Long Beach, CA - A Team-by-Team look at the Area Code Games presented by New Balance
The final Area Code Games wrap is for the Oakland Athletics team that is reprensenting Northern California. This year the A's took over the Northern California team from the Brewers and I think by all accounts, the other area scouts and college coaches are happy with the change. The biggest reason is that there was a full team of Northern California kids for them to see versus recent years when the Brewers were taking only around 12-15 kids from there.
Northern California might not be Southern California in terms of producing talent for MLB but it is one of the most fertile regions in the country and lately, the high school players from Northern California have been better, at the top, than the Southern Calfornia players.
In the first report that mentioned some Athletics' players I mentioned RHP Ben Eckels, RHP Paul Blackburn, RHP Freddy Avis, and RHP James Marvel as some of their top pitchers and when it was all said and done, they do hold up as the best of the bunch.
There are two others who I think are going to be followed very heavily in the spring and both have pro futures as well. RHP Cal Becker (6'1" 190, Kentfield, CA) is a strong, athletically built pitcher with a long and strong arm stroke that produces lively stuff. He was up to 91 mph, consistent from what I have seen of him starting with Bay Area World Series in June and he has a lot of life on the fastball. He throws both a slider and a curveball and I think in time he will develop one power breaking ball. He has a lot of extension on both the back and front side of his delivery and I think the slider will be easier for him to refine. Both pitches have plus spin and hard bite. Becker is not yet a strike thrower but his stuff has a chance to really come on. I can picture him as a power reliever in pro ball someday. He is going to climb into the mid-90s someday.
Becker's teammate, RHP Gabe Cramer, is also a very talented pitcher with a lot of projectability. Cramer (verbal to Stanford) is likely going to get less attention than many of his teammates this fall simply because Stanford signees simply don't sign and it has been a waste of time to scout them and make a legitimate run at them in the draft. Now, if in fact he is signable, then he will be one of the top RHP in California to scout. Cramer has a long, leveraged arm stroke and his stuff is strikeout quality stuff. His fastball, up to 92 mph, gets on hitters and can have riding life and he complements the heater with a hard tilted slider. His stuff is bat breaking stuff and he looks like a #2 type starting pitcher in the future.
As for the position players, I had previously mentioned the talented group of outfielders (Braden Bishop, B.J. Boyd, Giovanni Brusa, and Steven Golden) as the most talented position players to watch on the Athletics. I still feel that way, with Bishop showing up as an electric type player with tools and polish, Boyd being ultra-talented and toolsy and always on the verge of something exciting, Brusa looking like a big leaguer right now with his body and switch-hitting and good OF play, and then Golden bringing to mind athletic OFs like Austin Jackson of the Tigers.
However, there are other position players to be aware of for the draft and for the impact they will make in major D1 baseball. The most physical hitting infielder was SS Preston Scott (6'1" 195, R/R, Hanford, CA) who really looks like he will hit. His hand path is good, he is strong, he uses the whole field and his stroke is compact. He also throws well and projects as an offensive 2nd baseman or a 3rd baseman in the future.
Another middle infielder, Drew Jackson (6'2" 175, R/R, Orinda, CA) has a bright futue. Jackson, who has verballed to Stanford (they have a great group of local commitments so far) is a plus plus runner, has extremely soft hands in the infield, plays 2nd base like he has been there since he was born (great angles) and he has a chance to hit for some average and fair power down the road. Jackson is the younger brother of Cubs top prospect Brett Jackson.
Infielder Zach Green (6'3" 205, R/R, Rocklin, CA) is a physical hitter and projects as either a very offensive shortstop or a good glove, strong offensive 3rd baseman. His body type and potential with the bat both suggest he will man the hot corner for years to come and he has a chance to be a plus on both sides of the game. Green's swing is lively and the ball comes off his bat with authority. He was here as an underclassman last year and has really improved. He plays defense well on the move, has enough arm for the left side and at the plate he knows how to really transfer energy though the bat head at contact.
There was only one underclassman on the Athletics team, 1B Ryan Tellez (6'4" 220, L/L, Elk Grove, CA) and he is a well-known player in Northern California. Tellez can fairly draw comparisons to many of the top high school 1st basemen in recent years, like Eric Hosmer for instance. Tellez has the bat speed, swing, intensity and aggressiveness to be a major force as a hitter in pro baseball and can also handle his own on defense. What I also like about him at the plate is that his hands and swing are loose and powerful, which will allow him to cover the whole plate and to drive pitches to the opposite field someday. His body is not the prettiest but he can firm up in the coming years and all the power you would want will be present.
That wraps up the team by team reports from the 2011 Area Code Games. In the coming weeks I will break down all the 2013 grads as we try to keep up with and get ahead of the future prospects.