Shockers use summer baseball as tool to prepare for AAC

(Photo Credit: RICH MACLONE/ENTERPRISE, https://www.capenews.net)

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 several 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 a 28-30 season, Wichita State coaches discussed what was going to happen moving forward. The Shockers moved from the Missouri Valley to the American Athletic Conference in July, featuring seven teams that finished in the top 100 RPI rankings.

With only four seniors graduating and the Shockers returning eight out of nine players from their regular batting order, WSU head coach Todd Butler and his staff decided the best move for the team was to send most of their bats to play in the summer league and keep their pitching core back in Wichita for weight room work and individual workouts.

Ten WSU players shined in some of the top summer collegiate leagues in the country, redefining themselves as players and forcing Major League Baseball scouts to raise an eyebrow. The ultimate goal, however, was to improve themselves to get the team playing at a higher level.

“These guys understand what it’s going to take,” WSU director of operations Scott Gurss said. “Getting ready for the American (Athletic Conference), teams are in the south and teams south of us play year-round baseball. That’s the type of mentality that coach Butler is getting the guys to understand.

“If Central Florida is taking ground balls outside in December, we better be indoor or at home doing something.”

Greyson Jenista: Cotuit Kettleers, Cape Cod League

With the Cape Cod League sending more than 1,100 players to the MLB, Jenista separated himself from what is considered the premier collegiate summer league. The Eudora, Kansas native won the league’s MVP, being the first Shocker to win the award since current San Francisco Giants’ third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who won it in 2007.

Hitting .310 over 39 games, Jenista led Cotuit to Cape Cod’s Western Division Playoffs. Jenista continued his dominance in the playoffs, hitting .500 with a home run in 10 at-bats.

His 44 hits, 25 runs and three home runs led to a second place finish in the league’s Western Division.

“Cape Cod is the prestigious league in the country and obviously they’re going to get the best players,” WSU outfielder Jacob Katzfey said. “You can ask anybody here in Wichita. Greyson is a great player and not only is he a great player, he’s a great guy. He was a guy that I looked up to a lot last year. It speaks a lot of volume about this program that he was able to come (to WSU).”

Alec Bohm: Falmouth Commodores, Cape Cod League

After leading the Shockers with 11 home runs while hitting .305 as a sophomore, Bohm continued to showcase his offensive power during the summer. The Omaha, Nebraska native was second in the Cape Cod League in batting average during the regular season, hitting .351 for Falmouth.

Hitting five home runs and driving in 28 RBIs, Bohm’s performance helped Falmouth win the league’s Western Division and clinch a spot in the playoffs. Although Falmouth fell two games to Wareham to finish the season, the CCBL All-Star ended his summer on a high note.

Bohm had four hits in his seven at-bats in Falmouth’s two playoff games, leading the Cape in batting average with a .571 mark in the playoffs.  

Jacob Katzfey: Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, Florida Collegiate League

Katzfey was not a regular starter for the Shockers, starting in 12 out of 31 games last season. The Lee’s Summit, Missouri native used his time with the Diamond Dawgs as an opportunity to develop into a regular starter for the upcoming spring.

His .316 batting average during the regular season put him in the league’s top 10 in that category, and his seven home runs in 32 games led the league. Katzfey’s 36 hits and 30 RBIs earned him a spot in the 2017 Florida Collegiate League All-Star Game, where he went 2-for-4 with a double.

The Diamond Dawgs reached the Florida Collegiate League championship with Katzfey’s contributions, but fell short by one run in extra innings to the Sanford River Rats. Katzfey came up with three hits in the Diamond Dawgs’ two playoffs games and stole three bases, earning a spot on the FCL all-league offensive team.  

“I knew that I needed to get at-bats. That’s the big thing for me,” Katzfey said. “My motivation just came from knowing that I was a good player and proving that I could play.”

Luke Ritter: Santa Barbara Foresters, California Collegiate League

Ritter led Santa Barbara to 31 regular season wins with a .364 batting average while adding 32 hits. His performance led to the Foresters earning a bid in the National Baseball Congress World Series hosted in Wichita.

Santa Barbara won its first two games of the NBC World Series by outscoring opponents 10-4, with Ritter coming up with two RBIs. The Overland Park, Kansas native’s three RBIs gave the Foresters a 6-2 win over the Colorado Sox in their third game.

The CCL all-league player went 2-for-5 with two doubles in the quarterfinals, but Santa Barbara’s summer season came to an end with a 6-3 loss to the Everett Merchants.   

Preston Minor: Regina Red Sox, Western Major Baseball League

After redshirting in the 2017 season for WSU, Minor traveled to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada to prepare for the Shockers’ upcoming season. Minor became Regina’s go-to pitcher during the summer, leading all pitchers with 27 game appearances from the bullpen.

Having 21 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched, the Frisco, Texas native was selected for the WMBL All-Star team. With Regina winning 29 regular season games, Minor finished with a 3.00 ERA and a 3-1 record.

Josh DeBacker: Lima Locos, Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League

The Shockers return eight out of their nine players that were regulars in the batting order, with the designated hitter’s spot up for grabs. After hitting under .200 in the 2017 collegiate season, DeBacker used the summer as an opportunity to prove that he could be a liable option.

DeBacker hit .353 for Lima during the regular season, coming up with 24 hits and 16 RBIs. The Kansas City native’s performance put Lima in the GLSCL playoffs, where he hit .316 in five games.

With DeBacker’s contribution, the Locos capped off a 30-11 regular season with the GLSCL championship.  

Travis Young: Cheney Diamond Dawgs, Sunflower Collegiate League

Hitting .361 with 15 runs and three home runs, Young guided Cheney to the NBC World Series. Young’s 2-for-3 day with a double, a triple and two RBIs highlighted the Diamond Dawgs’ 12-2 victory over the Jasper Reds, their third win in the tournament at that point.

Cheney advanced all the way to the semifinals, where they fell 8-4 to the eventual champion Kansas Stars, a team consisted of former MLB standouts highlighted by future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones. Young came into the semifinal matchup as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning, where he went up against former MLB pitcher Jeff LaRoche.

“It was awesome because for some reason that at-bat itself, there was a lot of calmness and confidence,” Young said. “They’ve got nothing to lose and they’re just out there having fun and that’s kind of how I play. Being there that whole game and watching those ex-big leaguers play, it’s a new perspective on how to play. It was a good feeling being out there, because not very many people get to face that level.”

Trent Allen: Cheney Diamond Dawgs, Sunflower Collegiate League

Coming off a redshirt year in 2017, Allen’s pitching gave Cheney some crucial wins that led to their appearance in the NBC World Series. Allen finished 2-0 on the season with a 2.51 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.

Allen appeared in only one game in the NBC World Series and faced four West Chase Express batters, where the Diamond Dawgs won 12-9.

Dayton Dugas: Wilmington Sharks, Coastal Plain League

Dugas has contributed in his 100 at-bats, coming up with 27 hits for a .270 batting average. While adding two home runs and eight RBIs, Dugas contributed to Wilmington advancing to the 2017 Petit Cup Finals against the Gastonia Grizzlies.

Preston Snavely-Fort Collins Bandits, Mile High Collegiate Baseball League

After redshirting last season, Snavely returned to his hometown to play for the Bandits’ collegiate team over the summer. While with Fort Collins, Snavely returned to Wichita for the NBC World Series.

Snavely only made one game appearance, but pitched seven innings and struck out two Mulvane Patriots Batters

Grant Cohen

Scout with CBBSN. Wichita State.

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