Some of the nation's best high school talent was on display yesterday at Wrigley Field at the Under Armour All-America Game. It was something of a sloppy game, featuring a few misplays and errant throws early on, but there were also many flashes of the kind of ability that makes many of these players potential high round draft picks.
We've seen plenty of scouting reports, particularly on the more heralded players, so I'll just focus on players that made an impression on me, one way or the other, on this particular Saturday.
Clint Frazier showed why he's considered one of the more exciting players in this class. He showed all kinds of tools, including good speed on the bases and in the OF, as well as a strong throwing arm. He was not one of the bigger players on the field, standing at about 6'0 190 lbs., but he displayed some serious bat speed. During the HR derby, he deposited 3 into the LF bleachers before losing in the next round to OF Justin Williams, who showed great raw power, hitting one on to Sheffield Ave. into the teeth of a strong wind.
OF Austin Meadows was the most heralded player but did not stand out until he tripled down the LF line, showing outstanding effortless speed from 1st to 3rd. He is a physical specimen, much bigger than fellow Georgia prospect Frazier. He has the same speed and quick hands, but his superior size gives him more power potential. Meadows is a 5 tool talent with a solid approach. He's a potential top 3-5 pick in the draft, putting him squarely in the Cubs range.
OF Ivan Wilson looks like he was carved out of granite. He runs very well and although he didn't showcase his raw power, he did show strong hands by fighting off a couple of tough pitches and depositing them in the OF for singles. I think with some more experience he could be interesting. The physical tools are there but he's pretty raw right now, even for a high school player.
Chris Rivera showed some smooth actions and a powerful arm at SS.
1B-OF Dominic Smith had the most natural, picturesque swing of the group. It's a clean and effortless stroke from the left side and he was able generate very good power, hitting 2 HRs against the wind during the HR derby and also hit a key single during the game.
Brian Navaretto is a catcher who hails from the same high school as Cubs top prospect Javier Baez. He's athletic for a catcher and has great size with a 6'3", 215 lbs frame that looks like it was made for baseball. He displayed tremendous quickness coming out of the chute and a powerful, accurate arm, throwing out 2 baserunners trying to steal. Showed some bat potential as well, but it was his work behind the plate that really stood out.
Was disappointed in LHP Trey Ball in terms of velocity and his breaking stuff. Their were earlier reports of the tall (6'6"), lanky pitcher sitting in the low 90s but that wasn't the case on Saturday. He was mostly 87-89 and could not get a feel for his breaking pitch. He was actually better at the plate, showing good power when he hit a double deep into the right-center field gap. Ball is the kind of guy you dream on. He's got great size, has shown he can throw in the 90s already, athletic, and plenty of room to fill out. But from what I saw, he's much more projection than polish right now.
I was pleasantly surprised by Hunter Green, who had a nice clean delivery with good arm speed. He was 88-91, touched 92, and showed good command of a big-breaking curve. He's tall and lean, listed at 6'4", 160 lbs. I'm not sure those measurements are accurate as he didn't appear that lean to me. Still, there's room to add velocity as he matures physically.
Robert Tyler was also about 88-91 but was not as consistent as Green with his curveball, but he did throw a couple of sharp knee-bucklers that drew some oohs from the crowd. Overall, he had trouble with command, but you could see his potential when things were working for him.
The best raw stuff that day came from Brett Morales who hit 93 mph with a power curve that may have been the best single pitch on display Saturday.