Texas Area Code Tryouts: Breaking Down Hitters

Chris Wimmer has been involved in college and professional baseball for several years. He scouted the tryouts for this year’s Texas Area Code Games team, and here are his reports on the hitters who stood out on June 19. All of these players are rising high school seniors, and will be eligible for the 2018 draft. 

Hunter Watson | 3B | Pottsboro (Texas) High | Texas A&M commit | L/R

The only big leaguer from Pottsboro to date is Gus Fisher, who was born in 1885 and played half a season for the 1911 Cleveland Naps. Pottsboro might not need to wait too much longer for its next major leaguer. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 200-210 pounds, Watson has big everything: hands, feet, ankles, chest, forearms and shoulders.

Watson should be able to add another 20-25 pounds of muscle as he fills in his frame. He has an easy, repeatable swing, with the barrel of his bat staying through the hitting zone for a long time. The ball jumps off his bat, and Watson showed plus raw power potential in batting practice. He keeps his lower half simple with a short step before driving well from his hips. Watson had solid balance and solid bat speed that you can project further on with additional strength, the smoothness of swing and the ease of his hands. In the game, Watson hit a hard, line-drive single to right field and popped up to second with a 6.16 hang time. He also possesses a solid arm that has the potential to be average, and ran well in the 60-yard dash, with 6.86 seconds being his official time. Watson has the look of your prototypical middle-of-the-order, power-hitting third baseman.

Jose Gutierrez | 1B | Arlington (Texas) Lamar High | Dallas Baptist commit | L/R

An impressively strapping individual already, Gutierrez can hit, and hit, and hit, and hit some more. He made consistent, big impact on balls in batting practice and in the game. Gutierrez had four scorched balls in game, hit on a line or in the dirt. He does have lift, showing potential plus raw power in batting practice. He has a high flying elbow trigger in batting practice that could be cause for concern to some, but his hands were in a comfortable hitting position anyway, and he does quiet the elbow flare in game. Notably, for having such a powerful swing at such a young age, Gutierrez shows solid balance and bat control.

He reached on an error in his first plate appearance after hitting a hard ground ball to second, getting to first base in 4.75 seconds. He then hit a line-drive single to right center field, a hard, line-drive double to left center and then finally a hard ground ball past the second baseman for another single.

In addition, he showed solid actions at first base along with a present 30 and future 40 arm (on the 20-to-80 scouting scale). He is not a runner by any means, running a 7.62 60-yard dash as well as a 4.75 home-to-first time in the game. He also could very well add on to his build as he has the frame to do so, and he does not turn 17 until the fall. That said, high school first basemen only whose only pro-caliber tools are hit/power are rare draftees nowadays. Gutierrez certainly has a chance.

Jordan Groshans | SS/3B | Magnolia (Texas) High | Kansas commit | R/R

The younger brother of current Kansas catcher Jaxx Groshans, little Jordan isn’t so little anymore. The younger Groshans possesses a body scouts can easily dream on. Big and broad with developing mass, Groshans is easy to project upon across the board. Noted for a low effort swing with loose hands, the ball jumps off his bat with deep drives to the warning track. He has average bat speed that should increase with maturation. His feet are slightly greater than shoulder width apart at set up and he has a medium leg lift and drives with his lower half well. When his upper half catches up with added strength, he may pop even more. Groshans’ frame suggests an eventual move to the hot corner, where his average arm and athleticism for his eventual size would play better. While no tool flashed plus at present, Groshans’ solid all-around game makes him a fine prospect.

Stacey Bailey | SS | Kerens (Texas) High | Uncommited | R/R

Bailey came away as most intriguing prospect from the tryout. From 2A (second smallest rung of Texas public school athletics) baseball power Kerens—90 minutes southeast of Dallas with a population of 1,500—Bailey put up Pablo Sanchez-esque numbers his junior spring, slashing .592/.716/1.366 with 51 runs, 59 RBIs, 12 homers, and 18 stolen bases all packed into 28 games. Not to mention a 10-1, 1.17 record, 102 strikeouts, 14 walks, and a .165 opponent average in 60 innings as the Bobcats’ ace.

Bailey started the day running an official 7.07 60 (I had 6.9 from 100 yards away and obscured and angled). He didn’t air it out during infield drills, but the footwork into his throws wasn’t great. He did show an easy, overtop motion with exceptional carry during long toss. Bailey showed the best pure shortstop actions of the day, with an ease and extra bounce to his movements. With additional looks we’ll see how his hands play. He impressed with good body control and power on jump throw coming in to finish infield drills.

During batting practice Bailey made consistent hard contact, featuring a center field to opposite field approach, including a couple deep drives to the track in right-center and right field. He has a little pop and strength in his swing, which features an athletic leg lift to trigger quick hips and hands. Definitely has quick-twitch athleticism in his sturdy, muscular body. In his first plate appearance he struck out on a 93-mph fastball; he was late after taking a couple curveballs that threw off his timing. Next time up he grounded out to third and reached first base in 4.26 seconds. He struck out again in his third time up. He was late on fastballs in the game, but not as much as I expected considering his high school competition level. He seemed to be on pitches and seemed to track them well, including breaking stuff.

Potential average to plus run/field/throw shortstop with strength and pop? Sign me up! Especially if he can do this to baseballs. Will be a fascinating follow the rest of the year.

Max Marusak | OF | Amarillo (Texas) High | Texas Tech commit | R/R

Speaking of quick-twitch, here is your Type II fiber All-Star! Marusak ran an official 6.41 60, tied for the best of the day. He lunged at a shin-high curveball away for an infield single his first plate appearance, a swing perfect for a low run time. I clocked him at 3.87 seconds to first, and plenty of raised eyebrows as times were compared, with everyone having him between 3.85 and 3.92 seconds. Marusak overwhelmed on the basepaths, as he swiped two bags on the day with ease.

He struck out in his second time up, then grounded out to shortstop in his third, this time reaching in 4.2 seconds with a longer route and a bigger swing. He hit a bloop single to center field in his fourth plate appearance, turning around first in 4.35 seconds. At the plate, his bat’s plane in and out of the hitting zone is a bit steep at present. He also showed a propensity to expand the zone. But his hands are quick as is his bat. When barreled, the ball comes off well; he’s not going to be an empty stick, slap-and-dash type of hitter. Marusak has lean strength to him, with a medium frame capable of carrying another 15-20 pounds comfortably. Also possesses a near-average arm with a quick hand and short release. His carrying tool will be his impact speed.

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