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Welcome to the Friday Five, where we take a look some of the top performances and videos of high school players around the country.
Last week, our featured video was on No. 4 MLB Draft prospect MacKenzie Gore, who is in fact a pitcher, but hit a pair of monster home runs in the same inning. This week, the other top North Carolina prep prospect in the 2017 class does him one better.
As always, we’ll take a look most impressive videos of the week, regardless of prospect status, and then hit on a few of the top 2017 MLB Draft prospects who are either moving up draft boards, or putting up big performances.
Let’s jump right into it:
Austin Beck | OF | North Davidson (N.C.)
On Thursday night, North Davidson took on T.C. Roberson (Asheville, N.C.) in the third round of the North Carolina 4A state tournament. While North Davidson wound up on the wrong end of a 4-3 ballgame, Beck did everything he could to solidify himself as one of the top hitters in the 2017 class, hitting three home runs on four pitches. You can read the full report of Beck’s impressive game here, but we’re going to break down a few aspects of this video.
The first homer Beck hits gives North Davidson the lead, and it’s apparent from contact that it’s gone, as evidenced by the crowd’s reaction. Nothing to see here, other than the visual evidence of Beck’s plus power to the opposite field.
Things get a bit more interesting in his second at-bat, when he hits an absolute moonshot to left. As the kids these days would say, Beck’s launch angle was a bit higher here, making it significantly less obvious that the ball was gone immediately. Again, we go to the crowd to back this up. You can here a collective inhale from most people in the stands as they wait to see where the ball will land. A few spectators are ahead of the curve, though, with one fan exclaiming, “Oh my golly” and another more distant voice screaming, “See ya later!” By the time the ball has in fact cleared the fence and the crowd starts cheering, Beck is already rounding second base.
The third home run is a combination of the first two, going out to the opposite field and also getting a significant amount of loft. Perhaps the best part of this entire video though is the comment you can hear from a T.C. Roberson fan: “Why??? Why are we throwing to him?”
Reid Johnston | 3B/RHP | Rocky Mount Academy (N.C.)
We stay in the North Carolina state playoffs for our next video, featuring North Carolina State commit Reid Johnston, who showcases his smooth swing and power in both of these clips.
The first home run—his eighth and final of the season—comes from a Tuesday night playoff game against Northside Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C) in the semifinals of the North Carolina 2A tournament. The second is from May 2 in a 4-3 win against Epiphany (New Bern, N.C.). While Rocky Mount’s season is over with the loss to Northside, Johnston has an extremely solid season to look back on.
He led the team in hitting (.419), slugging (.935), OPS (1.435) and home runs (8). On the mound, Johnston led in ERA (1.04), innings pitched (47) and strikeouts (81). This offseason he’s focused on training and getting stronger, while playing for a local legion team and preparing for Division I baseball with the Wolfpack.
• Drew Waters and his high school team Etowah High (Woodstock, Ga.) recently advanced to the Georgia 7A state championship game, after winning two out of three against Mill Creek (Hoschton, Ga.) in the semifinal round. Waters—the No. 33 MLB Draft Prospect—has a .494/.624/.1.126 triple slash, with 13 home runs, 10 doubles, three triples and 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. He has also walked 29 times while striking out just 18 times. The top prospect out of Georgia this year, Waters offers an intriguing power-speed combo in center field, from both sides of the plate.
• Tommy Mace is one of the many prep pitchers rising on draft boards of late. Mace is a righthander with Sunlake High (Land O’ Lakes, Fla.) who is committed to Florida. He’s 6-foot-6 and 195 pounds with a clean arm action. Earlier this season he was mostly 89-91 mph, but he has seen a recent uptick in velocity. In his most recent start, he touched 94 mph and was holding 92 as late as the sixth inning. Mace could wind up going in the second or third round of the draft, depending on his signability. This spring, Mace has struck out 101 batters in 77.2 innings, while giving up 22 hits and 24 walks (0.59 WHIP). He leads his team with a 0.45 ERA and has thrown seven complete games in 12 starts. Sunlake is still in the Florida 7A state tournament, and will play Gulf Coast (Naples, Fla.) in the regional final on May 23.
• Continuing with the prep pitching trend, Shane Baz could easily be the highest riser of any player in the nation. He went off the board at No. 5 to the Braves in John Manuel’s most recent mock draft, and seems to be the consensus top prep righty after Hunter Greene. Baz’s season with Concordia Lutheran High (Tomball, Texas) is over, but he did everything scouts wanted to see from him this spring. His breaking ball has taken steps forward to complement his mid-to-upper 90s fastball, and what was more of a cutter last season has become more of a slider, although Baz still calls it a cutter because of how he grips and throws the pitch.
If you have clips of home runs, strikeouts, web gems or other high school baseball highlights, send a direct message to @CarlosACollazo on Twitter. While we can’t guarantee a spot in this particular post, we’d be more than happy to promote and share on social media.