Top Area Code Pitchers

LONG BEACH—The 23rd annual Area Code Games concluded on Monday at Blair Field in Long Beach.

With the assistance of a crosschecker and a longtime pro and amateur scout, Baseball America ranks the Top 10 pitchers from the 2009 event:

1. Dylan Bundy, rhp Owasso (Okla.) HS: A member of the class of 2011, Bundy, according to the crosschecker, is “real good. He has an easy delivery, and can get the ball up there from 90 to 94. All his secondary stuff played; he has a good feel and can throw all four of his pitches for strikes. He has a plus slider and curve.”

2. A.J. Vanegas, rhp, Redwood Christian HS, Alameda, Calif.: “He has the whole thing going on. A good arm and an easy delivery,” scout said. Strong and physical at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Vanegas fires a 91-92 mph fastball and a hard 75 curve.

“He’s the main guy in Northern California,” the crosschecker said. “He can hump up the fastball when he wants to, and he’s a strike thrower with a good delivery.”

3. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo.: Tall, lanky and projectable at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, Gausman offers a 89-93 fastball, adding a slider and curve. “His curve is already (major league) average,” the crosschecker said, “but his slider isn’t average quite yet.”

4. Adam Plutko, rhp, Glendora (Calif.) HS: For almost a year, Plutko has been stuck in neutral, seeming to make no progress and possibly sliding backwards slightly. No more. Blessed with an ideal pitcher’s frame, Plutko fired an 89-92 fastball, a 74 curve and a 75 change.

“He worked very well," the crosschecker said. "I thought he hadn’t taken a step forward; now he’s definitely progressed.”

5. Jesus Valdez, rhp, Hueneme HS, Oxnard, Calif.: “There are a slew of Southern California pitchers, and he’s one of the better ones,” the crosschecker added. “He doesn’t have a great arm action, but he has a good body and a good arm.”

Valdez challenged hitters with a low 90s fastball, working quickly and efficiently and showing no qualms about pounding batters on the inside half of the plate.

6. Tyrell Jenkins, rhp, Henderson (Texas) HS: “You have to like him” the scout said. “He’s got the perfect projectable frame, the ball leaves his hand easily, and he’s only going to get better and better.”

Jenkins is 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, and he features a fastball which touches 92 and an excellent slider.

7. John Simms, rhp, College Park HS, The Woodlands, Texas: Simms’ build is more mature and developed than Jenkins’, but he garners results.

“His stuff is not overpowering,” the crosschecker said, “and his arm slot is a bit low. But his slider is very good.”

Simms’ fastballs sits about 91 while the slider is around 80.

8. Peter Tago, Dana Hills HS, Dana Point, Calif.: Tago was a bit of an enigma in Long Beach. In his first appearance, he committed the mechanical double whammy of both cutting himself off and throwing across his body. In a later appearance, Tago worked well but threw no curveballs.

In general, Tago’s unusually long arms give him a loose and buggy whip type of delivery. His fastball ranges from 88-92. In other events, his curveball. a potential plus pitch—exhibits straight down drop with intense spin and registers in the mid 70s.

9. Aaron Sanchez, rhp, Barstow (Calif.) HS: “It’s easy to dream on him,” the crosschecker said. “He didn’t step it up here, but he’s pitched in so many events that his velocity isn’t always there. I like his loose, easy arm.”

Sanchez, when right, delivers a high 80s to low 90s fastball, and a tailing mid 70s curve.

10. Henry Owens, lhp, Edison HS, Huntington Beach, Calif.: Another member of the 2011 class, Owens displays a high 80s fastball and a two plane high 60s curve.

“He is a tall and projectable lefty,” the crosschecker said. “He is not overpowering but he has a good feel for the curve”

The scout added: "It’s too early to compare him to (Tyler) Matzek or (Tyler) Skaggs, but he may reach that level by the time he graduates."

The next prominent event on the showcase calendar is the Aflac All-America All Star Game, scheduled for Sunday, August 16 at Petco Park in San Diego.

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