Image credit: Zac Veen (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
BOSTON — Several players with a chance to be first-round picks played in the Future Stars Series International Week in Boston this past weekend, including three players ranked among Baseball America’s top 20 high school prospects in the 2020 class.
The event, which was Sept. 20-22, included a game at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket—the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox—and a doubleheader at Fenway Park. With three games, that allowed the hitters to get around 10 plate appearances each and the pitchers to throw 2-3 innings.
These were some of the hitters who stood out in Boston, including a few with first-round potential.
Zac Veen | OF | Spruce Creek HS, Port Orange, Fla.
Veen, the No. 13 high school prospect in the 2020 class, shined on the first day of the event. The 17-year-old pulled a long double to right-center field, then later in the game pulled another pitch to the same part of the park for a home run. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Veen has a large frame with hitting actions and attributes that match the elite lefthanded hitters who typically go at the top of the draft. It’s an easy, fluid swing with good rhythm and balance, with the hitting ability and lift in his stroke to tap into his above-average power in games, power that should grow once he fills out physically. He’s athletic for his size with the arm strength to play in right field. He’s a Florida commit.
Dylan Crews | OF | Lake Mary (Fla.) HS
Crews, who ranks one spot ahead of Veen on the 2020 high school rankings at No. 12, showed an impressive combination of hitting ability, power and athleticism. Crews drilled a double off the Green Monster, which was his only hit of the event, but made a lot of quality contact, including a hard line drive to center field—that Canadian outfielder David Calabrese robbed of a hit— and a sacrifice fly to deep right-center field. At 6-foot, 190-pounds, Crews has fast bat speed and an advanced hitting approach for a 17-year-old. He stays through the ball well to drive it with ease to the middle of the field and especially to right-center. He ran a 6.74 in the 60-yard dash, which could be enough to start his pro career in center field, though he may ultimately fit better in a corner. He’s a Louisiana State commit.
Petey Halpin | OF | St. Francis HS, La Canada, Calif.
Halpin jumped eight spots in our most recent high school rankings to No. 19 on the list. He played like a potential first-round pick and an arrow-up guy, showing a well-rounded skill set as the top performer at the event, a potential top-of-the-order hitter who can play a premium position. Halpin went 5-for-7 with a triple, walked three times and didn’t strike out. On the two at-bats that weren’t hits, on one he reached on an error on a groundball up the middle, the other he smoked a fly ball to the warning track over the head of center fielder Roque Salinas, who made a nice play running it down. Halpin, 17, has a short, quick stroke from the left side. He uses his hands well and showed good plate coverage, taking pitches on the outer third to the opposite field with ease. At 6-foot, 180-pounds, Halpin doesn’t have the power of Veen or Crews, but he showed good bat control with a line-drive approach and gap power. Halpin ran a 6.89 in the 60-yard dash, though he has run better before and shown plus speed underway. Scouts have praised his defensive ability in center field and he showed why on the one play that tested him, getting a quick read off the bat running in on a line drive to make a diving catch and steal a base hit. He showed a strong arm in the workout as well. Halpin is a Texas commit.
David Calabrese | OF | St. Elizabeth Catholic HS, Vaughan, Ont.
Calabrese was the biggest riser at the Future Stars Series. He’s a senior and draft-eligible for 2020, but he was still just 16 at the event, turning 17 shortly after on Sept. 25. Calabrese showed an exciting combination of hitting ability, quick-twitch athleticism, speed and defense at a premium position, making him a candidate to jump up draft boards. Calabrese isn’t that big—listed at 5-foot-9, 145-pounds—but he’s a 70 runner who ran the 60-yard dash in 6.47 seconds. He stole a hit from Crews at Fenway Park, reacting quickly off the bat on a line drive in front of him in center field to make a sliding catch. Between his speed and defensive actions, he looks like an easy bet to play center field, though he didn’t show much arm strength at this event. Calabrese stood out in the batter’s box as well, going 3-for-8 with a double off a lefthander to right field that would be a single for most hitters, but his wheels allowed him to leg out the extra base. At Fenway Park, he pulled another ball into the corner for an extra-base hit that the right fielder misplayed, allowing Calabrese to come all the way around to score on the play thanks again to his speed. Calabrese‘s swing is simple, quiet and direct from the left side, geared for line drives with doubles power.
Jose Izarra | SS | Miami Christian HS
Izarra was born in Venezuela, but he moved to the United States four years ago and is now a 17-year-old senior committed to Miami and eligible for the 2020 draft. He’s 6-foot-1, 170-pounds and projects to stick at shortstop, where he has smooth, fluid defensive actions. He has soft hands, reads hops well and showed a nose for the ball. An average runner, Izarra went 1-for-7 in games, but he also walked twice, only struck out once and made hard contact on a line drive to center field that Halpin caught on a dive, showing a short swing with gap power from the right side. Izarra attends the same high school as the No. 17 prospect in the 2020 prep class, righthander Alejandro Rosario, which should put plenty of additional scouting eyes on him next spring.
Michael Brooks | SS | Palm Beach Central HS, Wellington, Fla.
At 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Brooks doesn’t do things that immediately jump out, but by the end of the event, he showed high overall game awareness and baseball IQ for a 17-year-old. In the first game Brooks struggled to make contact, but in the two games at Fenway Park, he didn’t strike out and he went 3-for-7 with a walk and three doubles, including the walkoff double in the final game. Brooks isn’t flashy or as explosive as some other shortstops, but his defense is steady, reliable and fundamentally sound, with a knack for slowing the game down and making good decisions. He’s an Arkansas commit.
Braylon Bishop | OF | Arkansas HS, Texarkana, Ark. (Class of 2021)
Bishop ranks as the No. 7 high school player in the 2021 prep class, and after seeing him both at USA Baseball’s 17U National Team Development Program in July and again here at the Future Stars Series, it’s easy to see why. A lean, athletic 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Bishop showed easy, comfortable actions in the outfield, making a sliding catch in left field in front of the Green Monster. He ran a 6.84 in the 60-yard dash, but he has shown plus speed before, and has the pure tools to stick in center field, though evaluators believe he needs further refinement to do so. He attacks the ball with an aggressive swing from the left side, with fast hands helping him generate quick bat speed. Bishop mostly showed gap power at this event, but with physical upside for that to improve once he gets stronger. He’s an Arkansas commit.