CHICAGO—After breaking down the National team hitters from the 2017 Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, we take a look at each of the hitters from the American Team.
Today’s installment features breakdowns of the player who won the game for the American Team (Jordyn Adams) and Baseball America’s “Best Hitter” of the game (Jarred Kelenic).
Jordyn Adams | OF | Green Hope High, Cary, N.C.
The hero of the game for the American team, Adams went 2-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout, all the while showcasing above-average speed down the baseline.
His first at-bat of the game was a groundout to first, but Adams made things interesting by getting to the bag in just 4.20 seconds from the righthanded batter's box. His next trip to the plate, Adams managed an infield single, hitting a high chopper after getting on top of a 77 mph curveball from Brandon Neeck and posting a 4.27 home-to-first time.
Adams drew a six-pitch walk against Jaden Hill in the bottom of the sixth after swinging through a 77 mph curve to start the at-bat, and struck out swinging against J.T. Ginn on a 96 mph fastball in the ninth before winning the game two innings later with a single up the middle.
Blaze Alexander | INF | Bishop Verot High, Fort Myers, Fla.
Aside from catchers, Alexander was the busiest position player at the Under Armour All-America game, making plays from shortstop, second and third base—and making them with ease.
The defensive player of the game, Alexander showed off a plus arm from shortstop, an advanced internal clock at second and solid instincts at the hot corner when he decided to tag out a runner leaking off third rather than throw across the diamond—which he would have loved to do.
"I kind of wanted to show off the arm a little bit, I wanted to throw it across, but that was the easier play," he said.
At the plate, Alexander went hitless although he was robbed by a nice defensive play in the bottom of the fifth after he hit a hard comebacker off the leg of Braxton Ashcraft. Playing second base, Jordan Groshans charged the deflected ball and made a slick barehanded play to rob Alexander of a single.
The Florida infielder was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the seventh and flew out to the edge of the warning track in right field during the bottom of the 10th.
Will Banfield | C | Brookwood High, Snellville, Ga.
Banfield caught the first five innings for the American team, and had just two chances at the plate, going 0-for-2.
His first plate appearance was in the first inning against his summer ball battery mate Kumar Rocker, who started the at-bat by throwing Banfield 94 and 95 mph fastballs middle-up in the zone. Banfield swung through both before watching an 82 mph slider go for a ball inside and fouling off a 95 mph fastball to stay alive.
Rocker threw Banfield a filthy, 83 mph slider low and outside next, though, and Banfield swung through it for strike three.
His second at-bat came in the bottom of the 10th, where the Georgia catcher got under a 92 mph fastball from Mike Siani and flew out to right.
Elijah Cabell | OF | The Next Level Academy, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Cabell made it to a swing-off in the home run derby after tying teammate Nolan Gorman with six home runs in the first round, but he couldn't send one over the fence during the 30-second tiebreaker.
He did show power in-game, though, hitting a one-out double over the head of Joe Gray Jr. in right field in the seventh inning. Cabell went with a 91 mph fastball up and away out of the hand of Champlain, showing his ability to hit with authority to the opposite field.
He grounded out back to the pitcher in his first at-bat, colliding with Triston Casas at first on the play, and struck out swinging over an 80 mph curveball from Ashcraft in the bottom of the fifth.
Mason Denaburg | RHP/C | Merritt Island (Fla.) High
An interesting prospect as both a righthander and a catcher, Denaburg toed the rubber in the top of the second and threw a scoreless inning after getting himself out of a jam that started with a leadoff single from Noah Naylor and a walk from Denzel Clarke.
Denaburg did not get any at-bats.
Nolan Gorman | INF | Sandra Day O’Connor High, Phoenix, Ariz.
Gorman showed plus raw power from the left side in the Under Armour All-America Home Run Derby, winning the event with 13 total home runs, including essentially a buzzer-beating blast in the finals to beat Nander De Sedas, 6-5.
Gorman was also one of two batters who went deep to straightaway centerfield at Wrigley during the derby, along with Casas.
Gorman performed well in-game at the plate, too, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He grounded into a fielder's choice in his first at-bat and drew a six-pitch walk in his second against Neeck.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gorman fell victim to Hill's changeup (which flashed plus potential during the game), swinging through a 78 mph version of the pitch on the outside corner. However, Gorman redeemed himself two innings later when he singled up the middle off of a 95 mph Ginn fastball—the only player who managed a hit off the righthander.
Ben Harris | LHP/OF | Milton (Ga.) High
Harris had two at-bats Saturday night, and also pitched a 1-2-3 third inning.
He walked once against Hill and then stole second base, and struck out in the bottom of the seventh after Chandler Champlain dropped in a 75 mph backdoor curve.
Jeremiah Jackson | INF | St. Luke’s Episcopal, Mobile, Ala.
Jackson had a relatively quiet day at the Under Armour All-America Game, going 0-4 with one strikeout, a pair of groundouts and a fly out.
During his first at-bat, Jackson grounded into a 5-4-3 double play against Ryan Weathers, running to first base in 4.62 seconds. His second groundout was to second base, and it might have squeaked through for a hit if Raynel Delgado hadn't covered as much ground as he did to the first base side. On this occasion, Jackson hit first in 4.26 seconds.
His strikeout came in the bottom of the fifth inning against Braxton Ashcraft, who finished him with an 80 mph breaking ball low in the zone. Against Ginn in the bottom of the ninth, Jackson flew out to center after a mid 90s fastball ran back in on his hands and broke his bat.
Jarred Kelenic | OF | Waukesha (Wisc.) West High,
Kelenic appears to be one of the best hitters in the 2018 high school class and showed why Saturday night, winning Baseball America's "best hitter" superlative after a 1-for-3 game with a pair of walks.
He scored the winning run for the American team after drawing a six-pitch walk against Siani in the bottom of the 11th to lead off the inning. His sole hit of the game came when he jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Hill in the bottom of the sixth, shooting a 92 mph fastball backside through the 5.5 hole.
Kelenic was one of the few batters to use the entire field effectively in Thursday's batting practice at Northwestern, and that approach carried over to the Saturday night's game. Additionally, Kelenic went 1-for-2 in steal attempts, including a 3.35-second steal time in the sixth.
Kody Milton | INF | Severna Park (Md.) High
Milton played the first five innings of the game at first base, and went 1-for-2 at the plate. His first at-bat came against Ryan Weathers in the second inning, and after swinging through a 93 mph fastball to start the at-bat, Milton singled passed a diving Groshans at third base on a 92 mph fastball.
His second at-bat came in the bottom of the fourth, when Brandon Neeck struck the Maryland infielder out with an 88 mph low fastball.
Kameron Ojeda | C | St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif.
Ojeda caught from the sixth inning on, and had two at-bats, where he grounded out back to the pitcher on both occasions. Ojeda's plate appearance in the bottom of the seventh vs. Champlain was cut short in a 2-2 count after a runner was picked off to end the inning.
An energetic personality off the field, Ojeda won the game's Gatorade "G" award for his effort and hustle.
Alek Thomas | OF | Mt. Carmel High, Chicago
Thomas—who plays high school ball just 15 miles away from Wrigley—led the game off for the American team with an infield single, getting on top of an 89 mph changeup from Kumar Rocker. The play potentially could have been ruled an error, as Jordan Groshans bobbled the ball initially, but Thomas' 4.11-second run time would have made things difficult regardless.
Thomas grounded out to second in his second at-bat (he ran to first in 4.26 seconds this time) and struck out in the bottom of the 10th after looking at a 76 mph curveball from Siani on the inner half.
The athletic outfielder showcased his defensive abilities in the second inning with a diving catch to shallow centerfield, robbing Groshans of a single. Whether because he got a bad initial read, or because Groshans' ball had a lot of topspin, Thomas made an impressive adjustment during the ball's flight and showed good closing speed to make the catch.
Bobby Witt Jr. | INF | Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High
The 2019 shortstop had just two at-bats during the game as one of two underclassmen at the event (along with Rece Hinds), striking out in his first at-bat against Hill in the sixth inning and softly lining out to second base on a 95 mph fastball from Ginn in the bottom of the ninth.
During workouts, Witt Jr. showed advanced actions up the middle with soft glove work both in the hole and up the middle, and also displayed some power to the opposite field in Thursday's Northwestern batting practice.