SYRACUSE–Many evaluators made the cross-country flight from Syracuse to California for the Area Code Games, which begins Monday in Long Beach, Calif. Here are a few notes about players who stood out in Syracuse.
– One day after turning 17, outfielder/third baseman Bryce Denton (Ravenwood HS, Brentwood, Tenn.) hit a home run to his pull side, landing just to the right of the left field foul pole. The righthanded-hitting Denton has changed his stance since Perfect Game National, adding a higher leg kick. Denton offers above-average bat speed and routinely hit screaming line drives to his pull side in batting practice, while also offering loft and strength for pull-side home run power. Denton primarily drove the ball to the outfield, using both gaps and hit a frozen rope back up the middle. His swing and miss was limited to 15 percent of his swings. The 6-foot, 191-pound Denton has a strong athletic build with a broad, muscular chest. Scouts have praised the intensity and passion he plays the game with, hustling all over the field. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.78 seconds and had a run time of 4.34 in game action. The Vanderbilt commit saw time in the outfield corners and at third base. He made a good defensive play in right field when he got a good jump on a hard hit ball from Demi Orimoleye that looked like extra bases off the bat before Denton ranged well into the right-center field gap. He offers arm strength and the coaching staff worked with him on his throwing mechanics to enable his arm to play in games to the level his pure arm strength might indicate. Denton has age on his side as one of the younger prep players in the class and has instincts for the game.
– Lefthander Tyler Holton (Lincoln HS, Tallahassee, Fla.) was the lone Floridian on the Cubs roster and left scouts asking around to find out who the player was that hit home lofty batting practice home runs to his pull side but was not on the roster. He offered strength and bat speed to his left handed stroke, hitting what one evaluator called “moonshots.” But Holton only got one plate appearance, singling to left field. Holton had one of the more impressive strike-throwing outings of the event. Already 18, Holton demonstrated feel for pitching, mixing four pitches and pitchability. Although Holton has a wrist wrap and head whack, he demonstrates considerable feel for repeating his delivery and filling up the zone while locating to both sides of the plate. His delivery worked fairly easily with a loose arm from a high three-quarters slot and generated glove-side run to his fastball that offered some downhill plane. Holton’s fastball touched 88 early and sat in the mid-80s over extended innings. The Florida State commit threw strikes on more than 80 percent of his offerings. He showed feel for spinning a curveball with significant depth that showed at least average potential. Holton offered a 79-80 mph cutter/slider as well. He demonstrated feel for a mid-70s changeup that garnered numerous swings and misses. Holton retired every hitter he faced and struck out six with lots swinging strikes.
– Outfielder Nick Plummer (Birmingham Brother Rice, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) who made a strong impression in Syracuse with an advanced approach and power potential that enabled him to hit one of the farthest balls of the event, will compete in the Area Code Games. Evaluators are excited to get more time with Plummer, as many high-level evaluators got there first look at him this summer a few days ago. These summer looks hold extra import for the position players from the North who will not see the same caliber of pitching in the spring.
– Ohio boasts one of the better prep arms in the class in Chandler Day and also has a big-bodied lefthander in Adam Wolf (Edison HS, Milan, Ohio) who ran his fastball up to 92 and sat 88-91 in his first inning of work before his velocity fell in his next frame. The 6-foot-5, 222-pound Wolf has an extra-large frame and strong, durable build. Wolf’s delivery offers tremendous deception as he hides the ball well, offering what one evaluator termed an “invis-a-ball.” His delivery has short actions with natural funk from a three-quarters slot that gets some sink. He demonstrated feel for multiple secondary offerings, offering a changeup with significant tumble, as well as movement to his glove side. Wolf varied the shape of his breaking ball that hitters struggled to pick up and came from the same tunnel as his fastball, getting swings and misses. The intelligent Wolf is currently uncommitted.
– The early returns are that the class of prep catchers for 2015 is not as strong as the 2014 crop of catchers, which was one of the deeper positions in the draft. One of the backstops to stand out in Syracuse is a member of the 2016 class, Bradley Debo (Orange HS, Hillsborough, N.C.), though he is old for the class and just one month older than Denton. Debo offers above-average pure arm strength behind the plate, though he produced pop times that were more in the average range in game action. The lefthanded-hitter offers above-average power potential to his pull side and launched several balls well into the net beyond the right field fence. His swing has some effort but offers bat speed. The South Carolina commit has a strong, physical build at 6-foot, 199 pounds.