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2011 East Coast Professional Showcase

 



Byron Buxton/Carson Fulmer >>
(from the Tampa Airport)

As I was leaving Tigertown I ran into an old scouting friend in the parking lot and we got talking about the "highlights" from the event.  I asked him specifically if he'd got Buxton down to first base last night on his 2 hopper to third late in the game.  He said that he had him at 3.91 (I estimated 3.95 to 4.00 in the blog last night) and a number of guys around him had 3.89.  I asked him about the steal of second just after and he said "3.18", which is exactly what the scout I asked said. 

All I can tell you is that the number of Major League players who run 3.89 (right side) and 3.18 are very, very, very few.  That really speeds the game up.

Needless to say, he had Buxton has the top position prospect at the event.

When I asked him who his favorite pitcher from last night was, he quickly answered "Carson Fulmer" and compared Fulmer to Jake Peavy.  The most important thing I got from this was that there are scouts who aren't pigeon holing Fulmer into the dreaded reliever role at this point, something the I too strongly believe is not the right thing to do as well.
Yankees LHP Max Tishman >>
Yankees LHP Max Tishman (Wellesley, MA) is an interesting prospect.  The 6-2, 170 lb Wake Forest commit has a loose and projectable build and a fast arm from an extended 3/4's release point.  He throws both a 2-seam (86-88) and 4-seam fastball (91) and favors the 2-seamer and keeps it low in the zone.  Tishman's change up gets nice running action away from right handers and he throws a true slider at 79-80 mph that has some bite.  4 pitch lefties who can touch 91 and are projectable are worth noting.

Clinton Hollon didn't light up the gun as much in the 2nd inning but unveiled a 81-84 mph slider that was pretty good and a definite improvement over his 1st inning curveball.  OF Rhett Wiseman turned around a 91 mph fastball with a short, crisp swing and lined a single up the middle.
2013 RHP Clinton Hollon >>
I might have posted that top pitching prospects list an inning or two too early.  Let's just call it the 2012 Top Pitching Prospects list.

2013 RHP Clinton Hollon(Lexington, KY) is currently the #2 ranked pitcher in the 2013 class on the Perfect Game list.  He didn't throw especially well at the PG Junior National Showcase in mid-June but he was lights out a couple of times out of the bullpen at the WWBA Tournaments in Marietta in July, topping out at 96 mph.

Hollon was 93-97 mph in his first inning of work here, throwing from an effortless delivery and high 3/4's release point with great extension out front.  The velocity comes pretty easy for him.  Hollon throws a 76-79 mph curveball that has good spin but he slows his body well before release on the pitch and it has plenty of developing to do.

C Nelson Rodriguez had a nice swing against a mid 90's Hollon heater but hit a hard grounder right at the shortstop.
Top Pitching Prospects >>
With the same qualifiers as the Top Position Prospects (subject to change, second thoughts, complete list to be posted later on the site, etc, etc), here is how I see the top pitching prospects at the ECP.


RHP Lance McCullers (Tampa Jesuit HS, FL):

RHP Lucas Sims (Brookwood HS, Lawrenceville, GA):

RHP Carson Fulmer (All Saints Academy, Lakeland, FL):

RHP Walker Weickel (Olympia HS, Orlando, FL):

RHP Clate Schmidt (Alatoona HS, Acworth, GA):

RHP Ty Buttrey (Providence HS, Matthews, NC):

RHP/OF Duane Underwood (Pope HS, Marietta, GA):

LHP Matthew Crownover (Ringgold (GA) HS):

RHP J.O. Berrios (Papa Juan XIII HS, Bayamon, PR):

RHP/OF Sean McLaughlin (Northview HS, Johns Creek, GA):

 




Top Position Prospects >>
I've been working on a Top 25 Position Prospects and Top 25 Pitching Prospects lists from the event and hope to get some airport/plane time to finish it up tonight and get it posted on the PG site tomorrow.  As a preview, here are the top 10 position prospects without comments as I see them as of 10:45 am this morning (subject to change and second thoughts).  Listed in order.

OF Byron Buxton (Appling County HS, Baxley, GA):

OF David Dahl (Oak Mountain HS, Birmingham, AL):

OF Jesse Winker (Olympia HS, Windemere, FL):

OF Albert Almora (Mater Academy, Hialeah, FL):

SS Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico BB Academy, Santa Isabel,PR):

OF Lewis Brinson (Coral Springs HS, Tamarac, FL):

OF Skye Bolt (Holy Innocents HS, Woodstock, GA):

3B Corey Seager (NW Cabarrus HS, Kannapolis, NC):

OF Rhett Wiseman (BB&N HS, Mansfield, MA):

3B Addison Russell (Pace (FL) HS):



About Listed Heights/Weights >>
One of the more amusing things that they do at the East Coast Pro and at the Area Code Games is that they "officially" measure and weigh all the players and post the real (as opposed to listed) heights and weights of the players. 

The reason I say it's amusing is that any scout with a few years experience can look at a player on the field and immediately tell if the listed size is in the ball park or a figment of someone's wishful thinking.  Just speaking for myself, I don't think well of a player who is listed at 6-3 and is really 6-0 1/2".  I consider that lying.  Others may have a different opinion, that's just me.  My driver's license even has my correct weight on it.

So, players and parents, please consider the following when asked to list your height and weight. 

1)  Don't exaggerate your height by more than 1".  You can justify part of that just with rounding up and the difference between wearing shoes and not wearing shoes.  But if you are 5-9 1/2, don't list yourself as 6-0.  If you are a 5-11 right handed pitcher, we understand you putting 6-0, but we know you are lying when you say you are 6-2.  That's not the impression you want to leave for the professionals who are evaluting you.

2) If you weigh 10 or more pounds more than what is listed in the program, you have a problem.  It's not a problem with your honesty or your baseball, it's with your health.  It likely means you are packing on pounds you shouldn't be.  Cut back on the pop and junk food and work out a bit more.  There are players here who are listed at 215 and weigh in the upper 230's.  That's just not good.  An overweight 17 year old athlete puts up red flags for scouts and college coaches.
A's LHP Trey Ball >>
6-4 (listed at 6-6, measured at 6-4, more on that later), 175 lb LHP/OF Trey Ball (New Castle, IN) is one of the top prospects in the 2013 class and is pitching for the A's.  He's been playing outfield (6.9 runner, + OF arm) at times earlier in the event and is a quality 2-way prospect and very athletic.

Ball was 88-91 in the first inning, with much better mechanics and stuff from the windup than from the stretch.  He hung a change up early in the inning to Fernelys Sanchez, who drove it to right centerfield and later came around to score on a wild pitch and sac fly, so Ball was pitching from the stretch most of the time.  He has a fast and loose arm and his fastball looked to have very good arm side run.  I'm going to reserve judgment on his curveball for now, as he threw 2 poor ones out of the stretch that he rushed through release.
Yankees RHP Quinn Carpenter >>
One of the players I've been looking forward to seeing is Yankees RHP Quinn Carpenter (Goshen, NY), if for no other reason than he's one of the very few players at this event that we haven't seen at a Perfect Game event in the past and we heard he topped out at 92 mph at the Yankees ECP tryout. 

So here's the skinny on the 6-5, 190 lb right hander:  Very projectable loose build, long arms, nice overall pitcher's build.  Standard leg raise delivery, high arm circle in back, has a bit of funk, extended mid 3/4's release point, loose out front, ball leaves his hand easily.  Fastball 87-90, looked mostly straight despite the release point, big sweeping slider at 79-81, hitters saw the ball pretty well.  An easy comp for his body and pitching style/pitches would be a young Jared Weaver.
Day 4 From Lakeland >>
The first game of the last day of the East Coast Pro Showcase will feature the Yankees and the A's.

I apologize to the players on the other 4 teams, especially the pitchers who haven't thrown yet, but I have to get on a cross country flight (direct, thankfully) to Los Angeles to be in position to get to Blair Field in Long Beach for the start of the Area Code Games.  If you've been following the ECP blog the past 3 days (and you obviously have been or you wouldn't be reading this), expect more of the same for the next 6 days from the Area Code Games.
Astros Win 4-3 >>
The Astros survived a couple of infield errors in the bottom of the 9th inning, finishing off with a rare 4-3-5 double play, to beat the Rockies 4-3.

The quality and level of play (until the bottom of the 9th) in this game was simply incredible.  Despite the plus big league stuff each of the 6 pitchers offered up from the mound, there were still many, many quality at bats that showed the hitter's talents and a couple of sterling defensive plays (and plenty of routine plays made routinely) to highlight the defensive athleticism.

I don't think I'm stretching it at all to say that there will be 12-15 players from this game who will play in the Major Leagues some day.  The talent level was certainly that high and it was a pleasure to watch them perform.
Winker Robs Buxton of Extra Bases >>
OF Jesse Winker just made a diving over the shoulder catch in left centerfield to rob Byron Buxton of at least a double to end the top of the 9th inning.  Buxton jumped all over a Carson Fulmer 81 mph curveball and hit it on a line....with his speed and Winker on the ground an inside the park home run wouldn't have been out of the question if the ball had escaped Winker.
6 Pitch Inning For Schmidt >>
Clate Schmidt used his shortstop skills to record 2 of the outs in the bottom of the 8th in a very easy 6 pitch inning. 

Carlos Correa doesn't have much to show for the evening in the box score but he's had 3 quality at bats that I'm sure the scouts have noticed.
1-2-3 Inning for Fulmer >>
Carson Fulmer knocked his hat crooked a couple times with his delivery but still pounded the strike zone with quality stuff:  92-94, 78 CB, 80 Chg.

It's been very impressive across the board how good the change ups that these top prospect/high velocity pitchers have thrown tonight.  Fulmer's is equal to anyone's and has the added deception of a) he hides the ball very well, and b) there are arms, legs and head flying all over the place to distract the hitter.
Astros RHP Clate Schmidt >>
Schmidt is a very talented shortstop who has been thrust this summer, hopefully with his full enthusiasm and support, into the role of top pitching prospect.  He is still a bit raw and  inconsistent in his pitching mechanics (his full back turn probably isn't either necessary or productive and makes him too rotational) but he has a lightning quick arm that can best be compared with another former shortstop's, Lance McCullers.

Schmidt had a very easy 7th inning, striking out 2 hitters and pitching between 91 and 96 mph with an 80  mph curveball and 78 mph curveball.  No Contest.
RHP Carson Fulmer >>
This will be a real quandary for scouts.  Carson Fulmer has 3 nasty pitches, usually the prerequisite for qualifying for starting pitcher prospect status.  He throws strikes with all three pitches.  He's athletic and fields his position.  But he has a violent delivery that already has scouts talking about him as a future reliever (Craig Kimbrel stuff).

Fulmer just had a easy 1-2-3 inning, sitting at 94-95 with his fastball with a nice 82-86 mph change up and a low 80's curveball that flashed serious nastiness.  He shows  no hesitation in mixing up his pitches.

Clate Schmidt now on the mound for the Astros, score still 4-1, bottom of the 7th.
Underwood Continues His Theme As Well >>
Just as Walker Weickel continued his "Bottom of the Strike Zone" theme in his third inning of work, Duane Underwood continued his "I Shouldn't Throw Out of the Wind Up" theme in his third inning, walking the leadoff hitter on 4 pitches before settling down out of the stretch to throw firm quality pitches to the bottom of the zone.  I hope his coaches at East Cobb read this, although I'm sure they are aware of these issues already.  For the velocity inclined, Underwood was 92-95 out of the stretch this inning, threw his best curveball of the game and dropped a couple of nice change ups in as well.

Rockies CF Lewis Brinson did have a nice swing on the 95 heater to fly out to medium deep CF.

RHP Carson Fulmer now on for the Rockies, warming up at 91-92.
Another Easy Inning For Weickel >>
Walker Weickel continued to cruise as the master of the bottom of the strike zone, completing a 3rd shutout inning.

The most impressive part of the inning (if this isn't starting to sound redundant) was Astros CF Bryon Buxton.  The Georgia speedster rolled over a 91 mph Weickel fastball and hit a 2 hopper to third base....and it was no contest at first base.  No one got the time (lots of missing scouts from the press box with the temps down) but it was probably about 3.95 - 4.00.  Buxton then stole second on a perfect tag throw at 3.18 per a scout's watch.  Instantaneous top end speed.  Wow.
Underwood Thrives Out of Stretch >>
Astros RHP Duane Underwood appears to throw much better out of the stretch, especially in keeping the ball down in the zone.  His windup is unnecessarily busy and creates inconsistencies.  Velocity is no issue, as he hits 97 from the stretch as often as from the wind up and even touched 98 mph (and mysteriously throws as many 90's as well.....lots of velo variance).  Rockies catcher Jose Ortiz crushed a double to LCF to start the inning and Underwood easily retired the side after that.  It would also be hard to understate how impressed I am with Underwood's change up (Carlos Correa almost sprained his back on one this inning).....his curveball is another matter for now, though.
Another Easy Inning for Weickel >>
Rockies RHP Walker Weickel seems to be immune to the adrenalin rush that has momentarily affected his fellow pitchers this game.  He just pounds the bottom of the strike zone with 89-93 mph fastballs, mixes in his slow curveball and nice change up at the right time for strikes and gets quick outs.  He probably hasn't thrown a pitch above the belt in 2 innings.
Underwood Settles Down After Rocky Start >>
Astros RHP Duane Underwood walked the first 2 hitters in the bottom of the 4th but quickly took a deep breath (he actually did...stepped off the mound and took a moment) to settle down and retired the next 3 hitters.  Underwood touched 97 on the scoreboard early but was 92-94 in the strike zone and showed a very good change up at 80 mph, along with a low 70's curveball that still needs some developing.

CF Byron Buxton got a very nice jump on a shallow fly ball to center off a sweet change up to get one of the outs.
RHP Walker Weickel/CF Skye Bolt >>
Royals RHP Walker Weickel cruised through the top of the 4th inning, pitching between 89 and 93 mph with a low 70's curveball and low 70's change up.  Weickel throws with almost no effort and straight downhill and spots all his pitches with intent.  It would be nice to see him throw his off speed with more firmness but that's something for his college or pro pitching coaches.

CF Skye Bolt singled sharply to right field (maybe 20 feet to the left of the right fielder) and hustled it into a double with his plus speed.

RHP Duane Underwood now on the mound for the Astros warming up at 94 mph.
De La Rosa Throw Highlights 3rd Inning >>
Astros C Brian De La Rosa threw out his second runner of the event, hosing the Rockies Adrian Marin (6.64 runner) with a perfect throw to keep RHP Lucas Sims out of serious trouble in the third inning.  Carlos Correa followed De La Rosa's throw with a hard single to left field but Sims retired Jezzi Valentin on fly ball to left to end the inning.  Sims continued to sit at 92-94 on his fastball for the last 2 innings but never settled into a a rhythm with his curveball that we've seen him do in the past.

I know I'm guilty of undervaluing De La Rosa a bit because of his 5-9/180 lb build but he has all the tools and quick twitch athleticism to be a big league catcher.

RHP Walker Weickel now on the mound for the Rockies
Easy 3rd For McCullers >>
1-2-3 inning, 2 fly balls and a 6-3 ground out off a nice change up.  93-95, pitched well and changed speeds, threw one 85 nasty curveball to Avery Romero.  Byron Buxton lifted a hard hit ball to left centerfield that he just got under.
Lucas Sims 2nd Inning >>
The comedown from the emotional high.

Just as Lance McCullers struggled in the second inning, so did Lucas Sims, although he settled down more effectively than his counterpart.  He walked the first 3 hitters of the inning while trying to figure out his release point on his curveball and change up while throwing 92-94 mph on his fastball.  Sims got Jesse Winker to reach for an outside fastball and pop out for the first out before a passed ball scored a run.  He then struck out hot hitting Tanner Gushue with a change/fastball (94)/curveball sequence and then Jose Ortiz with with a 94/92/80 hammer CB pattern.
McCullers Second Inning >>
McCullers velocity varied from 91 to 99 in the second inning.  He threw a number of nice change ups in the 85-87 mph range. Interestingly, there were very few, if any, clean swing and misses on his high velo fastballs, only on his low 90's hard sinkers.  Vincent Jackson fouled off 4-5 fastballs to the pull side and eventually worked a walk in a plus quality at bat.  Skye Bolt lifted a medium deep fly to left centerfield.  SS/C J.T. Phillips, who I really like, hit a solid single to right field to score one run.  Sean McLaughlin followed with a very similar single to left field to score another run.  Hitters seem to see McCullers fastball very well and in this environment "pitching" (i.e. changing speeds and hitting spots) is understandably not a priority.  A third run scored on a Brian De La Rosa ground out and a 4th scored on a wild pitch.

It's pretty unmistakable that when McCullers throws 91-95 on the inside half with sink there's not going to be much contact.  When he throws 94-99 in the middle of the plate it's being hit.  That's a good lesson for all pitchers whether they throw 100 or 85.
1B Matt Olson >>
Olson has been pretty impressive all event.  He lined McCullers' second pitch of the second inning over the 2B's head for a clean single.  Got the barrel out really well.
RHP Lucas Sims >>
Last warm up pitch at 96 mph.  94-95 to leadoff hitter Richie Martin, broke his bat on a weak 5-3 putout.  Lots of kindling already.  First 2 pitches to Carlos Correa are 97 and 98 mph.  You can feel the Hmmmmmm.....in the ball park.  Correa grounds out on a 93 FB on the outside half.  Jezzi Valentin grounds out on another 93 mph sinker. 

I think McCullers and Sims threw 12-14 pitches between them in the first inning, one ball, one off speed.  Lowest velo 93 with hard sink.   Wow.
Lance McCullers >>
Lance McCullers first pitch was 100 mph on the scoreboard.  He struck out the first hitter, Dansby Swanson, on a 99 mph fastball that completely disappeared at the plate with arm side sink/run.  He sawed Byron Buxton off (barrel in the 3B coaching box) with a 98 mph heater with the next pitch.  96 mph on the other fastballs, 84 mph hammer.  Avery Romero flew out to CF for the 3rd out on a 97 FB (pretty solid swing).
Game 3: Rockies vs. Astros >>
There's been a serious anticipation of this game all day..starting in a few minutes.  The Rockies (Florida) and Astros (Georgia) are the 2 most talented teams here and the pitching rotations have been stacked for this game.

RHP Lucas Sims on the mound to start for the Astros and RHP Lance McCullers starting for the Rockies, both PG All Americans.  In fact, all 6 pitchers on schedule to pitch tonight are PG All Americans.  It should be a fun evening.
Royals 7, A's 4 in the 8th >>
After a quick burst of runs in the middle innings, the Royals/A's contest has settled back down, with the Royals up 7-4 in the top of the 8th.  Good pitching and easy plays for the defense have, as usual, been the formula for speeding the game back up.

A's LHP Ryne Combs (Lexington, KY) has a small frame at 6-0, 160 but a quick and loose arm that generates a 87-90 mph fastball from a high 3/4's to over the top release point.  He has a ton of confidence in his 80 mph change up and uses it frequently and keeps in down in the zone well.  Combs also will slip in a upper 70's slurve on occasion. 

The Royals have countered with RHP Evan Phillips (Clayton, NC), who throws with the other hand and is a much huskier 6-2, 200 lbs than Combs but has very similar stuff and pitching mechanics.  He's been working in the 88-90 mph range with good command and has a similarly effective 80 mph change up.  Combs also does a good job of getting over a 73 mph curveball that has some depth to it.
RHP Zach Bird/More on David Dahl >>
RHP Zachary Bird (Jackson, MS) had a very easy first inning of work for the Royals, who are up 7-1 in the 5th inning.  Bird is listed at 6-3, 190 lbs and appears an inch or 2 taller, with broad shoulders and very long arms.  Bird topped out at 91 mph with a 71-74 mph curveball that had good spin when he was on top of it and a 78 mph slider.

I had to research this a bit but Bird is a very, very close comparison to a former big league pitcher who I saw pitch in Jackson, Mississippi (Bird's hometown) back in 1994.  Count yourself as a fanatic if you remember RHP Luther Hackman, who pitched for 3 teams from 1999 to 2003 and was the Rockies 6th round pick in 1994.  I shouldn't mention it but I do remember NP'ing Hackman that day, as he topped out at 88 mph with a stiff arm action that kept him from spinning the ball well.  I like Bird much, much more than I liked Hackman that day, that's for sure.

Dahl is starting to challenge OF Byron Buxton for most blog mentions......he singled in 2 runs in the 4th inning with a sharp single to right field.
East Coast Pro to Move to Syracuse in 2012 >>
The East Coast Professional Showcase will end its 5 year run in Lakeland this year and move to Syracuse, New York, for at least the next 3 years and potentially the next 5 years.

John Castleberry, the East Coast Cross Checker for the Giants who serves as the coordinator for the ECP, told me "The City of Syracuse, the Syracuse Chiefs and Chiefs GM John Simone worked together and made us an outstanding offer.  The players will play in the AAA ballpark and get a trip down to Cooperstown as part of the package.  We're very excited about the change to move the event around the East Coast."

This is the 15th year for the ECP.  The showcase was held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the first two years before moving to UNC-Wilmington on the North Carolina Coast for 8 years.  A change in NCAA regulations about using on campus facilities necessitated its move to the Tigers Complex in Lakeland 5 years ago.
Athletics C Brett Sunde >>
A's catcher Brett Sunde (Royal Oak, MI) is showing that a catcher can throw out runners in this event, disproving my previous blog.  In the first inning he narrowly missed throwing out speedster D.J. Davis (6.38 in the 60).  He hosed a runner cleanly at second to end the Royals inning in the third.  The 5-11, 180 lb Sunde has a very short and quick release and has been right on the bag with his first two throws.
Cecchini Turns Another Slick Double Play >>
SS Gavin Cecchini was involved in his second slick double play in as many innings, showing very good range to his left to make a one handed swooping grab of a hard grounder up the middle, deftly step on second base and easily getting the runner at first base to end the inning.

A double into the right field corner by SS A.J. Simcox (son of former Tennessee and Ole Miss hitting coach Larry Simcox) and a single by OF Anthony Kidston (Defiance, OH) scored the first A's run of the game.  The 6-3, 170 lb Simcox is a very interesting prospect with 6.9 speed, an outstanding throwing arm and, not surprisingly, a very sound hitting approach from the right side.
Goree Dazzles on Defense >>
Royals 2B Jalen Goree (Bibb County HS, Brent, AL) had a nice defensive inning in the bottom of the first.  With a runner on first, Goree ranged far to his left to start a slick double play turned by SS Gavin Cecchini (Lake Charles, LA).  The next hitter hit a line drive up the middle that Goree nabbed with a nice diving catch.

LHP Colin Rodgers was the beneficiary of Goree's defense but showed very good stuff nevertheless.  The 6-0 southpaw was 88-91 mph with hsi fastball from a very smooth and easy delivery and had lots of confidence in an 81 mph change up.
McClure Continues to Rake >>
OF D'Vone McClure (Jacksonville, AR) continues to rake for the Royals.  He collected at least his third extra base hit of the event, a hard double down the left field line, to drive in 2 runs, as the Royals took a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

McClure is one of the 9 players at the East Coast Pro who have never been to a Perfect Game event before but it ends up that a number of scouts here have seen him before.  He played against Indians 2nd Round pick RHP Dillon Howard in the Arkansas state championship game last spring.  A scouting director here in the press box who was at that game says that Howard treated him with great respect, feeding him a steady diet of off speed pitches and staying away from his low to mid 90's fastball.
2nd Game: A's vs. Royals >>
The second game of the day will feature the A's vs. the Royals.

RHP Matt Smith (Seneca Valley HS, PA) is on the mound for the A's.  LHP Colin Rodgers (Parkview Baptist HS, LA) opens it up for the Royals.

OF David Dahl announced his presence in the game quickly for the Royals, knocking the second pitch of the game off the left field fence for a double.
Jarmon Continues to Impress >>
PG's Kendall Rogers wrote a short story on OF Jamie Jarmon (Millsboro, DE) when he saw him at the WWBA 17U National Championships in July (http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=5998) that is holding true at the ECP as well. 

The 6-3, 205 lb Jarmon has played very well in Lakeland in all regards.  He has one of the strongest arms of the outfielders, ran a 6.81 in the 60 and has been consistently squaring the ball up hard with a strong line drive swing.  He just drove in 2 runs for the DBacks with a hard single to left field, giving his team a 6-2 lead in the 6th inning.  It's also obvious over the last 3 days that Jarmon really enjoys playing the game and plays with just a little extra edge and confidence than most of the other prospects here.
Catcher's Delimma  >>
Catcher's at a showcase have it rough regardless but all the basic issues seem to be worse at this event and it's not necessarily a reflection on their relative abilities.

First of all, pitchers can hardly be faulted for not doing a good job holding runners on base.  They are concentrating on their stuff and the batter on this type of stage.  In addition, most pitchers at this level don't do a good job of holding runners on and being quick to the plate even under the best of circumstances.  Those are skills that are generally taught and refined at the beginning of college or pro careers.

The result the last 2+ days is that base stealers are approximately 50 for 51 in steals.  That's right, only one runner (by Brian DelaRosa) has been caught stealing.  And while the reason above accounts for many of those, the fact remains that there haven't been very many good throws by the catchers down here.  Lots of long releases and throws that tail hard before reaching second base.  DelaRosa and Zach Bowers (Acworth, GA) are two of the few catchers who seem to throw the ball consistently straight, an overlooked skill for a catcher.

The other problem for catchers is handling pitchers with good stuff that they've never caught before.  It makes blocking pitches especially difficult and maybe 12-14 runs have scored on wild pitches or passed balls alone.

To add insult to injury, so to speak, the Yankees have put PG All American C Nelson Rodriguez in left field on a few occasions as they only have 3 primary outfielders on their roster.  While Rodriguez is one of the best catchers in the country and has swung the bat very well down here, he is as much a left fielder as one of the Molina Brothers.  Thus the 3 unearned runs the DBacks just scored to take a 3-2 lead after 5 innings.
Wiseman Changes Score in One Swing >>
Perfect Game All-American Rhett Wiseman (Mansfield, MA) gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th, hitting the initial pitch from new DBacks pitcher RHP Nick Grant (Houston, DE) off the right centerfield fence and using his 6.51 speed, plus an uncertain relay throw, to leg out an inside the park home run.  The key was Wiseman was full speed right right out of the box and was past second base when the centerfielder picked up the ball.

The Yankees have since upped the score to 2-0 when 3B Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, PA) tripled to straight away centerfield and scored on a passed ball.
Yankees/Diamondbacks Tied 0-0 After 3 Innings >>
No score and only 2 scratch hits after 3 innings of action thus far in Lakeland.

RHP Josh Sborz (McLean, VA) matched Jake Drossner for zero's with approximately the same stuff from the right side; a 86-88 mph fastball, a 75 mph curveball and 77 mph change up, all in the strike zone for the most part.

The Diamondbacks defense has been especially strong early.  3B Corey Seager (Kannapolis, NC) can just flat play defense, his actions are ultra smooth and easy, his release effortless and all his throws to both first and second base right on the chest every time.  SS Landon Lassiter (High Point, NC) always looks better in games than in drills defensively, he has better footwork and shows his arm strength better.
LHP Jake Drossner >>
LHP Jake Drossner (Richboro, PA) is the pitcher for the Yankees in today's opening game against the Diamondbacks.  Drossner topped out at 90 mph at the PG National and has a very projectable 6-3, 190 lb build.  He looks a bit tired this morning, pitching at 86-87 mph, but looks calmer in his delivery than he did earlier in the summer and still has a sharp 74 mph curveball with very good shape and angle to the plate.  He's one of those pitchers that scouts universally like and are excited about but will be on the bubble next spring as to whether they will improve enough to make a run at out of high school or who are better off in college (Maryland, in Drossner's case) for 3 years.
Shared Thoughts >>
I had dinner last night with three very veteran baseball guys (veteran enough that I was the youngest one there), two of whom played in the big leagues and all of whom see players around the country.  Some of the thoughts exchanged included:

--  Favorite player here in Lakeland:  OF Byron Buxton.  "Just give him 400-500 at bats in the minor leagues and see what you have after that.  He does everything so easiliy."

--  Asked to compare the two top pitchers in the 2012 class, Lance McCullers and Lucas Giolito, with the the top pitchers from the last two classes, Jamison Taillon and Dylan Bundy, the strong consensus was 1.  Bundy, 2.  (tie) Giolito and Taillon, 3.  McCullers.

--  When asked one of my favorite questions, how do you rank the big 3 SoCal lefthanders, Hunter Virant, Max Fried and Cole Irvin, each of the three picked a different one (which is why it's one of my favorite prospect questions this year).  They did agree that they would take all 3 over Henry Owens or Tyler Skaggs, the top SoCal southpaws of the last 2 drafts.  I personally would take Fried at this point.

--  They compared Lewis Brinson strongly with Colorado Rockies CF Dexter Fowler, with the qualifiers that Fowler was more polished at the same age but Brinson had more power.  One did note "players with those types of bodies, no hips or ass, long legs, they really have trouble maintaining their strength over the course of a whole season."

-- OF Albert Almora doesn't show any real plus tools but everything he does plays up because he plays the game so easily.  "You don't worry about his tools as much as some guys because you just know that he can play.  The game comes pretty easy to him."

--  RHP Carson Fullmer = RHP Craig Kimbrell

--  The top Puerto Rican players (Carlos Correa, J.O. Berrios, Edwin Diaz) all show their raw tools much better when you see them in Puerto Rico at this age.  "Correa hits bombs at home but he's tentative swinging the bat here.....Berrios and Diaz are bumping 95 on the island and occasionally touching 93 over in the states.  They'll get more comfortable with experience and maturity."  All agreed that this might be the most talented Puerto Rican class since the pre-draft era when players like Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Bernie Williams were signed as free agents in the mid to late 1980's.

--  There was a strong feeling that there would not be a slotting system for draft bonuses in the next CBA.  And there was a 100% consensus that if there was a slotting system that the numbers would be equal to, if not larger, than the current MLB recommended bonuses for each slot.

--
Big Time Pitching Slated for Wednesday >>
In a scenario not unfamiliar to those who organize the Perfect Game showcases, there are a huge number top prospect pitchers scheduled to throw today (thus guaranteeing that the scouts won't bail midway through the event).

Among those who haven't pitched yet are:

RHP Lance McCullers
RHP Walker Weickel
RHP Carson Fulmer
RHP Lucas Sims
RHP Duane Underwood
RHP Clate Schmidt
RHP Edwin Diaz
RHP Jamie Callahan
RHP Walker Buehler
RHP Trey Wingenter
LHP Nathan Kirby
LHP Jake Drossner
RHP Kevin Davis ('13)
RHP Colton Hollon ('13)
LHP Trey Ball ('13)


Should make for a very interesting day!
Perfect Game Alumni in the East Coast Pro >>
I can attest to the accuracy of the following, having just laboriously added the 156 rostered participants on the six East Coast Pro teams into the Perfect Game database for this event.

A total of 147 of the 156 (94.2%) have appeared in and been scouted previously at a Perfect Game event, including WWBA and BCS tournaments.
Unhighlights >>
Not many highlights in the first three innings of the Royals/Diamondbacks tilt, unless the blooper reel is being loaded.  The DBacks lead 3-0, having taken advantage of 3 Royals errors.  The Royals have also had one runner picked off, another thrown out stealing when he didn't slide and third doubled off second base on a fly ball to left field.

The offensive play of the game has been a ringing stand up triple up the right centerfield alley by DBacks SS Landon Lassiter (High Point, NC) that got to the fence in a hurry.
Royals Vs. Diamondbacks/RHP Curt Britt >>
The final game of the day is underway between the Royals (and their contingent of Alabama prospects) and the Diamondbacks.

RHP Curt Britt (Laurinburg, NC) is the starting pitcher for the DBacks and threw very well in the first inning, retiring the side in order.  Britt's firmed up his body nicely since he was throwing 90 mph as a freshman for Canes Baseball at WWBA events and is a well built 6-2, 215 lbs.  He was 89-92 with his fastball and showed some sharpness to a 75-77 mph curveball, although he does noticeably (at least from this angle) slow his body before releasing his breaking ball.
Gushue Double in B9 Wins for Rockies >>
C Tanner Gushue (Boca Raton, FL) hit a 2 out bases loaded double to give the Rockies a come from behind 5-4 win over the Yankees.  Gushue, a switch hitter hitting from the left side off RHP Ryley MacEachern (Saugus, MA), lined his second double of the game cleanly off the wall in the right field corner to clear the bases.

Mariano Rivera, who uncharacteristically did not pitch in the 9th for the Yankees, was not available for comment after the game.
Pitcher's Dual Continues >>
This game has turned into quite the pitcher's dual, as it is 2-2 in the bottom of the 8th and baserunners have been scarce for the last 3-4 innings.

RHP Tucker Simpson (Oxford, AL) is entering his second inning of work for the Yankees.  The big 6-7 right hander throws from a rock back delivery and a long, extended over the top release point that creates lots of angle to the plate.  His approach is dramatically different from what it was at the PG National, as he's being very aggressive with his fastball, which is a good idea when you throw 91-94 mph and throw straight downhill.  Simpson is pumping 94's from the stretch right now, as it appears that he throws harder from the stretch, always a good sign in a pitcher.  His curveball and change up need work, as he shortens his arm circle on both of them, but I really like how aggressive he's being today.
LHP Dylan Silva, Strikeout Specialist >>
LHP Dylan Silva (Lake Worth, FL) struck out 7 hitters in 2 innings at the PG National Showcase in June.  So it really wasn't surprising when he struck out the side in his first inning of work here in Lakeland this afternoon, allowing a single between the K's.  The mystery to me so far is exactly how he does it.  Silva shows the ball in his long arm action and his fastball varies between 84 and 89 mph (he touched 91 mph in Fort Myers).  His curveball grades out as his best pitch but he doesn't throw many of them.  His change up is solid but without much velo difference from his fastball.  For whatever reason, hitters just don't seem to see the ball off Silva and take alot of strikes.  Of course, most of those strikes are on a corner, as Silva spots every pitch with intent.  I'm guessing that Silva has a combination of a) late fastball life, b) delivery deception, c) command and d) stubborness in throwing to corners, that translates to strikeouts.

He reminds me of a pitcher who was picked in the 4th round by the Cubs many years ago and has knocked around the minors every since, Darrin Downs, who was also a SE Florida product.  Downs struck out 6 straight hitters at the ECP in his appearance at this event (2003?), topping out at 87 mph but just overmatching everyone.
Sheppard and Seton Hall Synonymous >>
RHP Michael Sheppard (Seton Hall Prep HS, Florham, NJ) is currently pitching for the Yankees.  The 6-1, 175 lb right hander has been steady at 90-92 in the first inning with an upper 70's curveball from a fast paced delivery.

Sheppard is the son of Mike Sheppard, the head coach at Seton Hall Prep, one of the top high school programs in the Northeast.  His grandfather, Mike Sr., won 998 games as the head coach at Seton Hall U from 1973 to 2003 and his uncle, Rob Sheppard, succeeded Mike Sr. as the Seton Hall head coach in 2004 and has run the team since.

So it might be an upset if young Michael doesn't keep it in the family and pitch for the Pirates in college.  He certainly has the talent to do so.
Brinson Web Gem/Berrios Heat >>
Rockies CF Lewis Brinson made a spectacular catch of a deep drive to centerfield off the bat Yankees SS Matt O'Neil (East Longmeadow, MA) in the 4th inning.  O'Neil crushed a 91 mph fastball from RHP J.O. Berrios (Bayamon, PR) just to the left of the batter's eye in centerfield but the speedy Brinson made a reaching/diving catch almost directly over his head for the out.

Berrios got the other 2 outs of the inning via strikeout, relying mostly on a 91-93 mph fastball with an occasional 79 mph slurve mixed in.  Berrios has an effortless delivery and release which makes his fastball look like it's getting to hitters more quickly than it actually is.
RHP Karl Keglovits >>
RHP Karl Keglovits (Nazareth, PA) has cruised through 2 innings of shutout ball, allowing a single to OF Jesse Winker and seeing a walk erased on a double play.  The 6-6, 230 lb "Kegs" has been relying on a 87-89 mph 2-seamer that he sinks well down in the strike zone.  He'll muscle up for a 90-92 4-seamer once in a while but generally out of the strike zone.  Keglovits also mixes in a 73 mph curveball and 80 mph change up on occasion and works ahead in counts.  One concern I have about him is that he throws cross body from the extreme first base side of the rubber, which both restricts his arm out front and eliminates much of any side to side angle that he might get on his pitches.

Rockies RHP Robert Whalen cruised through the second inning in 5 pitches.
RHP Robert Whalen >>
The Rockies started RHP Robert Whalen (Davenport, FL) on the mound and he showed very good stuff at times, throwing 91-93 mph with good downhill angle and leverage.  Unfortunately, every time he threw an off speed pitch the Yankees hitters eyes lit up, as he's still learning how to throw a change up and curveball.  OF Nathan Mikolas (Kenosha, WI) drove a hanging change up into the right field corner and 1B Chris Shaw (Lexington, MA) hit a curveball hard up the middle to account for 2 runs.  Whalen did throw one 85 mph slider that was by far the best non-fastball that he threw in the inning and a promising pitch. 

RHP Karl Keglovits (Nazareth, PA) on the mound to start for the Yankees.
Yankees Vs. Rockies >>
Yankees and Rockies about to start.  I haven't seen the pitching rotation but a Florida scout told me that the "Big 3" for the Rockies; RHP's Lance McCullers, Walker Weickel and Carson Fullmer (all PG All Americans) aren't going to throw until tomorrow, which should be exciting for everyone except the opposing hitters.

I don't think the uber-talented Rockie team is going to run short of arms, though.  Looking at the roster, that leaves LHP's Dylan Silva and Anthony Seise and RHP's Robert Whalen, Robert Diaz and J.O. Berrios as potential pitchers today.
Buxton Continues to Hit >>
The Astros knocked out 15 hits in 9 innings and defeated the A's 8-3 in the first game of the day.  All games today and tomorrow are 9 innings, as opposed to the 7 inning games yesterday.

OF Byron Buxton continued his impressive hitting, knocking out 3 of the 15 hits.  He had 2 doubles of the exact opposite variety, a smoked ground rule double to left field and a bloop over the third baseman's head, along with a clean single through the hole.  A couple of things that definitely stand out about Buxton so far:  a)  if it's near the plate, he's going to swing.  He may have swung at the first pitch in each of his at bats the past 2 days, b) if he makes contact, Buxton is going to pull the ball.  I don't think he hit a ball to the right of the shortstop even in BP, c) if it spins, he's still likely to swing at it regardless of how close to the plate it is.

Buxton is going to have to work on his patience and pitch recognition, no doubt, but he's fun to watch play and certainly has the tools.
Astros SS/C J.T. Phillips >>
Astros SS/C J.T. Phillips (Midland, GA) has been very impressive as a player who is not currently on the PG 2012 Class Rankings but will be pretty soon.  He's been to a couple of WWBA events with the Florida Bombers and Chain Baseball but this is his first showcase exposure to PG scouts.

Phillips is a strongly built 6-3, 190 lbs.  He won't stay at shortstop as he's a 7.24 runner but he has an exceptional throwing arm that plays at any position.  He eventual position might be behind the plate, as he caught an inning yesterday and looked very comfortable (and showed an absolute hose on his throw down to 2B).  Phillips has been equally strong at the plate, lining a couple of singles (one off a Ty Buttrey 92 mph fastball) and showing raw bat speed and strength.
Web Gem for SS Nick Dawson >>
A's SS Nick Dawson (Bartlett, TN) just made one of the more impressive defensive plays of the event.  Astros C Mendez Elder rolled a hard ground ball up the middle which Dawson gloved in a full dive, popped up quickly and made a strong throw to 1B Clark Pence to get the out at first.

The out, which was the second of the inning, saved a run when the next hitter, OF Byron Buxton, blasted a ground rule double to deep left field and OF Duane Underwood lift a deep fly to right field, which would have scored Elder had he reached base.
C Zach Bowers  >>
C Zach Bowers (Acworth, GA) has been one of the most impressive catchers here in the early going, perhaps the most impressive one overall.  Although to be honest the catchers have been struggling as a whole, both with their blocking (usually a problem at showcases, actually) and with their throwing.

Bowers is listed at 6-2, 185 and has good athletic quickness behind the plate and a very strong throwing arm.  He's really stood out with the bat, as he has very quick hands and a short path to the ball.  He just doubled off the top of the right field wall and scored the Astros second run on a passed ball.
Yankees Top 60 Times >>
Yankees Top 60 Times

OF Fernelys Sanchez (Brooklyn, NY)               6.47
OF Rhett Wiseman (Mansfield, MA)                  6.51
C Max McDowell (North Huntington, PA)          6.81
3B Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, PA)        6.81
OF Nathan Mikolas (Kenosha, WI)                   6.97


The Yankees lost plenty of balls in BP but as a  team they aren't going outrun the ball often, with the exception of Sanchez and Wiseman.
Astros Go Up 1-0 >>
The Astros have taken a 1-0 lead after 2 innings.  SS Matt Creech (Moultrie, GA), the son of former Pirates scouting director and current senior advisor to the GM for the San Francisco Giants, Ed Creech, singled home 3B Jabari Gayle (Stone Mountain, GA), who had opened the inning with a double to LCF.  Creech is a solid all around player with 6.8 speed and a quick right handed swing who has committed to UNC-Charlotte.

RHP David Gonzalez (Gainesville, GA) has been very solid on the mound for the Astros and is in his third inning right now.  He's pitching in the 87-91 mph range, working ahead in counts and showing a hard and sharp biting 75 mph curveball.
Royals Top 60 Times >>
Royals Top 60 Times

OF D.J. Davis (Wiggins, MS)                     6.38
OF Sam Gillikin (Hoover, AL)                    6.65
OF David Dahl (Birmingham, AL)               6.67
OF Matthew Goodson (Oxford, AL)           6.67
OF D'Vone McClure (Jacksonville, AR)        6.70
SS Gavin Cecchini (Lake Charles, LA)        6.78
SS Mikey White (Hoover, AL)                    6.82
OF Jordan Ebert (Foley, AL)                      6.90
SS Addison Russell (Pace, FL)                    6.90
IF Jalen Goree (Brent, AL)                         6.90


Davis' 60 time is an eye opener and the fast time recorded here.....remember these are hand held times, which are typically .10 to .15 slower than laser times.  Davis is a 5-11, 170 left handed hitter who showed surprising power in BP, blasting one ball onto the roof of the building behind the palm trees beyond the RF fence.  He doesn't have a polished swing, as it's somewhat rotational and efforty, but there is no mistaking how the ball comes off his bat.
A's RHP/3B Justin Alleman >>
The first game today is A's (Tennessee north thru Michigan) versus the Astros (Georgia).

The starting pitcher for the A's is RHP/3B Justin Alleman (Holt, MI) and I'm already impressed.  The 6-3, 190 lb right handed hitter was solid in drills and BP and showed nice flair and athleticism in the field, along with a short quick swing for his size.  But he's definitely a primary pitcher for me.  He was 89-91 mph in the first inning with a sharp 75 mph curveball.  His arm is very smooth and he gets very good downhill leverage at release; it would  be hard to imagine that he won't throw harder as he gets stronger.  He also did what no pitcher was able to to yesterday, get Astros 1B Matt Olson out, getting his fastball to the inside part of the plate where the 6-4 Olson couldn't get his arms extended.
Diamondbacks Top 60 Times >>
Diamondbacks Top 60 Times

OF Edward Sappelt (Graham, NC)                6.58
OF Alex Pastorius (Forest Hill, MD)                6.75
OF Steven Duggar (Moore, SC)                    6.77
OF Jamie Jarmon (Millsboro, DE)                  6.81
C Chance Shepard (Wilmington, NC)             6.87
IF Max Schrock (Chapel Hill, NC)                   6.87
SS Landon Lassiter (High Point, NC)              6.91
OF Garrett Brooks (Chesapeake, VA)            6.96

Astros Top 60 Times >>
Astros Top 60 Times

OF Byron Buxton (Baxley, GA)                          6.57
OF Skye Bolt (Woodstock, GA)                         6.61
SS Dansby Swanson (Marietta, GA)                   6.62
OF Alex Liquori (Brooks, GA)                             6.73
OF/RHP Sean McLaughlin (Johns Creek, GA)      6.76
OF/1B Vincent Jackson (McDonough, GA)          6.84
RHP/OF Duane Underwood (Marietta, GA)         6.85
SS Matt Creech (Moultrie, GA)                           6.88
Dahl Shows No Signs of Weakness >>
OF David Dahl earned a spot on the Perfect Game All American Classic roster with his performance at the PG National Showcase in mid-June.  Dahl threw 95 mph from the outfield, ran a sub-6.5 60 and went 5-7 at the plate during the showcase games.  Later it was discovered that Dahl was in the opening stages of Mononucleosis and he's missed most of the time between the PG National and the East Coast Pro recovering his strength.

It certainly looks like he's recovered well.  Dahl is 2-2 at the plate, one a single to center, the other a single to right.  He also had a "Showcase Moment", taking a routine fly ball in right field with a runner on second base who wasn't going anywhere and instead of hitting the cutoff man, unleashed a laser tag throw to third base.
Royals Score First >>
The Royals moved out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning.  CF D'vone McClure (Jacksonville, AR) led off the inning with a line drive triple into the left field corner and scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by C Stryker Trahan (Scott, LA).

McClure is a very interesting athlete who scouts will give plenty of attention to next spring.  He's a 6-3, 190 lb right handed hitter with very good present bat speed and some natural lift in his swing.  He looked like he had at least average speed in legging out the triple to the short side of the field.  He has a verbal commitment to U. Arkansas.
Yankees and Royals Underway >>
The Yankees and Royals are underway in the final game of the day, with no score in the top of the 2nd inning.  LHP Colton Freeman (Birmingham, AL) is on the mound for the Royals, with RHP Jared Price (Mohnton, PA) toeing the hill for the Yankees.  Both have been flashing good stuff, with Freeman topping out at 91 mph and pitching around 88, with Price steady in the 89-90 mph range with a big and sharp 77 mph curveball.  Both have also been consistently behind in counts.

Perfect Game All Americans OF David Dahl (Birmingham, AL) and C Nelson Rodriguez (Brooklyn, NY) have the game's 2 hits.  Dahl has also showed off a plus arm in right field.  3B Addison Russell (Pace, FL) made the defensive play of the game thus far with a leaping catch of a line drive off the bat of C Chris Harvey (Norristown, PA).  Perhaps not coincidentally, both Russell and Harvey are also PG All Americans.
Royals Batting Practice >>
The Royals roster is from the Deep South, which is noteworthy this year because the state of Alabama could have its most talented overall high school class of all-time in their 2012's and make up the majority of the team.  There are also players from Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and a couple from the Florida Panhandle.

Highlights:

SS Addison Russell (Pace, FL):  The PG All-American looks like he's been hitting the weights this summer, as high looked stronger and thicker in his upper half.  He swung the bat very aggressively and hit some bombs.

2B Chase Nyman (Pascagoula, MS):  I've seen Nyman hit before so this isn't a first impression but this is probably what someone like Wade Boggs looked like at the same age.  Not saying that Nyman will be like Boggs but his ability to wait until the ball is deep and line it to all fields with a quick, short swing is as advanced as you will see with a young hitter this age.

SS Gavin Cecchini (Lake Charles, LA):  Cecchini barrels up everything and he has a lot more power than you would think to look at him physically.  The ball isn't carrying to left field this evening like it was earlier in the day but rocketed some balls off the wall with authority.

SS Mikey White (Hoover, AL):  White is a bit stronger than Cecchini and he starts his swing with his hands much further back but the results are the same.  This is the first time I've seen White hit and I was impressed.  You don't see middle infielders at this age with the hand strength to put hard top spin on line drives very often but White has it.

OF Daniel Garner (Madison, AL)/OF Matthew Goodson (Oxford, AL): Both right handed hitters are exceptionally strong, especially Goodson, but do a very nice job of keeping their swings short and quick to the ball and loose and extended through contact.  Goodson just overpowers the ball with raw strength, whereas Garner has some more length and smoothness out front and lifts the ball more consistently.
Yankees Batting Practice >>
The Yankees are not surprisingly made up of players from the Northeast, although there are a smattering of "free agents" from states such as Wisconsin, Georgia and Alabama.  Some highlights:

1B Chris Shaw (Lexington, MA):  The 6-4, 225 lb left handed hitting Shaw hit some absolute skyscrapers, 380'-400' type bombs to right field that stayed in the air for a long time.  Extremely impressive raw power and he didn't look like he was working to hard to hit the ball that high and far.

OF Rhett Wiseman (Mansfield, MA):  Wiseman's swing isn't consistent but he is one of those type of hitters who square up the ball better the harder he swings the bat.  When he's in attack mode the ball explodes off the barrel and often over the right field fence.

C Nelson Rodriguez (Brooklyn, NY):  Rodriguez' power doesn't quite resonate like most other hitters because he very rarely pulls the ball, thus eliminating to "ohhhh....ahhhh" factor seeing the ball hit a building.  However, he did hit a couple balls off the centerfield fence, which is has a 420' sign on it.  That's hitting the ball a long way.

C Scott Williams (Berwyn, PA):  Williams hit the ball in the same direction as Rodriguez and weighs about 40 lbs less, so the ball didn't go quite as far.  But he did show a very loose swing with nice extension and a grade better raw bat speed than he had 6-7 weeks ago, resulting in significantly better raw power.

CF Fernelys Sanchez (Brooklyn, NY):  Rodriguez' running mate from Brooklyn has made noticeable improvement with the bat over the last 6-7 weeks.  His swing from the left side was short and crisp and he squared up the ball consistently.  From the right side his swing was longer but he drove the ball hard to the gaps.
McLaughlin Hits 95 for Astros >>
Sorry for the lack of blogs the last few innings, the game got a bit sloppy with walks and fielding adventures.  The Diamondbacks ended up winning 6-3.

OF/RHP Sean McLaughlin (Johns Creek, GA) of the Astros provided a strong finish, though.  McLaughlin topped out at 93 mph at both the WWBA 17U and 18U championshnips but came out in the 7th inning throwing 92-95 mph while striking out the first two hitters.  He allowed a single to SS Devin Wenzel (Blandon, PA), Wenzel's second hit of the game, before getting the final out on a weak ground ball.
Olson Delivers Again >>
1B Matt Olson of the Astros delivered a virtual duplicate of his second inning double in the fourth inning, lining a 90 mph fastball from RHP Wales Toney (Anderson, SC) straight up the left centerfield alley for another double to drive in OF Byron Buxton (Baxley, GA). 

Buxton, in what is going to become a very familiar scenario for opposing teams, singled to open the inning off a 92 mph Toney heater, then stole second and third despite strong throws from catcher Chance Shepard.  I haven't seen Buxton's 60 time yet but he is an easy plus runner with an explosive first step on the bases.
Crownover Pitch Sequence >>
Part of LHP's Matthew Crownover's ability is a Tom Glavine type ability to change speeds and pitch off his change up.  He just struck out Jamie Jarmon, a right handed hitter, on the following sequence:  92 FB (ball), 74 Chg (strike), 71 Chg (swing/miss), 93 FB (fouled back, good swing by Jarmon), 89 FB (just inside, tried to cut it in), 73 Chg (ball), 91 FB (called strike 3).

Crownover is throwing noticeably harder in the 3rd inning than in the first 2.  In the first inning he topped out at 89 mph with the exception of a 94 mph fastball that all the scouts in the press box discounted as a radar gun glitch on the scoreboard.  Now that the Georgia lefty has inched up with some 92's and 93's, I'm going to give him that 94 in the first inning even if it was completely out of context to his other fastballs that inning.
Seager Picks Up Infield Trifecta >>
Diamondbacks 3B Cory Seager tied the all-time baseball record held by countless third baseman throughout history, recording 3 assists in the top of the third inning, the predictable result of Ty Buttrey's 91 mph sinkers.  Seager made a nice backhand with a quick release and strong throw on the first of the three ground balls, followed by two routine one hoppers.
Olson Solves Buttrey >>
The Astros pulled back to a 3-1 deficit in the top of the 2nd inning off RHP Ty Buttrey, who continues to hold in the 91-94 range, even out of the stretch.  1B Matt Olson (Lilburn, GA), who really hit the ball well during BP as well, took a 91 mph fastball hard up the left centerfield alley for a leadoff double.  He was driven in on a 2 out single to right field off the bat of SS J.T. Phillips (Midland, GA).  Both Olson and Phillips are left handed hitters and lefties look much more comfortable at this point off Buttrey, who hasn't thrown a change up.
Seager Gives Diamondbacks Early Lead >>
IF Corey Seager singled in a run off fellow Perfect Game All-American LHP Matthew Crownover to give the Diamondbacks an early 1-0 lead over the Astros.  OF Edward Sappelt led off the inning with an infield single and advanced to second on an error, then to third on an infield out.  Seager then plated him with a well placed single to left field that just eluded the third baseman.

C Chance Shepard (Wilmington, NC) made the score 3-0 with a 2 out double up the left centerfield alley off a change up that Crownover left up in the zone.

Crownover pitched at 89 mph and topped out at 91 and mixed in plenty of 73 mph curveballs and 76 mph change ups.  On the positive side, Shepard's drive to left centerfield was the only hard hit ball of the inning.
Buttrey Impresses with Velo and Movement >>
RHP Ty Buttrey (Matthews, NC) was 91-94 mph in his first inning of work for the Diamondbacks in game 2, throwing exclusively fastballs.  Not only was the velocity numbers impressive but the late, hard sinking and boring action that Buttrey got on his fastball was exceptional at times.  He destroyed 2 bats (barrels rolling out onto the infield dirt) on 91 mph sinkers and struck out the third hitter.
Diamondbacks BP Highlights >>
The Diamondbacks roster is comprised of players from the Carolinas, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland.

IF Max Schrock (Chapel Hill, NC):  The NC Tar Heels are going to rue missing out on their hometown hitter, who has verbally committed to 2-time defending national champion South Carolina.  Schrock can just flat hit and despite being 5-9 can drive the ball out of the park as well.  His size and relatively modest run/throw tools don't profile him as a pro type player out of high school, so he will likely end up in the middle of the Gamecock order.

OF Jamie Jarmon (Millsboro, DE):  The 6-3, 205 Jarmon got some nice recognition last month in Marietta and it's easy to see why.  He has a strong swing with nice bat speed and can drive the ball out of the park.  He'll learn to use his hands better as he becomes more comfortable with wood.

IF Corey Seager (Kannapolis, NC):  PG All American Seager stands out with his 6-4, 195 lb build and the leverage and bat speed he produces in his swing.  He still hasn't shown me much lift in his swing this summer but that's something that can definitely develop with time and repetition.

OF Edward Sappelt (Graham, NC):  Sappelt is the brother of Reds prospect David Sappelt, one of the top hitters in AAA right now.  He has very quick hands from both sides of the plate and a simple swing approach.  After showing mostly a line drive/contact approach for most of BP, he opened up his swing and hit a bomb over the right field fence, which caught everyone's attention.


Astros Batting Practice Highlights >>
The Astros team is comprised of players from the state of Georgia.  The Astros area scout for Georgia, Lincoln Martin, threw batting practice (as he has at many Perfect Game events) and is simply one of the best BP pitchers anywhere.  Some highlights included:

OF Byron Buxton (Baxley, GA):  Buxton created a sensation at the WWBA age group national championships in Marietta during July with his outstanding athleticism (3.96 from the right side, 94 mph off the mound).  This is the first time I've seen him hit and I was impressed.  His swing is a bit grooved and he gets his hands under the ball frequently but it's an easy, tension free stroke with bat speed and nice extension out front.  The ball carried well off the bat and he peppered the wall in left center field with some consistency.

OF Rock Rucker (Marietta, GA):  Big Rock just keeps getting better every time I see him.  He showed easy pull power during BP, squared everything up and really was able to get his hands in and through inside pitches well.  Scouts have to be very impressed.

SS Avery Romero (St. Augustine, FL):  Romero squared up just about every pitch in 2 rounds, driving the ball consistently way up the alley's.  He looked very polished and under control and the ball really jumps off his bat well.

C Zach Bowers (Acworth, GA):  Bowers tends to drift/dive into contact but has very fast hands and creates alot of bat speed.  Get him a bit more balanced and directional and he's going to be crushing the ball with more consistency.

OF Skye Bolt (Woodstock, GA):  I'm not a big fan of Bolt's basic swing mechanics, especially from the left side, but you can't argue with his raw bat speed (especially from the right side) or the results he gets in games.  He's a prospect who is just going to keep improving as he gets older and stronger.
Rockies Top 60 Times >>
OF Lewis Brinson (Tamarac, FL)                        6.60
SS Richie Martin (Brandon, FL)                           6.64
SS Adrian Marin (Miami, FL)                               6.65
RHP/OF Walker Weickel (Orlando, FL)                6.75
OF Albert Almora (Hialeah, FL)                           6.78
IF Jezzi Valentin (Manati, PR)                             6.88
SS Carlos Correa (Santa Isabel, PR)                   6.91
SS Brandon Lopez (Mariner, FL)                         6.96

Top 60 Times: A's >>
Teams run the 60 before their first game at the ECP.  Pitchers generally don't run and times are measured by stopwatch, not by laser.

Top 60 Times:  A's

OF Cam Gibson (Grosse Point Farms, MI)          6.70
IF Xavier Turner (Sandusky, OH)                        6.75
LHP/OF Trey Ball (New Castle, IN)                      6.90
SS A.J. Simcox (Knoxville, TN)                            6.92
IF Kyle Smith (Old Hickory, TN)                           6.95
2B Tommy Mirabelli (Rocky River, OH)                7.00
Lakeland Weather >>
The weather forecast for the next 3 days is 50-60% chance of rain each day, which is going to make for a long couple of days.  The Diamondbacks batting practice is currently being delayed by a light rain.
Carmichael Finishes Up No-Hitter >>
RHP Jason Carmichael (Cape Coral, FL) threw a hitless 7th inning to complete a no-hitter for the Rockies in their 2-0 win over the A's in the first game of the ECP.  LHP Tyler Pike, RHP Nick Travieso and RHP Zach Elfin each pitched 2 hitless innings as well.

The score was announced more accurately by the PA announcer as "Albert Almora 2, A's 0", as both Rockies runs were on solo home runs by the Rockie outfielder.
Almora Goes Deep Again >>
OF Albert Almora (Hialeah, FL) went deep for the second time in the game, blasting a mid 80's fastball from RHP Jake Post (Valparaiso, IN) over the left field fence about 30 feet to the left of his first home run.  Almora's 2 home runs represent the only 2 runs of the game thus far, which is now in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Almora lined out to right field in his second at bat.
Elfin Shows Improvement from PG National >>
RHP Zach Elfin (Chuluota, FL) has the type of body (6-5, 200 lbs) and looseness that gets scout's attention right away.  He topped out at 89 mph at the Perfect Game National in mid-June but had problems keeping his delivery directional to the plate, which affected his command and the consistency of his pitches.  From what he's shown today, he's starting to refine his mechanics and is staying on-line to the plate much better.  The result is a fastball that has touched 92 mph with more life and a improved curveball with more velocity.  Elfin's change up is also a very nice pitch.
Name "Adjustment" Doesn't Slow Valentin >>
Jesumel Valentin Diaz (Manati, PR) is on the roster at the East Coast Pro at Jezzi Valentin, which drew some comments from scouts as the first "Jezzi" they'd ever seen on a roster.  The switch-hitting Valentin hit the ball hard from both sides of the plate in batting practice and promptly lined a single up the middle in his first game at bat.  He's going to be a very high average hitter at the next level with his ability to square the ball up hard both left handed and right handed.
Travieso Brings the Heat >>
RHP Nick Travieso (Pembroke Pines, FL) topped out at 95 during his first inning of work and sat at 92-93 mph for two innings for the Rockies.  Travieso, who has a very solid 6-3, 205 lb build, threw to spots with his fastball and had very good arm side running action at times.  He flashed some bite on a 79-83 mph slider but tends to lower his elbow on this pitch and loose the angle and spin he'd get from maintaining his fastball release point.
Pike Cruises Through 2 East Innings >>
LHP Tyler Pike (Winter Haven, FL) cruised through 2 easy innings of work for the Rockies, retiring 6 straight hitters, 4 via strikeout.  Pike is a lean and loose 6-1 southpaw with an extended high 3/4's release point that really gets the ball moving downhill well to the plate.  Pike pitched primarily with a 89-91 mph fastball that he spots well to both sides of the plate.  His curveball has some depth but he throws it soft at 69-71 and will have to tighten it up at the next level.
RHP Stephen Gant Recovers Well >>
RHP Stephen Gant (Parsons, TN) recovered well after allowing Albert Almora's game opening home run, striking out the next 3 hitters in the first inning and throwing three 1-hit innings (a Jesse Winker single up the middle) after that first pitch.  Gant topped out at 93 mph in the first inning and settled around 90 mph.  He has a loose 6-1, 175 lb build and a quick arm.  He'll flash some potential with a 79 mph slider but tends to lean off his low 70's curveball and lack identity between his curve and slider.  Gant also drops down to low 3/4's at times against right handers for a different look.
Almora Starts Game 1 in Style >>
OF Albert Almora (Hialeah, FL) started Game 1 in style, crushing the first pitch of the game, a 90 mph fastball from RHP Stephen Gant (Parsons, TN) off the light tower in left field.  Almora hit 3-4 balls out in batting practice as well.  He has a lot more power than his slender 6-2, 170 lb frame would indicate and is just going to keep getting stronger.
Athletics Batting Practice >>

The A’s roster is made up of players from Ohio, Michigan,Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania.  Some of the players who stood out for meincluded:

SS A.J. Simcox (Farragut HS, TN):  Simcox has a loose 6-3, 170 lb build thatprojects very well.  He has a quickcontrolled right handed swing and squared the ball hard up to right centerfield.

C Brett Sunde (Bishop Foley HS, MI):  The 5-11, 180 lb Sunde reminds me a lot of thetop 2011 Michigan high school prospect, C Eric Hasse.  He has a simple short swing with very quickhands and the bat speed to drive the ball out of the park when he pulls it.

1B Clark Pence (Greenfield Central HS, IN):  Pence has obvious strength at 6-1, 210 lbsand keeps his swing short and crisp for a big power hitter.  The ball jumped off his bat hard to themiddle of the field.

IF Xavier Turner (Sandusky HS, OH):  Turner is a well put together 6-2, 210 lbsbut is loose and quick with his swing and the ball jumps hard.

 

Rockies Batting Practice >>

The Rockies team is composed of players from Florida,almost all of whom were at the Perfect Game National Showcase or in Mariettafor the WWBA age group championships over the last month.  So there weren’t many unfamiliar swingsduring batting practice.

One extremely impressive hitter I hadn’t seen before wasOF Lewis Brinson of Coral Springs HS. Brinson is a lean and wiry 6-4, 180 lb right handed hitter with someserious bat speed and whip in his swing. He lofted a couple of balls onto the berm behind the left field fenceand consistently drove the ball deep into the alleys.

There are four Perfect Game All Americans among theRockies position players and all looked very good in batting practice.  1B Keon Barnum was very under control in hisswing approach and hammered the ball up the left centerfield gap.  OF Jesse Winker was content to line the ballto left field in his first round but turned on pitches the second time throughand lifted at least 3 balls out of the park. OF Albert Almora was outstanding in all respects, squaring up everythingand showing power to all fields.  SSCarlos Correa didn’t loft the ball but showed very good bat speed andconsistent hard line drive contact.

As he usually does, C Tomas Nido put on a show.  Nido’s has an all or nothing swing approach,with very busy hands in his load and plenty of effort in his swing but hisstrength and bat speed are in the plus area and he crushes the ball. 

 

East Coast Pro Showcase Opens >>
The East Coast Professional Showcase started this morning at Tigertown in Lakeland, Florida.  The four-day event features six teams of top prospects from the Eastern part of the country and is completely run and organized by pro scouts.  The set up is a bit different than the standard Perfect Game Showcase but the end result in evaluating all the talented players much the same.

Check in frequently over the next 4 days for all the scouting highlights.