It was a sweltering 100 degrees in Cary, N.C. today for the second day of USA Baseball's Tournment of Stars. Players, scouts and parents were dripping with sweat from the first pitch at 10 a.m. until the final out of the fourth game close to 6 p.m. Despite the oppressive heat, a couple players stood out today. . .
The star of the first game was outfielder/righthander Bubba Starling. Starling is a two-way threat and one of the best athletes in this year's class. He had a great day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two triples.
Starling is proof that, if you're good, scouts will find you. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder hails from Gardner Edgerton High in Gardner, Kan., a town of about 10,000 near the Kansas-Missouri border.
At this point, Starling said he doesn't have a preference on playing a position or pitching, but it's looking like he's better suited as a position player and is a potential five-tool guy.
"I love doing both," Starling said. "Whatever happens happens in college or wherever. I'm just excited to be out here."
Starling also took the mound for two innings, sitting 88-91 mph with his fastball and a 77-78 mph breaking ball. He didn't give up a hit, but did give up a run after he walked RBI outfielder Desmond Henry to start the seventh inning. Henry is very fast and stole second and third before scoring on a sac fly. Over the two innings, Starling issued the one walk (to Henry) and struck out one. He said he felt good on the mound, but admitted he has some kinks to iron out—which is not uncommon for a three-sport athlete from an area that isn't a baseball hotbed.
"I've never had a pitching coach," Starling said. "So my coach today was like, 'Do you know what you're doing out there? Your mechanics suck.' And I was like, 'Well, I've never had a pitching coach, man.' He said I threw good and everything, I just have to work on my mechanics. I'm just pretty busy with both baseball and football and then I play basketball too, so it's never-ending."
Starling is also a standout quarterback that recently gave a verbal commitment to Nebraska.
The PONY team has several outstanding prospects and it's easy to be overshadowed by the likes of Lance McCullers, John Simms, A.J. Vanegas and Jesse Winker, but righthander Parker French had a good outing today that surely sat well with the scouts in attendance.
In the final game of the day, French sat comfortably at 90-92 mph with his fastball and touched a 93, though he did lose a little velocity after a few innings, sitting more 88-90. His fastball had some life to it and he located it fairly well. He did get stuck with the loss, which was mostly a product of leaving his fastball up a couple times. French is a little unordinary for a high school arm as his changeup is his second-best pitch. It sits 80-81 and has very good movement to his armside, though he tends to slow his arm a little on the delivery. He flashed a sharp curveball, but says the pitch is a work in progress.
"I'm trying to develop the curveball so I have a third pitch to go to," French said. "I've been working on a two-seamer as well. My coach emphasized a changeup when I was eight years old. It's real big feel pitch. It's hard for most kids, but if you get the feel for it, it works."
In four innings of work, French allowed two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out four. He is verbally committed to Texas.
• AABC shortstop Tony Wolters went 2-for-2 today, but left the game early with some blisters on his foot.
• PONY shortstop Francisco Lindor made the best defensive play of the event, so far, with a great diving catch of a line drive up the middle.
• American Legion first baseman Daniel Vogelbach went 3-for-3 today with a home run.
• Babe Ruth lefthander Henry Owens didn't allow a hit and struck out four over his three innings of work. He sat 88-91 mph with his fastball, showed a 67-72 mph curveball and a 77-78 mph changeup.
• There are no games tomorrow, it is a workout day with 60-yard dashes and simulated BP sessions.
CONTRIBUTING: Conor Glassey
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