Marietta, GA - A club I was particularly eager to see today was the ABD Bulldogs, who have a number of the best prospects out of southern California. They are loaded with players who will end up being high drafts either in 2011 or out of college 3-4 years later.
Leftfielder Travis Harrison (Tustin HS) ranks among the nation’s top bats for me, having seen him a number of times before today. He can generate big league bat-speed and line-drive power right now, Harrison is very strong in his upper-half at about 6’1”, 215 lbs, and his approach at the plate is much better than the average high school draft pick. The one thing that might keep him out of the first or first-sandwich round is simply that his body is much more mature than the typical high school senior and he may not have as much capacity to improve. Harrison judges fly balls okay in the outfield and projects for an average big league arm, so I think he’ll be okay at a corner (outfield and infield) though it’s his bat that’s getting him drafted.
ABD has a number of promising lefthanded hitters, none that I’d put into the early rounds right now, but all of whom are definite pro follows with a chance to be good drafts. 3B/1B Rouric Bridgewater (Diamond Ranch HS), SS/3B Daniel Robertson (Upland HS), OF Max Homick (Rancho Bernardo HS) and 1B/3B Rio Ruiz (Bishop Amat HS) all have strong lefthanded swings and stand in the 6’1”-6’2” area with good physical projection. Robertson is only a rising junior. That’s quite a collection of lefty bats on one summer team!
It was 2012-graduating switch-hitter Andre Real (Orange Lutheran HS) who hit the longest home run, but the wide-bodied 5’8”, 180 lb utility player is most likely destined for a college career after high school. Catcher R.J. Ybarra (Riverside Poly HS, 2012) is another strong righthanded hitter with a wide frame.
Outfielder Wallace Gonzalez is a teammate of Rio Ruiz’s at Bishop Amat. The sculpted 6’4”, 235 pounder has big league power and an average major league arm right now. He’s quite athletic despite his size and scouts are already quite familiar with him. The righthanded hitter very much has early-round potential though in the present, there are five or six more advanced bats on his own summer team. It’s his potential and upside that intrigues scouts.
The SoCal prospects don’t end with ABD. I saw a very impressive rising junior playing for the San Diego Show; Trey Williams from Valencia High school, a little north of Los Angeles. Williams is built very strongly at about 6’0”, 210 lbs, with a chiseled frame and broad shoulders. He hit three long home runs in a game that lasted only 3 ½ innings, showing lots of bat-speed and leverage. Williams played shortstop and third base, but I didn’t see him take any grounders. His actions and his running stride look pretty good, however. Look out for Williams in 2012. His father Eddie Williams is a former 1st-round pick who played nine years in the big leagues for a number of teams.
In another game involving Baseball Parks of America, I watched giant righty David Palladino throw in the mid-80s with the makings of an average big league curveball. He’s listed 6’9” and I’m not sure he’s that tall, but he looks at least 6’6”, 240 lbs. What makes him interesting is that with his size he has pretty good coordination and an online delivery to home plate. There’s more velocity to come for the Emerson (NJ) High School product.
Last but not least I saw a couple of interesting Illinois pitchers in the nightcap, both throwing for the Illinois Sparks-Matyas club.
Righty starter Henry Gigeous (Jacobs HS) won’t be eligible until 2012, but the 6’1”, 180 lb righty is an early follow already. He threw steadily in the 86-88 MPH range and hit both corners with his fastball. Gigeous’s delivery is fairly smooth and he has one of those compact and simple arm-actions. Gigeous’s curveball grades below major league average now (as do most rising junior’s) but it has a chance to get there. He certainly showed pitchability carving up a club from northern California.
Charlie Naso came in to relieve for Gigeous. Naso is a 2011-grad from St. Laurence High School. Also a righty, Naso stands 6’2”, 200 lbs, with particular thickness from his hips down. Naso threw in the 86-90 MPH range and showed a lot of energy, coming after hitters and working quickly. He got into a control funk in his second inning of work, trying to hold a 3-0 lead in the seventh, but Naso eventually hung on as the Sparks won 3-1. Naso’s delivery and arm-action aren’t easy or projectable, so he might not have as much future velocity to gain as most high school pitching prospects.