USA Baseball's National High School Invitational is loaded with prospects. Watch the video below to learn a little more about the lighter side of Max Fried, Luke Sims, Joey Gallo, Courtney Hawkins, Ty Moore and Matt Olson. . .
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." [...] Continue Reading »
DURHAM, N.C.—Catcher Peter O'Brien has been a force for Miami this year. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior is leading the team in nearly every offensive category, hitting .389/.483/.792 for the 16-4 Hurricanes with eight doubles and seven home runs.
O'Brien grew up in Miami and attended Braddock High before spending his first three college years at Bethune-Cookman. He broke out as a sophomore, hitting .386/.445/.748 with 20 home runs, but stepped back a little last year (.304/.382/.557). The Rockies drafted O'Brien in the third round in 2011, but could not come to an agreement.
O'Brien decided to transfer to Miami for his senior season, but his homecoming with the Hurricanes almost didn't happen. He applied for an eligibility waiver from the NCAA because he transferred to be closer to his family—specifically his mother, who was battling health problems. The first batch of paperwork was sent to the NCAA in August and he found out he was denied in December. O'Brien appealed the decision with a conference call and had to wait the entire winter break before hearing the good news that he'd be eligible to play. O'Brien never let the process bring him down.
"I'm a confident guy, so from day one I said I'm going to be playing at Miami this year, for my senior year," O'Brien said. "I gave it 100 percent and knew I was going to be on the field come season time."
From the get-go, O'Brien has been a difference maker for the Hurricanes, both on and off the field.
[...] Continue Reading »
GREENVILLE, N.C. — Scouts up north generally spend a lot of time in the beginning of the season down south. The weather is usually warmer and oftentimes it's a good chance for the scouts to see players from their area take on stronger teams than they'll face once conference play begins.
Both of those conditions were on display this weekend as Stony Brook came down to take on East Carolina. The Seawolves lost three one-run games, but about 30 scouts showed up each day, mostly to take a look at Stony Brook center fielder Travis Jankowski.
Jankowski went 3-for-5 with a double Sunday and is now hitting .370/.469/.593 on the season. He also showed three above-average tools—hitting, speed and defense. Those, along with his good eye at the plate, allow Jankowski to profile as a prototypical leadoff hitter, and that's why he ranked No. 24 on Baseball America's Top 100 list for the 2012 draft prior to the season.
We're posting video of some of the more intriguing draft prospects in the 2012 class. The following is an index of all of the videos we have posted. Byron Buxton is currently rated as our No. 3 draft prospect. Dahl is No. 10. Trahan ranks No. 12 overall. Matt Smoral (No. 13) and Carlos Correa (No. 17) also crack the Top 20. Winker also ranks in the Top 50 (at spot No. 50). and Copeland comes in at No. 98.
|Byron Buxton, OF||Jesse Winker, OF||Alex Bregman, SS/C||Stryker Trahan, C|
|David Dahl, OF||Carlos Correa, SS||Matt Smoral, LHP||Kolby Copeland, OF|
Outfielder Byron Buxton is one of the most exciting prospects in the 2012 draft. A natural athlete who makes things look easy between the lines, Buxton stands 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds. His explosive athleticism and five-tool potential has already led some scouts to compare the Georgia commit to a hybrid of the Upton brothers. This video was provided by our scouting partner, Baseball Factory, and was shot at the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game.
COMPTON, Calif.—Sammy Ayala impressed scouts last June at a showcase event at San Diego State, but many scouts had to wait until this weekend to get another look at him. Ayala is not a darling of showcases or scout ball because he played defensive end for La Jolla Country Day's football team.
Ayala, a UC Santa Barbara recruit, burst back onto the baseball prospect landscape in a big way at Saturday's Southern California Invitational at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy. In his first at-bat, the lefthanded-hitting Ayala ripped a hard line drive to center field against lefthander Max Fried—a potential first-round pick. The ball got by the center fielder and reached the wall, allowing Ayala to motor around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
Ayala followed with an opposite-field RBI single later in the game against righthander Andrew Potter (shown in the video below). And the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Ayala did a solid job receiving and blocking behind the plate. Scouts came away buzzing that Ayala's performance was one of the big stories of the event.
"He's a big, strong-bodied lefthanded guy with some power and some arm strength," said an American League area scout who was in Compton. "He held his own catching; he did enough back there to be in the conversation with the other catchers there. He showed no fear against those guys—he looked like he belonged. And he made hard contact."
Winker has been on the prospect radar for a while. He played travel ball with Dante Bichette Jr. and is high school teammates with another top prospect for the 2012 draft, righthander Walker Weickel at Olympia High in Orlando.
The Florida recruit is a polished lefthanded hitter with big loft power, but his bat will have to carry him, as he's likely a future left fielder or first baseman. He has some arm strength, but is already a below-average runner with a thick lower half.
Winker has great makeup, is a student of the game and has a brother, Joey, in pro ball with the Dodgers.
Bregman put his name on the map by leading the 2010 USA Baseball 16U team to a gold medal by hitting .564/.596/.846. He followed that up by returning for the 2011 18U gold medal run and hitting .378/.500/.459.
As a junior at Albuquerque Academy, Bregman also broke New Mexico's single-season home run record with 18 jacks last year. While he won't be a slugger as a pro, Bregman does pack impressive strength into his 5-foot-11 frame. He has exceptionally quick hands and an extremely efficient, compact swing. He has bat speed, knows how to get leverage and sprays the ball to all parts of the field. So, as New Mexico high schools transition to using wood bats for games this year, Bregman will have no trouble adjusting.
Defensively, Bregman will play anywhere on the diamond. He's fine at shortstop or second base, making all the plays and displaying solid-average arm strength, and he's going to spend about half of his time this spring behind the plate. In brief looks there this summer, Bregman looked comfortable. He moves well and showed strong hands, but needs to work on his throwing mechanics to second base. Bregman is a solid-average runner with good instincts on the bases.
Regardless of where he winds up defensively, coaches, teammates and fans will love Bregman—not only for his knack for putting the bat on the ball, but for his hard-nosed hustle, smart play and quiet swagger.
Here is some video of Louisiana prep catcher Stryker Trahan, who ranks No. 12 in Baseball America's Overall Top 100 list. We profiled Trahan at the Area Code Games this summer and this video is from USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars. Check out Baseball America's YouTube channel for several other videos of players.
With his beautiful lefthanded stroke and five-tool potential, Dahl earned comparisons to Colby Rasmus this summer. He shows excellent balance with a wide stance and his bat speed is evident in his fluid, compact swing. He consistently squares the ball up and projects to hit for both average and power. Dahl has a keen eye at the plate, showing good patience in his at-bats and quiet takes on pitches narrowly out of the strike zone. He's an above-average runner who is smart on the bases, though he's not a burner and it's possible he may wind up fitting better in a corner outfield spot, but he'll at least get the chance to stick in center field. Right field would be an option, as he has a strong arm. Dahl is committed to Auburn.
The second-youngest player in Baseball America's High School Top 100, Correa won't turn 18 until September after the signing deadline. That makes his physical build and present tools even more impressive. Correa has a pro body at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds with a high waist and room to fill out. Despite his large frame, he's light on his feet and shows fluid actions at shortstop with soft hands and above-average arm strength. Correa is a little raw at the plate and is currently a free swinger, but has some strength and hits the ball hard when he makes contact. He's an above-average runner now but may slow down as he fills out. Being a first-round pick this June could keep him away from his Miami commitment.
Smoral has an imposing presence on the mound, standing 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds. His height along with his low three-quarter arm slot from the left side makes him tough to pick up. His stuff doesn't make it any easier for hitters. Smoral throws a fastball in the 89-92 mph range and tops out at 94. Smoral also throws a slider in the 81-84 mph range and a changeup with similar velocity. His low arm slot causes him to sometimes get around his slider, but when he stays on top of it, it's a tight pitch with late break. Like many big pitchers, Smoral is still growing into his frame and learning how to control his delivery. He currently lands a little open and a little stiff, sometimes stumbling off the mound in his follow through. This causes his control to come and go, but when he's on, his stuff is dominating. Smoral has the athleticism to smooth things out. His father, Steve, was a basketball player at North Carolina State, but Matt is committed to North Carolina.
Kolby Copeland has a muscular, athletic build at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. Because he's a fringy runner, Copeland profiles best in right field. His bat should play there, as he has good whip to his swing and some power potential. Copeland uses a big leg kick, but still frequently squares the ball up because his swing is smooth and it stays through the zone a long time. Copeland is uncommitted, but said he is looking for a school that will allow him to play both football and baseball.
New videos of 2011 draft prospects have been uploaded to Baseball America's YouTube page. Click the links below to see videos of the following players. . .
• Taylor Guerrieri, rhp, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C. (National Rank: 10)
• Tyler Beede, rhp, Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass. (National Rank: 35)
• Charlie Tilson, of, New Trier HS, Winnetka, Ill. (National Rank: 80)
• Johnny Eierman, of, Warsaw (Mo.) HS (National Rank: 84)
• Amir Garrett, lhp, Findlay Prep HS, Henderson, Nev. (National Rank: 200)
Guerrieri, Beede & Garrett video taken by Alyson Boyer Rode. Tilson & Eierman video taken by Matt Forman.
Holly Springs (N.C.) High lefthander Carlos Rodon took the mound March 24 in a home game against Green Hope High and about 30 scouts—including several east coast crosscheckers—filled the small set of bleachers behind home plate.
It was a chilly evening at about 57 degrees, but the 10 mph wind gusts made it seem even colder. The weather may have affected Rodon, as he wasn't his best last night.
Rodon entered the season as Baseball America's No. 66 prospect, thanks to his athletic, 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame and the fact that he touched 93 mph this summer.
In last night's game, Rodon started off the first inning with ease, needing only 10 pitches to retire the first three batters with two strikeouts and a ground out to second base.
That inning, his fastball was 87-88 mph and he touched 90 once. But, as the game went on, Rodon's fastball lost it's zip. By the third inning, he was sitting 83-85 mph.
[...] Continue Reading »
Video shot by: Alyson Boyer Rode
Scouts flocked to Southern Pines, N.C. yesterday for a matchup between Forsyth Country Day School (Lewisville, N.C.) and Pinecrest High. Pinecrest's starter was righthander Dillon Maples and he was going up against a loaded Forsyth squad that features five Division I players.
Scouts love matchup games and nearly 50 of them crowded in behind home plate, including a handful of crosscheckers and at least two scouting directors.
Maples sat in the 91-93 mph range with his fastball and touched 95 twice. The pitch had some armside movement, but he had trouble hitting his spots with it, leading to a lot of deep counts. Maples was on a pitch count of 60-75 and the deep counts limited how long he could stay in the game. He threw his curveball for strikes between 78-80 mph, but the pitch was a little slurvy at times.
Maples said he didn't feel like he had his best stuff and I can attest to that, as well. I've seen him at his best. He was dominant during his first outing at the Team USA 18U Trials this summer, with a fastball up to 96 mph and a tight, hammer curveball. He said that's the outing he tries to replicate each time he takes the mound.
"Early in the innings, I wasn't getting ahead with fastballs, so I couldn't establish the breaking ball," Maples said. "But I think later on, I started to get ahead with first-pitch strikes then I could start working in the breaking ball."
Maples wound up going 3 2/3 innings, giving up one run on one hit with two walks and seven strikeouts. He didn't dominate, but it was a solid outing, especially since it was his first official game of the season.
The lone hit Maples gave up was an opposite-field home run to Forsyth's George Carter—normally a first baseman, but the starting right fielder in this game. Maples threw a 91 mph two-seam fastball that caught too much of the plate and Carter destroyed it to left-center for a no-doubt home run. It was a line drive home run that looked to still be rising as it cleared the fence and Carter took his sweet time watching it leave as he slowly jogged to first base.
"I didn't care," Maples said. "The scoreboard says it all. He can pimp it if we win."
[...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America recently posted YouTube videos of three of the top high school hitters in the 2011 class. In this post, Baseball America bird dog scout Dave Perkin breaks down the hitting mechanics of those hitters, outfielder Bubba Starling from Gardner-Edgerton High in Gardner, Kan., catcher Blake Swihart from Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, N.M. and outfielder Josh Bell from Dallas Jesuit High . . .
To obtain a clear picture of proper major league hitting mechanics, view the YouTube video entitled “Manny Ramirez BIG SWING” posted by gdaBASEBALL. It has a running time of 1:45. Pause the clip at 0:21.
As his front toe touches the dirt, Ramirez has reached a pre-swing launch posture. Note that his chin is touching his front shoulder, his back elbow is pointed and he holds the bat in an angled position with his wrists cocked. Manny’s arms have achieved “separation” from his body, allowing them to work independently of his body and clear freely as he swings.
As Ramirez’s front foot lands, it is angled open slightly—to about 45 degrees. His knees are positioned inside of his feet. In his lower half, Manny’s weight is distributed equally on the inside of his thighs, not the outside. All of these fundamentals enable Ramirez to drive the force of his body at the ball (not back or away from it) and generate bat speed. This also keeps his swing on the same plane as the incoming pitch, giving him a much larger area to make contact with the ball.
None of these concepts are new or revolutionary. For proof, enter “Mickey Mantle batting” on YouTube and click on the 24 second clip posted by mrbaseball7. Pause the clip at 0:11 seconds.
Mantle is not as straight up and down in his posture as Ramirez, but all of the other important basics are identical. Note the angled front foot, chin touching shoulder, and, most importantly, Mantle’s cocked wrists, angled bat position and separation. The latter permits Mantle the ability to use a rubber band or slingshot effect in his swing—drawing back and then releasing stored energy.
Now, let’s take a look at the swings of Blake Swihart, Bubba Starling and Josh Bell, three of the most prominent high school prospects in the nation for the 2011 draft. We’ll compare their hitting mechanics to the big league model. [...] Continue Reading »
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. . .
Baseball America took some video of several top 2011 high school prospects at some recent summer showcases, so here is your first look at a few of them.
The first is lefthander Daniel Norris from Science Hill High in Johnson City, Tenn. At the Perfect Game National Showcase, Norris was 92-94 mph with his fastball and showed a nasty, 73-75 mph curveball.
Next is Joe Ross, a righthander from Bishop O'Dowd High in Oakland, Calif. Joe is the younger brother of Tyson Ross, a rookie righthander for the Athletics. Joe throws his fastball in the 91-93 mph range and shows a 78-80 mph curveball and an 82 mph changeup.
Finally, there's Bubba Starling, an outfielder and righthander from Gardner Edgerton High in Gardner, Kan. Starling is also a highly-touted quarterback and it was clear from watching him at USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars that he could be successful in either sports. Starling has a very athletic, 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame and has the potential to be a five-tool player.
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