13 Standouts From The 2021 Baseball Factory All-America Game
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Baseball Factory All-America Game is annually one of the marquee events on the amateur calendar, pitting many of the best current-year draft prospects from around the country against one another—with two members of future draft classes included for good measure.
With the event taking place later than normal, the hitting looked to be ahead of the arms on paper, and wound up being the case during the game, as the National Team topped the American Team, 11-6, in Kauffman Stadium.
Below we dive a bit deeper into 13 standouts from the game and from Friday’s workout at the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy.
Ryan Clifford, OF/1B, Pro5 Baseball Academy, Apex, N.C.
Clifford played left field and first base, and went 2-for-4 with a double and a single. After striking out and reaching on an error in his first two at-bats, Clifford stepped to the plate in the sixth inning and put a charge into an 87 mph fastball from righthander Caden Marcum. He smoked a low line drive back up the middle that came off his bat at 109.5 mph—far and away the loudest hit of the game, in terms of exit velocity.
Scouts have noted that Clifford doesn’t have the best pure bat speed, but have praised his ability to time up pitches and drive the ball with strength that comes from a broad-shouldered, 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. His second hit of the day was a soft, dying fly ball to left-center against an 82 mph changeup.
Cam Collier, 3B, Mount Paran Christian HS, Kennsaw, Ga.
Collier was one of the most impressive players this weekend, overall. He was arguably the best defensive third baseman during Friday’s workout and he consistently showed a smooth, easy lefthanded swing. He went 1-for-4 during Saturday’s game, with a pair of hard hit balls: one a loud fly out to center field against a 92 mph fastball that left his bat at 95 mph; and the second a double to the opposite field, left-center gap against an 81 mph changeup. The double came off his bat at 101 mph, and while it might have been caught with a more optimal route by the center fielder, it was well struck nonetheless.
In addition to showing an ability to drive the ball, Collier showed a solid approach at the plate and has the bat-to-ball skills to stay alive when down in the count. He fouled off a few pitches in a two-strike count during his first plate appearance, before eventually grounding out to first base.
Collier has a very handsy swing at the plate, and starts with a simple and quiet leg lift that is on time and allows his hands to do most of the work. He has an all-fields approach that seems catered to spraying low line drives around the field, but when he does try to elevate the ball and do damage, he shows obvious raw power to the pull side.
Defensively, Collier showed reliable glove work going to his fore hand, back hand and coming straight in on the ball, as well as a strong throwing arm that is more than enough for plays at the hot corner. He has enough strength to get the ball across the diamond from the line, and also looked comfortable throwing from different angles and arm slots. While Collier moves fine now, he does have a more filled-out lower half that could limit his range and mobility as he continues to fill out and develop.
Walter Ford, RHP, McAdory HS, McCalla, Ala. (Class of 2023)
Ford allowed some hard contact in his outing Saturday, but did show off the pure stuff that has consistently had him near the top of the 2023 prep class. He was one of five players to touch 94 mph and pitched consistently in the 91-93 mph range, while also showing one of the better breaking balls of the event—an 81-82 mph slider with two-plane break and an above-average look at its best.
Ford also threw a firm and straight 87 mph changeup, but primarily pitched off of his slider and fastball. His control was scattered and below-average in this outing, and opposing hitters also found the barrel against his fastball, which meant Ford went back to his slider repeatedly. He throws the pitch in the 2600-2700 rpm range and while he missed below the zone at times, the breaking ball shows good power and a lot of horizontal movement at its best.
The Alabama commit throws from a high, three-quarter arm slot, and has some plunging movement in his arm action. As he moves to the plate Ford drops and drives from his back leg, and spins off some in his finish.
While it wasn’t his best outing from a results standpoint, it’s easy to see why Ford stands out when looking at his stuff and lean, 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame.
Elijah Green, OF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
The No. 2-ranked player in the 2022 high school class went 2-for-3 with a triple, single and walk in Saturday’s game and continues to show an exciting power/speed combination out of the most physically impressive frame you’ll see in this class.
After striking out against righthander Karson Millbrandt in the first inning, Green proceeded to reach base in his final three trips to the plate. He turned around a 94 mph fastball in his second plate appearance for a line drive single up the middle, walked in his third plate appearance and tripled to deep right-center in his final at-bat.
Green caught a 92 mph fastball up and away and did a nice job staying with the pitch and driving the ball deep to the opposite field gap with excellent carry after coming off his bat at 103 mph.
Druw Jones, OF, Wesleyan HS, Norcross, Ga.
Jones was named the MVP of the game after going 2-for-4 with a triple and single, and he also flashed his defensive ability with an impressive running catch in right field. There were plenty of hard-hit balls in this game, but Jones was the only player with multiple 100-plus mph exit velocity hits in the game.
He reached on an infield single in his first trip to the plate, turning a 93 mph fastball around at 104 mph to the left side of the infield, and in his second trip to the plate he drove an 89 mph fastball to deep right-center. The ball left his bat at 103 mph and he also clocked an impressive home to first time of 4.33 seconds, while rounding the bag instead of running straight through it.
Jones has a unique swing that doesn’t always look the prettiest, but he routinely finds the barrel in games against quality pitching, and despite a very lean, 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame puts more of a charge into the ball than you might expect—look no further than his loud exit velocities for evidence of that. It’s a handsy operation and he’ll often get off balance in his lower half or pull out towards left field with his legs, though he showed in this game the ability to impact the ball to the opposite field gap.
Jones played center and right field, and made one of the more impressive defensive plays in a game that was a bit light on web gems or defensive highlights, but he also took ground balls at shortstop before the game and during Friday’s workout. Jones showed above-average arm strength from the outfield and the arm worked well at shortstop as well, where he also displayed fluid actions, a solid back hand and the ability to throw well while off balance.
Jayson Jones, 3B, Braswell HS, Little Elm, Texas
Jones routinely shows some of the better strength and power in batting practices, and that was the case this weekend as well. He has the strength and bat speed to drive the ball to all fields, and showed a particular fondness for wearing out the right-center gap during Friday’s workout.
On Saturday, Jones topped Collier in the All-America Game Home Run Derby, though all of his home run power in that event went to left field—his pull side—in Kauffman Stadium. Jones had a relatively quiet showing during the game, walking once and striking out once in his two plate appearances.
He worked out at third base and shortstop this weekend, though his body type and actions make him a much better fit for a corner infield position than up the middle. He showed above-average arm strength that could certainly fit well at the hot corner, but he’s already filled out and listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and his quickness, glove work and exchange seem stretched up the middle.
Fortunately for Jones, he has the sort of power that should profile well wherever he winds up defensively.
David Lally, RHP, Grand Blanc (Mich.) HS
Committed: Notre Dame
Lally took the ball for the American Team in the seventh inning and struck out a pair of batters, while hitting one and allowing a blooped single to Ryan Clifford—the third out in the inning was a caught stealing on the bases.
Listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Lally pitched in the 92 mph range with a changeup in the 83-84 mph range. His fastball has some natural running action, though he did miss a bit to his arm side with both his heater and changeup.
The most impressive pitch for Lally in this outing was a 79-81 mph slurvy breaking ball that showed three-quarter shape and 10-to-4 spin at times, but did have solid biting action. It looked like an average breaking ball and locked up Druw Jones for a looking strikeout.
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Justin Lamkin, LHP, Calallen HS, Corpus Christi, Texas
Committed: Texas A&M
Lamkin toed the rubber for the National Team in the second inning and was one of just three southpaws to pitch in this year’s game. He showed a three-pitch mix that included a fastball in the 88-91 mph range, a 70-71 mph curveball and a changeup at 81.
Lamkin didn’t have great control in this outing—he frequently missed up in the zone and to his glove side at times—but he was tied with two other pitchers for the most fastball whiffs in one inning, with four. The pitch came in around 2200 rpm, but Lamkin found a way to miss barrels with it.
His breaking ball needs to be sharpened. It was a slow bender with 1-to-7 movement that lacked power or hard bite and he also tended to slow his arm on the pitch. If he can develop that pitch a bit more, it could go nicely with a fastball that seemed to have present swing-and-miss qualities.
Karson Milbrandt, RHP, Liberty (Mo.) HS
Milbrandt got the start in this game for the National Team and made the most of his opportunity as the lone representative of the state of Missouri, where the game was played—Milbrandt’s Liberty High School is just a 20-minute drive up 435-North.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound righthander struck out two and got a fly out to put together a quick, 1-2-3 inning while showing a three-pitch mix. His fastball was far and away his best offering in this outing, a 92-94 mph heater with high spin rates (2500-2700 rpm) that generated four swings and misses. That mark was tied for the most fastball whiffs in one inning during the game.
He also showed a 78-79 mph curveball and an 83 mph changeup, though he didn’t land either pitch consistently for strikes in this, admittedly, short outing. Milbrandt was a bit scattered with his fastball command, but it was overpowering enough on Saturday that precision wasn’t necessary for him to cruise through an inning.
Mikey Romero, 2B/SS, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS
Committed: Louisiana State
Romero is a small middle infielder listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds who has always stood out thanks to his impressive feel for hitting. Romero showed that this weekend, but he also showed more thump in his lefthanded bat than expected.
He drove the ball far and consistently to center and right field during Friday’s batting practice session, and also showed some sneaky pull-side raw power in the preliminary round of the home run derby.
He wasn’t just a 5 o’clock hitter, either, as Romero went 2-for-3 with a pair of hard hit singles during Saturday’s game out of the leadoff spot for the National Team. In Romero’s first plate appearance he drove a 90 mph fastball straight back up the middle at 105 mph off the bat. He then grounded into a fielder’s choice—clocking a 4.33 run time from home to first in the process—before collecting his second hit in the third inning. This time, Romero got an 88 mph fastball and drove the pitch hard on the ground through the 5-6 hole at 99 mph off the bat.
While some scouts are skeptical about Romero’s arm strength, he did stand out for his hands, glove work and exchange up the middle.
Nick Peoples, OF, Northview HS, Covina, Calif.
Committed: New Mexico State
Peoples was responsible for the lone home run of the event. The switch-hitting outfielder led off the second inning from the left side, took a 92 mph fastball from righthander Riley Stanford and drove it 379 feet to right field. It was a no-doubt shot to his pull side, and came off his bat at 102 mph. Peoples has a big and projectable frame at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds and after swinging and missing and breaking his bat during Friday’s batting practice session, stood out quickly during Saturday’s game.
Cole Phillips, RHP, Boerne (Texas) HS
Scouts tabbed Phillips as one of the more notable arms of the event. He entered in relief of lefthander Kyle McCoy in the middle of the fourth inning and got out of damage with runners on after a strikeout and a double play. Phillips also threw the entire fifth inning, where he worked a 1-2-3 frame with two more strikeouts and a fly out.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, Phillips pitches from the first base side of the rubber, with some length to his arm action and a three-quarter arm slot. He yanked the ball a few times in this outing overall, and was a bit scattered generally, but improved his control in the second inning and showed a solid three-pitch mix.
His fastball sat in the 91-93 mph range—and he tied with Lamkin and Millbrandt for the most fastball whiffs in one inning, with four—and he paired that nicely with a 76-79 mph curveball with solid bite and three-quarter shape. The pitch looked average and paired nicely with his fastball to keep hitters off balance in the box. He finished two of his three strikeouts with his fastball and one with the curve.
Phillips also flashed a solid changeup, a 77-78 mph pitch that generated one whiff and featured solid drop and tumbling action, though he did slow his arm a tick on the pitch.
Turner Spoljaric, RHP, Canadian National HS, Woodbridge, Ont.
Spoljaric threw the final frame for the National Team on Saturday. He struck out a batter, forced a ground out and a fly out and walked one, while showing a fastball/breaking ball combo. Spoljaric worked from the third base side of the rubber in this outing, and features a high leg kick, long arm action and three-quarter slot.
He touched 92 mph with his fastball, but mostly worked in the 88-91 mph range, while showing a curveball that varied in shape from three-quarters to more of a top-down, 11-to-5 look. The pitch wasn’t consistently above-average but it flashed that at times when he hit on it, with the pitch showing solid bite and depth at times. He threw it in the 2200-2400 rpm range and generated a pair of whiffs, including the final pitch of his sole strikeout.