SAN DIEGO—Throughout the summer, high school pitching class has emerged as the strength of the rising senior crop, and those arms were showcased on national spotlight during the Perfect Game All-American Classic held Sunday night.
As 51 of the best high schoolers in the country played in Petco Park in San Diego, on a national stage on MLB Network, the West topped the East 8-6. Despite 14 runs scored, pitching dominated the game. With 34 strikeouts in a nine-inning game, nearly two-thirds of the recorded outs came on strikeouts (63 percent). Seven errors in the game helped account for the scoring.
The depth of power arms displayed unprecedented velocity for high school standards. In one-inning stints, the pitchers were able to rear back for their best stuff. All but one of the 19 pitchers touched 91 mph or better. The peak velocity at last year’s Perfect Game All-American Classic, for comparison’s sake, was 94 mph by eventual No. 4 overall draft pick Kohl Stewart. This year nine pitchers hit 95 mph or higher.
The pitching was so strong that each player warranted recognition. Below you will find each pitcher’s box score line to explain how he performed in his inning and his peak velocity. Then a brief description his stuff follows:
|Grant Holmes, rhp||1.0||0||0||0||0||2||95|
|The strongly-built 6-foot-2, 210-pound Florida commit from Conway (S.C.) High sat 93-94 mph with his fastball and complimented with a low-80s power curveball with slider tilt that flashed plus.|
|Dylan Cease, rhp||1.0||1||2||0||1||1||96|
|Cease, an athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pounder from Milton (Ga.) High, sat 94-96 mph to the first two hitters before falling to 92-94 with gloveside run and some sink. The uncommitted Cease, who throws from a three-quarter slot, threw one of his five 72-75 mph curveballs, which feature slider-like tilt and horizontal break, for strikes.|
|Mac Marshall, lhp||1.0||0||0||0||1||1||92|
|The athletic 6-foot-1, 185-pound Louisiana State commit from Parkview High in Lilburn, Ga., gets downhill plane from a high three-quarter slot. Marshall showed a three-pitch mix with a 90-92 mph fastball, mid-70s curveball and high-70s changeup.|
|Cobi Johnson, rhp||1.0||0||0||0||0||3||92|
|The son of a former big league pitcher, the Florida State commit from Mitchell High has a tall, lean 6-foot-4, 188-pound build that produced 91-92 mph fastballs with ease, which is up from his last two outings. His 77-79 mph curveball that has two-plane break and above-average potential and developing low-80s changeup helped Johnson strike out the side against the middle of the West order.|
|Touki Toussaint, rhp||1.0||0||3||2||3||3||96|
|The athletic 6-foot-2, 190-pound Toussaint from Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian High had trouble finding the strike zone and issued three walks. But his fastball sat 91-94 mph and he showed his best curveball this summer, a plus offering at 72-73 mph with two-plane break, tight rotation and tilt.|
|Joe Gatto, rhp||1.0||4||2||1||0||2||93|
|Although the top of the West order got four hits against Gatto, he showed an easy delivery and projectable build at 6-foot-5, 215-pounds that produce 91-93 mph fastballs. The North Carolina commit from St. Augustine Prep in Hammonton, N.J., showed improvement and two-plane break on his mid-70s breaking ball, flashing above-average.|
|Sean Reid-Foley, rhp||1.0||0||0||0||0||3||95|
|A Florida State commit from Sandalwood High in Jacksonville, Fla., Reid-Foley had one of the most impressive outings of the night, showing a three-pitch mix that were all above-average or better. He consistently threw strikes with his 92-95 mph fastball with gloveside run, mid-80s and mid-70s breaking ball.|
|Justus Sheffield, lhp||0.2||0||0||0||1||2||94|
|The younger brother of 2012 All-American Jordan, Justus has a strong, compact build at 6-foot, 190-pounds and is committed to Vanderbilt, which his brother is attending. The Tullahoma (Tenn.) High lefty showed three pitches, a 91-94 mph fastball with tail and offspeed offerings that showed above-average potential, a low-80s breaking ball and high-70s changeup with fade.|
|Foster Griffin, lhp||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||91|
|The lanky, projectable 6-foot-5, 195-pound Mississippi commit from Orlando’s First Academy had the quickest outing of the game, a nine-pitch effort, showing a low-90s fastball from a high three-quarter arm slot. He demonstrated a good feel for his mid-70s changeup by throwing three of them to Alex Jackson, who grounded out.|
|Devin Smeltzer, lhp||0.2||3||1||1||0||1||89|
|The lean, angular 6-foot-2, 170-pound Smeltzer, out of Bishop Eustace Prep in Voorhees, N.J., has deceptive delivery and creates tough angles for hitters. The Florida Gulf Coast commit sat 87-89 mph with movement to his fastball and 76-78 mph breaking ball with 1-7 tilt and depth.|
|Brady Aiken, lhp||1.0||1||1||1||0||2||92|
|A 6-foot-4, 195-pound San Diegan with a prototypical pitcher’s build, Aiken showed his best velocity of the summer, sitting 90-92 mph with armside run from a high three-quarter arm slot. The UCLA commit showed a 74-76 mph curveball with above-average potential that he tripled up on against the power-hitting Kel Johnson. The hometown Aiken from nearby Cathedral Catholic High had nearly 40 friends and family members present.|
|Tyler Kolek, rhp||1.0||2||2||0||0||2||99|
|At 6-foot-6, 245-pounds, Kolek is a physical, intimidating presence on the mound. His fastball touched 99 mph, an event record, and sat 94-96 with gloveside run and downhill plane from a three-quarter arm slot. The Shepherd (Texas) High product only threw one breaking ball at 81 mph, his first pitch of the game, a pitch that has shown plus potential with more extensive use.|
|Kodi Medeiros, lhp||1.0||0||0||0||0||2||95|
|The 6-foot, 190-pound Medeiros, from Waiakea High in Hilo, Hawaii, has a physical build and throws from an arm slot just above sidearm, which gives him plus armside run and sink to his 92-94 mph fastball. Medeiros has so much movement that after one warmup pitch the umpire jumped behind the catcher for the remainder of Medeiros warmup pitches to get a feel for his filthy stuff. Numerous hitters said Medeiros was the toughest pitcher they have ever faced. He has a plus slider at 79-81 mph with tight rotation and 3-7 tilt and threw one 85 mph changeup.|
|Keaton McKinney, rhp||1.0||0||0||0||1||3||93|
|The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Arkansas commit has a physical build and whip-like arm action that produced 90-93 mph fastballs with plus armside run and sink. McKinney, out of Ankeny (Iowa) High, has tremendous feel for a 78-81 mph changeup that he threw for a strike all seven times he used the pitch, three of which engendered swings and misses.|
|Luis Ortiz, rhp||1.0||1||1||0||0||2||95|
|A 6-foot-3, 205-pound Fresno State commit with an easy delivery, Ortiz, out of Sanger (Calif.) High, pitched aggressively off his 92-95 mph fastball. He threw the pitch 12 times and generated six whiffs. He complimented it with one slider at 81 mph that has plus potential and one changeup at 84 mph|
|Brandon Murray, rhp||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||95|
|Although the South Carolina recruit from Hobart (Ind.) High struggled to throw strikes and locate his offspeed stuff, a 77-79 mph slider and low-80s changeup, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Murray sat 93-94 mph with his fastball.|
|David Peterson, lhp||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||92|
|At 6-foot-6, 205-pounds, the Oregon commit has a large frame and projectable body. His fastball sat 90-92 mph with plus sink from an arm slot a tick below three-quarters. The product of Denver’s Regis Jesuit High relied on his low-80s changeup with above-average potential against both right and lefthanded hitters.|
|Michael Kopech, rhp||1.0||1||1||0||1||2||93|
|The long, lean 6-foot-4, 195-pound Kopech, who attends Mt. Pleasant (Texas) High and has a quick arm, sat 90-92 mph with his fastball and mixed in a 74-77 curveball with three-quarter tilt.|
|Zack Shannon, rhp||1.0||1||1||1||1||1||95|
|The Ohio State commit with a powerful, well-developed physique at 6-foot-3, 225-pounds pumped 93-94 mph fastballs, showcased one of the best curveballs in the class, a plus offering with two-plane break at 79-82 mph. The Cincinnati product of Anderson High mixed in a changeup with tumble that he used to strike out the final hitter of the game.|
Adding to the depth of power arms in the class, three other righthanders, Bryce Montes de Oca, Keven Pimentel and Cameron Varga, received All-American honors but did not pitch. Montes de Oca, from Lawerence (Kan.) High, is a 6-foot-8, 265-pound Missoui commit that was up to 95 at the World Wood Bat Championship last October as a junior. He will begin throwing in September when he is expected to return from Tommy John surgery. Pimentel is a muscular 6-foot-3, 215-pound Miami commit from Shoreham Wading River High in Wading River, N.Y., and was up to 94 at PG National before suffering an arm injury at East Coast Pro roughly two weeks ago. An athletic 6-foot-3, 205-pound North Carolina commit from Cincinnati Hills Christian, Loveland, Ohio, Varga hit 95 mph at the National.
Here are the non-pitching highlights:
• Catcher Jakson Reetz was awarded the game MVP, presented by Trevor Hoffman, following his 2-4 performance with a double, two runs batted in and three steals. One of the most versatile players in the class, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Reetz, who was up to 93 mph on Friday off the mound, drove a 94 mph Dylan Cease fastball into the right-field gap that went to the fence for a double to plate Marcus Wilson in his first plate appearance. The athletic Reetz then stole third after a great jump. Although he grounded out in his next trip to the plate, Reetz showed strong breaking ball recognition by hanging in against a 74 mph Toussaint curveball to the inside part of the plate. The Nebraska commit from Norris High in Hickman, Neb., smoked a line drive to the opposite field in his final plate appearance to finish as the only player with multiple hits.
“It's a showcase game and you know that guys are going to show their best stuff, so I was sitting fastball,” Reetz said. “I saw the pitches I wanted to see and got good wood on them. I’m honored to have won this award.”
The quarterback of his high school team, Reetz will miss the first two games of the season after he attends the USA Baseball 18U trials in late-August.
• Two Georgia preps had big moments in the game. Third baseman Michael Chavis (Sprayberry HS, Marietta, Ga.) continued his impressive weekend. After winning Saturday’s Rawlings Home Run Challenge, he had one of the hardest hit balls of the game when he squared up a 92 mph Ortiz fastball back up the middle. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Clemson commit, who is an above-average runner, then stole second base.
Toolsy outfielder Michael Gettys (Gainesville, Ga., HS) showed his speed by posting a 4.05-second home to first time on a groundout to third in his second plate appearance. In the ninth inning, Gettys hit a line drive to the right-field gap on a 79 mph Zach Shannon curveball. Many players would have been held to a single, but the Georgia commit was running hard out of the box and used his speed to get into second base. Gettys put on a show in batting practice, launching three balls out of one of the most cavernous big league parks.
• The heart of the West order all had hard line-drive singles in the sixth off low-90s velocity that were some of the hardest hit balls of the game. Outfielder Trenton Kemp (Buchanon HS, Clovis, Calif.), who had been nursing a hamstring injury, drove a 92 mph single into center field, as did catcher Alex Jackson. Shortstop Jacob Gatewood, like Kemp from Clovis (attending Clovis HS), followed with another hard liner.
• The Perfect Game All-American Classic present by Rawlings Awards Banquet was held Saturday to honor the top players in the country. Padres legend Trevor Hoffman was the keynote speaker. Six awards were given:
Nick Adenhart award: Devin Smeltzer, lhp, Bishop Eustace Prep, Voorhees, N.J. The award is given to the player that best exhibits sportsmanship and character in honor of the deceased Adenhart, who started the first Perfect Game All-American Classic in 2003. Smeltzer survived childhood cancer.
• EvoShield SWAG Award: Jacob Gatewood, ss/3b/of, Clovis (Calif.) High. The award is given to the player that showed the most SWAG (Style, Willpower, Attitude and Grit).
Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year: Derek Hill, of, Elk Grove (Calif.) High. Hill’s range in center field was evident in the game.
Baseball Prospectus Prospect of the Year: Alex Jackson, c/of, Rancho Bernardo High, Escondido, Calif.
Baseball American Pitching Prospect of the Year: Tyler Kolek, rhp, Shepherd (Texas) High