The California Collegiate League is known for attracting some of the best talent in college baseball. And with top talent comes Major League scouts.
A scout for a top team in the National League, who spoke to The Tribune under the condition of anonymity, said there are a couple players on the San Luis Obispo Blues who caught his eye during a three-game scouting trip in July.
At the top of his list for the Blues was slugger Dustin Williams from Oklahoma State.
“For me that guy seemed to swing the bat really well,” said the scout.
Williams — a 6-foot-2, left-handed power hitter entering his junior season — leads the Blues in home runs (4) and is tied for the team lead in RBI (28) and extra-base hits (12).
But, the scout said the process of evaluating a player isn’t just about looking at the numbers.
“I’m looking more at how guys swing the bat and how they carry themselves as opposed to the numbers,” said the scout who added not every talent evaluator has the same approach he does.
He was also impressed by Williams’ Cowboys teammate Corey Hassel, but said size could hold the third baseman/pitcher back from making the leap to the pros.
“If I was a college coach he would be an MVP,” the scout said of the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder who has a .276 batting average and a 3.24 ERA for the Blues. “He can hit and pitch for college guys, but even though I know (Hassel) can hit, there is always going to be a bigger guy.”
The scout said that the best pro prospect playing in the CCL is Lucas Erceg, a lefty third baseman for the Cal Golden Bears and the CCL’s Neptune Beach Pearl who also throws a 94 mph fastball.
“He’s really got a chance to make it,” the scout said adding Erceg will be looked at more for his abilities on the mound.
Prospects have been a hot topic this week as teams use minor leaguers as bargaining chips to bring in top tier MLB players to make a postseason run. Even with all the research and legwork that goes into trying to find the next Mike Trout or Buster Posey, the scout said that there’s no guarantee even for a “can’t-miss” player.
“Its tough,” the scout said. “It’s really a racket to try to make it to the top. You have to be really lucky and stay healthy.”