Sept. 25, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Playing in one of the nation’s more prominent and longest established summer leagues, Tennessee sophomores Christin Stewart and A.J. Simcox have been named the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects in the Alaska Baseball League, respectively, according to Perfect Game.
Both players were tabbed first team Perfect Game Summer All-Americans while playing for the Mat-Su Miners organization.
Stewart earned league MVP honors after leading the ABL with 31 RBI, 14 doubles and five home runs. The outfielder also ranked second in the league in batting average (.336), hits (42) and runs scored (26).
Simcox, who was named the nation’s second-best shortstop of the summer, led the ABL with a .356 batting average, garnering the Silver Slugger Award. In addition to average, Simcox led the league in hits (48) and runs scored (27), while tying for second with 20 RBI.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Trevor Bettencourt also landed on the list of league’s top 25 prospects, coming in at No. 22. He posted a 3-2 record with a 2.96 ERA in eight starts for the Miners.
Below is Perfect Game’s full report on the three Vols:
ALASKA BASEBALL LEAGUE TOP 25 PROSPECTS
1. Christin Stewart, OF, Mat-Su Miners (Tennessee/SO in 2014)
Stewart’s reputation as the elite power hitter this summer in Alaska preceded him as he had a legendary high school career at Georgia’s Providence Christian Academy, where he set a state single-season record for home runs as a junior with 26, and completed his career with 69—a state record-tying total, and just seven off the national career mark. Though the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Stewart went deep just three times as a freshman at Tennessee, his raw power potential and significant run-producing ability were prominently on display this summer for Mat-Su. He tied for the Alaska League lead with five homers, and his league-best totals of 14 doubles, 31 RBI and .600 slugging percentage placed him far ahead of his closest pursuers. He was easily viewed by opponents as the most dangerous hitter in the league. The left-handed batting Stewart generates his superior bat speed, with power to all fields, with his strong, muscular frame and a free, easy, short, compact stroke. He also has a very selective approach at the plate, looks for pitches he can drive and hit .336 overall on the summer, second in the league. He made positive adjustments from one at-bat to the next, and his discerning eye at the plate led to a positive walk-to-strike ratio of 15-14. Although Stewart’s offensive skills are the strength of his game, he made significant strides in the development of his outfield play over the course of the summer for Mat-Su.
2. A.J. Simcox, SS, Mat-Su Miners (Tennessee/SO in 2014)
A bright future in the game was predicted for Simcox from the days his father Larry served as a long-time assistant coach at Tennessee, and young A.J. was the team’s batboy. By the time he was a senior at Knoxville’s Farragut High Simcox was pegged as one of the nation’s top prep shortstops, but slid to the 32nd round of that year’s draft because of his unbending commitment to play baseball in college for the Volunteers. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Simcox stepped in as the regular shortstop as a UT freshman, hitting .283-0-26 with five extra-base hits. His game definitely came together over the summer in Alaska, where he led the league in batting at .356, made consistent hard contact and established himself as the best pure hitter in the league. More of a line-drive bat, he went deep only once, but began turning on balls consistently and grew into his power in the second half after initially driving balls more routinely to the opposite field. He should develop legitimate power over the next two seasons at Tennessee as he grows into his big, athletic frame. He has good quickness for a player his size, and stole 10 bases on the summer. Defensively, Simcox is not overly flashy at shortstop but has sure hands and a strong throwing arm, and should get by at the position over the long haul on the strength of his superior instincts. If his power evolves as projected, he could conceivably end up at third base. Of all the players that played in Alaska this summer, Simcox may be the surest bet to crack the first round of the 2015 draft, and Ben Taylor, his coach at Mat-Su, said he was much farther ahead at the same stage of his career than Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier, the eighth overall selection in this year’s draft and a player Taylor coached in the Texas Collegiate League in 2011.
22. Trevor Bettencourt, RHP, Mat-Su Miners (Tennessee/SO in 2014)
Not in same league as a prospect with fellow Tennessee/Mat-Su teammates Christin Stewart, A.J. Simcox, but made big strides on summer as starter for Miners, could forge way into Vols rotation as SO; went 3-2, 2.96 in eight starts (46 IP, 21 BB/39 SO) vs. 2-3, 6.49 in spring, showed signs of upside potential in dominant start vs. Peninsula, when fanned 12, walked none in 7 2/3 shutout innings with unhittable breaking ball; FB typically at 86-91, but room for additional velocity, improved command as he grows into 6-1/185 frame.