Chicago - It was the final event of the summer for most of the players in attendance. The Under Armour All-American Game included some of the very best high school baseball talent in the country, coming off a long summer filled with showcases and trips all over the country. Here is what I saw from the game, played at Wrigley Field.
Nick Burdi, RHP, Downers Grove South HS (IL)- Burdi had a very impressive first inning for the National Team. He sat comfortably at 92-94, and featured a plus slider. He has no fear on the mound, and attacks hitters. His fastball has some life and movement on it, and his slider is sharp, coming in at 79-81. Burdi struck out the side.
Hudson Boyd, RHP, Bishop Verot HS (FL)- Boyd worked the bottom half of the first inning. He has the makings of three potential plus pitches. His fastball sat 92-93, and he has good command on his power curve. He caught John David Crowe Jr. looking at his curve to end the inning.
Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit HS (FL)- A 2012 grad, McCullers featured the most impressive stuff of any pitcher in the game. He has two potential plus-plus pitches. He ran his fastball up to 97, and sat in the 94-96 range. He walked one, and hit two batters to load the bases, but got out of the inning by striking out Mason Robbins, and getting game MVP Brandon Nimmo to line out to first. His command needs to improve, but he will only be a junior this season. McCullers is one of the best pitchers in the country, regardless of class.
John Curtiss, RHP, Southlake Carroll HS (TX)- Curtiss didn't feature the pure arm strength of the previous pitchers, sitting 89-91. At 6'4, 190, he has the potential to add to fastball with age. His curve is a potential plus pitch, and he has the makings of a solid change-up. With a spike in velocity, Curtiss could be up there with the top pitchers in the nation.
Kyle Smith, RHP, Santaluces HS (FL)- Smith is far ahead of the class in his feel for pitching. He doesn't have the size of the other pitchers, checking in at "only" 6-0, 170. Smith sat 89-91, but it is his off-speed stuff that makes his fastball even better. His breaking ball is one the best off-speed pitches in the nation, and his change-up is a potential plus. If Smith had the "ideal" pitchers frame, we would be talking about a top of the first round talent. Either way, Smith is one of the top pitchers in the class, and he could move quickly through a system because of his advanced feel on the mound.
Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, Orangewood Christian School (GA) - Bichette is one of the top power bats in the 2011 class. His bat speed is plus, and the balls fly off the bat when he makes contact. However, in both days of batting practice, I did not see him go the other way once. He is pull happy, trying to kill every ball that comes at him. In the game, however, he did go the opposite way a lot and handled the outside pitch well. He is a top follow and will be highly regarded come draft time.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Cheyenne East HS (WY) - Nimmo was one of my favorite players at the event. He goes to high school in Wyoming, where high school baseball is not played. He has an advanced feel for hitting, and makes consistent, hard contact at the plate. Nimmo has room to fill out, at 6-3, 180, so the potential to add more power as he fills out is there. He has a solid arm from the outfield and has the speed to be a premier defensive outfielder.
Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (FL) - Russell is the best position player in the 2012 class, and he could make an argument to be the best infielder in the country, including the 2011 class. He plays a fantastic shortstop, with plus range, and a strong arm. He has all the tools, and his bat is very advanced. He has impressive bat speed, and the power is there. He is a top of the draft talent for 2012.
Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS (KS) - There is not much Starling can't do. At 6'5, 200, Starling has all the tools to become a legit five tool player. He has a plus arm, and is a blazer on the bases. Starling has enormous power and he showed it in BP, launching balls deep into the left field bleachers at Wrigley. Starling also pitched an inning on the mound, sitting 90-92 and flashing a devastating curve ball. He is a top pitching prospect, but his future lies in his five tool ability in the field.
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