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Offseason Outlook: Speed, power define Class of 2012 outfielders



By Mike Rosenbaum 

Over the course of the past month Prep Baseball Report Missouri has highlighted many of the elite Class of 2012 players by position.  While there’s an abundance of talent both on the mound and behind the plate, it is the Class of 2012 outfielders whom exhibit the most athleticism.  Headed by three top 10 players in Tate Matheny, Bralin Jackson, and Breckin Williams, the central tool amongst this crop of players is speed…and there’s lots of it. This group possesses all-around athleticism and numerous players are multi-sport standouts. 

Many have already committed to play for in-state programs in 2013, as Matheny and Dezort will head to Missouri State, Jackson and Ullrich to Missouri, and Hall to College of the Ozarks.  And although several players remain uncommitted, they all have the tools and potential to play at the next level.

No. 2 Tate Matheny, Class of 2012, Westminster; Committed to Missouri State

The son of former Cardinals catcher-turned-manager Mike Matheny, Tate earned Prep Baseball Report Missouri First Team All-State honors after batting .505 with 53 runs, eight doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs, 22 stolen bases, and 54 RBI.  The driving force of a Westminster squad that won the Class 3A state title in 2011, Matheny does everything well on the baseball field and is quite possibly the most toolsy player in the state.  The 6-foot-1, 189-pounder’s combination of plus speed and easy power have already made him a probable candidate for the MLB Amateur Draft in June.

No. 7 Bralin Jackson, Class of 2012, Raytown South; Committed to Missouri

Like Matheny, Jackson is a player who’s been lauded for his tools and projects well at the next level, whether at Mizzou or in the Minor Leagues.  At 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, Jackson’s bat speed and extension after contact yields legitimate power, which was on full display when he played for the White Sox Area Code team this past summer.  A right-handed hitter who throws left-handed (ala Ricky Henderson, Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick), Jackson should see his draft stock rise over the course of 2012 season

No. 10 Breckin Williams, Class of 2012, Webb City; Uncommitted

Williams put himself on the radar this past summer after earning Top Prospect honors at Prep Baseball Report Missouri’s Top Prospect Invite showcase in Columbia.  In addition to playing the outfield, Williams is also a sound infielder and right-handed pitcher.  The 6-foot-1, 195-pound switch-hitter possesses a compact swing and power from both sides of the plate. This past fall, Williams also led the Webb City football team to a Class 4A state title as quarterback.

No. 22 Christian Cavaness, Class of 2012, Cape Central; Uncommitted

Cavaness, who also serves as the Cape Central quarterback, overcame injury to bat .382 with a .453 OBP, five doubles, six triples, two home runs, 18 RBI, and nine stolen bases in 2011.  The 6-foot-2 left-handed hitter employs a patient approach at the plate and uses the whole field.  Given his raw, wiry strength and overall athleticism, it’s reasonable to think a healthy Cavaness will produce more extra-base hits in 2012 and beyond.

No. 23 Joe Young, Class of 2012, Logan-Rogersville; Uncommitted

The Co-Central Ozark Conference Small Division Player of the Year batted .415 with seven doubles, two triples, and nine home runs, and garnered Prep Baseball Report Missouri Third Team All-State honors.  Also a basketball standout, the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder possesses both the size and athleticism to play several different positions at the collegiate level. 

No. 30 Matt Dezort, Class of 2012, Hazelwood Central; Committed to Missouri State

At 5-foot-9, 170-pounds, Dezort possesses true top-of-the-order speed and more pop than his frame might indicate. As the team’s leadoff hitter last spring, he batted .386 and led his team in most offensive categories: .494 on-base percentage, .586 slugging percentage, seven triples, a home run, 19 RBI and 28 stolen bases.  

No. 36 Sean Ullrich, Class of 2012, Marquette; Committed to Missouri

Ulrich, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-handed hitter, batted .351 as a junior with six doubles, three triples, 18 RBI and 12 stolen bases.  His well-balanced, compact swing generates considerable pull-side power that should only improve as he fills out.  Don’t look too deep into Ullrich’s lack of home runs in 2011; his power is real and will continue to develop.

No. 46 Bryan Ryberg, Class of 2012, Francis Howell North; Committed to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

The 2011 Howell North squad featured a slew of power hitters such as Braxton Martinez, Mike Wilson, and Dan Define, which made it easy to overlook any player who didn’t homer on a nightly basis.  Ryberg, a 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter, batted .389 with four doubles and 10 RBI.  More importantly, he led the Knights with five triples and ten stolen bases.  Despite the graduation of Wilson and Define, Ryberg remains a key table-setter for Martinez this spring and should eclipse his 2011 production.

No. 47 Connor Einertson, Class of 2012, Westminster; Uncommitted

Einertson was key member of Westminster’s 2011 Class 3A state championship squad, as he batted .520 with 51 hits, 12 doubles, three home runs, and 39 RBI.  The 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-handed hitter has a patient approach at the plate and makes hard contact with enough pop to take it out to all fields.  Alongside teammate Tate Matheny, it’s hard to find a better outfield tandem in Missouri.  Both players could very well fuel Westminster’s bid for back-to-back state titles in 2012.

No. 51 Beau Burkett, Class of 2012, Rock Bridge; Uncommitted

Last season, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder’s success was overshadowed by Rock Bridge teammates Ryan Phillips, John Miles, Landon Clapp, and Travis Bittle.  He batted .375 with eight doubles, a home run, nine stolen bases, and 24 RBI for a team that finished the year with a 25-3 record.  After battling a shoulder injury for most of the 2011 season, Burkett is finally healthy and poised to have his best varsity campaign to date.

No. 66 Ryan Rippee, Class of 2012, Kickapoo; Uncomitted

Rippee came into his own last season on a talented Kickapoo team, batting .375 with nine doubles, four home runs and 28 RBI.  At the dish, the 6-foot-6 Rippee uses his size to drive the ball with power to both gaps.  In the outfield, he takes direct routes and topped out at 82 mph with carry. After finishing the 2011 season with a 20-7 record, Rippee will lead a cast of six returning seniors who look to improve upon that mark.  For having such a lanky frame, Rippee is highly athletic, and like Young, is a standout basketball player.

No. 76 Cody Hall, Class of 2012, Purdy; Committed to College of the Ozarks

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Hall had a breakout season for Purdy in 2011, posting a .383 batting average and .480 on-base percentage with five doubles, three triples, six home runs, and 27 RBI.  At Prep Baseball Report Missouri’s Southwest Missouri showcase, Hall also showed some speed by running a 7.15 60.  A right-handed hitter, he uses his strong upper body and arms to drive the ball all over the field, and with some refinements to his swing, could develop legitimate power to all fields.

Have you missed a previous installment in the Class of 2012 Offseason Outlook series? Don’t worry, they can be found here: 

Class of 2012 Offseason Outlook: Pitchers

Class of 2012 Offseason Outlook: Catchers

Class of 2012 Offseason Outlook: Corner Infielders

Class of 2012 Offseason Outlook: Middle Infielders *Coming soon*