SARASOTA, FL- Archbishop McCarthy High righty Dane Williams came off the summer circuit as one of the nation’s top follows. A knee injury that required an ACL repair delayed his senior debut. After a couple of brief “rehab” stints, Williams took the mound for his first start on Tuesday, April 7th, ranked #124 overall for the 2009 draft.
It was quite a mob scene at Sarasota High School on day two of the Sarasota Classic. The tournament is one of the country’s most prestigious, well-scouted spring events and it featured 16 teams this year. At least sixty scouts were in attendance for Williams’s first start against Sarasota High, including eight scouting directors.
To add to the scouting value, Scooter Gennett (#64) played shortstop for Sarasota and hit third in the lineup.
The 6-5, 200 Williams would go on to pitch three not-so-sharp innings, giving up five hits to the Sailors and two runs. His team would beat Sarasota 8-5 in the end.
Williams did show good stuff in the bullpen and during his three innings of work, but his command just wasn’t there in his first start back.
Williams threw 90-93 MPH with a running fastball that I projected for average major league movement in the future. His slider was 78-82 MPH with a sharp lateral bite, but he seemed to be tipping off the pitch by slowing his arm to throw it. The break itself is almost major league-average right now and has a chance to become plus in the future.
He was working noticeably slow; I wasn’t sure if it was by his choice or simply the pace at which pitches were being called from the dugout, but Williams was finding it difficult to get into a rhythm.
From watching his delivery, Williams is an average athlete who repeats his slots okay. He doesn’t rock back and get much drive from his core and lower half, and there’s a noticeable head-jerk. Williams has a long, quick arm-action, with a three-quarter release that does well to create movement on his fastball.
Williams has a larger than average build, but is very lanky and can probably put on 25-30 more lbs by the time he’s matured. He’s noticeably wide in his hips and still slender in his lower half. His hands are very big, leading me to think he could be a split-fingered fastball thrower at some point in the future.
All in all, he showed that his stuff was back, but to go early in the draft he’ll need to be sharper with his command come the end of May. Our scouts noted similar stuff and velocity over the WWBA and PG tournaments he’d attended in the past, most recently the big one in Jupiter last October.
Williams has signed with North Carolina State.
Gennett, on the other hand, looked much better at the plate from what I reported in an earlier blog three weeks ago. He hit the ball hard in his two at-bats against Williams, smashing a double into center field the second time up. His timing was clearly better than three weeks ago. As one scout pointed out to me, with all the moving parts in his swing (big stride, loading the bat), there’s a lot that can go wrong and it makes it difficult to hit consistently. But when he’s on, he’s as good a pure hitter as you’ll find in the high school class.
Defensively, Gennett continues to make the plays and I feel good about calling him a plus defensive second or third baseman in the long run.
The question is whether he can stay at shortstop and I suspect he will in the lower minors until he proves otherwise. Though he lacks plus straightaway speed, his lateral agility is much better. And there are few high school infielders who can make the glove-to-hand transfer as quickly as Gennett does.
Also of note in this game are a couple of juniors.
McCarthy’s junior third baseman, Nick Castellanos. The 6-3, 200 righthanded hitter showed both athleticism at the hot corner and a powerful bat. He hit a homerun to right-center in his first at-bat. I would think he’s at the top of area scouts follow lists in south Florida for the 2010 draft.
Sarasota first baseman Jimmy Cook is a 6-2, 210 lefthanded hitter with a strong swing and some nimbleness around the bag. He showed me an ability to use his hands and make adjustments. It will be interesting to watch his development in the coming year.