Showcase : : Story
Sunday, June 17, 2012

PG National: Day 4 Recap

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

Sheffield determined to improve

MINNEAPOLIS – Jordan Sheffield officially put his name among the top 2013 prospects last July while pitching for the Knights Baseball travel team at the WWBA 16u National Championship.

At that event, Sheffield worked in the 89-92 range with his fastball, peaking at 94.

Jordan's brother Justus, a left-handed pitcher, joined him at that event, and is one of the top prospects in the 2014 class.  Reports surfaced at the National that Justus is now matching his older brother's 94 fastball velocity.

The two Sheffield brothers could be premium picks in back-to-back drafts, and Jordan is focused on continued improvement.

“I've been working with my dad throwing bullpens,” Sheffield said after his performance in Game 13 of the 2012 Perfect Game National Showcase. “(I'm) trying to stay behind the ball, staying back longer and get a downward angle, keep it low and do what I do. Just pitch.”

Sheffield showed incredible knowledge of his craft, and the results were clear on the mound as he threw a sharp downer curve consistently at 78 mph.

“You want to stay back as long as you can to get as much velocity on it, and you also want to stay back as long as you can so your arm angle can get above your elbow, keeping your elbow up and getting that downward angle. Staying behind it and getting more velocity.”

His fastball also shows very good late life. In this game, Sheffield threw his fastball consistently in the 90-91 range, pounding the lower half of the zone. He can take a little more off for a true two-seam sinker, and he also throws a changeup.

“On lefties I'll throw a two-seamer, so I'll move my arm angle slightly to the right to have a little late break on it.”

Staying in shape as a well conditioned athlete is very important to Sheffield, something his father Travis has imparted onto him.

“Always after the game I'll run,” Sheffield said of his post-game routine. “If I pitch one inning I'll sprint half-way (when running pole-to-poles). As my dad will say, “Run the first one for me, because I don't want to sprint.” So I'll run it for him, and the back half I'll jog. If I pitch one inning I'll go down and back, flush the arm out.

“And then (at night) I'll sit and put some ice on it. (I'll also do) long toss the day after tomorrow. But it's kind of hard to stay in that routine because I play middle infield during summer ball, but I try to do so as much as possible.”

Similar to last year, this summer likely will involved a lot of travel to notable tournament events, including the WWBA National Championship series in Marietta, Ga. While Sheffield didn't know where he would be playing next, he certainly was mindful to appreciate throwing at the Metrodome, former home of the Minnesota Twins.

“It's different, I love it,” Sheffield said of pitching in the dome. “There's not much noise, so you feel that everyone is watching you. You know you need to hit this spot, there's just a little more pressure, but that's going to happen someday.”

From Chicago to Minneapolis, Ray shines

Corey Ray has grown up since making his first appearance at a Perfect Game event. He came into the 2010 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship at 5-foot-9 inches and 145 pounds. The seventeen-year-old outfielder has grown a couple of inches and put on forty pounds coming into the 2012 National Showcase in Minneapolis.

The Louisville commit came into the Metrodome as the top-ranked prospect from the state of Illinois for the draft class of 2013 and is ranked 29
th overall.

Ray’s success on the field stems from his impressive array of tools. In workout’s Ray displayed a strong arm, throwing 87 mph from the outfield. Ray showed great speed running the 60 in 6.76.

Ray was able to capitalize on his speed and strength with an inside the park home run in Game 7 of the showcase, showing a 4.31 time home to first with a turn.

“I hit and knew it was in the gap so I just took off. I ran and when I hit home plate I was relieved,” Ray said. “I finally got a hit. I finally hit one hard.”

Ray took a Greyhound Bus to Minneapolis from his hometown of Chicago, Ill., where he plays for Simeon Career Academy. He shows a lot of pride in his hometown and is thankful for his opportunity to play baseball there, “I love it, it’s competitive.”

The level of competition at the National Showcase has impressed most of the athletes in attendance, Ray was just as impressed with the other players off of the field.

“Everyone’s good,” Ray said, “They’re good and they’re friendly. They’re not the big league type.”

Ray chose to resist all the distractions that Minneapolis has to offer and dedicate his time to improving his game.

“(I’ll be) taking a couple of hacks tomorrow in the cage.” Ray said, rather than play the part of a tourist.

“(This has been) the greatest opportunity, I never dreamed of anything like this.”

- Kira Olsen

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Workout session recap

While four games were played on Day 4 of the National Showcase, the day kicked off with the 60-yard dash as well as the outfielder, infield and catching drills for the Vegas Gold and White teams. The results are posted in the 2012 National Showcase blog:

Lasting impressions

• Impressive pitching was on display in the first game of the day, Game 12 between the Vegas Gold and White teams. Dustin Driver took the mound first and got the day off to a bang by routinely hitting 92, working at 90-92,and topping out at 93 mph with his power fastball. He also threw an upper-80s power breaker and a polished 83 mph changeup. He has great size, listed at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, with impressive strength throughout.

Casey Meisner was up next, a 6-foot-7 skyscraper righty that worked at 86-91 with his fastball, using his size well to throw on a downward plane. He also threw a nice low-80s change and showed good feel for his mid-70s curve.

Casey Shane continued the theme of right-handers that have a nice combination of size and arm strength, pounding the lower half of the strike zone with a 87-90 fastball that touched 92, a low-70s curve and low-80s change.

That theme continued with Alec Hansen, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound righty from Missouri who threw 87-91 while complementing his fastball with a slow curve and a 78-81 change.

Connor Jones pitched a little later in the game, throwing a 90-93 fastball in his first inning of work dropping in a very sharp mid-70s curve.

Brett Binning had one of the hardest hit balls of the day, a rocket to centerfield off of Shane that registered 92 off the bat. Nicholas Buckner had the other, hitting a double off the baggie in right.

The defensive play of the game came on a diving, sliding catch by William Abreu in left field.

Jonathan Pryor had a web gem of his own in Game 13, the second game of Day 4, charging hard in on a line drive that was slicing down and away from him to make the sliding, head-first catch.

The best double play so far during this event was also turned in this game. Second baseman Gosuke Katoh made a diving stop to his right, flipping the ball out of his glove to shortstop Riley Unroe, who fired to first to complete the twin killing.

• It's easy to envision Texas Orange right-handed pither and Game 13 starter Lawson Vassar adding onto his 87-88 mph fastball over the next 2-3 years. At 6-foot-3, 185-pounds he is very projectable, and showed the ability to command a solid three-pitch repertoire.

Kevin Davis doesn't have a big, projectable build, but is able to produce low-90s heat. His first several pitches were clocked at 93, and he didn't throw a single fastball below 90. He also threw a very sharp 75-77 curveball.

Aubrey McCarty has the distinction of being able to throw with both hands. He was 85-87 with his right arm, and 81-83 with his left.

Among the Royal pitchers, Justin Evans threw 87-91 with a loose, live arm, and a sharp mid-70s curveball. It's easy to envision him throwing harder in the not-so-distant future.

Teammate Spencer Trayner, a primary middle infielder, also showed very good arm speed in producing 86-90 mph fastballs. He too threw a sharp, power breaker.

Will Haynie had the most impressive drive in Game 13, drilling a two-run double to deep left-centerfield exhibiting very strong hands and bat speed. Texas Orange teammate Cavan Biggio had another big hit today, hitting a double to the gap in right-center.

Jordan Sheffield's performance in Game 14 is detailed above, but a few other pitchers shined in the contest as well. Vegas Gold left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin, pitching for the Red squad, worked in the upper-80s, sitting at 88-90 while touching 91. He mixed in a big slow low-70s curve.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Dan Hermann has great current size and strength with future projectability, working in the upper-80s and peaking at 90 mph with his lively fastball. He also threw a 74-77 curveball.

Yet another Vegas Gold pitcher, Devin Williams, was also impressive in this game. Devin Williams, who has very good present strength with plenty of future growth potential, showed a nice, balanced and repeatable delivery to generate 87-90 mph velocity on his fastball. He also maintained his arm speed on his 78 mph changeup, making it difficult to recognize out of the hand.

The promising arms continued for the Vegas Gold team when Bryan White took the mound. White has a strong, sturdy build, working 87-89 with a 73-75 mph curve. His outing was made memorable when he caught a screaming line drive hit right back at him, catching the ball in mid-air as his body was falling to the ground.

Strong-armed catcher Ronnie Healy took the mound for the Red squad to close out Game 14, throwing almost exclusively 89-91 mph fastballs that peaked at 93.

• Vegas Gold catcher Tyler Alamo hit a ball to deep left-center for a triple that was nearly ran down by Red centerfielder Daniel Williams. Elliott Barzilli followed that up with an hard hit RBI single up the middle that registered 95 mph off the bat. Barzilli proceeded to steal both second and third.

Alamo added a triple later in the game when a bloop to right field got by the outfielder who was unable to make a diving catch.

Later in the game, outfielder Nicholas Banks hit an opposite field RBI double to left-center.

• In the final game of the day, Game 15 overall at the PG National, right-handed pitcher Jesse Roth looked solid taking the mound as the starter for the Steel team. He has a nice, projectable frame and a loose arm, making it easy dream on him throwing harder than his current 87-89 mph fastball that touched 90.

Steel teammate and fellow righty Jared Brasher also stood out in this game, with a good, athletic frame with good present strength. He has a live arm, producing 89-91 fastballs peaking at 94. While he doesn't throw as hard as Lance McCullers, who peaked at 98 at last year's National in Fort Myers, Fla., there is a physical resemblance between the two.

From the White squad, Dylan Williams stood out in this game. The 6-foot-4 right-hander has very good size and projectability, using an upper-80s fastball that peaked at 92 a handful of times during his first inning of work.

• Middle infielder Cletis Avery showed off his 6.60 speed when he hit a ball to the gap in left-center, blazing around the basepaths before gettig gunned down at home plate trying to leg out an inside-the-park homerun. Avery settled for an RBI triple.

Teammate Tyler Cohen added a double of his own later in the game, hitting a ball to the gap in right-center using his speed to collect the double.

Travis Demeritte continues to hit the ball well at the National, lacing a ground-rule double down the right field line in this contest. He showed very good speed out of the box and around first base, as he likely would have stretched out a triple had the ball not bounced over the fence.

Be sure to read Jeff Dahn's player features on Jeremy Martinez
and Clint Frazier. Also check out Nick Kappel's Father's Day feature on the players in attendance with notable bloodlines as well as Nick and Kira Olsen's feature on last night's Rawlings Home Run Challenge.

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