LONG BEACH, Calif.—Here are some of the top storylines from Day Four of the Area Code Games:
• For the second straight year, the Southern California Brewers earned a one-run victory against the Northern California Athletics. The A’s started intriguing righthander Mitch Hart (Roseville, Calif.), a Southern California recruit with a lean, projectable 6-foot-4 frame and a quality three-pitch mix. Hart figures to add velocity to his 87-89 mph fastball as he fills out, but he already has the ability to command the pitch and isn’t afraid to pitch inside against lefthanded hitters. He also has a good 79-82 mph changeup with good fade and arm speed, and a tight 73-75 curveball with 11-to-5 break.
But the Brewers jumped on him for two runs in the first, highlighted by an RBI double to left-center by physical cleanup man Chris Betts (Long Beach). Hart settled down to work two scoreless innings thereafter, but the Athletics tacked on two more runs against righty Matthew Trask (Davis, Calif.) in the fourth and held on for a 4-3 win. Trask, a strong-bodied 6-foot-6 righty, worked at 87-88 and touched 90 and featured an effective 76-77 changeup against both righties and lefties, but he’ll need to tighten his 70-72 curve.
• The Brewers employed six arms in the victory, but the last two were the most impressive of the bunch Thursday. Six-foot-7, 220-pound righty Tylor Megill (Seal Beach, Calif.), the younger brother of Loyola Marymount junior Trevor Megill, worked downhill with an 88-90 fastball and effectively mixed in a big-breaking 72-74 curveball, which he used to get a called third strike to end his 1-2-3 inning. On the opposite end of the physical spectrum, 6-foot-1, 165-pound righty Jonathan Teaney (Palmdale, Calif.) showed a quick arm and an aggressive approach, attacking hitters with an 88-91 fastball and a sharp power slurve at 76-79. He struck out the final two batters of the game on a 91 mph heater and a 78 mph breaking ball. Teaney is committed to San Diego.
• Oregon signee Tim Susnara (Redwood City, Calif.) of the Athletics has proven himself as one of the top defensive catchers in the field, demonstrating good agility, receiving skills and blocking ability. He also flashed a sub-2.0-second pop time and good accuracy on a stolen-base attempt. Susnara also delivered at the plate, driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second and singling to left in the fourth.
• Reds catcher Michael Blasko (Henderson, Nev.) also had a strong Thursday against the Nationals. Blasko singled to center in his first at-bat and ripped a two-run single to center on an 88 mph Brigham Hill fastball in the sixth. At 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, Blasko isn’t imposing, but he has a promising line-drive bat, and he has consistently produced pop times around 2.0 seconds behind the plate.
• We raved about Alex Verdugo (Tucson) as a pitching prospect earlier this week, but we have heard scouts engaging in lively debate over whether he is a better prospect off the mound or as a position player. Verdugo is an average runner who defends well in the outfield (where his arm is a major asset), and his compact lefthanded swing produces consistent hard contact. He smacked a curveball off Hill’s foot for a single in the sixth inning, then squared up a left-on-left curve to right field against Parker Mushinski in the seventh, but the stiff breeze blowing in knocked it down for a harmless flyout. Verdugo, an Arizona State commit, is easily one of the most exciting players at the Area Code Games.
• The Reds nearly came back from an 8-1 deficit with seven runs in the sixth, but the Nats held on for the 8-7 win. Raphael Ramirez (Atlanta) continued to wreak havoc, walking twice and stealing second base both times. Florida commit Jeremy Vasquez (Palm City, Fla.) impressed scouts with his mature approach and the strength in his lefthanded swing, driving a triple to the opposite field, one-hopping the fence. And 2015 catcher Alex Webb (Columbia, Tenn.) pulled a two-run single to right in the third and showed promising blocking skills behind the plate.
• The Yankees have played well all week, and scouts agree that their roster is more talented than it was a year ago. As Clint Longenecker detailed, lefthander Bennett Sousa (North Palm Beach, Fla.) was the most impressive pitcher of Day Four, and 6-foot-7, 220-pound righty Andrew DiPiazza (Bayville, N.J.) also performed well. An Alabama recruit, DiPiazza struck out two in his two hitless innings of work, showcasing a promising three-pitch mix. He figures to add velocity to his 85-87 mph fastball as he matures, but he already commands the pitch well, and he mixed in his 72-75 curve and 78 mph changeup effectively. He was followed by Stanford commit Colton Hock, a projectable 6-foot-4 righty with an 86-88 fastball and a solid 75-78 slurvy breaking ball. Hock, who gave up a run in his two innings of work, showed occasional sink on his fastball, but the pitch flattened out up in the zone at times, and the Royals took advantage.
• Shortstop Isan Diaz (Springfield, Mass.) also showed well for the Yankees. Diaz has plenty of life in his compact 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame, and he demonstrated good body control and the ability to make accurate throws on the run at shortstop. The lefthanded hitter also has a good feel for his barrel, and he inside-outed a line-drive single to left field in the fourth.
• Center fielder Branson Trube (Meridian, Idaho) had the best showing for the Royals. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound righthanded hitter pulled a 91 mph Sousa fastball through the left side for a single in his first at-bat, and he made two strong, accurate throws from center field to third base in the game, although both runners arrived safely.