Star Search

Shortly after the 2007 draft, Baseball America added Dave Perkin to the staff of Prospects Plus, as the West Coast eyes and ears of our subsidiary scouting service. Perkin has spent the past two months scouring Southern California for high school talent, and provided 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, 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–An old time movie mogul like Louis B. Mayer or Sam Goldwyn would be infuriated by the first two days of this year’s Area Code Games.

Clark Gable is in a picture that is getting stolen by Walter Brennan. Marilyn Monroe’s starring role is getting upstaged by Hope Lange.

Many of the most prominent players in the 2008 high school draft class have assembled at Blair Field. Most all of them are struggling like a one-armed man caught in a riptide.
I’ve been covering the four Western Clubs (Nationals, Brewers Blue and Gray and Reds) plus western players on other clubs. To corrupt an old line, The Stars have yet to Shine.

Aaron Hicks (Wilson High, Long Beach) may be the most gifted prospect in the greater L.A. area since Daryl Strawberry. Blessed with 6.7-second speed in the 60-yard-dash and a cannon arm, Hicks has been flying his head and front side off the ball at the plate, and did not make consistent hard contact at the plate today in the Brewers Blue game.

Ricky Oropesa, another rising senior from Etiwanda (Calif.) High, is known primarily as a slugging first baseman, pitched decently today, but struck out swinging on three pitches in his first at-bat and then dribbled a three-foot swinging bunt out in front of the plate in his next at-bat.

The lavishly gifted Kyle Skipworth (Patriot High, Riverside, Calif.) has broken bats, nearly decapitated a pitcher with an off-line throw to second base and has had difficulty cleanly receiving pitches.

I have no doubt that these outstanding players will settle down and showcase their talents, if not at this event then later on. All three deserve first-round consideration.

But as far as the western clubs are concerned, this event is being stolen so far by less prominent players.
They include:

Cutter Dykstra, if, Westlake (Calif.) HS: The son of Mets star Lenny, Dykstra is a wonderful athlete with 6.58 speed, decent actions in the field and the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields. In an upset, he finished first in the SPARQ testing this week, a series of athletic tests that gauge a players’ overall strength, agility and skills). Despite his smaller stature, Dykstra can drive the ball–as exhibited by an opposite-filed home run at Southern California over the weekend, and some long drives in Sunday’s batting practice session at Blair Field. Dykstra’s most glaring flaw is an awkward David Eckstein-like throwing motion which may result in a move to second base.
Tyler Rahmatulla, ss, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif.: Tyler is much more of a pure shortstop than Dykstra. He has terrific hands, a strong arm, fine fielding actions and a very quick transfer. Rahmatulla has excellent speed–6.76–and quickness. He doesn’t profile for much power, but he can sting the ball and has the ability to be a No. 2-type hitter.
Andy Burns, 3b, Rocky Mountain HS, Fort Collins, Colo.: Burns was the first day star, belting a home run in the opening game, and making a spectacular diving catch and throw at the hot corner. At 6-foot-1 and with 6.82 speed, he has the skills to play three infield positions in college, but as a pro profiles as a Ryne Sandberg-type kind of second baseman.
Bobby Crocker, of, Aptos (Calif.) High: Built like an action superhero with broad shoulders tapering to a narrow waist, Crocker’s speed is equal to if not better than many of the smaller middle infield and center fielder types–6.70. He fits at either outfield corner, with a fine arm that gunned down a runner at home today on a strong, one-hop throw from medium right field. He’s unrefined at bat, but shows flashes of bat speed and power when he squares a pitch up.
Elliot Kelso, 1b, Alleman HS, Rock Island, Ill.: Good BP with a home run. Fine athlete with 6.77 speed who finished fourth in the SPARQ ratings.
Kyle Peterson, of/c, Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz.: Huge BP and good athlete for a catcher, finishing 16th in SPARQ. However, struggled defensively and at-bat today.
Anthony Gose, of/lhp, Bellflower (Calif.) HS: Physically resembles Mickey Rivers. Strong arm from the outfield and mound, excellent speed at 6.66. Many scouts don’t think he will hit. Should be worth drafting on tools alone. If he doesn’t hit after a few years in the minors, he should have no problem switching to a lefthanded middle relief role.
As a showcase site, Blair Field has only one drawback: Other than a Hyperbaric Chamber, Blair is the hardest place on earth to get clean radar gun readings. Stalker users get as many haywire “112” and “108” readings as they do legitimate readouts. Jugs users get blanks and “46” as often as they get useable numbers. Why? Only JFK assassination buffs have as many theories. It’s the wind, the nearby sea, the large foul territory, the age of the place, phases of the moon, the space time continuum, etc.