Summer Collegiate : : Story
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alaska Lg. Prospect Reports

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

For the first time since 1968, an Alaska League team did not participate in the National Baseball Congress World Series this year. That ranks as a landmark development in the evolution of the league, which earned its reputation as one of the nation’s elite summer college leagues largely on the basis of its dominating performances over the last half-century at the Wichita-based tournament.

Alaska League teams won the NBC World Series 16 times through the years, and finished second on 17 occasions. In six different tournaments, the championship game pitted two Alaska teams.

But it’s been 10 years now since the last Alaska League club won an NBC title, and only three Alaska clubs have even returned to the championship game since the Fairbanks-based Alaska Goldpanners beat the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, their long-time rival, in the 2002 final.

So when the Glacier Pilots, winners of five national championships through the years, qualified for the 78th renewal of the NBC tournament this summer by winning the Alaska League regular-season title but declined the automatic invitation, it marked the end of an era.

The Pilots believed they had a representative club, but cited the prohibitive costs of sending a team from Alaska to Kansas for the two-week long tournament. In 2009, when the Pilots finished second, it cost them roughly $50,000 to participate—an extraordinary expenditure for a summer-league club.

It’s unclear whether Alaska League championship teams will choose to bypass the NBC tournament in the future, but Anchorage’s decision to forego this year’s event hardly had an adverse effect on the league as a whole as the Alaska League actually enjoyed a prosperous 2012 season, both on and off the field.

The Goldpanners, the league’s flagship franchise and winners of a record six NBC titles through the years, returned to full playing status after taking a partial leave of absence from the league in 2011, citing financial issues, while the Chugiak Chinooks firmly established themselves as a solid sixth franchise in the league.

Led by the Glacier Pilots, with nine players on the accompanying list of the league’s top 30 prospects, the talent level in the league overall was generally superior to recent years, according to scouts and other league observers.

Top to bottom, the league was much more offensive with the Anchorage Bucs, for one, smashing 52 homers on the summer vs. just eight in 2011, and yet the consensus was that there were more good arms in the league than normal, with several pitchers clocking in the low- to mid-90s, led by Anchorage Bucs closer Braden Shipley, whose fastball checked in at 97.


Year League Established:
1974 (reunited 1998).
States Represented in League: Alaska.
No. of Teams in League: 6 (5 in 2011).
Regular-Season Champion (record): Anchorage Glacier Pilots (26-14).
Post-Season Champion: None.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 18 Anchorage Glacier Pilots, No. 43 Anchorage Bucs.
No. 1 Prospect, 2011 (per PG CrossChecker): Aaron Judge, of, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (Fresno State; played in Cape Cod League in 2012).
First 2011 Player Selected, 2012 Draft: Patrick Wisdom, 3b, Kenai Peninsula Oilers (St. Mary’s; drafted by Cardinals/supplemental 1st round).

Player of the Year:
Chase Compton, 1b/3b, Anchorage Bucs.
Top Prospect (as selected by league): Braden Shipley, rhp, Anchorage Bucs.

BATTING LEADERS (League games only)

Batting Average:
Clint Freeman, 1b, Mat-Su Miners (.379).
Slugging Average: Kevin Casey, 2b, Alaska Goldpanners (.693).
On-Base Average: Chase Compton, 1b/3b, Anchorage Bucs (.457).
Home Runs: Tyler Spoon, of, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (10).
RBIs: Tyler Spoon, of, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (32).
Stolen Bases: Ian Miller, of, Mat-Su Miners (36).

PITCHING LEADERS (League games only)

Kyle Freeland, lhp, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (5).
ERA: Kyle Freeland, lhp, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (0.72).
Saves: Travis Pitcher, rhp, Anchorage Glacier Pilots (7).
Strikeouts: Mike Jeffreys, rhp, Chugiak Chinooks (49).


Best Athlete:
Nigel Nootbaar, rhp/of, Kenai Peninsula Oilers
Best Hitter: Collin Ferguson, 1b, Anchorage Bucs
Best Power: Tyler Spoon, of, Anchorage Glacier Pilots
Fastest Base Runner: Ian Miller, of, Mat-Su Miners
Best Defensive Player: Jordan Luplow, of, Anchorage Glacier Pilots
Best Velocity: Braden Shipley, rhp, Anchorage Bucs
Best Breaking Ball: Andrew Ferreira, lhp, Anchorage Bucs
Best Command: Kyle Freeland, lhp, Anchorage Glacier Pilots


1. BRADEN SHIPLEY, rhp, Anchorage Bucs (Nevada/JR in 2013)
SCOUTING PROFILE: The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Shipley was selected the Western Athletic Conference pitcher of the year in the spring at Nevada on the strength of posting a 9-4, 2.20 record in 15 starts, while walking 40 and striking out 88 in 98 innings. With such a heavy workload, he was commissioned for relief duty only on the summer for the Bucs, yet excelled in that role as well. In 17 appearances spanning an equivalent number of innings, he earned seven saves while walking three and striking out 29. Though Shipley pitched much of the summer with a starter’s mentality, utilizing three pitches, he was able to blow out his fastball in short bursts to a league-best 97 mph, but would tend to lose velocity after 15-20 pitches and dial back to a more customary 92-94. He also found opportunity to work in a high-70s curve and low-80s change, both of which are solid offerings, though he has a tendency to telegraph his breaking ball while serving up his change with the identical arm speed and action as his fastball. If anything, he greatly improved the command of all his pitches on the summer. Though Shipley does not have an overly physical frame, he is very athletic and generates his superior velocity with a very quick arm from a high three-quarters release point, enabling the ball to explode out of his hand. Shipley’s rise to superior pitching status is sudden, and somewhat unexpected as he began his career at Nevada as primarily a shortstop, and earned second-team all-WAC honors at the position in 2011 by hitting .287-1-19. He worked in just 10 innings on the mound, going 1-0, 8.71 with 13 strikeouts. He essentially reversed roles as a sophomore, and batted just 12 times. With his background at shortstop, Shipley is very adept at fielding his position as a pitcher, and excels at holding runners.

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