Long Beach - Reds vs White Sox
The Reds won 8-5 and even with all those runs, there weren't too many offensive standouts. A lot of the runs scored on ground outs, fly balls, and errors, after many runners reached base either by error, walk, or being hit by a pitch.
At this point most teams pitchers are making their second outing, so a lot the "stuff" we saw early on is starting to level out a bit, which then leads to some more nibbling, less velocity, and more comfortable hitters. The Reds sent out four kids that had already pitched and the only one that really was about as good as he was in his first appearance was RHP Scot Hoffman (Desert Ridge HS, San Tan Valley, AZ).
Offensively the Reds were led by outfielder Kavin Keyes (5'10" 180, S/R) from Alta HS-Sandy (UT), who went 2-4 with a double, single, run scored and three RBI. Keyes is going to be a nice college hitter but lacks the tools to be a professional prospect at this point.. He understands his ability and knows how to hit. The double was from the right side and the single was a line drive into left field from the left side, against a 91 mph fastball.
Infielder Drew Stankiewicz (Gilbert HS, AZ) has put together a couple of nice games with the bat. Today he was 1-4 with a double and a run scored and he also played very well at second base, turning over a nice double play when he hung in there as the runner was coming in hard at him. He is another player with limited tools for the pro game right now but will be a good college player.
The White Sox got off to a bad start as their starting pitcher just didn't have the stuff to hold off the Reds. After they got in an early hole, a couple of pitchers that had previously pitched came in and did well. RHP Clayton Blackburn (6'3" 225, Sante Fe HS, Edmond, OK) pounded the zone with three pitches and was in the 87-89 mph range with fastball. He has feel for both the curveball and the change-up. He was followed by RHP Jerrick Suiter (Valparaiso HS, IN). Suiter was up to 91 in his second outing and also effectively used his breaking ball and a splitter.
Offensively the White Sox didn't have much to write home about. Ignitor Charles Tilson was kept off the bases and masher Derek Starling was held to a bloop single to right. First baseman Ty Hensley (pitched yesterday and did a really nice job) had two singles to right, scored a run and stole a base, while infielder Johnny Eierman (6'1" 195, R/R, Warsaw HS, MO) was 1-2 with a hard hit RBI single to right field. What was impressive about that hit was Eierman intentionally going to the right side to score a runner from 3rd base and no one out. He let the ball get deep, worked it to the right side and was rewarded with a hit and the RBI.. Eierman has some life in his bat and looks like he will be a good college hitter.
Outfielder Zachary Regier (6'0" 175, L/R, Gilbert HS, AZ) drove in two runs with a couple of outs, a F9 and a 4-3 ground ball.
Yankees vs Nationals
On the strength of their pitching, the Nationals defeated the Yankees 2-0 on Monday afternoon. This was the final game for the Nats and they got seven different pitcher an inning of work and obviously by the score, you can surmise that each of them threw well. The same pitchers I had liked in previous games all were strong again and all are going to get their share of attention from scouts in the spring.
The one with the best present day stuff was RHP Sam Johnson (Westview HS, Beaverton, OR). He is a 6'0" right-hander, which is normally a death sentence description for a pitcher, but is isn't for Johnson because he has BIG stuff. He was firing easy 91-93 mph fastballs and mixing in his power 76-79 mph curveball and buzzed right through the Yankee hitters. The amazing thing about Johnson is the ease with which he generates that velocity out of a very average body.
Starting pitcher, LHP Blake Snell (6'4" 180, Shorewood HS, Shoreline, WA) is more along the lines of a prospect the scouts want to see, particularly with that body, being left-handed and having good present day stuff, with the ability to project more in the future. Snell was 87-90 mph with the fastball and has a good, big overhand curveball (73-75 mph) that he can use for outs or for strikes and can use to right or left-handed hitters. He also has a usable 78-79 mph change-up. Being from the Northwest is a bonus for Snell because those kids are usually a little behind kids from warm weather areas in terms of their overall development curve so scouts can feel good about projecting them even further. Snell is and will be a real good one. He attacks hitters and pitches very well off his fastball.
Another lefty, Jace Fry, was as good as he was the other night, when I thought he was outstanding. His loose quick arm and cross body delivery really work for him and create all kinds of problems for hitters. He was 87-89 mph today and has a sharp and tight 68-75 mph curveball that he can change speeds and shape with. Fry is aggressive, has deception, stuff, and feel. Good combo.
RHP Nick Piscotty from Northern California was also sharp again. He was in about the same velocity range as the other night (87-88) and once again very effectively used his good overhand curveball to ease through the Yankee hitters. One thing that works really well for Piscotty is his delivery. His lower half comes at the hitters before his upper body and his arm, which throws off the timing of the hitters and creates good deception. He was uncommitted heading into this event and no doubt will have all kinds of college opportunities now.
The top Yankee pitcher was starter Patrick Connaughton (6'5" 200, St. John's Prep, Arlington, MA). He is a long and lanky kid with an easy arm action and good delivery. Connaughton is a pitchability right-hander with quality stuff, including a 88-91 mph fastball, 70-72 mph curveball and 77-80 mph change-up. He keeps the ball down and mixed well, though he relied mostly on his fastball to get soft ground ball contact. There is some projection left for Connaughton and he projects as a back of the rotation type starting pitcher at the professional level.
As for the hitters, four hitters had perfect days at the plate and both put good wood to the ball. Yankee 1st baseman Matthew Duran (6'1" 220, R/R, New Rochelle HS, NY) is a big bodied player with a lot of strength and some thunder in his bat. He went 2-2 with two solidly struck line drives in the middle of the field, off of 88-89 mph fastballs. He only profiles at 1st base or as a DH so he is going to have to be a major producer with the bat.
Yankee infielder Morgan Phillips (6'1" 190, R/R, The Frederick Douglass Academy, Bronx, NY) went 2-2 with two ground ball singles into left-centerfield. He was also picked off first base after the second single.
Nationals 2012 catcher Clint Coulter (6'3" 200, R/R, Union HS, Camas, WA) went 3-3 with a double, two singles and an RBI. He sprayed the ball to all fields for his three hits and handled 89 mph velocity well. Coulter makes an audible grunt when he swings and there is no doubt he intends to hurt the baseball with each swing. I like that in a young hitter. He also throws the ball well and though the rest of his defensive game is raw, Coulter has all the makings of a professional catching prospect that has a chance to hit with some power.
One other Nats player had a big game, and basically he single handedly won the game for the Nationals with his day. Centerfielder Austin Diemer (Rocklin HS, Rocklin, CA) was 202 with two slashing type hits down the right field line, one for a double and he scored both Nationals runs. The first run came when he singled, stole 2nd base, stole 3rd base and scored when the catcher threw wildly trying to nab him. For the day he swiped three bags. Diemer can run but I would not call him a burner, merely above average, but he knows how to make things happen on the bases and his slashing hitting approach works for him.
Athletics vs Brewers (White)
After a surprising loss to the Reds yesterday, the Brewers (White) team came out with something to prove today. Well, at least it looked that way. I know the Brewers staff that puts together the two Area Code teams puts an awful lot into it and wants to win games, so there was no doubt some motivational talking to the players. It must have worked because they beat the A's 9-1 and it could have been a lot worse had they not rolled over three Brewers offensive half innings that had gotten out of hand.
Since there wasn't much happening on the A's side, I suppose a brief mention of their standout players can come first before I heap mountains of praise on the Brewers (White) players. Well, looking over my notes, there were four hits for the A's and both pitchers got hit pretty hard, so there really isn't much to say. Infielder Alex Blandino (St. Francis HS) is a Northern California native playing for the A's and he drove in the only A's run with a hard single into left field. He has hits in each game from what I can recall and frankly should have made the Brewers (White) team over one particular infielder, in my opinion.
As for the Brewers (White) team, they got a great pitching performance from RHP Brett Fuller (6'3" 215) from Archbishop Mitty HS-San Jose (CA). Though I continue to like Fuller more as a position player (but he won't play in the field in this event), he did throw the ball really well, with three shutout innings. Fuller was steadily 86-88 and I can only recall two balls being hit hard off him and neither of those ended up as hits. His curveball (76-78 mph) was quite good, with tight spin and late downer action. He also mixed in a usable 76-78 mph change-up that could have been a splitter. As good as all that sounds, and he is pretty good, I just don't see a lot of favorable projection for him as a pitcher, not beyond the college level.
LHP Carlos Rodriguez (6'2" 195) from Iolani HS-Kapolei (HI) did a nice job after fuller. He was 86-88 mph with the fastball and spun some nice big slow curveballs that had the A's off balance. He also effectively used a straight change-up that he likes quite a bit. Like Fuller, I don't see much projectability for Rodriguez beyond the college level but he can pitch a bit.
Offensively there were quite a few strong performances by hitters that have frequently been mentioned in previous articles, so let's go note-style with those hitters... well, first let's get to the standout hitter, MIF Dante Flores, who continues to draw attention with the bat. He is not a big kid but he has some life and buggy-whip in his very aggressive swing. Flores, a left-handed hitter, drove a ball deep of the left fielders head for a double then later smoked a double down the right field line. He scored a run and drove in a run.
- OF Shawon Dunston was 0-4 but smoked three balls (L4, F9, F9). He was on it today but just didn't have any results to show for it.
- INF Kevin Kramer was 2-3 with a double and 2-RBI single, he also scored a run and stole a base. Kramer continues to be impressive with the bat and his overall style of play that will play well in pro ball as an offensive 2nd baseman. His double was to left field and just when I was starting to think he could only hit the ball the other way, he smacked a hard single to right field, producing those RBI.
- OF Billy Flamion was 1-4 witn a 2-RBI single to right and a hard shot right at the right fielder.
- OF Aaron Brown was 1-2 with a single and two runs scored.
- 1B Trevor Gretzky was 1-2 with an RBI single and an RBI ground out.