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Showcase : : Story
PG National: Day 1 Recap
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hernandez continues wealth of Puerto Rican talent

Jan Hernandez entered the 2012 PG National Showcase Thursday morning following the footsteps of Carlos Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in last week’s MLB Draft.

Comparing Hernandez to Correa—while unfair, perhaps—is inevitable. Both are from Puerto Rico. Both play shortstop. Correa impressed scouts at last year’s event, and Hernandez is trying his best to do the same with his opportunity this year.

He has tools,” said Edwin Rodriguez, the director and coach for Team Mizuno Puerto Rico, on which Hernandez plays. “The one that stands out is his bat. He can hit.”

Hernandez proved that at the PG World Showcase earlier this year, ranking among the top infielders who attended the event, most of whom were 2012 grads. Since then, Hernandez has worked hard to improve his game.

Practice,” Hernandez said. “A lot of practice.”

Hernandez was clocked at 89 mph during the infield throw drill Thursday morning, tied for eighth best among the 40 players who participated. He ran a 6.81 in the 60-yard dash.

He’s a lean, loose athlete,” said PG Scouting Coordinator, Ben Collman. “He has plus defensive actions, power potential at the plate and easy bat speed.”

While Hernandez’s tools create plenty of buzz, there’s always room to improve.

He doesn’t always understand that a hit to right field is as good as a hit to left,” Rodriguez said. “I think that’s where he needs to improve to become a better hitter. Other teams try to pitch him away and throw a lot of curveballs. He has to show them that he can go the other way and become a better hitter.”

I’ve been coming to Perfect Game events for a couple of years now,” Rodriguez continued. “From my point of view, this is the best showcase in the U.S to show your guys, especially from Puerto Rico. When they’re in Puerto Rico, they tend to stand out because there isn’t anyone to compare you with. But here, it’s the best of the best in the U.S. You have to showcase what you have against the other guys. It gives the scouts an opportunity to compare you and see where you’re at.”

When asked what he hopes to gain by attending the event, Hernandez paused.

Rankings,” he confessed. “I want to move up in the rankings.”

- Nick Kappel

Williams returns to mound with strong results

Garrett Williams, a left-handed pitcher from Shreveport, La., arrived in Minneapolis after midnight on the first day of Perfect Game’s National Showcase. He flew in for one reason, to pitch two innings in front of the scouts and college coaches that had gathered at the Metrodome for the showcase.

Williams left the Metrodome immediately after pitching his two innings and was on a plane home the same day that he arrived. Williams’ short trip speaks volumes to the magnitude of this event for young players.

There’s a lot of good talent here, there’s gonna be a lot of tough people to face,” Williams said. He listed being able to take the field with so many other top players as one of his top reasons for making the trip to Minneapolis for the event.

He earned the right to be in the Metrodome with many of the nation’s top prospects. He is the No. 2 ranked player for the class of 2013 in his home state of Louisiana and comes in at 87
th nationally.

This is Williams’ first summer on the mound after being forced to take last summer off. He was diagnosed with rare medical condition called thoracic outlet syndrome. The condition resulted in doctors having to remove one of his ribs to relieve pain from a compressed nerve.

Williams is optimistic about the recovery he’s made since the surgery, “Since then my arms been healthy, and everything’s been great.”

Williams kicked off the first game of the National Showcase with the Purple team and showed a loose, projectable arm while throwing 88-91 mph with a mid-70s curve. He was able to settle down after the first inning and was much sharper while pitching more efficiently in the second.

Garrett Williams was in Minneapolis for less than a day before heading back to Lousiana. He felt the short trip was well worth it.

I’m just blessed for them to allow me to come here and play.”

- Kira Olsen

National streamed live

If you haven't seen the links off of Perfect Game's homepage, every part of this year's National Showcase will be available live, and for free, thanks to Perfect Game's partnership with the eCoach Sports Network and iHigh. This touches a variety of people on different levels.

Many of the players travelled together, without parents or other family members, giving friends and family to watch those close to them perform at a high level with their peers on a national level.

We have already heard from numerous scouts that aren't in attendance (there were over 300 here on Day 1) that have tuned into the broadcasts to get a read on the top players from the 2013 class.

Even if you don't tune into the action live, all of the games will be archived and available to be viewed at any time. You can view all of the action here at www.perfectgame.org and by visiting the iHigh.com Perfect Game page.

Workout session recap

While no event records were set on the first day of the 2012 National Showcase, there were as always plenty of measurables that were eye-opening.

The 60-yard dash was the first drill conducted, and outfielder Carlos Williams (Covington HS, Tenn.) ran a blazing 6.18 time. Mitchell Schiffelt, who is currently playing for the Virginia Cavaliers, holds the event record at 6.11.

Fellow outfielder Hunter Webb (Russell County HS, Ala.) also showed sub-6.5 speed, with a record time of 6.36 seconds.

The strongest outfield arm on display came from Eric Williams (Sachse HS, Rowell Texas), who hit 97 on the gun while firing seeds to both third and home. Anfernee Grier, who also ran a 6.63 60, showed the second best reading on his outfield throws at 94 mph. Grier is a long and loose quick-twitch athlete who had a promising round of BP as well, showcasing his impressive bat speed. It's easy to envision him taking off as he continues to add strength, and continues to improve by leaps and bounds each and every time we see him.

Puerto Rican infielder Roy Morales (Colegio Nuestra Sra del Carmen, San Juan) showed the best arm strength across the infield at 92 mph, and Jextin Pugh (
Bishop Guilfoyle HS, Duncansville, Pa.) threw 90 from first base. Behind the plate, Andrew Dunlap (Westbury Christian HS, Houston, Texas) registered 88 mph while Brian Navarreto (Arlington Country Day HS, Jacksonville, Fla.) posted the best POP time at 1.80 seconds. Both Dunlap and Navarreto had good BP showings as well.


To view all of the workout results, be sure to visit the Perfect Game National Showcase blog:

http://www.perfectgame.org/blogs/View.aspx?blog=250

Lasting impressions

Outfielder Justin Williams (Terrebonne HS, Houma, La.) had the most memorable batting practice performance on the day. The powerfully built left-handed slugger showed easy power by jacking three long home runs, one that landed in the upper deck in right field at the Metrodome, with the other two bouncing off the facade just below. Williams also ran 6.75 in the 60 and thew 91 mph from the outfield.

Purple teammates Kevin Franklin (Gahr HS, Cerritos, Calif.) and Dominic Smith (Serra HS, Los Angeles, Calif.) also looked very impressive in BP today. Smith in particular displayed the second best display of power after Williams, with one PG scout pointing out that his upside is tremendous, and just needs added reps and overall experience to live up to his lofty potential.

During the first inning of Game 2, starter Thomas Hatch (Jenks HS, Tulsa, Okla.) used an upper-80s fastball and a handful of breaking balls to retire the first three batters he faced. Those three batters came in the form of three of the top prospects from the 2013 class, infielders Oscar Mercado (Gaither HS, Tampa Fla.) and Christopher Rivera (El Dorado HS, Fullerton, Calif.) and the aforementioned Justin Williams. Mercado is the type of player that makes the game look incredibly easy, displaying silky smooth defensive actions as part of the morning's infield drills. Rivera had a strong BP performance of his own, consistently squaring up the ball well, making Hatch's accomplishment even more impressive.

Speaking of top prospects, catcher Chris Okey (Eustis HS, Mt. Dora, Fla.) continued to cement his name among the best in the 2013 class. One of PG's scouts thought Okey was the best defensive catcher in attendance on Day 1, showing very easy, smooth actions, descriptive terms usually reserved for middle infielders. He showed ery good arm strength and a quick transfer behind the plate, registering a POP time of 1.85 during the workouts and 1.90 and 1.94 in game action. He also smoked a low, outside low-90s fastball back up the middle in the first inning of Game 3 for a single.

Jordon Austin (Forest HS, Ocala, Fla.) was one of the more impressive all-around athletes during Day 1 of the event, showing very good speed (6.55 in the 60) and a strong outfield arm (88 mph) and had an impressive power display during BP.

Cord Sandberg (Manatee HS, Bradenton, Fla.) is another impressive athlete who turned heads as soon as he entered the building given his 6-foot-3, 225-pound physique. He too is a little raw, with promise as a quarterback on the gridiron. He ran and threw well, and hit a booming triple off the wall in right field.

Right-handed pitcher Austin Sexton (Sparkman HS, Madison, Ala.) was also sharp in Game 2, using a 87-89 fastball, a low-70s curve and a couple of 79-81 changeups to strikeout the side in the sixth.

Middle infielder Dalton Dulin (Memphis University, Tenn.) drove a pitch to deep right-centerfield in the eighth inning of Game 2, turning on the jets to leg out a triple. He later scored a run by stealing home, showing off his hustling, aggressive approach to the game. Dulin has made very good development since the last time we have seen him.

Right-handed pitcher Tanner Draper (Riverton HS, West Jordan, Utah) pitched in Game 2 for the Maroon squad, working in the 84-88 range while showing an overall advanced sense for pitching.

Catcher Andrew Dunlap (Westbury Christian HS, Houston Texas), has looked very impressive on the day, from the workouts to batting practice to in-game action, he has been impressive on all levels.

Right-handed pitcher Bryce Welborn (Northland Christian HS, The Woodlands, Texas) was one of the day's hardest throwers, working in the 90-92 range while throwing strikes and mixing in a sharp, low-80s slider in Game 2.

Game 2 starter Trey Cobb was also impressive for the Green team. Cobb showed very good pitchability with a fastball that peaked at 90.

Shortstop Kramer Robertson (Midway HS, McGregor, Texas), son of the Kim Mulkey-Robertson , the Head Coach for the Baylor's women's basketball team that claimed the national title this spring, showed very promising defensive actions up the middle. He's a good overall athlete that had a promising round of BP as well.

Right-handed pitcher Robert Tyler (Crisp County HS, Cordele, Ga.) looked sharp taking the mound for Columbia Blue in Game 3. Tyler worked at 89-91, peaking at 92 mph, while mixing in a polished changeup and a 72-74 breaking ball. He has a projectable frame and loose, live arm.

Tres Barrera (Sharyland HS, McAllen, Texas) had two of the hardest hit balls on the day in Game 3, the more notable of the two when he smoked the ball to deep left-centerfield in the seventh.

Left-handed pitcher Ian McKinney (Boone HS, Orlando, Fla.) earned a comparison to 2011 National participant and PG All-American Matthew Crownover given their impressive pitchability. McKinney employs an over the top delivery to create good downhill plane on his 87-88 mph fastball, while mixing in a sharp low-80s cutter.

Righty Jordan Howard (Crisp Academy, Cordele, Ga.) size is evident on the mound given his listed 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame. He showed the ability to hit his spots with a 86-90 mph fastball, and his size and big, broad shoulders makes it easy to project more velocity moving forward.

• Primary infielder Ryder Jones (Stillwater HS, Okla.) was the last player to take the mound on Thursday, tossing five outs in order to give some of the Columbia Blue hitters additional at-bats.  With very good size at 6-foot-3, 185-pounds it looked as though Jones could excel as a pitcher if he wanted to, showing a nice, balanced delivery while easily pumping 87-91 fastballs.  He only threw a pair of curveballs, but they too showed promise.  Jones was also impressive during BP as a left-handed hitter, and  profiles well at third base.

Be sure to read Jeff Dahn's player features on Green teammates Oscar Mercado and Christopher Rivera.



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