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Updated: Jun 19th, 2010
Day 2 Report - JO West - Three 2013 Grads Shine
By: Jeff Spelman |

Phoenix - Finding Division I and professional catching prospects is often challenging, even at large-scale tournaments such as the USA Baseball 16U Championships.

There are 72 teams here in Phoenix. Most teams have 2-3 catchers, resulting in a pool of approximately 150-200 catching prospects. With games spread out among four different Spring Training complexes, it makes the job of finding the best catchers even more challenging.

So far, we’ve gotten a first-hand look at about 80 catchers in the workouts and early games. Here is a look at two of the best young catchers in the 16U Tournament – both rising sophomores:

1. Felipe (Tres) Barrera, C/RHP, 6-2, 195, R/R, 2013, McAllen, TX (South Texas Sliders)

He is #1 with a bullet defensively. Barrera began the tournament with three pop times in a row under 1.90 during Friday’s workout. Sometimes catchers will fool you in a workout setting, so I was anxious to see how Barrera’s skills would translate into a game. In a game on Saturday, a runner tried to steal second base and Barrera uncorked a Major League caliber throw to second base (1.86 pop time). His throw was so quick that the SS had to wait for the runner to get to the base before he could put the tag down. At that point I hadn’t even looked at Barrera’s age. With his solid 6-2, 195-pound build and advanced skills I thought he would likely be a 2012 grad. Much to my surprise, he has three years of high school remaining and is a 2013 graduate. His present defensive tools will command the attention of any college or scout.

2. Cole Taylor, C, 5-10, 190, R/R, 2013, Saugus, CA (ABD Bulldogs)

Another 2013 grad, Taylor’s game is power – both at the plate and with above-average arm strength. He was 2.06 in the workouts and launched a three-run homer to left field in his team’s game on Saturday. Taylor looks like an aggressive, take-charge type of leader and a potential high-end Division I recruit behind the plate.

Rivera an Impressive Two-Way Prospect

Chris Rivera (Fullerton, CA/Placentia Mustangs) was an easy to spot standout in Friday’s workout session. The 2013 graduate is a smooth-fielding middle infielder with plus actions. Despite being 5-10 and 155 pounds and just a rising high school sophomore, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to envision him playing at the highest Division I level in a few years.

Rivera also has another dimension to his game. He pitches quite well. He took the mound Saturday and immediately began pumping 87-89 MPH fastballs. Rivera touched 90 MPH on more than a few occasions.

Rivera was the lone 2013 grad on last year’s USA Baseball 16U National Team. He was a reserve middle infielder on USA’s gold-medal winning team. The year before (2008), Rivera played infield and pitched for the USA 14U National Team.

 

 

 

 

 

About Jeff Spelman
Jeff Spelman is one of the most experienced and respected people in the amateur baseball scouting world. Spelman was the early pioneer of the showcase industry in 1992 and was the founder of Team One Baseball. Team One ran the country's top showcases throughout the 1990s and early 2000s with hundreds of future MLB Stars coming through their events. In fact, Spelman's Team One Baseball was responsible for 10,000+ players going on to play college ball, saw 2,000+ selected in the MLB Draft and had alumni of his events collectively earn over $500 million in college scholarships. Spelman sold the company to Baseball Factory in 2004. Spelman also helped form the Cape Cod Classic, was in charge of player selection and helped to get it televised on ESPNU. The Cape Cod Classic later became the Under Armour All-American Game. Spelman has also served as an amateur baseball scout and writer for CBS Sports/Yahoo!, and has served as the national scouting director for Rivals.com Baseball.
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