Ficociello Busts Out Of Slump In A Big Way

LOS ANGELES — Dominic Ficociello’s tape-measure home run was the highlight of the second day of competition in the Anaheim Lions Tournament. Forty scouts flocked to Boysen Park in Anaheim to watch Ficociello and his Fullerton Union High teammate Michael Lorenzen perform in a game won by Lakewood (Calif.) HS, 9-6.

Scenic and exquisitely maintained, the field at Boysen Park boasts big league dimensions: 355 feet to left, 392 to left center, 400 to center, 393 to right center and 344 to right. In homage to Wrigley Field, foliage covers the outfield fence at Boysen from corner to corner. It is named after a gentleman named Rudolph Boysen who, among his many other accomplishments, is credited with being the first to cultivate boysenberries—much to the delight of toast lovers nationwide.

Ficociello landed on scouts’ prospect GPS in last summer’s Area Code games, when he ripped five hits in a doubleheader. He followed that performance with a long wood bat home run at USC in the Jesse Flores Memorial All Star Game in November.

Tall and gangly, the Arkansas-bound shortstop has experienced a strangely uneven 2010 spring season. Ficociello began strongly, hitting four home runs in Fullerton’s first six games. A bizarre incident followed. In a subsequent game Ficociello was ruled to have ventured too far out of the dugout to celebrate a teammate’s RBI, and was suspended for two games under a persnickety California Interscholastic Federation rule.

That silliness lead to a prolonged slump by Ficociello, in which he lost patience and selectivity at the plate, struggled with pitch recognition and swung at every pitch with the intent of hitting two home runs with one swing. That slump ended emphatically on Monday.

In his second at-bat, Ficociello drilled a double off the base of the right field fence, just beneath the 393 sign—a shot that served merely as a prelude to his fourth plate appearance, in the seventh inning.

Ficociello blasted a letter-high fastball over the right field barrier, just to the right of the 393 sign. The laser-like shot cleared the wall by approximately 40 feet, shearing off a branch of a tree positioned behind the fence.

It was perhaps the longest—and hardest hit—home run by a Southern California high schooler since Mike Moustakas (now in the Royals organization) unloaded a 500-foot shot for Chatsworth High at Granada Hills in 2007. That particular monster cleared the right field fence and a high protective netting, crossed over a residential street, and landed on the roof of an apartment building.

Several scouts left the game early, prior to Ficociello’s final at bat. Their poor timing is reminiscent of the driver whose red tail lights can be seen leaving Dodger Stadium as Kirk Gibson hit his legendary limp-off home run in game one of the 1988 World Series.

Ficociello’s teammate Michael Lorenzen is also one of the nation’s top high school prospects. An outfielder who bats and throws righthanded, Lorenzen has a powerful throwing arm and outstanding (6.7) speed. An excellent defender, Lorenzen struggled at bat Monday. In fact, both Lorenzen and Ficociello were dropped into the bottom half of the batting order by the Fullerton coach.

Lorenzen’s tools are very similar to those of Jake Marisnick, an outfielder from Riverside Poly High selected by Toronto in the third round of the 2009 draft. Scouts are not convinced of Lorenzen’s hitting ability, but it should be noted that Lorenzen has flashed promising signs of bat speed and power in the past year.

A quick flash of rainy and windy weather Monday morning in Southern California disrupted schedules in all of the local tournaments. The National Classic was able to play the majority of their schedule.

Monday’s highlight in the National Classic was a 1-0 shutout pitched by Peninsula High’s Sammy Moore, runner up in Saturday’s home run contest, over powerhouse Mater Dei High.