I should start by saying that these showcases are a lot of fun and a chance to see players you only normally hear or read about secondhand. That said, it's really hard to get a true evaluation on any one player. It's the end of a long season. Pitchers typically only go one inning so you can see them go all out on the fastball but also sometimes have trouble getting a quick feel for their breaking ball. Hitters are often at a disadvantage and that was certainly the case in this game.
I also took pictures, normally not my thing, but my wife was unable to attend the game this time, so there are fewer pictures and of lesser quality than usual, but it does help you put a face, stance, and/or body type to a few of the names.
The player that stood out to a lot of people was Luken Baker in no small part because he is 6'4", 240 lbs and cut out of granite. He looks like a linebacker out there. It's not just for show. Baker showed power on the mound and at the plate. He threw mostly fastballs, sitting consistently in the 92-93 range and overpowering hitters. He also won the HR derby contest, edging out Starling Heredia. I wouldn't be surprised to see Baker go to college (he is committed to Texas Tech) so he can continue to hit, though most like him better as a pitcher.
Starling Heredia himself is a physcial specimen with RHP Anthony Molina simply calling him, "Puig" -- a player to whom he does show a physical resemblance. Incredible considering he is just 15. The Dominican born Heredia showed raw power during the derby, though it did not translate to the game itself.
Chris Betts also put on a power display. He is a catcher with a thick build, particularly his lower half. He has a chance to stick at catcher which is a good thing because I can't imagine him playing anywhere else except for 1B. For a power hitter, he keeps his bat in the zone a long time, indicating he can hit for average but he also showed tremendous power, hitting 6 HRs, most of the line drive variety, in the first round and then lining a double over the CF'ers head during the game.
Ryan Johnson showed a patient approach and a fluid swing but it did not translate to much success in the game. But that was the story for most of the hitters. Fellow LH hitter and OF'er Michell Hansen also showed good athleticism and a good fluid swing with quick hands and an all-fields stroke at the plate, hitting two drives to the left side, one of which went for a hit. He looks rather long and lanky and he's more of a line drive type right now but perhaps he can grow into some power as he gains strength and learns to turn on the ball better.
3B Ryan Mountcastle turned on high 93 mph heat from hard-throwing Corey Zangari, showing good bat speed and making loud contact, though he was robbed once on a diving catch by Daz Cameron. Mountcastle does a good job of taking the pitch right back up the middle and looks like he'll be able to hit for some power as he fills out. Cameron didn't stand out in the game other than his defense. Zangari throws hard but I wasn't crazy about his arm action, which was a bit long. I found he was relatively easy to pick up and that he got squared up more than someone of his velocity should.
Nick Schumpert showed some athleticism and range on defense, but was a bit erratic on offense, perhaps trying to hard to show some of his extra base power. It should come naturally in time. He has quick enough hands to be at least a gap power guy.
Infielder Anthony Tolbert is one of the better athletes on the field, smooth actions... but he also had a more polished swing than I expected. Solid bat speed.
Brendan Rogers showed a natural, fluid athleticism and flows through the ball like you like to see in a shortstop. He had a solid arm and quick release. Looks like he can stick there long term. As for his offense, we did't get to see his best. He showed good bat speed but rolled over on a couple of pitches and grounded out to the left side.
Josh Naylor is a bid-bodied kid from Ontario, Canada who displayed outstanding strength and raw power. He showed some ability to go oppo, Not a bat speed guy, does it more with strength and leverage. Patient, disciplined hitter. Content to wait for a pitch he can drive. Limited defensively so he is going to have to hit a ton.
Kyler Murray was probably the best athlete on the field (and that is saying something) but he is going to be a tough sign because he is also one of the best QB prospects in the game. Has a career in that sport and I imagine anyone who selects him may wait until after the 20th round. I'd be shocked if he doesn't go to college.
Kyle Dean showed good athleticism when he made a fine running catch heading toward the line in RF. Nearly beat out a fairly routine grounder but I did not get a time on hm.
Kody Clemens doesn't have the physical build of his dad but showed a quick short stroke with surprising pop to go with good athleticism. Projects as a 2B.
LHP Juan Hillman has a lean, athletic build with a fluid delivery that he repeats well. He was in the 88-89 range velo wise but showed a good curve that had some deoth and which he commanded better than most pitchers that day. There is projectability here and perhaps he can add a tick or two the fastball as he matures physically. Good approach on the mound.
Justin Hooper, LHP, was the hardest thrower that night, reaching 95 mph from a 3/4 delivery with a little funk and from an intimidating 6'7" frame that has to absolutely make LH hitters nervous. Tough to pick up. Ball gets on hitters quickly with late movement. He was overpowering but he will have to improve his command. He's tall and young, so it may take him time to get all those arms and limbs working together consistently but he is athletic and already shows good potential to repeat consistently Flashed a good, sharp curve but like most pitchers could not get a cosistent feel for it.
Ashe Russell, RHP, is a strong kid who was maxing a bit on his effort, but that wasn't unusual for any pitcher on this night in which they mostly went one inning. Russell sat 91-92, touched 93 with some good downward movement. Reportedly has a good slider but had trouble getting a good feel for it. Threw it often and broke off a couple of breakers that may already be plus but did not do it consistently, especially when he tried to backdoor RH hitters. Still that fastball by itself gave hitters fits. Also heard he has a good change but didn't see that Saturday night either. So as good as he was, we didn't see the best of Russell.
RHP Beau Burrows was 92-94 and has a solid athletic build.
RHP Anthony Molina has a simple delivery but his velo was down in the high 80s, slow curve in the high 60s and low 70s. got hit pretty hard. Hitters were seeing him well and squaring up.
Mike Nikorak already hits 92-94. The RHP shows all kinds of projectability from an athletic 6'5", 205 lbs frame, quick arm but easy delivery that to me was more fluid than either Russell's or Hooper's. Flashed a couple of good curves. This kid looks like he is just scratching the surface. Definitely someone I'm going to watch.
RHP Cole Sands, brother of Cubs LHP prospect Carson, was 88-91 mph but showed good arm speed and can probably throw hard. He also threw perhaps the best changeup of the night. A bit raw overall, though, not as advanced as Carson but there may be more projectability.
RHP Gary Fenter is a smaller pitcher with a strong build (6'0", 200 lbs), makes up for lack of height by throwing with good leverage, generating some plane on his low 90s fastball. Showed potential for a good slider.
Filed under: Under Armour All-American Game