2018 Area Code Games: Day 5 Notebook
LONG BEACH, Calif.—The fifth and final day of the 2018 Area Code Games came and went on Friday, with all eight teams in action for the second consecutive day.
In all, the showcase, which included eight batting practices, a home run derby and a total of 20 games, went off without a glitch, giving the scouting community plenty of extended looks at the top talent in the 2019 draft class.
Below, you can find reports from each of the previous four days, as well as some brief notes on a few players who stood out Friday.
Jacob Meador | RHP | Burleson (Texas) Centennial HS
Committed: Texas Christian University
Lacking the prototypical pitcher’s build at just 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Meador has proven capable of pitching well beyond what his size may suggest. After a scoreless inning of relief and a strikeout on Monday, Meador took the mound for the second time at the Area Code Games on Friday, this time pitching three innings in a starting role.
Stepping on the mound for the Rangers’ (Texas) last game of the five-day event, the TCU commit struck out a showcase-high seven batters in three innings. Working off a fastball that sat 88-92 mph for the entirety of his outing, Meador struck out the side in the first inning, when his fastball was regularly touching 91 and 92 mph.
Despite his short stature, Meador is still able to get downhill plane on his heater because of an over-the-top arm slot. While there is a touch of effort in his delivery, Meador stays in control and consistently throws strikes, as evidence by his ability to surrender only one walk in four total innings this week.
Meador did most of his damage with his fastball in the earlier stages of his outing, but he was also able to get swings and misses with his secondary offerings as well. Meador’s last two strikeouts came on 74 mph curveballs, with the pitch showing tight break and solid depth while sitting in the mid-70s. He also has a low-80s changeup with late fade and natural arm-side run, giving him two potential swing-and-miss offspeed pitches.
Meador gave up his only two runs of the showcase in his final inning on Friday, with the biggest damage done when he hung a 76 mph curveball that was shot into the gap for an RBI double. Still, it was an encouraging week for the Texas righthander, who will be looking to discredit the stigma attached to prep righthanders who stand under six-feet tall.
Pete Crow-Armstrong | OF | North Hollywood HS, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Although the main goal of the annual Area Code Games is to showcase the upcoming prep talent that will be available for next year’s draft, there are always a handful of prospects who compete in the five-day event one year early. For example, this year there were seven 2020 prospects competing in the Area Code Games, while the remaining 200-plus players were members of the 2019 graduating class.
This year’s crop of younger players was led by Crow-Armstrong, a California outfielder who is already putting himself at the forefront of the 2020 prep class. Standing at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Crow-Armstrong found himself hitting leadoff for the Brewers (Southern California) much of this week, and he left the showcase event as one of the team’s top performers both offensively and defensively.
In the Brewers’ first game on Friday, Crow-Armstrong reached base in all three of his plate appearances, hitting two doubles and scoring two runs. In his first at-bat of the day, the Vanderbilt commit worked a full count before sending a 91 mph fastball down the left-field line. Initially thinking his line drive landed foul, Crow-Armstrong remained in the batter’s box for an extra two or three seconds after making contact and was still standing in the batter’s box when the third-base umpire ruled the ball fair once it had kicked up chalk just beyond the third-base bag.
Once he finally realized the ball was in play, Crow-Armstrong had no problem getting to second base for a standup double, using his above-average speed to make up for the initial confusion. His speed was on display two innings later as well, when he pulled a 78 mph breaking ball into the hole between first and second base for what was seemingly a generic single hit at the opposing right fielder. Crow-Armstrong had other ideas, however, busting it out of the batter’s box at the crack of the bat and stretching a sure-fire single into a double with a head-first slide.
In his final at-bat of the game, Crow-Armstrong’s speed was once again put to the test, as he had to beat out a potential double play after hitting a 91 mph fastball right back up the middle for a fielder’s choice. Crow-Armstrong advanced to second on the play after the ensuing throw squirted away from the first baseman, and then, one pitch later, he scored easily on a base hit to centerfield.
With a loose, athletic swing, the ability to consistently put his barrel on the ball and an above-average speed tool, Crow-Armstrong was constantly wrecking havoc with the bat and on the bases this week. He also showed good range, defensively, in both centerfield and in the corners, and he flashed a strong arm in limited opportunities.
Still more than 22 months away from being draft-eligible, it was an impressive week-long performance from Crow-Armstrong, who should once again be one of the top names to watch at the Area Code Games next summer.
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- Crow-Armstrong wasn’t the only 2020 prospect to push his name further into the scouting community, however, as Oregon righthander Mick Abel made two impressive appearances at the 2018 Area Code Games. On Friday, the 2020 Oregon State commit flashed four pitches in one scoreless inning. Abel recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame, the second of which came on an 84 mph changeup. Abel worked off a 89-92 mph fastball and showed feel for both a 79-81 mph slider and a 73-74 mph curveball.
- D.J. Jefferson, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound 2019 righthander out of Las Vegas, was one of the hardest throwers to take the mound on Friday, when he showcased an easy-effort, 92-93 mph fastball in a brief relief appearance for the Reds (Four Corners). Pitching against the Royals (Northwest), Jefferson struck out the final two hitters he faced, while also using a 73-74 mph curveball and 78-80 mph changeup. With his tall, lanky frame, Jefferson is a high-ceiling prospect who projects for even more velocity in the future. He is committed to Southern California.
- With a strong, 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, 2019 Pennsylvania outfielder Chris Newell showed the ability to impact the baseball on numerous occasions throughout the week. In the Yankees’ (Northeast) game on Friday, Newell recorded one of the hardest hit balls of the week, lining a 90 mph fastball high off the right-field wall with an exit velocity of 103.9 mph. Newell made it to third with ease for a standup triple and then scored on an RBI groundout two batters later. In his next at-bat, Newell showed off impressive plate discipline as well, as he fell behind in the count 0-2 before battling his way back and fighting off some tough breaking balls to eventually draw a walk. Newell is a lefthanded hitter who is committed to Virginia.
- California lefthander Peter Hansen doesn’t blow many hitters away with his mid-80s fastball, but the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Texas commit did show off one of the more impressive breaking balls at the Area Code Games on Friday. Starting for the Athletics (Northern California) in the day’s first game, Hansen flashed a 72-74 mph curveball with a spin rate north of 3,000 RPMs, according to data provided by TrackMan. For comparison, most breaking balls throughout the event were in the neighborhood of 2,400-2,700 RPMs, proving that Hansen’s curveball was among the tightest spinners of the week. A lack of current fastball velocity likely means that Hansen is more of a college pitcher at this point, but with the projection remaining in his frame it’d be easy to forecast Hansen eventually pairing an at least-average fastball with his already tight-spinning breaking ball.