LONG BEACH, CALIF.—Here are a few highlights from the third day of the Area Code Games.
• The good folks at TrackMan are in Long Beach with their revolutionary technology. TrackMan’s quantitative results concur with scouts who have heard the sound of the ball of Luken Baker‘s bat. Baker has incredible physical strength and the ball makes a different sound off his bat. He hit a home run to left field that registered 108 mph on the first day of the event.
The MLB Junior Select Home Run Derby champion, Baker went 0-3 on the day with two groundouts and a flyout, but impacted the baseball in an elite way. In his second plate appearance, Baker smashed a fastball down the left field line foul that registered an exit velocity of 105.5 mph that was surpassed by only four hits in the first two days, one of them his own. Later in the plate appearance, Baker drove a fastball to deep center field that went 375 feet and exited the bat at 97 mph.
Scouts are eager to hear the official height/weight for Baker, listed at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. The powerful Baker has been nicknamed “Paul Bunyan” by some scouts.
• The home run barrage continued on Wednesday, as the fourth home run was hit in game action by infielder Ryan Mountcastle (Hagerty High, Oviedo, Fla.) who drove an 87 mph fastball to left field. The blast registered an exit velocity of 104 mph.
• One of the breakout performers of the event, outfielder Demi Orimoloye continues to build on his strong day Tuesday when he hit a home run, going 4-for-4 Wednesday. Orimoloye, who has a body scouts covet because of his large frame, athleticism and physicality, continued to pull the ball more than last week at East Coast Pro. He hit a chopper back up the middle on a low-80s changeup in his first plate appearance. Orimoloye hit a hard line-drive single to left field next time up before his speed impacted the game by running a plus time to first on a ball back up the middle. He sent a screaming line drive to left in his final trip to the plate. The hit registered an exit velocity of 107 mph that is the second hardest hit ball of the event.
• Another strong-bodied athletic outfielder who has impressed is Tyler Williams (Kellis HS Glendale). One scout said that Williams would get his “Most Improved Award” said of the player who struck out in more than half (56 percent) of his plate appearances (11) at the Tournament of Stars. On Tuesday, Williams went 3-for-4 with one walk and hit by pitch. He impacted the ball on a line drive single to left field. Williams hit a bounding ball back up the middle his next time up, running between 4.10 and 4.15 from numerous scouts.
He accomplished an atypical way of hitting a double when his swing provided so much strength that he hit a double that one hopped the left center field gap on broken bat double. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Williams has a strong, powerful and athletic body that looks the part in a uniform. Williams had one of the best 60 times at the Tournament of Stars with 6.57 and 6.53. The uncommitted Williams has an arm that will likely fit best in left field if he is moved out of center field. Scouts have praised the intensity and energy that Williams plays the game with. He has hustled and ran out ground balls with intent, and his speed has impacted the game on the bases, especially taking extra bases. He is one of many player on the Reds roster with baseball bloodlines, as he father, Ted, is an area scout in the Four Corners area for the Minnesota Twins.
• Righthander Beau Burrows turned in one of the top pitching performances so far of the Area Code Games. Burrows needed 14 pitches to strike out the side in the first inning against the Reds team based out of the Four Corners area. He struck out three his second inning as well, mixed around a walk. He induced two consecutive popups and then a flyball in the third to complete his outing. Burrows did not show his typical mid-90s velocity, but sat in the low-90s and touched 94.
The Weatherford (Texas) High product leveraged the ball downhill better in the early going from his high three-quarters arm slot. Burrows threw more strikes as well compared to earlier outings this summer, producing strikes on 65 percent of his pitches. Per TrackMan, Burrows’ fastball spin rate regularly sat between 2,500 and 2,600, which is well above-average for the major league level.
His fastball will supplant the incumbent in this category (Cody Morris—2,479) after the first two days. Burrows’ high spin rate fastball portends swing-and-miss tendencies, as well as flyball and popup tendencies, which was true of his batted ball profile today.
The 17-year-old’s 78-80 mph curveball showed better than earlier outings this summer, flashing downer tilt and above-average potential that drew some an audible positive reaction from the scouting section behind the plate. The Texas A&M commit effectively worked in his mid-80s changeup that he threw for strikes half of the time.