Aflac Classic Notebook
Iowa players stick together
led the East to the win in the Aflac Classic
, but Beckham was not the only notable player who starred during the game.
High school baseball in the state of Iowa drew more scouts than usual
this summer, as two of the state's top prospects squared off
in the state's 3-A title game. After B.J. Hermsen
and West Delaware High
held off traditional power Xavier High and outfielder Brent Warren
in an 8-0 victory to claim the crown, both players teamed up on the West
squad for the Aflac game, marking the first time two players from the
Hawkeye State appeared in the Aflac game the same year. The two players
have played together outside of their high school teams since they were
12, making their reunion in San Diego extra special.
"We hadn't seen a pitcher like him all year; all we saw were guys
throwing 65-70 miles an hour," said Warren, who was hitless in three
plate appearances against Hermsen in the championship game. "He's a
great pitcher, and it's nice for the state of Iowa to get a little bit
of the respect I think it really is beginning to deserve.
"We're never going to pump guys out like California and Florida, but
with (White Sox prospect Ryan) Sweeney a few years ago and Johnny
(Gilmore, an Aflac participant in 2006 who was drafted 34th-overall by
the Braves) this year, I think you're starting to see the area
producing some special players."
went 1-for-4 with an infield single in the game, and admitted he
was only about 75 percent back from open-heart surgery in
December. He had the operation to repair a rare congenital heart
condition that initially
prompted several doctors to declare his playing career over before the
surgery. "It feels great to be here, to have my health and to be
able to have so much to look forward to," Warren said.
• For Skipworth, his success wasn't coincidental. After working out for
three days with a bat that was provided by an event sponsor, he
switched to his usual model before the game, and said after
batting practice that he felt much more comfortable with his more
familiar lumber. "They said they can't make us use their bats, but
they'd like for us to, so I gave it a shot, and it's a nice bat. I
just like the way the weight's distributed so much more with mine,"
Skipworth said. "The barrel's bigger and balls jumped off my bat way
better during BP. My swing feels a lot more natural and comfortable."
• Some scouts believe Eric Hosmer
has as good a chance to play in the major leagues as any player in
the Aflac game this year, and while his skills need a lot of development,
he's already got one big league road trip under his belt. The first baseman from American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla.,
was playing in Farmington, N.M., the week leading up to the Aflac game,
which caused him to miss the East Coast Showcase, Area Code Games and
three Aflac workouts. After winning tournament
MVP honors in Farmington and leading the Midland Redskins to the Connie
Mack title, Hosmer boarded a private jet provided by the Midland
program Saturday morning and arrived in San Diego in time for batting
"I was glad I was able to make it, and I even got an extra
hour of sleep because of the time difference," Hosmer said.
• Because of an injured elbow, Hosmer's high school teammate, switch-hitting catcher Adrian Nieto
missed time during his junior season and spent much of this summer in a DH role. His play behind the plate in the later innings
of the Aflac game not only helped secure the win for the East, but
also showed scouts that his catch and throw skills are
on par with his quick, powerful bat.
Nieto picked off two baserunners
with accurate, strong snap throws, though his effort was spoiled on the
first one when third baseman Ethan Martin
(Stephens County High,
Toccoa, Ga.) mishandled the throw. Nieto then gunned down Chris
(Servite High, Anaheim) at second base from his knees on a
stolen base attempt to end the eighth inning.
• Ferrara was one of the first selections to the team, being named to
the East roster back in May, but he hasn't pitched in more than
two months and was one of four pitchers in attendance unable
to throw. Ferrara has experienced shoulder pain that hasn't subsided as
quickly as he'd hoped, and he visited Dr. James Andrews
Ala., two days after the game to have his shoulder examined.
was hard. Knowing I could have been a part of that, but not able to,
was tough," Ferrara said.
Andrews determined that Ferrara's shoulder did not require surgery,
and the lefthander will continue rehabilitation.
• Jarred Cosart
High, League City, Texas) was scratched from the West rotation when he
strained a muscle in his back during pregame warmups. He said he could have pitched if needed, and didn't believe there
was any long-terms concern as he walked off the field after the game
carrying his equipment bag.
• It's been an up-and-down summer for Houston outfielder Robbie Grossman
but the rising senior from Cypress-Fairbanks High (Cypress, Texas) made
a pair of splendid catches in center field, twice robbing Harold Martinez
(Braddock High, Miami) of extra-base hits. Grossman and Martinez were
two of nine Aflac All-Americans whose next stop was Joplin, Mo., where
they will compete for a spot on the U.S. junior national team.