Continued from Part IIA, here are the hitters! PLUS, there’s a bonus section at the end. Who doesn’t like bonuses?
RF Drew Vettleson, RK Princeton Rays (TBR)
Born: Bremerton, 1991. Central Kitsap ’10.
2010: 1st round/No. 42 overall by Tampa Bay.
The kid can really get on base, drawing comparisons to healthy J.D. Drew (whom we forget is someone we really want to be compared to). He’s reached in 27 of his last 46 plate appearances during his 11-game hitting streak, including 17-for-23 in his last five games. Some scouts have said Vettleson won’t steal bases… Why, then, is he already 13-for-15 on steals in just 136 at-bats this year? At least two scouts have said his transition from high school was as seamless as his .343/.406/.571 slash indicates and that the young man is battling at the plate and driving outside pitches to right field. His game is advanced for a high-school prospect, ETA: 2014.
See the rest of the lineup after the jump.
2B Ryan Brett, RK Princeton Rays (TBR)
Born: Seattle, 1991. Highline ’10.
2010: 3/98 by Tampa Bay.
The 5-feet-8, 180-pound Brett is like the baseball Isaiah Thomas. He’s strong, fast, versatile and usually the last guy in the gym. He’s an aggressive baserunner and rangy fielder putting up very mature numbers for a teenager (.297/.367/.437 over 248 rookie-league plate appearances in the past two years). He’ll have to work on his glove, but he could easily transition to center field and thrive there. Brett was the third Seattle-area prospect taken by the Rays in the first three rounds of last year’s draft; Minor League Ball already ranks him as the Rays’ No. 22 prospect for 2011, ahead of recent No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham.
3B Matt Hague, AAA Indianapolis Indians (PIT)
Born: Seattle, 1985. Kentwood ’04, University of Washington ’07.
2007: 11/347 by Cleveland; 2008: 9/264 by Pittsburgh.
The youth movement is in full effect for the first-place Pirates, and Hague was the logical next step until Saturday’s Derrek Lee trade. Still, Hague’s Indianapolis-record 43 June hits and AAA All-Star Game appearance have the club’s attention as the playoffs loom closer—he is hitting .318/.379/.476 this year with only 47 strikeouts in 449 plate appearances. He’s probably the best defensive first baseman in the IL and has plentiful third-base experience as well. Could Hague be on the first Pirates’ playoff roster since 1992? (Also, he was GREAT in MVP 06.)
DH Josh Sale, RK Princeton Rays (TBR)
Born: Seattle, 1991. Bishop Blanchet ’10.
2010: 1/17 by Tampa Bay.
Josh Sale may be a one-tool player, but his ability to hit for power is a Craftsman nail gun and two acetylene torches welded to a 13-horsepower block saw. The kid can hit. Try 22 high-school home runs or a .520 batting average as a senior. I would share his on-base percentage, but you wouldn’t believe me. He’s one of the hardest-working individuals in sports and says he works as hard in the classroom—even through learning disorders—as he does in the offseason. Two more things: he was a two handicap as a pre-teen golfer in national competition and it’s SAH-lay–he’s half Samoan.
RF Colin Curtis, New York Yankees
Born: Issaquah, 1985. Issaquah ’03.
2003: 50/1467 by Cincinnati; 2006: 4/134 by New York Yankees.
Colin Curtis is a Lifetime movie waiting to happen. Cancer-free since age 15, storybook career at national powerhouse Arizona State, joy of walk-off jack in Spring Training opener, unlikelyhood of first career homer after an ejected Brett Gardner bequeathed an 0-2 count, disappointment of narrowly missing playoff roster… Now, he’s facing rehab after successful surgery on a right shoulder he—naturally—dislocated while making a Spring Training diving catch. He’ll come back, face some personal drama, rescue Kina Grannis from a burning building and hit a World Series walkoff, and you’ll see it on channel 51 in 2025.
C Mitch Canham, AAA Sacramento River Cats (OAK)
Born: Richland, 1984. Lake Stevens ’03.
2006: 41/1246 by St. Louis; 2007: 1/57 by San Diego.
If Mitch Canham makes it in the major leagues, there’s an Arthur Ashe Courage Award nomination with his name on it. Handed the most unbearable personal tragedies, he chose hard work—in academics and athletics—over anger. Just read the article linked to his name; Crasnick weaves it beautifully. After leading Oregon State to back-to-back Cinderella championships, the All-American was drafted in the first round and quickly became the top catcher in the Padres system with a .285/.382/.434 high-A slash in 2008. He’s still below average defensively but the A’s are developing his skills at multiple positions—with a decent bat and decent speed, he can be a Swiss army tool off the bench for the big club. And he’s kind of got bars, too. Just skip the first 30 seconds, for goodness’ sake.
1B Ryan Strieby, AAA Toledo Mud Hens (DET)
Born: Seattle, 1985. Mountlake Terrace ’03, Edmonds Community College ’05.
2004: 29/868 by Los Angeles; 2006: 4/112 by Detroit.
Gotta love the Three True Outcomes. Strieby has 17 homers, 43 walks and 132 strikeouts for Toledo this year, comprising 44 percent of his 441 plate appearances. Not going to help him overtake Miguel Cabrera at first base for the big club. But Strieby is only two years removed from a monster .303/.427/.565 season in double-A and has shown some outfield aptitude (OK, so he’s shown that he can walk and breathe at the same time. How is that different from what Kyle Blanks does?), which could get him on the field particularly after the Casper Wells departure. He has a ton of power and a well-timed hot streak could easily get him a major league job somewhere.
CF Kyrell Hudson, Low-A Williamsport Crosscutters
Born: Vancouver, 1990. Evergreen ’09.
2009: 3/106 by Philadelphia.
I am personally overjoyed to write Kyrell Hudson’s name in a baseball-related post. Why? Because this (and the punt return at 2:49) was all set to return kicks and punts for Oregon State before signing with the Phillies. The video quality isn’t great, but it’s clear the boy has about four more gears than anybody playing defense. On the diamond, he’s like store-brand nonfat Joey Gathright—ludicrous speed, some power potential, often lost at the plate. He’s got a lot of development to do but plenty of time to do it in, as he doesn’t turn 21 until December.
SS Jarek Cunningham, High-A Bradenton Marauders (PIT)
Born: Spokane, 1989. Mount Spokane ’08.
2008: 18/534 by Pittsburgh.
Cunningham has a lot of pop for a middle infielder. He’s striking out a whole lot but still slugging .516, good for third in the Florida State League. He’s a capable infielder with experience at three positions. If he starts making more productive outs, he could find a spot in the Pirates’ future plans.
3B/2B Travis Mattair, High-A Clearwater Threshers (PHI)
Born: Kennewick, 1988. Kennewick ’07.
2007: 2/83 by Philadelphia.
After a year-long hiatus spent walking onto the Boise State basketball team, Mattair is back in baseball. The 6-feet-5-inch converted shortstop is hitting .262/.320/.422 in 225 at-bats across two levels this year and the glove is… rusty.
IF Steven Souza, High-A Potomac Nationals (WSN)
Born: Everett, 1989. Cascade ’07.
2007: 3/100 by Washington.
It’s been an interesting ride for Souza. He’s a gap hitter with good speed, but he’s failed defensively at shortstop and third base. He was a South Atlantic League All-Star in 2010 after a first half with 11 homers and 18 stolen bases, but he sat out the second half while serving a 50-game suspension for taking generic Ritalin to increase focus. He’s now the Potomac Nats’ everyday first-baseman with a .364 on-base percentage, 10 homers and 23 stolen bases in just 298 at-bats.
OF Kyle Conley, High-A Palm Beach Cardinals (STL)
Born: Moses Lake, 1987. Richland ’05, University of Washington ’09.
2008: 16/487 by Los Angeles Dodgers; 2009: 7/219 by St. Louis.
A patient outfielder with a strong arm, the 6-feet-4 Conley is back on track after an injury-shortened 2010. He’s hitting .273/.351/.533 with 9 homers through 168 plate appearances for Palm Beach.
1B Bubba Jones, RK Gulf Coast Yankees (NYY)
Born: Edmonds, 1992. Edmonds-Woodway ’11.
2011: 7/239 by New York Yankees.
Jones signed with the Bombers Thursday, spurning a scholarship to the University of Arizona. He hit a school-record .568 with 8 homers last year–he’ll start in the Gulf Coast League, where he might face former Northwest 3A rival and current Gulf Coast Ray Blake Snell. Check out SeaTown Sports’ exclusive interview with Bubba, it’s linked to his name!
YOUNGER DUDES TO LOOK OUT FOR:
LHP Adam Conley, Olympia ’08, Washington State—Throws 95 mph as a left-handed starting pitcher, that’s rare territory. Drafted No. 72 overall by the Marlins last month, has yet to sign.
RHP/OF Dylan Davis and SS/OF Michael Conforto, Redmond ’11, Oregon State—These guys are the real deal. Baseball America ranked them both top-70 2011 draft prospects but they chose the Beavers over the pros (for now!). Conforto is a little raw, but neither kid knows how to do much except produce and win.
RHP Cole Wiper, Newport ’11, Oregon—Baseball America’s No. 75 prospect in the class of 2011, Wiper has an easy, consistent delivery and good downward action on his fastball.
3B Jake Lamb, Blanchet ’09, Washington—Freshman All-American is as pure a hitter as they come.
IF Trevor Mitsui, Shorewood ’11, Washington—Remarkable talent… Thirteen bombs, first-team All-USA… What the heck is a 2.538 OPS???
RHP Tony Bryant, Kennewick ’09, Oregon State—An imposing top prospect at 6-feet-7, posted a 1.52 ERA and 12 saves in 47 and a third innings last year.
RHP Kody Watts, Skyview ’11, Portland—A high-school quarterback, Watts has a live arm and adequate secondary stuff.
1B Taylor Ard, Prairie ’08, Mt. Hood CC ’10, Washington State—Led the Pac-10 with 10 homers and 55 RBI to go along with .337 batting average and .985 OPS. Former Junior College All-American won the NWAACC Triple Crown (.490/12/49) in 2010. Two-time first-team All-State at Prairie.
OF Jake Locker, Ferndale ’05, Washington ’10, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Tennessee Titans… Why not? Former 10th-round pick is signed with the Angels through 2014, but let’s hope the football career works out.