Not a member yet?
Subscribe Now!


2012 Caribbean Showcase

 



Game Summaries -- Gold Team >>
Game Results:  Navy 2, Gold 1;  Steel 3, Gold 0;  Gold 1, Columbia Blue 1;  White 2, Gold 0


The Gold Team was arguably the most athletic team of the 2012 Caribbean Showcase. They boasted the two best 60 yard dash times of the entire showcase. They also look to be the team of the future, as the class of 2014 had several promising representatives.


2013 MIF Christian Padin (San Juan, PR) posted what would have been the top 60 yard dash time at 90-95% of PG showcases, but had to settle for second with a very impressive result of 6.49. He also threw 90 mph across the infield and was a standout in game action. He drove a ball back up the middle that registered at 90 mph and drove the ball to the gaps with authority on a regular basis. He uses his lower half well in his swing and to set his feet quickly to make good balanced throws with a good release time. He stood out defensively in games as well and had a breakout performance this weekend. He was one of many players who was unknown to the PG scouting staff coming in, but firmly established himself on the radar. Padin was arguably the biggest breakout for the Gold team and belongs in the discussion for biggest breakouts of the entire showcase.

2014 OF Nelson Jorge Pagan (Patillas, PR) is a bit raw compared to a lot of the 2013 prospects in attendance, but he showed off tantalizing raw tools and had moments that gave a glimpse as to what may become the norm for him. He showed good raw hitting tools from both sides of the plate during batting practice, with quick hands, good bat speed and projectable strength. He is less raw from the right side but his swing has a ways to go, due to a lack of coaching and/or repetitions rather than a lack of athletic ability. In the workout he ran a 6.81 60 yard dash, threw 90 mph from the outfield and 82 mph from the infield. He has a very projectable 5-foot-11 162 pound frame with a lot of room to fill with a slender athletic build. He plays the game with energy and enthusiasm, both positive signs that he will refine his game over time and develop the necessary skills to unlock his immense raw physical tools, though he admittedly has a ways to go.

2014 OF Francisco Sanchez (San Juan, PR) has a chance to surpass 2014 OF/C Brandon Laboy (Coral Springs, FL) as the top power hitter from this squad. Laboy's power already shows itself at times thanks to his strong 6-foot-1 184 pound build and hitting approach. Sanchez has the ingredients to develop plenty of power himself, though he lacks the strength for it at present with a projectable 6-foot-3 170 pound frame. Sanchez ran a 6.73 60 yard dash and threw 90 mph from the outfield. Sanchez was also promising on the mound where he worked 81-83 mph with his fastball.

2013 MIF Felipe Rivera Adorno (Bayamon, PR) dropped jaws with his 6.45 60 yard dash time, he then threw 84 mph across the infield and 85 from the outfield. He pairs his speed oriented game with a well-suited short compact swing and contact approach at the plate. He has quick hands and a confident approach, showing the ability to battle deep in counts and put the ball in play.

2014 MIF Jose Antonio (Naguabo, PR) showed a knack for hitting live pitching. His run/throw tools were very solid, especially for an underclassmen, but what stood out most about him was his hit tool. He has a sound swing with good use of his lower half, hitting against a stiff front side with good bat speed. He went 2-for-2 as the leadoff hitter in the Gold team's first game and would tack on a pair of stolen bases and had an off the bat velocity of 87 mph. The overall package has yet to emerge as he is a physically immature 6-foot 160 pound teenager, but the underlying ingredients to develop into a prospect seem to be present.
Game Summaries -- Team Columbia Blue >>
Game Results:  Columbia Blue 5, Purple 0;  Orange 3, Columbia Blue 1;  Columbia Blue 1, Gold 1;  Columbia Blue 1, Navy 1


Columbia Blue was a rare team for the Caribbean Showcase in that the top prospects that had already made names for themselves in the past at this event were pitchers. They also can make a strong case as the deepest team of the showcase, as evidenced by the number of players who warranted lengthy discussion below:

2013 RHP Joe Jimenez (Bayamon, PR) is the top ranked pitching prospect from Puerto Rico's 2013 class. Jimenez showed his usual velocity, running his fastball up to 90 mph. But what stood out most about his performance on Saturday was his refined delivery. His mechanics are improved, showing better balance and throwing with less effort and maintaining a downhill plane to his delivery. The ball comes out of his hand well and he has a chance to throw harder down the line, he still has some work to do on his low 70s curveball that can get flat and slurvy at times, but he posses the arm speed to spin the ball well with better mechanics.

2013 RHP Dulvis Borjas (Del Ray Beach, FL) has made a name for himself by throwing well at PG tournaments over the past two years, but this was his first showcase event. He was his usually effective self, allowing just one hit over four shutout innings while striking out seven. Borjas topped out at 88 mph with his fastball while sitting a steady 86-87 for most of his dominant outing on Sunday. His fastball showed life, getting on hitters quickly without a ton of effort to his delivery. He located his fastball well and didn't have much need to mix his pitches, though he flashed a solid 72 mph curveball and a promising 73 mph changeup with good running action to the arm side.

While the two right handers were impressive, several position prospects also stood out.

2013 OF/LHP Jeremie Gonzalez (Barceloneta, PR) showed interesting hitting tools from both sides of the plate. He was more advanced from his natural (left side), showing draftable hitting tools and projectable power. His right handed batting practice session was quite promising as well, though he will need more reps to develop as a right handed hitter in order to succeed from both sides at the next level. In live at-bats Gonzalez went 3-for-6 with a single, double and triple, crushing hard line drives into both gaps and hit well from both sides of the plate. In the workout he threw 87 mph from the outfield and ran a 6.87 60 yard dash, and showed good routes and instincts defensively during games. He also got on the mound and worked 81-83 from a low 3/4 arm slot and showed an ability to impart solid spin on his curveball. He is a projectable player who Puerto Rican scouts will be keeping an eye on this spring.

2013 Josue Marcano (Loiza, PR) was a late addition to the event and turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Not only did he really impress with his catch and throw abilities behind the plate, but he also showed a very good hit tool on the offensive side. Marcano went 2-for-5 officially, though he was robbed of a hit on a (very) questionable call at 1B. He also stole a pair of bases and showed very good speed for a catcher (as evidenced by his 6.78 60 yard dash time and several home-to-first times in the low 4.3 range). He popped mid 1.9-low 2.0 times consistently and received well behind the plate and showed an advanced overall feel for the game. His size (5-foot-8 185 pounds) will scare off some scouts, but those who emphasize actual ability over traditional molds will appreciate and be very interested in Marcano.

Marcano was no the only quality catcher on the Columbia Blue team. 2013 C/OF Luis Ciuro (Santa Isabel, PR) was very solid in his own right. His best pop time during games was a 1.96 between innings, and an impressive 1.86 during the workout (with an equally impressive 83 mph velocity). He also threw 92 mph from the outfield and ran a 6.91 60 yard dash. Ciuro went 2-for-5 in the games with a pair of stolen bases and posted home to first times of 4.28-4.33 from the right side. He showed good bat speed and the ability to lift the ball with a swing that projects to generate power as he matures physically.

2013 OF/3B Francisco Javier Cruz (Caguas, PR) showed off big raw power in batting practice after displaying the requisite outfield tools to justify the prospect status of the Miami Hurricanes recruit. He threw 91 mph from the outfield and ran a 6.88 60 yard dash, his throws showed good carry both in the workout and in game situations. While he had nothing to show for it in the box score, Cruz hit several balls deep into left field at Estadio Roberto Clemente that would have been Home Runs in most ballparks.

2012 OF Rafael Otero (Vega Alta, PR) turned heads with his performance in batting practice. He showed legitimate power from both sides of the plate, a rare feat at this level. Otero has prospect level run/throw tools, with a 6.94 60 yard dash and 91 mph outfield arm, but it his legitimate switch hitting ability that will make him a prospect to follow at Junior College this spring.

2013 OF Jason Morales (Juncos, PR) smacked a pair of doubles in game action and showed off a strong arm in the outfield. He threw 90 mph during the workout and showed solid athleticism and in the field in spite of his strong physical build. He has a chance to be a very good hitter at the college level and beyond, showing quick hands, good bat speed and strength at contact. He has some adjustments to make to his swing, as is the case with nearly all 17 year old hitters, but the raw tools are present to become a very solid hitter.

Game Summaries -- Team Navy >>
Game Results:  Gold 2, Navy 1;  Navy 3, Orange 0;  Navy 2, White 1;  Navy 1, Columbia Blue 1


Apart from the "famous" White team, which boasts several players who were already firmly established prospects coming into the weekend, the Navy team was the squad that was the highest priority for the numerous scouts in attendance to get an extended look at.

2013 SS Edwin Diaz (Vega Alta, PR) made waves at the 2012 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, FL a few short weeks ago and had established himself as a high level prospect. Diaz showed very impressive tools in spite of a surprisingly disappointing showing in the 60 yard dash (7.10). His defensive actions were very smooth and athletic, his arm strength is well above average for shortstop with a chance to develop into a plus tool. His speed plays faster than his 60 time would suggest as well, but more importantly, he has standout offensive tools. Thanks to the deep dimensions of Estadio Roberto Clemente combined with the very heavy air, Diaz only went 0-for-5 in game action, but hit every ball very hard. He flew out to the warning track in straight away CF twice and the infield once, posting hangtimes of 5.96, 6.12 and 6.38 on his fly balls. He also played very well defensively in games, highlighted by a perfect throw from two steps past the infield on a relay from the left fielder to the plate to cut down a runner attempting to score from 1B on a double. His plus bat speed comes with ease and his overall game has a smooth and athletic quality that will make him a very attractive draft prospect come June.

The attention to the Navy team from scouts who were there to see Diaz was greatly beneficial to 2013 1B/OF Juan Soriano (Arroyo, PR). Soriano has a body type that resembles that of Perfect Game's current No. 3 ranked player in the class of 2013, Justin Williams. A physical specimin, Soriano stands at 6-foot-2 226 pounds of lean angular muscle, and the number 22 jersey he wore also invokes a loose body type comparison to Cuban MLB product Yoenis Cespedes. In spite of his size, Soriano is a good athlete, posting a very respectable 6.94 60 yard dash time, while throwing 85 mph from the outfield and 84 mph from 1B. He showed in games that he has the instincts and athleticism to play a corner outfield position, though he also looked like a natural fit at 1B, giving clubs some flexibility with how to utilize the offensive minded prospect. It is with the bat where Soriano stands out most. He showed tremendous raw power during batting practice, hammering very loud line drives to all fields. While he isn't as polished as the elite hitters in the 2013 class, his in-game at-bats were very encouraging. He continued to drive the ball with authority in every direction and showed the ability to stay back on breaking balls as well. He was one of several breakout performers who made a big impression on the PG scouting staff this weekend.

The 2013 draft class is shaping up to be the year of the catcher on the national level, and that is no different in Puerto Rico. C Carlos Diaz (Guaynabo, PR) was impressive in both the workout and in games. He popped at 1.85 in the workout with an 80 mph throwing velocity and ran well for a catcher with a 6.81 60 yard dash time. His batting practice session was very good and he blasted both a double and a triple in game action and showing an ability to drive the ball to the opposite field with authority.

2013 OF Carlos Baerga Jr (Bayamon, PR) didn't have the results to back it up but he showed the potential to hit very well. His swing mechanics cause him to give up his front side early and pull his momentum towards first base coming out of the left handed batters box. This saps him of the ability to drive the ball with authority and makes covering the outside part of the strike zone very difficult, but it is an adjustment that can be made with work. What is encouraging was the hand-eye coordination that he showed and quick hands that allowed him to make good contact at times against live pitching in spite of the mechanical hindrance.

2014 MIF Milton Rivera (Humacao, PR) was an encouraging underclassmen on a team that was particularly notable for their 2013 class. Rivera showed an aggressive swing with good bat speed and the potential to develop more strength as he matures physically and to drive the ball with more authority as he learns to incorporate his lower half into his swing more. Rivera ran a 6.61 60 yard dash and went 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs, a Run and a stolen base in live game action.

The biggest speed demon on the Navy team was 2013 MIF Alexander Rivera-Centeno (Arecibo, PR), who ran a very impressive 6.51 60 yard dash and continued to utilize his speed in game actions. He legged out an infield single and stole a couple bases. He also showed a lot of toughness after getting hit in the wrist with an 86 mph fastball. The trainer attempted to check on him but Rivera was not interested in interrupting his at-bat, waving off the trainer before stepping back in to battle for another six pitches in a very impressive at-bat.
Game Summaries -- Team Steel >>
Game Results:   Steel 3, Purple 3;   Steel 0, White 0;   Steel 3, Gold 0;   Orange 3, Steel 2


Steel was a very fun team to watch.  While they didn't have any of the huge tool monsters such as Jan Hernandez, Johneshwy Fargas or Jacob Cordero, the team played an aggressive and fun type of baseball and had lots of individual players to bear down on.

Two of my personal favorites to watch were 2013 OF Nicholas Lugo and 2013 C Gerald Ceballos.  Both would be high level college types for me that scouts would have to see and account for but who would be in demand by any school in the country.  Lugo is a strong 5-9/180 right handed hitter with 6.7 speed.  His best tool/skill is his aggressive pull oriented swing that resulted in very hard game and BP line drive contact and some surprising power.  Every time he came up I made some sort of comment like "Lugo is going to crush a line drive to left field" and he often backed me up.  Lugo did provide on scary moment on Sunday when he shattered his bat on an inside fastball he didn't quite get around on and saw the barrel fly into his home team third base dugout as the ball rolled foul.  While one of his teammates nursed a cut on his cheek, Lugo got another bat and....line a single to left field.

Ceballos is a big and strong 6-1/200 catcher who graded out extremely well in batting practice, especially for his power.  He also is surprisingly fast for his size, running a 6.86 in the 60.  He hit well in games but was more impressive for his defense and intangibles.  He hosed one runner at 2.02 on the bag and showed nice hands and was very aggressive blocking balls.  Maybe more impressive was the non-statistical stuff.  Ceballos was the player who was always in the bullpen warming up pitchers, hustled everywhere and was very vocal and loud on the field in his leadership abilities.

2013 SS/RHP Joshua Santos-Torres was probably the best "tools" player on the Steel team.  At 5-10/155 he isn't that imposing physically but ran a 6.75 60 and threw 90 mph in the infield drills.  Santos-Torres didn't collect any hits in the game, primarily because he kept putting the ball in the air, but showed very good bat speed.  His defensive tools play in the middle of the field.  He also made an appearance on the mound, topping out at 87 mph with good spin on a 73 mph curveball in an easy inning.

2013 RHP Phillip Ortiz struck out 5 hitters in 3 shutout innings while allowing only 1 hit against the prospect laden White team and was very impressive.  The 6-0/180 Ortiz topped out at 87 mph while showing a feel for a mid-70's slider and sinking 74 mph change up.  Maybe the most impressive thing he did was very aggressively challenge the top hitters on the White team early in the count and in the strike zone with his best stuff.  Ortiz was very confident in his abilities and got results and will be recognized for it.

A player that the scouts should see next spring in Florida is 2013 OF Jose Bonilla.  Bonilla attends the Bucky Dent Academy in Delray Beach, Florida and impressed with 6.5 speed and very quick left handed bat that produced a couple of hard hit balls, including a ringing triple up the LCF gap.  He was also on the receiving end of teammate's Nicholas Lugo's bat barrel and we're thankful he wasn't seriously hurt.


Game Summaries -- Team Orange >>
Game Results:  Navy 3, Orange 0;   Orange 3, Columbia Blue 1;  Orange 3, Steel 2;   Orange 3, Purple 0

The Orange team was by far the youngest "team" at the showcase and was made up mostly of 2014 and 2015 prospects.  But they certainly didn't show that on the field, going an impressive 3-1 as a team.

2014 multi-position prospect Michael Arroyo went 2-6 and consistently hit the ball hard.  He looks a bit bigger and stronger than his 6-1/180 listed size and has obvious athleticism, running a 6.84 and throwing 89 mph from the outfield while popping a 1.97/80 during drills.  Arroyo's ability to play outfield, first base and catcher with skill stood out defensively.  He didn't play much catcher but looked very comfortable back there and that could be his best future position.

2014 OF Marco Rivera Rios is a very interesting young 6-0/180 outfield prospect.  He ran 6.69 and threw 94 mph during drills and went 3-6 in games with a couple of solid Rbi hits.  He's a solid all around player who has the frame and tools to keep improving as he gains strength.

I mentioned in the BP blog that I would pay close attention to 2014 SS Kevin Rivera in the games after really liking his left handed swing in BP.  I did and liked what I saw, especially when Rivera blasted a triple up the right centerfield alley.  Rivera is a 6.7 runner with good shortstop tools, although I don't know whether it is a good use of his time to hit from the right side.

The most impressive pitcher for the Orange was 2013 LHP Pedro Mercado Ramirez.  The 6-1/156 southpaw struck out 7 hitters in 4 shutout innings against Columbia Blue, using an 80 mph fastball and big breaking 63 mph curveball to keep hitters off balance.  He pitched very aggressively and has some projection in his young and slender build.
Game Summary -- Team Purple >>
Game Results:   Orange 3, Purple 0;   Purple 3, Steel 3;   Columbia Blue 5, Purple 0;   White 3, Purple 2

While there were many pitchers who threw harder than 2014 LHP Joel Huertas Ortiz, he was likely the top pitching prospect at an event that was very top heavy with position prospects.  Huertas has a very nice 6-2/190 build that combines strength with projectability.  He topped out at 84 mph with his fastball from a very sound and repeatable delivery but his big weapon was a 71 mph curveball that was by a wide margin the best breaking ball at the showcase, a sharp breaking hammer that Huertas could throw for strikes at any time.

2013 Wilfredo Rivera Vega had some of the best arm strength of any pitcher at the event, topping out at 88 mph with good arm speed developed from a strong 6-2/200 frame.  He'll have to improve his breaking ball for the next level but the fastball is there.

2013 OF Jacob Cordero Kuilan was simply one of the most impressive prospects at the showcase both in games and in the workouts.  He went 4-5 in the games, including a double, and stole 4 bases.  He ran 4.2 and 4.3 from the right side despite a big right handed swing and ran a 6.59 in the 60.  His 98 mph arm strength from the outfield spoke for itself.  Cordero also stood out on the field and in the dugout for his upbeat and confident personality.

2013 C Luis Raul Torres went 2-6 over the 4 games but the 2 hits were among the loudest of the event, both crushed doubles off the right field wall.  The left handed hitter did the same thing in batting practice, pulling the ball very hard with loft power.  His challenge will be to improve his defensive skills behind the plate.

2013 C James Cardona had one of the most impressive single swings of the game action, taking an 88 mph from RHP Joe Jimenez (Columbia Blue) when Jimenez was completely dominating and driving it hard up the LCF gap for a double.  He hit a couple of other balls hard that ended up in outs.

5-7/150 OF Alexander Rios ended up as one of the favorites of the PG scouting staff.  He was outstanding defensively in both left field and centerfield while showing very good instincts and range.  He has a short and quick left handed swing that has surprising pop in it....he hit one long foul ball that had home run distance.  Rios is the type that would excel in a leadoff/centerfield role at the right college.
Starting the Game Summaries -- White Team >>
The way the 1st Perfect Game Caribbean Showcase was structured was different that most PG showcases.  And while challenging....playing 14 games in 2 days on one field with a minimum of breaks between games (the "record" for quickest turnover was only 4 minutes), the format was both necessary and successful.  Necessary because of the unexpected 137 player turnout and successful because all the players had a great opportunity to showcase their talents.

Instead of blogging each of the 14 games, all of the 5 or 6 inning variety, we've decided to summarize the action by each of the seven teams.

We'll start with the very talented White team.

Game Results:   Navy 2, White 1;   White 3, Purple 2;   White 0, Steel 0;  White 2, Gold 0

The prospect star of the Showcase was 2013 SS/OF Johneshwy Fargas.  Fargas attended the 2012 Southeast Top Showcase and was very good, receiving a PG grade of 9 while running a 6.81 and throwing 92 from the outfield and 90 mph from the infield.  He bumped up his running time significantly down here, running a 6.55 while throwing 97 OF/88 IF.  But where Fargas was most impressive was with the bat.  He blasted a leadoff home run, the only home run of the showcase, as the leadoff batter in the first game on Sunday, and also added a triple and a single while showing extreme aggressiveness and speed on the bases.  Fargas scored 3 of the White's 6 runs.  His PG grade from this event will be a 10 and he'll make a huge jump from his present 474 in the 2013 class rankings.

PG All American SS Jan Hernandez only was 1-4 with a Sacrifice Fly in game action but hit the ball hard many times and hit a couple of long foul home runs.  He showed more of a pull approach during games and BP than he has previously but the overall velocity of the pitchers he faced wasn't like he saw in some of his summer action.  He has outstanding bat speed and power potential and has a real chance to be a first round pick next June.

2013 SS Roy Morales only went 1-5 with a double but hit a couple of long fly balls that were held up by heavy air at Roberto Clemente Stadium.  His raw power graded out as a 10 in BP and is an obvious plus tool.  Morales will likely move to third base right away at the next level and one scout even mentioned catching as a potential destination for the 6-2/190 strong armed right handed hitter.

2013 SS Alexander De La Cruz showed very well on both sides of the ball.  He went 3-5 during games with a couple of well hit fly balls as his only outs.  He also ran 6.93 and threw 89 mph during infield drills.  He took the mound as a secondary pitcher and was 83-85 mph with a very nice 74 mph slider as well.

2013 C Rene Melendez impressed as one of the best defensive catchers at the showcase and when you're one of the best defensive catchers in Puerto Rico, that stands out.  He has a strong body at 6-1/190, soft hands receiving and was down to 1.95 on his throws in games.

2013 Eduardo Javier Jimenez is listed as a primary third baseman but based on this look he has a higher ceiling as a right handed pitcher.  He was a bit raw with his command but topped out at 87 mph and showed good feel for both a 71 mph curveball and a 73 mph change up.  He maintained his velocity very well and is strong at 6-1/210.

2013 RHP/OF Joseph Monge is a very interesting athlete and might be a better position prospect.  He crushed a 3B up the RCF alley one game, using his 6.64 speed, and handled all the plays in right field well.  He topped out at 86 mph off the mound with a hard spinning 74 mph curveball.

2013 LHP Joshua Santiago is a young looking 6-1/185 southpaw with a loose arm that topped out at 86 mph from an extended mid 3/4's release point.  The ball got on hitter's hands quickly and he looks to have some deception in his delivery.

2013 RHP Bryan Colon is a slender 6-1/155 right hander who also topped out at 86 mph with very good sinking action at times from a tight 3/4's release point.


Showcase receiving rave reviews >>
Conducting a showcase in the Caribbean/Puerto Rico is something we have long considered, and we pleased to make it a reality this year.  We originally expected 60-80 players to attend, only to have 137 players in attendance.  All of the showcase drills (OF/IF/1B/C throws, batting practice) were conducted for each of the 7 teams on Friday afternoon and evening, following by 7 six inning games on Saturday and 7 more games today.  The event has move forward in a rapid-fire format due to this, but things have gone extremely smooth in the process.

Beautiful blue skies and mid- to upper-80s temperature definitely help.

The amount of talent is evident and impressive.  Of the 103 players that ran the 60-yard dash on Friday, 55 of them posted sub-7.00 second times (results shown below).  There are 50-70 scouts in attendance, and everyone here has been pleased with the event for a variety of reasons.

One player that has stood out so far (aside from PG All-American Jan Hernandez) is Johneshwy Fargas (2013, Trujillo Alto, PR), who on Friday ran a 6.55 60-yard dash and threw 97 from the outfield.  On Saturday he proved his bat is just an impressive as his athleticism, hitting a single to deep left, a triple to deep right and a towering home run, the first of the showcase, doing so on 6 pitches (he also was hit by a pitch).  Fargas has also played the infield, and at 6-1/160 he has a ton of room for improvement as he continues to add strength

We will provide a lot more scouting reports with the conclusion of the showcase this evening.
Columbia Blue Batting Practice Highlights >>
I don't know if 2012 OF Rafael Otero is eligible to sign immediately but he has some professional level tools to be developed.  The 6-2/175 switch-hitter ran 6.9 and threw 91 mph from the outfield but was most impressive at the plate as a true switch-hitter with bat speed and power from both sides of the plate.

OF Jeremie Gonzalez was another switch hitter who graded out just as highly from both sides of the plate, a rarity.

The other late "Add on" catcher who really stood out and made a name for himself was Josue Marcano.  Marcano has a strong 5-8/185 build but is very athletic, running a 6.78 and popping a 1.83/77 in drills.  He has a quick right handed swing and does a very good job of exploding his hands at contact.
Gold Batting Practice Highlights >>
The best batting practice grade on the Gold team was from a 6-0/160 shortstop named Jose Antonio, a 2014.  He had a very simple swing and direct path to the ball, with nice loose extension out front.  He squared the ball up well and is just going to keep improving with additional strength.

Other hitters on Gold who stood out included OF Francisco Sanchez, a 6-3/170 right handed hitter who is also a 2014, 2014 OF/C Brandon Laboy, a very strong right handed hitter who will improve with better weight shift, and switch-hitting OF Nelson Jorge Pagan, especially from the right side of the plate.
Navy Batting Practice Highlights >>
SS Angel Luis Perez Rodriguez is a tool monster with a nice 6-1/182 build.  He ran a 6.60, threw 88 mph across the diamond in drills and put ona  very nice BP display.  He has a very nice load and shift through the ball and completely owned the right centerfield gap from a short and quick right handed swing.

SS Alexander Rivera Centeno is another very projectable shortstop with similar raw tools as Rodriguez, including 6.51 speed and 90 mph infield arm strength.  He's 6-0/170 with lots of room to fill out.  He didn't have quite Rodriguez's raw bat speed but used his hips well to generate some line drive bat speed that should continue to improve as he gets stronger.

SS Edwin Diaz (the Navy team could be said to have some good shortstops) is a player we've been anxiously awaiting to see more of since he created so much buzz in Jupiter and he didn't disappoint.  He has an impressive 6-2/180 frame and a cannon (91 mph) for an arm.  His swing can get long at times but there is no mistaking the bat speed and power potential that comes with very little obvious effort.

We had a couple of "add on" catchers who were last minute replacements who showed very well.  One was Navy catcher Carlos Diaz.  Along with popping an eye opening 1.85/80 mph in drills, Diaz showed he could handle the bat as well, showing prospect level bat speed from the right side.
Orange Batting Practice Highlights >>
Orange didn't have any of the big and strong sluggers of the three previous teams but they still has some players with nice swing approaches who squared the ball up well.  Among those who stood out were SS Sulliam Rios, SS Michael Arroyo, 2B Daniel Camareno and OF Marco Rivera Rios.

One player I will be bearing down on strongly in the games is switch hitting MIF Kevin Rivera.  Rivera is a 2014 prospect with 6.7 speed and lots of arm strength.  He had a very, very good swing from the left side that I didn't get quite as good a feel for as I would have liked to, although his right handed swing was not as exciting.
Purple Batting Practice Highlights >>
OF Jacob Cordero Kuilan:  In a day of tool monsters, Kuilan  may have had the best showing.  He ran a 6.59, threw 98 mph from the outfield and absolutely crushed the ball during batting practice, earning one of the top 5 grades of the day.  Kuilan's swing is very nice in that he's short to the ball and doesn't have to sell out with effort to create plus bat speed.  He's more of a high average "Hit" tool player than a true power hitter but good things happen when you have that hand quickness and those overall tools.

C Luis Raul Torres:  The left handed hitting Torres came perhaps the closest hitting a home run, lacing a line drive to right field that hit the top of the fence late in the evening when the air was at its thickest.  He's very strong at 5-10/195 and doesn't leave anything behind in his swing.

C James Cardona:  Purple has a pair of very strong left handed hitting catchers with big pull power, as Cardona stood out as well.

OF Alexander Rios:  Rios is only 5-7/150 but has a nice left handed swing with present bat speed, especially when he's hitting under control.

OF Ricardo Bastista:  Bautista has some work to do in his overall approach but is very strong and loose at 6-0/190 and has plenty of strength in his left handed swing.
Thank You Professional Scouts >>
The Perfect Game staff was very surprised and impressed by the outstanding turnout of pro scouts on the first day of the showcase.  We estimated at least 50 scouts on the field for the running of the 60 and there may have been more in the stands.  Along with a full contingent of Puerto Rican scouts, there were a number of International Scouting Directors and a number of cross checker types based in the United States.  One scout told me his scouting director was planning on attending until his GM sent him down to the Arizona Fall League to look at some players there at the last minute.

Unfortunately, this week is in the closed period for NCAA coaches, but we also noted a number of junior college coaches in attendance as well.
Steel Batting Practice Highlights >>
C Gerald Ceballos:  The 6-1/200 right handed hitting Ceballos is one of the strongest players here.  He has a simple lift and replace hitting approach and is looking to lift and pull the ball.  It really jumps off the barrel when he squares it up.

SS Joshua Santos-Torres:  Torres isn't very big at 5-10/155 but he has an aggressive swing from an open right handed stance and squares up everything, hitting the ball hard to all fields with virtually every swing.  He looks like a high average type of hitter.

OF Nicholas Lugo:  The right handed hitting Lugo has a very simple approach that maximizes his strength from a compact 5-9/180 build.  He gets the barrel to the ball with a very short and quick swing path and hits hard pull line drives and even shows nice carry on some balls he drove up the LCF gap.

OF Sigfredo Perez:  On of the things to note from this batting practice is that the coaches here don't apparently look at a 5-8/140 player and automatically make him slap the ball.  Many of the more slender players had aggressive swings and were looking to drive the ball, which Perez did a number of times.


White Batting Practice Highlights >>
Note:  If you are looking for home run numbers from the BP, you won't find them.  Roberto Clemente Stadium goings out to 385 feet very quickly in the alleys, but the most important reason is that you could have weight the air this evening it was so thick with moisture.  Some balls were absolutely crushed that would have been out of most stadiums under most circumstances.  But not tonight in Carolina, Puerto Rico

We'll start from the top, which would be the White team, which is just loaded with top level prospects.

SS Jan Hernandez:  The PG All-American had more lift in his swing than usual, which created more top spin, which isn't necessarily a good thing.  The bat speed and the square contact where there but he' going to hit the ball much further with a better swing plane.  It was probably just an aberation.

SS Roy Morales Rivera:  Rivera had in my opinion the best BP of any player today.  He's almost as strong as Hernandez, has very good balance and excellent bat speed and whip from a low effort swing.

SS/OF Johneshwy Fargas:  Did you happen to notice Fargas' run/throw tools?  He ran a 6.55, threw 97 from the outfield and 88 mph from the infield.  The best news is he can hit, too.  His swing is a bit long with absurd loose extension out front but the bat speed is plus and the ball jumps hard.

2B Steven Gomez:  Gomez showed nice gap to gap power from an aggressive, loose swing and squared the ball up consistently.

SS Alexander De La Cruz:  Cruz has some strength in his 5-11/175 frame and uses it well to generate bat speed.  He hits the ball out front and makes strong pull line drive contact.









C POP Times >>
NamePopGradSchoolCitySt
Josue Marcano 1.83 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Loiza PR
Carlos Diaz 1.85 2013 Grandview Preparatory School Guaynabo PR
Luis Ciuro 1.86 2013 Montverde Academy Santa Isabel PR
Rene Melendez 1.86 2013 Caguas Military & Sport Academy Humacao PR
Christian Santiago Sanchez 1.94 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Yabucoa PR
Orland Orta 1.95 2012 Deer Park Toa Baja PR
Michael Arroyo 1.97 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Ponce PR
Jorge Flores 1.97 2013 Faith Baptist Christian Riverview FL
Milton Miranda 1.97 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Dorado PR
Carlos Villegas 1.98 2014 Caguas Military Rio Grande PR
Andrick Cruz 1.99 2013 PRBHS Basebal Academy Cayey PR
Brandon Laboy 1.99 2014 Coral Springs Charter School Coral Springs FL
Antonio Rivera Pineiro 1.99 2014 Caguas Military Academy Caguas PR
Josejoel Vazquez 2.00 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School Cidra PR
Francisco Miguel Del Rio 2.01 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Vega Baja PR
Eduanuel Hernandez Rivera 2.01 2013 Medardo Caraso Trujillo Alto PR
Christopher Padilla 2.01 2013 Stella Marquez Santa Isabel PR
James Cardona 2.02 2013 Antonio Lucchetti Arecibo PR
Gerald Ceballos 2.02 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Rio Grande PR
Omar Gonzalez 2.06 2014 Rafaelina E. Lebrón Flores Patillas PR
Luis Raul Torres 2.08 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Comerio PR
Victor Figueroa Ramos 2.17 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Toa Baja PR
Dyan Zayas 2.23 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Bayamon PR
Jesus Miranda 2.37 2015 Saint Patrick School Aguirre PR
C Velos >>
NameCGradSchoolCitySt
Luis Ciuro 83 2013 Montverde Academy Santa Isabel PR
Michael Arroyo 80 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Ponce PR
Carlos Diaz 80 2013 Grandview Preparatory School Guaynabo PR
Rene Melendez 78 2013 Caguas Military & Sport Academy Humacao PR
Jorge Flores 77 2013 Faith Baptist Christian Riverview FL
Josue Marcano 77 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Loiza PR
Orland Orta 77 2012 Deer Park Toa Baja PR
Josejoel Vazquez 77 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School Cidra PR
Gerald Ceballos 76 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Rio Grande PR
Francisco Miguel Del Rio 76 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Vega Baja PR
Brandon Laboy 76 2014 Coral Springs Charter School Coral Springs FL
Milton Miranda 76 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Dorado PR
Christopher Padilla 76 2013 Stella Marquez Santa Isabel PR
Carlos Villegas 76 2014 Caguas Military Rio Grande PR
Eduanuel Hernandez Rivera 75 2013 Medardo Caraso Trujillo Alto PR
James Cardona 74 2013 Antonio Lucchetti Arecibo PR
Christian Santiago Sanchez 74 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Yabucoa PR
Luis Raul Torres 74 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Comerio PR
Omar Gonzalez 73 2014 Rafaelina E. Lebrón Flores Patillas PR
Andrick Cruz 72 2013 PRBHS Basebal Academy Cayey PR
Victor Figueroa Ramos 69 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Toa Baja PR
Antonio Rivera Pineiro 69 2014 Caguas Military Academy Caguas PR
Dyan Zayas 66 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Bayamon PR
Jesus Miranda 64 2015 Saint Patrick School Aguirre PR
1B Velos >>
Name1BGradSchoolCitySt
Jesus Santana 85 2014 Caguas Military Academy Caguas PR
Juan Soriano 84 2013 Pro Baseball High School & Academy Arroyo PR
José Tirado 81 2014 Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy Carolina PR
Marcos Ventura 81 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Juncos PR
Christopher Padilla 79 2013 Stella Marquez Santa Isabel PR
Dominick Rios 78 2013 Superior Jardines de Ponce Juana Diaz PR
Luis Raul Torres 78 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Comerio PR
Felix Cruz 73 2013 Dr.Agustin Stahl Bayamon PR
Top IF Velos >>
NameIFGradSchoolCitySt
Jan Alexis Hernandez 92 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy San Lorenzo PR
Roy Morales Rivera 92 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Lares PR
Edwin Diaz 91 2013 Ladislao Martinez Otero Vega Alta PR
Christopher Gonzalez 90 2013 Santa Gema Academy Canovanas PR
Christian Padin 90 2013 Colegio Carmen Sol San Juan PR
Alexander Rivera Centeno 90 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Arecibo PR
Joshua Santos-Torres 90 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Guaynabo PR
Alexander De La Cruz 89 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Carolina PR
Ricardo Bautista 88 2013 Carlos Bertran Baseball Academy Vega Alta PR
Johneshwy Fargas 88 2013 PRBAHS Trujillo Alto PR
Eduardo Javier Jimenez 88 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy Gurabo PR
Angel Luis Perez Rodriguez 88 2013 Colegio San Felipe Barceloneta PR
Angel Luis Perez Rodriguez 88 2013   Barceloneta PR
Bryan Colon 87 2013 Miguel Melendez Munoz Cayey PR
James Santiago 87 2013 Vocacional Antonio Luchetti Arecibo Arecibo PR
Jesus Santana 86 2014 Caguas Military Academy Caguas PR
Kevin Rivera 85 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Barceloneta PR
Kevin Cordero 84 2013 Royal Palm Beach Caguas PR
Steven Gomez 84 2013 Colegio Lourdes San Juan PR
Onix Arnaldo Martinez 84 2013 Colegio San Felipe Arecibo PR
Rafael Otero 84 2012 Maestro Ladi Vega Alta PR
Sulliam Rios 84 2014 Manuela Toro Morice Caguas PR
Felipe Rivera Adorno 84 2013 Colegio De La Salle Bayamon PR
Top OF Velos >>
NameOFGradSchoolCitySt
Jacob Cordero Kuilan 98 2013 PRBAHS Naranjito PR
Johneshwy Fargas 97 2013 PRBAHS Trujillo Alto PR
Marco A. Rivera Rios 94 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Vega Alta PR
Luis Ciuro 92 2013 Montverde Academy Santa Isabel PR
Joseph Monge 92 2013 Carlos Beltran Academy Carolina PR
Ricardo Bautista 91 2013 Carlos Bertran Baseball Academy Vega Alta PR
Francisco Javier Cruz 91 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Caguas PR
Rafael Otero 91 2012 Maestro Ladi Vega Alta PR
James Santiago 91 2013 Vocacional Antonio Luchetti Arecibo Arecibo PR
Nelson Jorge Pagan 90 2014   Patillas PR
Jason Morales 90 2013 Isabel Flores Juncos PR
Francisco Sanchez 90 2014 International Baseball Academy San Juan PR
Michael Arroyo 89 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Ponce PR
Alexander Cortes Torres 88 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy Guaynabo PR
Jose Bonilla 87 2013 Bucky Dent Baseball Academy Delray Beach FL
Jeremie Gonzalez 87 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Barceloneta PR
Brandon Laboy 87 2014 Coral Springs Charter School Coral Springs FL
Ramon Aponte 86 2013 Colegio Dr. Roque Diaz Tizol Humacao PR
Nicholas Lugo 86 2013 Padre Anibal Reyes Belen Hatillo PR
Sigfredo Perez 85 2013 Colegio Lourdes San Juan PR
Alexander Rios 85 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Guaynabo PR
Felipe Rivera Adorno 85 2013 Colegio De La Salle Bayamon PR
Juan Soriano 85 2013 Pro Baseball High School & Academy Arroyo PR
Carlos Villegas 85 2014 Caguas Military Rio Grande PR
Top 60 times (7.00 or lower) >>
Name60GradSchoolCitySt
Felipe Rivera Adorno 6.45 2013 Colegio De La Salle Bayamon PR
Christian Padin 6.49 2013 Colegio Carmen Sol San Juan PR
Alexander Rivera Centeno 6.51 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Arecibo PR
Jose Bonilla 6.52 2013 Bucky Dent Baseball Academy Delray Beach FL
Marcos Ventura 6.52 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Juncos PR
Johneshwy Fargas 6.55 2013 PRBAHS Trujillo Alto PR
Jacob Cordero Kuilan 6.59 2013 PRBAHS Naranjito PR
Angel Luis Perez Rodriguez 6.60 2013 Colegio San Felipe Barceloneta PR






Milton Rivera 6.61 2014 International Baseball Academy Humacao PR
Jancarlos Ortiz Marrero 6.62 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy Aibanito PR
Alexander Cortes Torres 6.63 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy Guaynabo PR
Bryan Colon 6.64 2013 Miguel Melendez Munoz Cayey PR
Jan Alexis Hernandez 6.64 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy San Lorenzo PR
Joseph Monge 6.64 2013 Carlos Beltran Academy Carolina PR
Luis Ernesto Rodriguez Flores 6.65 2014 Superior Ramon Quinonez Yabucoa PR
Ricardo Bautista 6.69 2013 Carlos Bertran Baseball Academy Vega Alta PR
Marco A. Rivera Rios 6.69 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Vega Alta PR
Nicholas Lugo 6.71 2013 Padre Anibal Reyes Belen Hatillo PR
Francisco Sanchez 6.73 2014 International Baseball Academy San Juan PR
Ramon Aponte 6.75 2013 Colegio Dr. Roque Diaz Tizol Humacao PR
Joshua Santos-Torres 6.75 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Guaynabo PR
Kevin Rivera 6.76 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Barceloneta PR
Josue Marcano 6.78 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Loiza PR
Enrique Colon 6.79 2014 Caguas Military Academy Caguas PR
Christopher Gonzalez 6.79 2013 Santa Gema Academy Canovanas PR
Giuliano Montanez 6.80 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Carolina PR
Wilfredo Cruz 6.81 2014 Antonio Fernos Isern Naguabo PR
Carlos Diaz 6.81 2013 Grandview Preparatory School Guaynabo PR
Nelson Jorge Pagan 6.81 2014   Patillas PR
Jeremie Gonzalez 6.82 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Barceloneta PR
Michael Arroyo 6.84 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Ponce PR
Yan Rivera 6.84 2014 Notre Dame Caguas PR
Victor Figueroa Ramos 6.85 2014 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Toa Baja PR
Eduardo Padilla 6.85 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Naranjito PR
Gerald Ceballos 6.86 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Rio Grande PR
Daniel Suarez 6.86 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Vega Alta PR
Bryant Miranda 6.87 2013 Royal Palm Beach West Palm Beach FL
Carlos Villegas 6.87 2014 Caguas Military Rio Grande PR
Francisco Javier Cruz 6.88 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Caguas PR
Juan G Perez 6.88 2015 Colegio San Felipe Arecibo PR
Emanuel Guadalupe 6.89 2013 Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Juncos PR
Eduanuel Hernandez Rivera 6.90 2013 Medardo Caraso Trujillo Alto PR
David Maldonado Ruiz 6.90 2013 Luis Muños Rivera Utuado PR
Luis Ciuro 6.91 2013 Montverde Academy Santa Isabel PR
Onix Arnaldo Martinez 6.92 2013 Colegio San Felipe Arecibo PR
Alexander De La Cruz 6.93 2013 Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Carolina PR
Steven Gomez 6.93 2013 Colegio Lourdes San Juan PR
Rafael Otero 6.94 2012 Maestro Ladi Vega Alta PR
James Santiago 6.94 2013 Vocacional Antonio Luchetti Arecibo Arecibo PR
Juan Soriano 6.94 2013 Pro Baseball High School & Academy Arroyo PR
Daniel Camareno 6.98 2013 Montverde Academy Clermont FL
Isaac Rodriguez 6.98 2013 Jesucristo Rey de Reyes San Juan PR
Sigfredo Perez 6.99 2013 Colegio Lourdes San Juan PR
Sulliam Rios 6.99 2014 Manuela Toro Morice Caguas PR
Alexander Rivera 7.00 2014   Arecibo PR
The Mofongo Barrier.....And Miguel Cabrera >>
Couple of thoughts before heading off to the ballpark.

--  The Mofongo barrier was broken at lunch and now what I need is less conscience or a nap.  I was going to have a fish taco platter at Lupis, a restaurant chain owned, I believe, by former MLB pitcher Ed Figueroa, before I noticed an item on the menu.....Chicken breasts stuffed with Mofongo and wrapped in bacon.  I can't imagine there is any diet in the world, including those 10,000 calorie Olympic athlete diets, that this is really good for.  I am rationalizing it by saying a) it was a life experience, and b) it is my only meal of the day.

http://www.elboricua.com/mofongo.html

It's worth noting for the stateside dining populace that I've had 4 sit down meals in Puerto Rico and have not once....not once....seen a salt shaker.  And there hasn't been a single time when anything I ate wasn't perfectly salted.  But the fact that I haven't even seen a salt shaker is pretty noteworthy.


--  I've been listening to the Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout American League MVP debate for the last month without expressing an opinion.  I was raised a stathead and completely understand the rationale that the Trout supporters stand behind.  But I don't understand why those who support Trout have to do so with mostly such disrespectful tones.  Yes, you can prove that Trout had a better statistical season despite Cabrera's Triple Crown.  But baseball if far, far more than an accumulation of numbers.  Baseball at the Major League level is an accumulation of history and respect for those that play the game at the highest level.  I've asked many people inside the game, including former big leaguers and long time scouts, their opinion and it has been 100% Cabrera.  Tim Kurkjian on ESPN said virtually the same thing this morning, that the players and coaches think it is Cabrera's honor.  That is not an insult to either Mike Trout or to statistical analysis.  But sometimes the game (i.e. the history and the players) are bigger than numbers and this is one time to acknowledge it.  And the writers, who actually spend 7-8 straight months in close contact with the players (different from most analysts) got it right.  Good for them.  And I hope, and won't be surprised, that Mike Trout wins a couple of MVP's in the future, too.
Greeting From Puerto Rico >>
I was hoping to have a few blogs written by now but I've spent so little time in my hotel room since arriving at 5 pm on Wednesday that I really haven't had the chance to. 

This is my first trip to Puerto Rico, something that has always surprised me as I probably have about 35-40 combined trips to Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Mexico on my resume.  Any time you travel to a new place there is a bit of trepidation because you simply aren't familiar with the basics of getting around.  This is also the first time I've ever had a car and driven around a Latin "country" (acknowledging Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth of the United States) by myself.  I've really taken advantage of that so far and spent about 6 hours exploring yesterday, going places where Edwin Rodriguez, our Puerto Rican host, says he's never ventured before.

We're all meeting at the Stadium for the start of this 2 1/2 day showcase at 2:30 pm today.  The event has grown to 137 players, far larger than we originally planned.  To hold a showcase on one field for that many players is an endurance contest and it will 2 1/2 long days.  Here's the schedule if you haven't seen it.   http://www.perfectgame.org/events/Schedule.aspx?event=1305

Some general observations about Puerto Rico:

--  The food has been over the top outstanding.  I've stuck with seafood the entire time, including a shrimp stuff red snapper in garlic sauce with sweet plantains yesterday for lunch at this restaurant that was beyond good....especially since I was sitting 20 feet from the ocean.   http://www.chinchorrospr.com/index.php/chinchorros/item/1635-mustaf%C3%A1-restaurant.  The crew went heavy on the Mofongo last night, I stayed with the Maricos Mixta (mixed seafood) plate.

--  Driving looks to be easier than it would be in Venezuela and MUCH easier than it would be in the Dominican, where to a corn fed American it would be near suicidal.  In fact, my only complaint about Puerto Rican drivers is they drive too slowly, especially with the local custom on the highways to drive slower in the left lanes.

--  If you came here with a fast food addiction you'd be in good hands, as there seems to be a higher concentration of Burger Kings, Subways, Wendy's, KFC's and McDonalds than in the States.  Burger King looks to be the market leader.

--  The local beer, Medalla, is outstanding.  Not quite as good as El Presidente from the Dominican Republic, but still very good.

--  A Walmart is a Walmart regardless of where it is.  Went into one this morning to buy Showcase supplies (tent, water coolers, cups, etc.) and walked right to where they were because it was the same place as they would be in Omaha.

--  The logistics of putting on a Showcase here are a bit different, as the PG Van (there are actually 3 PG Vans) is a bit out of the question.  I'm glad I wasn't there at 4:30 am Wednesday morning at the Milwaukee Airport as Kirk Gardner was checking 14 boxes of stuff on his flight in addition to his own luggage.

--  Todd Gold is absolutely itching to see a Puerto Rican Winter League game but may be out of luck.  Thursday just happened to be the league's day off, we'll be working late the next 3 nights and he's leaving Monday afternoon.  There are scouts scouting the league staying at our Marriott Courtyard (the preferred hotel of all scouts) though, as I ran into Rod Galbraith of the Braves within 10 minutes of checking in.

--  Putting a full casino in the lobby of a hotel (all the beach resorts here seem to have their own casino) is not a very healthy thing.

Baseball in a couple of hours!!


--  DR

testing >>






Pitching prowess: Oklahoma's two-headed monster


It didn't take long for Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway to realize he had a pair of special arms in left-hander Dillon Overton and right-hander Jonathan Gray.


But if he had any reservations at all, that question was answered better than ever earlier this spring when at least 16 professional scouts showed up at an Oklahoma intra-squad scrimmage to see Overton and Gray each only throw one inning.


As if Golloway needed even more validation, he also could look at the Sooners' preseason ranking. There's no question OU lost several key offensive cogs to the MLB draft last summer, but even with those departures, OU still was a consensus ranked team.


Gray and Overton certainly weren't all of that equation, but they were and still are a big part of it.


"Both Overton and Gray are sure-fire first rounders right now, and we're ecstatic to have them" Golloway said. "They're pretty special, but obviously different, pitchers for us."


It's rather interesting to compare and contrast the repertoires of Overton and Gray, who are completely different types of pitchers. Overton is a rather intriguing arm for the Sooners. He's not a physical specimen at just 6-foot-2, 160 pounds. But despite his skinny frame, the left-hander has a very loose arm with some surprising durability.


Overton has been a consistent pitcher for the Sooners in his already two seasons with the program. He was solid as a freshman before taking an even bigger step forward as a sophomore last season. He tallied a 3.15 ERA in 122 2/3 innings of work, while also striking out 126, walking 24, and limiting opponents to a .265 batting average.


The lefty is off to another great start this season. He's 3-0 with two starts, and one relief appearance. He also has a 0.56 ERA in 16 innings of work. Most impressive is the fact Overton has struck out 16 batters, allowing just one walk in the process. Teams are hitting .190 against him.


"It's just typical Dillon Overton right now. He has just continued where he left off last season, and he was pretty special last year," Golloway said. "I didn't know at the end of last year if there was really anything I thought he needed to get much better at. As long as he stays healthy, I think he's going to be able to get almost anyone out at the next level."


Golloway strongly believes Overton could gain even more arm strength at the next level, but he's already got an impressive arsenal of pitches with good velocity. Overton consistently sits 88-92 with his fastball, and has also touched 95 a few times this season. He also flashes a 79-80 changeup with other sharp breaking stuff.


"He's more 12-to-6 with his breaking stuff. His changeup is outstanding, too, and the big thing about Dillon is that he just hits his spots. That draws a lot of scouts in," Golloway said. "He just peppers the strike zone. He's also the type of guy that can also come out of the bullpen for an inning if he really needs to. He's pretty special on the mental side of things, too. He knows baseball, and overall, he's a very sound pitcher."


Though equally successful, Gray is on the other end of the spectrum from Overton from a physical standpoint. Gray's physical makeup has drawn some comparisons to Rogers Clemens, as he's listed at 6-foot-4, 239 pounds.


Gray's evolution as a pitcher has been interesting to follow. There were plenty of times last season when the Eastern Oklahoma College transfer would cruise three or four innings, only to run into some trouble and eventually get knocked out of the game. However, the talented righty got that issue under control by the end of the season, twirling a gem against South Carolina in the Columbia Super Regional to make his case for superiority this spring.


"I thought he really took a big step forward in that regard at the end of last season, and even some this year. He didn't have his best stuff against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last weekend, but he battled and handled that situation pretty well," he said. "When Jon first got here, he just went out there and tried to overpower everyone with his fastball. Now, he has a good feel for the game and stays calm. I just always tell him the old baseball motto that it's just a game."


An undisputed aspect of Jonathan Gray is his pure stuff. Gray consistently sits 95-97 with his fastball, and already has touched a few 98s, along with a couple of 100s this season. Gray also possesses a power knockout slider that typically sits anywhere from 81-86, while he's almost unhittable when the changeup is working.


"He has a big league out pitch with that slider. When he mixes in that changeup for strikes, it's just not even fair," Golloway said. "It's not like you can really sit there and make quick adjustments when a guy with that kind of arm is throwing his pitches for strikes. What ends up happening is hitters just go up there guessing."


Moving forward, the Sooners still haven't decided on a No. 3 starting pitcher, but have plenty of solid options in hard-throwing Billy Waltrip, imposing redshirt freshman Adam Choplick and true freshman right-handed pitcher Corey Copping.


Good thing the Sooners have Overton and Gray to take pressure off that situation.




Texas hopes to rebuild tradition


AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Longhorns are in the midst of a long college baseball season that, for them, at least, they hope stretches well into the month of June.


But very much unlike last season, these Longhorns simply aren't taking anything for granted this spring. They learned that lesson the hard way last season when they failed to make the NCAA postseason for the first time in 13 seasons, and for only the third time in 34 seasons.


So, earlier this week, when the 6-2 Longhorns dropped a tough midweek bout to a solid Sam Houston State club, 5-3, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Texas coach Augie Garrido considered the setback a challenging moment for his program. So many times last season the Longhorns would lose midweek games, only to move forward without much of a worry. Come Selection Monday, those midweek setbacks came back to haunt them with the NCAA Selection Committee.  But this team is much different in almost every way, starting with the coaching staff and mental makeup.


"The attitude with these players is much different than last season," Texas coach Augie Garrido said. "They're more responsible to one another, and they want to perform at a high level to help each other out. I don't think you could say that about last year's squad. That team had a lot of individuality, but this team is moving forward it seems."


In addition to the player personnel side of things, the Longhorns have a new look in a variety of ways. For starters, the 'Horns put the college baseball community into a frenzy last summer when they parted ways with long-time assistant coach (23 seasons) Tommy Harmon after the team finished the 2012 campaign with a dismal .263 batting average.


The Longhorns, looking for some new and energetic blood, had exactly the right guy in mind in former UT standout second baseman and Sacramento State assistant coach Tommy Nicholson. The 'Horns initially were unable to land heralded Arkansas assistant coach Todd Butler after he decided last second to stay with the Hogs, but were more than content with landing the charismatic Nicholson.


"We're a lot more aggressive this season," Texas veteran outfielder Mark Payton said about Nicholson's style of play. "Last season, it seemed like we were way too passive and taking a lot of pitches, causing us to fall behind in a lot of counts."


Though the Longhorns take a major step up in terms of competition this weekend against Stanford, there's little doubt this offense seems much improved from what we've seen the past couple of seasons. The numbers seem to prove that, too. The 'Horns started last season on a sour note, and finished that campaign with a .263 average. So far this season, the 'Horns still haven't had a lot of power production, but have shown significant improvements in other areas.


The UT offense has shown more potential thus far this spring. Though some of the individual batting averages still aren't up to par with what Nicholson would like to see, the 'Horns, for the most part, are doing a good job of putting the ball in play. Payton is off to a fantastic start with a .536 batting average and 11 RBIs, while freshman shortstop C.J. Hinojosa, a former Perfect Game All-American, and third baseman Erich Weiss also are off to good starts with batting averages of .385 and .321, respectively.


The Longhorns also have high hopes for Matt Moynihan, Taylor Stell and Codey McElroy, who have batting averages of .273, .269 and .222, respectively, right now, but who have shown potential to hit for much higher averages as the season progresses.


This weekend's series against Stanford certainly won't determine where Texas heads the rest of the season, but it certainly serves as a significant barometer. Around this time last season, the Longhorns hit the road to Stanford and lost two competitive games to begin the series, before losing the series finale 15-1.


The Longhorns seemingly never recovered from that 0-3 weekend out in California, and would love nothing more -- with the offense leading the charge, of course -- than to avenge that series disaster, while also effectively putting a historic program back on the national map after a postseason hiatus.


"This is a place built completely on tradition. This university, in part, was built on the baseball tradition, and we're pretty fortunate to play baseball here. We can't take that for granted," Payton said. "We've been to Omaha, and now we've been at the bottom of the ditch. We know how we need to play and what we need to accomplish."




Series to watch


No. 8 Oregon at No. 18 Cal State Fullerton: Both the Ducks and Titans are playing at an extremely high level early in the season. The Ducks have Tommy Thorpe in the No. 3 starting role as they bring left-handed pitcher Christian Jones along slowly, but also have a very good rotation with freshman right-handed hurler Jake Reed leading the charge. Meanwhile, the Titans played exceptionally well last weekend against TCU with freshman right-handed pitchers Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza leading the charge. The Titans also have been pretty impressive from an offensive standpoint with third baseman Matt Chapman very dangerous.

THE PICK: Cal State Fullerton


No. 10 South Carolina vs. Clemson: It doesn't get much better early in the season than the annual series between the Gamecocks and Tigers. The Gamecocks are pleased with their weekend rotation of Jordan Montgomery, Colby Holmes and Nolan Belcher so far this season, while the Tigers are very pleased with the progressions made by Scott Firth, who pitched extremely well against Wright State last weekend. The Tigers also are excited about sophomore hurler Daniel Gossett, while second baseman Steve Wilkerson, a rising MLB draft prospect, is having a great year at the plate thus far, hitting .429 with a home run and seven RBIs.

THE PICK: South Carolina


Pepperdine at No. 19 Oklahoma: Waves right-handed pitcher Scott Frazier was stuck in a huge pitching matchup with Texas A&M senior right-handed hurler Kyle Martin last weekend. Now he's in another one this Friday with Oklahoma left-handed pitcher Dillon Overton. The Sooners are very pleased with Overton and fellow starting pitcher, right-hander Jonathan Gray. Overton has been up to 93-95 with his fastball this season, while Gray has a huge arm with a fastball that sits in the mid 90s, and an 80-plus mph power slider. The Sooners should win this series at home, but the Waves are coming off a big road series win over Texas A&M.

THE PICK: Oklahoma


No. 22 Texas at No. 6 Stanford: The Longhorns never really recovered last season when they hit the road and got swept by the Cardinal. Now, the Longhorns hope to change their fortunes when they head back to California this weekend. UT has an improved and more aggressive offense with offensive veteran Mark Payton and freshman C.J. Hinojosa leading the charge, while Parker French, Dillon Peters and Nathan Thornhill formulate a decent rotation, setting the stage for hard-throwing closer Corey Knebel, who has a fastball 92-95. Meanwhile, the Cardinal has one of the top arms in the country in right-hander Mark Appel, while the rest of the rotation is somewhat of a question mark with John Hochstatter and Bobby Zarubin finishing things off. The Cardinal will continue to be without outfielder Austin Wilson, who's out at least two more weeks with an elbow issue.

THE PICK: Stanford


No. 13 Ole Miss at Florida International: The Rebels hit the road this weekend with one of the nation's elite starting rotations with right-handed pitchers Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers leading the charge. However, they desperately need No. 3 starting pitcher Chris Ellis back in the mix. Ellis missed last weekend's Rhode Island series because of a sore abdominal muscle. Meanwhile, for the Panthers, keep a very close eye on freshman first baseman Edwin Rios and Julius Gaines, as well as talented catcher Aramis Garcia. Rios is off to a torrid start at the plate, hitting .455 with a home run and 11 RBIs. But most impressive is the fact Rios had 10 doubles in just 15 hits. Meanwhile, Gaines is hitting .414 and Garcia is hitting .294 with a home run and five RBIs. This series has potential upset written all over it.

THE PICK: Mississippi


Miami at Florida: The Gators have made easy work of the Hurricanes the past few seasons, but if there was ever a weekend when the 'Canes fortunes could change, it's this one. Florida appears to be in an absolute tailspin, while Miami's offense seems rejuvenated with a .325 batting average through the first couple of weeks. Freshman first baseman David Thompson has been impressive at the plate thus far with a .323 average, a home run and 14 RBIs, while veteran Brad Fieger is hitting .438 with seven RBIs to lead the team.


Cal State Northridge at Washington State: The Matadors might only have a 4-3 overall record after dropping a series to USC last weekend, but this appears to be a vastly improved club with head coach Matt Curtis leading the charge. The Matadors have a couple of intriguing arms to watch this weekend, including ace Jerry Keel, who has a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings of work, and utility player Josh Goossen-Brown, who has yet to allow a run in three innings, and offensively, is hitting .276 with seven RBIs. As for the Cougars, keep an eye on hard-hitting outfielder Jason Monda, who's hitting .300 with two homers and eight RBIs, while Nick Tanielu and Yale Rosen are hitting .467 and .407, respectively. Pitching-wise, keep an eye on starting pitcher Jo Pistorese, who has yet to allow a run in 11 2/3 innings of work.

THE PICK: Washington State


Southern Miss at Troy: This is a huge series for both the Golden Eagles and Trojans. USM has a very solid one-two punch in its weekend rotation with Andrew Pierce and Jake Drehoff leading the charge. Pierce typically was 87-90 with his fastball last season, but the senior has been up to 92 at times so far this spring. Meanwhile, Drehoff is a mid-to-upper 80s pitcher that will pepper the strike zone. As for Troy, keep an eye on Danny Collins, Tyler Vaughn and Logan Pierce. All three are off to fantastic starts offensively, hitting .481, .438, and .429, respectively. USM, though, seems to have a significant edge from a pitching standpoint.

THE PICK: Southern Miss


Tulane at Alabama: Speaking of an important series for a pair of teams, how about this three-game bout between the Green Wave and Crimson Tide? Tulane got off to a solid start opening weekend, but dropped a tough home weekend series to Notre Dame last weekend. Keep an eye on right-handed pitcher Tony Rizzotti, who has been up to 95-96 this spring, while the Green Wave also has a plethora of other arms to watch this weekend. Meanwhile, Alabama is off to a terrific 7-1 start and has a pair of intriguing true freshman hitters in Mikey White and Georgie Salem. Both White and Salem are hitting .333 so far this season, with the two knocking in five and six runs, respectively. Bama's pitching staff also has been a surprise with Taylor Guilbeau, Jon Keller and Charley Sullivan all off to good starts, while Ray Castillo, Keaton Haack and Tucker Hawley spearhead an impressive bullpen.

THE PICK: Alabama


Kent State at No. 15 Louisville: After reaching the College World Series last year, the Golden Flashes weren't expected to miss much of a beat this season. Well, that hasn't happened, and they're in a lot of trouble entering this weekend's series against the Cardinals with a dismal 1-7 record. Starting pitchers Tyler Skulina (2.08) and Taylor Williams (2.57) have performed at a high level, but the rest of the pitching staff has failed miserably with the staff as a whole sporting a 7.85 ERA. Offensively, the Golden Flashes need a big weekend out of Evan Campbell and Alex Miklos, who are batting .342 and .323, respectively. As for the Cardinals, they're not surprisingly off to a great start. The starting rotation has been terrific with Chad Green and Jeff Thompson leading the charge, while reliever Nick Burdi is a rising elite prospect. Burdi struck out all three batters he faced in an inning of relief work last weekend against Akron. Oh yeah, the hard-throwing sophomore righty also touched 100 on the radar gun.

THE PICK: Louisville




Tournament games to watch


THURSDAY

----

2 Arkansas vs. 25 Arizona State (Coca-Cola Classic)

San Diego vs. Coastal Carolina (Caravelle Resort Tournament)



FRIDAY

----

1 North Carolina vs. 14 Rice (Astros Foundation Classic)

2 Arkansas vs. Gonzaga (Coca-Cola Classic)

Houston vs. Texas A&M (Astros Foundation Classic)

Connecticut vs. Ohio State (Bright House Invitational)

Baylor vs. California (Astros Foundation Classic)

23 Notre Dame vs. Tennessee (Irish Baseball Classic)

Florida Atlantic vs. Coastal Carolina (Caravelle Resorts Tournament)



SATURDAY

----

1 North Carolina vs. California (Astros Foundation Classic)

2 Arkansas vs. 25 Arizona State 9 (Coca-Cola Classic)

14 Rice vs. Texas A&M (Astros Foundation Classic)

Florida Atlantic vs. 9 North Carolina State (Caravelle Resort Tournament)

23 Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech (Irish Baseball Classic)

Indiana vs. Coastal Carolina (Caravelle Resort Tournament)

Houston vs. Baylor (Astros Foundation Classic)

San Diego vs. UNC Wilmington (Hughes Brothers Invitational)



SUNDAY

----

1 North Carolina vs. Texas A&M (Astros Foundation Classic)

14 Rice vs. Baylor (Astros Foundation Classic)

9 North Carolina State vs. Coastal Carolina (Caravelle Resort Tournament)

25 Arizona State vs. Gonzaga (Coca-Cola Classic)

California vs. Houston (Astros Foundation Classic)

Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech (Irish Baseball Classic)