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Baseball America's Top 30 Prospects

This week in Baseball 19 August 2002 Baseball America’s Cape Cod Baseball League Top 30 Prospects By Jim Callis/Baseball America Photos by Sean Walsh/CCBL 2002 CAPE COD -- Freshmen rarely make a huge impact in the Cape Cod League. In most cases, they’re facing tougher competition than ever and they’re fatigued after their first college season. Y-D's Wes Whisler (UCLA) was ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect to graduate from the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer, in addition to the first baseman being named the CCBL's 2002 Outstanding Pro Prospect. S. Walsh/CCBL 2002 Baseball America began rating the best Cape Cod League prospects in 1990, and future No. 1 overall draft picks Darin Erstad, Kris Benson and Pat Burrell weren’t able to claim the top spot after their freshman years. In 1999, Mark Teixeira became the first to do so. Fresh off his first team Freshman All-America selection as a two-way player, UCLA first baseman Wes Whisler followed in Teixeira’s footsteps this summer. In a league that doesn’t showcase power, Whisler’s pop at the plate easily stood out. He batted .309-6-16 and led the Cape with a .512 slugging percentage. He also won the league’s official top prospect award, voted on by pro scouts. "Whisler centers the ball well, uses the whole field and has so much power and upside," a National League crosschecker said. "He did himself a favor by performing the way he did." It was a good summer for talent on the Cape. There wasn’t much in the way of catchers or middle infielders, but the overall crop ran deeper than usual. Here’s our Top 30, based on discussions with league managers and scouts: 1. Wes Whisler, 1b, Yarmouth-Dennis (UCLA) Whisler had easily the most raw power in the league, with Cotuit third baseman Lee Mitchell (Georgia) his closest rival. Most everyone loved Whisler’s lefthanded swing and the strength packed in his 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame. He doesn’t try to overpower the ball and is a decent athlete for his size. Whisler didn’t get a chance to showcase his pitching skills because he felt a twinge in his elbow the one time he took the mound. 2. Tim Stauffer, rhp, Chatham (Richmond) Tim Stauffer, Chatham A's S. Walsh/CCBL 2002 After earning first-team All-America honors and carrying Richmond to a school record for victories during the spring, Stauffer led the Cape with 67 strikeouts in 63 innings. He threw three-plus pitches for strikes: a fastball that reaches 94 mph and runs down and in on righthanders, a curveball and a changeup. He relentlessly pitched inside, and the only thing scouts were skeptical about was his height (listed at 6-foot-2). 3. Matt Murton, of, Wareham (Georgia Tech) Murton also ranked third on this list in 2001, when he won an MVP award, RBIs title and championship on the Cape. He wouldn’t have returned to the Gatemen for another championship had he not broken his right middle finger while trying out for Team USA. Showing a broad base of offensive skills, Murton hit .400 in 16 games as a Wareham DH and won the all-star game home run derby. His average arm will consign him to left field. 4. David Aardsma, rhp, Falmouth (Rice) After a year at Penn State, Aardsma transferred to Rice and did solid bullpen work for a College World Series club. But no one was prepared for his coming-out party on the Cape, where he lived at 94-95 mph and touched 97 with his fastball. Mixing in an unhittable slider, he posted a 0.68 ERA and 45 strikeouts while permitting just 12 baserunners in 27 innings. 5. Matt Brown, rhp, Bourne (California) Brown ranked 16th on our 2001 Top 30 as a setup man, and moved up as a starter this summer. He repeated a 90-93 mph fastball and a hard curveball consistently, and his clean arm action will allow him to improve. Brown threw more over the top this year, costing him some movement, but he also trimmed up his 6-foot-5, 235-pound body. 6. Ben Harrison, of, Hyannis (Florida) At 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, Harrison had the best pro body among the Cape’s position players. Only a below-average arm keeps him from five-tool status. "The tools are there," the crosschecker said. "He’s fun to watch." 7. Chris Ray, rhp, Bourne (William & Mary) Ray won or saved 12 of the Braves’ 16 victories and earned a lot of comparisons to Aardsma. Using a high leg kick, Ray threw a fastball as quick as Aardsma’s and also showed an 82-83 mph slider and a plus splitter. He exerts a little more effort than Aardsma does, and his breaking ball isn’t quite as good. 8. Brian Snyder, 3b, Cotuit (Stetson) Snyder’s 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame doesn’t fit the pro blueprint for third basemen, but he opened eyes with his all-around play. Snyder used the entire field and hit .294-4-21 with 15 steals. The all-star game MVP, he’s also more agile than expected at the hot corner. 9. Pete Stonard, of/2b, Cotuit (Alabama) Stonard didn’t secure a Cape roster spot until the late spring, then rewarded the Kettleers with a batting title (.348) and MVP performance. He’s a line-drive, on-base machine who runs well. He lacks some arm strength, and opinion was divided on whether he’s better suited for center field or second base as a pro. 10. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Wareham (Vanderbilt) The Cincinnati Reds’ 2001 first-round pick, Sowers joins Whisler as the only freshmen on the Top 10. Observers thought the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder looked somewhat worn down, but he still led the Cape with 65 innings. He repeats his delivery exceptionally well, allowing him to throw his 88-90 mph fastball, plus curveball and developing changeup wherever he wants. He also had the best pickoff move in the league. CCBL Top 30 Prospects # Name Pos Team School 1 Wes Whisler 1B Y-D UCLA 2 Tim Stauffer RHP Chatham Richmond 3 Matt Murton OF Wareham Georgia Tech 4 David Aardsma RHP Falmouth Rice 5 Matt Brown RHP Bourne California 6 Ben Harrison OF Hyannis Florida 7 Chris Ray RHP Bourne William & Mary 8 Brian Snyder 3B Cotuit Stetson 9 Pete Stonard OF/2B Cotuit Alabama 10 Jeremy Sowers LHP Wareham Vanderbilt 11 Lee Mitchell 3B Cotuit Georgia 12 Anthony Gwynn OF Brewster San Diego St 13 Rodney Allen OF Orleans Arizona St 14 Jeremy Slayden OF Falmouth Georgia Tech 15 Scott Baker RHP Orleans Oklahoma St 16 Frasier Dizard LHP Chatham Southern Cal 17 Nick Touchstone LHP Wareham Okaloosa CC 18 Robbie Van LHP Orleans Nevada-LV 19 Gary Bakker RHP Cotuit North Carolina 20 Daniel Moore LHP Chatham North Carolina 21 Jim Brauer RHP Y-D Michigan 22 David Murphy OF Wareham Baylor 23 Trey Webb SS Bourne Baylor 24 Brian Rogers RHP Orleans Georgia So 25 Trey Taylor LHP Wareham Baylor 26 Chris Snavely 2B/OF Harwich Ohio State 27 Jamie D'Antona 3B Chatham Wake Forest 28 Myron Leslie 3B Orleans South Florida 29 John Axford RHP Hyannis Notre Dame 30 David Sanders LHP Wareham Wichita State Matt Murton, Wareham Gatemen S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 David Aardsma, Falmouth Commodores S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 Matt Brown, Bourne Braves S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 Ben Harrison, Hyannis Mets S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 Chris Ray, Bourne Braves S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 Brian Snyder, Cotuit Kettleers S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 Pete Stonard, Cotuit S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 Jeremy Sowers, Wareham Gatemen S.Walsh/CCBL 2002 -- Sean Walsh