Showcase : : Story
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Recap of the 2007 California All-Star Games

Perfect Game Staff        
The recently completed California All-Star Games always features many of the top seniors in the state and the 2007 version of this event did not disappoint. A new dimension was added to the CA All-Star Games this year. One of the three teams was made up entirely of underclassmen, mostly juniors ('08), with a couple of the state's top sophomores ('09).

There was a large gathering of MLB scouts at the event all weekend, including no fewer than a dozen clubs that had a major draft decision maker in attendance. When we say "decision maker" we mean West Coast Crosschecker or above. In addition to many West Coast Crosschekers, there were a handful of National Crosscheckers and at least Four Scouting Directors that attended this event.

The underclassman team "won" the CA All-Star Games, which were sort of set up as a three team tournament, with a round robin on Saturday, then the #2 and #3 seeds playing a game on Sunday to meet the #1 seed in a de facto championship game. Ultimately, it was the pitching of the underclassmen that was too much for the two senior teams.

CA All-Star Games Recaps

60 yard times
We time players in the 60 with a laser timer and also keep a handheld time. The following were the top laser times.

6.54 Gary Brown, MIF/OF, Diamond Bar HS
6.61 Daniel Carroll, OF, Valley View HS
6.70 Kevin Rucker, OF, Pioneer Valley HS
6.87 Dmitri DeLaFuente, IF/OF/P, South Hills HS ('08)
6.88 Nick Noonan, MIF, Francis Parker HS
6.89 David Nick, MIF, Cypress HS ('09)
6.91 Eugene Escalante, C/3B, Rodriguez HS ('09)
6.96 Connor Bernatz, OF/IF, Mater Dei HS

Game #1 - Crimson (underclassmen) vs. Green (seniors)
The game was won by the Green (7-3) and featured a dominating performance on the mound by LHP Dan Duffy (Cabrillo HS, Lompoc). Duffy was one of the players the scouts came to see and he did not disappoint. The 6'3" 185 lb. lefty threw three innings (6 K, 0 H, 1 BB) and showed off a fastball in the 88-91 range, reaching back and getting 90-91 when he wanted it. He also has very good feel for his offspeed stuff, including a biting curveball, slider, and change-up. He can go to any pitch at any time, with each of them capable of being used as an out pitch.

Green LHP Mitchell Beacom (University City HS, San Diego) was also quite intriguing. He is 6'8" and reached up to 88 mph. He pitched with his fastball from 81-86, though it was hard to tell if he was adding and subtracting or if he was just inconsistent with his delivery. In any case, he is one to watch when he heads off to college at UCLA.

Offensively the Green was led by Aflac All-Americans Nick Noonan and Brett Krill (OF - Aliso Niguel HS, Laguna Niguel). Noonan reached base three times, via two walks and a booming RBI double off the wall in deep right field. He scored twice and stole a base. Krill drove in three runs, with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly to deep center field. It seems each time I see Krill play he is driving in multiple runs.

Also contributing for the Green team were Gary Brown and Kevin Rucker. Brown singled and was hit by a pitch, scored two runs and stole three bases. He is a very disruptive presence on the bases. Rucker was twice hit by a pitch, scored two runs and stole four bases.

The Crimson team only scratched out three hits. Their top offensive performer was David Nick, who was 1-1 with a single, walk, run scored, RBI, and a stolen base. He is one of the top pure hitters we have seen in the '09 class. Chris Amezquita ('08 IF/P - Servite HS, La Mirada HS) drove in two runs with a 4th inning single.

The Crimson sent three hard-throwing right-handers to the mound, though they each gave up at least one run. RHP Ray Hanson ('08 - Long Beach Wilson HS) was up to 89 mph with the fastball and is one of the more projectable arms in the '08 class. Dmitri DeLaFuente touched up to 90 and spun the curveball well. RHP/1B Ricky Oropesa ('08 - Eitwanda HS, Rancho Cucamonga) was also up to 90 and flashed a potential power breaking ball. The other Crimson pitcher was talented/slippery/projectable 6'5" lefty Scott Snodgrass ('08 Yucaipa HS).

Game #2 - Green vs. White (seniors)
This game was won 8-3 by the White team. They were led on the mound by pitchers that all topped at 88 mph... RHP R.J. Hively (Troy HS, Fullerton), LHP Graham Rodriguez (Bishop O'Dowd HS, Alameda), and RHP Michael Guglielmo (Acalanes HS, Lafayette). All of them are likely headed to college next fall, though Hively is the only one of the three who has signed a letter of intent. His best pitch is a hard slider, while Rodriguez has feel of a very complete three-pitch mix that should be quite successful in college (he pitched in the 86-88 range), and Guglielmo comes at hitters from a sneaky arm slot and a couple different tight/slippery breaking balls.

Offensively the White was led by big left hand hitting catcher Jonny Talley (Carlsbad HS, Oceanside), who was 3-5 (2 1B, 2B) with three RBI and two runs scored. Talley also showed nice catch/throw skills and should get some pro interest this spring. Another left hand hitter, 1B/OF Dennis Walker (Eastlake HS, Chula Vista) was 2-4 with a run scored, while OF Taylor Lee (Miramonte HS, Orinda) reached base five times (E3, 3 BB, 1B) and scored three runs.

The White team was led on the field and in the dugout by energetic CF Daniel Carroll. Carroll was 1-4 with a run scored and a stolen base, but it was his infectious energy that carried his team. If there is a player that is clearly more into playing baseball and being a good teammate than he is, I have not seen that player.

The Green team came up short but had some strong offensive contributions. Brett Krill was 2-4 with another RBI and a run scored. IF/RHP Ryan Pineda (Bonanza HS, Las Vegas NV) was 2-4, Nick Noonan was 1-3 with a walk, and Gary Brown was 3-3 with three infield singles, a run scored, and a stolen base. A shortstop that lays back for even an instant when Brown hits the ball to the left side is going to have a very tough time throwing him out. He consistently runs in the low 4.0s down the line and occasionally goes down in the mid 3.9s. That is flying.

Green starter, big Michael Shanahan (Pittsburg HS) struggled with his fastball command. However he is an interesting follow with his long, 6'6" 200 lb. frame. RHP/IF Adrian Mendoza (Bloomington Christian HS, Fontana) kept Green close with four solid innings, giving up only one run. He mixes his pitches very well and has a very good change-up.

Behind the plate catcher (signed with San Jose State) Bryson Rahier (Cajon HS, San Bernardino) did a very nice job. He is an athletic, switch-hitting catcher and flashed above average catch/throw skills, with athletic actions and agility behind the plate. In the outfield Sequoyah Stonecipher stood out, as per usual. He gets great jumps and showed off his strong, accurate arm that plays from any of the three outfield positions.

Game #3 - White vs. Crimson
White won their second game of the night, 6-5. The top arm in this game was '09 RHP Brooks Pounders (Temecula Valley HS, Temecula). Pounders is 6'5" and listed at 215, though he looks bigger. In any case, his arm really works well and his feel for pitching is advanced for his age. He sat 87-88, though we saw 90 at the CA Underclass Showcase. He did not give up a hit in his two innings, with only one runner reaching base.

The White had three players with multiple hit games. Connor Bernatz was 3-4 (3B) with two runs scored and two stolen bases. He looked really good swinging the bat and is going blossom into a very good pro prospect in college at the University of San Francisco. RHP Deryk Hooker (Mira Mesa HS, San Diego) was 2-4 (2B) with two RBI, two runs scored and took some very aggressive hacks, while Dennis Walker had two more knocks and drove in two runs. Utah bound infielder David Legg (Vista Murrieta HS, Murrieta) had a nice game, going 1-3 (2B), with two runs scored.

On the mound, UC Santa Barbara bound RHP Jared Wagner (De La Salle HS, Danville) went three innings, giving up only one run (unearned). He topped at 87 with the fastball and mixed his secondary stuff well. He struck out two, while giving up four hits and walking no one. UNLV bound RHP Thomas Whitsett (Pleasant Valley HS, Orland) touched up to 89 for the White and spun the breaking ball well. RHP Stephen Triolo (Patrick Henry HS, San Diego) kept White close in the sixth and seventh.

Crimson got big games from Dmitri DeLaFuente and Ricky Oropesa. DeLaFuente was 2-3 with three runs scored while Oropesa went 2-3 (3B) with a run scored and an RBI. His triple was a towering drive into deep right center and the only thing that held it in the park was the heavy, cool night air. He is some kind of strong. 3B/P Bryan Haar (Grossmont HS, San Diego) was 1-2 with a run scored and David Nick chipped in with a 1-2 effort.

LHP Logan Lee ('08 - Aliso Niguel HS, Laguna Niguel) pitched two innings for Crimson in this game, showing a very good three pitch mix and feel for all his offerings. '09 RHP Jonathan Meyer (Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego) also competed on the mound in this game for Crimson. He has a fastball with a lot of sink action and feel of a tightly spun curveball. We will see more of Meyer and Lee in the coming years.

Game #4 - Green vs. Crimson
This game was between the #2 and #3 seeds after the round robin, with the winner to play White in the final game. Crimson pounded Green 12-5, scoring in each of the first five innings, and in six of the seven played.

On the mound Crimson got two dominating performances, one from starting LHP Chris Joyce ('08 - Dos Pueblos HS, Goletas) and the other from RHP/SS Kevin Eichhorn ('08 - Aptos HS). Joyce went two innings, giving up only two hits and no runs while Eichhorn pitched two innings and set down all six hitters he faced. Joyce mixes three quality pitches, topping at 86 with the fastball and showing very good feel of his curve and change.

Eichhorn, along with Duffy, showed the best combination of stuff and feel for pitching. He has a low effort, easy arm action and fluid delivery that he repeats easily. His fastball command is excellent (to both sides and with very good down angle), and he pitched comfortably in the 88-89 mph range, touching 90. Eichhorn can throw his curveball for a strike at any time and keeps his change-up down in the zone. He pitches off his fastball and induced hitters to weakly top his pitches to the infielders. In many ways he reminded me of Erik Goeddel with his surgeon-like approach and precision.

The other two Crimson pitchers showed big time stuff, with RHP Tony Calhoun showing the top fastball of the event, reaching up to 93 mph and pitching comfortably in the 90-91 range. He also has a sharp breaking ball. RHP Chris Amezquita did not get the results he would have wanted but pitched in the 89-91 range with his fastball and flashed an above average breaking ball.

Every Crimson hitter (all 15 of them) reached base at least one time, with P/3B Brooks Pounders, switch-hitting C/OF Christian Griffiths ('08 - Granite Hills HS, Apple Valley), and left hand hitting 1B/P Jomel Torres ('08 - Eastlake HS, Chula Vista) recording multimple hit games. Pounders drove in two runs while RHP/OF Tony Calhoun ('09 - Temecula Valley HS, Temecula) drove in three runs, two of them on a double hit deep to centerfield. Griffiths scored two runs and both he and Torres showed off very compact strokes and the ability to hit the ball to all fields.

David Nick had a hit in his third straight game, driving in one, scoring one, and stealing a base. Eugene Escalante was 1-2 with a run scored and a stolen base, while both Chris Amezquita and OF Brandon Meredith ('08 - Montgomery HS, Chula Vista) were 1-3, each with a run scored. Amezquita's hit was a lead off double and Meredith immediately drove him in with a sharp single.

MIF Eddie Young ('08 - Christian HS, El Cajon) reached base twice via the base on balls and scored a run, while lead off hitter MIF J. Daniel Pulfer ('08 - Marina HS, Huntington Beach) drew two walks, scored a run, stole a base, and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field. The run he scored was on a wild pitch that did not get but a few feet from the catcher. He read the flight of the ball out of the pitcher's hand and got a great jump to essentially steal a run.

The Green never really got anything going offensively, not until the sixth inning when the scored four times on four hits, a walk, and an error. Nick Noonan was 2-4 with two RBI, a run scored and two stolen bases. C Jake Johnson (La Mirada HS) was 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Ryan Pineda continue to swing the bat well with a 2-3 effort. Aflac All-American OF Sequoyah Stonecipher (Mission Bay HS, San Diego) and OF/P Eric Hillenbrand (Torry Pines HS) each had one hit, with Hillenbrand driving in a run.

Kevin Rucker continued to be a ball magnet, getting hit for the third time in the series. He stole two more bases and scored another run. Rucker also played well in the outfield for the entire event, getting good jumps, taking good angles and showing a strong arm.

On the mound the Green seemed to be in good position, with Pepperdine bound RHP Cole Cook (Palisades HS, Los Angeles) starting and Cal-State Northridge bound RHP Drew Muren (Ramona HS) following him up. Cook did not have his best stuff, though did top in the 90-91 range with his fastball. He showed good feel for his change-up, though he stuggled a bit with his fastball command, which can be expected for a pitcher in late January.

Cook will throw harder during the spring and show much better command. We were happy to have him there and the scouts were glad to get an early look at him. Muren pitched easily in the 89-91 range and excellent feel for his change-up, pitching from a low-3/4 slot. RHP Eric Hillenbrand pitched the last inning for Green, topping at 88 with his fastball.

That loss by Green set up a White/Crimson final.

Game #5 - Crimson vs. White
Crimson won the "championship" game of the California All-Star Games by a 3-1 score. They used five pitchers to shut down a White team that had three additions to their line-up; Christian Colon, Victor Sanchez, and from the Green team, Nick Noonan. Starter Brooks Pounders pitched a clean first inning, sitting at 88 mph with the heater and showing good arm resilience after pitching the day before. The star pitcher for Crimson was the closer, Ricky Oropesa, who looked every bit like a future Big League closer with his dominant performance.
Oropesa also pitched the day before and was up to 90 mph. Well, in the last inning, against the last hitter, he climbed from 90, to 91, and finally blew a 92 mph heater by the hitter to nail down the save. He was aggressive and nasty. Awesome outing, three hitters, two punchouts sandwiched around a 5-3 put-out.

IF/P Jesse Moore ('08 - Mission Bay HS, San Diego) threw two effective innings in the second and third, doing a nice job of locating his mid-80s fastball and mixing in his curve and change-up. IF/P Bryan Haar followed Moore and pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four of the eight hitters he faced. Haar was up to 87 a number of times and showed very good feel of his change-up and breaking ball. LHP Logan Lee contributed a clean sixth inning. Lee is a strike throwing lefty with a nice breaking ball.

Offensively three Crimson players had RBI base hits; Pounders doubled home a run in the first, Calhoun singled home a run in the third, and Haar drove home the last Crimson run with a fifth inning single. Jesse Moore was 2-3, Kevin Eichhorn was 1-1 with a walk, Amezquita reached twice (walk and HBP), Jomel Torres was 1-2 (2B) with a run scored, and Eddie Young was 1-2. On the defensive side, 3rd baseman Dmitri DeLaFuente was a standout, going to his backhand well and showing a big, accurate arm accross the diamond.

White only scratched out four hits, singles by Daniel Carroll, R.J. Hively, Deryk Hooker, and a run scoring double by Derek Legg. Legg scored Noonan who had reached base via a walk and put himself in scoring position by stealing second base. Dennis Walker played very well defensively and after an early error, Victor Sanchez played flawlessly the rest of the way, making a number of plays.

White starting pitcher Deryk Hooker threw three solid innings, giving up only one earned run. He showed much improved mechanics and got his fastball up to 89, while also showing good feel and action with both his slider and curveball. The last White pitcher was Hawaii-bound RHP Sean Soto (La Costa Canyond HS, Cardiff). Soto is a long bodied righty with a quick/loose/easy arm. He touched up to 89 and has the makings of both a good curveball and change-up. There is plenty more velocity to come in the future for him.
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