Area Code Games Report

LONG BEACH, Calif.–Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif., is notorious for
being one of the best pitcher’s parks on the West Coast. That fact made
the handful of home runs hit on the first three days of this
year’s Area Code Games a telling sign. “Nobody hits them out here, and
especially not high school players,” said a veteran American League
scout in attendance. “There are some good hitters here.”

The consensus among scouts this summer has been that this year’s high
school class is potentially the best in years, and the performances of
many Southern California position players at the 20th annual Area
Code Games reinforced that sentiment.

Those who have not had the opportunity to see the depth in pitching
from the North and Southeast could be more reserved, but given the
showings of the country’s top prep pitchers this summer, combined with
the bats on display in Long Beach, there’s reason to believe major
league organizations will have a bevy of high-ceiling players to pick
from come the 2007 draft.

The list of power-hitting position players is underscored by a trio
from the same suburban Los Angeles high school. Chatsworth (Calif.)
High third baseman Matt Dominguez, catcher Mike Moustakas and
outfielder Bobby Coyle have all shown a combination of bat speed, power
and/or a feel for hitting. Dominguez’ opening day batting practice
session was impressive. He homered over the left-center field wall, 370
feet away. Coyle and Moustakas have made hard contact at least twice in
each game they’ve played. Coyle is the most athletic of the trio, and
he runs much better than Dominguez and Moustakas, turning in a 6.64
60-yard dash during Sparq testing.

“We’ll just drive straight to Chatsworth next spring,” said a scout,
making reference to the frequency some scouting directors and
crosscheckers will be evaluating the trio.

The lack of quality pitching at this year’s Area Code Games is
important to consider, but hitters with above-average hit and power
tools and sound swing mechanics should be worth following closely next
spring, with a chance to drafted highly.

Outside of the Chatsworth trio, Sherman Oaks, Calif., product Mike
Stanton offers intriguing upside. He had little trouble clearing the
left-field wall in batting practice. The athletic, strong 6-foot-5,
205-pound Stanton generates well above-average bat speed and has plus
raw power.

With the Aflac All-American Classic scheduled for Aug. 12, a pair of So
Cal hitters tuned up for their Aflac appearances with strong showings
in Long Beach. Third baseman Josh Vitters (Cypress, Calif., High) and
outfielder Freddie Freeman (El Modena High, Orange, Calif.) took turns
peppering the Blair Field alleys during games. Freeman, one of the most
powerful lefthanded hitters in attendance, has outstanding balance and
extension to his swing, with an ability to drive the ball to right and
left field. Vitters’ plate discipline needs to improve, as he’s
aggressive in all counts, but he rarely misses his pitch.

“This is just a preliminary period, let’s remember that, but there are
some guys here who have a chance to hit (as professionals),” the American League
scout said.

Two days remained at the Area Code Games, but from the showcase’s
outset, it was clear that position players from Southern California
will figure prominently in next year’s draft.