5 Standout Prospects From The 2019 Under Armour All-America Workout
CHICAGO — A day prior to the Under Armour All-America Game, the 40 players in attendance go through a showcase-style workout and practice, giving scouts an extra look at how the top high school talents in the country look in the field and at the plate.
This year, the group of All-Americans took infield, outfield, batting practice and had a home run derby qualifier at Illinois-Chicago with several dozen evaluators—including area scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors—ahead of the main event on Monday at Wrigley Field.
Below are reports and video of five players who stood out during Sunday’s action. If you're unfamiliar with the Under Armour All-America Game, or want a preview of the 2019 edition, check here.
Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS, Port Orange, Fla.
One of the top outfielders in a high school class that's deep at the position, Veen showed off an advanced feel for hitting Sunday. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound lefthander uses a wide setup at the plate and has a fairly significant leg kick, but he's consistently timed up and in excellent rhythm in the box. He is one of the better pure hitters in the class.
Veen squared the ball up consistently and showed above-average raw power to the pull side and has a projectable frame that promises more juice to come in the future as he continues to develop. Veen was one of four players who qualified for the Under Armour All-America Game home run derby, along with Blaze Jordan, Daniel Susac and Jack Bulger.
In the outfield, Veen showed off solid arm strength with a big crow hop and long, deep arm action as he loads up to let his throws fly.
Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel (Ill.) HS
Howard is an exciting all-around shortstop, and he's likely the top shortstop in the prep class at this moment. Priding himself on his defensive ability, Howard is a silky smooth defender up the middle and on Sunday showed the ability to make plays from every spot on the infield, all while making it look easy.
Howard has clean footwork and works around the ball well to give himself momentum towards his target, and he has a strong and accurate arm with the ability to throw from multiple arm slots depending on his position on the field. Howard looks comfortable and confident going to both his left and his right, working through backhands with good direction and throwing on the run to his arm side with ease.
While Howard's defense is obvious, he also has exciting potential with the bat. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righthanded hitter has a tall setup in the box, with a slight toe tap to get his load going before shifting his hands back slightly and then firing through the ball with impressive bat speed. He keeps his hands inside the ball well and uses both gaps effectively.
Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Committed: Louisiana State
The top-ranked catcher in the prep class, Romo also showed impressive ability on both sides of the ball. Like Howard, Romo is a defense-first player who has one of the best throwing arms and receiving skills in the 2020 class.
During practice throws to second base, Romo was consistently in the in 1.85-1.95 range with his pop times. He does an excellent job gaining ground with his lower half, staying in line to second base, and he has easy arm strength that allows his ball to carry well with above-average accuracy.
A natural righthanded hitter, Romo started switch-hitting when he was around eight years old and so his lefthanded swing is just as good—or better—than his righthanded swing. Mechanically, Romo looks similar from both sides, with a short stride and slight hitch in his load but he makes consistent contact and has gap-to-gap power at the moment with a slightly uphill bat path.
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Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS, Imperial, Pa.
Committed: Mississippi State
The owner of some of the biggest raw power and best pure bat speed in the 2020 class, Hendrick's batting practices are must-see affairs at whatever event he's attending. On Sunday, Hendrick homered to straightaway center field at Les Miller Park and cleared the batter's eye (around 410 feet from home plate) entirely—something that those involved in the Under Armour Game since its inception said they've never seen before.
Hendrick has some moving parts in his swing, but he's done a lot to quiet and simplify his lower half this summer. Previously, Hendrick had a noisy toe tap that created inconsistencies with his timing, but he's ditched the toe tap and opted for a simple leg lift to get his swing started. His hands are so quick that Hendrick includes plenty of bat waggle pre-pitch and during his load to keep them back as long as possible, before they flash through the zone to drive the ball with authority to all fields.
There are times when Hendrick is late to get his foot down, which disrupts his rhythm and keeps his lower and upper half out of sync, but when he's timed up there are few players in the class who can impact the ball like he's able to. Most likely a corner outfielder, Hendrick has the arm strength and accuracy to profile well in right field.
Steven Ondina, SS, International Baseball Academy, Ceiba, P.R.
Committed: Florida International
Where Hendrick has a power-oriented game at a corner position, Puerto Rican shortstop Steven Ondina showed some defensive ability at a premium position as a small, 5-foot-8, 156-pound shortstop.
Hailing from the International Baseball Academy—which routinely pumps out high school draftees—Ondina was one of the most impressive infielders Sunday, with sure hands, quick feet and a bigger arm than you would expect when looking at him. Ondina has sure hands and does a nice job seeing the ball all the way into his glove and staying low to the ground. His exchange is quick, and when combined with his easy plus arm strength, has the tools necessary to stick at shortstop long term, with solid range despite a shorter frame.
At the plate, Ondina has a wide setup and a level swing, with minimal power at the moment. It's a line drive-oriented swing that's unlikely to ever become a huge power threat, but he can spray the ball around and use his running ability to make some things happen on the offensive side of the ball as well.