Pitchers showcased on Day Two
By Josh Boyd
LONG BEACH--After position players had their chance to display their tools on Monday, the pitching prospects at the 2002 Area Code Games were ready for their chance to impress scouts. Last season pitchers were regularly topping out in the 90s, and though it doesn't seem like this year's crop will heat up the radar guns quite as much, there were some live arms on the mound.
In the morning's first game, it wasn't Buena (Hereford, Ariz.) HS lefthander Donald Veal's velocity that excited scouts, but rather his athleticism and effortless delivery. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound 17-year-old was throwing just 83-84 mph last fall but worked between 86-88 mph Tuesday and hit 90 during the spring. Veal has a projectable frame, a clean delivery and arm action that suggests more velocity will come down the road. He also throws a slow curveball that needs improvement.
Cain Byrd, who was considered one of the top underclassmen in the 2001 Area Code Games, took the mound in the day's second game. The Southwood (Shreveport, La.) HS righthander has a lightning-quick arm and gets good leverage from a three-quarters release. Byrd threw a hard, two-plane 77 mph slider to compliment his 90-91 mph fastball.
Several pitchers showcased some arm strength, throwing between 87 and 91, including Sealy (Texas) HS righty Mark Krampitz; Margarita (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) HS righty Jared Hughes; Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) HS lefty Scott Maine; Xavier (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) lefty Ryan Sweeney; Christian (Charlotte, NC) HS righthander Daniel Bard; and Westosha Ctrl (Bristol, Wisc.) righthander Daryl Maday. But Lufkin (Texas) HS righty Craig "Goose" Whitaker who mowed down the side in order.
Whitaker, 17, ranks as the 15th-best high schooler in the class of 2003. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder threw 90-93 mph with late life and an occasional sharp breaking ball. He fanned the first two hitters he faced and forced the third to pop up to second base.
The consensus is that it's not going to take B.J. Upton's younger brother Justin long to make a name for himself. "I'm not a writer, but I bet I know one name who's going to be in your report tomorrow," one scouting director joked. "It's not often you can say a 15-year-old has a chance to be better than the player who was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick, but (Justin) has a chance."
Upton, who wasn't officially scheduled to play in the Area Code Games this year, is going to get extra exposure playing for two different teams--the White Sox-Midwest, the team B.J. was on last year, and the Red Sox, the team representing the North East region.
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For more information on this year's Area Code Games, check out www.studentsports.com.
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