Jupiter - The Junior Olympics East kicked off at 8am at the Roger Dean Complex in Jupiter, FL. USA Baseball will select the best 16U players from this event and their JO West event to form their 16U National Team. I was able to catch a few games before a thunderstorm rolled through at about 11am, putting a halt on the tournament and sending me to the keyboard.
Carolina Stars Shine Bright
The Carolina Stars had 3 players catch my eye in the morning game. Starting pitcher Nick Monroe (Mebane, NC) is a probable division 1 type arm. The big bodied 6'3/225 right-hander threw a lot of strikes and was low to mid80s on the mound. There wasn't much effort in his delivery and he had a quick arm. His breaking ball was a below average pitch right now, and is still developing his offspeed stuff in general. As a result, the better CCB hitters were able to sit dead red on the fastball and he gave up a few hard hit balls. One hard hit ball was a laser "just-foul" homerun by CCB left-handed bat Danny Miller (San Jose, CA). The problem was Monroe made the same exact pitch again on the next pitch, and Miller didn't hook it foul this time. The 6 foot 185-pound Miller put a similar swing on the low and inside offering and kept the ball fair this time sending it about 340 feet over the right field fence.
Another interesting player from this game was Carolina Stars 1B Keon Holt (Hillsborough, NC). I only saw the switch-hitting Holt take one at-bat (it was from the left-side in this game), but he displayed above average bat speed out of the 3-hole in the lineup. When he fell behind in the count, he lost a lot of his aggressiveness in his swing, and gave up on his at-bat by losing his aggression and making weak contact on a dribbler to 3B. He ran a 4.84 down the line from the left side and was thrown out by a few steps, making it easy to see why he's limited to 1B. The good news is his raw batting tools look pretty special, and if he can refine his approach and continue to put good swings on pitches late in the count, he could be a middle of the order bat at the division 1 level from the brief time I saw him. Holt isn't a big body at 5'9/185, but he does have bat-speed and a good stroke.
Richmond Braves National Show 2 Good Arms
Richmond Braves National came out of the gates to win game 1. Richmond started a 6'0/180 pound righty named Stephen Brooks (Glen Allen, VA) that was sitting 85-88mph in game 1. He looked fairly polished, working both sides of the plate and throwing a lot of strikes. He also spun an average breaking ball for strikes. He was easily the best arm I saw in the morning session.
Richmond relieved him later in the game in favor of another righty, Luke Scherzer (Midlothian, VA). The 5'10 righty sat 81-83mph with a quick, whip-like, somewhat herky jerky arm action reminicent of former prep Florida RHP Ryan Weber, or even former prep Florida LHP Patrick Schuster. Definitely more velocity in the tank for this kid with his arm speed and we will cotninue to follow him. Scherzer struggled some with his command in this game, and I'll look to see if he throws again to see if it was nerves or lack of feel.
Addison Russell RBI Double Before Rain Hits
Addison Russell's hitting drought from the National Showcase did not carry into this game. Russell's first at-bat for FTB Mizuno was an RBI double. Russell basically slapped an outside pitch down the RF line that tailed away from the RF. Rusell ran a 4.42 on my watch on the turn. I've seen Russell get a lot of hits to the opposite field, confirming his advanced approach at the plate to only take what the pitcher gives him. Russell also made a nice play at SS on a ball hit up the middle over the 2B bag. He ranged to his left, made the play behind 2B, and threw out the runner at 1B by a step. Russell does not have a plus arm at SS for MLB standards, but he does get enough on it to stay there throughout his career and make the plays deep in the hole ranging to his right.
Check back during the JO's as I will continue to blog from the East event, while Jeff Spelman will blog from the West event.