(Photo Credit: texags.com)
As the 2017 summer league season comes to an end, it is time to roll out CBBSN’s collegiate summer league updates from around the country. Over the next two weeks, our scouts will be sharing how their school’s players have fared over the season, and how they look to project going into fall practice.
After two consecutive seasons where they were bounced in the Super Regionals by TCU, Texas A&M finally reached the College World Series despite losing the majority of its roster from the previous two squads. The Aggies were led by key senior leadership and a freshman class that contributed far beyond expectations and has the appearance of being the next great A&M baseball class, similar to that of 2016.
Following their exit from Omaha, many of these players continued to play throughout the summer for collegiate baseball leagues across the country. These leagues provide an excellent opportunity to improve on their skills, adjust to the professional style of play and wood bats, and boost draft stock for the amateur draft the following June. Here is an update on some of those underclassmen:
(Parentheses indicate class year from 2017 season)
P/1B Chris Andritsos (R-SO): Brazos Valley Bombers, Texas Collegiate Leauge
Andritsos spent the 2016 season at Oklahoma, where he spent some time as the Friday night starter for the Sooners. However, he decided to transfer to Texas A&M, and was redshirted for the 2017 season.
After struggling for the majority of the summer, he knocked off the rust and hit over .300 in July. He could make some appearances out of the bullpen this season, but he is also a member of the competition for starting first baseman, and his exciting raw power makes him a viable candidate to be in the middle of the lineup.
LHP Tristen Bayless (FR.): Madison Mallards, Northwoods League
Bayless saw limited action on the mound his freshman year, only appearing in two games. However, he did well in his time, striking out four and allowing only one run and one hit in three innings.
Overall, Bayless had a rough summer in Wisconsin. He had 18 strikeouts in 19 innings, but also issued 15 walks and 17 hits and had an ERA over 6.00. There is need for another left-handed reliever in the bullpen after Kaylor Chafin, if fellow freshman John Doxakis joins the rotation next spring. Bayless could be a candidate if he improves his command to go along with his above-average strikeout numbers he has accumulated within in a small sample size.
OF Cam Blake (FR.): La Crosse Loggers, Northwoods League
Blake was one of a few freshmen to make an impact for Texas A&M last season. Although he bounced in and out of the lineup, he should be considered the favorite to start in left field next season.
However, he struggled in 29 games for the La Crosse Loggers, hitting .172 with 28 strikeouts. He has good power to all fields and finds ways to get on base, but his long swing was an issue for him in his first chance against SEC pitching, and seemed to plague him this summer. If he cuts down on the strikeouts, he should flourish in the top of the order in some capacity.
C Hunter Coleman (FR.): Wisconsin Woodchucks, Northwoods League
After Braden Shewmake, it could be argued Coleman was the team’s most consistent hitter last season despite being a true freshman himself. He will surely hit in the middle of the lineup next season and split time between catcher and first base.
He had a productive summer season for the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the Northwoods League. He hit .285 with 21 runs scored, 43 hits, and 31 RBIs during the 40 games he played. He fielded .988 behind the plate as well, only committing three errors all summer. While there are areas of improvement in his game, such as hand speed and receiving ability, both of those improved dramatically as the year progressed, and he should be one of Texas A&M’s standouts once again this season.
LHP John Doxakis (FR.): Mat-Su Miners, Alaskan Baseball League
Doxakis had an up and down season as a freshman, but really turned it on down the stretch and recorded some key outs in the postseason. Despite an inflated ERA from poor appearances earlier in the season, he still recorded over a strikeout per inning, with batters hitting only .237 against him.
Doxakis kept the positive momentum from the postseason going into Alaska and pitched phenomenally. He made four appearances, all starts, and went 3-1, allowing 17 hits, three earned runs, and five walks with 30 strikeouts and a 1.08 ERA in 25 innings. His fastball-slider-changeup combination from a three-quarter arm angle is electric from the left side, but his command wavers when his arm drags behind his body. He cut back his walks this summer while racking up the strikeouts once more. Scouts and head coach Rob Childress love his potential and say he is a candidate to join the rotation this season, possibly even in the Friday night slot.
OF Logan Foster (FR.): Wisconsin Woodchucks, Northwoods League
With maybe the best raw power on the team last year, Logan Foster showed flashes of potential to join Shewmake and Hunter Coleman as the 3-4-5 hitters in this Aggie lineup for the next two years. His strikeout numbers were an issue during his freshman season, but he still hit close to .300 and should start the season in right field in 2018.
Foster is another Aggie who impressed during his time in the Northwoods League this summer. In 34 games, he hit above .300 with four home runs and 22 RBIs. He also fielded .984, which is a large upgrade from his fielding percentage during the spring. Despite his all or nothing nature (he did strike out 32 times this summer) and below average range in the outfield, his insane bat speed and frame allows him to hit consistent line drives, and his plus arm strength will keep him from being a total liability. He is a threat to hit double-digit home runs in the SEC in his sophomore campaign.
UTL. Jorge Gutierrez (FR.): La Crosse Loggers, Northwoods League
Gutierrez started off the 2017 campaign strong, hitting three home runs in his first week in college ball. However, he struggled for most of the rest of the season but is a switch hitter with a little bit of pop who will continue to see playing time in some capacity next season.
Joining teammate Blake in La Crosse, Wisconsin, he hit .242 with three home runs, 30 hits, 22 walks and 24 strikeouts in 36 games. His swing-and-miss tendencies and pitch recognition were issues last season, so it is encouraging to see his walk-to-strikeout ratio nearly even. His fielding percentage was above average this summer as well, at .983, which is much higher than the spring. His ability to play eight positions and hit both ways make him a good asset to have for the next two years.
IF Michael Helman (T-JR): Brazos Valley Bombers, Texas Collegiate League
Last season, Helman attended Hutchison Junior College in Nebraska, where he won the 2017 ABCA/Rawlings NJCAA Division I Player of the Year. He put up monster numbers, hitting .487 with 17 home runs, 111 hits, 73 RBIs, 103 runs, and 30 stolen bases in only 60 games.
Helman continued to tear it up while playing for the Brazos Valley Bombers of the Texas Collegiate League. He hit just above .300 with four home runs and 14 stolen bases in 35 games. With Shewmake moving over to shortstop, Helman’s impressive resume, despite defensive issues while at Hutchison, makes him the favorite to man the other middle infield position in 2018.
IF George Janca (SO.): Falmouth Commodores, Cape Cod League
After playing shortstop during his freshman season in 2016, Janca manned the hot corner this past season, appearing in every game. His offensive game improved from 2016, as he hit .261 with six home runs despite having the second-most strikeouts on the team and struggling at third base defensively.
Janca was the only Texas A&M player to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer, and he did not disappoint at the plate. He was among the league leaders with a .327 batting average, 36 hits, five home runs, and 25 strikeouts in only 28 games on the Cape. However, he fielded .922 playing shortstop, which is still well below average. He has plus power and 70 grade arm strength, but must make adjustments to improve timing at the plate and overall defensive skills.
RHP Landon Miner (FR.): Brazos Valley Bombers, Texas Collegiate League
Miner was impressive out of the bullpen for Texas A&M during his freshman campaign, but saw his innings reduced as the season went on into the postseason. He should join the bullpen again in 2018, where he will provide excellent depth in perhaps the strongest unit on next season’s team.
Overall, he had a great summer, compiling 34 innings and allowing 31 hits, 11 walks, 22 strikeouts, and an excellent 2.11 ERA. He will not overwhelm you with his stuff, but locates well and pitches to contact to record ground-ball outs. He has a plus 12/6 curveball that, with improved consistency on location, could be a real out pitch going forward.
LHP Kyle Richardson (FR.): Savannah Bananas, Coastal Plain League
Richardson made six appearances early in the season for the Aggies and struggled with command, averaging over one walk per inning and allowing an opposing batting average over .300.
However, he pitched well in the Coastal Plain League for the Savannah Bananas and still profiles as a potential key piece in the A&M bullpen next season. In 35 1/3 innings, he had a 4.08 ERA, 34 hits, 11 walks, and 40 strikeouts. He has a good three pitch mix and, should he continue to improve his command on all three, have the ability to make batters swing and miss.
IF Braden Shewmake (FR.): USA Collegiate National Team
As a true freshman, Shewmake was the driving force behind the Aggie offense. Hitting third from Opening Day, he led Texas A&M in nearly every offensive category while playing a stellar second base. He earned SEC Freshman Player of the Year honors and was one of a few freshmen across the country to make the National Collegiate Team. He is unquestionably the leader of the team entering next season.
Shewmake struggled this summer, hitting .209 with six RBIs in 17 games while fielding only .915. However, his on-base percentage was .327, displaying his improved ability to take walks, which was one of the few things he needed to improve on from his freshman season. However, he still has an incredibly smooth albeit unorthodox swing, and his bat path and hand speed allow him to drive the ball to all fields. He should bounce back as he makes the transition to shortstop for his sophomore year.