Rain threatened to interrupt day 3 of the National Classic, with the morning game at El Dorado HS pushed back an hour and briefly suspended, but it turned out to be a hiccup in another great day of high level baseball at the National Classic.
El Dorado (CA) vs IMG Academies (FL)
IMG Academies looked very strong through their first two games, as each of the four pitchers that had seen the mound in the tourney hit at least 89 mph on the radar gun (including two sophomores).
But it was a different story against El Dorado, who broke out with a five run fourth inning to pull away from what had been a close, low scoring affair in the early innings.
El Dorado got offense from all over the place, as nine-hole hitting 2014 CF Nate Alam went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs. The only out Alam made was on a hard line drive to left center field that was caught, he's a good young player to watch out for in the future, showing good routes and reads in centerfield.
While nobody lit up the radar gun in this one, there were a pair of interesting pitchers. El Dorado 2013 RHP Joe Record came on in relief to close it out, sitting 87-89 with his fastball, and worked in a nasty 75 mph splitter with hard tumble. He's an unknown player coming off an injury plagued sophomore season but that is likely to change. The other surprise was IMG 2012 RHP Lucas Friss, who had so much tail to his fastball that one scout noted that it looked like a screwball. He also had good tailing life on his 74 mph changeup and big depth to his 69 mph curveball. While Friss topped out at 84 mph he was highly effective.
El Dorado 2012 LHP/OF PJ Conlon broke the game open in the fourth, with his second hit of the game, a two-run triple to right center that put the game out of reach.
There was a scary moment at the end of the game, when El Dorado's middle infielders SS Chris Rivera and 2B Austin Logas collided as both chased down a low fly ball for the final out of the game in shallow right center field. Rivera, who had ranged far to his left on the play, stayed down for a few minutes after the collision, leaving the crowd at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field in a collective hush. But eventually Rivera got up under his own power and appeared to be fine, much to the relief of the temporarily silenced crowd.
El Toro (CA) vs Esperanza (CA)
It is readily apparent from the moment they take the field for pregame warmups that El Toro means business. They whip the ball around the infield before the game as well as anyone in this loaded tournament. They have such a surplus that 2013 3B Jonah Arenado who shows a strong arm from 3B during the pregame warmups is relegated to DH duties by the highly talented 2012 3B/RHP Dan Conmy. Arenado also looks out of place hitting eighth in the order, at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds with a long powerful swing.
Similarly, 2013 1B Dan James doesn't look like your typical leadoff hitter at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, and while he had a quiet game, he has good raw power from the left side. James is followed in the order by the strong and compact left handed hitting 2B Mitchell Tolman, who won the Home Run derby on Saturday, Tolman got pitched around in this game, setting the table for the heart of the order.
2012 CF Nick Villar had a big day out of the three hole and has shown consistent development with the bat over the past couple of years, blasting a double that registered at 94 mph off the bat. Conmy also had a big game in the middle of the El Toro order, and was a Home Run shy of the cycle.
Esperanza's standout prospect to this point has been 2012 CF Nick Catalano, who has a quick bat, runs well and has a polished hit tool. 2012 1B/RHP Brad Anderson certainly did his part to keep Esperanza in the game, and gave them a shot at climbing out of the deep hole they fell into after trailing 8-0 in the 2nd inning. After an RBI single to get Esperanza on the board, Anderson came on in relief in the 4th inning, the first inning that El Toro didn't score. He would hold them scoreless again in the 5th and would drive in a total of three runs, while scoring another.
It wasn't enough though, as El Toro held on for a 9-6 victory to move into the championship game where they will face El Dorado.
Pacifica (CA) vs Bishop Alemany (CA)
Coming into the National Classic Alemany had put up 35 runs in their previous two games, but the bats have cooled off considerably since then. For the second time in three games at the Classic, the Warriors got shutout.
Pacifica 2014 LHP Taylor Franzen threw a CG shutout, allowing four hits and two walks, while striking out four. Franzen topped out at 83 and worked in a 69 mph curveball and a 74 mph changeup. Things got interesting in the 7th and it looked like Franzen might not be able to finish, but after a brief mound visit the sophomore southpaw bared down and got the final outs to put the finishing touches on the victory.
2012 OF Daniel Ferrell went 2-for-3 with a solo Home Run to open the scoring and a three run double to break it open. 2012 CF Jono Herkins made a highlight caliber diving catch in the gap in left center field at full extension to add to the frustration for Alemany's hitters.
Franzen wasn't the only sophomore to step up for Pacifica, as 2014 OF Nick Howard went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI thanks for a short and balanced swing with good athleticism.
Alemany 2013 OF/RHP Nick Suniga got the start and sat 84-86 with a 69 mph curveball and a 74 mph slider, and was effective in the early innings.
Pacifica advances to the consolation bracket's championship game.
Cypress (CA) vs Galena (NV)
Cypress continued to stand out at the National Classic. Their all underclass infield offers a ton of promise, and sophomore CF Elijah Skipps had a very impressive at-bat from the left side.
Skipps, a switch-hitter has only batted from the left side in the two games that I have seen. In the matchup with Galena his second AB was an impressive one, he got a changeup on the outside corner late in the count and stayed back well, lining the ball into left field for an RBI single. These are the types of adjustments that a lot of underclassmen struggle to make, and it is promising to see from a player with Skipps' physial tools. He looks the part at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, he runs well at present and showed solid bat speed from the left side already.
The standout from the Centurions' young infield is 2013 SS David Fletcher. As was discussed in the previous post about Cypress, he is a top level defensive shortstop. He also showed good on-base skills out of the leadoff spot in this game, showing good pitch recognition with some very good takes on borderline pitches. He can generate some bat speed, though it takes some effort, but his contact stroke is loose and easy. He also runs well and is aggressive on the bases with good instincts, if the bat develops he could become a special player.
Fletcher's left side of the infield partner 2013 3B David Lohr is another promising prospect for Cypress. He has a quiet approach at the plate, a smooth load and a loose easy swing with good bat speed, and ripped an RBI double in the game. He also has a strong arm at third base and good lateral movement.
2013 MIF Steven Andrade would play shortstop for most teams, but moves to the right side of the MIF to pair with Fletcher for a strong double play combo. Andrade is light on his feet and moves well defensively, he has good quick twitch movements and can handle the bat.
2012 RHP Chris Dixon threw a CG shutout, sitting 84-86, topping out at 88. He had good command, consistently pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his sinking fastball. He mixed in his 76 mph slider well, which featured late diving action, and he showed good pitchability.
Galena's standout was 2012 OF Ryan Ford, who has quick hands at the plate, a slight uppercut swing path and takes his hands to the ball well. He has good bat speed (as evidenced by his 6.01 second popup hangtime) and had two hits in the game. 2012 C Zack Parkinson popped a 2.04 in a stolen base attempt and showed some interesting hitting tools as well. 2012 SS Alex Barajas showed good defensive actions and moves well laterally.