SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — On July 6-7, the Milwaukee Brewers held their Area Code Games tryout for Southern California high school prospects at Westmont College in Montecito, Calif. This year’s talent pool was definitely on the narrow side.
One reason for the paucity of outstanding players is the current excess of prep showcases. For instance, outfielder/lefthander Daniel Camarena, third baseman Travis Harrison, catcher Austin Hedges, shortstop Christian Lopes and lefthander Henry Owens were listed on the rosters but not present. Along with other prominent players, they are attending various events around the country.
Westmont College is located in a forested area just north of Santa Barbara and is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful spots in the nation. Montecito has long been a celebrity enclave as Kevin Costner, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey have homes nearby.
Oprah didn’t drop by, but approximately 100 scouts were in attendance. They observed several players who are younger brothers of prominent recent draftees and a smattering of sons of sports notables.
The latter list included Trevor Gretzky (son of hockey legend Wayne), Trent Boras (son of Scott) and Shane Zeile (nephew of ex-big leaguer Todd). Outshining those players were a handful of position players, including:
Nigel Nootbaar, rhp/of, El Segundo (Calif.) HS: Nootbaar has an ideal athletic outfielder’s frame at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. He ran an impressive 6.90 60-yard dash on a slow track, and displayed an excellent arm from right field during drills. A switch-hitter, Nootbaar enjoyed an excellent wood bat BP, particularly from the left side.
Nootbaar also had a stint on the mound and flashed an 88 mph fastball, 74 curve and 81 change. However, Nootbaar’s build does not promise a great deal of additional velocity. Scouts will debate this point vigorously, but Nootbaar’s tempting package of all-around tools render him more valuable as a corner outfield prospect.
Aaron Brown, of, Chatsworth (Calif.) HS: Tuesday was not Brown’s best performance, but he is a premium prospect. Powerfully built at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the bat left, throw left Brown ran a 7.1 60 but has been clocked in the 6.9 range previously. Perhaps a bit too eager to impress, Brown did not hit well Tuesday but has shown intriguing power at earlier events. Brown profiles as an athletic corner outfielder with power potential.
Phillip Evans, ss, La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, Calif.: Named to the Aflac All-America Game, Evans was the premier infield prospect at Westmont. A 5-foot-11, 185 pounder, Evans does not have blazing speed with a 7.28 60, but his defensive skills are sparkling. At bat, Evans has provocative bat speed and displays a larger man’s ability to drive the ball.
Taylor Sparks, 3b, St. John Bosco HS, Bellfower, Calif.: Sparks possesses a classic 6-foot-3, 205-pound third baseman’s build. He ran well for his size (6.94 60) and while his defensive skills are a shade raw, he has the athletic ability to be a decent defender. Sparks shows promise with the bat. When he learns to use his long arms to get extension and leverage, Sparks will develop driving power.
The top pitching prospects in Santa Barbara were:
Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS, Los Angeles: A member of the class of 2012, Giolito is already physically imposing at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds. He looked much sharper Tuesday than in a late spring playoff start, when he was knocked around by Glendora (Calif.) High.
Giolito fires a fastball which sits at 91-92 and touches 94. He adds a nifty 77 curve. Without a doubt, Giolito is a first-round candidate for 2012.
Cole Irvin, lhp, Servite HS, Anaheim, Calif.: A tall and lanky lefty reminiscent of recent SoCal standouts Tyler Skaggs and John Lamb, Irvin smoothly delivers an 85-86 fastball and 72 curve. Also a member of the 2012 class, Irvin is being hotly pursued by many prominent advisers.
Joseph Musgrave, rhp, Grossmont HS, El Cajon, Calif.: Musgrave resembles a younger, thinner version of Matt Hobgood, drafted by Baltimore in the first round in 2009 out of Norco (Calif.) High. Musgrave’s arm action is a bit restricted on the front end, but he tosses a heavy 91 mph fastball.
Tyler Leslie, RHP, Silverado HS, Victorville, Calif.: Strong and physically mature, Leslie is exceptionally raw but has a powerful arm, firing a fastball that ranges from 89 to 93. He rocketed several pitches over the protective netting behind home plate where Brewer scouts were charting pitches.