Standouts From Elite Baseball Showcase

LOS ANGELES—UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium hosted the second-annual installment of the Elite Baseball Showcase Series on July 10, 11 and 12. Sponsored by Muscle Milk, the showcase features top California and Arizona High School players from the classes of 2011 and 2012.

Top pitching talent was a bit hard to find over the weekend, but the series spotlighted several provocative lefthanded hitting prospects. Among the top players were:

Eric Snyder, of, Edison High School, Huntington Beach, Calif.: Snyder was the top performer at this event, displaying an excellent arm and a quick lefthanded bat. Team MVP of the Friday night game, Snyder blasted the ball all over Jackie Robinson Stadium, banging a home run off of the new batting cage facility beyond the right field fence.

He has been a busy man this summer, appearing at the Tournament of Stars and the Milwaukee Brewer Area Code tryouts prior to participating in this event. A member of the class of 2011, Snyder at this stage profiles more as a college OF instead of a pro OF.

A bit undersized at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Snyder does not yet have the speed (around 7.0 in the 60) to hold down center field, and he is not the classic big and physical corner outfield type preferred by pro scouts. At the plate, Snyder is a terror with a metal bat in his hands, but his swing does not yet transfer well to wood.

Tyler Krause, of, Pinnacle High School, Fountain Hills, Ariz.: At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Krause has a frame that could easily reach 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds by the time of his graduation in 2011.

Hitting out of a crouched and spread Rickey Henderson type stance, Krause is a line drive righthanded hitter who exhibits an advanced ability to drill the ball to the opposite field.

As an outfielder, Krause’s arm is inconsistent, for he threw well on Friday but poorly on Saturday. Krause does display an easy and fluid throwing motion, and his arm should progress to big league average, if not above, in the next two years.

Nathaniel Causey, c, Gilbert (Ariz.) HS:  Already powerfully built and imposing at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, Causey shows a powerful but inconsistent lefthanded bat. A lift and pull hitter, his all-or-nothing swing can produce impressively long drives.

Causey is raw as a catch-and-throw backstop, needing to improve his receiving and footwork. When he calls for an outside pitch, Causey shifts wide of the plate far too soon, permitting an alert coach or teammate to tip location to the hitter.

James Bonds, Jr., of,  St. Francis HS, La Canada, Calif.:
Bonds will no doubt spend his life enduring “Bonds, James Bonds” jokes. His father, James Sr., was a quarterback at UCLA, backing up Troy Aikman.

The younger Bonds is a 5-foot-11, 170 pound outfielder that throws righthanded and bats lefthanded with an unusual hitting approach. Prior to a pitch being delivered, Bonds stands straight up and dead still then at the last instant slashes at the ball with a hard downward swing. Bonds gets results, for he drove the ball hard to all fields throughout the weekend.

Rouric Bridgewater, if/of, Diamond Ranch HS, Pomona, Calif.: Subtlety and nuance are not part of Bridgewater’s game. In BP and games, he tries to hit every pitch 500 feet; on occasion he comes close to succeeding.

Strong and physically mature at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Bridewater’s severe uppercut swing resembles an Olympic hammer thrower’s whirling finish. At the Brewers Area Code tryouts, Bridgewater had some eyebrow-raising swings with wood during BP. With a metal bat at this event, he drove balls to spots only older, mature college players reach.

Bridgewater will be a fascinating prospect to follow over the next two years, for he could develop into a lefthanded hitting version of Matt Davidson.

The Elite Baseball series will continue on July 31-Aug. 2 at UC Irvine.