Everyone Roasts At East Coast

Temps, pitching heat up at annual East Coast Showcase

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WILMINGTON, N.C.--The East Coast Showcase featured a bevy of the top prospects from the Class of 2007. But not even the 94s and 95s that were flashing on radar guns could match the heat at UNC Wilmington's Brooks Field.  

With temperatures climbing near 99 degrees and heat indices in excess of 105, the four-day showcase wasn't easy to endure for the players or the hundreds of scouts and college coaches in attendance. The event, dubbed the "East Roast Showcase", has never lived up to that moniker better than it did this year.

"It's always hot, but it's hard to remember all four days being this intense," said UNC Wilmington head coach Mark Scalf, his gray t-shirt drenched with sweat.  

Fortunately, the talent lived up to expectations, too. An impressive collection of the nation's best rising seniors from the eastern half of the country largely reinforced the perception that this year's prep class is potentially one of the of the new millennium.

"It seems like there's some good depth in high school and some guys at the top who have a chance to be front-line major league players," said a scout with a National League organization.

The conditions at the East Coast Showcase took a toll on the position players, as well as the pitchers, but at week's end it was the pitching on hand that stood out the most.

Righthander Michael Main (Deland, Fla. High) entered the event as the highest ranked player in the class, and he pitched well in a three-inning outing, but it was clear that he has some company at the top of the list.  

Righthander Matt Harvey (Fitch High, Groton, Conn.), was the first pitcher to toe the rubber at Brooks Field, and he might have been the best. He struck out six in two innings, sitting near 90 mph, touching 93 mph. The son of a coach, Harvey's feel for pitching and secondary stuff are advanced and refined. He shows an ability to spot his pitches to all four quadrants of the strike zone, and he overmatched good hitters.

Main was up to 94 mph, and while his athleticism is superior to Harvey's, his delivery isn't as clean and effortless. Harvey's fastball command might be ahead of Main's as well, as indicated during Main's outing when he was touched up for two runs on four hits. He showed deft feel for a nasty changeup in his second inning, and finished stronger than he started, leaving for a compelling debate.

"Main had the best velocity, but is it the best fastball that plays? I wouldn't say that without some hesitation," a scout said. "And Harvey is the same way. I have seen guys get pretty decent cuts off him. Main threw some good changeups, so that is going to help his fastball, obviously, but it's a good argument: Who pitches with his best fastball?"

Harvey won't be the only high school hurler sending scouting directors to the Northeast next spring. Rick Porcello, a righthander from Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.), made his second appearance on a national stage in less than a week, and was as efficient as any pitcher in Wilmington. Porcello followed a poor outing at the Cape Cod Classic four days earlier with two impressive innings. He touched 94 mph and flashed a 71 mph curve that was among the best at the event.

His matchup with Derek Dietrich (Saint Ignatius High, Cleveland), who hit a towering, opposite field home run on the event's first day, was memorable. Dietrich fouled off a couple of pitches before Porcello put him away with a letter-high fastball at 94.

A Canadian righty, 6-foot-7, 225-pound Phillippe Aumont, dovetailed Porcello's performance with a dominant one of his own. While his delivery has improved significantly since the spring, it still requires refinement, but his command was at least average and his fastball was up to 92.

Lefthanders Madison Bumgarner (South Caldwell High, Hudson, N.C.) and Jack McGeary (Latin High, Roxbury, Mass.) also impressed, with Bumgarner matching up with righthander Jarrod Parker (Norwell, Ind., High) is a showdown of differing styles.

Parker's velocity was down from the mid-90s he flashed earlier in the summer, and he was touched for seven hits in three innings. He's lean and athletic, with a good delivery and feel for his breaking ball and changeup. Bumgarner, 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, struck out five with a hit in three shutout innings. His delivery and arm action are exquisite, helping make up for the fact he threw just one below-average breaking ball in his stint.  

"The one thing he showed us he could do was pitch off his fastball, and he did that effectively," said a crosschecker with a National League club. "And it looked like if he needed to get some more, he could go get it.

"It's so early that he has got to be one of the top guys in the country, at least the top lefty . . . but eventually he's going to have to throw (a usable breaking ball)."

McGeary's feel for pitching could be the best in the class. His fastball sits in the mid-80s, but because of his smooth delivery and athleticism, his upside is apparent.
Commitments to summer league teams precluded three of the top position players from the East Coast from attending the showcase. Noteworthy was the absence of outfielders Michael Burgess (Hillsborough High, Tampa) and Jason Heyward (Henry County High, McDonough, Ga.) and shortstop Justin Jackson (Roberson High, Asheville, N.C.), leaving the position players with high-round draft potential thin.

Drew Cumberland (Pace High, Milton, Fla.), Kentrail Davis (Theodore, Ala., High), Hunter Morris (Grissom High, Huntsville, Ala.), Danny Rams (Gulliver Prep, Miami) and John Tolisano (Estero, Fla., High) were among the best position player prospects on display.