Under Armour All-America Game 2015: Breaking Down The Prospects
CHICAGO--The Under Armour All-America Game is more of a spectacle for the players and fans than it is for scouts. Evaluating players in a single game solves only a small piece of the puzzle, and with one-inning appearances, pitchers are difficult to get a deeper feel for; stuff is stuff, but there isn't much time for pitchers to make adjustments and really get into a rhythm. However, the context of the All-America Game is an important one to see players in, as the level of competition in the spring will not be as challenging, neither for hitters nor pitchers, and the game is a must-see event for all 30 amateur scouting departments.
On the whole, command issues turned out to be the theme of this year's game. Velocity was on display--three pitchers reached 96 mph with their fastballs, and all but one pitcher bumped 90. Most pitchers failed to consistently throw strikes, making for a long day at the field, and preventing the game from finding a consistent pace.
Riley Pint, rhp, St. Thomas Aquinas High, Overland Park, Kan.
Just about a week removed from an electric performance at the Area Code Games, Pint struggled in his outing at Wrigley. Pint stayed tall often, and didn't quite finish his delivery consistently, but his potential is undeniable. Pint's fastball touched 99 and flashed late, heavy sink, though he consistently missed up and to his arm side. Towards the end of his outing, he showed better feel for the glove side corner at the bottom of the zone, and got ahead 0-2 to the final two batters he faced.
Alex Speas, rhp, McEachern High, Powder Springs, Ga.
Speas showed off his electric arm speed--which points to significant velocity gains in his future--though he already has plenty in the tank. On Saturday, his fastball worked from 92-96 and showed late movement. It took him a while to find his groove, and he walked two batters and nearly hit another. Speas has shown better stuff and control at times this summer, and will be a very high follow going into the spring.
Forrest Whitley, rhp, Alamo Heights High, San Antonio
Early in the summer, Whitley made a name for himself by showing an advanced four-pitch mix. He opted not to participate in the Texas Scouts Association Game in July, then was hot and cold in two starts at the Area Code Games. At Wrigley, his fastball reached 96 mph and he showed feel for what appeared to be a changeup with splitter-like action to it, diving late at 87-90. Whitley also has one of the tightest-spinning breaking pitches in the class, and his curveball showed hard bite as he buried it below hitters knees with intriguing depth and power. Whitley struck out two batters (both on swings-and-misses) and generated a ground ball as well, retiring the side in order in his inning.
Zach Linginfelter, rhp, Sevier County High, Sevierville, Tenn.
Linginfelter has touched 95 mph with his fastball in the past, but he pitched at 91-93 at the Under Armour game. The biggest step in the physical righthander's development will be finding consistency with his offspeed stuff, and while he still lacks a dominant secondary pitch, his breaking ball has shown improvement throughout the summer. At times during this outing, the pitch was more of a spinner with minimal depth, but as the inning went along, Linginfelter began to finish the pitch, and he threw two with tight spin and sharp 11-to-5 break. He also spotted one changeup well, locating it down and away from a lefthanded hitter.
Gregory Veliz, rhp, Key West (Fla.) High
Veliz has shown some potential as an offensive player, but his raw arm strength is hard to ignore. His fastball worked at 92-94, and his curveball showed sharp break, but he'll have to work on gripping it more subtly inside his glove to avoid tipping the pitch. Veliz also showed a changeup, which came in at 84 mph.
Mitchell Miller, lhp, Loganville (Ga.) High
A wiry-bodied southpaw, Miller has plenty of projection in his 6-foot-5, 175-pound frame. His delivery starts with a high leg kick and tuck backwards to coil his hips, then he finishes his arm action across his body, while also whacking his head. Miller is already touching 90 mph from the left side, and his changeup flashed fading action as he located it down and to his arm side, away from righthanded hitters.
Jesus Luzardo, lhp, Stoneman Douglas High, Parkland, Fla.
Luzardo has shown some of the best pitchability of any pitcher in the class all summer, and he didn't let up in Chicago. His slider, which can break extremely late at times, was inconsistent for him, sometimes looping upward out of his hand, but he had feel for his potentially plus changeup and pounded the zone with his fastball, which sat 90-93.
Garrett Gooden, rhp, St. Pius X Catholic High, Atlanta
A projectable righthander with wide shoulders and room to fill, Gooden's fastball showed sink as he spotted it down in the zone at 88-90. Gooden starts from the first base side and strides out toward the righthanded batter's box, finishing with solid extension towards his target. After missing up often in his outing at East Coast Pro, Gooden showed better control at Wrigley.
Graeme Stinson, lhp, Norcross (Ga.) High
Stinson was very effective in his inning, retiring the side in order on a ground ball sandwiched between two strikeouts. He throws from a lower three-quarters arm slot and lands closed off, making the ball difficult for hitters to pick up out of his hand. His fastball worked at 89-91 and he showed a sharp, short slider. Stinson, a Duke commit, faced fellow Blue Devils commit Will Benson, and got the lefthanded hitter to ground out. His fastball was heavy and difficult to square up, especially since he was able to navigate the bottom of the strike zone with both pitches.
Brenden Heiss, rhp, Jacobs High, Algonquin, Ill.
Starting with a deeply coiled hip, Heiss struggled to repeat his stride and throw strikes. His fastball ranged from 91-94, and his curveball showed loopy action. Heiss has electric arm strength and some important raw materials, but will need to calm down his control issues going forward.
Alek Manoah, rhp, South Dade Senior High, Homestead, Fla.
Manoah showed off outstanding arm speed and a promising package of three pitches, but his timing was a bit off track. He starts from the third base side of the rubber and lands slightly closed, and he wasn't consistently using the strength in his lower half on Saturday. Manoah's arm speed indicates future mid-to-upper 90s velocity, but he pitched mostly at 92-93 at Wrigley. His breaking ball varied in shape and size, sometimes showing late darting action from 10 to 4.
Kyle Muller, lhp, Jesuit College Prep, Dallas
A 6-foot-6 lefthander with plenty of projection in his frame, Muller pitched at 85-88 with his fastball, and the pitch showed plane as it crossed through the hitting zone. Muller struggled to find the strike zone throughout his inning.
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Anthony Molina, rhp, West Broward High, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Molina's fastball worked at 91-93 and his changeup flashed solid fade. He threw two breaking pitches, one in the low 70s with more horizontal break, and a soft, upper-60s downer. He has a skinny build with thin shoulders. Molina's arm speed indicates that more velocity should be in his future.
Travis Hosterman, lhp, Hagerty High, Oviedo, Fla.
A Central Florida commit, Hosterman looked like a polished college pitcher in his inning at Wrigley. His fastball ranged from 86-88 and touched 89, and was able to spot it down and to both sides very effectively. His curveball broke with 1-to-7 shape and heavy depth.
Rian Haire, lhp, South Caldwell High, Hudson, N.C.
Haire pitched at 90-92 and generated tight spin on his breaking ball, especially when he spotted it down and to his arm side. Haire finishes his delivery by bring his torso down and over his front leg, and he tends to snap his forearm downward as he finishes his curveball. Coming from the left side, Haire has a solid starter kit, especially from the left side, but will need to work on finding consistency with his arm action to maximize his potential.
Nicolas Hanson, rhp, Prior Lake High, Savage, Minn.
When one of his fastballs caught too much of the plate, Hanson saw Michael Amditis smash a grand slam. Hanson's fastball sat at 87-90 and he flashed a sharp curveball, but the pitch lacked consistency. He is 6-foot-6 with broad shoulders and a fast arm, and Hanson projects to add significant strength in the coming years.
Jonathan Gettys, lhp, Gainesville (Ga.) High
The younger brother of Padres prospect Michael Gettys, Jonathan retired the side in order to finish off the game. His fastball sat at 90-91 and once touched 93, and his curveball showed late break from 1-to-7. He struck out two batters.
The position players in the event began the weekend with a workout on Friday, then warmed up on the field prior to the start of the game. In game action, all position players got between two and five plate appearances.
Bo Bichette, (2b, Lakewood High, St. Petersburg, Fla.), showed exciting tools throughout the weekend. His swing is unconventional, with a deep arm bar and back elbow raise. Despite the swing, however, Bichette shows the ability to consistently drive the ball with authority. In batting practice before the game, Bichette drove home runs very deep out to center field and to his pull side. In the game, Bichette drove one ball to the corner in right field for a triple, and he made a couple strong defensive plays, diving to his right to rob Cooper Johnson (c, Carmel Catholic High, Mundelein, Ill.) of a base hit on a line drive up the middle.
Johnson was another one of the game's standouts from a prospect perspective. He handled the pitching staff for the first four innings, and back-picked a runner who had taken a large lead off of second base. At the plate, Johnson went 1-for-2 with a walk. He punched a low curveball on the inner half of the plate to right center field for a single against Veliz.
Carter Kieboom (ss/3b, Walton High, Marietta, Ga.) has shown impressive bat speed and timing all summer. In the game he went 2-for-3 with a strikeout, and solid play on the left side of the infield. In his first at-bat, Kieboom saw a 98-mph fastball from Riley Pint up and on the outer half of the plate, and punched a ground ball through the right side for a single. Then, in his second at-bat, he punched a line drive to right center field for another single. In his third at-bat he struck out looking at a quality changeup down and away.
Delvin Perez (International Baseball Academy, Ceiba, P.R.) showed intriguing fast-twitch ability in the infield, showing both quick feet and arm strength. Perez also hit a line drive to the left center field gap for a double.
Austin James (Bloomingdale High, Valrico, Fla.) has shown steady improvement throughout the summer showcase circuit. At Wrigley, James took a solid batting practice session, generating consistent backspin on the ball. James has begun to tap into the natural strength in his 6-foot-1 frame, and has shown intriguing foot speed and hands as the summer has come to a close.
Overall, the Under Armour All-America Game brought together a group of players with high ceilings, though each player still has minor issues to iron out.