LONG BEACH—Friday saw the most standout defensive plays of any day at the Area Code Games, turned in by a familiar name.
Second baseman Nick Shumpert (Highland Ranch, Colo., HS) made another outstanding play similar to the one he made on day three, which was the defensive highlight of the day, when he ranged to the left of second base to snare a chopper and showed superb body control by throwing across his body to first to get the runner on a bang-bang play. Shumpert made the play look so easy that one scout remarked that play should now be called “a Shump.” Later in the game, Shumpert lined a low-90s fastball up the middle for a single.
• Middle infielder Daino Deas has a similar stance to Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips with a wide base and extended hands. Deas attends Parkview High, Lilburn, Ga., which is 10 miles away from Phillips’ alma mater, Redan, and Deas flashed the leather like the three-time Gold Glove winner by making one of the most athletic plays of the event to field a chopper on the other side of second base and jump throw to nail the runner at first.
• Alex Verdugo (Sahuaro HS, Tucson, Ariz.), who has excelled in every facet of the game at the Area Codes, deserves the defensive player of day five, sponsored by Wilson Gloves, for two outstanding plays in right field. With two outs and a guy on second in the second inning, Verdugo, who threw 96 mph from the outfield at PG National back in June, fielded a single to right and made one of the best throws of the event to hose the runner at the plate. A few innings later, Verdugo made a diving catch on a ball that otherwise would have gone for extra bases down the right-field line with runners on base.
• Although there was not a home run hit on the day, there were a number of hard hit balls that went for three bases. Shortstop Ryan Lillard (Urbandale, Iowa, HS) smoked arguably the farthest-hit ball of the event to dead center. The lefthanded hitting Lillard, who is committed to Kansas State, drove a low-90s fastball an estimated 380 feet to dead center. Lillard has bat speed and a line drive stroke. With an athletic build at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, Lillard has fluid actions and a solid arm in the field.
• Premium speedster Denz’l Chapman, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound outfielder from Los Angeles’ Serra High, turned what appeared to be a double into a triple by motoring around the bases in just over 11 seconds. The uncommitted Chapman, who has posted 60-yard-dash times in the 6.3 second range, is regularly around 4.0 seconds through first base from the left side.
• San Diego commit Kevin Padlo, a righthanded hitter who showed power in batting practice, crushed a ball that one hopped the left-field wall. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Padlo (Murrieta Valley HS, San Diego) has an athletic build and made a diving stop in the field.
• A trio of righthanders from Washington touched low-90s velocity in short stints. Uncommitted 5-foot-9, 145-pound Ky Dye (Cascade HS, Everett, Wash.) has a small frame but quick arm, touching 90 mph and sitting 87-88 with armside run to his fastball from an arm slot above three-quarters. He also has a low-70s curveball with depth and 76-80 mph changeup. Righty Branden Kelliher (Lake Stevens, Wash., HS) sat 88-91 and touched 92. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound San Diego commit has a lean, athletic build and gets downhill plane and movement from a high three-quarter slot. Kelliher, who is on his high school snowboarding team, has a loose, quick arm and has a full arm circle. He has feel for a low-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball with 12-6 break and tight rotation that has the makings of an average offering. At 6-foot-2, 190-pounds, Gage Burland (East Valley HS, Otis Orchards, Wash.) is the largest of the three with an athletic build and broad shoulders. Sitting in the upper-80s and touching 91 with gloveside run and downhill plane from a high three-quarter arm slot, Burland struck out two in his lone inning. With a mid-70s curveball featuring tight rotation and low-80s changeup, the Gonzaga commit has feel for two offspeed offerings.
• UCLA commit Nathan Hadley, an athletic 6-foot, 170-pound righthander from LA’s Loyola High, sat 88-90 mph and touched 91 from a high three-quarter arm slot. He has a bulldog mentality and attacks hitters. Hadley has a quick arm, hides the ball well and shows the ability to throw multiple offspeed pitches, a mid-70s changeup and 72-76 mph curveball, for strikes.
• Righthander Scott Blewett (C.W. Baker HS, Baldwinsville, N.Y.) has a large fame and physicality at 6-foot-6, 210-pounds with more room to fill out. He gets sink on his 88-91 mph fastball that touched 92 in the first inning. The St. John’s commit showed an out pitch curveball with tight rotation at 74-78 mph.
• Precocious Class of 2015 Texas righthander Chris Andritsos (The Woodlands, Texas, HS), who was up to 91 earlier in the event, sat 90-92 mph and touched 93 in his stint for the Texas-based Rangers team.