Left Coast

Dave Perkin is a Baseball America’s Prospects Plus West Coast eyes and ears. Perkin has spent the past two months scouring Southern California for high school talent, providing scouting reports and analysis to Prospects Plus subscribers, as one of more than a dozen of the service’™s content providers. With the high school scouting scene taking center stage this week, with the Area Code Games in Long Beach, BaseballAmerica.com readers can see the event through the eyes of Dave, who has spent the past seven years scouting the area for professional teams.

LONG BEACH– For scouts, the search for quality lefthanded pitching can be more aggravating than hearing “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Sweet Home Alabama” blaring from a ballpark loudspeaker for the millionth time. But the Area Code Games got off to a promising start Sunday when Arizona’s Kyle Lobstein fortified his reputation as one of the top lefthanded pitching prospects in the rising senior class, and again today my attention was drawn to a trio of southpaws from Southern California.

Jarret Martin, (Centennial High, Bakersfield, Calif.) has been the classic Jekyl and Hyde player the past two months. He was impressive in the June 12 MLSB Compton workout, as well as the early July Area Code tryout in Costa Mesa. Martin then had a disastrous outing over this past weekend in an intersquad game between the two Brewers entries, the Blue-Gray game, at Southern Cal.

Martin righted himself Tuesday morning and was impressive. He has a tall, athletic and projectable frame, also plays first base and swung the bat well in batting practice at USC. While he could potentially play both ways in college, his professional future is as a pitcher. Martin’s fastball ranges from 88 to 92 mph, his changeup clocks in at 72 and his best pitch is his curve, which has sharp late break at 77-78.

Martin will try to do too much occasionally, and overthrow, which was his main problem at USC. Despite that tendency, he has a nice delivery and a clean arm action, prompting one veteran scout to anoint he and Lobstein the two pitchers in Long Beach the first three days who have the best chance of remaining starters once their professional careers take shape. He changed speeds and moved the ball around the zone today, and has a decent feel for four pitches, a rarity for a high school hurler who tries to pitch and not just blow everyone away.

Edgar Olmos from Birmingham High in Van Nuys, Calif., is a tall and skinny lefthander with an enormous amount of physical projection. Birmingham plays in the weaker L.A. City Section of the California Interscholastic Federation, and Olmos should benefit greatly from being exposed to tougher competition this week at Blair Field. Olmos possesses solid-average stuff–a 86-87 mph fastball and 67-69 mph sweeping curve.

His best attribute is a smooth, fluid, easy delivery in which he buggy-whips the ball to the plate from a near sidearm slot. His arm slot is higher for his curve, and lower for his fastball. Also, he has a difficult time consistently repeating his delivery, and when he gets tired, his mechanics start to unravel.

All of that is correctable. The bottom line on Olmos is that with his projectable build and easy arm action, there figures to be a great deal more velocity and strength in that arm as he matures and fills into his lanky frame.

Chris Reed hails from Cleveland High, also in the L.A. City Section and the alma mater of Bret Saberhagen. Reed is more physically mature than both Martin and Olmos, but he does retain a moderate amount of projection. When I first saw Reed, his arm action was awkward and somewhat stiff; it is much freer and easier now.

He struggled in his outing Tuesday, especially with command of his low-70s curveball, but has difficulty throwing it for strikes. Hitters simply let that pitch go, and then waited for the fastball (mid- to high-80s), which was straight, up in the zone and over the plate. Not surprisingly, that pitch got hit.

Despite his tough outing, there is a lot to like in Reed. He has a tall, strong build and an arm action and delivery that is fairly clean. As he develops and matures, Chris will add velocity and command to his pitches, and may add one or two additional offerings to his repertoire so that batters can’t sit on one pitch.

This day was a special treat. To find one interesting lefthander on a high school showcase team is a pleasure for any scout, but to find three is a rarity. Martin, Olmos and Reed all have the basic abilities to succeed in college and beyond.