CHICAGO—This year's Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, was among the best in recent memory, with perfect weather in the Windy City, pitchers throwing consistent strikes, and several position players showing their skills both defensively and in the batter's box.
With 40 of the nation's top high school prospects on the same field, several players showed exciting raw talent.
Best Fastball: J.T. Ginn, RHP, Brandon (Miss.) High
Ginn pitched off his fastball for two innings, pounding both sides of the plate with plus life on his ball. Ginn touched 97 mph on his second pitch of the outing and pitched at 94-96 for two innings. He faced seven batters, striking out one and getting the other six to hit the ball with topspin. He allowed a single on a well-hit ground ball up the middle from Nolan Gorman in the eighth inning.
Righthander Cole Wilcox (Heritage High, Ringgold, Ga.) also reached 97 mph, while righty Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central High, Cumming, Ga.)—who started the game—pitched at 94-96. Righty Kumar Rocker (North Oconee High, Bogart, Ga.) showed an easy 92-95 mph fastball.
Best Slider: Braxton Ashcraft, RHP, Robinson (Texas) High
Ashcraft threw three sliders in the game, all with late biting action at 84-86. His inning went by quickly, as Ashcraft hammered the strike zone with his fastball, slider, and curveball.
Lefthander Luke Bartnicki (Walton High, Marietta, Ga.) also showed a hard, late-breaking slider at 82-85. Rocker used his 83-mph slider to strike out Will Banfield in the bottom of the first inning. Righty Cole Winn (Silver Creek High, Longmont, Col.) only threw one slider in the game, but the pitched showed tight spin and sharp horizontal break.
Best Curveball: Cole Winn, RHP, Silver Creek High, Longmont, Colo.
Winn was a bit erratic in his lone inning, but when he hit on his curveball, it showed plus bite with late depth.
Lefthander Matthew Liberatore, who was named the player of the game, had outstanding feel for his long 12-to-6 slow curve, thrown in the low 70s. Righty David Luethje (Vero Beach High, Vero Beach, Fla.) showed the potential for an above-average curveball, throwing the pitch at 78-79 with late 12-to-6 dive. Lefty Garrett Wade (Hartselle High, Hartselle, Ala.) showed tight spin and late break on his 78-81 mph curve.
Best Changeup: Jaden Hill, RHP, Ashdown (Ark.) High
Hill reached 93-94 with his fastball, but he had confidence in his low 80s changeup, often selling the pitch with fastball arm speed and getting swings and misses with tumbling action down and away from lefthanded hitters.
Rocker also showed a solid changeup, spotting it down and away from the lefthanded hitting Alek Thomas for a ground ball.
Best Hitter: Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wisc.) West High
Kelenic, playing just two hours from his hometown, went 1-for-3 with two walks in the game, scoring the game's winning run after a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 11th inning. Kelenic has advanced strike zone awareness, loose hands, and an all-fields approach. His hit came on a 92 mph fastball from Jaden Hill; Kelenic recognized it early and shot a ground ball through the six hole for a single.
Nander De Sedas (Montverde Academy, Montverde, Fla.) went 1-for-4 with a walk, two strikeouts and a groundout, but he worked long counts often and showed a sound understanding of the strike zone. The switch-hitting De Sedas is more natural hitting righthanded. His best contact in the game came in the fifth inning, when he went with an outside fastball from lefty Cole Winn and roped a hard line drive to right field. The ball was misplayed by the right fielder and De Sedas reached third base.
Best Power: Nolan Gorman, 3b, Sandra Day O'Connor High (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Gorman's power was on display before the game, when he won the home run derby with easy pull power. He also hit a hard ground ball up the middle for a single off J.T. Ginn.
Triston Casas (American Heritage High, Plantation, Fla.) also made plenty of loud contact in the game, with one flyout to the warning track in right field, and a hard double to left field that tied the game in the eighth inning.
Jordan Groshans (Magnolia High, Magnolia, Texas) had one of the hardest hit balls of the day, sending a line drive up the middle for a triple.
Best Defensive Player: Blaze Alexander, INF, Bishop Verot High (Fort Myers, Fla.)
Alexander played shortstop, second, and third and he made impressive defensive plays at all three. Alexander's signature trait is his plus-plus arm strength from shortstop, but he showed smooth hands and an impressive internal clock all over the field. His best play of the day came following Groshans' triple, when Alexander fielded a well-hit ground ball at third smoothly and swiftly tagged Groshans who was a bit too far off the bag.
Raynel Delgado (Calvary Christian Academy, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) made an impressive play ranging to his left at second base, showing body control and range as he turned and threw a strike to first base to beat the runner.
Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel High, Chicago) made a difficult play in center field early in the game. On a shallow line drive in front of him, Thomas dove forward and made the catch to rob Groshans of a base hit.