Baseball America has spent the summer and fall covering the biggest high school tournaments and showcases. During that time, we've posted many articles and updates, but we also collected some video along the way. Here are links to some of the players we recorded. . .
The World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla. is over, but there is still plenty to talk about. We posted a few blogs while there—on Jose Fernandez, Jake Cave and Josh Bell—but have tons of notes on many players. Here are some final thoughts as high school prospects shut it down until the spring.
• Aside from Fernandez's two dominating performances, the talk of the tournament was righthander Nick Burdi from South High in Downers Grove, Ill. Burdi's fastball was electric at 93-95 mph and even got as high as 97. Throwing from his low three-quarter arm angle, he also generated substantial late run on the pitch. A blood blister on his right index finger prevented him from snapping off any breaking balls, but the fastball alone was enough to take care of business. [...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — Perfect Game's 2010 World Wood Bat World Championship and the 2002 Major League Baseball all-star game both came down to pitching. . . or a lack thereof. Chet Lemon's Juice and the Dirtbags opted to become 2010 WWBA Co-Champions after a 3-3 tie through eight innings left both teams thin on pitching after a long weekend of games.
Despite the anti-climatic finish—which included a 10-minute conference at home plate before a final decision was made—both teams were happy with the outcome. [...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — Outfielder Josh Bell was beaming this morning because his favorite team, the Rangers, are headed to their first World Series. He's also just happy to be back out on the field, showing off what he can do.
"It's a lot of fun," Bell said. "When you come out here, everyone's trying to play to the best of their potential, and when you have everyone trying to play their best, it makes a good atmosphere for baseball and it's a lot of fun to play in that."
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Bell is a switch-hitting center fielder from Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. He stands out physically, even at an event with more than 1,500 players. He shows power from both sides of the plate and went 3-for-3 today with a single, a double and a home run.
"I knew it was gone, but it was a good pitch," Bell said of the home run. "It was inside, so I just got my hands in and sent it, you know?"
Performing well in Jupiter is a little bit more of a bonus for Bell, because he missed two months this summer after bruising and cracking his left kneecap sliding into a base. He's back to 100 percent now.
[...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — Even without his best stuff, Jake Cave is still pretty good. The outfielder/lefthander from Kecoughtan High in Hampton, Va. made his first appearance on the mound at the World Wood Bat Championships in Jupiter, Fla., coming in to relieve righthander Jordan Ramsey (North Davidson High, Lexington, N.C.) for Canes Baseball. Cave had been warming up in the bullpen, but the Canes' offensive half of the inning ended rather abruptly and Cave went to the mound after about a dozen warm up pitches.
"I didn't have a lot time in the 'pen and today was one of those days I felt like I didn't have my stuff," Cave said. "My arm wasn't as live. I'd be surprised if I was even close to 90 (mph) today." [...] Continue Reading »
Two scouting director jobs were filled this week, with the Angels promoting national crosschecker Ric Wilson and the Diamondbacks hiring Brewers crosschecker Ray Montgomery. Now another has come open, as the Dodgers' Tim Hallgren is leaving the team to become a national crosschecker with the Tigers.
Hallgren's departure doesn't mean there will be a radical change in Los Angeles, because assistant GM Logan White has continued to run the team's drafts since he was promoted from scouting director in 2007. White said the Dodgers have yet to determine whether they'll replace Hallgren or restructure their scouting department.
Two former Brewers crosscheckers became scouting directors this week.
Thursday, the Angels officially promoted national crosschecker Ric Wilson to replace Eddie Bane as scouting director. Wilson joined the Angels in 2003 as national crosschecker after spending 11 years in the Brewers organization.
The Diamondbacks are expected to officially announce Ray Montgomery as their scouting director later today, replacing Tom Allison, who was offered a new position in the organization. Executive vice president for scouting and player development Jerry DiPoto wouldn't confirm the hiring via email but said an official announcement would come today. Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com was first to report Montgomery's hiring, and the Brewers confirmed the move to MLB.com. [...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — The Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championships kicked off today in Jupiter, Fla. and the event started with a bang. The first game of the day, on the first field scouts see when they walk in the gate, featured one of the event's must-see pitchers in righthander Jose Fernandez from Alonso High in Tampa.
While all players work hard to get to this event, Fernandez has been through extraordinary circumstances to get where he is today. Before his sophomore year of high school, he fled Cuba with his family to have a better life in the United States.
That puts things in perspective at a young age, and while he has a serious demeanor between the lines, it's easy for Fernandez to relax and have fun on the mound. The hitters he was facing, however, didn't have much fun.
"The last week and the week before that, I was working out for this event," Fernandez said. "I was working hard, really hard, to get ready for this and just wanted to come down, throw strikes, get outs and pitch my game."
That's exactly what he did. Fernandez dominated over his four innings of work, quickly getting ahead of batters and blowing his 92-94 mph fastball past them. He mixed in a hard curveball at 80-83 mph and an 81 mph changeup. He'll also occasionally drop his arm angle down a little bit and mix in a slider.
[...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — Perfect Game's annual World Wood Bat Association World Championship takes place in Jupiter, Fla. Oct. 21-25. This has become an annual scouting convention, of sorts, as a majority of the top high school players in this year's draft class will be in attendance, and scouts can also get a peek at some of the best rising juniors and sophomores, as well.
To put things in perspective, 61 of the 116 high school players taken in the top 10 rounds this year played at the event last year. With so many prospects at the event, there's a good reason to watch every team, but here are five teams that stand out from the pack. . .
The powerhouse program in Southern California, the ABD Bulldogs are a perennial contender in Jupiter. This year’s roster features outfielder/lefthander Daniel Camarena (2011, Cathedral Catholic High, San Diego), infielder Austin Davidson (2011, Oxnard, Calif., High), third baseman/outfielder Travis Harrison (2011, Tustin, Calif., High), righthander Ryan Keller (2011, West Ranch High, Valencia, Calif.) and righthander Kieran Lovegrove (2012, Mission Viejo, Calif., High).
[...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz. — Two shortstops stood out on the final day of the Arizona Senior Fall Classic.
The first is Jake Hager, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound shortstop from Sierra Vista High in Las Vegas. Hager hit a home run for Team Vegas in his first at-bat of the showcase and continued his hot hitting today, going 2-for-3 with a double and a triple.
"The whole tournament, I saw the ball well," Hager said. "My swing felt good the whole weekend and I was confident through the whole weekend and just ready to play."
Hager has been on scouts' radar for a couple years now. He benefitted from playing on the same high school team as righthander Nick Kingham, who was selected by the Pirates in the fourth round this year.
"Yes, I would say it helped because scouts were there and I could show them what I could do and I'm here where I am now," Hager said. "Kingham helped a lot because they were always at the game and I just did what I had to do and helped the team out, also."
[...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz. — Scouts typically ignore Wyoming like a 5-foot-10 righthander with an 83 mph fastball.
Not this year.
Brandon Nimmo is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound outfielder from Cheyenne East High and he's giving scouts one last look this fall at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic.
Although Nimmo has put his name on the map this summer by playing at USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars and in the Under Armour All-American Game, this tournament is important for him because scouts won't have much time to see him this spring. Wyoming doesn't have high school baseball, so Nimmo plays American Legion ball, instead. His team works out inside from November through late April, when they're able to get back outside.
"I just try and take advantage of opportunities, and this is a big opportunity," Nimmo said. "You try and not psyche yourself up and think it's bigger for me than it is for someone from SoCal, but not having quite as much of a spring as a SoCal guy, this does help."
[...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz. — Outfielder Eric Snyder was all smiles today at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic. And it wasn't just because he went 2-for-2 with a single and a triple.
"I'm feeling great," Snyder said. "There's great weather, a great atmosphere and great players surrounding me."
The joy of being out on the field is sincere for Snyder, who missed a good chunk of the summer showcase circuit.
"Unfortunately, I got sick and didn't play Area Codes and couldn't actually play for a month and a half," Snyder said. "I lost seven or eight pounds and I've been slowly regaining it. It was a virus in my stomach and it put me down for a month and a half. It was terrible."
When Snyder is playing, he consistently makes hard contact with a short, quick swing from the left side of the plate. He's not physically imposing at 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds, but he is one of the best pure hitters in this year's class.
"When I'm on deck, I don't take it lightly," Snyder said. "On deck, I always get my timing stuff down and see what the pitcher throws in different counts and stuff. I have an approach going up there and I just take it into my at-bat and always try to put a good swing on it, not try and get too big or anything."
[...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz. — The 15th-annual Arizona Senior Fall Classic kicked off today in Peoria, Ariz. at the Mariners and Padres spring training complex. While many of the 59 teams are from the West Coast or Four Corners region, there are players in attendance from 33 different states, as well as Canada.
New Mexico isn't traditionally seen as a baseball hotbed. The best player to come out of the state is Tony Phillips, but he was drafted in 1978. More recently, players like Matt Moore and Kyle Blanks are helping to put it on the map. The next player on that list is likely to be Blake Swihart.
Swihart is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound switch hitting catcher from Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, N.M. He made the seven-hour drive to play in the event and it will be his last big event before his senior season starts.
Swihart has already had an eventful summer. He played for Team USA, where he led the team in hitting with a line of .448/.492/.845 with six doubles and five home runs.
After hiring Kevin Towers as general manager and naming former interim GM Jerry DiPoto their senior vice president of scouting and player development, the Diamondbacks continued to rearrange their front office on Wednesday. Arizona fired scouting director Tom Allison, news first reported by Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports and Baseball America.
The Diamondbacks offered Allison another job within the organization, though it also has been rumored that he could wind up with the Mariners. Allison worked as a crosschecker under Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik when Zduriencik was the Brewers' scouting director.
Allison, 43, presided over Arizona's last four drafts. His first pick for the club, 2007 first-rounder Jarrod Parker, blossomed into one of the game's top pitching prospects before injuring his elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for all of 2010.
The Diamondbacks farm system had slipped significantly since Baseball America ranked it the best in baseball entering the 2006 season, but Allison began to replenish it in the 2009 draft. Arizona owned eight of the first 95 selections and chose such promising players as third basemen Bobby Borchering (first round) and Matt Davidson (supplemental first), shortstop Chris Owings (supplemental first) and outfielder Marc Krauss (second).
The Diamondbacks failed to sign their 2010 first-rounder, No. 7 overall pick Barret Loux, after he failed a postdraft physical. Most teams considered the righthander a sandwich-round talent, and he was chosen in part because of his willingness to accept a below-slot $2 million bonus. Ringolsby reports that Allison wanted to choose lefthander Chris Sale, who ended the season in the majors as the White Sox's closer, but was overruled by former GM Josh Byrnes.
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