Area Code Games, Day 2

LONG BEACH — SPARQ athletic skills testing results were distributed Thursday during the second day of the 23rd-annual Area Code games.

Scouts voraciously gobble up the printed statistical readouts, which reveal overall and individual scores in a variety of physical skills tests. Baseball folks primarily pay attention to the 60-yard dash and vertical leap tallies.

The highest overall score in 2009 was posted by Stefan Sabol, a catcher/outfielder from Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Sabol, whose cousin is Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, recorded a stratospheric 80.87 overall score. That rivals other top marks recorded in previous Area Code SPARQ testing by stalwarts such as Kenny Diekroger, Cutter Dykstra and Toby Gerhart.

Sabol trampolined to a remarkable 36.2 inch vertical leap, and shocked everyone present—himself included—by racing off to one of the fastest 60 times in Area Code history—6.28. The score is shocking because Sabol typically runs in the 6.5- to 6.7-second range.

Sabol plays baseball exclusively, and I asked him to scout himself. “I think my strengths are my athletic ability, speed and quick hands. I need to learn the game and work on my catching skills, plus I need to become a more vocal leader.” Many scouts would like to see Sabol shift to the outfield, but he contends: “I’m committed to catching. I’ll switch if I have to, but I hope that’s only later in my career."

Of course, Sabol was not the only player with an eyebrow-raising SPARQ score. A sampling of others:

Sean Coyle, Germantown Academy HS, Chalfont, Pa.
A 5-foot-8 infielder with a 6.53 60 and 36.1-inch vertical leap. Lost to Sabol in the overall testing by only .78 points.

Kevin Jordan, Northside Columbus HS, Cloumbus, Ga.
Jordan has an excellent frame and displays a quick line drive left handed bat. He adds 6.62 speed and a 35.1-inch vertical leap.

Cory Hahn, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif.
Only 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds, Hahn ripped off a 6.64 60 and recorded a 35.8 vertical jump.

Michael Lorenzen, Fullerton (Calif.) Union HS
Lorenzen was good at everything, with a 6.81 60 and a 33.0 vertical leap. He finished first in the wacky shuttle test, posting a 4.27 time.

Austin Wilson, Harvard Westlake School, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Wilson packs a plus arm and provocative power in his 6-foot-4, 213-pound build. He’s a superlative athlete as well, reeling off a 6.79 60 and a 35.4 vertical jump.

The first four games of this year’s Area Code games were held Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Coincidentally, the first 3 games ended in a tie.

Top pitching talent on display included:

Kevin Ziomek, Amherst Regonal HS, Amherst, Mass.
Ziomek is a projectable lefthanded pitcher whose fastball sits in the high 80s and can touch 91 mph. He adds two types of curveballs: a slower, sweeping 69 version, and a harder 77 slurve.

Kevin Gausman, Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo.
Gausman is a highly touted righthander who did not disappoint his opening day start, sitting at 91-92 and touching 93.

Dylan Bundy, Owasso HS, Sperry, Okla.
A 2011 grad, Bundy is a powerfully built RHP who generated the most first day buzz with his power 91-94 fastball.

Jesus Valdez, Hueneme HS, Oxnard, Calif.
Valdez sailed through his stint today, and is beginning to smooth out some of the awkwardness in his delivery. He challenged hitters inside with his low-90s fastball.

AJ Vanegas, Redwood Christian HS, Alameda, Calif.
Strong and physical, Vanegas does not have the smoothest delivery but fired a lively 91-93 mph fastball coupled with a promising 75 mph curve.

Top hitters in the first 3 games included:

Josh Sale, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle, Wash.
Sale homered twice in last year’s Area Code Games and he picked up where he left off on Wednesday night, blasting another round tripper out of spacious Blair Field.

Christian Yelich, Westlake HS, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Yelich is a and tall and thin lefthanded hitter whose sweet swing produced a long triple to right center in today’s morning game. He followed that in his next at bat with a sharp double down the left field line.

Major League Baseball’s Symposium will be held tonight in Long Beach, and the Area Code Games will continue through Aug. 10.