See also: Area Code Games Day 1
LONG BEACH, CALIF.—Power’s down at the Major League level, but it’s up at the Area Code Games.
Only one home run was hit in game action in Long Beach last year. Nick Plummer tied that total on the second pitch of the event with a towering blast that was similar to the home run he hit during East Coast Pro. MLB Select Junior Home Run Derby champion Luken Baker exceeded that total in the third game of the event with a home run to left field that registered an elite exit velocity of 108.1 mph that surpassed the hardest-hit balls in two of the last three years data was available.
In the first game of the day, Canadian outfielder Demi Orimoloye added to that total with a home run to left field. The toolsy Orimoloye, who attended the Area Code Games as an underclassman, has improved significantly over the last year, showing aptitude while his skills begin to catch up to his tools.
Orimoloye (St. Matthew HS Orleans, Ontario, Canada) showed off his above-average raw power in batting practice, launching numerous pull side home runs. Orimoloye sets his hands low without much of a load and has tremendous strength through the baseball.
In a very talented Yankees lineup that has the speedy Garrett Whitley, John Aiello and fellow Canadian power hitter Josh Naylor hitting in front of him, the righthanded-hitting Orimoloye came up in the first inning with two runners on. He just missed an 89 mph fastball that was middle-away in the first pitch of the plate appearance, fouling the pitch straight back.
“I just missed the first one and I knew I was right on it so I took the second one that was outside (another fastball),” Orimoloye said. “Then it was the first thing I saw and I knew it was gone off the bat. It was low and in.”
He sent a chopper back up the middle for a single his next time up, running 4.32 to first base before stealing second. He walked in his next plate appearance.
The quality of his at-bats have improved significantly over the last year and Orimoloye, a member of Team Canada, seems much more comfortable in the box against some of the best prep pitching in the country.
“With all of the coaches on team Canada developing me since I was 15, every year I have gotten a lot better. It is starting to show here,” Orimoloye said. “The velocity is not a big deal. I am feeling a lot more comfortable in the box. I feel that I can play the game at a higher speed now. It is slowing down for me in the box, on the bases and defensively. The game is coming to me now.”
Numerous scouts commented on the improved quality of his at-bats last week at East Coast Pro, including hitting one of the hardest hit balls of the event on a line drive back up the middle. Orimoloye reduced his swing-and-miss tendencies and hit numerous balls hard, showing batted ball tendencies up the middle and to the right center field gap.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Orimoloye has a big league body with a large, athletic frame and muscular build with strength, physicality and definition.
Orimoloye has three tools that are at least above-average with his raw power, speed and arm strength. He tied for the seventh best 60-yard dash time at East Cost Pro last week, running a 6.50.
His athleticism, power and arm strength give him a true right field profile if he moves out of center field, offering a plus arm.
“My arm has gotten a lot stronger. It is one of my most improved factors,” Orimoloye said. “My arm was always strong but my throws weren't always what I wanted them to be. Now it feels good. It is a lot of long toss and work with the coaches from Team Canada on keeping the ball low and it carries when I keep it low.”
His body and arm strength reminds some scouts of former All-Star Ellis Valentine, though his arm has not reached Valentine’s level yet.
Canada in the midst of a strong run of producing strong-bodied, power-hitting outfielders with 2014 supplemental second-rounder Gareth Morgan and 2013 outfielder Tyler O’Neill, both Mariners draftees. Yet Orimoloye, the most athletic of the trio of outfielders, was not born in Canada. He was born in Nigeria and moved to Canadian when he was 10 months old. He has been a part of the Canadian National team since he was 15 and attributes much of his growth and development to his work with organization’s staff.
Orimoloye and Naylor give Canada one of the more talented duos of potential draftees in recent years.