It's going to be a big week for high school baseball with several big tournaments happening around the country, including the USA Baseball National High School Invitational, but before we look forward, let's take a look at a few highlights from the past week…
• It may have not created the same energy as the Clint Frazier vs. Austin Meadows showdown, but lefthanders Ian Clarkin and Stephen Gonsalves attracted about the same number of scouts in a head-to-head matchup last week. Both were good, but Gonsalves and Cathedral Catholic High (San Diego) came out on top.
• Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) and Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High have become one of the better rivalries on the West Coast. Their first tilt of 2013 came last Wednesday. This one was all Mater Dei as the Monarchs pulled away with five runs in the seventh inning to win 7-0. Righthander Davis Tominaga pitched six innings, allowing one hit and striking out five. He also walked five. Outfielder Brian Soper was 2-for-4 with two RBIs while third baseman Ryan McMahon was 1-for-3 with a run scored and RBI. [...] Continue Reading »
A little more than a week after the top position players squared off, two of the top lefthanders in the country went head to head. San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High and Madison High matched up yesterday in a game that attracted more than 50 scouts.
“Both those kids were pretty pumped to pitch against one another,” said one scout in attendance. “There was a gazillion scouts there and pretty good set of fans, so it was pretty good . . . They’re two of the best high school lefties in the country, so it was good to see them on the same field in good weather.”
The Dons—currently ranked No. 1 in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 25—won 4-1, improving to 7-1. Gonsalves pitched six innings and allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out six. Clarkin exited in the fifth because of a pitch count and finished with a line of 4 1/3 innings, four runs on eight hits, and seven strikeouts. Gonsalves sat 88-90 mph while Clarkin was 90-93, according to John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“They both showed things they hadn’t shown before and overall, I thought they both threw well,” the scout said. “Clarkin’s changeup was better and I didn’t know Gonsalves was as athletic as he was. He’s a pretty athletic kid.”
Clarkin’s curveball is a weapon—one of the best breaking balls in the country.
“That’s the separator between the two,” the scout said. “One’s got a larger, projectable body, the other one’s got a breaking ball now.”
Also top hitters on their teams, Gonsalves went 2-for-4 with a double and Clarkin went 1-for-3. Their hits came off of each other.
This was Cathedral Catholic's last game before heading east for the National High School Invitational. Their lone loss came against Granite Hills High (El Cajon, Calif.). That, coupled with The Woodlands (Texas) High's hot streak, might make them slip out of the top spot, but their pitching depth makes them a strong favorite to win the NHSI, where they could potentially match up with The Woodlands.
The Dons' runs were the first earned run given up by Clarkin this season, who was making his third start. He now has 33 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. Gonsalves has now tossed 16 innings in three starts with 17 strikeouts and six walks.
If Ryder Jones needs a walk-up song to fit his young baseball career, Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere" might be fitting. With roots in the Northwest, Jones has lived in Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma and now North Carolina. But his family isn't affiliated with the military. His father is Billy Jones, the first-year head coach at Appalachian State who spent the last 14 seasons as an assistant at Oregon State, Arizona State and Oklahoma State. With each change in jobs, the Jones family has packed up and moved to a new home, adjusting to the area and people on the fly.
"It was easier when I was little because I didn't get attached to people, but recently it's been a little bit harder," Ryder Jones said. "It's definitely an advantage because my dad is a coach. I'll always have a facility or field to go to, train, and be around players."
Jones, an infielder and righthander, had his most challenging adjustment this year when his father left Oklahoma State to become the head coach for the Mountaineers. After being in Stillwater, Okla., for eight years, the family packed up and moved over the summer, right before Jones was to begin his senior year at Stillwater High. While Ryder Jones was participating in USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars, Billy Jones and his wife, Tiffani, traveled to North Carolina to watch their son play and visit Boone, the small mountain town in which App State is located.
"I had never even been up in the mountains," Ryder said. "I had no clue where it was." [...] Continue Reading »
Here's a look at some highlights from the last week of high school baseball…
• If you went completely off the grid last week, it was bad timing. Outfield prospects Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows matched up in a regular season game, which pitted the top two position players and Nos. 13 and 15 teams from the Top 25 against each other. With both schools—Loganville and Grayson—being in the town of Loganville, Ga., fans came out in droves and the energy was electric. About 1,300 people were at the game, including around 70 scouts—making it arguably the most heavily scouted non-tournament game of the spring. No. 15 Loganville beat No. 13 Grayson 14-4 in a game shortened by the mercy rule. Frazier blasted a monster three-run home run that broke a 3-3 tie and added a two-run shot later. If you missed it, go back and relive it through our coverage. We'll be talking about that one for years.
• After the Grayson-Loganville game, Conor Glassey broke down Frazier and Meadows' tools ($) in an excellent piece that subscribers can read here.
• The same night Frazier and Meadows faced off, two of the Tampa area's top pitchers went head-to-head. Righthanders Brett Morales (King HS, Tampa) and Tyler Danish (Durant HS, Plant City, Fla.) didn't have their best stuff, but still attracted a large number of scouts. [...] Continue Reading »
In a draft class short on hitters, it shouldn't take much for players to move up boards with good springs. Outfielder Billy McKinney topped off a strong summer by ranking 38th on the High School Top 100 in November. When the Draft Top 50 came out a few weeks ago, McKinney had squeezed his way onto the list—at No. 49. There are still several weeks to go until the 2013 draft, but McKinney may not be done climbing.
"In scrimmages I came out and the first guy I saw, I think he was throwing 93 (mph), and I hit a triple down the right field line," McKinney said. "So I just started out hot. I felt like I was flicking my hands better and getting them out front and swinging it well."
McKinney is in a groove right now as his Plano (Texas) West High squad is 7-5 after three weeks of tournaments and one district game. Scouts won't read into stats too much, but in 12 games McKinney is hitting .484 (15-for-31) with nine RBIs and 10 runs scored. [...] Continue Reading »
When two highly rated prospects match up, everyone shows up. General managers, scouting directors, crosscheckers, fans and even opponents that don't have their own game. Often times the hype gets to be too much and the results disappoint, but with one swing of the bat Clint Frazier sent Loganville (Ga.) High's Red Devil Field into a frenzy and the game lived up to expectations.
One well-respected person in the baseball industry put it succinctly: "I've never seen anything like that. And I've seen a lot of (stuff)."
Not only did tonight's matchup between Loganville High and neighboring Grayson High—also of Loganville—pit the top two high school position players against each other, but it also was a contest between the No. 13 and No. 15 teams in the country. Austin Meadows, an outfielder for No. 13 Grayson High, is rated as the top prep prospect for the 2013 draft and at a not-so-distant No. 2 is No. 15 Loganville's Frazier, also an outfielder.
It's tough to say Meadows was disappointing because he didn't see much to hit tonight, finishing 0-for-1 with a walk, hit by pitch and strikeout, but Frazier stole the show in front of around 70 scouts—mostly crosscheckers and above—and hundreds of boisterous fans as the atmosphere rivaled a college basketball game.
Grayson took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning on a sacrifice fly from second baseman Jeril Dawson and solo home run by outfielder Taylor Allum. The Rams then added a run in the fourth when Korey Anderson launched a home run over the road beyond the left field fence. [...] Continue Reading »
We have an extra hour of daylight now and the weather is getting warmer, which means seasons are getting underway further and further north. Here's a couple quick tidbits from the last week of action:
• Cullman (Ala.) High and Russell County High (Seale, Ala.) first matched up on Feb. 23 with Russell County winning 7-5. They didn't catch each other in the LaGrange Invitational, but were back at it on March 9. Cullman prevailed this time by the score of 9-2. Righthander Keegan Thompson pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out eight. His only blemish came off the bat of outfielder Anfernee Grier, who hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Thompson would get redemption though, striking Grier out in his next two at-bats.
• The International Paper Classic was held in Georgetown, S.C. this past weekend and featured the Palmetto State's top team in Lexington High. Unfortunately, we didn't get a showdown between Lexington catcher Nick Ciuffo and Mauldin (S.C.) High righthander Cory Thompson. Lexington won its first two games before falling to Conway (S.C.) High. Senior shortstop/righthander Jordan Gore went seven innings for Conway, striking out nine while allowing one run on seven hits and a walk. A South Carolina recruit, he was reportedly 90-93 mph and showed command of two secondary pitches. Conway's Grant Holmes, a top righthander for 2014, was reportedly 92-95 the day before.
Lexington rebounded after the loss and now stands at 4-1. They will travel north for the National High School Invitational at the end of the month. Conway eventually fell in the IP Classic championship to A.C. Flora High (Columbia, S.C.).
When lefthander Chris Kohler takes the mound, he doesn't light up the radar guns. He comfortably sits in the high 80s, but when you combine his projection, easy delivery and relative freshness, it's easy to dream on his future.
Kohler was mostly a position player until taking the mound as the ace of his freshman team, but during his sophomore year at Damien High (La Verne, Calif.) he didn't pitch in hopes of keeping his arm fresh.
"My dad always wanted to save my arm for high school so I never really pitched in travel ball and middle school," Kohler said. "After sophomore year, going into my junior year, that's when I really started feeling like I was more of a pitcher than a hitter. My arm was getting stronger."
Damien High is a private, all boy Catholic school and Kohler was supposed to have a scholarship to attend. However, he says things didn't work out and his parents couldn't afford for him to go there so he switched to Los Osos High (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.). But the proper paperwork for his transfer didn't get filed so the California Interscholastic Federation denied him from playing his junior season. [...] Continue Reading »
Oscar Mercado is a shortstop from Gaither High in Tampa. He is best known for his defense right now as he has excellent range, soft hands and a plus arm. He has a line drive swing and doesn't project to hit for much power, but he has good bat speed and the foot speed to make a difference on the bases. Mercado has a thin frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, but there's room to add more strength.
Subscribers can read a feature on Oscar Mercado, which includes him talking about moving to the United States from Colombia as an 8-year-old and stepping in as the starting shortstop on his varsity team as a freshman. Below is video of Mercado at the World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla., as a rising junior and at the Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, as a rising senior. Under Armour footage was provided by Alycat Photo & Video Services. [...] Continue Reading »
The high school season isn't quite in full swing, but several states are underway and there's been no shortage of noteworthy games and performances. Here's a quick roundup of what's happened over the last week or so:
• The Woodlands (Texas) High got two no-hitters in its first five games and then followed it up with five more wins. Now 10-0, the Highlanders, who started at No. 10 in the Preseason Top 25, have been led on offense by sophomore sensation Chris Andritsos. A corner infielder and righthander, Andritsos has started the season 13-for-28 (.464) with 13 runs scored, 18 RBIs and four home runs in nine games while going 2-0, 0.57 with 18 strikeouts and two walks in two starts. I talked to one scout over the weekend who saw Andritsos last summer at a tryout for the Area Code Games.
"He had the most raw power of anybody there," he said. "He looks like a 21-year-old."
• The LaGrange Invitational took place in Georgia this past weekend and had plenty to offer as we pointed out last week. The highlight going into the event was a matchup between Cullman (Ala.) High righthander Keegan Thompson and Grayson High (Loganville, Ga.) outfielder Austin Meadows. Thompson is the No. 43 high school prospect in the 2013 class and Meadows is No. 1. Meadows went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk, but reports from the event said he didn't really center any of the hits. Meadows is 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles in his first five games. Thompson got roughed up against Grayson, the No. 9 team in the Preseason Top 25, to the tune of five runs on 10 hits in five innings pitched. He is 1-1, 2.47 in 17 innings with 28 strikeouts and just two walks. An excellent athlete, Thompson is also 10-for-24 (.417) with six doubles, one triple and three home runs. [...] Continue Reading »
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