The State College Spikes featured two of the top ten prospects in the system this year with Stetson Allie and Nick Kingham, both 2010 draft picks. The pitching staff was also filled with a few 2010 picks, as well as a lot of 2011 college pitchers. The main guys who stood out were Allie, Kingham, and 2010 17th round pick Ryan Hafner. Here is a rundown of how everyone at the level did, broken down by age group.
The top prospects on the list were Stetson Allie and Nick Kingham. Kingham had a much better year, statistically, putting up some of the best numbers for a starting pitcher in the entire system. He finished the season with ten straight starts where he went five or more innings with one or fewer runs. He flashes a nice curveball and a good changeup, while getting in a lot of pitcher friendly counts with his 90-93 MPH fastball to use each pitch.
Allie had horrible control this year, but struck out a batter an inning. He started off in the rotation, but moved to the bullpen so that he could focus on getting three outs at a time, rather than going for multiple innings, and so that he could get more frequent work on repeating his delivery. His control was worse as a reliever, with 15 walks in 8.1 innings, although his command of the fastball, which usually sat around 94 MPH, was visibly better than it was early in the season.
Ryan Hafner was taken in the 17th round of the 2010 draft, and given a $450 K bonus to break his commitment to Missouri State. He posted some strong numbers this year, although his strikeouts were low. He reminds me a lot of Zack Von Rosenberg. He’s a tall, projectable right hander who only throws in the upper 80s, but also leaves the ball up in the zone a bit too much. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get hit around a bit in West Virginia next year, like Von Rosenberg did this year.
The player I was looking forward to the most this year was Joely Rodriguez. He only made two appearances before going down with an injury to his elbow and shoulder. In the one start he made, and the one time I saw him, he showed a lively fastball, but dealt with some command issues. Whether that was related to the injury is unknown, as he has always had control problems, but his fastball looked good when I saw him last year in State College at the end of the season.
Orlando Castro didn’t spend much time in State College this year. He posted a decent K/BB ratio, and was hit hard in two starts, then was promoted to West Virginia.
Emmanuel De Leon looked like an interesting bullpen option, with a lot of movement on his fastball.
Matt Benedict and Mike Jefferson were both drafted in the later rounds as college seniors this year, and spent a lot of time in the rotation. Benedict had an interesting season. He started out by giving up just three earned runs in 18 innings over his first four starts. He then fell apart, giving up 23 earned runs in 23 innings over his next five starts, giving up eight earned runs in 3.1 innings in the last start. Just like that, he turned things around at the end of the year, giving up four earned runs in 30.1 innings over his final six starts.
Jefferson had a similar situation. He started off as a reliever, and had a rough debut, giving up six earned runs in 0.2 innings. The left hander followed that up with two earned runs in 13 innings over six appearances, with a 10:2 K/BB ratio. After giving up seven earned runs in six innings over his next two relief appearances he was moved to the rotation. From that point forward he gave up six earned runs in 24 innings, along with a 19:8 K/BB ratio. Most of that damage came in one start where he gave up four runs in five innings.
Josh Poytress had a strong year, with just two bad outings. In his fourth game of the year he gave up six earned runs in four innings. He followed that up with one earned run in 11.1 innings over his next six appearances, with an 11:5 K/BB ratio. After giving up four runs in 2.1 innings on August 12th, he finished the season with nine innings where he allowed no earned runs, struck out nine, and walked one.
Jordan Cooper was inconsistent, which was the story of his sophomore year in college. He did finish off with a 14:4 K/BB ratio in his final 16.2 innings. Joan Montero flashed a nice 90-93 MPH fastball out of the bullpen, but really struggled with his control. It was disappointing to see Trent Stevenson get demoted from West Virginia and still struggle in State College, although it was encouraging that he only walked three in 35.2 innings.
Singh and Ennis finished the year in West Virginia. Brito was a very interesting story, being converted from a third baseman to a pitcher this year. He was mostly throwing in the upper 80s when I saw him, and there’s probably not much of a future there, but considering this was his first year pitching, he did pretty well.