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Analyzing Amateur Baseball Talent as it pertains to the MLB Draft

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Under Armour Game
Notes 8-14-10

It always helps getting a chance to see players take batting practice prior to a game, especially an all-star type game, as you may never get a true feel for what they’re capable of at the plate. I always warn that all observations from one event need to be taken somewhat with a grain of salt, since it’s always the body of work that defines a ballplayer. If you base your opinions solely off of the game, you may not think much of players such as Dwight Smith, Jr. and Tyler Greene, two of the best hitters in attendance.

Since I focused on the positional prospects in my notes from the practice, this part will focus on the pitchers that took the mound. Again, similar to events like these, the pitchers were pretty much throwing as hard as they could, taking the opportunity pitching only one inning at a time to wow the scouts. Typically, the pitchers that actually pitch as they normally would enjoy the more crisp and clean outings. Only a small handful of pitchers hit the low-90s, with Lance McCullers the only one to throw harder than 92 (he was 94-95).

Reports in order of appearance, team-by-team.

National team

Nick Burdi

I was a little surprised that Burdi threw from a low three-quarters delivery given his large stature. He’s a big fella that pitches more like a smaller projectability guy. He was very impressive in his inning of work, working 91-92 with some sink on his fastball and putting Nick Delmonico away with a nasty 84 slider. He struck out the side, getting Shon Carson swinging and Addison Russell looking, both at 92 mph fastballs. He threw one upper-70s changeup that had decent fade to it, but looked more like a show-me pitch at this stage in his development. I know he impressed at the Area Code Games last week as well.

Bryan Brickhouse

Brickhouse is a good looking athlete with well balanced proportions. His first pitch was a 92 mph fastball with that pitch ranging from 88-92 in his inning of work, and his heater gets solid movement when it is thrown in the upper-80s. He also throws both a curveball (upper-70s) and a slider (low-80s) which are basically the thrown pitch just thrown a little differently depending if he wants to drop it in the zone or get batters fishing in the dirt. He appeared to be rubbing his left (non-throwing) elbow in between pitches, but I hadn’t heard if anything was wrong.

Brandon Woodruff

Country strong is the term that bests describes Woodruff, built with broad shoulders and a strong build looking the part of a prototypical workhorse. He threw consistently right around 90 and topped out at 91 on this day. His curveball is inconsistent at this point, although he did start to throw a tighter breaking ball when he started to throw it a little harder. Similar to Brickhouse the inning before, Woodruff had to throw more pitches than he should have due to some shaky play behind him.

Lance McCullers

As noted above, no one matched McCullers heat. He sat at 94 and touched 95 twice. The arm strength and overall delivery are pretty easy, and he also mixed in a violent hard downer low-80s curve that had some slurve-like two-plane to it at times. He threw too many breaking balls, and likely would have enjoyed a much more crisp inning had he thrown more fastballs. He walked and hit a batter and he struck out both Nick Delmonico and Mason Robbins on fastballs. It’s going to be hard to determine how to develop this young man, a debate scouts will likely have for nearly two years.

Rookie Davis

Davis left quite an impression on me, both as a hitter and as a pitcher. He’s another country strong young man with big shoulders and a sturdy build. Even though his heavy fastball was topping out in the upper-80s, the ball appeared to explode out of his hand with easy arm strength, and he commanded the pitch very well. It’s easy to see him throwing harder than that more consistently moving forward. He also had nice break on a low to mid-70s curveball. He appeared to be very cool and composed on the mound, with a methodical and patient approach to pitching.

Spenser Linney

Linney is a skinny lefty with flat yet long proportions and nice projectability. He also has a smooth delivery and a fastball that topped out at 89, sitting at 87-88. He throws from a low three-quarters delivery and there was a little head snap when he released the ball. He threw a lot of curveballs, a nice pitch thrown in the 72-73 range with a big, slow break, and he really hit his spots well with both his fastball and his curve.

Jerrick Suiter

Suiter was one of the better looking athletes to take the mound, and he started off his appearance pretty well with a boring 92 mph fastball. He settled in the 87-89 range, throwing mostly fastballs, but he did mix in both a curve and a slider. He struggled to throw strikes however, walking in a pair of runs before giving up a two-run single to Dante Bichette. He started to get his curve over more and did a nice job recovering to get out of the inning, striking out the side the hard way (getting Tyler Greene, Brandon Nimmo and Connor McKay). However, he threw about 50 pitches in his inning of work, as I’m not sure he should have been allowed to go that long, as he looked gassed around pitches 30-35.

Bubba Starling

Starling was the talk of the event, as his two-way skills, overall athleticism and commitment to Nebraska as a quarterback certainly created a lot of intrigue. I was pleased with what I saw of him on the mound, as he sat 89-90 with his fastball that had a little run and dip to it. He uses a compact delivery, which was somewhat surprising given his size, and overall pitched effortlessly. He started to snap off some really nice 75-77 curveballs that in my opinion were the best breaking balls thrown at the event. The future certainly looks bright for this young man, although even if he does forego football, the next question will be where his future is brighter: At the plate or on the mound?

Skylar Janisse

The lone Canadian on the roster, he follows the footsteps of Jake Eliopoulos and Kellin Deglan who played at this event each of the past two years. I don’t think Janisse carries the same grade as a prospect at a similar stage in his career. He is a taller righty with a high waist and good projectability overall. His fastball sat at 86-87 with decent life and touched 89 a few times. It took him a few tries, but he started to snap off a few sharp low-80s curveballs as part of his ninth inning stint.

National hitter notes: While he didn’t have a huge game at the plate, Chris McFarland continues to be at his best during games, especially when the competition is at its highest. He showed a very quick bat and good speed on the basepaths. Connor Castellano had some good at-bats in this game, and did a very nice job bringing his hands in to hit a single off of a tough lefty in Porter Clayton as a left-handed hitter. I’m sure it was a nice experience for Dominicans Ronald Guzman and Ronniel Demorizi, but both have a lot of work to do to play with the kind of talent that was in attendance. Aaron Brown showed a nice approach at the plate, working the count deep leading to a walk and three times hit by pitch. Lance McCullers, as detailed below, showed off his big arm not only on the mound but also on the field, firing a seed to first base on Shon Carson’s infield single. Rookie Davis didn’t have a big game at the plate (no one from the National team really did), but he put an easy swing on a ball that travelled to deep right field, just to give an idea of how easy his power potential is.

American team

Hudson Boyd

It’s hard to miss Hudson Boyd, who stood out during practice the day before with his barrel chest and overall thick, sturdy build. That alone means conditioning will need to be a concern for him moving forward, but he showed good stuff, including a low-90s sinking fastball. He also snapped off a few sharp curveballs in the 74-78 range, one of which he used to freeze John David Crowe, Jr. to end the second inning.

Porter Clayton

With broad shoulders and a tall frame with long and loose limbs, Clayton screams projectability. There is some deception and a little bit of herk and jerk to his delivery that makes it that much more difficult to catch up with his stuff. He throws in the upper 80s, sitting around 88, and his smooth arm action leads me to believe he’ll be throwing a few ticks harder in a short amount of time. He also threw a big sweeping mid-70s curve and a nice fading changeup. He also showed a very good and natural pickoff move, and overall is what you would expect from a lefty.

Carson Baranik

Baranik has broad shoulders and a strong lower half. His fastball sat in the 84-87 range but had good life to it, acting like a cutter, and he reportedly has thrown harder in the past. He mixed in a big, slow low-70s curveball and worked mostly on the outer half. His stuff and stature are similar to the Brewers Carlos Villanueva, a guy that isn’t going to wow you, but has good pitchability that gets batters out by changing speeds and commanding the zone.

John Curtiss

Curtiss was impressive, with a loose, live arm and tall, angular body that leads me to believe he’s just starting to scratch the surface on his potential. His fastball sat 88-89 but was throwing 89-92 at the Perfect Game National earlier this summer. He showed the ability to add an subtract off of his breaking pitch, ranging from a big breaking upper-60s to low-70s curve to a sharper 77-78 slider/slurve. He needs to tighten up whatever he wants to call his breaking pitches, but shows a very good foundation, and throws his breaking pitches with the same arm action and speed as his fastball.

Benton Moss

With sloped shoulders and a smallish frame, Moss looked more like a middle infield prospect when he took the mound. He has good projectability, and also shows pitching savvy. His fastball had some sink at 87-89 and he threw a very sharp, low to mid-70s curveball. It’s easy to imagine him throwing consistently harder within a few years, and that may be at North Carolina, a school that always seems to have a knack for keeping their top recruits away from pro ball.

John Hochstatter

Hochstatter had the quickest outing of any pitcher, using a mid-80s fastball with good sinking movement to record contact early in the count. He threw a loopy curveball around 77, but was mostly fastballs, needing roughly 8-9 pitches to get out of the sixth. He’s a big lefty with a big leg kick, so it’s easy to see his fastball velocity creeping up to the upper-80s, although it’s the movement on the pitch that makes him so effective currently.

Adrian Houser

He had one of the better fastballs at this event, hitting 91 and working 88-90. He also threw a few 73-75 curveballs that had some nice bite to it, and a 79 mph changeup. He hit three batters, but was able to get out of the inning unscathed by blowing three straight high fastballs to Deomorizi. There appears to be some effort on his shoulder as part of his delivery as well as a noticeable head snap.

Kyle Smith

Smith was a fun player to watch, between his back-to-back BP home runs on Friday to his bulldog mentality in his two innings of work on Saturday, the only pitcher to go longer than one frame. He’s a shorter right-handed pitcher but had arguably the most aggressive and fearless approach. He went right at hitters with a fastball that sat 86-88 and reached 90. He also threw a hard 74-77 downer curveball, one of the better breaking pitches of those in attendance. There is some max effort to his delivery, and he adds a lot of character to the mound.

American hitter notes: Shon Carson got a chance to show off his speed by out-running an infield single on a grounder hit to Lance McCullers. The ball was hit right to McCullers, and he handled the ball cleanly, and fired an absolute missle to first base. Carson still beat it out. Nick Delmonico went down writhing in pain in the ninth inning on what appeared to be a nasty cramp in his calf. He was helped off the field, but was limping around the dugout within a few minutes. Dante Bichette, Jr. really looks and acts as though he belongs, with visible confidence and yet a good understanding of the game, both at the plate and on the field. Mason Robbins wins the hustle award. Brandon Nimmo was named the game’s MVP and really made a name for himself at this event. He hit an RBI triple in the second on a high fly deep down the left field line. He added an RBI single through the left side of the infield in the third, and walked in the seventh. Greg Bird put together some really solid at-bats, showing a good approach at the plate.

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Dandy Dozen

SP
Andrew Gagnon Well rounded RHP w/ good size, repertoire
SP
Erik Johnson Big bodied RHP with good FB/CB combo
SP
Deshorn Lake Live-armed RHP with sharp breaking ball
CL
Nick Maronde Lived-armed LHP tough to catch up to
C
Nick Delmonico May not be C long-term, big body, LH bat
1B
Zach Wilson Aggressive hitter can put sting in ball
IF
Sean Trent Well built hitter with pop, speed, arm
3B
Dante Bichette, Jr. Clone of father with big build, power
SS
Austin Nola Steady D' at shortstop, improving strength
OF
Nick Martini Good all around player with patient eye
OF
Shon Carson Shorter, well built 2-sport speedster
OF
Granden Goetzman Fast riser w/ exciting power/speed combo

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