Showcase : : Story
Thursday, June 12, 2014

PG National: Day 1 recap

Patrick Ebert         Chris Real        
Photo: Perfect Game

Jeff Dahn Day 1 features: Ryan Mountcastle | Gray Fenter

FORT MYERS, Fla. – On the morning of the first day of the 2014 PG National Showcase, Brendan Rodgers stood calmly leaning against the railing of the third base dugout chatting with teammates and watching the other hitters take their swings.

Rodgers is ranked as the No. 1 shortstop both nationally and in Florida, and No. 2 overall in the PG high school class of 2015 rankings. The 6-foot, 185-pound shortstop is a product of Lake Mary High School and has committed locally to Florida State. His plan was to execute his workout drills smoothly and not do anything too extreme.

I just want to go out there and do my best,” Rodgers said of his mindset heading into the showcase. “I want to put on a good show in BP, do my thing hitting and fielding, I want to field it cleanly. Nice good, hard throws not trying to do too much just everything smooth and easy. Just be myself out there.”

With Rodgers’ ranking and highly touted remarks from PG scouts, he had a successful workout at the PG National Showcase. Rodgers' 60-yard dash time was 6.78 seconds. He also displayed his power during batting practice, hitting two home runs, one over the replica Green Monster wall at JetBlue Ballpark and the other to straight away center, 379 feet away. He also displayed his infield skills throwing a max velocity of 93 mph across the infield, giving him a five-tool profile.

His performances in the workouts have been the result of him preparing for the PG National and improving his performance.

Just working out, I mean hitting, fielding, throwing; everything that you should be doing,” Rodgers said. “My main focus was speed so hopefully all the work I did paid off.”

With good results in all three areas, Rodgers will be pleased to see his training pay off, and he welcomes the opportunity to play amongst the top high school baseball players in the country with open arms.

It makes me push myself,” Rodgers said. “Seeing how I know most of these kids out here, all of the top players, from friends, seeing them makes me push myself to do a little better. I know them all, it’s fun being around them, nice meeting them, so it’s fun being out here with all these kids.”

Rodgers will be joined at the PG National Showcase by fellow top shortstops John Aiello and Nicholas Shumpert. Aiello is the No. 1 rated prospect in Pennsylvania and the No 2 shortstop in the country. Shumpert is the No. 1 shortstop in Colorado and No. 3 nationally.

Rodgers has prepared himself for this opportunity by playing with the Orlando Scorpions Prime, one of the most successful travel ball programs in the country, something he has been grateful to be a part of.

It’s helped me so much. Getting with the Scorpions organization has brought me from a no one to something big,” Rodgers said. “[Coach] Matt Gerber, Sal [Lombardo] and Brian [Martinez] they all have helped me succeed and got me on the radar and I couldn’t thank them enough. It was mainly my parents decision to play with the Scorpions and I felt like it was the right thing to do and it has definitely paid off.”

The Scorpions have had plenty of success in PG tournaments winning both the 17u WWBA National Championship and the 2013 WWBA Underclass World Championship in 2013. Rodgers was named to the All-Tournament team at both events, in addition to be named to similar squad at three other 2013 tournament events. Rodgers said he believes the success his Scorpions team has had is due in large part to the team chemistry.

I feel like this summer is going to be pretty much the same thing,” Rodgers said. “We might have as good, maybe even better talent and we’re all from Florida, we all know each other and we’re all a team, we play as a team and know how to play as a team. So hopefully all of our hard work will pay off.”

Due to the talent of the Scorpions roster, Rogers said he witnessed several of his teammates drafted in the MLB First Year Player Draft, including first round pick Foster Griffin and third rounder Carson Sands. While the draft stays in the back of his mind, the FSU commit remains focused on the present.

My main focus is getting to college first,” Rodgers said. “Obviously the draft is something in my mind and if I keep playing hard and well as a team player, hustling on and off the field. Hopefully that will be a choice one day.

Seeing all my buddies get drafted it’s just something unreal, it’s like a dream come true watching them.”

Chris Real

Live Streaming

For the third straight year the Perfect Game National Showcase is available for everyone to watch online. The live stream to all of the workouts, batting practice sessions, and games, and the archives for each if you can't watch them in real time, can be found on iHigh's dedicated Perfect Game page:

Day 1 Workouts

The first six teams started the morning by running the 60-yard dash and then conducting outfield and catching drills. The infield drills were pushed back after batting practice to allow the dirt to dry properly after a round of storms passed through Fort Myers late on Wednesday night.

Josh Naylor set an event record by recording a throw of 93 mph from first base. Wyatt Cross continued to show off his strong arm behind the plate with a 84 mph throw and a 1.76 pop time.

Brendan Rodgers posted the best infield throw at 93 mph while Yasin Chentouf and Jordan Myrow each threw 95 from the outfield.

Tyler Williams posted the best time in the 60-yard dash at 6.54 seconds.

Read about all of the top performers in the workouts, as well as detailed results from the games, in the PG scout blog:

2014 PG National Showcase scout blog

Stevie Mangrum was one of the first players to stand out in batting practice, launching one ball clear over the Green Monster and driving a handful more high and deep to the left-center field gap. He consistently hit the ball hard to the pull side.

The next batter among the Orange hitters, Ty Buck, also continued to put on an impressive display of power, hitting a shot to the deepest part of the park that bounced off the top of the wall.

Jonathan India, Ryan Mountcastle, Jahmai Jones and Braden Rollins were among the hitters that stood out for the Gold squad.

India displayed an easy swing with some pull-side pop, hitting one ball out. Mountcastle has good bat speed and a direct swing path, spraying line drive to all fields and obvious upside for more given his slender, projectable frame. Jones had one of the best BP displays on the day, quickly reminding everyone why he is currently ranked the No. 5 prospect in the 2015 class by absolutely crushing a ball with his first swing and consistently hitting the ball hard. Rollins also hit the ball hard, getting great extension from his tall and angular 6-foot-3, 195-pound stature.

Moving on to the Green team, Ramon Alejo packed some nice punch in his 6-foot, 175-pound frame, hitting a couple of balls up and over the Monster.

Brendan Rodgers had arguably the best BP display of the day by showcasing one of the easiest, prettiest swings in which the ball jumped off so easy and to all fields. He hit several balls to the deepest part of the ballpark and made it look extremely easy.

Kep Brown also showed well in the batter's box a couple of hitters after Rodgers, with good balance in his swing driving the ball with loft to left and left-center field. Barrel-chested outfielder Sam Finnerty also belted some balls, hitting several down the left field line and to left-center, including one ball that was hammered off of the Nike Baseball
The Future Gets Faster banner at the top of the Monster. Finnerty added an RBI single in Game 2.

Of the lefthanded hitters from the Green team Christopher Chatfield and Josh Naylor – who is frequently compared to Prince Fielder in both stature and offensive profile – stood out. Chatfield hit every ball high and deep in the air to right and right-center field while Naylor crushed numerous balls over the wall down the right field line.

Nico Hoerner of the Crimson squad came out smoking line drives in his round of BP, exhibiting very good strength from his 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame.

Of the hitters on the Navy team Daino Deas stood out despite his listed 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame. He routinely put a charge in the ball, hitting a few hard off the wall of the Monster.

Iowa native Luke Farley also stood out for the Navy team, hitting several balls high and deep to left-center while pulling a couple high over the wall in left field.

Cornelius Randolph also stood out for the Navy team. A big, strong lefthanded hitter, Randolph took aggressive swings at the plate, hitting the ball high and deep to right and right-center field.

Of the players on the Black team Bryan Scheker and Seth Beer stood out the most. Scheker is a slender athlete with plenty of room for added strength and hit the ball to all fields with a nice, easy stroke.

Beer, a 2016 graduate, showed that he more than belonged with the top players in the nation that are a year older than him. He's one of the best looking athletes on the field as well, perfectly proportioned with plenty of room for added strength. It took him a few swings to get in his groove, but when he did his power potential was pretty obvious.

National Impressions

Similar to the 2013 National Showcase in which several notable arms (Tyler Kolek, Kodi Medeiros and Luis Ortiz to name just a few) took the mound in the first game, onlookers were treated to a handful of hard-throwers, as well as a pleasant surprise, in the first game of this year's event.

Gray Fenter was the first pitcher to take the mound for game action, and came out firing, sitting 92-93 mph in the first inning while touching 94 more than once. He also showed a promising low-80s power breaking ball.

Ryan Cole McKay countered Fenter on the mound and quickly passed the eye test given his athletic and projectable 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame. His stuff matched his stature, working in the same 92-93 range that Fenter showed off the previous half inning while also peaking at 94.

Corner infielder Curtis Terry, a well put together athlete that showed nice pull power in batting practice, was able to drive a ball off Fenter that carried over the center fielder's head for a double.

Chandler Day's 6-foot-4, 162-build made scouts perk up when he took the mound, and he rewarded their attention by working in the 90-93 range in his first inning of work and holding 90-91 mph fastball velocity in his second inning. He also mixed in a slurvy 79 mph breaking ball, and overall was easy to dream on as he continues to add strength to his tall, lanky build.

Lefthander Hogan Harris proved to be the pleasant surprise in Game 1, similar to Kodi Medeiros last year and Rob Kaminsky in 2012. Harris peaked at 94 mph and worked in the 90-92 range easily with big-breaking slow curveball. He was lights out through the first five batters he faced before walking a batter. The courtesy runner was able to advance to third base on a wild pickoff attempt, and scored on a wild pitch. Harris buckled back down to fan the final batter he faced swinging.

Dalton Blumenfeld put a nice swing on a Harris fastball resulting in a booming double to right-center field. Blumenfeld, a big and strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete, also showed well in batting practice, crushing a ball over the Green Monster in left-center.

In Game 2 Kep Brown, who as noted above had one of the better displays in batting practice, had the offensive highlight of the day when he smoked a laser high off the wall of the Green Monster for a double. The hit happened in the second inning off of Game 2 starter Stephen Kolek, the younger brother of Tyler Kolek, who was the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft.

Tristin English started the game for the Green team and looked very sharp, peaking at 94 mph while working at 90-93. He also mixed in a 84 mph slider and a promising curveball that hovered right around 80.

Cole Sands, the younger brother of Carson Sands – who was taken in the third round of this year's draft by the Cubs – showed his prowess on the mound in his clean, back-to-back three-up, three-down innings of work. He induced weak contact, working in the upper-80s to low-90s while peaking at 92 mph and mixed in a mid-70s curve.

Athletic two-way talent Garrett Hutson, who performed at a high level in Jupiter last October at the WWBA World Championship, showed arguably the loosest, live arms of those that took the mound on Day 1. His first pitch clocked in at 92 mph, and worked consistently at 89-91 in his two innings of work. While he threw mostly fastballs, he did throw a couple of promising curveballs in the upper-70s.

John Michael Boswell and Yasin Chentouf both hit doubles in the bottom of the eighth inning. Boswell's was crushed high off of the wall down the left field line, while Chentouf's carried over the center fielder's head. Chentouf's shot proved to be the “walkoff” hit as the Crimson team scored five runs in the frame to pull out the showcase victory, 5-4.

A trio of intriguing righthanders began Game 3 for both the Orange and Gold squads. Cody Morris, Maddux Conger and Al Pesto all flashed raw arm strength while each peaking at 92 mph.

Blakely Brown and Juan Hillman were also both up to 92 in the seventh and eighth innings of the game, working comfortably at 90-92.

Hillman in particular was impressive. Although he wasn't able to consistently snap off an effective breaking ball, he exhibited very good arm speed and provided a fair amount of deception with his fastball. In his second inning of work, where his fastball velocity sat at 89 mph, he struck out the side in order.

Game 3, with only seven hits combined between the two teams, lacked offensive highlights and was completed in less than two hours.

To view detailed game results please visit the aforementioned PG National scout blogs as linked above.

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