BA Newsletter: Get Analysis, Rankings Delivered To Your Inbox!

50 Standout Players From 2021 Area Code Underclass Games

Eldrige Areacode

After the Area Code Games finished in San Diego, seven teams filled with some of the top underclass players in the country played four games each from Aug. 12-14 at the Area Code Underclass Games in Los Angeles.

Many of the top 50 players in the 2023 class were there, including the No. 1 player in the country, while others had impressive showings to elevate their stock.

These were the 50 standout players from Area Code Underclass. All players below are 2023s, unless listed otherwise.

Max Clark, OF, Indiana (BA Rank: No. 1)

The top 2023 player in the country, Clark showed off a great blend of tools, athleticism, hitting ability and baseball savvy well beyond his years. Clark has easy actions in all facets of the game, including in the batter's box, where he has a compact, adjustable swing from the left side that enables him to have an extremely high contact rate. Clark has a line-drive, all-fields approach, going 4-for-11 with a double, a walk and two strikeouts. He will flash occasional power, like he did when he smacked a 2-0 fastball down in the zone off a lefty for a ground-rule double. But for now his approach is geared more to spread the ball around the field, with more power likely coming down the road as Clark learns which pitches to turn on for damage in those types of situations. A Vanderbilt commit, Clark is also a plus-plus runner who glides around easily in center field with a strong arm, and he showed a high baseball IQ with his smart, aggressive baserunning.

Ariel Antigua, SS, Florida

Antigua earned the Most Outstanding Player award, which must have been an easy call. Antigua went 7-for-14, blasted two home runs over the 37-foot wall in left field and drew two walks with one strikeout, all from a player who measured in at 5-foot-7, 178 pounds. A South Carolina commit, Antigua stands out more in games than he does in a workout setting, as he seems to hit well everywhere he goes with a good internal clock for the game. He's a high-contact hitter who is difficult to strike out and puts a surprising charge into the ball for his size, showing a knack for getting the barrel on pitches down in the zone for hits to the middle of the field and the opposite way. Then when he got pitches up, he kept his hands inside the ball and pulled them over the wall for both of his home runs.

A slightly below-average runner, Antigua worked out at shortstop and catcher, but he only played the infield in games. Given the way he's built and his overall baseball acumen, some scouts will probably want to see more of how Antigua looks behind the plate, but he performed well defensively at Area Codes as a middle infielder. At second base, he made a leaping catch on a ball over his head and charged in on a chopper over the pitcher's head to get the out at second. At shortstop, he made an impressive play ranging over to the second base side of the bag on a grounder with a quick transfer to get the speedy Evan Haeger out at first, turned a smooth 4-6-3 double play and showed a strong arm for the left side of the infield. He added another high baseball IQ play on the basepaths when his teammate hit a foul pop up toward the third base dugout that the catcher caught. With the third baseman charging after the ball and nobody covering the bag, Antigua tagged up from second and advanced to third on the play.

Kevin McGonigle, SS, Pennsylvania (BA rank: No. 11)

Just looking at the stat line doesn't do justice to how impressive McGonigle looked at Area Code Underclass. He went 2-for-9 with a double, two walks, one strikeout, a hit by pitch and a couple of sacrifice flies, but McGonigle had some of the highest quality at-bats and highest quality hard contact of anyone at the event. He's 5-foot-10, 178 pounds and snaps his hands to get the barrel through quickly with a short, direct path to the ball from the left side. It's an efficient, adjustable swing, enabling him to cover different quadrants of the plate well with a knack for making hard contact in the air. McGonigle doesn't expand the strike zone much either, and he's been one of the top offensive performers on the circuit this summer, including an MVP award at the 16U Ultimate Baseball Championship in June. At shortstop, McGonigle is quick but smooth and under control. He's an instinctive defender who moves his feet well with good actions and high overall baseball savvy that helps every aspect of his game play up. He's an Auburn commit.

Steven Milam, SS, New Mexico (BA rank: No. 10)

Milam measured in at 5-foot-6, 151 pounds. He's small, but he's also one of the best players in the 2023 class, going 4-for-10 with a double, one walk and no strikeouts with just one swing and miss at Area Code Underclass. He's a switch-hitter with a small strike zone, doesn't expand it much and has excellent bat-to-ball skills. Milam has gap power with a line-drive, straightaway approach, showing the contact skills and plate discipline to be a potential high OBP threat. He's a high baseball IQ player in all facets of the game, with quick feet, soft hands, smooth double play turns and the ability to read hops. He's not a burner runner, but he has a good arm with fundamentally sound defense and a good internal clock. An LSU commit, Milam has some similarities to Arkansas second baseman Robert Moore and Indians Double-A shortstop Brayan Rocchio, two other smaller-framed, switch-hitting shortstops with advanced hitting ability and baseball savvy beyond their years.

Roch Cholowsky, SS, Arizona (BA rank: No. 28)

Cholowsky went 6-for-13 with two doubles at Area Code Underclass, showing a knack for making contact with all types of pitches. Cholowsky recognizes pitches well for his age and has excellent hand-eye coordination, which leads to impressive bat control and makes him difficult to strike out, as he swung and missed just once during the event. A UCLA commit, Cholowsky squared up good velocity by hitting a double off a 91 mph fastball and stayed back on a changeup that he pulled for a single to left field. At 6 feet, 180 pounds, Cholowsky also plays quarterback for his high school football team, and he's a good athlete who fielded his position well with good body control.

Bryce Eldridge, RHP/1B, Virginia (BA rank: No. 17)

An Alabama commit, Eldridge has been one of the early standouts in the 2023 class in part because of his size at a young age. He's now 6-foot-7, 207 pounds with a big fastball from a three-quarters slot that ranged from 90-95 mph. His main secondary weapon is an 80-83 mph slider that was inconsistent but had good depth at times. Pitchers who are 6-foot-7 and throw 95 mph at 16 don't typically need a changeup, and Eldridge only threw three of them here, but two of the changeups he threw here showed promising fade at 83-84 mph. Eldridge cruised along through two scoreless innings before a couple of walks, hits and shaky defense behind him allowed runs to score in the third. At his size, Eldridge will probably always have to work to keep his delivery in sync to throw strikes, but the upside is there for a pitcher who could eventually throw in the upper 90s and miss a lot of bats. Eldridge also hit here and did lace a double into the opposite-field gap, but his potential on the mound is what makes him one of the top players in the class.

Travis Sykora, RHP/3B, Texas (BA rank: No. 23)

Fresh off a strong showing with USA Baseball's 16U/17U National Team Development Program, Sykora blew hitters away with 94-95 mph fastballs at around 2,400 rpm, striking out all three batters he faced in his one inning. Sykora threw just 11 pitches, with nine fastballs and six swinging strikes on those heaters. He mixed in a couple of sliders and didn't get to throw his splitter in this outing, but he didn't need anything here besides his fastball to overmatch hitters. A Baylor commit, Sykora also played third base, but his future looks best on the mound.

Blake Mitchell, C/RHP, Texas (BA rank: No. 50)

Mitchell had a strong showing at Area Code Underclass, though it's still debatable whether his future is at catcher or on the mound. An LSU commit, Mitchell shined defensively. At 6 feet, 192 pounds, Mitchell is agile and flexible behind the plate, received well and showed a strong arm with in-game pop times of 1.91 and 1.95 seconds. At the plate, Mitchell went 3-for-9 with a walk, though like he did the week earlier at USA Baseball's 16U/17U National Team Development Program, Mitchell did show some swing-and-miss risk with three strikeouts.

On the mound, Mitchell did get hit some facing talented hitters in Milam and Cholowsky as he threw almost all fastballs, working at 90-94 mph after touching 95 mph the previous week with USA Baseball. He only threw a couple of curveballs in his one inning, with one slipping from his hand and the other buried in the dirt, but he showed some feel to spin that pitch previously with USA Baseball, becoming one of six underclassmen to earn a spot on its 46-man roster for the 18U national team trials.

Parker Detmers, RHP, Illinois

Detmers is the younger brother of Reid Detmers, the 10th overall pick last year out of Louisville and the Angels' No. 1 prospect. Parker, also committed to Louisville, threw two perfect innings at Area Code Underclass, striking out three of the six batters he faced. He's 6-foot-3, 219 pounds with a sound delivery, threw strikes with his fastball at 88-91 mph and has the strength projection to get into the mid 90s in the future. His curveball was one of the best at the event with tight rotation, sharp break, good depth and shape, looking like a future plus pitch. He only threw three curves in his quick 20-pitch outing, with all three going for strikes including two swinging strikes.

Ralphy Velazquez, 1B/C, California (BA rank: No. 20)

Velazquez was one of the most talented hitters at Area Code Underclass, going 4-for-5 with a double, two walks, no strikeouts and zero swings and misses the entire event. An Arizona State commit, Velazquez has a mature approach for his age, staying within the strike zone and hanging in well against lefties, including an opposite-field double. In the field, Velazquez split time between first base and catcher. He measured at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, so he might ultimately outgrow catcher and end up at first base, though he does have a strong arm and threw out a runner with a pop time of 2.0 seconds flat.

INFIELDERS

Eric Bitonti, INF/OF, California: Bitonti doesn't turn 16 until November, so he's one of the youngest players in the 2023 class. You wouldn't know it from looking at him though, as he's 6-foot-5, 210 pounds with some of the biggest raw power at the event. There is some swing and miss to his game, but Bitonti has big power potential and good body control in the field for his size.

MJ Seo, SS/RHP, Texas: Seo was one of the top performers here, both as a hitter and a pitcher. Seo did swing and miss a fair amount, but he also went 4-for-6 with two doubles, two walks and two strikeouts. He added several impressive defensive plays, charging in on a slow roller at second base that he glove flipped to first base for the out and ranging well up the middle while playing second base a couple of times, including one where he slid to a knee to field a grounder on a backhand and made a clean throw to first for the out. An Arizona commit at 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, Seo also didn't allow a hit in two innings on the mound, striking out three of the eight batters he faced with an 88-93 mph fastball.

Roman Martin, SS, California: Martin got on base nearly every time he came up, going 4-for-5 with a walk and a hit by pitch. Martin has a hit-over-power offensive game, staying within the strike zone and making a lot of contact while using the whole field. He's a UCLA commit.

Carl Schmidt, SS, California: Schmidt reached base five times, going 4-for-5 with a double that he pulled off the left-field wall and a hit by pitch. It's a hit-over-power offensive profile with a disciplined approach, as Schmidt didn't expand the strike zone and only swung and missed once during the event. He's an Oregon commit.

Colt Emerson, SS, Ohio: Emerson just turned 16 in July, so he's one of the youngest players in the 2023 class, but his hitting ability from the left side has stood out for a while, and he went 3-for-8 with a double, a walk and three strikeouts in Los Angeles. At 6 feet, 174 pounds, Emerson is an Auburn commit who has a hit-over-power profile, showing the ability to let the ball travel and shoot it the opposite way.

Will Burns, SS, California: Burns racked up hits, going 4-for-6 with a walk and two strikeouts. He's a righthanded hitter with a high hand setup who shot three of his four hits to the opposite field, including an infield single where he showed above-average speed going home to first in 4.22 seconds.

Aidan Teel, INF/RHP, New Jersey: Teel performed well this summer and continued to show an accurate barrel from the left side at Area Code Underclass. He stayed within the strike zone and didn't swing and miss once during the entire event, taking eight swings resulting in seven balls in play as he went 4-for-7 with a double and a walk. A Virginia commit, Teel also got on the mound and touched 91 mph, but it was his offensive performance that stood out the most here.

Stone Russell, 3B, Florida: Russell is the son of John Russell, who played 10 years in the big leagues and managed the Pirates from 2008-10. Stone is 6-foot-1, 202 pounds and has hit well all summer, delivering a pair of hits here on fastballs up with a single lined up the middle and a double he pulled to left field. He's a Florida commit.

TJ Pompey, SS/RHP, Texas: Pompey has a long, rangy frame for shortstop at 6-foot-3, 168 pounds with a loose, quick stroke from the right side and fielded his position well, showing good body control and ability to read hops in the infield. A Texas Tech commit, Pompey got on the mound for a quick inning as well and got his fastball up to 89 mph, with the physical projection for his arm strength to improve as he fills out.

Finley Bates, SS, Colorado: At 5-foot-8, 152 pounds, Bates was a hit collector in Los Angeles. He sprayed the ball around the field and found holes to go 6-for-8 with two walks and two strikeouts.

Ryan Kucherak, SS, Arizona: Kucherak went 3-for-9 with two walks, two strikeouts and drilled a pair of extra-base hits. The righthanded hitter pulled a fastball for a double off the left field wall and took another fastball for a triple off the fence in left-center field.

Andre Modugno, 3B/OF, New Jersey: Modugno is a 2024 player committed to Duke who jumps out immediately for his physicality, athleticism and tools. He's 6-foot-4, 201 pounds with an impressive mix of raw power, arm strength and speed for his size. Modugno had trouble syncing everything up in games against older pitchers, but the tools and physical upside are among the best in the 2024 class.

Ty Doucette, 1B, Canada: As a 6-foot-1, 226-pound first baseman, Doucette is going to have to hit a lot, and that's what he did in Los Angeles. Doucette didn't expand the strike zone much, showed good bat-to-ball skills from the left side and drove the ball in the air to all fields, going 4-for-8 with two walks, no strikeouts, a hit by pitch and a double.

Kodai Senga NPB Getty

Ten Next-Level Names To Know In Open Universe Leagues

Ten players with future fantasy upside in open universe formats who are either unaffiliated with an MLB organization or were drafted after the first round in July.

OUTFIELDERS

Derek Curiel, OF California: There weren't too many 2024 players here, but Curiel was the best of the group. He's a mature hitter for his age with good feel for the barrel from a lefthanded swing that's smooth, balanced and compact. He played good defense in the outfield as well, with a chance for everything to take off once he layers strength on to his 6-foot-1, 161-pound frame.

Brady Reynolds, OF, California: Reynolds did some of the most damage at the event, starting with a grand slam in a left-on-left matchup. He went 3-for-8, adding a triple that he pulled into the right field corner. Reynolds is a corner outfielder committed to Stanford.

Kendall George, OF, Texas: At 5-foot-8, 157 pounds, George is a speedy lefthanded outfielder who was a pest for opposing teams. He was constantly on base, going 5-for-9 with two walks, one strikeout and two doubles, with both of his doubles more about hustle and speed than power. He's a plus-plus runner who went home to first in 3.93 seconds, with his speed helping him camp out comfortably under fly balls to handle center field. George is an Arkansas commit.

Dillon Head, OF, Illinois: Head projects to stick in center field, where he's a plus-plus runner who showed a strong arm before the game. Measured at 5-foot-9, 172 pounds, Head is a lefty who doesn't have much power, but he got on base consistently here, going 4-for-8 with a double, a walk, a hit by pitch and a strikeout. He's a Michigan commit.

Ashton Larson, OF, Kansas: An LSU commit, Larson has a calm, balanced swing from the left side with good bat control and feel for the strike zone. He pulled a double into right field and could have had another one if 2024 right fielder Derek Curiel didn't run it down for a catch in the right-center gap.

Nolan Stevens, OF, California: A 6-foot-2, 205-pound corner outfielder, Stevens showed big power that played in the game. He went 2-for-8 with two walks and did show a fair amount of swing and miss with four strikeouts, but he punished a fastball left out over the heart of the plate for an opposite-field home run over the left-center field fence and pulled another fastball up for a double into the right field corner.

Derrick Mitchell, OF, Texas: A switch-hitter, Mitchell projects to be a strong, physical right fielder who has some swing and miss to his game, but he drove in a run with a double that he pulled into the right-center gap. An Arizona State commit, Mitchell is an average runner who showed a strong arm in pregame and on multiple throws in games.

Seth Farni, OF, Mississippi: Farni showed some of the better bat speed at the event. A switch-hitter committed to Mississippi, he pulled a double off the top of the 37-foot wall in left field that would have been a home run in a typical high school field. It was his second double of the event after he lined one into the left field corner from the right side of the plate the previous day.

Nazzan Zanetello, CF/SS, Missouri: At the plate, Zanetello had trouble with swing and miss, but he showed raw tools, athleticism and defensive ability at a premium position that jumped out among the best in Los Angeles. He's a lean, athletic 6-foot-1, 172 pounds with plus-plus speed and a strong arm, splitting time between center field and shortstop but shining especially in center field, where he broke well off the bat with good range. Zanetello is a Miami commit.

CATCHERS

Colton Wombles, C, Alabama: Defense is Wombles' calling card, as he's an outstanding defender for his age with an extremely quick release to control the running game, with good blocking and receiving skills as well. Wombles didn't get a ton of plate appearances but he went 2-for-5 with a home run that he blasted into the trees in left-center field. He's an Auburn commit.

Matt Conte, C, Massachusetts: Conte is a 2024 player who scouts in the Northeast have already gotten several looks at this year, as Conte was teammates at Dexter Southfield with outfielder Joshua Baez, a second-round pick of the Cardinals this year. A Wake Forest commit, Conte is 6 feet, 195 pounds with the catch-and-throw skills to stick behind the plate and he hung in well against older competition, going 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk, a strikeout and a sacrifice fly.

Cade Arrambide, C, Texas: Arrambide has had a strong summer as one of the top players in the 2024 class. While he didn't do anything to jump at offensively here against older competition, he was an athletic mover behind the plate who blocked well and threw out a runner trying to steal second base with a pop time of 1.87 seconds.

PITCHERS

Walter Ford, RHP/INF, Alabama: Fresh off an electric outing for USA Baseball's 16U/17U National Team Development Program, Ford threw one inning at Area Code Underclass and was 92-95 mph, mixing in a low-to-mid-80s slider that flashed plus potential and he used it as a putaway pitch for a swinging strikeout. The No. 4 overall player in the 2023 class and an Alabama commit, Ford is a legitimate two-way prospect who showed big raw power in batting practice and went 1-for-3 with two walks and one strikeout in games.

Mason Bixby, RHP, Texas: Bixby is 6-foot-6, 199 pounds with a fastball that sat at 87-91 mph and touched 92 and a frame that screams projection for more velocity coming. He threw a surprising number of strikes for such a young, long-levered pitcher, striking out three of the 12 batters he faced with no walks and 32 of his 38 fastballs (84%) going for strikes. Bixby threw almost all fastballs here, mixing in an occasional slider that did get one called strikeout, but it was mostly the fastball and big physical upside that jumped out in this look.

Derek Schaefer, RHP, Arizona: Schaefer didn't have his best fastball here at the end of the summer, but he still showed a promising three-pitch mix and starter projection. He's young for the class and touched 91 mph earlier this summer, parking at 86-88 mph at Area Code Underclass with the arm speed and strength projection in his 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame to throw harder as he puts on weight. What stood out about Schaefer here was his ability to manipulate his secondary stuff, with tight spin, good shape and depth to his low-70s curveball and feel for a changeup at times with fading action. He's committed to Washington.

Gabe Gaeckle, RHP, California: Gaeckle is a little more than a year out from having Tommy John surgery and has one of the better fastballs in the class. He's 5-foot-10, 179 pounds with fast arm speed to generate a high-spin fastball at 89-94 mph. He also threw a 75-78 mph curveball with extremely tight spin that pushed past 3,000 rpm, with work to do to refine the shape and consistency of that pitch, but the raw spin to build from is there. He also turned over a couple of good changeups at 84-86 mph for two of his three strikeouts. Gaeckle faced 13 hitters and struck out three, though he did walk two and hit three batters, so he will need to iron that out, but the quality of the stuff was impressive for a pitcher just coming back from TJ.

Noble Meyer, RHP, Oregon: Meyer has a ton of projection left in his 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame to add to a fastball that's already trending up, ranging from 86-90 mph here. He did walk three but struck out six of the 11 batters he faced, showing feel for a 77-80 mph slider that had late tilt across the zone at times, along with a low-80s changeup. Meyer is committed to Oregon.

Aidan Keenan, RHP, California: Keenan is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with a fastball that has climbed over the past year, ranging from 89-94 mph in Los Angeles. The California commit threw strikes here with a long arm swing in the back, slinging the ball from a low three-quarters slot with a mid-70s curveball that might eventually morph into a slider from that angle.

Dane Bjorn, LHP, Missouri: Bourne showed some of the best feel for manipulating his secondary stuff among pitchers at this event. He's 6-foot-1, 180 pounds with a fastball that sat at 86-88 mph and touched 90 once and he struck out four of the 10 batters he faced. A lot of that swing and miss came on his changeup, which had lively arm-side movement at 76-77 mph and induced plenty of out front, lunging swings from hitters as he threw it 13 times and got swings and misses. A Missouri commit, Bjourn also had good feel for spin and shape on his mid-70s curveball.

Adam Hachman, LHP, Missouri: Hachman still has to iron out his control—he walked four of the 10 hitters he faced—but he's also a 16-year-old lefty with an outstanding fastball for his age, ranging from 90-95 mph in this look with several fastballs at 94-95. He's on the younger end of the class with fast arm speed and plenty of strength projection left in his 6-foot-3, 196-pound frame, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him throw 100 mph one day. Hachman announced today he is committing to Arkansas.

Cooper Strawn, RHP, Texas: Strawn is 6-foot-4, 209 pounds with a fastball that sat at 86-90 mph and touched 91 mph. His control was erratic, but he had one of the better changeups at the event. Strawn's 75-80 mph changeup had late sink and he used it against lefties and righties, getting swinging strikes on five of the eight changeups he threw.

Jakob Schulz, LHP, Texas: A Vanderbilt commit, Schulz is 6-foot-1, 210 pounds and pitched off an 87-91 mph fastball, with scattered command that led to a couple of walks, a hit batsman and two hits allowed, but he also struck out three in two innings. Schulz mixed in an effective low-80s slider that had two-plane depth to miss bats when it was at its best, along with a 79-81 mph changeup and an occasional low-70s curveball.

James DeCremer III, RHP, Arizona: DeCremer pitched in the mid-to-upper 80s in June at the Perfect Game Junior National showcase. Here his velocity was up to 92 mph, and while he had trouble corralling it in the zone at times, he flashed a slider with sharp, late snap to it as well. He's an Oregon State commit.

Matt Augustin, RHP, New Jersey: A Virginia commit, Augustin struck out five of the 13 batters he faced. He's 6-foot-1, 185 pounds and pitched off an 87-92 mph fastball, mixing in a low-70s curveball that he showed some feel to spin along with an occasional changeup.

Hiro Wyatt, RHP, Connecticut: Wyatt struck out four and didn't allow a walk to the nine batters he faced. The Duke commit is 6 feet, 164 pounds and pitched exclusively from the stretch, slinging from a long arm stroke and low three-quarters slot with a fastball that touched 92 mph with arm-side run and a 78-80 mph slider he controlled well.

Landon Stump, RHP, California: An Oregon commit, Stump showed a good fastball for his age already, touching 91 mph here with good tailing life at times. At 6-foot-3, 172 pounds, he has the space on his frame to be able to throw significantly harder once he packs on more size and strength. His fastball was his main pitch here, mixing in a short slider as well.

Dylan Questad, RHP, Wisconsin: Hitters were able to do some damage against Questad, but he threw strikes and had one of the better fastballs at the Area Code Underclass, sitting at 89-92 mph and peaking at 93. He's a Notre Dame commit.

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  


Additionally, you can subscribe to Baseball America's newsletter and receive all of our rankings, analysis, prospect insight & more delivered to your inbox every day. Click here to get started. 

of Free Stories Remaining