Jeff Dahn Day 2 features: Michael Gettys| Tyler/Stephen Kolek
Matt Rodriguez Day 2 feature: Jack Flaherty
MINNEAPOLIS – A Southern kid from the small town of Youngsville, La., where the total population barely creeps past 8,000, Chase Vallot now stands out in the large city of Minneapolis, Minn. this week at the Perfect Game National Showcase.
The 6-foot, 200-pound catcher with a contagious smile turned heads on Day 1 of the National when he recorded a 7.03-second 60-yard dash, a 1.87-second catcher pop time, and an 89 mph throw to second from behind the plate, good enough for second best on the day.
“He’s one of the best defensive catchers around,” claims Marucci Elite coach, Chad Raley. “He has worked really hard to make himself a really good defensive catcher.”
Just as impressive, if not more so, is his power with the bat. A PG scouting report noted:
“Chase Vallot (2014; St Thomas More) was very balanced in the box, showing plus power and very good bat speed, smacking three home runs out over the left field fence. With a strong 6-foot frame, Vallot should be able to stay behind the plate and continue to hit the ball far and hard all summer long.”
Raley wasn’t surprised to see Vallot launch a few balls into the seats. Vallot put up monster numbered this spring for his high school team, St Thomas More, going 35-for-96 with a .365 batting average and 12 home runs.
“I went to one of his high school games,” Raley said of Vallot's junior season. “He hit a home run to left-center his first at-bat, the next at-bat they tried to go away and he hit a ball down the right field line for a double so he’s got a really good feel for hitting.”
Raley went on to give his analysis of Vallot’s offense, saying, “He’s got a short, compact stroke. He doesn’t strike out a lot (and) he’s got a lot of power the other way.”
The small town catcher who verbally committed to Mississippi State earlier this year has flown a little under the radar up until this point. When Vallot first learned he was invited to the National Showcase he said he was “tickled pink.” There was no hiding the excitement in his answers.
“This is my first Perfect Game showcase ever and I’m really honored to be here. There is tremendous talent here,” said Vallot, grinning from ear to ear.
“It feels good,” Chase’s mother, Renee said, who is very proud to see her son’s hard work is paying off in a big way. “He gets to meet a lot of great players from all over the U.S.”
Chase is here this week to gain recognition from the scouts and hopefully play professional baseball one day.
“Every aspect of his life is baseball. At home, all we watch is ESPN. We have nothing else on the TV but ESPN,” Vallot’s mother said. “He gets up, he works out, he hits; his whole life is baseball.”
Vallot has all the tools to be a highly rated catching prospect at the next level, and then he has those characteristics that can’t be taught.
“He’s a really, really good teammate, which stands out to me,” said Raley. “He’s a pleasure to coach. He’s fun to be around.”
“He’ll give you the shirt off his back. He’s a really nice kid,” Vallot’s mother added.
The one characteristic that seems to stand out about Chase the most is that the kid is always smiling.
“He’s got a big smile. He has fun out there,” said Raley. “He’s always smiling on the field.”
“We’ve had a couple of coaches, when he’ll overthrow a base or something the coach will fuss at him and he said, ‘It’s hard for me to fuss at him when he’s just smiling at you,’” his mother recalled.
Described by his mother as a laid back, carefree guy, Chase Vallot should have plenty more to smile about after the impression he has made at the Perfect Game National Showcase.
– Matt Rodriguez
For the second straight year the Perfect Game National Showcase is available for everyone to watch online. The live stream to all of the workouts, batting practice sessions and games can be found on iHigh's dedicated Perfect Game page:
• Day 2 of the 2013 National Showcase started off with a bang as big-bodied right-hander Tyler Kolek took the mound for the Navy team. Kolek warmed up at 93 mph and first pitch was a 94 fastball. He proceeded to hit a handful more 95s and 96s before registering 97 mph in his second inning of work. In that second inning he was particularly impressive, showing a very promising curveball in the upper-70s that he throws for strikes, including on his last pitch when he froze a batter for a strikeout. Seeing that pitch was all the more encouraging, as he has the size and arm strength to blow his fastball by anyone.
Tyler's brother Stephen pitched two days earlier at the Junior National Showcase and was named the top pitching prospectat that event. Jeff Dahn profiled both players in this feature.
• Cre Finfrock pitched the last two innings for the Navy team, and while he doesn't offer the physical presence that Kolek does, he has a very fast arm and the ball explodes out of his hand. His fastball was 91-93, and he even induced a broken bat in the hand's of promising catching prospect Handsome Monica. Finfrock also threw a very sharp, short-breaking 74-75 mph curveball.
• For the Green squad right-handers Keith Weisenberg and Mitch Hart stood out. Weisenberg threw an easy 90-92 mph fastball and a hard breaking ball. He has nice size, built tall and projectable, with good current strength and plenty of room for more.
Hart was the best pure pitcher on the day, with three pitches he really commanded well including a 89-90 mph fastball, a nice fading low-80s changeup and a big-breaking 72-74 mph curveball. His 6-foot-4, 175-pound frame makes it easy to believe that he'll be throwing consistently harder in the near future, with an advanced sense of how to pitch already.
• The Navy bats were also quick to show up on Day 2 of the event, as Nick Gordon led off the bottom of the first with a hard single lined up the middle. Catcher Colby Fitch ripped a ball that was almost snared by the shortstop, and yet the ball was hit so hard it skipped all the way to the warning track, allowing Fitch to leg out a triple.
• In the bottom of the third the big hits continued for Navy, as Jeremy Vasquez blasted a shot to the right centerfield gap for a triple, which was followed by Slade Heggen's booming ground-rule double to left.
• Jonathan Ducoff and Justin Smith had back-to-back hard hits for the Green squad in the top of the third.
• Joe Barlow laced a double down the right field line in the bottom of the third showing the ability to keep his hands in and gets his barrel down on the pitch to drive it to the opposite field.
• Derek Hill had a hustle triple to the right center gap.
• Monte Harrison is drawing favorable reviews from the PG staff and scouts alike for his natural athleticism and impressive overall baseball skills. He threw 97 from the outfield on Thursday during the workouts and put on a very impressive display during BP and game action, as the ball jumps off his bat.
• In a game full of hard hit balls, Greg Deichmann hit the hardest ball of the game, a ball he crushed off the 408-foot sign in straightaway center field in the eighth and final frame that was 1-2 feet short of being a home run.
• Another interesting pitching matchup occurred during the second game of the day, Game 5 overall, as left-hander Brady Aiken squared off against righty Alex Lange.
Aiken, who also looked impressive at the Jr. National version of this event a year ago, continues to get better and better. He has good size and continues to add strength. His fastball is now thrown in the 88-91 range peaking at 92 with a polished low-80s changeup. In his second inning of work, he really did a nice job establishing his mid-70s curveball, throwing 90 mph at the knees.
Lange worked at 88-91 with his fastball, with a big, strong and durable frame of his own. His best pitch is a 79-80 mph slider that he shows really good feel for.
• Andrew Karp, also of the Maroon team, looked good in his two innings after Lange. Karp's fastball was a few ticks higher at 91-93 while throwing both an upper-70s changeup and a mid- to upper-70s breaking ball. He fanned Alex Jackson on a high 92 mph fastball.
• Projectable left-hander Devin Smeltzer also showed promise in Game 5. With a tall and strong frame, broad shoulders and angular proportions, it's easy to see him having success at the next level should his 86-88 mph fastball continue to add velocity as he adds strength. His big sweeping 77-78 mph slider was especially tough to pick out of his hand as he employs a deceptive low three-quarters delivery.
• While there weren't as many big hits in Game 5 as there were in the previous contest, there were still a handful worth mentioning.
Adam Haseley laced an opposite field double to left centerfield in the third inning, showing really good barrel skils handling the pitch.
Carl Chester, who posted the fastest 60-yard dash time on Day 1, got a chance to show off his speed around the bases in the sixth inning. He poked a ball to right field, a ball that the right fielder was unable to catch on a diving attempt. Chester turn on the jets, rounding both the first and second base bags quickly and cleanly, and looked as though he may have had a chance for an inside-the-park home run.
With Chester on third, the next batter hit a fly ball to left field that looked as though it was hit plenty deep enough for Chester to score, but Luis Alvarado fired an absolute strike to home plate that would have gunned down Chester but Alex Jackson suffered a thumb injury as the ball was knocked loose. Jackson will be checked and we will report later on the #1 ranked player in the class.
D.J. Peters chipped in with a double in the seventh inning, making solid contact to drive the ball hard to left field.
• Big hits continued to be the theme during Game 6, the last contest of Day 2, although we have yet to see a ball clear the park for a home run in game action.
Dale Burdick's two-run double to right centerfield was arguably the second hardest hit ball (to Deichmann's double in Game 4) during the day, and possibly the entire event to date.
Tanner Gragg blasted a ball that sailed over the left fielder's head for a double of his own in the fourth inning of Game 6. Tyler Martin hit a deep drive to right-center, but was thrown out trying to stretch a triple. Spencer Levine smoked a triple to the gap in left-center.
• Game 6 had no shortage of intriguing pitchers either. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Colton Hock may have been the most interesting of those that took the mound. With very good size, broad shoulders and a high-waisted build, Hock used his size very well throwing on a downhill plane. His fastball peaked at 90 while working in the upper-80s, but it's easy to project more down the road.
The same is true for a trio of big-bodied right-handers from Illinois, Brad Bass, Jake Latz and Jake Godfrey, all of whom showed intriguing, high-level size and stuff during Game 6. Bass peaked at 90 mph throwing three pitches for strikes, including a curveball and a changeup, Latz was effective keeping his upper-80s fastball and low-70s curve down in the zone, while Godfrey also peaked at 90 mph.
Day 2 Workouts
After the first six teams completed their second game under the roof of the Metrodome, the next four teams (Red, Royal, Steel, Texas Orange) conducted their portion of the skills portion late on Friday afternoon and into the evening. The results of those workouts (60-yard dash, outfield, infield and catcher drills as well as batting practice), as well as notes from each of the three games that were played today, will be available in the Perfect Game National Showcase scout blogs: