The Under Armour All-America Game gives evaluators a glimpse of the top high school talent in the nation, but scouts don't make conclusions about players based on one game. The All-America game format is only one step in the process, an extra look at how the top draft prospects perform against one another, but for some scouts, it means something when a player performs on a big stage. The game was played at Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs.
"It's always good to see young players at a big league park," said one American League crosschecker. "How someone does at a big event like this means a lot. It isn't easy to go from playing in high school games in front of your parents and friends to go play in front of thousands of people at a big league stadium."
There's an added pressure when the stage is so big and the lights are so bright, and excellence under such circumstances is something that matters to some scouts. It might not supersede the physical evaluation, but it might make the difference between two players of equal physical talent.
On the big stage, when the game started, Puerto Rican outfielder Heliot Ramos stepped up. Ramos went 3-for-3, punishing the ball with authority when he tripled down the right field corner and again when he homered to left center field.
But Ramos wasn't the only star. What follows is a breakdown of each Under Armour All-American’s performance.
All but two of the participants in this year's game will graduate in 2017; Joe Gray is a 2018 graduate, and Triston Casas is a 2019 graduate. Draft day ages are as of June 1, 2017. Heights and weights are those listed on the official roster. There are references to the workout that took place on June 22, as well as the pre-game workout on June 23.
Jordon Adell | OF/RHP | R/R | 6-3 | 185 | Draft-Day Age: 18 years, 2 months | Ballard High (Louisville, Ky.) | Commitment: Louisville
The beginning of Adell's summer seems long ago, and he might have found a remedy for his early-summer woes. Adell, very much aware of his mechanics, explained the rationale behind his mechanical tweaks.
"Standing a little bit taller at the plate helps me with the high pitch,” he said. “Some of the guys are going to come high with me or they're going to go low and away, so that's helped a lot, me being able to see those pitches up . . . With my load, I'm not loading back as much. That's helping me stay shorter to the ball, and closed off . . . My foot is going to have to come in to be closed off any way so I might as well start closed and keep it as simple as possible, so that's helped me a lot . . . When I had my open stance I was trying to step in and wasn't getting that (left) foot all the way in. So, me starting off closed, I know my foot is going to get where it needs to be, so that's going to allow me to get to that outside pitch and take it the other way."
That might be a long-winded way of emphasizing the adjustments that Adell has made, but the ability to make adjustments is a fundamental attribute of top prospects. And Adell's adjustments aren't just logically sound; his results have improved. In the game, Adell flied out to center (on a 96-mph fastball down in the zone) in his first at-bat. In his second time up, Adell tattooed a hanging breaking pitch, pulling it foul. He then struck out on a check swing at a fastball down and away--trying to stop his hands as the pitch came through, Adell clearly recognized the pitch. In his third trip, Adell hit a booming line drive right at the third baseman, showing the ability to turn on a 95-mph fastball. Finally, in the seventh inning, Adell took a fastball down and in and shot a hard line drive to left field for an RBI single.
Adell showed at least plus raw power in batting practice and in the home run derby. He also made a strong play in center field, making an overhead catch on a ball hit over his head in the third inning. He has an explosive array of tools and will be a fascinating prospect to follow over the coming weeks and months. Adell's game is not without wrinkles, and he will have to overcome a slow start, but his adjustments are very impressive.