Two weeks after the state tournament, the top high school players in Florida played in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Classic in Sebring last weekend. The three-day, wood-bat event showcased more than 80 players separated into four regional teams for a day of workouts and two days of games. Several players with early-round potential played at the event including righthanders Zach Eflin and Walker Weickel, as well as shortstop Addison Russell. Fifteen of Baseball America’s Top 250 players competed at Sebring.
After a long regular season, scouts’ opinions on players are unlikely to drastically change in a brief look, but Sebring gives talent evaluators a final opportunity to see Florida’s top talent after as much as much as a four-week layoff following the regular season before Monday’s draft.
“I like making sure people stay healthy and they go out and perform against other talent,” a National League scout said.
After vaulting into the first-round discussion with a strong first few months, Hagerty High (Oviedo) righthander Zach Eflin missed most of April with triceps tendinitis in his right arm. He returned in early May to throw three innings in the state playoffs. His fastball sat in the low 90s and he showcased his above-average changeup and developing low-80s slider at Sebring.
“Eflin is continuing to make progress and showing that he is healthy,” the NL scout said.
Olympia High (Orlando) righthander Walker Weickel entered the season as a potential single-digit selection because of his 6-foot-6 frame and athleticism. Weickel has a potentially-plus power curve but his velocity fluctuated early in spring.
“The second half of the year he started to settle in with the consistent stuff,” the scout said. “(At Sebring) he was consistent with the velocity and with his stuff, sitting 90-92.”
Both righthander Carson Fulmer and lefthander Tyler Pike had strong performances, but are considered tough signs. Pike is committed to Florida State as a two-way player and he shows good command of a three-pitch mix.
“Tyler showed his ability to pitch within the different quadrants of the strike zone and has a feel for the changeup and his breaking ball had a little more power than it had in the past,” the scout said.
The 6-foot-1 Fulmer, a Vanderbilt recruit, has consistently pitched with a plus fastball that can reach 95 and a breaking ball that has plus potential, but is inconsistent.
“Carson Fulmer threw well in his two innings," the scout said. "He did a nice job of showing the stuff he has, especially the breaking ball, which complements the fastball that has some pretty good giddy-up.”
Shortstop Addison Russell showed he can impact the game in multiple ways. In the first at-bat of the event, Russell showcased his power potential by hitting an opposite-field home run. He has been considered an above-average runner, but Russell surprised scouts by running the 60-yard-dish in the 6.50 seconds, although the time was wind-aided.
Catcher Thomas Nido is another Florida State recruit with arm strength and plus-plus power and he demonstrated that power at Sebring with a towering home run. Scouts are intrigued by Nido’s power potential but he has been inconsistent behind the plate this spring.
Coral Springs High outfielder Lewis Brinson was one of the top talents at Sebring because of his athletic 6-foot-4 frame and plus speed, arm, and power. Brinson loudly displayed those tools during Friday’s workouts, including a 60 time in the 6.4-second range. But he was struck in the head with a ball before the first game and did not participate the rest of the weekend as a precautionary measure. The injury is not considered serious and should not impact his draft status.
A pair of Florida recruits, East Lake High (Tarpon Springs) righthander Eric Hanhold and Bloomingdale High (Valrico) shortstop Richie Martin, had strong showings. Hanhold has a projectable body at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds and featured good present stuff. He was up to 92-93 mph with his fastball and showed a good breaking ball.
"In the first inning his stuff was as good as it’s ever been,” a second scout said. “He had plane and repeated out in front. He had a good feel for what he was doing.”
Martin is an athletic 5-foot-10, 170 pounds and has the physical tools to profile at shortstop. He is one of the youngest players in the draft and won’t be 18 until December.
“For a young kid he has good ability," a scout said. "He has a good arm, good speed, and he swings the bat well. He ran in the 6.5 range and is going to be a good player.
“The big names came out and showed this is what I am, I’m healthy, go out and take me where you want to take me and let’s get this thing started."