Tampa - Once again, the second weekend last month was one of my favorite weekends of the year. George Gonzalez and the FTB family had another great fall instructional camp at the Houston Astros complex in Kissimmee, Fl with plenty of talent September 6th through the 8th.
To see that many players, FTB coaches, college coaches and families at the camp was truly amazing. After covering this event two years in a row now, I can honestly say everybody involved with FTB is an extension of George Gonzalez and the type of person he is. FTB is definitely a real family.
There were at least a couple dozen college coaches there again as well as a handful of professional scouts. All eyes were focused on the 200 or more players trying to earn a spot on an FTB team and become part of the FTB family.
I know it’s been several weeks since the FTB camp and I apologize for my reports being delayed. It’s been a busy summer and fall for Prospect Wire and the World Scout League as we are growing and expanding into more states nationally everyday. It's programs like FTB as well as the others I've covered that are the backbone of what we do at PW and why we do it.
Ok enough with the warm and fuzzy feelings talk. This is baseball. Lets get down to it!
On September 6th around 5pm, the pitchers began throwing bullpens in front of nearly thirty college coaches and over 100 spectators gathered around the bullpens.
A lot of these players, I’d scouted before in past Prospect Wire events or at FTB’s camp last fall. I mainly wanted to focus on the underclass players as well as some of the new players I hadn’t seen yet.
Here are some of the 2014 grads that stood out. They aren’t listed in any particular order.
Please keep in mind, there weren't near as many 2014 grads that needed to actually try out since they had been in FTB's program for several years. The underclass players though still had to earn their spots.
Brian Auerbach RHP Palm Harbor HS
Auerbach has a great pitchers frame and has some projectability but needs some work in certain areas. He ran his fastball up to 86mph in his pen but his arm action was a bit stiff. Brian’s curveball needs some work. It needs tighter spin and he needs to throw it with better arm speed. What I liked most about Auerbach though was that when he pitched in a game his arm was much looser and he had pretty good extension as well. With some minor mechanical and flexibility work, his velocity should increase and his curveball should become more consistent.
Gabriel Rodriguez SS/RHP Melbourne HS
I don’t know how Rodriguez isn’t committed to a college yet to play both shortstop and pitcher. He's definitely a sleeper and is one to watch closely next spring. Rodriguez isn’t a big kid but he’s athletic and has a very quick arm which produced a fastball that topped out at 86mph. He flashed a decent change-up at 80mph and a good curveball at 75mph. As as position player, I really liked Rodriquez. He may have had the best actions and range of any middle infielder at the camp. He’s a wiry live-bodied kid with great actions. I didn’t get to see enough of Rodriguez at the plate to write a report on his hitting ability. I will try and see him some this winter and definitely next spring and summer. He’s a player that if he can hit a bit, he’ll be a legitimate two way player at the college level and potentially get some professional interest as a shortstop.
Darren Kelly RHP/SS Ocala Vanguard HS
Kelly is another two way player that I didn’t really get to see swing the bat but he flashed a live arm in his bullpen session. His arm worked easy and his fastball was up to 85mph. There’s definitely more in the tank! Another high follow on my list.
Kyle Hansen RHP Ocala Vanguard HS
A teammate of Darren Kelly’s at Vanguard HS, Hansen also threw well in his bullpen session. Kyle was up to 84mph with his fastball but showed a cleaner, easier arm action than most of the pitchers I scouted that day. When Hansen’s fastball was down it had pretty good life. I would think with Kelly and Hansen on the mound Vanguard HS could make a deep run this spring in the high school state playoffs if the Knights can play defense and swing the bat a little.
Ross Gardner RHP Atlantic Coast HS
Gardner, an East Carolina University commit has quite a bit of projectability on the mound and showed some pitchability as well. Ross sat at 85mph with his fastball and touched 86mph with good control. His change-up could potentially be his best pitch as he showed great arm speed that produced a 75mph change-up. It’s rare to see a high school pitcher show good arm speed on a change-up. With good control of at least two pitches, Gardner has a chance to be successful at the next level. Look for his change-up to be an out pitch in college potentially.
Ruben Garcia SS Port St. LucieCentenial HS
Garcia looks the part, built similar to Manny Machado. At the next level, I don't know if Garcia can play shortstop but a move to third base might work. Defensively he’s got good actions but slower feet which is why I think third base would be a better fit. Garcia’s hands are soft and he has enough arm strength to play third. Ruben's best tool potentially is his bat. I didn’t get to see him hit in a game but he was very impressive during bp. He had great extension and plenty of batspeed. Everything was hit hard and driven gap to gap. Garcia is a kid I want to keep a close eye on. I think he may be a late bloomer and his best baseball is ahead of him.
Ryan Girard RHP Wiregrass Ranch HS
Girard’s fastball was only up to 84mph in his bullpen but he pitches downhill and showed very good arm side run. He had late life and one of the cleaner deliveries and arm actions I scouted at the camp. Girard has great mechanics and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his velocity jump a bit heading into his senior year.
Anthony Cabales OF
Cabales is a kid I liked but need to see more of. He’s a left-handed hitter that I think has a chance to hit at the next level but as I mentioned I need to see more at bats.
There were twice as many 2015 and 2016 grads at FTB’s Fall Instructional Camp than 2014 grads. Tomorrow I will start reporting on the underclass players. Stay tuned!