No. 1 ranked Hollon takes the mound
Even the top-ranked 2013 prospect gets a case of the nerves coming into an event as a big as Perfect Game’s National Showcase at the Metrodome.
“It’s going to be amazing to play out on this field, I’m kind of nervous,” Clinton Hollon said before taking the field for Game 9. “Last year I got to play out at the White Sox’s place and it still wasn’t anything like this.”
Hollon is very aware of what it means to come into this type of event ranked number one.
“It’s kind of a target on my back. I mean everybody down here is awesome. Can’t take anybody for granted,” Hollon stated, “Whether they’re ranked number one or number one hundred, it doesn’t matter. They are all good down here.
“Every kid out here has a chance to be drafted in the first round to the tenth round. It’s just crazy.”
Being ranked number one has not been an invitation for Hollon to let up. He’s continued to work hard to improve coming into this summer.
Hollon looked good in Game 9 of the PG National Showcase. His fastball topped out at 94 mph, while he was consistently pitching 91-93 mph. Hollon has diligently worked on his slider throughout the season, and that work was evident in the sharp 78-83 mph offering he displayed in the game.
At the 2011 WWBA World Championship last October, Hollon’s fastball topped out at 97 mph. In addition to the numerous Perfect Game events that Hollon has participated in, he also plays for the Kentucky Baseball Club and recently helped his high school team, the Woodford County Yellowjackets, win a state championship.
“I heard that I hit 98 a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t throw most of the year, so I’m just now starting to get into mid-season form,” Hollon said. “Everything has felt good. I have a lot more control this year than I did last year.”
Beauprez shines on mound, at plate
Derik Beauprez’s (Cherry Creek HS, Greenwood Village, CO) invitation to attend the Perfect Game National Showcase came following a strong showing at the inaugural Perfect Game Rocky Mountain Showcase and the Colorado high school state championships.
• Green catcher/third baseman Michael Barash got the day's game action off with a bang, hitting a triple in his first at-bat while adding a double in the second. Colby Barnette followed Barash in the order and follow Barash's triple with a double, adding a single later in the contest.
• In the same game, Corey Ray hit the first home run of the event, although not of the usual variety. Ray drove a ball to deep left-centerfield and used his game changing speed to burn around the bases for an inside-the-park homer. Gold teammate Jack Kruger added one of his own, although was able to do so when the left fielder was unable to make a diving catch.
Chris Okey smoked a double to right-centerfield in the same game.
• Gold LHP Sean Brady looked as though he threw harder than his registered 86-89 fastball. He pitched aggressively, and wasn't afraid to climb the ladder to record strikeouts while mixing in a 78-81 changeup and 73-75 curve.
Teammate Brett Hanewich also pitched in this game, working at 88-92 with a promising 75-77 breaking ball. He also crushed a Derik Beauprez pitch that would have been the event's first home run had it not been pulled foul.
• A pair of Navy left-handers stood out in Game 8, starter Zach Farmer and Scott Moss. Farmer worked at 87-91 with his fastball, mixing in a low-70s curve while Moss used a loose and easy delivery to produce 86-90 mph heat and a promising low-70s breaker of his own.
• Columbia Blue starter Kevin Trader, a right-hander, also had a strong showing. He was 88-91 with a sharp 73-76 curveball. Teammate and fellow righty Canaan Cropper worked at 91-92 early, settling in at 89-90 for his second inning of work, showing a very loose and live arm with a projectable, athletic frame that could mean added velocity down the road.
• Among the offensive performances in Game 8, the second game of the day, Max Schuman hit a booming triple over the centerfielder's head, only to be followed by a rocket to left-center off the bat of John Sternagel for a double.
Torii Hunter, Jr., also of the Navy team, hit a two-run single in the game.
• Clinton Hollon was the main storyline for Game 9, with his performance detailed above. Steel catcher (playing with the Maroon team) Chuckie Robinson clearly recognized who he was facing, showing his enthusiasm rounding first after hitting a loud single off of Hollon. Brantley Bell, son of former big-league star Jay Bell, hit a pair of doubles in this content, including one that he laced down the right field line off of Hollon.
• Another right-hander from the Purple team, Andrew Church, had a strong performance. Church has good size and is an athletic, well-proportioned athlete that used a boring upper-80s fastball and solid mid-70s curve during his two innings of work.
Matt Brown, also of the Purple squad, hit a gapper to right-center for a double.
• Left-hander Robert Kaminsky stole the show in Game 10, the first time in which the Royal and Red teams took the field for game action. Kaminsky, whose start was detailedby Nick Kappel in a separate feature, using a low-90s fastball that peaked at 94 and a hammer of an upper-70s curveball to strike out all seven batters he faced.
Red teammate and fellow lefty Alexander Bostic also showed promise in this game, with very good size, a high waist and long, strong legs. He also showed a live arm with a 86-90 fastball and a sharp 72-73 curve.
Another left-hander, John Kilichowski, started the game for the Royal team, and he too was impressive in this game. Kilichowski showed the ability to change speeds well while mixing up his pitch sequence with a 86-88 fastball, a sharp 73-76 curve and a solid changeup.
Towering right handed pitcher Chris Oakley also took the mound for the Royal team, using his size to throw his 89-92 fastball on a downhill plane. His 75-77 curveball gives him two solid to plus offerings.
Skye Overton had the big hit in this game, hitting a ball to the gap in right-center, turning on the jets to leg out a double.
• Steel starting pitcher Adrian De Horta showed promise in his intial inning of work, working downhill with a 88-90 fastball and really nice 78 mph changeup. He also threw a 74-75 curveball, showing the ability to change speeds with three solid pitches.
• Navy pitcher Hunter Green made the start for the Texas Orange team in this game, with a fastball that sat at 88-90 mph and a sharp 79 mph slider while employing a low three-quarters delivery.
• Several big hits came in this game, starting with Travis Demeritte's rocket up the middle for a double in which the ball registered 99 mph off the bat.
Cavan Biggio, son of likely Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, hit the event's first traditional over-the-fence variety of home runs with a three-run blast over the wall in right field.
Catcher Nick Ciuffo hit a ball hard up the middle for a single. Overall the Texas Orange squad has a loaded lineup, including Biggio, Ciuffo, Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire and Will Haynie. Frazier's athleticism and speed are obvious, as he plays the game hard and makes the game look easy in doing so.
• Texas Orange starter Joe Jimenez has a big, sturdy 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame that enables him to produce low-90s heat. He also threw a sweeping 73-74 curveball, and overall showed a live arm with plenty of room for improvement and added velocity.
Be sure to read Jeff Dahn's player features on Austin Meadows,Brian Mejia and the two Dominican players participating in the National,Richard Urenaand Leury Vargas, as well as Travis Demeritte.