Vero Beach, FL - Six AABC programs are playing in the Mickey Mantle Southeast Regional tournament for the opportunity to move on to the World Series next month in McKinney, Texas. I was in attendance on Day One in Dodgertown and saw a handful of prospects who’ll be hotly recruited by Division I colleges and pro scouts as they move on in their high school careers.
The East Cobb Titans squad is loaded and perhaps the favorite to come out of the tournament, after winning two games convincingly on Wednesday. The state of Georgia has emerged as a baseball factory in recent years, but the Titans’ most promising hitter is Nate Mikolas, the first baseman/outfielder from Wisconsin. Mikolas, who is a rising junior at Bradford High School, swings a strong bat from the left side. His best shot was a blast well over the right field fence (with aluminum) that went up a berm and landed in bushes some 400 feet away. It gave me pause to wonder how often Duke Snider must have hit balls there back when Holman Stadium was the spring home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
But Mikolas is much more than an all-or-nothing power hitter. At about 6’0”, 190 lbs, Mikolas has a compact, level stroke, with very good bat-speed for his age that projects at least to big league average with wood. His swing stays in the zone and he’s balanced well enough to hit good off-speed pitches when he sees more of them in the future. I didn’t get a good look at him defensively, but he’s a below-average (by MLB standards) runner with fair athleticism who should be okay in one of the corners. It’ll be fun to follow him, it’s highly unusual for a Wisconsin hitter to be this advanced just out of 10th grade. There are a number of good Wisconsin-bred hitters in the big leagues, but players like Eric Hinske and Craig Counsell developed into prospects after getting requisite repetitions in college.
The All American Prospect Red’s Mark Savarese really had a day at the plate, going 4-5 with two walks over his two games. The 5’11” 180 lb righthanded hitter plays the outfield and pitches, and can really handle the bat. He hit the ball hard and showed enough bat-speed to make the adjustment to wood one day. Savarese won’t be draft-eligible until 2013 and he plays high school ball for Palm City HS.
A couple of intriguing catchers for 2013 are Jupiter’s Ron Healy (All American Prospects Red) and Tampa Plant’s Kyle Woodford (Tampa Panthers). Healy is a lefthanded hitter with pop who stands about 5’11”, 170, while Woodford is a physical 6’1”, 200 pounder with good athleticism and body control. Healy hit the ball hard all day. Woodford didn’t connect for a lot of hard contact, but the swing path and bat-speed are there for him to become a very good hitter and he also showed some receiving skills behind the plate. Woodford’s throwing arm projects for average major league down the road.
All American Prospects Red outfielder D.J. Paone is a summer and high school teammate of Healy’s, attending Jupiter High, and perhaps the second best bat I saw on Wednesday behind Mikolas. Paone is a lefthanded hitter who goes the other way on outside pitches with authority. At about 6’0”, 175, and only a rising sophomore, I expect Paone to turn into a very good hitting prospect by the time he graduates in 2013.
It was definitely a position-player dominated day as far as prospects are concerned. A pitcher worth mentioning from All American Prospects Blue is righty Matt Pisciottano. The 6’1”, 180 lb Pisciottano threw in the mid-80s at times and has a decent delivery. He’s a rising junior with definite D1 potential because Pisciottano knows how to pitch and might be able to win at that level even if the velocity is still shy.