2019 Area Code Games: Day 3 Scout Notebook
LONG BEACH, Calif. — After a dominant day of pitching across the board on Tuesday, Wednesday’s Area Code Games action featured plenty of offense.
In particular, a number of Southern California position players stood out, showcasing the depth that region possesses in the 2020 prep class.
Hitter Of The Day: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock (Calif.) HS (UCLA Commit)
Soderstrom has made plenty of hard contact throughout the week, and on Wednesday he was responsible for one of the hardest hit balls of the day. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound backstop went 2-for-4 for with a double and a single. His double came during his final at-bat in the seventh inning, when he jumped on an 87 mph fastball from lefthander Joe Vetrano (New York) and hit a missile right at the second baseman which flew off his bat at 104 mph. The defender made a flailing attempt to glove the ball, but he was put on his heels thanks to the force Soderstrom was able to generate.
Soderstrom is 3-for-7 with a triple, double and single over his first two games at the Area Code Games and has been one of the more impressive hitters at the event thanks to his ability to put the barrel on the ball with consistency.
Pitcher Of The Day: Jackson Fristoe, RHP. Paducah (Kent.) Tilghman HS (Kentucky Commit)
It was an underwhelming day for pitchers, but Fristoe was certainly an exception. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Kentucky commit threw just two innings for the White Sox in an 8-1 win over the Yankees, but he pitched back-to-back 1-2-3 innings and struck out three batters while showing a lively fastball and distinct breaking balls.
Fristoe pitches from the first base side of the rubber and works with an up-tempo, athletic delivery. He has a short arm action and three-quarter arm slot, falling to the first base side in his landing. His fastball sat in the 91-94 mph range over his two innings of work, with solid late life on the pitch.
He paired his heater with an 81-85 mph slider that had tight, darting life and added more horizontal movement when thrown to his glove side. While Fristoe spiked the pitch on one occasion, he did a solid job landing his slider for strikes and using it as an out-pitch—he finished two of his three strikeouts with the slider.
Fristoe waited until the second inning to break out a solid, 73 mph curveball, which had more top-to-bottom shape than his slider. The offering caught the one hitter he threw it to off-balance before Fristoe went back at him with a slider for the strikeout. With a solid-average fastball and a pair of solid breaking balls, Fristoe has more than enough stuff to keep hitters uncomfortable.
Defender Of The Day: Milan Tolentino, SS, Santa Margarita HS, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (UCLA Commit)
A number of shortstops have stood out for their defensive work so far this week, and Brewers shortstop Milan Tolentino shined on Wednesday in a 10-2 win over the Royals. A 6-foot, 185-pound infielder committed to UCLA, Tolentino has shown off big arm strength in the past, but it was his ability to throw on the run and from multiple angles that was noticeable in this game.
Tolentino’s first play was a fairly routine 6-3 double play, but his body control coming across the bag and his arm strength and accuracy while firing to first without having to reset or shuffle his feet was impressive. Later in the game, Tolentino had an even more challenging play. The SoCal infielder backhanded a ground ball deep in the hole at shortstop and while on the run and moving toward the third base line, twisted his body and threw to first base—again, with impressive accuracy and strength—to make an otherwise difficult play look routine.
He’s not the flashiest defender, but Tolentino is smooth, shows good body control and solid actions, and he has an advanced ability to throw from multiple angles and arm slots.
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Other Players To Note
Drew Bowser, SS/3B, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif. (Stanford Commit)
Bowser is something of a scout’s dream, with a lean and immensely projectable 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame with above-average arm strength and current pop in a strong righthanded bat. He has plenty of tools to get excited about, even if he's more likely than not to move to third base full time at the next level.
He showed some of the offensive promise in his game on Wednesday, with a pair of hard-hit balls in a 1-for-2 day at the plate. In Bowser's first at-bat, he pulled a hanging, 75 mph curveball down the third base line for a double that left his bat at 95.6 mph. He topped that in his second at-bat, although he wasn't rewarded in the box score when he crushed an 87 mph fastball to deep center field at 98 mph that was ultimately caught at the warning track. High school players committed to Stanford are notoriously tough signs, but Bowser’s toolset could be enough to convince teams to buy him out of his commitment next June if he continues to perform offensively.
D’Andre Smith, SS, San Dimas (Calif.) HS (Southern California Commit)
Another impressive infielder on the Brewers club along with Tolentino, Smith stood out more for his offensive performance than what he did with the glove on Wednesday. Smith went 3-for-3 with a trio of singles: one an infield single that he beat out; a second when he jumped on a 91 mph fastball and pulled a ground ball through the left side of the infield; and a third when he pulled an 84 mph fastball to left field with an 86 mph line drive. Smith previously showed off quick hands up the middle, and those obviously translate fairly well to the batter’s box. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Southern California commit is also a good runner who is aggressive on the base paths.
J.D. Gregson, C/1B, Wakeland HS, Frisco, Texas (Baylor Commit)
Gregson led all hitters in a 4-3 game that saw his Rangers team top the Nationals, going 2-for-3 with a pair of hard-hit balls. He hit a line drive single to left field (94 mph exit velocity) in his first at-bat against a 76 mph curveball and then turned around a 91 mph fastball in his second at-bat—good for a 102 mph single up the middle.
Dylan Campbell, SS, Strake Jesuit HS, Houston (Texas Commit)
Listed as an infielder, Campbell got the start for the Rangers in center field on Wednesday and looked like a natural at the position. He made a particularly nice play when a ball was hit high and deep over his head to straightaway center. Campbell got a good jump on the ball and tracked it well, doing a nice job to flip his hips during the middle of the route and make a small course-correction to get back on line and make a solid running catch. Diving catches are nice and show off athleticism, but small adjustments and body control like this displays a feel for the smaller, more technical details of outfield defense.