Area Code Games Notebook: Day 3


Dominic Pipkin

Dominic Pipkin (Photo: Bill Mitchell)

LONG BEACH--Day 3 of the Area Code Games proved to be the longest day yet, with five games on the schedule, stretching from 8:00 a.m. to almost 9:00 p.m. PT.

While the day was certainly a long one, that only meant more looks of talented players, and there are a number of them to touch on today--and certainly more that we won’t be able to get into.

So, let’s keep the preamble short and jump get right in:

Adam Kloffenstein | RHP | Magnolia (Texas) High

Starting the final game of the day for the Rangers, Texas Christian commit Adam Kloffenstein had arguably the best outing of any pitcher on Day 3.

He showed an impressive three-pitch mix. He located a 90-92 mph fastball to both sides, a sharp 79-82 mph slider that had tight vertical drop, and a firm mid-80s changeup that looked similar to his fastball out of the hand.

Kloffenstein’s slider was one of the best breaking balls of the day, and he consistently located the pitch down in the zone for strikes or below and in the dirt as a chase pitch. His best was to California outfielder Kingston Liniak (San Marcos, Calif.) in the top of the second. After getting ahead 0-2, Kloffenstein threw a low, 92 mph fastball just below the zone for a ball and followed it up with a 79 mph slider in almost the same location. Liniak swung at the pitch, but it fell off the table and out of the zone for strike three.

Kloffenstein will need to clean up his fastball command out of the stretch a bit moving forward. After his first baserunner reached on an error, Kloffenstein missed up and to his arm side with his fastball and issued his first and only walk of the outing to J.T. Schwartz (Newport Beach, Calif.).

Aside from that, Kloffenstein was extremely effective. He faced 12 batters, struck out three, forced six ground balls--four of which were outs--two fly outs and walked one batter.

Tyler Ras | RHP | Middletown (N.J.) North High

Ras toed the rubber for the Yankees in the fourth game of the day, opening up with a 94 mph fastball on his first pitch to immediately get people paying attention. The Alabama commit cruised through his first inning, throwing just seven pitches--all 93-94 mph fastballs--and recording a groundout, strikeout and a pop up to first base.

Brennan Rozell (Lincoln, Calif.) was the victim of his strikeout in the first frame, as Ras pumped in three straight 94 mph fastballs up in the zone to sit him down.

The 6-foot-3, 185 pound righty showed some feel for his off speed in the second inning, getting Jack Filby (Sacramento) to swing through a 78 mph changeup for his second strikeout of the day, and finishing the frame with a sharp, late-breaking 83 mph slider down in the dirt that fooled A.J. Miller (Petaluma, Calif.) and gave him his third strikeout.

Ras got into some trouble in his third inning, loading the bases on a single up the middle, walk and infield single. He managed to pitch out of the jam by getting Dawson Brigman (San Jose) to fly out to shallow left and then getting a big strikeout against Rozell with a 77 mph changeup that showed fading action.

Finally, Ryan Holgate (Davis, Calif.) flew out to right to end the inning and wrap up an impressive outing from Ras, who showed potential with three pitches and putting the highest velocity readings to that point.

Dominic Pipkin | RHP | Pinole (Calif.) Valley High

Ras’ daily velo mark didn’t last long, as California commit Dominic Pipkin followed him immediately in the bottom of the first for the Athletics and touched a 95 mph fastball on his fourth pitch.

While his outing wasn’t as clean as Ras’ was--Pipkin walked three straight batters in the third inning when he started to lose his fastball control--he did show some exciting potential with a fairly easy delivery and a projectable, 6-foot-5, 175-pound frame.

Pipkins best inning was his second, when he faced just three batters and got a pair of groundouts, while hitting 95 mph on back-to-back pitches against Nick Northcut (Mason, Ohio), and getting him to swing through the second one up in the zone for his first strikeout.

One batter later, Pipkin put a 96 reading on the scoreboard, which is something that only Ethan Hankins (Cumming, Ga.) had done during the showcase up to that point.

Jonathan Ornelas | INF | Kellis High, Glendale, Ariz.

Ornelas is one of the few uncommitted players at the 2017 Area Code Games, although it will be surprising if that lasts much longer after the show he’s put on so far this week--on both sides of the ball.

At shortstop, Ornelas moves fluidly around the dirt and bag, with long arms and legs that make his official 6-foot height seem a bit conservative. He has solid footwork and a strong accurate arm, showing the ability to throw from different angles and confidently hit his target while on the move.

In the box, Ornelas has a quick bat and surprising pop out of a long bat path, homering once to left field in batting practice and otherwise spraying hard line drives, predominantly to the pull side. The bat speed showed itself in the top of the fourth inning Tuesday, as Ornelas turned on an inside, 88 mph fastball from righthander Sean Burke (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and doubled down the left-field line. By getting his hands out quickly, Ornelas was able to put the barrel on a pitch that might have jammed him otherwise. The ball left jumped off his bat at 95 mph.

Ian Bedell | RHP | Davenport (Iowa) Central High

Bedell took the ball as the White Sox starter in the second game of the day versus the Athletics, and responded by giving the team three solid innings, surrendering just one hit--a low line drive up the middle from California infielder Brennan Rozell--while striking out three batters and allowing a pair of walks.

The Missouri commit pitches out of a high, three-quarter arm slot and was predominantly 89-91 with his fastball over his three innings, although he sprinkled in a few 92s and touched 93 mph once. Bedell has a plunging, hooking arm action in the back, and mixed in a low-to-mid 70s curveball that had 11-5 shape, but occasionally showed late horizontal movement as well.

Joseph Ammirato | RHP | Bellarmine Prep, San Jose, Calif.

The 6-foot-2 Ammirato entered the second game of the day for the Athletics in the top of the fourth inning and showed off one of the funkier deliveries scouts have seen so far at Blair Field.

Ammirato delivers the ball out of a high three-quarter arm slot, but before he gets there he has a high leg kick, pulling his knee up to the height of his elbow while leaning slightly back to first base. As he begins to rotate toward the plate, Ammirato brings the ball down in a sharp stabbing motion, while his upper half slides into a pronounced tilt before whipping the ball toward the batter.

All of the action makes it seem like the California commit is throwing from a higher slot than he actually is, and might have helped his 88-91 fastball play up. Ammirato struck out two batters over four innings and allowed three hits, although only one--a Cam McMillan (Overland Park, Kan.) double up the middle--was hit hard.

In addition to his fastball, Ammirato threw a slow, upper 60s 12-6 curveball that had a lot of downward depth, but also broke fairly early and was easy to pick up out of his hand, as he gets wraps all the way around the ball and snaps it off to give the pitch its movement. The shape of the pitch gives it some potential, but the deception and bite likely will need to improve, as he slowed his arm speed on the pitch a few times as well.

Shane Smith | RHP | The Governor’s Academy, Byfield, Mass.

Smith performed well a week ago at East Coast Pro and again showed promising potential on the mound during Tuesday’s third game, throwing three innings and allowing just a pair of hits, while striking out four batters.

Smith’s best inning was the second, when he spotted 90 mph fastballs on the outside corner to strikeout three batters: Tanner O’Tremba (Englewood, Colo.), Tyler Kelly (Cottonwood, Ariz.) and Luke Leisenring (Arvada, Colo.). The fastball is definitely Smith’s strongest pitch at the moment, as all four of his strikeouts came with it, and it sat mostly 89-91 while touching 92.

Smith also flashed a mid-to-upper 70s curveball that generated one swing and miss and got Nolan Gorman (Phoenix) to roll over and ground into a 3-6-3 double play to end the first inning.

Other Players to Note:

Xavier Edwards (Broward, Fla.) continues to hit anything and everything. After causing some chaos by proving to be an adept bunter with his elite speed, Edwards showed that he has some juice as well, tripling on a long fly ball off of Canadian righty Tate Dearing (Surrey, B.C.) in the first game of the day. He burned the right fielder and one-hopped the fence while flying out of the batter’s box and rounding second in 7.8 seconds.

Dustin Garcia (Port Orchard, Wash.) made the catch of the day immediately after Edwards’ triple. Korey Holland (Houston) hit a deep fly ball to center and appeared to have an extra-base hit locked up, but Garcia--who is currently uncommitted--made an excellent jump, tracked the ball down and made a ridiculous, over-the-shoulder diving catch.

Chandler Champlain (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) faced the minimum over two innings in the final game of the day, going pitch for pitch with Adam Kloffenstein. Champlain struck out 2019 phenom Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville, Texas) with a sharp 79 mph 12-6 curveball in his first inning and then fanned outfielder Logan Britt (Ft. Worth, Texas) with a 90 mph fastball on the outside corner in his second.

• Canadian slugger Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) is known as one of the most exciting catchers in the 2018 class, with some lightning in the bat from the left side and a strong arm behind the dish. On Tuesday, though, Naylor showed he could pick it at third base as well. During the fourth game of the day, California infielder Dawson Brigman led off the top of the first with a ground ball to third, and Naylor had no problem at all ranging to his left, fielding the ball cleanly and making a strong, accurate throw to beat Brigman (who clocked a 4.47 home-to-first time) to the bag.

Ethan Reed (Alisa Viejo, Calif.) pitched followed Champlain for the Brewers and immediately showed off a lively, 92-93 mph fastball. The pitch generated six swings and misses over two innings and was also the out-pitch when Reed struck out all three batter’s he faced in the bottom of the third:

Nick Northcut (Mason, Ohio) has been one of the most impressive hitters of the week, seemingly hitting the ball hard ever time he steps in the batter’s box. The Vanderbilt commit added two more Tuesday, squaring up an 88 mph fastball against Arizona righty Tyler Woesner in the Yankees’ first game of the day, and hitting another 88 mph pitch against California lefty Lucas Gather. The former had a 94 mph exit velocity and the latter a 92 mph exit velo. For good measure, Northcut also hopped on the mound in the top of the seventh inning of the second game, getting three groundouts and walking one batter while throwing 88-90 and mixing in two distinct breaking balls.