Playoff Peek Previews 2010s

In Southern California, the California Interscholastic Federation southern section playoffs began this week. I decided to take a brief respite from scouting 2009 players in order to take a preliminary peek at some top 2010 prospects.

Unfortunately, I ran into some obstacles even before leaving my house.

Upper echelon position players like catcher Stefan Sabol (Aliso Niguel High, Aliso Viejo, Calif.), infielder Christian Yelich (Westlake High, Westlake, Village, Calif.) and outfielder Austin Wilson (Harvard-Westlake High, Los Angeles) play on clubs that did not qualify for the postseason.

Not to be deterred, I traveled to Fullerton (Calif.) High to watch outfielder Michael Lorenzen and shortstop Dominic Ficociello. The Indians clobbered a game but overmatched squad from Baldwin Park (Calif.) High, 13-2.

Fullerton High inhabits a small niche in baseball history. Way back in 1905, a Fullerton pitcher set a still standing CIF record by striking out 27 hitters in one game. His name was Walter Johnson.

Fullerton’s ballpark will be a frequent stopover for scouts next season. Lorenzen is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound outfielder with a near ideal athletic and projectable frame.

A potential multi-tool star, Lorenzen has already committed to Cal State Fullerton. He possesses a powerful arm (sources say he has touched 90-93 on the mound) despite the fact that his arm slot is a tad low for an outfielder. Lorenzen runs well and defensively fits any of the three outfield spots comfortably.

At bat, Lorenzen does an excellent job of using the whole field, and I was impressed by how long he was able to keep his swing “on plane”—a rarity for high school hitters. In Thursday’s game, Lorenzen drilled a double off the right field wall and later blasted a long home run to left center. His most noticeable flaw as a hitter is a tendency to over stride, but that habit should be easily correctable.

Ficociello is a 6-foot-3, 170-pound switch-hitting shortstop who facially is a dead ringer for lefthander Tyler Skaggs of Santa Monica (Calif.) High. Ficociello’s frame and physical movements almost exactly mimic those of Southern California’s Grant Green, a top prospect for this year’s draft. A quarterback on Fullerton’s football team during the fall, Ficociello has an exceptionally projectable frame.

As a defensive shortstop, Ficociello has fine range, soft hands and actions that are smooth, easy and relaxed. He will, however, make careless errors on occasion and his lack of outstanding speed may signal a future move to third base. Blessed with a strong arm, Ficociello did not throw well Thursday—he appeared to be nursing a sore arm or shoulder. In any case, he’ll need to correct his habit of pushing or flipping the ball and utilize a higher arm slot to get more velocity and carry on his tosses.

A switch-hitter, Ficociello gets amazing juice out of his rail thin build. Prior to Lorenzen’s homer, Ficociello drove a low laser deep over the fence in right center from the left side of the plate. Later in the game, as Fullerton built a large lead, he hit righthanded against a righthanded pitcher. Ficociello’s stance appears more natural from the right side, and he promptly ripped a hit to right-center.

As the 2009 summer showcase season approaches, look for Lorenzen and Ficociello to be regular participants in the various events. They both figure to be premier attractions during the 2010 spring draft season.