Scouts make due with available talent
By Josh Boyd
LONG BEACH--While scouts seemed resigned to the fact the talent level is down a notch this year at the 2002 Area Code Games, they also know it's their job to find the best of the bunch.
"This is what we have to work with," one scout said. "We'll grow to like them. But seeing them here is what it's all about. When will I be able to see Xavier Paul (an outfield prospect from Slidell, La.) face this type of pitching during the spring?
"I might have to make a decision on Ryan Sweeney (a two-way prospect from Cedar Rapids, Iowa) right now because he might be facing 60 mph fastballs when we go in to see him."
As the end of the week nears, hitters seem to be getting more comfortable handling wood bats and more comfortable with hundreds of scouts and college recruiters staring them down.
The Brewers team, which is made up of southern California talent, has looked comfortable since day one. But they weren't are comfortable against Sarasota HS lefty James Houser, who turned in a three-inning, seven-strikeout performance against them Wednesday.
Milwaukee Brewers scout Bruce Seid, who also coaches the Area Code Brewers, didn't expect any pitcher to blow away his squad like Houser did.
"We have a pretty good lineup and he just buzzed through it," Seid said. "We have some raw power hitters on this team."
Seid, who signed first-rounder David Krynzel and second-rounder Nick Neugebauer for the Brewers, was impressed with Harvard (Los Angeles, Calif.) HS first baseman Brennan Boesch.
"He's earned the nickname 'Bash' around here," Seid said. "He has terrific wrist action through the zone; he can really drive the ball."
Another scout commented, "that's exactly what we're looking for," after Boesch ripped a line-drive single with his sweet lefthanded stroke. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder has shown the bat speed to catch up to good fastballs, though he's still learning to keep his hands back on offspeed stuff.
Another SoCal prospect, outfielder Trevor Bell, stepped onto the mound on Thursday for the first time after standing out for his bat the first couple days. The 15-year-old rising sophomore surprised scouts by sitting between 88-90 mph with life, a sharp curveball and a feel for his changeup. Bell isn't eligible for the draft until 2005.
Horizon (Scottsdale, Ariz.) shortstop Brandon Wood asserted himself on Thursday after top shortstop prospects Justin Upton, Sean Rodiguez and Robert Valido got all the attention early in the week. Wood, 18, showcased plus arm strength and all the natural actions scouts look for in the middle of the diamond including a flexible, athletic body, quick hands and solid footwork. Scouts don't question Wood's ability to pick it at short, but his potential at the plate will determine his future at the next level. Wood hit a line-drive single into left field and then showed good bat speed and strength by crushing a double to the opposite-field gap.
For more information on this year's Area Code Games, check out www.studentsports.com.
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