Baseball America and PG Crosschecker release WCL prospects lists; Walla Walla’s Cody Poteet of UCLA rated #1 prospect in WCL

Baseball America released its West Coast League top ten prospects list on September 5, and yesterday (September 11) Perfect Game Crosschecker announced its top 40 list. Sophomore-to-be pitcher Cody Poteet of UCLA was rated the league’s top prospect by both BA and PGC.

Poteet made six starts for the North Division champion Walla Walla Sweets and went 3-2 with a 3.78 ERA. Cody also pitched in the 2013 WCL All-Star Game and was named the game’s top prospect by vote of the pro scouts in attendance.

The hard-throwing right-hander made 11 starts as a frosh for the National Champion Bruins. In total, Poteet appeared in 29 games this past spring, logging 70.2 innings while going 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA.

WCL champion Corvallis led all teams with three Baseball America prospects and eight PG Crosschecker prospects. For a complete listing of West Coast League prospects see below.

Top Ten WCL Prospects List by Clint Longenecker, Baseball America.

Postseason Recap: The Corvallis Knights won 14 straight games across the regular season and postseason to win their third WCL championship after defeating the Wenatchee Apple Sox, the defending champions, in the two-game finale. With a 37-17 regular-season record (46-17 overall), the Knights won the Southern Division title and were the top team in the regular season, while the Walla Walla Sweets won the Northern Division. The Medford Rogues, the fourth playoff team, were the first expansion franchise to make the playoffs in their first year.

1. Cody Poteet, rhp, Walla Walla (So., UCLA)

Poteet was part of a trio of hurlers that headlined UCLA’s No. 2 ranked recruiting class in 2012. Poteet was a weekday starter as a freshman, making 11 starts and 29 appearances with a 4.84 ERA and 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He got to Walla Walla late because of the Bruins’ Omaha run and started six games with a 2-1 strikeout-walk ratio and 3.74 ERA. Poteet had the best stuff in the league and was voted the top prospect at the WCL all-star game by scouts. He hides the ball with a high glove extension, has a quick arm and gets downhill plane and good extension from a whip-like arm action and high three-quarters slot. The ball jumps out of his hand with natural cut to his 90-94 mph fastball that touched 95. Poteet has feel for three offspeed pitches that have average or better potential. His calling card is a high-70s power curveball with tight rotation, but his newly developed low-80s slider has plus potential, and his emerging low-80s changeup flashes above-average. He walked three batters per nine innings, and one scout said, “The only thing that will keep him from being successful is his command.” He has an athletic 6-foot-1, 191-pound evenly proportioned build with room for further strength gains and could enter UCLA’s weekend rotation next spring.

2. Jorge Perez, rhp, Corvallis (Jr., Grand Canyon, Ariz.)

Perez has thrown his best in big games this year. A top starter for Grand Canyon, Perez threw a six-strikeout complete game with no earned runs allowed in an elimination game at the Division II World Series. In his second summer in Corvallis, Perez threw a two-hit, complete-game shutout with six strikeouts and no walks against Wenatchee to win the WCL championship.

With command of a deep repertoire, Perez was one of the most polished pitchers in the WCL but also has solid stuff. Perez has a clean delivery and sits 88-91 mph as a starter but saves more for the late innings, bumping 93-94 in the championship game. Coaches universally praised the fastball movement, sink and downhill plane Perez generated from a high three-quarters arm slot. He learned a cutter this summer and it became a weapon for him in games. His 79-83 mph slider was one of the best in the league and has the potential to be an average or better pitch. Perez has feel for a 76-77 mph changeup that is a fringe-average offering presently but projects as average. If his changeup develops, Perez could profile as back-end big league starter. Perez, who posted a 1.25 ERA in 36 innings this summer, averaged only one walk per nine innings and posted a 6-1 strikeout-walk ratio, as he commands the ball to either side of the plate down in the zone. Having added 15 pounds of muscle over the last year, Perez has a solid, athletic build at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.

3. Blake Drake, of, Corvallis (Jr., Concordia, Ore.)

Unsigned out of high school, Drake has been a top performer at NAIA Concordia, a small Christian school in Portland, where he led the team in almost every offensive category as a sophomore with a .367/.425/.459 line. As one of the few position players in the league who profiles to stay in the middle of the diamond, the center fielder has a well-rounded skill set and is arguably the top defender in the WCL. Drake is a plus runner with a plus arm that coaches agreed was the best in the league. He gets good reads in the outfield and drew praise for his defensive instincts. With 20 steals, Drake finished fourth in the league in steals. From an upright stance, the righthanded-hitting Drake has an aggressive, pull-oriented approach but makes consistent hard contact with a line-drive bat path. He struck out in less than 9 percent of his plate appearances. He hit .291/.339/.414 this summer with 14 doubles, which tied for second in the WCL. Coaches praised Drake’s breaking ball recognition but also said he must learn to drive the ball to the opposite field and get stronger before he enters pro ball. With a lean build and wiry strength at 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, Drake has considerable physical projection remaining. Many coaches said Drake looks like a shorter version of a young Hunter Pence. Drake drew praise for his energetic style of play and has the chance to be the first player drafted from Concordia in 10 years.

4. Dylan Hecht, rhp, Corvallis (So., UC Santa Barbara)

The righthander had a banner freshman campaign at UCSB, compiling a 1.83 ERA, 45 strikeouts in 34 innings and nine saves to earn freshman All-America honors. As a smaller righthander with arguably the most arm strength in the WCL this summer, Hecht drew comparisons to former Corvallis righthander Jimmie Sherfy. Hecht’s fastball sat 92-94 mph and touched 96 from a compact arm action and high three-quarters arm slot. His fastball is relatively straight and there is some effort to Hecht’s delivery. Hecht’s go-to offpseed pitch is a hard 81-85 mph slider with two-plane break that has average potential. His useable changeup lags significantly behind the breaking ball. He compiled 11 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.06 ERA this summer. Although Hecht’s 3.6 walks per nine was exactly league average, coaches say his command must improve, as hitters often expanded the zone against his plus fastball. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Hecht could add 10-15 more pounds onto his frame. Despite his success in the bullpen, there is a chance Hecht could enter the UCSB rotation.

5. Alex Real, c, Victoria (Jr., New Mexico)

An unsigned late-round 2011 draft pick of the Braves, Real has been a two-year starter at New Mexico, where he hit .317/.402/.519 with 26 extra-base hits as a sophomore. This summer, Real showed he could produce with wood in a more moderate offensive climate, finishing among the league leaders in all triple-slash categories at .339/.402/.518. With 45 present raw power on the 20-80 scouting scale, Real projects to have average future power and finished second in the WCL in home runs (six). Every coach in the league praised Real’s discipline at the plate, knowledge of the strike zone and advanced approach, as Real had nearly as many walks (19) as strikeouts (22). The righthanded-hitting Real has some bat speed from an unorthodox setup and uses the whole field.

Despite his offensive aptitude, Real stood out most for his defensive chops as arguably the top defensive catcher in the WCL. He is a good athlete for the position with quick feet, and he excels at blocking balls in the dirt. A scout said he is presently an average major league receiver. Coaches said he has a plus arm capable of in-game pop times in the 1.85-1.90-second range and commended Real for his leadership skills and intensity. The 6-foot, 215-pound Real has worked hard to clean up his stocky, sturdy body.

6. Nick Sabo, lhp, Klamath Gems (Jr., Long Beach State)

Deployed primarily as a swingman for Long Beach State, Sabo started four games and produced a 3.43 ERA in 39 innings as a sophomore. After leading the league in games started (12), innings pitched (75) and wins (six), Sabo was voted the WCL pitcher of the year. A water polo star in high school, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Sabo has a lean, angular build with broad shoulders, a V-shaped torso and lean legs. His high-80s fastball that touched 92 plays up because of his fastball command and glove-side run from an arm slot a tick below three-quarters. His athleticism allows him to consistently repeat his delivery, as Sabo allowed less than two walks per nine innings. Sabo’s primary offspeed pitch is his tumbling changeup. With some length to his arm action, Sabo’s slurvy breaking ball lags behind his changeup. Veteran talent evaluators compared Sabo’s delivery and arm action to Mark Rzepczynski’s at a similar age and believe Sabo also profiles as a setup man in pro ball.

7. Marc Huberman, lhp, Bellingham (So., Southern California)

With a mid-80s fastball that occasionally bumped the high 80s, Huberman was undrafted out of high school. During his freshman year at USC, Huberman began to develop physically but had an inconsistent spring out of the Trojans bullpen, posting a 9.00 ERA in 14 innings with eight walks but 13 strikeouts. Deployed as Bellingham’s fireman, Huberman now has a fastball that sits 89-92 and is capable of touching 94 with arm-side life. With a compact arm action, Huberman hides the ball well and gets good extension from a high three-quarters slot. His delivery offers some funk and deception, as well as some crossfire action. At its best, his 75-78 mph curveball has 1-to-7 tilt and depth but has been inconsistent, as Huberman tends to get around on the pitch and it flattens. Huberman has not shown much feel for a third offering. With a 1.74 ERA and nearly 11 strikeouts per nine this summer, Huberman showed he has power stuff, but also needs to improve his control; he issued 16 walks and nine wild pitches in 21 innings. He has a wiry, athletic build at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with a strong lower half.

8. Connor Spencer, 1b/of/3b, Wenatchee (Jr., UC Irvine)

A two-year starter at Irvine, Spencer led the Anteaters in batting average and on-base percentage (.373/.443/.491) this spring with just as many walks as strikeouts (21). Spencer continued to mash this summer, finishing second in batting average at .380, one hit away from leading the league. The lefthanded hitter also finished in the top five in the WCL in doubles (14), on-base percentage (.441) and slugging percentage (.518). With a tall stance, soft stride and simple setup at the plate, Spencer has an advanced approach and line-drive swing. Spencer is a gap-to-gap hitter who excels at driving the ball to the opposite field. Coaches praised his breaking ball recognition but said he has a hitch in his load that keeps his hands back well, enabling him to use the opposite field but potentially hindering him against better velocity. Currently more of a doubles hitter, Spencer hit three home runs and has average raw power. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Spencer has a physical build with square shoulders and strength throughout his large frame, but his physical projection is limited. Due to his aptitude with the bat, Spencer would rank higher if his defensive profile was more optimistic. A below-average runner without much lateral quickness or range, Spencer, who has gotten time in the outfield corners, has a serviceable arm and is likely limited to first base in pro ball. Spencer, a very talented musician and concert pianist, has sung the national anthem before games at school.

9. Joe Mello, ss, Wenatchee (Jr., Lewis-Clark State, Idaho)

A well-known high school player who received draft interest, Mello had Tommy John surgery late in his high school career. He was committed to Oregon but spent the last two seasons at Chabot (Calif.) JC, where he was among the team leaders in every offensive category. Mello, whose summer was truncated by a late arrival, was a big offensive performer and would have finished fifth in batting average (.355/.409/.484) if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. With a high-effort swing and some bat speed, Mello has an aggressive approach. One coach said, “Mello is swinging before he gets to the plate.” He is a high-contact hitter with a line-drive swing path and excellent hand-eye coordination, striking out in less than 6 percent of his plate appearances. Coaches were impressed with how Mello, who walked more than he struck out, tracked pitches and recognized breaking balls. The lefthanded-hitting Mello can hit to all fields but is best to his pull side. Mello has enough loft in his swing to run into some long balls – he hit three this summer. Although he has played well at shortstop in college, Mello likely fits best at second base in pro ball, as he has average lateral agility and quickness, but has the arm to profile on the left side of the infield. With average speed, Mello is a threat to steal double-digit bases. Coaches praised Mello for his hard-nosed style of play and confident demeanor. The 6-foot, 180-pound Mello has also drawn some interest off the mound and is transferring to Lewis-Clark State.

10. Alex Calbick, 3b/1b, Bellingham (Sr., Maine)

Born in Canada, Calbick played for the Canadian national team program in high school before heading to Maine, where he has been a consistent offensive force for three years (.284/.353/.426). After leading the WCL in batting average (.384), clubbing the third-most extra-base hits (18) and finishing in the top 10 in on-base percentage (.431) and isolated power (.151), Calbick won the WCL MVP. The lefthanded hitter has a line-drive stroke with enough natural strength to have average raw power. With an up-the-middle approach, Calbick excels at driving the ball to the opposite-field gap. At 6 feet, 190 pounds, Calbick has a physical, sturdy build and muscular lower half without much physical projection remaining. Calbick has good hands and generally makes the routine plays in the infield. He spent most of his time at third base, but he lacks lateral quickness and range there, so he might have to move across the diamond in pro ball. He is a below-average runner. If Calbick moves behind the plate, as some coaches have suggested, he could increase his draft stock considerably. His arm plays behind the plate and would make his bat much more valuable.

Perfect Game Crosschecker Top 40 WCL Prospects.