Area Code Sleepers

As the Area Code and Aflac Games draw to a conclusion, my colleague Matt Blood will give readers the lowdown on the top prospects: the Bryce Harper, Tyler Matzek, Donovan Tate types. Of course, not every player participating is a first rounder, and not everyone will be incessantly followed by scouts, agents, online ranking services, and glossy student sport publications.

At the Area Code games, one player from each squad caught my eye as a "sleeper"–imperfect players with some qualities that caught my eye. They are:

Stephen Bruno, ss, Gloucester Catholic HS, Audubon, N.J., 2009:

As a middle infielder, Bruno can pick everything in the orchard. His lack of size–5-foot-9, 149 pounds–and 7.02 speed will no doubt turn most scouts off. However, Bruno is a high energy player with dazzling defensive skills who can dash around and make any type of difficult play.  His lightning quick hands enable him to turn double plays in a flash.

Josh Leyland, c, San Dimas (Calif.) HS, 2009:

Leyland’s lack of outstanding athleticism will restrict him to catcher or first base. Big and strong, he exhibits a fundamentally sound setup and swing, and likes to look for a low pitch out over the plate to hammer. Leyland needs refinement as a receiver and will need to vastly improve his catch and release mechanics. Despite that, Leyland shows the basic ability to be an impact lefthanded hitting catcher.

Todd Glaesman, of, Midway HS, Waco, Texas, 2009:

Just like their big league counterparts, the Rangers ball club had the best offense in Long Beach. Overshadowed by the other big bats on his team, Glaesman nonetheless impressed with his projectable and athletic frame, good speed (6.90) and decent arm. He possesses a fine swing but may want to ditch his gimmicky stance, which begins from an unusually open position.

Wes Hatton, rhp/2b, Norco (Calif.) HS, 2009:

An undersized player who could probably fit in High School teammate Matt Hobgood’s pocket, Hattons hustling, all out diving style of play earns him the nickname "Splattin’ Hatton". Undersized and bereft of big tools, Hatton was still able to rip the ball in BP, driving a jack out of Blair Field. He may eventually transform into a Pedroia type second baseman.

Luke Maile, c, Covington Catholic HS, Crestview Hills, Ky., 2009:

Maile has the type of arm strength from behind the plate that causes heads to whip around. His POP times, which currently sit in the 2.00 range, can be decreased with better footwork and a quicker release. Maile needs to improve with the bat, but he does flash a decent swing.

Bobby Joe Tannehill, ss/3b, Kentlake HS, Auburn, Wash., 2009:

Blessed with a name which sounds like a steel guitar picker in a country band, Tannehill has an outstanding tall, athletic and projectable frame. His size and lack of huge tools figure to eventually land him at 3rd. In any case, his quality fielding actions and strong arm are impressive. Tannehills bat needs work, probably due to the fact that colder weather players can’t get as many year round at bats as sun belt players can.

Alex Glenn, of, Henry County HS, McDonough, Ga., 2009 and Ronnie Richardson, of, Lake Region HS, Eagle Lake, Fla., 2009:

Glenn and Richardson arrived a day late to Long Beach. This figures to be the only time either will ever be late for anything. Both players have electrifying speed and quickness. As with several others on this list, scouts who obsess on taller, bigger framed players may be turned off to these two. However, both can scoot, both have fine arms, they can cover huge swaths of ground in the OF, and both attack the ball with quick bats which produce gap power.

Tony Piazza, inf, Notre Dame Prep, Scottsdale, Ariz., 2009:

I caught a glimpse of Piazza only in Tuesday’s BP. Piazza is tall and projectable, but his 7.35 speed limits him to the IF corners. What drew my attention to Piazza is his swing. He has probably never heard of Stan Musial, but I haven’t seen Piazza’s type of swing since Musial. Which is not to say he will be Musial, of course. Stan started crunched up in the far back corner of the batters box, then drove himself forward toward the ball and took a level, lashing type swing. Piazza did the exact same thing and while he didn’t display big power he did slash loud, hard line drives all over the lot.

Many of the ballplayers listed above will be lower round draft picks or will play in college before having an opportunity in pro ball. They have all benefited from the exposure of the Area Code Games, and while not every scout will shoot these youngsters to the top of their draft lists, these players can take comfort in an observation made many times by the late great scout Spider Jorgenson:

"It only takes one scout to like ‘ya!"