All American Game : : Story
Thursday, September 01, 2005

Aflac All-Americans: Top Tools

Patrick Ebert        

In an event full of players with amazing, eye-popping tools, I thought it would only be fitting to break down the tools of the best of the best.

Best Pure Hitter

1. Chris Parmelee

2. Chris Marrero

3. Nathan Bridges

Parmelee may have not provided the big hit or slugged awe-inspiring home runs during the derby, but he had the smoothest stroke of all hitters in attendance. He has good power now, and I could see more developing given his swing and his knack for making contact. Fewer hit the ball with more authority than Marrero, while Nathan Bridges impressed me with his ability to squarely hit the ball consistently hard ever time he came up to the plate. Honorable mention to Max Sapp.

Best Raw Power

1. Cody Johnson

2. Billy Rowell

3. Max Sapp

Like Parmelee, Johnson's offensive prowess didn't result in a gaudy stat line on the field, but with his long, strong limbs and easy, uppercut swing, it's hard to pick anyone ahead of Johnson in any category where power is being discussed. No one hit the ball further in BP than Johnson with his natural ability to loft the ball. Rowell's tall and lanky yet strong frame gives him the second best power, as he also made hard, consistent contact, as he wasn't just a hacker. No one impressed me at the plate as much as Max Sapp, who absolutely smoked everything he saw. Hank Conger also hit the ball extremely hard, and has considerable power potential from both sides of the plate.

Best Athlete

1. Jared Mitchell

2. Brent Brewer

3. Jeff Rapoport

Mitchell didn't participate much before Saturday's Aflac All-American Classic, so I didn't get a good chance to get a feel for his overall game, but his athleticism is undeniable. Brewer had a tough outing during the Aflac game, and didn't stand out much during batting practice and the scrimmage, but you can see the athleticism and how Brewer could overcome any deficiency he may have given his God-given talents. Rapoport let his athletic ability be shown on everything he did on the field, from running to hitting to throwing, and word has it that he's a pretty good tailback in football as well. The best well-built athlete award goes to Devin Shepherd, who looked like a man among boys on the field. Everyone at the event is such a good athlete, that it's hard to limit this list to just three.

Fastest Player

1. Derrick Robinson

2. Jared Mitchell

3. Ryan Adams

Pun only partially intended...Derrick Robinson runs away with this award. Jared Mitchell's speed is part of what makes him such an amazing athlete, while Ryan Adams not only has very good speed, but he also is a very instinctive base-runner. Rapoport and Brewer aren't far behind on this list.

Best Defender

1. Ryan Jackson

2. Torre Langley

3. Robbie Alcombrack

Ryan Jackson was the smoothest defensive player, as he exhibited his natural grace on the infield to go along with a pretty good throwing arm time after time. Torre Langley is extremely active behind the plate, with quick reflexes and a confident approach to handling the pitching staff. Robbie Alcombrack edges out a few players including Max Sapp and Nathan Bridges for his take-charge approach on the field. All of the catchers in attendance were impressive, as I was particularly impressed with the way Max Sapp handled Matt Latos.

Best Arm Defensively

1. Max Sapp

2. Nathan Bridges

3. Chris Parmelee

Sapp wasn't afraid to show off his gun on pick-off throws to first base, in the game and during the scrimmage. His arm gives him an exciting power/power combo that is hard to match of any 2006 draft eligible high school player. Bridges has a cannon that will serve him well at the hot corner, while Parmelee's arm at first base gives him yet another polished tool. While Chris Marrero committed three errors in the Aflac game, his arm and overall defensive prowess is evident.

Best Five-Tool Player

1. Cody Johnson

2. Jeff Rapoport

3. Jared Mitchell

Johnson's power is the best tool on this list. While he has good speed to go along with his offensive potential and a good arm on the hill, he is going to have to alter the way he throws from the outfield, currently more of a side-arm delivery, if that is going to be a solid fifth tool for him. Rapoport uses his athleticism on the field better than any other Aflac All-American, hitting, hitting for power, running, playing good defense and showcasing good arm strength. Mitchell is such a natural, pure athlete it's hard not liking what he can do across the board. If it weren't for a lack of speed, Sapp, Parmelee, Bridges and Marrero would find themselves on this list given their ability to hit, hit for power, arm strength and overall defensive skills.

Best Fastball

1. Kyle Drabek

2. Dellin Betances

3. Jeremy Jeffress
It was a little difficult to pick the player with the best power potential in that category while picking the player with the best fastball in attendance in this category. I think most people expect Jordan Walden and Matt Latos to have the best fastballs down the road, as they possess the perfect frames and athleticism to regularly pump 94-96 mph fastballs. Drabek was the only pitcher to touch 95 at any point during the game, scrimmage, showcase, etc. Betances not only throws in the 93-94 range, but he also is aided by his stature in which every pitch bores down on hitters. Jeffress has an explosive arm, but I'm concerned that his velocity dipped noticeably both during the game and during the scrimmage. Colton Willems and Chris Tillman just miss this list, and an honorable mention to Russell County teammates Kasey Kiker and Cory Rasmus for both touching 94 mph during the game.

Best Breaking Ball

1. Kyle Drabek

2. Colton Willems

3. Cory Rasmus

Not only did Drabek record the highest reading on the radar gun with his fastball, he also showed why he is one of the top 2006 draft eligible high school players by also impressing those in attendance with the best, most consistent, hardest breaking curveball. All four of his punchouts came while using his hammer, and he set the pitch up perfectly using his dominating fastball. Colton Willems' curve may not have been as consistent, but he caught Robbie Alcombrack looking on the second best curveball of the game. Cory Rasmus' hook was as consistent as Drabek's, but the break and velocity on the pitch was just a notch below. An honorable mention needs to be given to the breaking pitches of both Chris Tillman and Ryan Jenkins.

Best Command

1. Dellin Betances

2. Brett Anderson

3. Chris Tillman

When you see a 6'8" high school pitcher you may automatically assume that such a pitcher may have trouble commanding the strike zone. That was not the case with Dellin Betances, who was throwing darts on the mound, quickly recording three outs in his inning of work while doing the same in the scrimmage two days before. Brett Anderson impressed me with his poise and polish on the mound, and while he did give up a run during his inning of work, he showed an advanced knowledge of pitching by changing speeds and working up, down and side-to-side in the strike zone. Chris Tillman, like Betances, used his powerful, tall frame and intimidating stuff to own the strike zone. While Kyle Drabek started off a little wild, once he found his groove he absolutely owned the opposing hitters.

Best Two-Way Player

1. Kyle Drabek

2. Cory Rasmus

3. Aaron Miller

Given the way Drabek pitched and the way he easily lofted home runs to left-centerfield during BP, he easily is the top two-way player that was in attendance. He benefits from an athletic frame, his bloodlines (his father is former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek) and the confident manner in which he carries himself. Flip a coin at this point in time to determine where Drabek fits best. Cory Rasmus may be considered a better positional prospect at this point in time, and while he worked out at third base you can tell by his frame why he may make a very good catcher. However, he really was impressive on the mound, with two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball to go along with a promising changeup. Aaron Miller exhibited a smooth stroke at the plate, a slick glove at first base and a polished arm on the mound. Miller's future probably is greater on the mound, since it's hard to pass on a left-arm like that.

Most Polished

1. Kyle Drabek

2. Dellin Betances

3. Nathan Bridges

I think I've gushed about Drabek enough, whose all-around game as a hitter and a pitcher should carry him pretty far, pretty quick. Betances was one of the most impressive pitchers in attendance, while Nathan Bridges' bat, arm and overall defense should allow him to move quickly at the pro level or contribute immediately at the college level. Chris Parmelee, Chris Marrero, Chris Tillman, Colton Willems and Brett Anderson all get an honorable mention in this category.

Congratulations to all of the players in attendance by being selected as Aflac All-Americans to take part of this growing event.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect Game USA. Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and, and can be contacted via email at
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