Summer Collegiate : : Story
Wednesday, October 02, 2013

NECBL prospect reports

Frankie Piliere        
Photo: Virginia

Official League Website:
2013 Summer Collegiate Top Prospect coverage
New England Collegiate Baseball League Top Prospect list (free)

The New England Collegiate Baseball League did in 2013 what it has done best over the last few years, and that is to produce high level underclass talent, specifically on the pitching side. The league was filled with names we remember from not too long along on the high school showcase circuit. Top arms like like Nathan Kirby and Brett Lilek and their summer success came as no real surprise to anyone. But, then there are players like Kyle Wilcox, and even Ben Roberts, who struggled in limited action this spring, who built their status as prospects from the ground up with breakout summer campaigns.

Mark Appel has rolled through the NECBL, and a couple years back a young, hard throwing righty named Stephen Strasburg became the league’s top prospect as well. The league has a very specific, and distinguished recent history of being a proving ground for highly talented arms just finishing their freshman seasons in college. Kirby, and Lilek have the chance to be the next pitchers in that impressive string.

What was different about the NECBL this year, however, was the presence of elite talent not just starting out as college players, but players ready to jump head first into the 2014 draft class. Both Brett Graves and Scott Squier helped separate the NECBL from the pack in 2013, giving the league two very legitimate top three round hopefuls in the 2014 draft class. Landing that type of talent a credit to the league’s general managers and coaches. They’ve developed the reputation of cultivating young pitching, and can now lay claim to more prospects that took their route to the professional ranks directly through the NECBL.

Other constants around the league stayed the same, however, as the Newport Gulls continued their talent producing ways, as you’ll see a bevy of Newport stars throughout the accompanying reports. The defending champion Gulls were upended by another perennial NECBl powerhouse, the Keene Swamp Bats in the championship. The two clubs are the league’s two winningest franchises, with Newport being the owner of five league championships, and Keene now has four, including two in the last three seasons.

2013 was a season that saw the league grow in terms of talent, as well as put on and outstanding all-star event in which the league put a clear focus on showcasing the league’s best prospects. The league also grew in a literal way as well, adding two new franchises, the Plymouth Pilgrims and the Ocean State Waves.


Year League Established:
States Represented in League: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont.
No. of Teams in League: 13
Regular-Season Champion (best overall record): EAST—Newport Gulls (30-14); WEST—Keene Swamp Bats (27-17).
Post-Season Champion: Keene Swamp Bats.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 13 Keene Swamp Bats, No. 16 Newport Gulls
No. 1 Prospect, 2012 (per PG CrossChecker): Alex Haines, lhp, Vermont Mountaineers (Seton Hill; Nationals/33rd round, 2013 draft)
First 2012 Player Selected, 2013 Draft: Ryan Horstmann, lhp, Keene Swamp Bats (St. John’s; Mariners/4th round)

Most Valuable Player:
J.P. Sportman, of, Keene Swamp Bats (Schenectady, NY)
Pitcher of the Year: Michael Burke, rhp, Holyoke Blue Sox (Cleveland, Ohio)
Top Prospect (as selected by league): Nathan Kirby, lhp, Keene Swamp Bats (Midlothian, Va.)


Batting Average:
Joe Landi, if, North Adams Steeple Cats (.348)
Slugging Percentage: Mike Gerber, of, Ocean State Waves (.565)
On-Base Average: Christopher Travers, c, New Bedford Bay Sox (.462)
Home Runs: Tyler Boyd, c, Mystic Schooners; Mike Gerber, of, Ocean State Waves (7)
RBI: Steve Anderson, 1b, Newport Gulls (42)
Stolen Bases: Joe Torres, of, Laconia Muskrats (28)


Four tied at 5
ERA: Michael Burke, rhp, Holyoke Blue Sox (0.55)
Saves: James Connell, rhp, Keene Swamp Bats (8)
Strikeouts: Scott Squier, lhp, North Adams SteepleCats (70)


Best Athlete:
Zach Lucas, ss/2b, Keene Swamp Bats
Best Hitter: Ben Roberts, of, Newport Gulls
Best Power: Ben Roberts, of, Newport Gulls
Fastest Base Runner: Cody Jones, of, Newport Gulls
Best Defensive Player: Trace Tam Sing, SS, Newport gulls
Best Velocity: Kyle Wilcox, rhp, Newport Gulls
Best Breaking Ball: Steven Rice, rhp, Sanford Mainers
Best Command: Michael Burke, rhp, Holyoke Blue Sox


1. NATHAN KIRBY, lhp, Keene Swamp Bats (Virginia/SO in 2014)
In a summer in New England dominated by pitching, it was Nathan Kirby that stood above the rest. And, although this summer now represents his emergence as an elite prospect in the 2015 draft class, it followed what was an up-and-down freshman season for Kirby at Virginia. He compiled a 6.06 ERA in 24 appearances (mostly out of the bullpen) in his first taste of college baseball, but most who saw him still raved about his potential. That potential blossomed into on-field performance this summer. Kirby has true, swing-and-miss type stuff, and he had the numbers to back that up for Keene. Over 43 regular season innings, he fanned 60 batters, compiling a 1.67 ERA and allowing only 28 hits in the process. Kirby lives at 91-94 mph with his fastball, working from an easy, repeatable lefthanded delivery. His go-to secondary offering at the moment is his breaking ball, an 81-85 mph slider that breaks hard and late down and in on righthanded batters. It’s flashes plus potential right now, and should be a full fledged out-pitch for him as he learns to finish it more consistently. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Kirby has a frame that is still young and projectable, and has the athleticism you want to see out of future big league starter. He will jockey for a weekend rotation spot on a loaded Virginia pitching staff in 2014, and a big sophomore year could firmly position him as a potential first round pick when 2015 rolls around.

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