LONG BEACH, Calif. — Lefthander Trey Ball had his work cut out for him this morning. Ball was the White Sox starter today against the Southern California Brewers squad and the 6-foot-6, 175-pound rising junior from New Castle (Ind.) High carved them up for three innings.
"I felt pretty good, I felt relaxed," Ball said after the game. "It could have been different, but I came from the East Coast [Professional Showcase] and I had a chance to get this atmosphere before coming here, so I was nice and relaxed. That helped out a lot. I had better command here than I did down there and everything felt good."
Over the three shutout innings, Ball gave up one single and walked another runner, who he promptly picked off, while also striking out four. He mostly did it with a fastball in the 87-88 mph range, topping out at 89, and a 77-81 mph changeup. But Ball also had a secret weapon in his arsenal. . .
"For my out pitch, I'll usually sneak in a knuckleball that I've got," Ball said. "I throw it kind of hard, so it kind of dances, but it also dives. I've also got a cutter, but I didn't throw that today because it wasn't working in the bullpen, and I'll be working on a slider here in the fall."
The pitch does have drop and acts like a curveball in the 72-74 mph range and he's been throwing it for several years now.
"It started back in Little League, actually," Ball said. "I was just messing around in the backyard with my dad, throwing, and I've been throwing it ever since."
Ball, who also plays outfield, showed a lot of confidence in his changeup—a rarity for pitchers his age.
"My dad's always had me work on a changeup—he said it's one of the most important pitches you'll need going through high school, college and wherever else it leads you," Ball said. "So I've worked on that and it's a great pitch for me."
Ball will head home after the Area Code Baseball Games presented by New Balance to go back to school and he'll also begin working out with a personal trainer to strengthen his legs and core.
Long Beach Leftovers
• Home runs at Blair Field have been just as rare as left-handed knuckleballers—there have been one of each. The formula of wood bats + spacious dimensions (348' down the line, 387' in the gaps and 400' to center) + some mild swirling winds have caused a lot of balls to die at the warning track this week. It took until the 15th game of the event for the first home run—a shot that hugged the foul pole down the left field line off the bat of Lake Stevens (Wash.) High third baseman Dylan LaVelle.
"It felt really good," LaVelle said afterwards. "I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball and obviously I did. It felt really good and I was watching it to make sure and saw the left fielder kind of stop running, so I was like, 'All right, hopefully it's fair now.' "
LaVelle, an Oregon State commit, has hit plenty of home runs for his high school team, as evidenced by this YouTube video, which has some very nice play-by-play by the cameraman.
"That's my grandfather," LaVelle said. "He comes to every game and videotapes and does commentary."
LaVelle's home run sparked a late rally by the Royals, allowing them to beat the Athletics and finish Area Codes with a perfect 5-0 record.
• Catcher Stryker Trahan from Acadiana High in Lafayette, La. continued to sting the ball today, going 3-for-4 with a walk and three singles. . . First baseman Austin Dean from Klein Collins High in Spring, Texas went 2-for-3 with a double that one-hopped the wall in left field. . . Alex Bregman also continued to hit the ball hard, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. Bregman caught today and moved well behind the plate.
• The Rangers had two strong candidates for defensive play of the day. Outfielder Leon Byrd from Cypress Ranch High in Cypress, Texas made an outstanding catch in center field, coming in and laying out to catch a broken-bat liner from Rhett Wiseman that was tailing to his right. . . Shortstop Gavin Cecchini from Barbe High in Lake Charles, La. showed off his range, quick hands, strong arm and great instincts when he ranged to his right and made a perfect, off-balance throw to second base to start a game-ending double play.
• Righthander Joey Gallo from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas showed impressive velocity tonight, topping out at 95 mph and flashed a tight curveball. But the two-way prospect hasn't spent much time on the mound and doesn't have a lot of stamina there, so he settled into the 89-91 mph range.
• On Aug. 7, outfielder Nick Williams from Ball High in Galveston, Texas gave his verbal commitment to Texas. Williams said the choice came down to Texas or LSU.
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