Summer Circuit: On the Road Day Seven

LONG BEACH—It has been a week since I left comfortable Durham, N.C. for this journey across America, and the effects of travel are now starting to kick in. The days seem to be running together, the cash in my wallet needs to be refilled and I need to do laundry sometime soon.  I know the scouts are feeling it too, as I have seen many familiar faces that have followed my same path from Lakeland straight to Long Beach immediately after the conclusion of the East Coast Pro Showcase.

The word I like to use to describe the summer showcase circuit is "relentless" as most of the events pack as much baseball into the multi-day timespan that encompasses the event. Thursday, the action began at 8:30 a.m. and finished at 7:30 p.m. Four games were played, one on top of the other, 30.5 innings total. Thus far, 71 different pitchers have taken the mound this week—31 of which pitched on Thursday alone. Sitting behind the plate, I have been able to get velocity readings on every prospect and will have a spreadsheet posted on our Prospects Plus website Monday, similar to the spreadsheets from PG National, the T.O.S. and ECPS, detailing all of the pitchers’ velocities from the Area Code Games.

Through three days at the Area Code Games, the highest velocity reading has been 94 mph, touched by three different pitchers: Stetson Allie a 2010 two-way prospect from St. Edward HS in Almsted Falls, Ohio, Matt Hobgood from Norco (Calif.) HS and Shelby Miller from Brownwood (Texas) HS.

While those three guys lit up the radar guns, these three lefthanders raised my eyebrows with their overall performances:

Colton Cain, lhp, Waxahachie (Texas) HS

Cain is a two-way prospect with power both on the mound and at the plate. At 6-feet-3, 225-pounds, Cain offers a high-80s fastball, topping out at 90 with good command. He delivers from a high 3/4 arm slot and also throws a mid-70s curve ball and changeup to complement his heater. On Thursday, Cain faced 10 hitters, allowing only one base hit and striking out three.

Ian Krol, lhp, Nequa Valley HS, Naperville Ill.

Krol was the very first pitcher to throw in the event and immediately set the bar high. Pitching two innings, Krol struck out four of the first five batters that he faced, mixing his upper-80s fastball with a hard breaking two-plane curve ball and advanced changeup. Krol pitches from a low 3/4 arm slot from which he is able to generate natural sink on his fastball. Krol threw 34 pitches on the day, eight of which were balls, three of which were taken for strikes, five of which were put in play, seven of which were fouled off and nine of which were swung on and missed. That means that 43% of the time a batter swung at Krol’s pitches, he completely missed—that’s pretty good.

Josh Turley, lhp, Texas HS, Texarkana, Texas

Turley is a 6-foot, 170-pound lefthander with a fastball that sits between 84 and 85 mph. However, this is the second time I have seen Turley pitch, and it’s the second time that he has absolutely dominated the nation’s top high school hitters. The first time I saw him was at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars in June where he pitched five perfect innings, striking out 10. At the Area Code Games on Tuesday, Turley pitched two innings, striking out five of the six batters that he faced. Even more impressive, Turley threw only 19 total pitches in those five strikeout at-bats. He struck out the side in the first inning, throwing nine total pitches. Turley complements his fastball with a very good curveball, changeup and slider—commanding all four pitches well.

Friday and Saturday I will take a break from the Area Code Games and attend the festivities involved with the Aflac All-American Game. The actual game is being held in Dodger Stadium Saturday afternoon.