Looking Ahead: 2010 SoCal Righthanders

LOS ANGELES—In Southern California, the 2010 High School draft class is unusually deep in righthanded pitching, but unusually thin in lefthanded pitching. Henry Owens of Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif., is perhaps the area’s top lefty. In an odd twist, he has the birth date of a 2010 grad but is not scheduled to graduate until 2011.

Scouts and college recruiters will not have to wait to avail themselves of quality righthanders. The top righties include:

Peter Tago, rhp, Dana Hills High, Dana Point, Calif.

Tago is literally the king of the hill. He hails from the same high school that produced recent high draft picks Tanner Scheppers and Brett Lorin.

Featuring a loose, lanky and projectable 6-foot-2, 180-pound build, Tago’s arm action is smooth and fluid, and the ball leaves his hand with ease. His fastball sits from the high 80s to the low 90s, and his mid to high 70s curve is a classic 1-to-7 bender.

Dylan Covey, rhp, Maranatha High, Pasadena, Calif.

The top power pitcher in the local crop, Covey attends a tiny private school in Pasadena, so his spring competition is weak. Covey’s mechanics and command are inconsistent, but he is 2010’s version of Matt Hobgood.

Covey fires a lively low to mid 90s fastball, and adds a mid-70s curve and low 80s slider. He has the added advantage of profiling as either a starter or closer at advanced levels.

Jesus Valdez, rhp, Hueneme High, Port Hueneme Calif.

No hurler in the local class is gaining as much helium this summer as Valdez, who has smartly placed himself into as many showcases as possible. He has been impressive in all of them.

Blessed with a projectable 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame, Valdez delivers a 91-93 mph fastball that exhibits late rising life with the ball seeming to suddenly “jump” at the hitter. His mid 70s curve shows late swerving break and is particularly tough on righthanded hitters.

Vincent Velasquez, rhp, Garey High, Pomona, Calif.

Velasquez battled through an injury-plagued 2009 spring season, battling a growth plate injury to his throwing arm. In a testament to his competitiveness, he played the outfield during the season and threw lefthanded, making the all-league team. His lefthanded throws have the same trajectory as a three-point shot in basketball, but those heaves reached the infield nonetheless.

Velasquez, when healthy, can pitch, play the outfield or infield, and his actions at shortstop and third base are excellent. However, he doesn’t run particularly well (7.22) so his future may be on the mound. At an all-star game in December of 2008, he comfortably touched 88 on the mound; his easy arm action promises a low 90s reading when he is physically healed.

A.J. Berglund, St. Francis High, La Canada, Calif.

Big, powerful and physically imposing at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Berglund pounds the strike zone with a low 90s fastball, 84 change and 75 curve.

Berglund’s lack of projection is offset somewhat by his outstanding stuff and the steady progress he has made in the past year, transitioning from a thrower to a pitcher.