Prospects League.. Jeff Holm & Mark Sappington Raisng The Roof
There is a collegiate summer league that’s only been around since 2008, but its history goes back to 1963. The alignments and realignment of teams and leagues can get a little confusing for someone not familiar with the whole story, as is the case with the Prospects League headquartered in Bartlett Tennessee. A blend of the former Frontier League and the old Central Illinois Collegiate League birthed what is now one of the strongest summer leagues in the country. There are teams like the Chillicothe Paints who are averaging 1,600 fans per game, and the Hannibal Cavemen who are averaging 1,400 fans per game. This is a fan base loyal to their game, their community, and their collegiate athletes who tend to become recognizable names in the major leagues. This league is a heavyweight in the name calling game. Players like Joe Girardi, manager of the New York Yankees, have passed through the league as a young ball player. Names like Kirby Puckett, Mike Schmidt, and Art Howe are only a few of the massive alumni that the Prospects League has the honor of claiming as some of their own. These days, the league is treading along in a new era of trends, economies, styles, and faces.
There is an outfielder playing for the Chillicothe Paints that is simply tackling the league with an unprecedented display of prowess. In 11 games and 44 at bats, Jeff Holm is hitting .477 with 2 homeruns and 15 RBI’s. His 17 stolen bases go perfectly with an on base percentage of .558. The leagues pitchers are being terrorized on the base paths as well. In two games Holm’s went 6 for 8 and stole 8 bases. This is nothing new for those who’ve watched him play at Michigan State this past spring. Holm’s hit .350 and led the team in doubles (21), triples (5), RBI’s (50), stolen bases (23), and he had the fewest strike outs amongst starters (15).
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On the pitching side, the Prospects League is enjoying a very durable starting pitcher.Mark Sappington is 6’4 220lbs and as a freshman is pitching for the Hannibal Cavemen. In 2 starts, Sappington has thrown 16 innings and struck out 17 on his way towards a 2-0 record. After a worthy first start, Sappington showed a bit of a flinch in his second. He was pulled from the game after 3.1 innings. He didn’t allow a run, and he struck out 4, but the Danville Dans touched him up for 4 hits. In his most recent game against the Dubois County Bombers, Sappington settled back into the form we saw in his first start, except this time he was a bit better control wise. He went for 6 innings, and struck out 9 batters and only walked 1. This spring pitching for the Jesuit University of Rockhurst, he struggled as can be expected of a young freshman. Sappington had the second highest innings of work on his team (62.1), and had the most strike outs on the team (61). Not that Sappington will be a big time strike out pitcher, but if he can lower the amount of hits he gives up by a least a little, his ERA will lower considerably. The Prospects League may be considered a new league, but the ties to its community’s baseball knowledge and connections make it a viable place to play and an entertaining league to support. The intrigue is in winning and producing major league baseball players, the Prospects League is well versed in that department.
By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer