General : : General
David Rawnsley        
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008

This is the sixth time I’ve done the mid-August North Carolina trip for the Atlantic Coast Top Prospect/Underclass showcases, but the first time that Perfect Game has held the events in Wilmington.

Wilmington is synonymous in baseball with the East Coast Pro Showcase, but that event has been moved to Lakeland, Florida, due to NCAA regulations that prevented using the UNC-Wilmington facilities. Wilmington invokes fear among scouts as the ECP was annually the hottest spot on the summer showcase circuit.

But we’ve lucked out this August. It rained all day on Wednesday the day before these events, then was sunny and in the mid-80’s today. Perfect baseball weather and the city ballpark we used today is in very good condition.

The highlight of the first day of the Top Prospect Showcase was the quality of the pitchers. 7 of the 11 pitchers who threw today were definite Division I type prospects.

Bryan Mitchell (Reidsville, NC) threw four innings and was outstanding. The 6-2, 175 lb right hander was mostly 90-91 mph and held his velocity very well, not surprising given his low effort delivery and release. He threw a 75-78 mph slurve type curveball that flashed good spin and depth. Mitchell has a verbal commitment to North Carolina.

Maybe the most interesting pitching “Story” of the day was Griffin Jones (Shelby Township, MI). Jones is a 6-4, 230 lb primary catcher. He told us afterwards that he’s thrown exactly one inning from the mound in the last five years “but my high school coach says he might need me to throw next year.” Jones was 85-87 mph with no surprisingly good mechanics and threw a 73-75 mph curveball that might have had the best pure spin of any of the many impressive pitchers here. He’s a solid Division I quality pitching prospect based on this viewing.

LHP Brandon Crigger (Saint Leonard, MD) is an interesting puzzle for the college coaches here. He has a very funky delivery similar to former Pittsburgh Pirate LHP Randy Tomlin, with maybe a lower cross body release point. His fastball was up to 87 mph and he threw a sweeping curveball that really got under right handed hitter’s hands. But Crigger’s unusual mechanics also equal inconsistent command potential.

The best position prospect looks to be OF Mitchell Shifflett (Midlothian, VA). Shifflett is a 6-1, 180 lb outfielder from the 2010 class who was named the Most Valuable Player of the WWBA 16U National Championship last month while playing for the Richmond Braves. He’s a smooth actioned athlete who ran a 6.45 60 on a wet grass track with seemingly no effort and has a similar low effort, high bat speed approach at the plate.

We’re looking forward to more quality performances tomorrow, then again over the weekend during the Atlantic Coast Underclass Showcase.
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