Friday October 31, 2008
There was so much talent among the roughly 1,600 players that were gathered in Jupiter, Fla., for last weekend’s World Wood Bat Association fall championship that one could conceivably do dozens of different Top 10 lists: By position, by class, by region, by performance, by everything imaginable.
The Perfect Game staff will come out with an extensive top prospect list, by class, from the event once all the information and scouting notes have been sifted through, organized and analyzed back in Iowa. Those lists will eventually appear on PG Crosschecker.
As part of my duties in Jupiter, I went through every game sheet as part of the process of entering scores into the system and doing game wraps on the WWBA website. Those sheets contain scouting notes and performance reports on every player. Perfect Game also had two of its own scouts at every field for every game, and most made a point of coming through the tower to make sure everyone knew which players they liked.
From the tower in the center of the blue quad, you can always see four different games going on from 8 a.m. each day to well after dark. There are also opportunities to wander through the crowds of scouts, coaches and agents gathered, and ask, “What are you seeing?”
So even if it wasn’t possible to see every player in Jupiter, I still got plenty of input. Instead of rehashing the same familiar names you can read about elsewhere on this site, I thought I would offer a slightly different spin on a Top 10 list of players from Jupiter.
I have chosen to identify 10 players—not necessarily the 10 best players—who left me with the strongest impressions from five days of competition. Some are top prospects and well-known to scouts and recruiters, some are not necessarily either. But they all stood out in their own way.
1. Dylan Covey, rhp, Marantha HS, Pasadena, Calif. (2010)
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Covey’s first pitch was 94 mph and his last pitch, seven innings later, was 94—and there were lots of nasty fastballs and 78-80 mph hammer curves in between. A very good team (the Kansas City Royals Scout Team) had no chance, absolutely no chance, to hit him when he got in a groove and he gave up just one hit, a wind-blown triple, while striking out 17.
2. Chevez Clarke, of, Marietta (Ga.) HS (2010)
In an event dominated by pitching and high school seniors, Clarke had seven extra-base hits in five games—including two triples and a homer in his first game. Since he’s a quick-twitch, speed player and those hits weren’t leg doubles, that’s especially impressive. He’s a legit 2010 prospect.
3. Robert Aviles, rhp, Suffern (N.Y.) HS (2010)
Mark his name down. Aviles will be one of the top righthanders in the 2010 high school class if he stays healthy and no one changes his mechanics. He has a perfect leverage/downhill release and throws 90-92 mph now with lots more to come.
4. Tanner Poppe, rhp, Girard (Kan.) HS (2009)
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Poppe was No. 2 (behind WWBA MVP Garrett Gould) on our Kansas state-by-state list of top prospects for 2009, but was notable by his absence from PG Crosschecker’s list of the top 1,300-plus prospects nationally. A couple of Midwest college coaches I talked to in Jupiter had also never heard of him. All that has changed as Poppe threw 93 mph with little effort and projects extremely well. He could become the Tyler Sample (a relatively unknown arm from Colorado who blossomed in his senior year) of the 2009 draft.
5. Justin O’Conner, ss-rhp, Cowan HS, Muncie, Ind. (2010)
When you hit a couple of home runs and throw 92 mph off the mound, you are bound to attract attention. When a PG scout starts talking, and says, “Wow, this kid can really, really play shortstop,” that makes him even more interesting.
6. Shelby Miller, rhp, Brownwood (Texas) HS (2009)
A number of scouts told me that the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Miller wasn’t just the top pitching prospect in Jupiter, but just might be the best 2009 high school pitcher in the country. In separate outings, he touched 94 and had command of three plus pitches. The show he put on in his first appearance—a 9 p.m. game with close to 400 scouts/coaches watching his every move—says something about his composure as well. He was in total control on the mound.
7. Tyler Skaggs, lhp, Venice HS, Santa Monica, Calif. (2009)
I still wonder how you can throw a 68-mph, quality curveball when you’re throwing an 89-92 mph fastball, but the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Skaggs can and does so with feel. His velocity increase from this summer, when he was 86-88, was much discussed among the scouts.
8. Jiovanni Mier, ss, Bonita HS, Pomona, Calif. (2009)
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Mier was an Aflac All-American and obviously one of the more well-known players in Jupiter. But he’s the type of play
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