Showcase : : Story
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

California Underclass Showcase Loaded with Arms

Perfect Game Staff        
The California Underclass Showcase attracted some of the very best '08 and '09 players in California, which is no different than in any other year. Last year's California Underclass Showcase had the following players... 1B Freddie Freeman, OF Brett Krill, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Josh Vitters, P/C Robert Stock, and OF Sequoyah Stonecipher, all of whom were eventually selected as Aflac All-Americans. RHPs Cole Cook also attended that showcase and is one of the top pitching prospects in California for the 2007 MLB draft.

This year's California Underclass Showcase featured a group of players that rivals the '06 group and likely will actually surpass last year's group when graded as a whole. The thing that stands out about the group this year versus last year's group of players is the quality of the pitching. What is even more unique (and frankly quite astounding) was the number of two-way prospects that were in San Bernardino this past weekend.

Without getting into ranking or rating the players at the California Underclass Showcase, (which will be done in the coming weeks) let's take a peek at the top prospects, starting with OF/RHP Aaron Hicks of Long Beach Wilson HS. On the mound Hicks was electric, with a fastball up to 92 and a big league curveball. As a position player he showed a full set of tools, most notably a plus plus arm and plus bat speed from both sides of the plate.

Though he has not done much in the way of baseball for the last month or so, Los Osos HS outfielder Isaac Galloway showed that he has physical ability that rivals any player in the '08 class. He glides effortlessly and powerfully as a runner and possesses plus bat speed, has easy power and a big time arm. Then there was the mulit-talented Anthony Gose, an OF/LHP from Bellflower HS. Gose registered 94 mph from the outfield and on the mound sat at 90-91. To imagine an outifeld with Hicks, Galloway, and Gose... wow.

Another two-way prospect that shined was one that we did not have much, if any, prior knowledge of... 1B/RHP Ricky Oropesa of Etiwanda HS. He showed well on the mound and at the plate, with a fastball that was up to 92 mph (twice) and displaying plus power from the left side of the plate. Of course as we talk about power hitters, OF/1B Clark Murphy (Fallbrook HS) has one of the prettiest power strokes in the '08 class. He has such strong, loose, and fast hands and a swing that works so easily, it is not hard to imagine big power numbers from him someday at the pro level.

RHP Jake Thompson, Hicks' teammate from Long Beach Wilson HS, was lights out on the mound, showing excellent command of his 89-91 mph fastball and a put-away breaking ball. Another Long Beach Wilson HS player, 6'8" RHP Ray Hanson flashed up to 89 on the mound, with the promise of more velocity to come in the spring season.

Another pitcher that sparkled was RHP/IF Ryan O'Sullivan of Valhalla HS. O'Sullivan fits in that group of talented two-way players. On the mound he is 88-90, with a sharp breaking ball and polished approach. At the plate he has a pretty stroke that provides some pop from gap to gap. If we are talking about left side infielders with big ability on the mound, we also have to include Chris Amezquita (Servite HS), Dmitri DeLaFuente (South Hills HS), and J.R. Graham (Livermore HS).

Amezquita has a big left side arm and hits with the type of authority that plays at the 3rd base position (though he plays SS in HS). On the mound Amezquita was 88-90 and had feel of his biting curveball. DeLaFuente is a smooth left side infielder who can run and hits with authority. On the mound he was 87-88 with a very good curveball and polished approach. Graham showed some quick twitchiness in his swing and his ability to accelerate on the bases, not to mention on the mound were he was up to 88-89 and also showed a good downer curveball. There was seemingly no end to the very talented two-way players at this event.

SS Cutter Dykstra showed that he can run, field, throw, hit and drive the baseball, all of that suggesting that he is one to watch in the '08 class. He attends Westlake HS and is the son of former MLB player Lenny Dykstra. He was not the only shortstop who caught our attention. Shaun Cooper from Catalina Magnet HS (Tucson, AZ) showed an extremely strong all around game. He runs well, has a compact stroke that produces some power and can pick it in the middle of the diamond. He is likely to be one of the most highly recruited '08 middle infielders in the West.

There were other '08 players that grabbed our staff's attention; C Kyle Skipworth (Rubidoux HS), RHP Brandon VanDam (Quartz Hill HS), SS Jason Hanson (Sabino HS, AZ), SS Matt Harrison (Green Valley HS, NV), LHP/OF Lucas Herbst (Monterey HS), RHP Chris Vopinek (Bellflower HS), RHP/3B Dustin Hobbs (Arbor View HS, NV), SS Eddie Young (Christian HS), RHP Anthony Drobnick (Seattle Prep, WA), LHP/1B Chris Joyce (Dos Pueblos HS). Other '08 players showed well, but that group stood out.

As for the top '09 players, three in particular shined above all else. SS David Nick of Cypress HS is the type of player that every scout and college coach in America wants to see, especially at his age. He is a polished hitter (with plus plus bat speed) and defender, with instincts for the game that go well beyond his age. RHP Brooks Pounders (Temecula Valley HS) pitched easily in the 88-90 range for a bit and showed feel of the breaking ball. Pounders' high school teammate RHP Tony Calhoun touched up to 92 on the mound and showed bat speed at the plate.

There were other '09 players that stood out. Corner infielder Breck Ashdown (Catalina Foothills HS, AZ) is a left handed hitter who looks to have big time power in his future and it should come out quite easily and MIF Joey Leinweber (Puyallup HS, WA) is a talented hitter with sound infield actions. In one game he had an AB vs. Thompson and one against Hicks and handled the bat well both times. The top '10 grad was Los Osos HS catcher Jake Hernandez, who probably would be recruited by most D1 programs if he were a senior right now. Talented young player.

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