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Summer Collegiate : : Story
Atlantic League prospect reports
Allan Simpson        
Published: Thursday, September 15, 2011

Official League Website

League Strength: **

Atlantic Collegiate League top 25 prospects (list)

The Atlantic Collegiate League is divided into three distinct divisions: the Wolff Division, comprised of four teams from New Jersey and Pennsylvania; the Kaiser Division, composed of three teams based in the New York City area; and the Hamptons Division, made up of five teams from the exclusive Hamptons region on Long Island.


While the Wolff Division’s Jersey Pilots easily posted the league’s best record during the 2011 season at 24-10 and the Kaiser Division’s Staten Island Tide walked away with the league title, it was the Hamptons Division that easily had the best talent. Of the ACBL’s top 25 prospects identified below, the five Hampton teams combined to contribute 17 players to the list.

The Hamptons Division is a spinoff of the old Hamptons Collegiate League and its integration into the ACBL in 2009 has greatly added to the talent mix in the league. That division produced league champions in 2009 and 2010, and contributed 13 of the league’s top 25 prospects in 2009, 15 of the top 25 a year ago and outdid itself this summer.

The Westhampton Aviators had the most prospects (6), including No. 1 prospect Brandon Kuter, a rising junior righthander from George Mason, but managed to compile just a 21-19 record on the season, though finished first in its division and lost in the league championship game to Staten Island.

The gap between the first- and fourth-place teams in the Hamptons was just one game, and a mere three games separated first and last.; Such parity stems largely from the Hamptons blueprint of recruiting college players as an organization and distributing them on a relatively equal basis among its five teams in the form of a draft based on a pre-season tryout of the assembled talent.

The ACBL made a noteworthy contribution to the 2011 draft as Stanford lefthander Chris Reed, selected 16
th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers, was the No. 1-ranked prospect in the league a year ago, while Connecticut shortstop Nick Ahmed, a second-round selection of the Atlanta Braves, was the No. 1-ranked talent in the league in the summer of 2009.

Ahmed’s lofty ranking was actually based more on his perceived upside as a pitcher rather than as a shortstop, though he rarely pitched in the ACBL or in three years at UConn, and was ultimately drafted as a shortstop. Ahmed’s younger Mike followed in his footsteps this summer by also playing shortstop for Westhampton, and his upside may also be greater on the mound, though he worked in just two innings for the Aviators. The younger Ahmed is ranked No. 9 on the list below.

It remains to be seen where this year’s top prospect, the 6-foot-7 Kuter, will be drafted in 2012, but he was hands-down the top-rated talent in the league and actually moved to the top spot after being ranked No. 7 a year ago. Kuter topped the league in saves with a fastball that peaked at 96 mph.

FAST FACTS

Year League Established:
1967.
States Represented in League: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.
No. of Teams in League: 12 (13 in 2010).
Regular-Season Champion (best overall record): Jersey Pilots.
Post-Season Champion: Staten Island Tide.
Teams, PG CrossChecker Summer 50/Final Ranking: No. 36 Staten Island Tide.
No. 1 Prospect, 2010 (per PG CrossChecker): Chris Reed, lhp, Torrington Titans (Stanford; Dodgers/1st round).
First 2010 Player Selected, 2011 Draft: Chris Reed, lhp, Torrington Titans (Stanford; Dodgers/1st round).

Most Valuable Players: Kevin Heller, of, Westhampton Aviators.
Most Outstanding Pitcher: Rob Corsi, lhp, Jersey Pilots.
Top Prospect (as selected by league): Brandon Kuter, rhp, Westhampton Aviators.

BATTING LEADERS

Batting Average:
Alex Maruri, 1b/of, New York Atlantics (.420).
Slugging Percentage: Kevin Heller, of, Westhampton Aviators (.645).
On-Base Average: Alex Maruri, 1b/of, New York Atlantics (.490).
Home Runs: Kevin Heller, of, Westhampton Aviators (11).
RBIs: Frank Schwindel, c/1b, Riverhead Tomcats (36).
Stolen Bases: Four tied at 17.

PITCHING LEADERS

Wins:
Three tied at 5.
ERA: Chris Phelan, rhp, Southampton Breakers (0.68).
Saves: Brandon Kuter, rhp, Westhampton Aviators (10).
Strikeouts: Rob Corsi, lhp, Jersey Pilots (56).

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete:
Kevin Heller, of, Westhampton Aviators.
Best Hitter: Frank Schwindel, c/1b, Riverheads Tomcats.
Best Power: Matt Carroll, 1b, North Fork Ospreys.
Fastest Base Runner: Anthony Vega, of, Long Island Collegians.
Best Defensive Player: Stuart Turner, c, Southampton Breakers.
Best Velocity: Brandon Kuter, rhp, Westhampton Aviators.
Best Breaking Ball: Brandon Kuter, rhp, Westhampton Aviators.
Best Command: Taylor Black, rhp, Westhampton Aviators.

TOP 25 PROSPECTS

1. BRANDON KUTER, rhp, Westhampton Aviators (George Mason/JR in 2012)
SCOUTING PROFILE: There’s something about the ACBL that seems to bring out the best in Kuter. In two seasons working in relief at George Mason, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound righthander has struggled mightily in going a combined 1-3, 7.68 while giving up 32 walks and 55 hits in 34 innings, and striking out just 32. But he has been a completely different pitcher the last two summers as a closer for Westhampton. He fanned 31 in 21 innings a year ago, and thoroughly dominated the league this summer in 21 appearances, posting a 0.40 ERA, saving a league-high 10 games and punching out 36 in 22 innings. He also earned a save in the league all-star game with a fastball that registered 96 mph. The pitch typically sat at 92-94 during the season and he complemented it with a power slider, giving him the two dominant pitches needed to excel in a game-ending role. Kuter has a live, loose arm with a projectable, athletic frame, but he still needs to repeat his delivery more consistently to fine-tune the command of his slider. If he can accomplish that, he appears to have everything that a scout would look for in an early-round draft pick.


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