For the third straight year East Texas featured the most professional prospects in the TCL, according to both Baseball America and Perfect Game
One of the many reasons fans attend a summer collegiate baseball game is for the chance to see tomorrow’s major leaguers before they become stars.
And once again, the best place in the Texas Collegiate League to see those future stars was at historic Driller Park watching an East Texas Pump Jacks game. In fact, the Pump Jacks were one of the most talent-laden teams in the country according to recent “top prospects” lists released by Baseball America and Perfect Game.
The Pump Jacks landed four players on Baseball America’s list of the TCL’s top-ten professional prospects. Perfect Game, which digs deeper to name the league’s top 25 prospects, named five Pump Jacks among its top-ten, and eight Jacks in the TCL’s top-25.
To put the Pump Jacks’ prospect haul in perspective, only four teams in the 20 leagues Baseball America ranked landed more top-ten prospects than East Texas. The recognition from Perfect Game was even more noteworthy, with only two teams across 22 leagues netting more top-ten prospects than the Pump Jacks.
Among the Pump Jacks who were named as top professional prospects:
Hunter Dozier (third in Baseball America, fifth in Perfect Game): The buzz about Dozier’s potential culminated in him being named the TCL Freshman of the Year, the third straight Pump Jack to earn the award. The Stephen F. Austin product ranked in the top-ten in the TCL with a .301 batting average and 31 RBI. He was one of just three players in the league to hit over .300 with at least 25 runs scored, 30 RBI and 10 steals.
Jason Jester (sixth in BA, fourth in PG): After spending two seasons as a starter for Tyler Junior College, Jester prepared for his move to the Texas A&M bullpen by picking up All-TCL reliever honors. Mowing down hitters with a mid-90’s fastball, Jester posted eight saves and a 1.96 ERA. He struck out 41 in 32.1 innings and averaged less than one baserunner per inning pitched. The Hallsville native also put together a 20-inning shutout streak.
Seth Granger (seventh in PG): Despite earning more first-place votes than any other player, Granger finished one point behind Acadiana’s Taylor Dugas in TCL Player of the Year voting – but it’s hard to quibble with his credentials. The McNeese State junior batted .325, led the league with 47 runs scored and tied a TCL record with five triples. He also topped the circuit in slugging percentage (.467) while finishing in the top-five with 64 hits and 37 RBI to earn a spot on the All-TCL team.
Jaden Dillon (seventh in BA, eighth in PG): Dillon established himself as a bona fide prospect by finishing second in TCL Pitcher of the Year voting and being named right-hander on the All-TCL squad. He tied for the league lead in wins with a 7-1 record and finished fourth with a 2.30 ERA. The junior tossed consecutive complete games, one of them a shutout, to win a pair of TCL Pitcher of the Week awards.
Kirby Pellant (ninth in BA, ninth in PG): Inexplicably absent from the All-TCL squad, Pellant was nonetheless the sparkplug for the league’s top offense. He batted .289 during the regular season and led the circuit with 33 steals. The Ohio State commit also finished in the top-five in the league in runs scored and walks.
Kash Kalkowski (15th in PG): Kalkowski’s season ended prematurely when he was hit by a pitch and broke his hand on June 25, but he still made quite an impression. The Nebraska outfielder batted .319, slugged .449, scored 14 runs and drove in 11 more in just 20 games. He also had a knack for getting hit by pitches: he was hit six times in his last four games and 12 times overall, tying for the league lead despite playing only one-third of the season.
Dusty Ross (16th in PG): The TCL record holder for saves in a season made a seamless transition to starter, posting a 2.81 ERA during the regular season. He went 3-1 and struck out 30 batters against just eight walks in 25.2 innings pitched. The Missouri junior struck out six of the first seven hitters he faced on his way to a Pump Jacks-season-high of 12 strikeouts in five innings against Alexandria on July 11.
Matt Munson (21st in PG): A member of the Southern Cal bullpen in the spring, Munson made a strong case this summer to be a fixture in a pro starting rotation. He was among the top-five in the TCL with a 1.80 ERA and 62.1 innings pitched, adding a five-game win streak on his way to a 5-1 regular season record. In fact, Munson’s ERA didn’t even top 1.00 until July 23, after his ninth appearance of the season.
The two publications agreed on the top two prospects in the TCL this summer. Coppell’s Tyler Collins, Detroit’s sixth-round draft choice who signed with the Tigers midway through the summer, was the consensus top choice. Dugas, a junior outfielder from Alabama who spurned the Cubs after Chicago selected him in the eighth round, was the #2 prospect on both lists.
In all, the Brazos Valley Bombers finished second to the Pump Jacks with three selections from Baseball America and five from Perfect Game. Collins was the only Coppell player recognized by Baseball America, but the Copperheads had four players on the Perfect Game list. The Acadiana Cane Cutters were tabbed for the last two spots by Baseball America and three by Perfect Game,
Both the Victoria Generals (four players on Perfect Game’s list) and the Alexandria Aces (one) were shut out of Baseball America’s top-ten.
Each publication seeks the input of coaches across the league, including 2011 TCL Coach of the Year Ben Taylor. They also poll area scouts and college administrators before compiling their top prospects. Baseball America, the unofficial trade publication of minor league baseball, publishes annual top prospect lists for every minor league. Perfect Game also issues the national summer collegiate baseball top-25. The Pump Jacks were ranked as high as #8 in this summer’s poll before concluding the season at #22.
Since the Pump Jacks began play in the TCL in 2008, no team has been more prolific than East Texas in developing top-rated players. The Jacks finished second to the McKinney Marshals in top prospects in 2008, tied with McKinney in 2009, and led the league outright each of the last two years.
In 2010, Pump Jacks players swept the top two spots on both lists. Outfielder Lee Orr was the top-rated prospect according to Baseball America, with pitcher Miguel Pena coming in at number two. Perfect Game named the same two Jacks, just in reverse order.
Since then, both players have had auspicious pro debuts. Orr was picked by the San Diego Padres in the 13th round this year, then stole 18 bases and had 23 extra-base hits for the short-season Eugene Emeralds. The Boston Red Sox picked Pena in the sixth round and then watched him post a 2.35 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 15.1 innings for the Lowell Spinners.
Follow all the off-season news and developments on the Pump Jacks’ official web site, www.pumpjacksbaseball.com. Interact with other Pump Jacks fans by visiting the Pump Jacks on Facebook and Twitter.