The second day of the USA Baseball's National High School Invitational had numerous highlights, but Carroll High (Corpus Christi, Texas) outfielder/righthander Courtney Hawkins stole the show.
In the team's first game against Gulliver Prep from Pinecrest, Fla., Hawkins was a one-man wrecking crew. He started the game on the mound where he threw 5 1/3 shutout innings, giving up four hits, walking two and striking out nine for the win. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range, topping out at 94, but it wasn't his only weapon.
"He's got a split and a slider," Carroll head coach Lee Yeager said. "He struck their four-hole guy out on a pretty good slider. They've got a good bunch of hitters so he did a pretty good job of keeping them off balance and giving us a chance."
The Tigers' only run of the game came from a Hawkins home run. The pitch was a little outside and Hawkins didn't even get all of it, but he's strong enough for it to still leave the yard nearly 400 feet to left-center. The home run was one of Hawkins' two hits during four at-bats on the day.
"I kind of got around it a little bit," Hawkins said. "It was a lefty and he had good movement, so the whole plan was to go the other way with it and he ended up running it into my bat. I got a good swing on it."
Hawkins said he prefers being a position player more than a pitcher.
"Right now, I'm loving the outfield and hitting," Hawkins said. "I haven't thrown too much, but we needed a little extra pitching this tournament, so I came out and did whatever I had to do to help the team win."
Hawkins steadily improved throughout the summer and looks even better now. He's a physical specimen and is loaded with tools. In addition to his above-average arm and power, Hawkins is also a above-average runner who plays the game hard.
Hawkins attributes the improvement to playing against quality competition at the various showcase events on the showcase circuit.
"Everybody's got their own opinion of everybody and if you see somebody one time, everybody is going to have different opinions," Hawkins said. "So, my thing is, if somebody's going to see you on a different showcase, you should get better every time. That's been my whole goal since I started playing ball. So now, I've got a whole another level to go to to so I have to keep progressing and working hard."
• Harvard-Westlake lefthander Max Fried drew a huge crowd of scouts, though some of them were just there to take a peek. His performance last summer and so far this spring led to a couple scouting directors with picks in the middle of the draft to comment that they were watching him, even though they didn't expect him to be available when it was their turn to pick.
Fried started off a little rocky, but solidified that belief by sitting in the 90-92 mph range while touching a few 93s and 94s when he needed them. His curveball showed great downward break in the 74-76 mph range and he mixed in a very good changeup.
Fried battled throughout the game—and looked his best when things were tense or after he got a little fired up. He went the complete seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out eight.
• Scouts had the 3:45 p.m. game marked on the schedule to see Fried, but had to return from lunch early when word spread that Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High would start Joey Gallo on the mound. Normally a corner infielder known for big raw power, Gallo has excellent arm strength and many scouts think he has a better future on the mound. He flashed that potential today when his first pitch was a 96 mph fastball. He sat 93-96 early in his outing and touched 97 while adding in a high-70s curveball that shows sharp, downward break, but is inconsistent now. Gallo has a great frame at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and a fairly easy delivery. Even though his father is a pitching instructor, Gallo hasn't spent a lot of time on the mound, so his fastball can vary quite a bit and he doesn't hold the velocity very deep yet. However, his raw ability is impressive and today's outing may have added to the case that scouts want to draft him as a pitcher. At the plate, he's 0-for-8 so far in the tournament with four strikeouts.
While his stuff was impressive, Gallo didn't finish with a similar line. He threw three innings, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks while striking out seven. His velocity didn't faze Gulliver Prep and many of his fastballs were up and over the plate where good hitters can tee off. One of those hitters was Gulliver shortstop Adrian Marin, who had two hits off Gallo—a leadoff single in the first inning and triple in the second. Both hits came off 95 mph fastballs that were squared up.
"He's a great player and the first pitch came out hard, but I was ready for the next ones," Marin said. "I felt comfortable today. My second at-bat I was sitting fastball. I try to stay up the middle and sit fastball."
At the bottom of the post is video of Marin's second at-bat against Gallo.
• Parkview first baseman Matt Olson made Fried pay for one of his only mistake pitches—hammering an 87 mph fastball for a deep home run to right-center. Making things even better was the fact that today was Olson's 18th birthday.
• Mater Dei outfielder Ty Moore continues to rake. He went 1-for-2 on the day and his one hit was a bomb to right-center. Mater Dei run-ruled Carroll, 13-0 and the team is hitting a collective .500/.551/.677.
Contributing: Nathan Rode & Alexis Brudnicki
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