Showcase : : Story
Monday, August 18, 2008

ATLANTIC COAST UNDERCLASS SHOWCASE

David Rawnsley        
Over the years I’ve really grown to respect the teams and players from the Atlantic Coast region. Teams such as the Dirtbags, Diamond Devils and South Charlotte Panthers, among others, have always played extremely sound fundamental baseball during World Wood Bat Association tournaments and often achieved above their talent level because of it.

After watching two days of the Atlantic Coast Underclass Showcase, I can say that legacy is in good hands.

This was probably the youngest group of players that I’ve ever seen at an underclass showcase. Most underclass showcases will feature a majority of rising juniors, with some sophomores and an occasional freshman mixed in. This event was mostly 2011 players (rising sophomores) and there were some very good players who were as young as 2013’s!

But despite their young ages, this was a very fundamentally sound and skilled group, especially on defense and especially in the middle infield. The four 10-inning games were all crisply played and none dragged at any point. One game was, from as far as we could determine from the scorebook, completely errorless by both teams (!), another game finished in 2 hours.

Over the course of 40 innings I can recall maybe 2 or 3 errors by middle infielders. The pitchers threw strikes and the fielders made plays. That didn’t mean there wasn’t some offense. One team had 15 hits during their first game, a pretty impressive achievement with innings limited to 5 hitters.

A top 10 list from the event will be published after the reports are posted in 2-3 weeks. Here are some initial impressions on some of the top performances.

The hardest throwing pitcher and top pitching prospect was RHP Colby Sims (2010/Jacksonville, FL). Sims has a nice 6-2, 185 lb build and a well paced delivery that he repeats well. He pitched in the 88-90 mph range and had a 73 mph curveball that had hard spin and good shape.

Just as in the Atlantic Coast Top Prospect showcase held immediately before, one of the standout pitchers was actually a primary catcher who might want to consider more time on the mound. C/RHP Eric Ledna (2010/Kennesaw, GA) threw 84-86 mph with one of the best curveballs at the event.

As mentioned above, the play of the middle infielders stood out. Names to particularly pay attention to include Brandon Burris (2011/Concord, NC), Seth Constable (Lewisville, NC), Scott Johnson (2011/Wilmington, NC), Patrick Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), Dillon Maples (2011/West End, NC), Wood Myers (2013/Chapel Hill, NC) and Jake Watson (2010/Charlotte, NC).

Constable was the fastest player at the showcase, running a 6.66 on an outfield that was a bit wet and thick. He was 4.10 on a 2 hopper to third base that he beat out during a game action. Constable has good strength and some bat speed that should keep improving.

Watson is a left handed hitter with a very polished approach at the plate and a present college level arm at shortstop. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the middle infield in the ACC or SEC in a couple of years.

If you caught the “2013” in the middle infielder list above, you noted Wood Myers, who will be an 8th grader this fall. Myers is the brother of SS/RHP Steele Myers, a participant in numerous Perfect Game and WWBA events since 2004 and an incoming freshman this fall at VMI. He is also one of the most skilled youngsters you will ever see. Myers went 4-5 at the plate during games, with his only out being his best swing, a towering drive to right field. Myers was also flawless on defense with very smooth, balanced actions.

The top outfielder was Dylan Brown (2010/Clayton, NC), a 5-9 left handed hitter who has already verbally committed to North Carolina State. Brown is a 6.88 runner with excellent range in centerfield and a quick bat. He lists second base as his secondary position and it would be interesting to see him play that position in the future.
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