SANTA ANA, Calif.—The southern bracket of the fifth annual Boras Classic began on Tuesday morning. The Boras Classic serves as a de facto high school state championship in California. Sixteen teams from Northern and Southern California compete in the tournament; Bellarmine College Prep (San Jose, Calif.) won the northern section on April 13. In addition to the high quality of the teams in the tournament, the southern portion of the Boras Classic includes several top prospects for this year's draft.
Greene Shows Well At Shortstop
Notre Dame High (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) shortstop Hunter Greene, the top-ranked prospect in the 2017 draft class, played in the opening game and showed impressive defensive ability at shortstop and gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead with a two-run single in the third.
Greene had seven defensive opportunities in the game, a Notre Dame victory. In the first inning, he surrounded a routine ground ball and fielded the ball with two hands, then showed plus arm strength on his throw to first. He caught a lineout in the second, then made a graceful play coming in and to his right in the third.
Greene's most impressive defense came in the fourth. On a slow ground ball to the first base side of the second base bag, Greene got to the ball and fielded it. His throw to first was slightly off the bag, but he didn't have a real chance at making an out. Later in the inning, a ball was hit just to the pitcher's right and caromed off the mound. Greene charged in on the ball, barehanded it and made an accurate throw to first, exhibiting plus body control and an advanced internal clock. Finally, he made a backhand grab and an exceptionally smooth transfer before making another plus throw to end the fourth. In the seventh, Greene's smooth hands were on display as he turned a 4-6-3 double.
At the plate, Greene went 1-for-4 with a single and two RBIs. In his first plate appearance, Greene topspinned a ball to shortstop and ran to first base in 4.7 seconds, jogging for the final 30 feet. In the third, with a 2-1 count, Greene sent a middle-away pitch back up the middle on the ground for a single. In the fifth, Greene grounded out to third, making it to first in 4.34 seconds. In his fourth plate appearance in the sixth, Greene flied out to center.
In total, Greene saw 12 pitches. He did not swing and miss, he hit four foul balls and took four balls. Greene, who is seen by most scouts as a better prospect as a righthanded pitcher, will not pitch in a game this week.
Notre Dame freshman lefthander Lucas Gordon took a perfect game to the fourth inning. Gordon could follow in Greene's footsteps as the next top prospect to come through Notre Dame's program. He is a good athlete on the mound and showed advanced command of his mid-80s fastball to go along with excellent feel for his changeup. Gordon showed flashes with a long, sweeping breaking ball in the low 70s.
Huntington Beach Rides Pratto
Huntington Beach took a 4-1 victory over Damien, thanks largely to the dominant pitching performance of senior lefthander Nick Pratto. The Southern California commit struck 12 of the 28 batters he faced—seven swinging and five looking. He allowed one run on four hits and two walks. As is often the case, Pratto had excellent command of his fastball throughout the outing. He is viewed by most scouts as a better prospect as a position player, though he is a legitimate prospect on the mound.
Pratto worked both sides of the plate with his fastball, which worked at 88-90 mph in the first inning before settling in at 85-88 in the middle innings. (He did touch 90 again in the 7th.) The lefthander showed no fear pitching inside to righthanded hitters, showing late cutting action in on their hands. His changeup, which can be a plus pitch for him, wasn't at its best but he had feel for the pitch. Pratto's low 70s curveball showed long and early break and he was able to slam it through the backdoor for looking strikes to righties.
At the plate, Pratto and fellow All-American teammate Hagen Danner faced a significant challenge in Damien righthander Isaiah Paige. A Michigan recruit, Paige could develop into a very strong player for the Wolverines. He has a plunge in the back of his arm action but finds his three-quarters arm slot consistently. Paige is a good athlete on the mound, with loose hips and the ability to get over his front side. He has an open-toe landing but a repeatable stride. His consistency should improve as he gets stronger and gains reps.
Paige pitched at 87-89 early on and settled in at 85-88, showing natural cutting action. His breaking ball ranged from 73-78, showing 11-to-5 or 12-to-6 shape and for the most part below-average bite. Paige did show flashes of tight spin with his breaking ball, though he'll have to work on making his release more similar to that of his fastball as he progresses. He has a lot of positive ingredients and will be a player to monitor in the coming years.
Pratto went 0-for-3 at the plate, striking out twice swinging and once looking. In his first at-bat, he watched himself into an 0-2 count then had a very good take on a Paige breaking ball that barely missed low and away. He then chased a high fastball for strike three. The home plate umpire, standing far back from the catcher, had a wide strike zone, particularly towards the righthanded batters box. Pratto made the adjustment and began fouling off pitches near the outside black as the game progressed.
Danner went 0-for-2 with a walk. He reached on an error after chopping a ground ball to third in the first, then popped up to right and reached on another error in the fifth. In that plate appearance in the fifth, Danner pulled a foul ball home run distance.
Lewis Shows Speed
JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) shortstop Royce Lewis went 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch in a 3-1 loss to reigning Boras Classic champion Mira Costa. In his first trip to the plate, Lewis fell behind 0-2 but watched the count fill and did not expand the strike zone as Mira Costa tried to get him to chase. On 3-2, Lewis got on top of pitch up in the strike zone and grounded out to third. He reached first base in 4.08 seconds. In his second time up, Lewis flied out to left.
After being hit by the first pitch he saw in the sixth, Lewis stole second. He reached the bag 3.15 seconds after his jump.
Lewis had few chances at shortstop. In the first inning, he got a routine ground ball hit to him and fielded it with two hands. His throw to first sank as it reached first, but it was an accurate throw to the first baseman's glove and got the out. His best play came in the fourth, when he ranged to his left, stuck out his glove hand and made a smooth pick before stepping on the second base bag for a forceout.
Mira Costa sophomore Chase Meidroth showed intriguing actions at shortstop and fluid hands at the plate. On a ground ball, he reached first base in 4.34 seconds. Fellow sophomore Dylan Dennis also had a strong performance, pulling a home run to left to give Mira Costa its initial 1-0 lead.