(Photo Credit: Matt Mercer)
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.
The Oregon Ducks had an up and down 2017 where they posted a record of 30-25 on the year. The Ducks dominated non-conference play but struggled mightily in the competitive PAC-12 where they had a record of 12-18. With the departure of David Peterson, the 21st overall pick to the New York Mets in this summer’s MLB Draft, the Ducks will be looking for their younger players to step up in 2018. Unfortunately, this summer a total of nine players have transferred away from the program leaving the future full of uncertainty. Despite this mass exodus of young talent, the Ducks have 16 players playing summer ball across the country. From the newly formed West Coast League to the prestigious Cape Cod League, head coach George Horton’s remaining players are developing their skills in pursuit of a tournament run next season.
Kenyon Yovan: Rochester Honkers, Northwoods League
For those that have ever watched the WWE and know who the Undertaker is, odds are you know his theme song as well. When the bells start ringing and the Undertaker’s theme song is blaring at PK Park, that can only mean one thing–Kenyon Yovan is coming in to finish off the opposing team and secure an Oregon victory. Yovan did just that during his freshman season as he collected First Team Freshman All-American honors as well as being awarded the National Freshman Player of the Year award by Collegiate Baseball.
This summer Yovan played for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team as well as for the Rochester Honkers. He was both a starter and reliever for the Honkers which may indicate a move into the rotation for 2018. He posted a 2.60 ERA in 27 2/3 innings pitched while striking out 23 batters. I am excited to see what the future holds for Oregon’s top returning underclassmen.
Matt Mercer: Falmouth Commodores, Cape Cod League
Mercer was Oregon’s Saturday starter this past season and with the departure of Peterson, the Friday night role will be his for the taking. Mercer impressed in the competitive Cape Cod League as he bolstered a 4-1 record with a 2.64 ERA in 30 2/3 innings pitched. He managed to strike out 31 batters while only walking nine. This stat jumped out to me as this past spring he occasionally struggled in finding an effective strikeout pitch. If he has indeed found one, I cannot wait to see what he does to PAC-12 batters next spring.
Kyle Kasser: Wareham Gatemen, Cape Cod League
Some of the CBBSN’s very own are interning for the Wareham Gatemen this summer and have had the privilege of watching Kasser play. Kasser started out at first base for the Ducks but moved to shortstop in the middle of the season because of his lack of corner position type power. This move also made way for freshman Gabe Matthews to get more playing time and eventually become an All-American. Kasser has had a successful summer on the Cape, hitting .297 and making the All-Star Game, which on the Cape is no small feat. Kasser plays hard and has a tremendous amount of value with his ability to play anywhere on the infield. I look for him to be one of the senior leaders for the upcoming season.
Gabe Matthews: Corvallis Knights, West Coast League
Matthews impressed in his first collegiate season earning Freshman All-American honors at first base. Matthews carried his hot bat into the WCL where he hit .295 with 19 RBIs, and showed decent plate discipline with 12 walks. He has more power than his three home runs would show, but the transition to wood bats could be a factor.
Taylor Travess: Corvallis Knights, West Coast League
Another senior leader for the Ducks, Travess, will look to be a staple in Horton’s outfield for the coming season. Travess has been leading the Knights this summer playing both infield and outfield and hitting .256 with 18 RBIs and 23 runs scored. As one of the Ducks only returning outfielders, he will be relied upon both on the field and in the clubhouse for 2018.
Parker Kelly: Orleans Firebirds, Cape Cod League
With Yovan possibly making a move to the starting rotation, there may be an opening at the closer role for the Ducks. This role potentially could fall to Parker Kelly, who posted a 4.33 ERA in 18 ⅔ innings pitched while striking out 22 batters on the Cape. The fact he was sent to the Cape this summer leads me to believe the Ducks coaching staff sees something valuable in him. I cannot wait to see where he ends up next season.
Spencer Steer: Santa Barbara Foresters, California Collegiate League
One of my favorites to watch last season, Steer has a solid glove as well as a smooth swing. These skills helped him earn Freshman All-American honors and rightly so. This summer Spencer hit .264 and collected 11 RBIs in only 62 at-bats. Look for him to have another big year down in Eugene.
James Acuna: Bend Elks, West Coast League
Another possible arm for the starting rotation next season is James Acuna who spent most of his spring in the bullpen. This summer, however, he started in five of his seven pitching appearances in which he produced a 4.37 ERA and a 2-3 record. He managed to strike out 27 batters in 35 innings, which is a sign of improvement for the young righty.
Jesse Hobaica: Klamath Falls Gems, Golden State Collegiate Baseball League
The left-handed junior college transfer had a fantastic summer bolstering a 2.67 ERA in 30 1/3 innings pitched, all while striking out 33 batters. If Hobaica can keep up this level of production next spring, he will become a household name.