Power Arms Silence East Bats at Perfect Game All-American Classic

SAN DIEGO—For the first time in the 13-year history of the Perfect Game All-American Classic, one team did not score a run, as the West topped the East by a score of 7-0 in Petco Park. The game, broadcast on the MLB Network, pushed the West’s all-time record to 7-4-1.

Pitching was the biggest takeaway from the game, especially for the West squad.

Last year’s high school crop was known as one of the hardest throwing in recent memory, offering a depth of arms and nine pitchers who touched at least 95 mph in last year’s All-American Game. This year’s crop matched that total with nine who touched at least 95—and it likely would have reached 10 had archaic state rules allowed Tennessean Donny Everett to pitch, as the righthander was up to 96 at East Coast Pro less than two weeks ago and was up to 95 at the scrimmage leading up the All-American Classic.

All of the 18 pitchers hit at least 91 mph and strikeouts accounted for 41 percent of all outs and 33 percent of total plate appearances.

The game was moving at a quick pace in the early going, as 30 of the first 32 players were retired through the first five innings, with each side accounting for a single apiece.

The contest got away from the East squad in the sixth inning when the West squad took a 5-0 lead, helped along by two wild pitches, one hit batsman, two walks, two errors and two hits. The East team committed four errors total.

West pitchers limited the East to two hits and one walk, facing three more than the minimum. There were only eight hits in the game total, as the game had only two earned and five unearned.

Lefthander Kolby Allard won the game’s MVP award for his superb second inning when he struck out the side on 12 pitches. The San Clemente (Calif.) High product hails from less than an hour away from San Diego and showed why he is one of the top arms in the entire prep class.

Koby Allard was chosen as the Perfect Game All-American Classic MVP. (Photo by Bill Mitchell).

Kolby Allard was chosen as the Perfect Game All-American Classic MVP. (Photo by Bill Mitchell).

“It is an awesome experience and Perfect Game put on an incredible event,” Allard said. “It is a blessing to do it with all the best players in the country.”

Allard’s velocity has consistently sat 90-92, touching 93 at multiple events this summer, but he sat 92-94 Sunday, touching 95, while some guns had him touching 96.

Allard has some of the best command in the prep class and located his fastball with late life that was jumping out of his hand to both sides of the plate. The UCLA commit has an effortless delivery with a loose, quick and easy arm and extension out front.

“I have caught Kolby multiple times before and I have never seen him with that stuff,” West catcher Chris Betts said. “Everything was live and everything was sharp. He is just so loose and effortless and everything is right where he wants it to be. We would go in and he would give a fastball at the knee and we would go out and he would paint. He is pretty darn good.”

Allard threw eight fastballs, three of which were swinging strikes, and four breaking balls, which engendered one swinging strike. His 79-81 mph curveball was a wipeout offering with tight rotation and depth that was at least plus, with some evaluators saying the offering flashed plus-plus at its best.

“He has without a doubt had the best breaking ball (of anyone I caught),” Betts said. “It has always been sharp and always been good but today there was something else about it. It was an amazing pitch.”

The lean, lanky 6-foot-1, 175-pound Allard has significant room to get stronger with his sinewy build.

“I have been working hard, hitting the gym and throwing bullpens,” Allard said. “I am like 175 and I am trying to get to 190-195 for next spring.”

The 16-year-old Allard was the youngest player on either roster and will turn 17 on Wednesday.

The top velocity of the day belonged to the West starter, lefthander Justin Hooper (De La Salle, Concord, Calif.), who hit 96 six times and 97 once while hitting 92, 93 and 94 once with arm-side run.

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Hooper struck out one of the three hitters he faced on three swinging strikes. His mid-70s curveball didn’t show as well as earlier this week at the Area Code Games. He threw one changeup at 83 with big tumble that generated a swinging strike. The final pitch of his outing was an elevated 96 mph fastball on the outer third that East shortstop Brendan Rodgers drove to deep left field. Some thought that the towering fly ball was a home run off the bat and had a hang time of 6.69 seconds.

Only one hit went for extra bases in Petco, a double that two-hopped the center field wall by East outfielder Kyle Tucker (Plant High, Tampa). The pitch came off Tucker’s bat at an exit velocity of 105 mph.

Although there were four errors in the game, all by the East squad, there were a number of standout defensive plays as well.

• Leading off the third inning, third baseman Ryan Mountcastle (Hagerty High, Oviedo, Fla.) drove a fastball into the hole between second and first only to have second baseman Kody Clemens (Memorial High, Houston) make a diving stop and throw him out; Mountcastle ran a 4.34 time to first base from the right side.

Josh Naylor (St. Joan of Arc, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) led off the bottom of the third and tapped a 93 mph fastball from Tristin English (Pike County HS, Williamson, Ga.) out in front of the plate. East catcher Nick Fortes of Deland (Fla.) High showed quickness to jump out from behind the plate and barehand the ball to his left before quickly spinning to throw to first in time to get Naylor, who ran a 4.53 from the left side. Fortes later showed confidence in his arm to try a back-pick attempt on a runner at second base.

• West shortstop Nick Shumpert (Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Colo.) showcased his range, athleticism and arm strength when he went deep into the hole on a ground ball hit by Rodgers and fired a strike to first in time to narrowly get Rodgers, who ran a 4.46.

• Here are the nine pitchers who touched at least 95 mph: Hooper (97), Beau Burrows of Weatherford (Texas) HS (96), Joe DeMers (College Park HS, Pleasant Hill, Calif.: 96), Austin Smith (Park Vista Community HS, Boynton Beach, Fla.: 95), Kolby Allard of San Clemente (Calif.) HS (95), Luken Baker (Oak Ridge HS, Spring, Texas: 95), Cole McKay (Smithson Valley HS, Spring Branch, Texas: 95), Mike Nikorak (Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS: 95), Ashe Russell (Cathedral Catholic, Indianapolis: 95).

•  The Perfect Game All-American Classic Awards Banquet was held Saturday to honor the top players in the country. Former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was the keynote speaker. These awards were given:

Jackie Robinson Player of the Year Award:  Daz Cameron, of, Eagle’s Landing Christian, McDonough, Ga.
Louisville Slugger Most Outstanding Offensive Player: Greg Pickett, of/1b, Legend HS, Aurora, Colo.
Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year Award:  Brendan Rodgers, ss, Lake Mary (Fla.) HS
EvoShield SWAG Award: Chris Betts, c, Wilson HS, Long Beach, Calif.
Baseball Prospectus Prospect of the Year: Justin Hooper
Perfect Game Nick Adenhart Award: Jahmai Jones, of, Wesleyan HS, Norcross, Ga.

A full breakdown of every pitcher to throw in San Diego is coming soon.