Tournament of Stars: Promising Power Outlook For 2014

CARY, N.C.–At the typically pitching-dominated Tournament Of Stars, power is in short supply–unless you’re discussing team Dixie this year. The squad of sluggers swatted six of the eight home runs during the tournament, and Braxton Davidson and Greg Deichmann each hit towering shots on Sunday to finish the event on a high note.

Deichmann’s TOS actually began on a sour note, however. Through the first two games, the lefthanded hitter was 0-for-7 with six strikeouts, four of those coming against lefthanders. Deichmann, who attends Brother Martin High in Metairie, La., and plays travel ball for Marucci Elite, has committed to Louisiana State.

“The first two days I faced a lot of lefthanders, and I haven't faced a lot of lefties,” Deichmann said. “It was difficult.

“After struggling the first two days, I talked with my baseball instructor. He has really helped me with the mental aspect of the game, and I realized I just have to try to stay within myself.”

Deichmann, 18, had a reprieve from game action for Friday’s evaluation day, when players ran through drills and no games were played. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound infielder showed well in every facet of the evaluations, especially his raw power. He hit frozen ropes to the gaps and hit a few towering home runs in batting practice.

“I had a great workout that pushed me forward,” Deichmann said. “I came out after that and just had a different mindset.”

In his first plate appearance on Saturday against American Legion, Deichmann laced a screaming line drive directly at the third baseman, and then he walked in his next. In the sixth inning, he drove an 89 mph, belt-high fastball off the right-field scoreboard for a grand slam. With his second home run in as many days on Sunday against NABF, Deichmann matched the entire home run total for all 144 players during last year’s TOS. (It should be noted that Davidson, whom we featured earlier in the event, finished with three home runs, a TOS record according to USA Baseball.)

“I was watching the players before me and I picked up on the pitcher’s tendencies,” Deichmann said. “I was looking for a fastball on the first pitch and he left one up. I kept my hands up and got down through the ball.”

Excelling on the final two days of TOS has added importance. For many players, it’s the first time they have played five consecutive days in their lives. Scouts want to see how a player competes and performs while he is tired at the end of the tournament because this setting is most similar to the everyday grind of pro ball.

Added to his performance a week earlier at the Perfect Game National Showcase, where Deichmann had the two hardest-hit balls of the entire event, he has put himself among the top high school hitting prospects for next year’s draft. At PG, he hit a missile off the wall in dead center field for a triple that narrowly missed being a home run. He later crushed a ball into the Metrodome upper deck that sailed a few feet to the right of the foul pole.

Power may be Deichmann’s loudest tool, but he has a well-rounded skill set. With fluid actions and good range, he has improved his glove at shortstop. He ran a 6.72-second 60-yard-dash on the turf at PG National and was just a tick slower on grass at TOS, showing that he has above-average straight-line speed.

Look, Up On The Mound . . .

With a mild-mannered demeanor, dark hair and wide-framed black glasses, Babe Ruth lefthander Quinn Brodey could be mistaken for Clark Kent. And before toeing the rubber Saturday, Brodey transformed into Superman, striking out five in two perfect innings against RBI.

Pitching for the second time in the Tournament of Stars, Brodey’s secondary stuff was sharp. His changeup showed the makings of an above-average pitch, with more armside fade than vertical movement. He showed good arm speed and a strong feel for the pitch, throwing it more than half the time, including first-pitch changeups to the first two hitters in his second inning.

“I was feeling my changeup a lot in that second inning and Devon (Fisher) was calling it,” Brodey said. “I love going to my changeup and I was spotting it up.”

Brodey’s other strong secondary offering is a mid-70s curveball with 1-to-7 action and depth. He deploys it to get ahead in the count and as a strikeout pitch.
His fastball sat 87-89 mph and touched 90 on Saturday, after falling into the mid-80s in his third inning of work on Wednesday. During the outing, coach Seth Etherton, a 1998 first-round pick out of Southern California who made 23 starts in the major leagues, noticed Brodey’s weight on his back leg was leaking forward in his delivery, costing him power and causing his arm to be late in his delivery.

“I talked with coach Etherton about my mechanics the other day, and he has been awesome helping me out,” Brodey said. “We tweaked a few little things. He was helping me stay back and keep my weight on my back side, which gives my arm time to get through.”

Brodey, who attends Loyola High in Los Angeles and plays travel ball for Garciaparra Baseball Group’s GBG Marucci team, sustained his velocity better and sharpened his control after the tweak, and 82 percent of his pitches were strikes. He has a smooth, athletic delivery and gets over his front leg well, which allows him to get good downward plane on his pitches. Brodey has a clean arm action and throws from a high three-quarters slot. He pitches at a good pace.

He also has potential as a two-way player and would likely play both ways if he follows through on his commitment to Stanford. (He’s also a strong student with a 4.2 GPA.) He shows power with the bat and has hit batting practice home runs during PG National and TOS. He has a levered swing from a low hand set, conducive to power to his pull side.

“Moving forward at the higher levels, (my pull-oriented approach) is something they will be able to attack on me,” Brodey said. “So I want to develop that same power to the left side and up the middle that I have to my pull side.”

Brodey is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, with strong, trim legs and a narrow waist. With a wide back, sloped shoulders and strength through his chest, Brodey has a developed, powerful upper body. He has deceptive speed and ran a 6.66-second 60-yard-dash on grass during evaluation day.

TOS Tidbits

• Versatile Jakson Reetz stood out in many facets of the game. During Friday’s evaluations, he showed one of the strongest arms of any catcher and quick feet behind the plate. Then he made a tough play in right field on Saturday by chasing down a long fly ball to the warning track. The Nebraska commit sat 88-90 mph on the mound, touching 91. Yet Reetz, who attends Norris High in Hickman, Neb., saved his loudest performance for the plate. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder took quality at-bats and made consistent, hard contact. He smacked a triple in the seventh inning.

• UCLA commit Griffin Canning, a righthander from Santa Margarita High in Coto De Caza, Calif., struck out five in three scoreless innings. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Canning has a three-pitch mix and a deceptive delivery. He showed feel for a changeup with vertical drop and a slider. His fastball sat in the upper 80s and touched 90 mph. Canning has a lean frame that offers projection.

• Shortstop Jacob Gatewood made his anticipated summer showcase circuit debut on Friday’s evaluation day. The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder put on a show during batting practice, crushing five pull-side home runs. Then in Saturday’s pregame batting practice, the Clovis (Calif.) High product showed plus raw power, hitting balls 30 feet high into the batter’s eye. The Southern California commit produced home-to-first times between 4.2-4.4 seconds and showed a strong arm.

James Torres, an uncommitted 5-foot-11, 170-pound righthander from Bloomfield (N.J.) High, provided much-needed innings for a pitching-depleted RBI squad. Using a classic full windup, the athletic and live-armed Torres hit 91 mph with his fastball and sat 88-90. He also threw a curveball, slider and changeup.

Jonah Patten, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound righthander from Norwell High in Ossian, Ind., sat 90-91 mph in his first inning of work. Patten comes from a low three-quarters arm slot and has slingy arm action. He threw different two breaking balls, a 75-77 mph curveball and 81-82 mph slider. The Arkansas commit struck out four in his three and one-third innings.

Max George, a scrappy middle infielder from Regis Jesuit High in Parker, Colo., hit just the second home run by a righthanded hitter at TOS, pulling the ball to left. The Oregon State commit is 5-foot-10, 168 pounds and is an average runner.

• As part of evaluation day on Friday, all position players ran the 60-yard-dash. These were the top times:

 Derek Hill, of  6.34
 Jeren Kendall, of  6.47
 Isaiah Pasteur, of  6.51
 Denz’l Chapman, of  6.55
 Joe Gillette, inf  6.58
 Shane Mardirosian, of  6.60
 Lane Thomas, of  6.60
 Monte Harrison, of  6.62
 Adam Haseley, of  6.63
 Kyle Dean, of  6.63
 Jack Flaherty, inf  6.65
 Ronnie Williams, of  6.65
 Brodey Quinn, of  6.66
 Travis Jones, of  6.67
 Caleb Potter, of  6.67
 Scott Hurst, of  6.69
 Kyle Molnar, of  6.69
 Chase Pinder, of  6.69
 Chandler Avant, inf  6.71
 Jack Gerstenmaier, inf  6.71
 Khalil Macklin, of  6.74
 Keenan Eaton, of  6.74
 Matthew Railey, of  6.75
 Griffin Helms, c  6.75
 Nick Shumpert, inf  6.79
 Stone Garrett, of  6.79
 Chad Smith, of  6.79
 Dazon Cole, of  6.82
 Brandon Vicens, of  6.83
 Charlie Cody, inf  6.84
 Alex Verdugo, of  6.85
 Greg Deichmann, ss  6.89