JUPITER, Fla. — Lefthander Ian McKinney from Boone High in Orlando has a knack for coming up clutch in big games.
Last year at the World Wood Bat Championship, we wrote that, "Goliath Goes Down In Jupiter" when the Cardinals Scout Team lost to Central FL PG Royal. The metaphorical "David" in that matchup was McKinney.
This year, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound McKinney is on the Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler and dominated the Atlanta Blue Jays in the second round of the playoffs. He tossed four no-hit innings, but did allow an unearned run with three walks and eight strikeouts. The mercy rule was enacted and the Cardinals beat the Blue Jays 9-1 in five innings.
"He was on a younger team last year and played with us all summer and beat us last year when that team's first three hitters were (Albert) Almora, (David) Dahl and (Jesse) Winker," Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler head coach Jared Goodwin said. "He actually threw in the night game on Sunday last year, too. So, he's been pretty good on that day."
[...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — Royals Scout Team righthander Dakota Hudson from Sequatchie Country High in Dunlap, Tenn., interests scouts because of his size, stuff and relative inexperience.
Throwing into a heavy wind, Hudson sat in the 87-89 mph range and topped out at 91. He mixed in 76-78 mph breaking ball that he calls a slider, but breaks more like a downer curveball and flashes hard, late action. He also threw a couple 81 mph changeups. Mostly, though, Hudson threw fastballs. He threw about 45 pitches over his three-inning stint and only seven of those pitches were of the offspeed variety.
"My two-seam (fastball) was moving real well," Hudson said. "My offspeed was moving too, I just couldn't throw it for a strike . . . At my school, they preach a whole lot about spotting up your fastball. So, if you can go off your fastball, you can be successful any game."
Over those three shutout innings, Hudson didn't give up a hit, walked two and struck out five.
JUPITER, Fla. — UCLA head coach John Savage has a list of 96 traits for successful pitchers. The list becomes Commandments when recruits show up on campus and Bruins pitchers are continually quizzed as they work to commit the list to memory.
Lefthander Jonah Wesely from Tracy (Calif.) High is committed to UCLA and showed that he already has a good feel for the list, even if he hasn't studied it yet. Pitching for Team Elite, Wesely threw a complete-game (seven innings), three-hit shutout against the On Deck O's while walking three and striking out seven.
His fastball started in the 89-92 mph range with natural cut. He was 88-90 in the middle innings and was mostly 85-87 in the final inning, but still touched 89. Wesely has strong legs and uses them well to drive toward the plate. There's a little funk to his delivery, but it adds deception and he hides the ball well. He has a four-pitch mix with a 70-72 mph curveball, a nasty 79-82 mph slider and a 79 mph changeup. Wesely pitches with a good tempo and generated lots of ground balls.
Here are a few items on Savage's quiz that Wesely aced today . . .
[...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — From Roy Halladay, Jon Adkins and Drew Storen to Tyler Skaggs, Kevin Gausman and Noah Syndergaard, the Ohio Warhawks have an impressive list of pitching alumni.
This year's group features two of the pitchers generating the most buzz at Perfect Game's World Wood Bat Championship: righthanders Carlos Salazar from Kerman (Calif.) High and Jordan Sheffield from Tullahoma (Tenn.) High.
Every year, there's a handful of players—mostly pitchers—that skip out on the World Wood Bat Championship because they're shut down for the offseason, nursing injuries or catching up on school work. That typically opens the door for other players to catch scouts' eyes. Salazar hasn't been a secret—his name has circulated for a little while now—but he hasn't been to many events this summer, so a small army migrated to the Ohio Warhawks' first game on Saturday to see Salazar start. Even his own team lined up along the fence to watch his pregame bullpen session.
A short, stocky righthander, Salazar is about 6 feet tall and around 200 pounds. There was some buzz leading up to his start that he touched 98 mph a couple weeks ago in the Fresno area.
"Today was a little different," Salazar said. "I'm a kid from a small city and seeing that many scouts behind the plate was a little frightening, but after the first inning I got over it and back in the zone. I went out there with my same routine and didn't change anything."
Salazar sat 93-95 mph in the first, but had trouble finding the strike zone. He was around the zone, but not in it as much as he would've hoped.
JUPITER, Fla. — Randy Taylor is a scout in Texas for the Rangers. He is the point man for the Lone Star State's Area Code Games team and is also in charge of choosing players for the Texas Scout Team Yankees, a team that is always loaded at the World Wood Bat Championship every year. Those two teams this year have a lot of the same players and scouts were eager to get another look at righthander Casey Meisner this afternoon after he touched 92 mph in Long Beach, Calif.
Meisner, who attends Cypress (Texas) Woods High, has a tall, slender frame at 6-foot-7 and 185 pounds. Typically, pitchers that big have difficulty keeping everything in-line to the plate and in a good rhythm, but Meisner showed good athleticism and body control for his size.
The ball comes out of his hand fairly easily and he showed a business-like demeanor on the mound.
Meisner, a Texas Tech recruit, threw his fastball on a firm, downhill plane. It started out in the 88-90 mph range, but he settled in around 85-87. He mixed in a mid-70s curveball, but wasn't getting full extension out front and was getting under the pitch a little bit. His circle changeup is still a work in progress and it sat in the low 80 mph range.
JUPITER, Fla. — After the first day of the World Wood Bat Championship was cut short, the second day got off to a late start with heavy rains and strong winds whipping through the area. Scheduled to start at 8 a.m., games finally got rolling around noon and players and scouts battled through intermittent rain the rest of the day.
While a lot of scouts called it a night before the final slate of games started—after 9:30 p.m.—they stuck around long enough to line up several rows deep to see Casey Shane pitch for the Houston Banditos. He pitched four innings, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out six.
Shane is a big-bodied righthander from Centennial High (Burleson, Texas) that stands at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. His fastball is a nasty pitch that sits 89-93 mph with heavy sink and run. He also mixed in a low-80s breaking ball and mid-80s changeup that featured good sink and fade. The breaking ball flashed tight break, but he only threw it a a couple times and has a slider as well. [...] Continue Reading »
JUPITER, Fla. — DBacks Team BC has plenty of intriguing talent—for the 2013 draft and beyond.
As a fellow Canadian with a similar build and athleticism, it's easy for scouts to compare Tyler O'Neill to Brett Lawrie. O'Neill, who attends Garibaldi SS in Maple Ridge, B.C., doesn't have quite as much power as Lawrie had at the same stage, but he's very strong and shows explosive bat speed with a balanced, simple approach. He's an above-average runner with a 6.75-second 60-yard dash time and has at least average arm strength. O'Neill plays catcher for the same travel team that produced Lawrie—the Langley Blaze—and recently became a member of the Canadian Junior National Team, where he plays shortstop.
The similarities don't end there.
"He even walks like Lawrie," DBacks Team BC manager Doug Mathiesen said with a chuckle. Mathiesen is a Canadian scout for the Diamondbacks and has known O'Neill for about four years as the general manager of the Blaze program.
It's true. O'Neill exudes the same type of swagger as Lawrie and is clearly in a good mind set as he confidently approaches the plate.
"He's a hard-nosed kid," Mathiesen said. "He loves the game and loves to hit. Certainly, the makeup's all there. He's a good kid."
[...] Continue Reading »
LAKELAND, Fla.—Now in its 31st year of existence, the Florida Diamond Club Showcase displays the Sunshine State’s elite high school talent. Some of the most recent participants include major leaguers Tyler Pastornicky, Casey Kelly, and Todd Redman and a remarkable 54 members of the 2012 draft including first-round selections Mike Zunino, Albert Amora, Nick Travieso, and Brian Johnson.
And while high profile talents like Oscar Mercado, Nick Longhi, Brian Navaretto, Taylor Blatch, and Chris Okey made their presence felt throughout the weekend, a relatively unheralded outfielder stole the show in the showcase’s finale on Sunday afternoon.
Josh Greene, a 5-foot-10, 160 pound Forest High (Ocala, Fla.) product went 2-for-4 with a walk to help his North team defeat the East squad 4-1.
“I don’t go to that many showcases,” said Greene. “This is one of my major showcases. The talent here is amazing.”
Despite not being a regular on the showcase scene, the speedy leadoff hitter felt comfortable enough in to start off Sunday’s game with a bunt for hit attempt.
“I just play my own game,” Greene said. “I don’t try and get big and hit home runs because I know that is not me. I’ll try to get a bunt down and keep in the infield to show off my speed. That is probably what I’m here for.”
PEORIA, Ariz. – The 2012 Arizona Senior Fall Classic came to a close on Sunday, but not before six teams got the chance to take the field inside the stadium at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Game One featured the SC Mariners Scout Team, a Southern California team organized by scouts, and the NW Mariners Scout Team, a similarly built team based out of Washington that has historically been one of the stronger teams at the Classic.
Taking the mound for the SC Mariners was right-hander Tyler Mahle out of Westminster (Calif.) High. Mahle, who is committed to UC Santa Barbara (where his brother Brandon goes), tossed three scoreless innings, working off an 86-88 mph fastball with good life and an inconsistent but developing 68-73 mph curveball.
PEORIA, Ariz. – With three days in the books, the 2012 Arizona Senior Fall Classic has been dominated by talent from the Four Corners region.
On Saturday, a pair of Colorado arms took the mound in front of dozens of scouts, establishing their cases as worthwhile follows this spring.
Derik Beauprez from Cherry Creek (Colo.) High was first to toe the rubber. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander pitched 88-91 mph today, but struggled with fastball control throughout and appeared to be overthrowing. A Miami commit, Beauprez flashed a 70-72 mph curveball with good shape and a deceptive 77 mph changeup.
According to an American League scout on hand, Beauprez shows good upside but is a clear work in progress.
“He looks the part," the scout said. "He’s a good athlete and the arm works but he just needs to improve his consistency in the strike zone. It’ll all come down to how he comes out in spring. He’s going to have to improve but there is a lot of stuff to like.”
[...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz. — For the second straight day, pitching talent was in abundance at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic as many west coast teams made their showcase debuts.
The SC Rays Scout Team, a Southern California regional team with a rich history at the Fall Classic, ran out a slew of impressive arms over two games Friday afternoon.
Lefthander Bernando Flores from Baldwin Park (Calif.) High stood out in the first, displaying an impressive three-pitch mix. The 6-foot-4, 170-pounder sat in the 86-88 mph range with good downhill plane, mixing in a developing changeup and 72-74 mph curveball with good depth.
6-foot-2, 178-pound righthander Greg Harris started game two for the Rays. The Oregon commit struggled through his first inning of work, allowing a pair of hard hit balls, but looked dominant in his second frame, striking out five of the six hitters he faced, as the teams agreed to play five-out innings to get players more looks. Harris showed tremendous command of an 88-90 mph fastball, touching 92 with late fade. He mixed in a 66-67 mph curveball with good depth and a deceptive 79 mph changeup.
Righthander Tyson Miller from Shadow Hills High in La Quinta, Calif., followed. At 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, Miller has a very projectable frame that he uses well, staying tall throughout his delivery with good extension. He showed a solid two-pitch mix—pounding the zone with an 87-89 mph fastball and 75-76 mph curveball with great depth.
[...] Continue Reading »
PEORIA, Ariz. — The Arizona Senior Fall Classic kicked off Oct. 11 at the Peoria Sports Complex, home of the Mariners and Padres spring training facilities in Peoria, Ariz.
While teams from the Four Corners, California and the Pacific Northwest typically dominate the event, it was a matchup between two teams from Hawaii that drew one of the largest crowds of the day.
After impressing at the Area Code Games in Southern California back in August, a trio of Hawaii commits—infielder Kean Wong, catcher Iolana Akau and outfielder Marcus Doi—stood out again Friday, showing off their abilities both in the field and at the plate.
Wong, who attends Waiakea HS in Hilo Hawaii, is the younger brother of Cardinals infielder Kolten. He displayed a quick bat, smooth stroke and feel for hitting with a sharply hit line drive into centerfield in his lone plate appearance.
[...] Continue Reading »
With the regular season in the books, the 2013 draft order is now set. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, only the first 10 picks are protected. This offseason is the first after the elimination of the Type A/Type B free-agent compensation system. The only free agents subject to compensation will be those who are offered contracts equal to the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in the game as they enter the free-agent process. Players also have to be with a team for an entire season to be subject to compensation. A team that signs one of those free agents will give up its first-round pick (though it will disappear rather than go to the former club) and the player’s previous team will gain a pick at the end of the first round.
This will also be the order of how much each team has to spend internationally. These numbers likely will shift some when teams start signing free agents, but here's how the first three rounds shape up right now:
7. Red Sox
9. Pirates (for failure to sign 2012 first-rounder Mark Appel)
10. Blue Jays [...] Continue Reading »
The New York Yankees dropped their Thursday, August 16th matinee with the Texas Rangers, 10-6, but baseball in the Bronx was far from over. Just an hour after the big leaguers left the field, 32 high schoolers spread around the diamond to kick off the fourth-annual Summer Rivalry Classic.
In recent years, the Rivalry Classic—a one-game showcase in which players don the spring training jerseys of the Yankees and Red Sox—has become a favorite of scouts in the Northeast. The event marks a final chance for evaluators to watch players before they head back to school. This year, Yankees Northeast area scout Matt Hyde, alongside Anne Marie Yastrzemski, the daughter-in-law of Red Sox great Carl, organized the event.
“This is the fourth year that we’ve did it, and it all came to be as a result of Anne Marie Yastrzemski as kind of an addition to the Area Code games in the Northeast,” Hyde said, who managed the Yankees team. “It’s kind of grown into an event held in Yankee Stadium or in Fenway Park—we’ve had it both places—where the best players in the Northeast can play against each other. With the Area Codes and East Coast Pro Showcase, there are some guys that may not have made those teams, but we have heard about or we’ve seen and we want to get another look at. I think what [the Summer Rivalry Classic] does well is it gives us one more look at these guys.”
Scouts around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic selected the two teams, providing plenty of East Coast talent to the game, but the event has attracted greater geographic diversity with time. Whereas four years ago the rosters were entirely filled with cold-weather prospects, this year seven players made the cross-country trip to play in Yankee Stadium.
[...] Continue Reading »
LONG BEACH, Calif.—In addition to being the home of the Area Code Games for a week every summer, Blair Field serves as Long Beach State's home field during the spring. Over the last two seasons, the Dirtbags and their opponents have hit just seven home runs at Blair.
In 17 games over five days at the Area Codes, high school players swinging wood bats have hit as many home runs—seven—as college players swinging metal bats hit at Blair in 57 games over the last two years.
Last year, just two home runs were hit at the Area Codes. Andrew Knepper of ESPN HS has been involved with putting on the games for the last eight years, and he said the most homers he can remember being hit at the games in one year is four. But he has a good notion why power numbers have spiked this year: the weather has been much hotter and drier than usual, so the marine layer that usually hangs over Blair Field in the morning and evening has been absent.
On Thursday, a breeze blowing out to left field for part of the day was also a factor. But while the wind might have helped Conner Simonetti's opposite-field shot leave the park Thursday, Jacob Gatewood (Clovis, Calif.) needed no aid from the elements. His three-run homer for the Northern California Athletics was a no-doubter off the bat—and it left scouts buzzing.
With his team trailing Simonetti's Yankees 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning, the righthanded-hitting Gatewood came to the plate with two on and two out. Righty Jesse Roth tried to bust him up and in with a fastball, but the 6-foot-5 Gatewood got his arms extended and launched a towering, majestic blast down the left-field line. It came off the bat at 107 mph, according to TrackMan, and finally landed on the road beyond the wall, taking a high bounce over the DeMarini pickup parked on the other side of the street and hitting the chain-link fence beyond that.
"I knew I got it," Gatewood said. "It was a fastball up and in. I kind of like that pitch—right in the wheelhouse. The at-bat before, I was kind of flying open. So I wanted to make sure that I kept my shoulder in and make sure I was striding back toward the pitcher. It ended up working out for me, strategy-wise." [...] Continue Reading »
LONG BEACH, Calif.—Pitching held up better Wednesday at the Area Code Games than it did on Tuesday, but there was still one football score (White Sox 18, Nationals 11) in a game that included the fifth home run of the tournament—a 431-foot blast to left-center by Arkansas commit Jonathan Denney. Denney's three-run shot came on a fat 90 mph fastball from Jordan Parnell, and exited his bat at 107 mph according to the folks at TrackMan (see Conor Glassey's explanation of TrackMan's technology here).
That was the most electrifying moment of the day, but Denney wasn't even the top offensive performer on this own White Sox team. That honor went to 2013 shortstop Andrew Rosa (Owasso, Okla.), who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and seven RBIs. Together, Rosa and Denney helped lead the White Sox back from a seven-run first-inning deficit.
Rosa got the White Sox on the board with a two-run single to right field in the second. He added a three-run double that one-hopped the left-field wall in the third, then ripped a two-run double down the left-field line in the fourth. All of his hits came on fastballs.
"I felt pretty good," said the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Rosa. "I got in good fastball counts, saw the ball pretty well and put a good bat on it. I feel like i've got a good strike zone and I know my zone pretty well. I like to get in good counts—there are a lot of good curveballs out here that you want to stay away from."
Rosa, an Oklahoma State commit, is a good athlete who is still learning the nuances of shortstop, which he did not start playing until high school (he was a second baseman previously). He did commit a throwing error in the first inning, and his internal clock isn't always on point, but he said he is gaining confidence and getting more comfortable at short the more he plays there.
He certainly looked comfortable in the batter's box. [...] Continue Reading »
LONG BEACH, Calif.—Three days into the Area Code Games, teams have already hit four home runs at spacious Blair Field—double the homer total for the entire six-day event in 2011.
Offense was abundant Tuesday, as two games turned into blowouts and every team scored at least three runs. Arizona recruit Michael Hoard (Tucson, Ariz.) set the tone for the day with a two-run homer to right field in the first inning of the first game, a 4-3 win for the Reds over the Athletics.
That was the third homer of the Area Codes; the fourth came when Rangers first baseman Garrett Luna (Magnolia, Texas) pulled a solo shot down the left-field line in an 11-4 win against the Nationals. It was the continuation of a strong week for Luna, who has played strong defense at both infield corners and driven the ball to both sides of the field (he had a double to right field Monday).
On a day when bats overshadowed arms, the top pitching prospect to take the mound Tuesday really stood out. Stephen Gonsalves (San Marcos, Calif.), a San Diego commit, started for the Brewers against the Royals and breezed through three scoreless innings, striking out five and allowing just one hit. Loose and projectable at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, Gonsalves pitches downhill with an 88-92 mph fastball, which he commanded extremely well to both corners. He used the heater as the putaway pitch on four of his five strikeouts.
"He did a great job pitching at the knees with his fastball," said Brewers manager Josh Belovsky, a scout for Milwaukee. "He was having a little trouble getting his split-finger over, and the curveball, he had a little better command of that. We talked after that second inning and said, 'Hey, if no one's really touching that fastball, you can live off that.' So he kind of breezed through that third inning a little better and kind of banged that split." [...] Continue Reading »
LONG BEACH, Calif.—Rising seniors typically headline the Area Code Games, but the games also give precocious underclassmen opportunities to make names for themselves. Alexander Jackson took full advantage of that opportunity Monday.
A catcher/outfielder in the class of 2014, Jackson (Escondido, Calif.) provided all the scoring in Monday's most compelling game at Blair Field, a 2-0 victory for the Brewers (Southern California) against the White Sox (Midwest). And he did it as a reserve.
While big-name teammates like Jeremy Martinez, Dominic Smith and Colin Winters went hitless, the righthanded-hitting Jackson ripped a double to left field against Florida recruit Logan Shore in his first at-bat in the fifth inning, then scored two batters later to break a scoreless tie. Then, in the seventh, Jackson launched a solo homer (just the second homer of the first two days of the Area Codes) to left off lefthander Matthew Gatewood. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Jackson impressed scouts with his quick hands and ability to pull balls with authority.
"I was just looking for pitches to hit. Opposite-field hits are just as good as pull hits," Jackson said. "It's a really good feeling, knowing I was able to help my team out by hitting a home run. Everything about it, it's just an amazing feeling."
The two teams combined for just five hits in the game, and Jackson had two of them in his only two at-bats. Otherwise, pitching was the story. [...] Continue Reading »
LONG BEACH, Calif.—By the end of the first day of the Area Code Games, scouts were chattering that they'll be spending plenty of time next spring in Sweeny, Texas. So in that sense, Corey Simpson put his home town on the map Sunday.
Simpson, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound righthanded slugger, stole the show at Blair Field in the first day of one of the premier events on the summer amateur circuit. In four trips to the plate, he went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, leading the Rangers (representing Texas and Louisiana) to a come-from-behind 5-4 win against the Reds (the Four Corners and Hawaii).
A first baseman/catcher committed to Houston, Simpson lined a sacrifice fly to center field in the first inning, then drove a fastball into the right-center gap for an RBI double in the third. But he saved his best for last, crushing a towering two-run homer to dead-center on an 89 mph fastball from Ryan Castellani in the eighth. Even college players swinging metal bats seldom hit home runs in spacious Blair Field—to any part of the park—so Simpson's majestic shot to center field with wood drew plenty of oohs and ahhs.
"They'd been throwing me fastballs first pitch every time, and I was taking them the whole time," Simpson said. "So I knew they were going to come with the fastball again. They just left it right down the pike, and I took it yard. To tell you the truth, I really didn't know if it was gone or not."
Everyone else knew as soon as it came off the bat. [...] Continue Reading »
SYRACUSE — While the action on the field is typically great at big showcase events like the East Coast Professional Showcase, the atmosphere in the stands resembles that of a library more than a baseball game. Scouts and coaches scribble down notes and talk quietly amongst themselves, most players have one or two family members there, if that, and there are never any other fans present. So the loud cheers righthander Mark Armstrong received during his outing on Aug. 3 definitely stood out.
Armstrong goes to Clarence (N.Y.) High, about 135 miles west of Syracuse, just outside Buffalo, and had what looked to be about 10 family members at the event, rooting him on.
"It feels really good to face some of the top guys on the East Coast," Armstrong said. "This is a great environment and a great stadium. It's only two hours away, so it's nice to be local and not have to travel to find good competition. So it's overall a great experience to play in this ballpark."
Armstrong said the only other time he had been to Alliance Bank Stadium was to see Bryce Harper play for the Syracuse Chiefs. He threw three innings over two outings at the event without giving up a hit. Armstrong did allow two walks, but picked one of the runners off second base after they stole the bag and struck out five.
[...] Continue Reading »
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