Area Code Games Wrapup

Ranking the top prospects at the West Coast showcase event

LONG BEACH—The 22nd annual Area Code Games came to an end, on time and in front of a sparse crowd (most scouts and college coaches left California Saturday evening on red eye flights), Sunday evening at Blair field in Long Beach. The event was a logistical success as the weather was perfect, and all 20 games on the schedule were completed without one hint of a weather delay.

However, the one hiccup in the event's details was the overlapping of the dates between the Area Code Games and the Aflac All-American Game. Due to the Aflac game being played in the same week, many of the nation's best players, that would have typically been at the Area Code Games, were not present. As it turned out, the scheduling made things easier on scouts and college coaches as it was possible to knock out both events in one trip. In turn, the talent level at the Area Code Games inevitably took a hit.

"The talent is noticeably weaker this year than last year," a National League scout said. "It has been especially tough to find position players."

Losing most of the Aflac All-Americans (a few of the Aflac All-Americans participated in a game or two of the Area Code Games) for the entire week did allow for extra roster space and the opportunity for other prospects to be showcased.

"Of course, if you take 40 guys out of the (Area Code) Games that go participate in the Aflac event, the overall talent is going to be down," another National League scout said. "But, I thought it was fine. If you paid attention, there were some good guys out there."

There certainly were some good players in attendance, but the event seemed to be lacking the great players that stand out head and shoulders above the rest—similar to the way Josh Beckett, Demon Young and Justin Upton did in their performances at the Games. This made the process of formulating top-10 prospect lists a difficult chore. There were at least 20 players worthy of making the list which made ordering them almost a crap shoot. The prospects that did not make the top 10 are listed in the honorable mention section. The same can be said for the pitcher's as 15 guys were seriously considered to make the top-10.

To be clear on the eligibility requirements, only players in the 2009 class that did not participate in the Aflac All-American Game will appear on the lists that follow. There were a couple prospects from both the 2010 and 2011 classes that would have made these lists and will be detailed later in the article.

Jacob Marisnick, of, Riverside (Calif.) Poly HS
Colton Cain, 1b/lhp, Waxahachie (Texas) HS
Kenny Diekroeger, ss, Menlo HS, Woodside, Calif.
Geno Escalante, c, Rodriguez HS, Fairfield, Calif.
Todd Glaesmann, of, Midway HS, Waco, Texas
Randal Grichuk, of, Lamar HS, Rosenberg, Texas
Kristopher Hobson, 1b, Stockdale HS, Bakersfield, Calif.
Cohl Walla, of, Lake Travis HS, Austin, Texas
Mitch Haniger, of, Archbishop Mitty HS, Santa Clara, Calif.
Jacob Lamb, ss/3b, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle, Wash.
Honorable Mention: Mike Trout, cf, Millville (N.J.) HS; Nolan Arenado, 3b, El Toro HS, Lake Forest, Calif.; Cameron Garfield, c, Murrieta Valley HS, San Diego; James Robbins, 1b/rhp, Shorecrest HS, Shoreline, Wash.; Richard Stock, c, Agoura HS, Westlake Village, Calif.
Marisnick tops the list as he seems to have the best chance to be a five-tool player at the pro-level. He has been a BA favorite since his appearance at the Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C. earlier this summer, and his performance in Long Beach did not disappoint. Marisnick ran a 6.7 second 60-yard dash during testing, he showed pop at the plate, an above-average arm and instincts in the outfield. The only question with him is if he will hit for average, but most scouts feel that he will. Glaesmann and Haniger are also big strong outfielders with power arms and bats. Similar to Marisnick, hittability is the question mark with these two. Foot speed is where Haniger (7.3 second 60) and Glaesmann (6.9 second 60) differ from Marisnick, making them suited best for right field.

Walla is also an impressive corner outfielder but doesn't have quite the arm strength of Marisnick, Glaesmann or Haniger. However, he is considered better with the bat, and scouts love the way he plays the game. Listed at 6-feet-4, 170-pouds, Walla is athletic and strong. He posted a 60-yard dash time of 6.93 seconds.

Cain easily makes the list as a lefthanded power-hitting first baseman with an above-average arm. At 6-feet-3, 225-pounds, was impressive both at the plate and also on the mound from where he runs his fastball up to 90 mph. In the early goings, Cain is seems to be liked more as a position player by scouts but has the potential to be a prospect at both capacities. Hobson, like Cain, is a lefthanded hitting first baseman with the ability to hit the ball with authority. He is 6-feet-3, 210 pounds and is solid around the bag defensively.

Diekroger was deemed the event's top athlete in the SparQ rankings, following testing on the first day. He may also have been the best pure defender of all the 2009's and is a legitimate prospect at the shortstop position.  He ran a 6.68 second 60-yard dash, has good actions and an average arm at worst from the six-hole. Exactly how much he will hit at the next level, but like Marisnick, scouts feel that he will produce offensively.

Shelby Miller, rhp, Brownwood (Texas) HS
Matt Hobgood, rhp, Norco (Calif.) HS
Chad James, lhp, Yukon (Okla.) HS
Jon Reed, rhp, Tulsa (Okla.) Memorial HS
Steven Matz, lhp, Ward Melville HS, Stony Brook, N.Y.
Mark Appel, rhp, Monte Vista HS, San Ramon, Calif.
Trent Stevenson, rhp, Brophy College Prep HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Tyler Skaggs, lhp, Santa Monica HS, Los Angeles
James Needy, rhp, Santana HS, Santee, Calif.
Tom Lemke, rhp, Northwest Christian HS, Phoenix
Honorable Mention: Jake Barrett, rhp, Desert Ridge HS, Mesa, Ariz.; Justin Jones, lhp, Oakdale HS, Riverbank, Calif.; Justin Bellez, rhp, Mira Mesa HS, San Diego; Garrett Gould, rhp, Maize HS, Wichita, Kan.; Jordan Cooper, rhp, Shelbyville (Tenn.) Central HS
Escalante was the most impressive catcher eligible for the list, posting POP times at 1.9 seconds on multiple occasions. He moved well behind the plate, had solid mechanics and even showed leadership qualities. At the plate, Escalate is strong and has pop, making solid contact with consistency. His defense is what will give him the best shot at making the big leagues, but scouts like the fact that Escalante has a chance to also be offensive.

Grichuk had one of the best weeks of anyone at the plate, hitting a home run and barrelling almost every ball in which he made contact. He also had an impressive batting practice in which he drove a few balls out of the stadium and on the street behind left field. Grichuk will swing and miss, leading to strikeouts, but if he can drive balls like he did this weekend, when he does makes contact, he will be a big leaguer one day. The knock on Grichuk is his position. Currently limited to left field, scouts feel he profiles best at second base—if he can stick there defensively. As of yet, Grichuk hasn't been showcased there thus his ability to play in the infield is unknown.

Lamb rounds out the top-10, and he does so in a sleeper type role. Listed at 6-feet-3, 190 pounds, Lamb is both athletic and physical. He played some shortstop during the event but will most likely end up at third base in pro-ball due to being a below-average runner (7.12 second 60). The tool that stood out most from Lamb is his well-above average arm strength. One scout even mentioned that if he doesn't pan out in the field, he'd like to see Lamb on the mound. The question with Lamb, as with most high school prospects, is whether he will hit enough at the next level. Lamb is strong and showed some raw power ability. If he has a good spring at the plate, Lamb could be an impact draft in 2009.

Here is a chart of velocities, of the pitchers named. A similar spreadsheet, detailing every pitcher that threw at the event is posted on BA's Prospect Plus website.

Name R/L FB Low FB High FB Max CB SL CH
Matt Hobgood RHP 90 93 94 76
Shelby Miller RHP 89 91 94 74

Jake Barrett RHP 90 92 93 75
Mark Appel RHP 88 91 91
James Needy RHP 88 90 91 74 77 83
Justin Bellez RHP 88 90 91 76 79 81
Trent Stevenson RHP 88 90 91 75 78 80
Garrett Gould RHP 88 90 91 78
Jordan Cooper RHP 87 89 91 77
Jon Reed RHP 89 90 90
77 78
Steven Matz LHP 88 89 90 72
Tyler Skaggs LHP 87 89 89 71
Tom Lemke RHP 86 88 89 71

Chad James LHP 84 86 87 76

It has to be mentioned that the best prospect in this event—and probably the best overall prospect in the nation—does not come from the 2009 class. A rising sophomore (2011 class), Bryce Harper from Las Vegas High is quickly becoming a prodigy as he consistently wows scouts with his huge power, ability to square up on the ball in almost every at-bat and his well above-average arm behind the plate. Harper also runs well and grades high in athleticism, especially for a catcher. At the age of 15, Harper is 6-feet-3, 200 pounds and is already represented by the Boras Corporation. Many scouts feel Harper would have been the first pick in the 2008 draft, had he been eligible, and is the very safe bet to be the top choice in 2011.

Also from the 2011 class, shortstop Christian Lopes (Valencia High, Canyon Country, Calif.) would have been in consideration for the top-10 position players list. Lopes plays shortstop with smooth actions and is advanced at the plate. He is an early favorite to be the top middle infielder in the 2011 class.

Outfielder Josh Sale (Bishop Blanchete High, Seattle), from the 2010 class, had one of the more impressive weeks at the plate and accomplished something that most scouts in attendance believe has never been done before at the Area Code Games. On Thursday, Sale went 4-for-4 and belted a home run in his final at-bat of the game to hit for the cycle. The feat is almost impossible to accomplish as home runs at Blair Field are rare (huge dimensions) and batters almost never get four at-bats in a single game. Sale's home run was one of two four-baggers hit during the week.

Another 2010 prospect, Stetson Allie (St. Edward High, Almsted Falls, Ohio) is a stud of an athlete with the capability to be a legitimate two-way prospect at the pro level. Off the mound, the righthander's fastball is polished and touches 94 mph (tied for the highest velocity in the event with two other players). While in the field, he will most likely be an offensive and above-average defensive third baseman with a cannon for an arm. Allie also attended the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland and impressed there as well.

Jameson Taillon from Woodlands (Texas) High is the final underclassman that would have made the top-10 list for pitchers. A righthander from the 2010 class, Taillon is a tall and projectable 6-feet-5, 220-pounds with a clean delivery and a fastball in the low-90s.

Another rare accomplishment occurred on Tuesday in the second game of the event. The pitchers from the team sponsored by the Cincinnati Reds—comprised of players from the four-corners regions of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah—threw a combined nine-inning no-hitter. Lemke, Michael Dedrick (Canyon View HS, Cedar City, Utah), James Pazos (Highland HS, Gilbert, Ariz.), Casey Upperman (Notre Dame HS, Phoenix), Josh Dahl (Deer Valley HS, Glendale, Ariz.), Miguel Ortiz (Las Vegas (Nevada) HS) and AJ Carman (Judge Memorial HS, Bountiful, Utah) struck out a combined 13 opposing batters, allowing zero hits in the contest.

The end of the Area Code Games marks the beginning of the end of the national showcase summer circuit. The last major event will be held this coming Sunday in Chicago. Baseball Factory and Team One are putting on the Under Armour All-American Game—known in the past as the Cape Cod Classic—at Wrigley field. The game will boast 18 of the players that participated in the Aflac All-American game plus 18 new players. The game will begin at 1:35 p.m. EST and will be aired on ESPNU.