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 »
SYRACUSE — Pitching is in Hunter Harvey's blood.
His father, Bryan, was a two-time all-star closer who spent nine years in the big leagues with the Angels and Marlins. He compiled a career record of 17-25, 2.49 and collected 177 saves. For all pitchers since integration with as many career innings as Harvey (387), only three have a better career ERA: Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner and Jonathan Papelbon.
Hunter, a righthander from Bandys High in Catawba, N.C., also has an older brother, Kris, who was a fifth-round pick out of high school as a catcher and a second-round pick out of Clemson as an outfielder by the Marlins in 2005, but has since converted to the mound as well and is currently in Double-A Altoona, in the Pirates' organization.
At the East Coast Professional Showcase on Aug. 2, Hunter proved to scouts that there will likely soon be a third member of the Harvey family pitching in professional baseball. With his thin, 6-foot-3, 168-pound frame, Harvey has plenty of room to fill out and add strength. His fastball sat in the 89-92 mph range with good downhill plane and he mixed in a 74-77 mph curveball that showed flashes of being a quality pitch and an occasional 79-82 mph changeup.
"I don't use my changeup as much as I probably should," Harvey said. "I usually go fastball-curveball about the whole game. When my curveball's on, I'm a better pitcher. Some nights my curveball isn't where I need to have it, but my fastball usually helps me out a lot."
[...] Continue Reading »
SYRACUSE — The East Coast Professional Showcase has seen plenty of pitchers over the years who were not high picks (or went undrafted) out of high school, but went significantly higher out of college and then reached the big leagues.
Guys like Justin Verlander, David Price, Paul Maholm, Alex White, Mike Minor, Adam Warren and Eric Surkamp all fit this description.
Righthander Andy Ravel from Wilson High in West Lawn, Pa., doesn't have the strength yet to grind through a professional season—though a lot can change between now and draft day. Right now, Ravel has a thin build at 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds and he throws his fastball in the 85-87 mph range.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Ravel is a Phillies fan, so he said it was exciting for him to put on their uniform, as they're the team sponsoring the Northeast players this year.
"You're always watching the games with your dad or brother and your family and you're like, 'I really wish I could put on that jersey and play one day.' And now I have that opportunity," Ravel said. "It's not the Phillies Phillies, but it's a step toward the Phillies and it feels pretty exciting."
Even without present strength and fastball velocity, the Kent State recruit does a lot of things that scouts like to see. He showed good athleticism and a loose, repeatable delivery. Ravel only threw one inning on Aug. 2, but threw a lot of strikes and showed feel for four pitches—his fastball, a 73-74 mph curveball, a 78-79 mph slider and a 78 mph changeup. [...] Continue Reading »
SYRACUSE — All the position players at the East Coast Professional Showcase ran the 60-yard dash on the first day of the event and there's certainly some burners in attendance. Here are the fastest runners, as clocked by scouts. . .
Carlos Williams, of, Covington (Tenn.) HS 6.40
Stephen Wrenn, of, Walton HS, Marietta, Ga. 6.40
Matt McPhearson, of, Riverdale Baptist HS, Upper Marlboro, Md. 6.50
Justin Holt, of, Gulfport (Miss.) HS 6.56
Silento Sayles, of, Port Gibson (Miss.) HS 6.58
Ben Deluzio, ss/2b, The First Academy, Orlando 6.60
Clint Frazier, of, Loganville (Ga.) HS 6.60
Connor Heady, ss, North Oldham HS, Goshen, Ky. 6.63
Terry McClure, of, Riverwood International HS, Sandy Springs, Ga. 6.63
Alex Krupa, of, Greenwood (Ind.) Community HS 6.64
Austin Meadows, of, Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga. 6.64
Chandler Avant, ss, Pike Liberal Arts HS, Troy, Ala. 6.65
Dalton Dulin, ss/2b, Memphis University School 6.65
Donovan May, of, The Tatnall School, New Castle, Del. 6.65
Nick Senzel, 2b, Farragut HS, Knoxville, Tenn. 6.65
Tommy Milone, of, Masuk HS, Monroe, Conn. 6.68
Peyton Attaway, of, Captin Shreve HS, Shreveport, La. 6.69
SYRACUSE – For several years, shortstop Blake Hennessey from Arlington Country Day High in Jacksonville, Fla., thought he was a member of the 2014 class.
Hennessey is age-appropriate for the 2013 class, but after being held back in seventh grade for academic reasons, he just finished his sophomore year of high school. But at the end of the school year, he met with his principal and she agreed to work with him to take extra classes with the hope of graduating a year early and being draft eligible with his age group in 2013.
"It was a hard decision for me," Hennessey said. "I was thinking I was a 2014 and I've got another year. But now. . . I mean, I've worked hard, but now I've got to work extra hard."
With that goal in mind, Hennessey has spent much of his summer on the high school showcase circuit. Here at the East Coast Professional Showcase, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound Hennessey has shown a nice, balanced righthanded swing and good actions in the field.
[...] Continue Reading »
SYRACUSE — While many of the day's top performers at the 2012 East Coast Pro Showcase were players who have already been on the high school showcase circuit for nearly two months, one pitcher opened some eyes as a relative newcomer.
Righthander T.J. McDonald from Village Christian Academy in Fayetteville, N.C., stood out first with his strong but projectable, 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame. His fastball sat in the 89-91 mph range and he touched 92 while also mixing in a sharp 74-77 mph curveball. McDonald threw two perfect innings and recorded four strikeouts.
McDonald said he's enjoying being around the other players and being able to receive instruction from professional scouts.
"It's been fun," McDonald said. "I'm learning some new things and just taking everything in. The scouts have just been telling us to 'play hard' and 'play pro. . . play cocky. Just give everything you've got. Don't hold back and just showcase what you've got.'" [...] Continue Reading »
The final game for this year's Prospect Classic ended in a 6-6 tie, but there were several standout performances. . .
• Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto went 3-for-4 in the game with a double.
"I'm seeing the ball really well right now, especially against some really good pitchers," Conforto said. "I couldn't ask for a better game today and I'm feeling really good."
Hitting well is nothing new for Conforto, who hit .349/.438/.601 as a freshman last season, while leading the Pacific 12 conference in home runs with 13.
"He's got a great swing and. . . when you drive in 76 runs or whatever it ended up being in the Northwest, that's legit," Oregon head coach and Team USA assistant coach George Horton said. "We're in the same state, so we follow each other closely and those RBIs were clutch RBIs, as well. He hit third against right and lefthanded pitchers and, unfortunately, we're going to have to figure out a way to get him out the next couple years, but it's good to have him in my dugout.
"He's a tremendous player who has a bright future."
[...] Continue Reading »
Three games into the 2012 Prospect Classic and the highlights are still about the Collegiate National Team. Aside from a couple lopsided innings in Game Two, the 18U National Team has held its own in the series, but the college players have stood out the most mostly because of their advanced experience and a crop of preps that scouts feel is down from recent years.
Game Three highlights belonged to infielder Trea Turner (North Carolina State) and righthander Bobby Wahl (Mississippi). Wahl was a known entity in high school and ranked 68th on the Preseason High School Top 100 in 2010—just four spots behind Monday starter Adam Plutko (UCLA). But he had a lackluster spring, admitting that he got caught up in the draft talk, and fell to the 39th round. He honored his commitment to Ole Miss and made 18 appearances (one start). He logged four saves and went 0-2, 4.80 with 26 strikeouts, 11 walks and 33 hits allowed in 30 innings. After his freshman season he went to the Cape Cod League and pitched out of the bullpen for Cotuit and went 1-1, 1.23 in 16 appearances with six saves. In 22 innings, he allowed 15 hits and 11 walks while striking out 38. That summer he learned some valuable lessons and took them back to Ole Miss. [...] Continue Reading »
For the second-annual Prospect Classic, USA Baseball decided to mix things up a little bit—literally.
Instead of having two games pitting the College National Team against the 18-and-under hopefuls, the event was expanded to four games—two games with the teams integrated followed by two games in the traditional format.
The first game took place June 29 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and ended with a 2-2 tie after seven innings. As usual, the pitching was ahead of the hitting—especially the college pitchers—and the most impressive arm was lefthanded starter Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga.
Gonzales has an athletic 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. He repeats his effortless delivery well, allowing him to fill up the strike zone. Last year at Gonzaga, he went 8-2, 1.55 with 92 strikeouts and 23 walks over 93 innings.
Gonzales gave up one hit over four shutout innings. He didn't allow a walk and stuck out three.
[...] Continue Reading »
Every young athlete dreams of being featured on SportsCenter.
As the countdown continued on a weekly edition of the Top Ten two Septembers ago, one high schooler got to live that dream.
Andy McGuire watched from James Madison High on his laptop at lunchtime as his own highlight was portrayed across the screen. Instead of being overjoyed, he was overcome with laughter.
The native of Vienna, VA was featured on ESPN’s Not Top Ten as a sophomore for a now-infamous play he made during a football game.
“It was a kick return,” McGuire said. “It carried a little and I ran back, turned around, caught it and there it was, the goalpost. I hit it pretty hard.”
McGuire made a fantastic catch before heading directly into the goalpost and dropping straight to the ground. For what it’s worth, he held onto the ball.
The talented young shortstop looks forward to making it onto ESPN once again in the future, though for something more prominent next time. He’s certainly on the right track, now immersing himself fully into baseball, his No. 1 sport.
He is the first player from Virginia to obtain a scholarship to Texas, an interesting choice considering the options closer to home.
“I visited four schools,” McGuire said. “Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and Texas. I always wanted to go to Texas so when the offer was made, it wasn’t a tough decision. But my dad kind of made me slow down and look at the other schools.
“He wanted me to look at Virginia just because it’s in-state and it’s such a good school, so I looked at that. South Carolina I liked a lot and Florida I liked a lot but Texas was just where I wanted to go.”
Texas has been on the infielder’s mind ever since he went to the school as a young swimming prospect. Before focusing solely on baseball, McGuire was a nationally-ranked swimmer who ended up in the Lone Star State in the interest of college recruitment at age 11.
“My favorite color’s always been orange,” he said. “I went there on a swim camp and I liked it a lot, but not the swimming part…it was a college recruiting swimming camp for the kids and the USA coach was there and they had a lot of Olympic swimmers there. It was ridiculous.
“But I really liked the school after that. I figured that I had to reach out to them [for baseball] because I knew that they don’t really recruit that much out of state, but I guess it worked out for me.”
[...] Continue Reading »
MINNEAPOLIS — King High in Tampa has produced a single-digit draft pick each of the past two years and that streak looks like it will continue after righthander Brett Morales shined on the mound on the second day of the Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome.
Morales had plenty of scouting attention this spring, as he was teammates with White Sox supplemental first round first baseman Keon Barnum. But Morales mostly pitched in relief for the Lions.
“I was a starter, but our second baseman got suspended, so I had to play second base for six weeks because we didn’t have a second baseman,” Morales said. “So then I would relieve instead of starting the game, so I could play second base.”
Morales has been playing baseball his entire life, but he’s mostly been an infielder, moving between shortstop, third base and second base. It wasn’t until this past year that he really started seriously focusing on pitching.
Already, he shows a fastball in the 90-92 mph range and touched 93. He has an athletic, 6-foot-2, 185-pound build and a loose, effortless delivery. Morales mixes in a very good 78-79 mph circle changeup and a mid-70s 12-6 curveball. He pounded the strike zone with all three of his pitches.
[...] Continue Reading »
MINNEAPOLIS — Pitchers come in all shapes and sizes.
That was evident Saturday at the Perfect Game National Showcase in the Metrodome when two pitchers from New Jersey shined in the fourth game of the day.
First was lefthander Rob Kaminsky from St. Joseph Regional High in Montvale, N.J. Kaminsky sat in the 88-90 mph range with good life on his fastball that topped out at 93. He mixed in a sharp curveball in the 76-79 mph range that he threw for strikes and flashed a nice 77 mph changeup too. Kaminsky showed very good command, deception and a real feel for pitching.
One batter was able to reach base on a dropped third strike, so Kaminsky was able to strike out seven batters in his two innings of work.
After the game, a hitter from Florida who faced Kaminsky was overheard telling him: "You were pitching 90-91, but it looked harder than (Nick) Travieso, who was mid-90s."
[...] Continue Reading »
MINNEAPOLIS — Southern California typically has a good number of intriguing prep lefthanders and the 2013 draft class will be no exception.
One of those players will be Chris Kohler from Los Osos High in Rancho Cucamonga.
On the second day of the Perfect Game National Showcase in the Metrodome, Kohler showed a lot of potential. He has a lean, athletic 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. He has a smooth, easy delivery, which helps him fill up the strike zone and he pitches with a quick tempo.
Kohler throws three pitches—a fastball in the 87-89 mph range, a circle changeup between 78-80 mph and a 12-6 curveball in the 72-73 range.
"I pitched pretty good and I felt pretty good," Kohler said after his outing. "I was stoked and was excited. I felt pretty good and I guess it went great."
Kohler has been playing baseball his whole life, but only really started focusing on pitching full-time about two years ago. He is committed to Southern California. [...] Continue Reading »
MINNEAPOLIS — Dalton Dulin's first day at the Perfect Game National Showcase didn't start off as planned.
After travel complications, the middle infielder from Memphis University High didn't even get into Minneapolis until 3 a.m. and had to be at the Metrodome at 9 a.m. for registration. He grounded out in a bang-bang play in his first at-bat, got thrown out trying to steal second as a pinch runner and just missed snagging a hard-hit ground ball up the middle later in the game.
So, after he juiced a triple to deep center field in his second at-bat, it was understandable that Dulin stood up, clapped his hands together and let out a little cheer. He only knows how to play the game at one speed: full tilt.
"My first at-bat, I had a good at-bat and I just battled through it," Dulin said. "I came up with a full count and I hit a ground ball up the middle and unfortunately they got me out. The second at-bat, I knew the guy had some (velocity), so I was just trying to get the bat head out and run, because that's what I like to do."
And Dulin just kept running and making things happen, pulling off a straight steal of home on righthander Juan Carlos Santos from Arlington Country Day High in Jacksonville, Fla., who was pitching out of the windup.
[...] Continue Reading »
After being lights out at the World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla., last fall, righthander Mitchell Traver went into the offseason preparing to have his best year as a senior at Houston Christian High. He lost 10 percent body fat in six months and was ready to go early in the spring. But it turned out to be a rocky season as his velocity was down at times and he had trouble locating pitches. Traver was frustrated because he knew what he was capable of, but couldn't get there and couldn't explain it to scouts.
Now, he knows what was wrong. Traver was examined by Dr. Gregory J. Pearl on May 30 at Baylor University's Division of Vascular Surgery and confirmed a previous doctor's diagnosis of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. If that sounds familiar it's because major leaguers like lefthanders Kenny Rogers and Matt Harrison, and righthanders Aaron Cook and Jeremy Bonderman have all experienced it. TOS is a rare condition that results in pain in the neck and shoulder as well as numbness and tingling in the fingers, and a weak grip—all symptoms that Traver experienced. This happens when blood vessels and nerves traveling through a narrow space near the shoulder and collarbone to the arms don't have enough room.
Traver will have surgery to remove his first rib on June 13 and then will begin rehab. In about six weeks he can start light stretching along with light throwing and expects to be able to long toss and be back at full strength in eight to 12 weeks.
"Literally, the ball felt weird," Traver said. "I started experiencing some forearm and bicep tightness. And my arm slot started dropping. I didn't even notice it. I'm a big video guy. I get in trouble every day in class for watching videos on YouTube. I tried to pitch through it and finally found a way to work through it, but it limited my offerings." [...] Continue Reading »
Two weeks after the state tournament, the top high school players in Florida played in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Classic in Sebring last weekend. The three-day, wood-bat event showcased more than 80 players separated into four regional teams for a day of workouts and two days of games. Several players with early-round potential played at the event including righthanders Zach Eflin and Walker Weickel, as well as shortstop Addison Russell. Fifteen of Baseball America’s Top 250 players competed at Sebring.
After a long regular season, scouts’ opinions on players are unlikely to drastically change in a brief look, but Sebring gives talent evaluators a final opportunity to see Florida’s top talent after as much as much as a four-week layoff following the regular season before Monday’s draft.
“I like making sure people stay healthy and they go out and perform against other talent,” a National League scout said.
After vaulting into the first-round discussion with a strong first few months, Hagerty High (Oviedo) righthander Zach Eflin missed most of April with triceps tendinitis in his right arm. He returned in early May to throw three innings in the state playoffs. His fastball sat in the low 90s and he showcased his above-average changeup and developing low-80s slider at Sebring. [...] Continue Reading »
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