league championship series; solid player across board with lively LH bat, speed/power package, developed CF skills.

27. RICKY SANTIAGO, ss, Staunton Braves (Florida Atlantic/SO in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Established defender at SS with solid actions/arm strength to play position at next level, speed also an asset in field, but needs to develop instincts on bases to become complete offensive weapon; flashes power in 6-0/185 frame, struggled with bat overall as FR at FAU (.207-4-15, 12 BB/30 SO), but made meaningful strides on summer (.295-3-32, 18 BB/56 SO), still lacks plate discipline.

28. STEPHEN GREEN, lhp, Woodstock Bandits (Boston College/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Little lefthander (5-10/160), made huge strides on summer towards mastering future role as set-up man/specialist; improved from 1-4, 9.11 (28 IP, 12 BB/22 SO) as part-time starter at BC to 4-1, 2.40 (45 IP, 29 BB/44 SO) as late-inning reliever for Bandits; arm works easy, ball jumps out of hand, plenty of FB velo at 88-92, though pitch often flat; plus breaking ball when commands the pitch.

29. RYAN BREEN, c, Waynesboro Generals (Central Florida/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: Winchester’s Joseph Odom was league HR leader, stood out among catchers for his offensive contributions, but the switch-hitting 5-10/195 Breen may have been the best player overall at the position; hit a solid .327-3-22 (17 BB/24 SO), sound in all phases defensively, calls a good game, threw out more than his share of base runners.

30. GARRETT AUTREY, of, Winchester Royals (Lamar/SR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: At 6-5/210, may be most physically-impressive player on talent-filled Winchester roster; capable of launching balls a long way in BP, solid-average runner, plays hard; hit respectable .300-7-35 with good plate discipline (24 BB/34 SO), but doesn’t consistently square up balls, needs a lot of reps at plate to become accomplished hitter; arm strength also lagging in OF.
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