A Look at BA’s 2008 Top Prospect List

Prospect lists are pretty odd things, really. There’s no way to get them completely right, kind of like mock drafts in the NFL or NBA. If you miss on one player or one pick, the whole thing can be rendered worthless. Well, that’s what trying to predict the future gets you, I suppose.

Since ATVL published its first ever top prospect list for the 2018 VBL season, I’ve been thinking about the old lists from Baseball America.

From what I can tell, BA began ranking summer league prospects in 2008. So for fun, let’s look at that first list and see how BA’s writer, Jesse Burkhart, did!

First of all, Luray and Waynesboro went 30-14 that year, winning their respective divisions. Covington defeated the Generals in the semi-finals, though, and Luray then swept the Jacks in the finals. Tyler Townsend was the league MVP, and Waynesboro’s Lawrence Nesselrodt was the coach of the year.

BA’s list:

1. Ryan Schimpf, 2b, Luray (Jr., Louisiana State)
2. Alex Wimmers, rhp, Luray (So., Ohio State)
3. Jake Cowan, rhp, Waynesboro (So., San Jacinto JC, Texas)
4. Adam McClain, if/of, Luray (So., Memphis)
5. Billy Morrison, rhp, Winchester (R-Jr., Western Michigan)
6. Brandon Sizemore, 2b, Waynesboro (Sr., College of Charleston)
7. Travis Smink, lhp, Luray (Jr., Virginia Military Institute)
8. Gabriel Saade, ss, Waynesboro (Jr., Duke)
9. Mickey Wiswall, 3b, Winchester (So., Boston College)
10. Tyler Townsend, 1b, Winchester (Jr., Florida International)

Hits (7 of 10 played organized ball)

  • Schimpf was drafted in the 5th round in 2009, and went on to hit 35 home runs in 147 major league games. Good pick.
  • Wimmers was drafted in the first round in 2010 by the Twins. Though he struggled with injuries, he pitched in 22 major league games.
  • Cowan was drafted in 2009 and pitched in 43 minor league games.
  • Sizemore was drafted in 2009 and played in 104 minor league games.
  • Smink was also drafted in 2009 and pitched in 63 minor league games.
  • Wiswall was drafted in the 7th round in 2010 by Seattle, played in 343 minor league games (made Double-A), and was ranked the Mariner’s 29th best prospect in 2010.
  • Townsend was the 3rd round pick of the Orioles in 2007, signed for $417,000, and subsequently played in 223 minor league games after that, despite being dogged by injuries. He was Baltimore’s 18th prospect in 2010, and 24th in 2011.

Misses (From the list)

  • McClain played for five seasons for Memphis, and slashed 318/381/442. He was not drafted. He’s now a “Sports Medicine Technology Specialist” in Memphis.
  • Morrison was drafted in 2008, but did not sign. He went 13-26, 6.30 for Western Michigan in 5 different college seasons.
  • Saade played four years for Duke, slashing 264/353/423 in 617 at-bats. He played in only 16 games as a senior- was he hurt? He’s now a litigation lawyer in Florida– I think it’s safe to say that he landed on his feet when his playing career ended.

Notable Players Missed (Not on the list) (It’s possible that some of these may not have been eligible for BA’s list, which has minimum at-bat and innings pitched requirements)

  • Adam Liberatore, LHP, Waynesboro (Tennessee Tech): pitched in over 100 games in the major leagues, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Tyler Thornburg, RHP/OF, Winchester (Charleston Southern): drafted in the 3rd round in 2010 by the Brewers, has pitched in over 165 major league games, most recently for the Red Sox.
  • Drew Rucinski, RHP, Luray (Ohio State): undrafted, Drew worked his way up the chain and has appeared in more than 30 games in the majors. He has spent 2018 in Miami.
  • Brandon Beachy, RHP, Woodstock (Indiana Wesleyan): signed as an undrafted free agent by the Braves, Brandon pitched in 48 major league games, including 25 starts in 2011, while earning 2.7 career WAR.
  • Taylor Hill, RHP, Winchester (Vanderbilt): Drafted in 6th round in 2011, Taylor pitched in 9 major league games.
  • Ryan Dennick, LHP, Fauquier (Tennessee Tech): Liberatore’s teammate at Tech, Ryan was a 22nd round pick in 2009, and appeared briefly in the major leagues in 2014 in Cincinnati.
  • Rico Noel, OF, Covington (Coastal Carolina): Rico was a 5th round pick by the Padres in 2010, and played in 15 games with the Yankees in 2015 (mostly as a pinch runner).
  • Riley Cooper, OF, New Market (Florida): This is a stretch, but Riley was a premium athlete who ended up playing wide receiver in the NFL for 6 seasons, all with the Philadelphia Eagles.


How would I rank the 2008 Valley League now? Hindsight is 20/20, of course…

1. Ryan Schimpf, 2b, Luray (Louisiana State)
2. Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Winchester (Charleston Southern)
3. Adam Liberatore, LHP, Waynesboro (Tennessee Tech)
4. Brandon Beachy, RHP, Woodstock (Indiana Wesleyan)
5. Drew Rucinski, RHP, Luray (Ohio State)
6. Alex Wimmers, rhp, Luray (Ohio State)
7. Taylor Hill, RHP, Winchester (Vanderbilt)
8. Rico Noel, OF, Covington (Coastal Carolina)
9. Ryan Dennick, LHP, Fauquier (Tennessee Tech)
10. Tyler Townsend, 1b, Winchester (Florida International)

Overall, this was a very, very good year in the Valley. To claim 9 major league players from one summer is pretty impressive. So BA did well job in 2008; 7 of their top ten played pro ball, while 2 of those 7 made the majors.

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