Summer Circuit: On the Road Day Two

LAKELAND, Fla.—After beginning at 9 a.m., the first day of on-field activity at the East Coast Professional Showcase came to an end at 11:05 p.m. Friday night. In a day that was anything but smooth, the tournament staff managed to get all three games at least semi-completed.

I arrived at Joker Marchant Stadium at 8:15 this morning and bought a credential ($100) similar to what the college coaches buy that includes a scout book with player information. Since the event is being put on by the major league scouting community, admission for scouts affiliated with major league teams comes with a 25% discount, driving their fee down to a mere $75 for entry. That not only gains them access to the grounds and a scout book, but also a nice showcase t-shirt made by Nike. I also noticed that the fee for agents was $500. Ouch.

At 9 a.m. the first two teams of the day ran the 60-yard dash in the left field grass. The turf was a little wet and added to the fact that it was early in the morning, the registered times seemed to be lower than usual. However Mike Trout from Millville (N.J.) HS posted the lowest time of the morning at 6.57 seconds. Ronnie Richardson (Lake Region HS, Eagle Lake, Fla.) and Kamm Washington (Park Vista HS, Boynton Beach, Fla.) recorded the next lowest times at 6.75 seconds.

Next was batting practice, which was highlighted by Scooter Gennett from Sarasota (Fla.) HS hitting two home runs and one ball high off the wall. Even though he’s just 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, Gennett hit the most home runs of anyone in the first batting practice session. When looking back at both batting practices on the day, Luke Bailey (Troup HS, LaGrange, Ga.) was the only other player to hit multiple home runs as he also drove two balls over the outfield wall.

The first game got underway close to 11 a.m., about the same time the sun began to really heat up the in-stadium temperature. I quickly learned how this event, previously held in Wilmington, N.C., has drawn the nickname of the East Coast Roast, or East Roast Showcase. The first game cruised through five innings, but in the sixth, the notorious Florida rain quickly blew in and caused game to be cut short.

The highest radar gun reading in the first game came from the right arm of Chris Jenkins from Westfield (N.J.) HS at 93 mph. However, Patrick Schuster (Mitchell HS, Holiday, Fla.) had the best showing as he struck out five of the six batters he faced in two perfect innings of work. A 6-foot-2, 170-pound lefthander, Schuster’s fastball sat between 87-89 mph from a low-slinging arm slot. The game featured two extra-base hits as Marcus Stroman from Medford (N.Y.) HS and Washington each had a double.

Looking on the bright side, the rain delay happened around 1 p.m. and gave me a chance to grab some lunch and catch up with a couple friends. One of the great things about the scouting world is the connections and friendships made with colleagues who invest their time and passion at and around the baseball field. The rain delay lasted for over three hours, and after returning from lunch, I couldn’t help but notice all of the small groups of scouts and college coaches–regardless of team affiliation—sitting around passing the time with each other. It’s interesting to see representatives from rival teams such as the Cardinals and Brewers or Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks interacting with one another in such a friendly way. Imagine if only Barack Obama and John McCain could get along as well as these guys do.

This is one thing that sets the scouting community apart as such a unique clique. While everyone involved is working in competition with each other, most of the time, during games it is often a collaberative environment as scouts often help each other out on velocity readings or stopwatch times on batters from home to first. "Clique" is the operative word, though, as not everyone is fond of everyone, and the same groups of guys can typically be found hanging out from ballpark to ballpark. It is a business where everyone knows everyone, and often times these guys from competing clubs are the best of friends.

Anyway, back to the field action, at 4:30 p.m. the second game began with batting practice being eliminated due to time constraints. The highest velocity reading from this game was 92 mph from the right arm of Daniel Tuttle from Randleman (N.C.) HS. Tuttle was probably the top pitching prospect to take the mound in game two as his fastball sat between 89-91 mph during his two innings of work. However, he struck out only one batter and allowed three hits.

Game two was much more offensive than the first and was led by a two-hit performance from catcher Tucker Barnhardt of Brownsburg (Ind.) HS. Barnhardt hit the day’s lone home run, blasting a 1-0 fastball from Ethan Carter (Menchville HS, Newport News, Va.) over the right field wall. Barnhardt also impressed in the field and showed off his strong arm when he threw a runner out trying to stretch a single into a double after a relay to the plate from the outfield.

Similar to the first game, the teams in the third game took batting practice and then infield/outfield. The first pitch of the finale was thrown close to 9 p.m. This game created a little bit of buzz as a couple guys impressed on the mound.

Zack Von Rosenburg of Zachary (La.) HS,—who sat between 84-86, topping out at 88 mph at the Perfect Game National showcase in June,—touched 93 mph tonight, sitting between 88-90 with his fastball. He also showed a plus-downer breaking ball at 78 mph and a plus changeup with late drop at 81 mph. Von Rosenburg, the Louisiana prep player of the year and an LSU recruit, caught the attention of many of the scouts around me as we discussed his improvement since the PG event on June 15.Von Rosenburg is 6-feet-5, 205 pounds—a projectable frame with strength and durability.

Von Rosenburg pitched through the second inning until a loud “boom” was heard and firework-like sparks were seen out past left field. One of the power boxes controlling the lights must have blown a fuse as the stadium went dark. It took 30 minutes for the lights to come back on, and by then Von Rosenburg’s outing had been ended. He finished the day striking out five batters in his two innings of work.

His replacement was righthander Brody Colvin (St. Thomas Moore HS, Lafayette, La.) who entered the game by lighting up the radar gun with a 93 mph on his first pitch. Colvin is a 6-foot-4, 195 pound athlete with a smooth downhill delivery and a jumping fastball with late life. The ball comes out of his hand with ease. Colvin pitched three innings, sitting mostly between 88-91 mph but did hit 93 and 92 a few more times in the outing. He also flashed a sharp downer slurvy breaking ball and a good changeup. Colvin struck out seven batters.

Offensively, the game featured just three hits in the six innings played. The most excitement came when LeVon Washington (Buchholz HS, Gainesville, Fla.) reached base via a walk, stole second base and then scored on a single up the middle by hurdling the catcher in a very athletic motion to reach the plate. Washington is a pure athlete and has been recognized as possibly the fastest prospect in the 2009 class.

The game ended at 11:05 p.m., just over 14 hours after the days first activities began. A quick trip through Wendy’s drive-thru for a healthy fast-food dinner and then back to the hotel to prepare to do it all over on Saturday as 60-yard dashes will begin at 9 a.m. sharp.

Day two of nineteen is in the books.