Baseball America released its 2016 West Coast League top ten prospects list today. Bellingham’s Jared Horn of Cal Berkely of the Pac-12 was named the league’s top prospect. In total, six prospects from the Pac-12 were featured on Baseball America’s list along with representatives from the Big West, WCC and Big 12.
West Coast League Top Ten Prospects
By Pat Hickey, Baseball America
1. Jared Horn, rhp, Bellingham (Fr., California)
Viewed as a borderline first-round talent in June, Horn held firm in his commitment to the Golden Bears and slipped to the 20th round before the Brewers took a flier on him. He spent the summer in Bellingham, Wash., where he earned high marks for his skill set, athleticism and makeup. Horn’s fastball sat in the mid-90s and flashed a few 98s. Bells coach Mike Gange said the breaking ball is more advanced than his changeup at this point, but called it “a true weapon” that has the “ability to get swings and misses while landing it for strikes early in counts.” The 6-foot-2, 190-pound righty pitched out of the bullpen this summer and had some issues throwing strikes (14 walks in 18 innings). However, the stuff was there (16 strikeouts) and he only allowed five hits. Horn was a three-sport standout until his senior year at Vintage High in Napa, Calif., so he’s considered relatively green. If he can learn to repeat his mechanics and find a consistent release point, there is a good chance he develops into an ace at Cal and potentially at the next level.
2. Cameron Bishop, lhp/of, Corvallis (Jr., UC Irvine)
While Horn received more support from league coaches as the WCL’s top prospect, it was Bishop that made the all-star game and was named its top prospect by professional scouts in attendance. Some of assets are ones that can’t be taught—he’s 6-foot-4, lefthanded and can run his fastball into the mid-90s. He can’t sustain that velocity, but he’s missing bats—43 strikeouts in 31 innings this summer at Corvallis. His breaking ball showed depth and his changeup continues to progress, but both lack present command. One opposing coach loved his potential but said Bishop would be better served to give up being a two-way player, so as to not wear himself out and hopefully be better able to keep his velocity. An unsigned 32nd-round pick in 2014, Bishop easily projects to the next level on the mound.
3. Willie MacIver, c, Walla Walla (So., Washington)
MacIver appeared on this list at No. 10 last year as an incoming freshman and has only continued to prove his worth. Two league coaches believed MacIver was the league’s best position player prospect, and he earned first-team all-WCL honors. He batted .327/.400/.523 this summer for the Sweets and once again drew positive reviews for his arm strength and leadership qualities behind home plate. As a freshman at Washington, MacIver hit .294/.362/.392 in 28 games, and one league manager believed he “really developed some offensive tools this year—power especially.” He’s got a solid catcher’s frame at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and records pop times consistently at below two seconds.
4. Chris Murphy, lhp, Walla Walla (Fr., San Diego)
If the summer was any indication, the San Diego program that breeds southpaws might be getting another good one. Murphy led the league with 71 strikeouts in 42.2 innings (15 strikeouts per nine innings) for Walla Walla. He boasted a 2.53 ERA and limited opposing hitters to a .164 average. He’s limited physically at 6-foot, 175 pounds, but Murphy’s fastball already sits 89-92 mph and he can dial it up to as high as 94. He has a loose arm, clean mechanics and can spin a curveball. He still has work to do to iron out some of the finer points of the game, such as holding runners on and fielding his position.
5. Kenyon Yovan, rhp, Cowlitz (Fr., Oregon)
Considered a potential top 10-rounds pick in June, Yovan slipped to the Mariners in the 32nd and from there he packed his bags for Cowlitz. He had a strong summer with the Black Bears and will now be under the tutelage of new Ducks pitching coach Jason Dietrich, who spent the past four seasons running Cal State Fullerton’s dominant pitching staffs. Yovan had a 2.61 ERA for Cowlitz while striking out 32 against 16 walks in 31 innings of work. He’s a physical 6-foot-3 righthander and could be an interesting two-way player for the Ducks. But right now, his future is on the mound. He has great arm strength as his fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range and has been up to 94 regularly over the last two years. He showed an above-average curveball this summer as well. Yovan will need to learn the finesse side of pitching as he’s more of a thrower and relies on his arm strength at this point.
6. Easton Lucas, lhp, Walla Walla (So., Pepperdine)
Lucas held his own as a freshman with Pepperdine this past spring and appears on this list for the second time—he was No. 5 last year—after a strong summer. The lanky 6-foot-3 lefthander made 13 starts at Pepperdine, going 3-4, 4.58 with 45 strikeouts to 20 walks in 59 innings of work. He followed it up by going 7-2, 2.39 with 55 whiffs to 14 walks in 52.2 innings for Walla Walla. He again featured a strong fastball-changeup combination that was as effective of a two-pitch mix as any pitcher in the league. Lucas’ fastball worked in the 88-94 mph range, and he has sink and deception on his changeup, an above-average offering.
7. Austin Shenton, 3b/of, Bellingham (Fr., Washington)
Shenton is another incoming freshman could’ve been a top-10 rounds pick on talent alone. But an ankle injury slowed him down this spring and he was frequently pitched around on a sub-par Bellingham (Wash.) High team. He wound up not signing as a 34th-round pick and stayed in town to play with the Bells, batting .280/.371/.327 in 31 games. Shenton is a sweet-swinging lefthander who has natural rhythm, instincts and solid raw power. Most pro scouts think he runs well enough, but he has footwork issues that may shift him from third base to left field.
8. Ryan Kreidler, ss/3b, Wenatchee (Fr., UCLA)
Kreidler struggled at the plate this summer with Wenatchee but has the build and enough tools, athleticism and bloodlines to keep him on scouts’ radars. A 35th-round pick by the Cubs, Kreidler is a lanky 6-foot-2 righthanded hitter with a solid track record. He has a good looking swing and should come into some decent power as he grows into his frame. Likely a third baseman down the road, Kreidler doesn’t run particularly well but has plus arm strength and good body control to stick at the hot corner. His cousin, Henry Hynoski, was the starting fullback on the New York Giants’ Super Bowl winning team in 2012, and his uncle of the same name played one season with as a running back with the Cleveland Browns.
9. Michael Toglia, 1b/of, Wenatchee (Fr., UCLA)
A rare UCLA recruit who hails from outside the state of California, Toglia was the league’s first-ever incoming freshman to earn most valuable player honors. The native of Gig Harbor, Wash., batted .306 this summer and led the league with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. Toglia is a 6-foot-4, switch-hitting first baseman who has an advanced feel for putting the barrel on the ball. His long arms signal a potential for plus power down the road, although his other tools—speed, defense, arm strength—are all fringe. Toglia slipped to the 35th round before he was scooped up by the Rockies, as he was intent on honoring his commitment.
10. Chase Kaplan, lhp, Corvallis (Jr., Kansas)
Kaplan is a 6-foot-6 lefthander who’s transferring from Western Nevada JC to Kansas for 2017. He came out of the bullpen for pitching-heavy Corvallis, earning nine saves with a 2.70 ERA while striking out 24 batters in 23.1 innings. Kaplan’s fastball ranged from 86-90 with natural life, and he pairs it with a sweeping curveball from a three-quarters arm slot. His summer was a nice bounce back froma tough spring at Western Nevada, where he went 8-1, 4.76 with 45 strikeouts in 75.1 innings.
ABOUT THE WEST COAST LEAGUE
The West Coast League is the premier summer collegiate baseball league west of the Mississippi. The 12-year-old, 11-team, professionally operated wood-bat league located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest features pro prospects from major conferences across the nation and an unparalleled history out west of great fan and player experiences in addition to the best summer weather in North America. In 2016, 88 players with WCL experience were selected in the MLB June draft, and more than 230 WCL alums have appeared in affiliated professional baseball this summer including 25 in the major leagues, such as 2015 home-run leader Chris Davis (Baltimore), 2015 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Matt Duffy (Tampa Bay) and rising star pitchers Matt Andriese (Tampa Bay), Matt Boyd (Detroit) and James Paxton (Seattle). Overall member attendance exceeded 400,000 in 2015.