Area Code Games Top Position Players

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Scouts generally agreed that the 2010 Area Code games, which concluded here yesterday at Blair Field, were unusual in one respect: There was no single dominant hitter/position player present, no blatantly obvious top or middle of the first round prospect for next year’s draft.

Several highly-touted players were present in Long Beach but did not play particularly well. It is important to remember that the Area Code Games simply expose a prospect to scouts and give him the opportunity to play against advanced competition. Performance is important but not critical. Both Mike Stanton and Hank Conger, for instance, hit poorly at the Area Code Games, but neither player’s draft status was affected.

Three skilled and nifty middle infielders stood out. First was Julius Gaines from Luella High in McDonough, Georgia. Lithe and wiry at 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds, Gaines is a superb athlete, posting a 6.71 60 time and a 34.2 inch vertical leap. An outstanding defensive shortstop, Gaines flashed smooth and fluid fielding actions and the ability to make all the requisite plays: turn two, charge slowly hit rollers, go in the hole and nab the runner at first.

Also impressive as athletic and defensively advanced middle infielders were Dante Flores from St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, Calif. and Brandon Martin from Santiago High in  Corona, Calif.

Catchers and corner infielders struggled at the 2010 ACG and it was obvious that the standout position players were outfielders. Included in that group were. . .

Billy Flamion, Central Catholic HS, Modesto, Calif.
Flamion is an athletic corner outfielder with a fine arm, projectable frame and excellent (6.77) speed. Most importantly, he possesses an exceptionally quick bat, enabling balls to jump off the barrel. Once Flamion irons out some mechanical issues in his swing, he’ll move near the top of the class of 2011 draft eligible high school hitters.

Nick Williams, Galveston Ball HS, La Marque, Texas
Only 16 and a member of the 2012 class, Williams is a multi-sport athlete who reportedly will focus on baseball in his last two prep years. Scouts nationwide are cheering that decision.

At 6-foot12 and 185 pounds, Williams is a freakishly talented athlete with a sculpted build. Some Jason Heyward comparisons were heard and while that may be premature, Williams can run, throw and hit. His swing hints at the possibility of huge power. If Williams learns to keep his head on the ball and front side closed consistently he will be the rare player who has no limitations.

Aaron Brown, Chatsworth (Calif.) HS
Muscular and powerfully built, Brown runs (6.87) and throws well and is an ideal fit for either corner outfield spot. As a hitter, Brown is extremely aggressive and exhibits bat speed and power potential. Like many over-eager young hitters, he will need to learn not to commit and spin out his hips and front side too soon.

Other outfielders who impressed at Long Beach were speedy Desmond Henry from Centennial High in Compton, Calif., and multi-tool prospects Bubba Starling from Gardner-Edgerton High in Gardner, Kan. and Charles Tilson from New Trier High in Wilmette, Ill. Tilson blasted the only home run in the 20-game wood bat tournament.

Three players showcased intriguing tools but may benefit from defensive position changes. They are. . .

Tyler Goeddel, St. Francis HS, Mountain View, Calif.
Sporting a remarkably loose, gangly and projectable 6-foot-4, 170 pound frame, Goeddel played third base in Long Beach and while he was acceptable at the hot corner, his best defensive home may be elsewhere—the OF perhaps.

Goeddel, whose brother, Erik, was a 24th-round pick by the Mets this June, is a stunning athlete, recording a blazing 6.67 60 and a 34.7 vertical leap. While his bat requires substantial improvement, Goeddel has the raw tools and physical frame to fit almost any spot on the diamond.

Michael Conforto, Redmond (Wash.) HS
Conforto played the OF in Long Beach, but his 7.18 speed indicates a possible future move to 1B. Conforto’s bat plays anywhere. His compact, uppercut swing contains both bat speed and loft power.

Johnny Eierman, Warsaw, Missouri HS
Eierman gave a maximum effort on the middle infield but clearly is better suited for the outfield. He does not exhibit a great arm, but his other basic tools are staggering. Stocky and strong at 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds, Eierman ripped off a 6.41 60 and sprang to a 34 inch vertical leap.

In BP, he launched several jaw dropping shots over the distant Blair field fences. Eierman did not hit well in the games. However, when Eierman learns and incorporates the proper fundamentals into his swing, he could become an elite prospect similar to Mike Trout of the Angels.

The summer High School showcase season wraps up this weekend, with the Under Armour Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Saturday and the Aflac All American Game on Sunday at Petco Park in San Diego.