Port St. Lucie, FL - PORT ST. LUCIE, FL- They played four semifinal games Friday to set up the 4A and 6A Finals for Saturday. In 4A, Tampa Jesuit and Archbishop McCarthy advanced to play for the state championship at 4 PM. American (Hialeah) will battle Flanagan for the 6A title at 7 PM.
While the games themselves weren’t nearly as competitive as the 1A/3A semifinals on Wednesday, there were more 2010 draft prospects and a 2011 pitcher from Alonso HS who has the potential to go very early next year.
FLORIDA-BOUND LEFTY DANIEL GIBSON GETS WIN FOR TAMPA JESUIT, DRAWS SCOUTS
Daniel Gibson only needed to go three innings for the win as Tampa Jesuit beat Ponte Vedra 19-0 in a five-inning game. Gibson struck out three, walked two, and gave up two hits.
The 6’2”, 200 lb lefty threw mostly 89-92 MPH out of a three-quarter slot. His fastball showed pretty good tailing and sinking action and I can project it out as an average major league pitch in the future. One thing that Gibson struggled with was command to the arm-side, i.e. inside to righthanded hitters. He has an upright delivery and a hard landing which tends to make him wild high and outside to righthanded hitters. It didn’t matter against a high school team, but it’s something he’ll have to refine in pro ball.
Gibson’s curve wasn’t real sharp today, but it broke big and worked against Ponte Vedra (69-76 MPH). I see him as a slider guy, perhaps, in the future. The arm-action has some effort, with a long back-stroke.
His strong body and arm-strength are enough on their own to draw interest in the draft and there were a handful of area scouts on hand, indicating their interest. I would not be surprised if Gibson goes within the first five rounds.
ALONSO LOSES DESPITE SHUTDOWN FIREBALLING JUNIOR
In the fourth inning of the second game, defending state champ Alonso was down 9-0 and in danger of being ten run-ruled by American HS.
Then they brought in the big junior righty, who was already in the lineup as a DH. The 6’3”, 240 lb. Jose Fernandez came in to get the last out and threw 92-94 MPH fastballs from the get-go. To get strike three, Fernandez ripped off a deep 85 MPH slider that looked like a big league pitch.
Suddenly the red-hot American bats had gone frigid. They did score one more run, but Alonso made a little comeback (behind a double by Fernandez) to make the final score 10-5. Fernandez would throw 3.1 innings, giving up two hits, one earned run, two walks, and five strikeouts. He also showed more than a little bit of attitude which the American players and fans took exception to.
There’s a lot more baseball to be played, but Fernandez has the package to be an early pick next June and possibly a 1st-rounder. I can look at his fastball and slider and project both as plus major league pitches in the future. His body is not particularly sculpted, but Fernandez is very strong, especially in his lower half and core. The arm works very well, the delivery is athletic and balanced, and he has the makings of a workhorse. He’s going to be fun to follow.
Thomas Dorminy started for Alonso, the University of South Florida-bound lefty. He was ineffective, throwing in the mid-80s and wild. At his best, Dorminy is a crafty lefty who gets outs. There was some draft talk with him earlier in the year.
American has two sophomores to watch for the 2012 draft in catcher Chucky Vazquez and shortstop Nick Basto.
Archbishop McCarthy shortstop Nick Castellanos stands a very good chance of going in the first round in a couple of weeks and it’s primarily for his big bat. The 6’3”, 190 lb. Castellanos is a striking presence in a uniform and he went 1-3 today with a single and a stolen base.
Defensively, Castellanos made a good play to field a slow roller and throw the runner out in the third. Then in the 7th, he had three opportunities. He was unable to complete a difficult (but typical major league) play in the hole, pulling the first baseman off the bag. He then caught a clutch pop-up well out in center field. After that, Castellanos fielded another ball in the hole but was deliberate on his release, failing to get the force at second.
His actions are very long for the infield, but his feet and hands work well. I would imagine most, if not every, team will move him to third base quickly and let him figure out the hops over there. The outfield and second base are other viable options, in my opinion.
The real upside is with his bat, Castellanos can generate near-MLB bat-speed already and has lots of looseness and extension with his swing. His frame can gain another 30-40 lbs easily so I expect his raw power to improve considerably. The potential is there for a big league run producer, but I don’t see him as a fast track hitter. The typical 5-6 years will probably be his plan at the next level to get to the big leagues.
In his first at-bat, Castellanos swung at a low/over-the-plate 1-0 curveball and rolled over it to shortstop with a runner on second. He hit the curve, but he slowed his bat down and still tried to pull it. It’s something he will learn in the minors. In at-bat #2, Castellanos hit a 3-1 fastball hard for a single into the shortstop hole. He then stole second and went to third on an error. In at-bat #3, Castellanos flew out to center field on a 1-0 count.
McCarthy defeated Dunnellon 4-1 and I will get to see them again on Saturday against Tampa Jesuit for the 4A Final.
FLANAGAN’S LITTLE SPEEDSTER
The nightcap was a competitive game even though Flanagan jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Timber Creek came back, but still lost 8-4.
None of the underclass players jumped out as surefire draft picks, but there were a number who look to have a chance as long as they continue to develop. Flanagan junior DH/1B Mike Melendez is a good-looking lefthanded hitter and Timber Creek freshman 1B Eugene Vazquez will be very interesting as he physically matures.
But there was really only one player who stood out and that was a 5’5”, 130 lb Flanagan senior centerfielder who’s headed to Florida Atlantic University. Geoffrey Jimenez is definitely the fastest high school player I’ve scouted this spring and in terms of how he uses his speed, he ranks among the best I’ve ever seen.
How fast? In his second at-bat, Jimenez stumbled out of the box from the right side and still got to first in 4.14 seconds (MLB-average for RHH is 4.3). Next at-bat, he hit a single and he rounded the bag in 4.21 seconds. Even with the turn, he had an above-average time. I then got him stealing second base in 3.16 seconds, timing him on his first move. That is Vince Coleman/Lou Brock basestealing speed. I was surprised to hear he didn’t run track.
He was extremely aggressive and quite a pest to pitchers. Once on third base, Jimenez clearly disrupted the pitcher’s concentration and affected his ability to concentrate on the hitter even though Jimenez stayed put. He showed good instincts in center field though a much-below average arm.
Jimenez is a slap hitter, but he displayed a good approach and I think he has a chance to master the small ball game. The line-drives come off with a little bit of authority, too. Jimenez went 2-5 on the day including a double to the gap that put the game away in the 7th.
Jimenez is very small and he’s going to have to prove himself wherever he goes, but I think he has a chance to do some special things at FAU. With that kind of superlative speed and aggressiveness, he’s got a lot of weapons to work with and Jimenez just needs to master his approach at the plate.