East Coast Pro Day Four: Sunshine State Revival

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—The typically fertile Florida high school pitching reservoir was barren in 2013. Over the previous 10 drafts, the Sunshine State averaged nearly seven high school pitchers picked in the first 10 roundsannually, but the 2013 class had only three hurlers selected.

The 2014 class of Florida arms looks strong and Saturday, the final day of East Coast Pro, showed the state’s depth. Four Florida pitchers from the Rockies team combined to strike out 16 in a seven-inning game, allowing one run. Their opponents, the Mets, did not put a ball in play until the fourth inning and didn’t get a hit until the fifth inning.

Six-foot-3, 230-pound lefthander Brian Gonzalez, who is also a righthanded-hitting first baseman, started for the Rockies and struck out six in two innings. The Miami commit from Archbishop McCarthy High (Southwest Ranches, Fla.) has a large frame and strength throughout his sturdy, physical build. Gonzalez pounded the zone with an 87-89 mph fastball and touched 90 from a high three-quarter arm slot and allowed one walk. Gonzalez showed feel for two secondary offerings, a high-70s changeup and low-70s curveball.

Six-foot-4, 195-pound righthander Alex Faedo made his summer showcase debut two days prior and was significantly sharper in his second outing. Faedo struck out five and got one groundout in his two innings. Faedo, who has not made a college commitment, got downhill plane on his 88-90 mph fastball that touched 91. His slingy arm action produces armside run. He has a large, projectable build with long extremities and throws with minimal effort. Faedo showed increased feel for his 77-80 mph changeup with fade as the game progressed, which he threw to both left- and righthanded hitters. The righthander from Tampa’s Alonso High—where his coach is his father, ex-big leaguer Lenny Faedo—threw a 75-78 mph breaking ball with two-plane break.

Central Florida commit Cre Finfrock, the third pitcher to the mound, had the Rockies’ best velocity. The athletic 6-foot, 175-pound righthander touched 93 mph and sat 90-92 during his two innings, during which he struck out four. Finfrock touched 94 in his previous outing. With compact arm action and a quick arm, Finfrock hides the ball well. The ball jumps at hitters and has good fastball movement. His mid-70s curveball offers three-quarter tilt that projects as an average pitch and he has shown both a slider and changeup. The righthander from Martin County High (Jensen Beach, Fla.) struck out four in his two innings.

Righthander Drew Carlton, a Florida State commit out of Jenkins High in Lakeland, Fla., threw the final inning of the game. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Carlton worked quicker than any pitcher at East Coast Pro. Scouts jokingly lamented that he worked so quickly they couldn’t write anything down on him between pitches. His fastball got up to 92 mph and sat 88-91 from a three-quarter arm slot. Mixing a 76-78 mph changeup, which is his best secondary offering, and a 72-73 mph breaking ball, Carlton registered a strikeout in his lone inning.

Offensive Fireworks

Shortstop Forrest Wall of Orlando’s Orangewood Christian High made more in-game hard contact than any hitter at East Coast Pro, which was his first national showcase this summer. The lefthanded hitter had a line-drive double into the left center field gap in his first at bat Saturday. He showed barrel manipulation by staying back on a two-strike breaking ball off the plate and serving it into center field for a single in his next plate appearance. The athletic 6-foot, 180-pound Wall also hit a home run to right field on the Thursday. Wall also produced a 6.58-second 60-yard times and got from home to first base in around 4.2 seconds.

The ball was flying out to right field, as three players hit home runs Saturday to a similar place a day after two others hit home runs to the same area.

Shortstop Liam Sabino, a righthanded hitter from Blair Academy in East Stroudsburg, Pa., hit the first home run of the day. At 6-foot-1, 188-pounds, Sabino has a strong, physical build and average speed who ran a 6.95, 60-yard-dash. The Vanderbilt recruit is a well-rounded player.

Catcher Evan Skoug, a lefthanded hitter from Libertyville (Ill.) High, crushed a pull-side home run. He has a thick, powerful body and large forearms. Using nearly no stride, Skoug produces considerable raw power. Typically an up the middle hitter in games, Skoug hit five batting practice home runs in a six swing stretch during a round of batting practice, the most of any player in a single round. He is on the preliminarily USA Baseball 18U roster that will reconvene to narrow the team in late August.

Another Pennsylvania infielder, lefthanded-hitting corner infielder J.J. Matijevic, hit a long ball. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Arizona commit from Norwin High in North Huntington, Pa., has an advanced hit tool and makes consistent hard contact.

Infielder Michael Chavis stood out in many ways. Playing third base Saturday, Chavis made arguably the best defensive play of East Coast Pro on a diving backhand stop and nailing the runner at first with a strong throw. Aside from the highlight plays, his defensive prowess is considerable. Chavis has good quickness and rare explosiveness to his movements. His actions allow him to excel at charging on balls hit in front of him as he eats up ground quickly. He also has above-average straight line speed and ran a 6.8-second 60-yard-dash. The Clemson commit also has soft hands and an above-average arm. One of the most versatile players in the class, Chavis saw time at three infield positions and is also listed as a catcher.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Chavis from Sprayberry High in Marietta, Ga., is a high-energy player with a grinder mentality. At the dish, Chavis has bat speed and a direct, line-drive swing path and made a lot of hard contact, most notably against a 93 mph Touki Toussaint fastball that he smoked back up the middle.