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Summer Collegiate : : Story
Summer Coll. All-America Team
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MORE COVERAGE: 2012 Summer Collegiate Player of the Year, Sean Manaea

Dramatic Increase in Home Runs
Tells Story of Summer-League Season

The 2012 summer-college league season is officially over, and it’s readily evident what the overriding story line was for the recently-completed campaign.

Offense, and plenty of it!

There was a dramatic spike in offensive production in many of the nation’s top leagues this summer, specifically in the number of home runs that were launched. Numerous league, team and individual home-run records fell as the volume of long balls increased exponentially from 2011.

In the Cape Cod League, the nation’s premier summer league, the number of home runs jumped to 382 in the regular season, more than the two previous seasons combined. In 2011, just 159 home runs were hit by Cape players; in 2010, 158.

Harwich broke the old Cape single-season record of 59 (set in 1981 by Orleans during the league’s aluminum-bat era) by clubbing 64. Every team in the league saw a dramatic increase in home-run production with the exception of Chatham, which led the Cape with 24 in 2011. The Anglers still managed to top that total with 26, but that figure was the lowest in the league this summer.

League champion Wareham improved from six home runs in 2011 to 51 this season, and slugged 15 more in seven playoff games. Appropriately, the Gatemen won the Cape League title in dramatic fashion by homering twice with two outs in the ninth inning to overcome a 5-2 deficit, only to launch two more home runs in the 10
th inning of an improbable 8-6 win over Yarmouth-Dennis in the third and deciding game of the championship series. Gatemen outfielder Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech) tied the league’s wood-bat record of 16 home runs and smacked two more long balls in the post-season.

The dramatic increase in home runs wasn’t limited to the Cape Cod League. Almost every prominent summer league saw a significant jump in power production.

The Florida Collegiate League had the collective total of 51 homers in 2011 compared to 158 this season. The Great Lakes League surged from 99 a year ago to 276 this summer, the New York Collegiate League from 117 to 315. That’s roughly a three-fold increase in each case.

A sampling of other summer leagues showed the same trend, though the increase was less dramatic. The Valley League went from 287 in 2011 to 469; the Northwoods League from 599 to 737, the Prospect League (with two less teams) from 260 to 456, the West Coast League from 99 to 153.

Despite two less teams, the New England Collegiate League jumped from 291 homers in 2011 to 451 this season. Both Keene and Laconia broke the NECBL record for homers in a season with 73, with Keene adding 14 more homers in four playoff games. Laconia third baseman Danny Collins (Troy) shattered the league single-season mark by hitting 19 and also established records for slugging percentage, total bases and extra-base hits.

NECBL champion Newport scored more runs (347 in the regular season, 64 in the regular season) than any NECBL team on record, but wasn’t even the league’s most prolific offensive club. Keene outhit the Gulls in both the regular season (.314 to .313) and playoffs (.348 to .328), and outslugged them by a noticeable margin.

Several reasons have been advanced to attempt to explain the dramatic increase in offense from last season to this season, and they range from a drop in the standard of pitching in summer ball (due mainly to the proliferation of new summer leagues and college coaches withholding some of their better arms because of heavy workloads in the spring), to the use and familiarization of the new BBCOR bats (less forgiving than aluminum bats, but more in line with wood bats in use in summer ball, thus enabling a hitter to transition much quicker into summer competition), to the unusually warm weather in many parts of the country this summer (balls fly in hot weather), to the baseballs used.

The primary reason, according to many summer-baseball observers, has been the quality of the ball. By almost all accounts, baseballs used in a majority of leagues this summer were much harder than balls used in the recent past. The harder the ball, the farther it travels.

Several of the leagues in question are affiliated with the National Alliance of Summer College Baseball, an organization that is contractually committed to the use of Diamond Baseballs. The Cape Cod League has used Diamond Baseballs for years and went so far this summer as to study the quality of the 2012 and 2011 balls.

A significant difference was found in the quality of the balls. Not only were the newer Diamond balls more tightly wound, but by cutting open several balls to compare the rubber cores, it was found that the rubber core in the 2012 balls were much harder than those in the 2011 balls.

It should be noted that the Coastal Plain League uses a Rawlings baseball, and it actually saw a decrease in home runs this summer, from 406 in 2011 to 263, although the league operated with one less club.

That lends more substance to the argument that the Diamond baseball was mostly responsible for the substantial uptick in offensive productivity. No matter what the reasoning, though, it was evident that the amount of offense in summer baseball was up dramatically in 2012.



 Saluting the Top Summer-League Performers

With the acknowledgement that the level of offense in summer baseball was up dramatically this season vs. last, it goes without saying that the top 2012 everyday performers in the nation’s summer-college leagues have vastly-enhanced resumes than in years past. By contrast, the number of pitchers who performed at an elite level in summer ball were fewer and farther between.

We’ve attempted to identify the cream of the crop in both demographics with our post-season all-star teams.

In the coming days, Perfect Game will take a look at the top prospects this summer in some 25 leagues. The players we’ll highlight will be evaluated on the basis of their upside potential, or their projected worth as professional-level prospects. We’ll highlight those position players with the best combination of raw tools and pitchers with the best raw stuff.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re highlighting those players that simply performed the best this summer in summer competition, with only passing consideration given to their future potential worth. In other words, our focus here is on those players who compiled the best stats, although we’ve given priority to those players who assembled them in the most-competitive summer leagues.

We’ve selected a three-tier All-America team, and appropriately the Cape Cod League has the most selections (11), though is followed closely by the Northwoods, New England Collegiate and Prospect leagues.

Led by our summer player of the year Sean Manaea (Hyannis/Cape Cod), here’s our take on the top performers of the 2012 summer season:


CATCHERS

1. JEFF MELILLO, Newport/New England Collegiate (Rutgers)
Topped NECBL in batting (.404), set league record for OBA; heart and soul of nation’s No. 1-ranked team

2. CLAY PRESTRIDGE, West Virginia/Prospect (UC Riverside)
League batting champ (.394-5-44, 33-13 BB-SO ratio); solid defender, capable of playing multiple positions

3. ANDREW KNAPP, Chatham/Cape Cod (California)
Switch-hitter won Northwoods League batting title in 2011, continued to swing stick (.293-8-29) on Cape


FIRST BASEMEN

1. MATT TELLOR, Springfield/Prospect (Southeast Missouri State)
Prospect League’s player of the year hit a robust .344-18-66, flashed prolific power from both sides of plate

2. JAMES VASQUEZ, Herndon/Cal Ripken (Central Florida)
Cal Ripken batting champ at .418-12-42; powerful swing, compact frame with good eye (30-26 BB-SO ratio)

3. CONRAD GREGOR, Orleans/Cape Cod (Vanderbilt)
Cape all-star first sacker (.329-8-21) has picture lefthanded swing, sound plate discipline (38 BB in 44 G)


SECOND BASEMEN

1. ROSS KIVETT, Glens Falls/Perfect Game (Kansas State)
Sparkplug player led league in hitting (.401-3-29), stolen bases (37); stood out in all phases of game

2. KOBY KRAEMER, Edenton/Coastal Plain (Indiana State)
Prolific offensive player (.371-6-24), second in league in batting/OBA/slugging; solid in field, on bases

3. GRANT KAY, Keene/New England Collegiate (Iowa Western CC)
Key player on national JC champs; hit .367-13-37 on summer, arm/feet play at 2B, has power for third


THIRD BASEMEN

1. DANNY COLLINS, Laconia/New England Collegiate (Troy)
Undrafted in June, had breakout summer (.390-19-37), set league records for homers, slugging average

2. JIMMY YEZZO, Winchester/Valley (Delaware)
Chief power threat (.362-16-62) on nation’s most-prolific power team (84 HRs); settled in at hot corner

3. TAYLOR SPARKS, Wenatchee/West Coast (UC Irvine)
Has big raw power (.388-9-30, league HR leader); shared position with Gonzaga’s Mitchell Gunsolus (.371-3-48)


SHORTSTOPS

1. REED HARPER, Fayetteville/Coastal Plain (Austin Peay State)
Passed over in draft, but may have been best all-around player in CPL (.337-2-31, 14-11 BB-SO ratio)

2. ALEX BLANDINO, Yarmouth-Dennis/Cape Cod (Stanford)
Steady hand at plate (.316-5-34), in field in leading Y-D to brink of Cape Cod League championship

3. ZACK SHANK, Danbury/New England Collegiate (Marist)
NECBL all-star SS was steady in all phases; hit .318-5-29, stole 13 bags, showed off best arm in league


OUTFIELDERS

First Team

PHIL ERVIN, Harwich/Cape Cod (Samford)
Cape League MVP got off to blistering start, hit .323-11-31, second in HRs; potential five-tool talent

BEN MOORE, Alexandria/Northwoods (Alabama)
Prolific offensive player went on second half tear in NWL; hit .335-16-84, led in RBIs, tied for HR lead

HUNTER RENFROE, Bethesda/Cal Ripken (Mississippi State)
Huge power/arm strength, also prime-time prospect as C and RHP; spent summer in CF, hit .366-16-52

Second Team

ELIOT CALDWELL, Butler/Prospect (Winthrop)
Surprise offensive performer (.388-7-47, 65 R, 27 SB); showcased athleticism, bat speed, true CF skills

MICHAEL CAMPOREALE, Edenton/Coastal Plain (Washington)
Dominant offensive performer in CPL; hit .340-9-42, led league in homers, RBIs, slugging, doubles

JULIAN RIDINGS, Waynesboro/Valley (Western Carolina)
Led Valley League in batting (.419-7-39, 15 SB), significant force at top of batting order, on bases, in CF

Third Team

DANIEL ALDRICH, Cotuit/Cape Cod (SIGNED/Yankees)
Undrafted after so-so spring, had breakout summer (.350-10-26), earned contract; has explosive power

ERIC FILIA-SNYDER, Wisconsin/Northwoods (UCLA)
Late arrival to NWL, but fueled huge second-half surge by Woodchucks (.383-6-37, 24 SB, 27 BB/13 SO)

JAMES RAMSAY, Duluth/Northwoods (South Florida)
Significant offensive force, solid approach at plate; hit league-high .381, also tops with 94 hits, 10 triples


DESIGNATED HITTER

1. TYLER HORAN, Wareham/Cape Cod (Virginia Tech)
Saw time in LF, at 3B; huge season at plate (.342-16-40), tied Cape record for most HRs in wood-bat era

2. GIANCARLO BRUGNANI, Chillicothe/Prospect (Grand Valley State, Mich.)
Huge raw power in 6-3/225 frame; followed up 18 HRs in spring with 20 on summer; hit .311, 66 RBIs

3. ROB PEHL, Yarmouth-Dennis/Cape Cod (Washington)
Unheralded freshman was offensive force on Cape (.333-10-45); a 2B by trade, needs to solidify play in field


UTILITY

1. J.D. DAVIS, 3b/rhp, Wisconsin/Northwoods (Cal State Fullerton)
Saw limited action in NWL, but raw power (.344-3-26), raw arm strength (4-0, 2.10) were readily evident

2. DANIEL MENGDEN, rhp/c, San Luis Obispo/California (Texas A&M)
Promising summer as 2-way talent interrupted when hit on arm; saved nine games with 95 FB, flashed big power

3. MATT NADOLSKI, 1b/lhp, Goldpanners/Alaska (San Diego State)
More upside on mound (0-1, 2.70, 13 IP/17 SO) with low-90s FB, but more of a factor at plate (.290-7-26)


STARTING PITCHERS

First Team

AARON BLAIR, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis/Cape Cod (Marshall)
Y-D ace from start to finish; was second in league in wins (6-0), first in ERA (1.17), added two playoff wins

SAM LEWIS, rhp, West Virginia/Prospect (SIGNED/Royals)
Overlooked in spring at D-II school, was dominant in summer with two no-hitters, 18-SO playoff game

SEAN MANAEA, lhp, Hyannis/Cape Cod (Indiana State)
Overwhelmed hitter friendly-Cape with superior stuff; in 52 IP, went 5-1, 1.22, 85 SO, allowed 21 H/7 BB

CHANDLER SHEPHERD, rhp, Amsterdam/Perfect Game (Kentucky)
Led PGCBL in wins (7-0), ERA (1.31), opponent average (.154); led Mohawks to league championship

Second Team

JACK FISCHER, rhp, Wisconsin/Northwoods (Wake Forest)
Northwoods pitcher of year had plus command of sinking FB; went 6-1, posted league-best 1.76 ERA

ALEX HAINES, lhp, Vermont/New England Collegiate (Seton Hill, Pa.)
Small-school pitcher dominated big-school talent in NECBL; went 5-2, 0.90, topped league in ERA, SO

PAUL PAEZ, lhp, Southampton/Atlantic Collegiate (Rio Hondo, Calif., JC)
Sat out spring season at California JC, drafted by Mets, dominated on summer (7-2, 1.65, 60 IP/82 SO)

TOM WINDLE, lhp, Brewster/Cape Cod (Minnesota)
Bright light on last-place team on Cape; went 3-2, 2.35 (38 IP, 7 BB/47 SO) with mid-90s stuff

Third Team

MATT ANDERSON, rhp, Palm Springs/Southern California Collegiate (SIGNED/Mariners)
Undrafted in June at Long Beach State, but earned pro shot with 95 FB, 5-1, 1.17 record (54 IP/8 BB/80 SO)

DEREK CALLAHAN, lhp, Wenatchee/West Coast (Gonzaga)
Top starter on WCL champs; went 6-2, 2.69, led WCL with 56 SO in 63; lanky LHP with low-90s FB

ANDREW ISTLER, rhp, Wilson/Coastal Plain (Duke)
Overshadowed in spring at Duke by Marcus Stroman, had impressive summer, led CPL in ERA, OBA

COREY TAYLOR, rhp, Baltimore/Cal Ripken (UNC Greensboro)
Dominant arm in CRL (6-1, 2.76, 49 IP/51 SO); FB not overpowering, but excelled with curve/change


RELIEF PITCHERS

First Team

JASON JESTER, rhp, East Texas Pump Jacks/Texas Collegiate (Texas A&M)
Registered 20th SV of summer as Pump Jacks nailed down TCL championship; small RHP, FB up to 97

DAN SLANIA, rhp, Cotuit/Cape Cod (Notre Dame)
Cape leader with 11 SV; intimidating frame with 95 FB, plus SL, surprising command (33 IP, 4 BB/46 SO)

Second Team

ANTHONY BAZZANI, rhp, Alexandria/Northwoods (Eastern Kentucky)
Dominated league for second year in row with big FB (T-95 at all-star game); had league-high 17 SV

PETE KELICH, rhp, Newport/New England Collegiate (Bryant)
Both starter/reliever for NECBL champs; 2-1, 2.20, 4 SV in season; 2-0, 0.69 (13 IP/23 SO) in playoffs

Third Team

HUNTER LEMKE, rhp, Santa Barbara/California (Texas State)
Pounded strike zone from three-quarters angle; led CCL with 13 SV, went 1-0, 1.48 (24 IP, 4 BB/34 SO)

JACOB DORRIS, rhp, LaCrosse/Northwoods (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi)
NWL strikeout leader (80 in 53 IP) as middle reliever; mid-80s FB, but dominated with unhittable slider




SUMMER LEAGUE PLAYER OF YEAR
Sean Manaea, lhp, Hyannis/Cape Cod (Indiana State)

TOP RISING FRESHMAN
Cole Irvin, lhp, Cowlitz/West Coast (Oregon)

TOP RISING SOPHOMORE
Ben Moore, of, Alexandria/Northwoods (Alabama)

TOP RISING JUNIOR
Sean Manaea, lhp, Hyannis/Cape Cod (Indiana State)

TOP RISING SENIOR
Jeff Melillo, c, Newport/New England Collegiate (Rutgers)


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