See Also: Metropolitan Baseball Classic archive
NEW YORK—The premier matchup on the first day of the Metropolitan Baseball Classic at Citi Field was CBA Marucci squaring off against the EvoShield Canes, who finished second in the inaugural event last year.
The game ended in a 3-3 stalemate after a late comeback from CBA Marucci in the seventh inning.
The Canes didn’t score after the first inning, when they put up three runs, and their key contributors at the top of the lineup caused most of the damage and scored the only runs, in addition to showing well from a prospect standpoint. The trio of Florida prospects who have speed—leadoff hitter Danny Blair, No. 3 hole hitter Desmond Lindsay and cleanup hitter Ryan Karstetter—accounted for all but one of the team’s hits. Each posted one of the 10 best 60-yard dash times at East Coast Pro.
Lefthanded-hitting center field Blair, who was a hitting standout at this event last year as an underclassman, began with a leadoff triple into the right-center field gap on a line drive. Blair, who ran the fourth-best 60 at ECP (6.45 seconds), hustled out of the box and showed his plus speed underway, clocking in at 4.19 while rounding first base before being plated on a double Lindsay.
The Canes took a 3-0 lead when Karstetter hit an 85 mph fastball to left center field for a home run. Karstetter has a line-drive oriented stroke with a slightly uphill path and nearly hit another home run to left field in his third plate appearance when his fly out pushed the left field to the wall, though he swung and missed four times on nine swings throughout his three plate appearances. The athletic Karstetter has a body with significant room to get stronger at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds. He ran the fifth-best 60 at ECP (6.47), finishing directly behind Blair. The third baseman has at least an average arm and the ball comes out of his hand well.
Blair (Md.) and Karstetter (Pa.) moved from Northern states and will attend the IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) this year, joining Lindsay in the Sunshine State. Lindsay roped a line drive double to left center field in his first plate appearance.
“The first three pitches he threw me were all offspeed and then he threw me a fastball on the outside corner and it jumped on me a little bit,” Lindsay said. “Then the next pitch I was cheating on it a little bit and he threw it inside, so I turned on it.”
The righthanded-hitting Lindsay, who starts farther back from the plate than most, with his hands beginning high before a deep load, has a swing geared to drive the ball to center field and the right-center field gap. He peppers this part of the field during batting practice, showing bat speed and power while driving balls off the opposite field wall. His spray chart for the summer has a high concentration of batted balls to this part of the field.
“When I was 12 or 13 years old I was a dead pull hitter,” Lindsay said. “I kind of progressed because I would pull everything and my coach had me work on hitting the ball to the right side every time. It evolved into my swing. So now that is all I do and I am definitely looking for a pitch to drive up the middle or to the right side.”
Lindsay, who has quick-twitch athleticism and fast hands at the plate, is making an adjustment to the way he has been pitched this summer, a summer that includes receiving the Most Valuable Player award at the Perfect Game 17U WWBA when he hit .387/.500/.806 with three home runs for the title-winning Canes.
“I want to work on hitting the inside pitch better and being able to stay back and do what I am supposed to with it,” Lindsay said. “That is the thing I have been working on this summer because I have been getting a lot of fastballs on the inside part of the plate now. So I have been working on going with the pitch and turning on it. I just need to trust my hands because on a lot of pitches I will see it coming inside and I don’t want to get jammed so I will cheat a little bit and get on the front of my front foot. So I will just have to wait back on it. ”
The 6-foot Lindsay is a physical specimen with toned musculature throughout his body that has broad, sloped shoulders leading to a tapered waist and powerful, toned lower half.
“I want to gain a little bit more weight but keep my speed because my speed has come on a lot this summer but that is because I weighed 210-215 last summer and I am 185 now,” Lindsay said. “So I have dropped a lot of weight. I want to get a little muscle back but keep my speed.”
The North Carolina commit ran the 10th-best 60 time at ECP, a 6.56 after running a 6.58 after Perfect Game National. Lindsay walked in his second plate appearance and stole second. He grounded out to shortstop in his next plate appearance and posted an above-average run time of 4.23.
“From ninth to 10th grade my speed improved a lot,” Lindsay said. “In ninth grade I was probably the slowest kid on the team. I was so slow. That was when I started to work out, and my speed has progressed every year since. It is nice to see your work pay off.”
Lindsay has primarily played third base for his high school (Out-of-Door Academy, Sarasota, Fla.) but has spent most of his time this summer at first base, owing to his below-average arm with a high takeaway and short arm path, or in the outfield. His speed has allowed him to see significant time in center field this summer for the first time.
“I feel the most comfortable at third base because that is where I have played the longest,” Lindsay said. “I had never played outfield before this summer. When I played outfield at East Coast Pro it was only my second time playing out there. After playing center at ECP and the Area Code Games I am starting to feel more comfortable out there. I enjoy learning a new position. I like using my speed out there and tracking down a ball that is hit into the gap.”
His combination of power, speed and athleticism and attractive qualities for scouts and will make finding a defensive home a key to his prospect status.
“My biggest goal is working on the outfield and by next fall in Jupiter I want to be really good out there,” Lindsay said.
• Four time Gold Glove winner and current St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has four sons, two of whom are receiving draft interest for next June. Missouri State outfielder Tate Matheny, a rising junior, was the starting center fielder for USA Baseball’s College National Team and showed baseball instincts while hitting .288/.329.350 with one home run and six steals (third best on the team) this summer.
His younger brother Luke, a rising senior, pitched a scoreless inning for the St. Louis Mets club that fell 3-2 to Marucci Elite in their opening game of the event. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthander has a loose, athletic body and throws from an arm slot that is nearly over the top. His fastball largely sat 85-86, touching 87 with some glove-side run. He struck out one on three swinging strikes and threw 10 of his 16 pitches for strikes (62.5 percent). Matheny threw one curveball at 69 mph with two-plane break. He hails from the same school (Westminster Christian, Chesterfield, Mo.) that produced another son of a former big leaguer last with year infielder Shane Benes, son of former No. 1 overall pick Andy Benes, as well as Jacob Turner.
• Outfielder Garrett Whitley of Niskayuna (N.Y.) High was one of the breakout players of the last month with strong showings at East Coast Pro and the Area Code Games. He impacted the ball in game action, especially at the Area Code Games, where he had the second hardest hit ball of the event, according to TrackMan. Whitley continued to show explosive bat speed that is among the best of any righthanded hitter in the prep class, and the ball explodes off of his bat. His batting practice rounds were mostly concentrated on driving the ball up the middle and he showed his combination of bat speed and physical strength when he hit a ball off the top of the hitters’ eye in center field, an estimated five higher and the ball would have went over the hitters’ eye. The Wake Forest commit has tremendous strength throughout his powerful 6-foot-1, 199-pound build, forearms and wrists.
• CBA Marucci catcher Chris Betts continues to impact the baseball in game action after having the farthest hit ball at Perfect Game National, a grand slam at the Tournament of Stars, two of the 15 hardest hit balls at the Area Code Games, the third-hardest hit ball at the Perfect Game All-American Classic and a loud double at the Under Armour All-America Game. Betts faced Ashe Russell in his first plate appearance of the game and stayed back on a breaking ball that he dropped the bat head on for a loud double down the right field line. He walked on five pitches the next time up before grounding out to second and being walked intentionally with runners in scoring position and first base open in the seventh inning. The strong-armed backstop also had a pop time of 1.96 to second base.