I posted this over at minorleagueball.com as well, here's a recap of the two late games featuring Peter Tago, Adam Plutko, Taijuan Walker, and more. . . video and pics are available here:
Yesterday I headed out to the Diamond in Lake Elsinore to take in the two late games of the C.I.F. Southern Section Championships. The Division 2 Final matched Yucaipa and Glendora, which featured two high profile 2010 draft eligible starters in Taijuan Walker and UCLA commit Adam Plutko.
I have seen a lot of Taijuan Walker this year, and last night's performance was reminiscent of his start against Rialto on 4/30 when he never got settled in and couldn't find his control. Yesterday he looked like he was aiming the ball and routinely missed up in the zone. His fastball was his normal 92-93, 94 but he struggled to get on top of the ball. He flashed his low to mid 80's slider too, but had similar issues with this pitch. Walker ended the day with four walks, and left the scouts scratching their heads wondering where he should be picked in the upcoming draft.
Glendora's Adam Plutko's start started out similarly to Walker's as he came out and struggled with his command early on and was missing up in the zone. Plutko was able to settle down after the second inning and ended up cruising to a complete game victory.
Plutko was working off his fastball at 89-91 and topped out at 92. After the second inning, Adam settled down and was able to hit his spots much better with the fastball. Plutko's second best offering was his curveball that he varied the velocity from 70-75. The drop in velo on the curve vs. the fastball helps the pitch play up as the curve isn't a huge breaker, and he commanded the pitch pretty well. Plutko also mixed in a slide piece at 80-82 that has short late break. From the third base side I saw a change up, but the pitch wasn't used as much and I didn't get a reading on the gun.
Compared to some of the other draft eligible So Cal pitchers like Austin Reed at Rancho Cucamonga and Northwood's Zach Weiss, Plutko has a leaner, more athletic look and is more polished. He doesn't have the velo of Upland's Scotty Frazier, but he does have less effort in his delivery.
The nightcap at the Diamond featured Mater Dei and Dana Hills. The game could have been called the Cory Hahn Showcase, because that is exactly what it ended up being. Hahn, an ASU commit, pitched five innings of shutout ball against Royal on Tuesday, so he could only throw five innings yesterday due to CIF rules.
This was my second look at Hahn as a pitcher and he has impressed on both occasions. Entering yesterday's game, Hahn had a microscopic ERA under 1 and 86 K's in 89 innings. Hahn's true value going forward is that he is a duel threat, as he is also a plus CF and was hitting nearly 400 with 9 jacks. The main knock on Hahn is his size. He is listed at just 5'10" , 160 pounds, so he doesn't have the physical projection like an Austin Wilson or Michael Lorenzen that the pro scouts covet.
Hahn the pitcher. . .
Cory knows how to pitch and he knows how to make the most of his physical tools. He doesn't have the huge overpowering fastball that blows away high school hitters. He does generate a fastball that ranges from 85-88 and touches 90 at times. Last night there weren't a lot of radar guns on him, but the velo looked similar to what I saw when he pitched against Capistrano Valley. Hahn also spins a solid curve that he commands well. He will double up with the curve ball and he even threw it three times to strike out a Capo Valley hitter early in the year. For me, Hahn's best pitch is his change up. The pitch has very good depth and fade and it is probably the best high school change up I have seen this year. He has a very good feel for the pitch and commands it very well, especially down and away from the right handed hitter.
Hahn the hitter. . .
I have seen a lot of Hahn being compared to Mark Kotsay and Nate Mc Louth. I can understand those comparison's, especially to Kotsay, as he was a two way guy at Fullerton. I also see a little bit of JD Drew in Hahn. He is quiet at the plate and I could see him getting more power down the line. Yes, he did hit 9 HR's this year, but he plays in a small park, and the wind is generally blowing out at most of the yards in Southern California.
Last night, facing a solid high school left hander, Hahn laced one down the left field line and the left fielder made a nice play to keep the speedy Hahn to single. This at bat showed how he can handle lefties, as he kept his front side closed and drove the ball the other way. In his last at bat, he showed me something. . .something very good. If you have never been to Lake Elsinore, the wind tends to blow pretty strong later in the evening. Last night the wind was blowing pretty strong from the right field line to the left field line, and the ball wasn't carrying very well to right field. After a pitching visit from Dana Hills, Hahn smashed a bomb to right center (again, off a lefty pitcher) which was probably at least 400 feet, and into this wind. Luckily for me, this lead to a pitching change for Dana Hills so I would get a look at Peter Tago (more on him later).
Hahn's night . . .
So Hahn laces a shot down the left field line, gets hit by a pitch and then hits a majestic home run. What else did he do? In the sixth inning, he also made the defensive play of the game (and every special game needs at least one of these plays). Playing a shallow centerfield, Hahn got a great jump on a ball that was driven to the warning track in dead center. He showed his plus speed to track the ball down and made a highlight real over the shoulder catch.
I mentioned that this was a special game, a special night. Hahn had all of his stuff working for him last night on the hill. He was mixing his fastball, curve and change, and carving up the strike zone with all three pitches. He was only allowed to go the five innings, and he made the most of those innings, tossing 5 PERFECT INNINGS. The Dana Hills hitters were totally overmatched those five innings, and Hahn handed the ball to sophomore Ty Moore who finished off the Perfect Game with two perfect innings of his own (a kid to watch going forward with a power arsenal fastball/slider combo, but uses a high effort delivery). This was a truly awesome night for Hahn and Mater Dei, to spin the perfect game in the Championship game. It was a tough loss for Dana Hills (obviously), but even more because the first run scored on a Mater Dei triple that the left fielder never saw as he lost it in the twilight sky. Dana Hills lefty starter Eric Hsieh (a junior) pretty well matched Hahn for the most part as he pounded the outside corner with his fastball most of the night.
Other game notes:
Cal Berkeley commit Derek Campbell (Mater Dei short stop) has good range and a strong arm. He kind of reminds me of the kid who tries to fit in with the "in" crowd in school, always trying to impress everyone all the time. Even throwing the ball around the horn, he throws the ball and hops as if turning a double play and avoiding a runner sliding into him. Not a bad thing, it just stood out and looked funny. He has a wiry frame and will need to gain some strength going forward to avoid getting overmatched at higher levels. He does show good speed, but has some holes in his swing.
Projected first rounder Peter Tago came in to record the final two outs of the game for Dana Hills. He lit up the radar gun at 93-95, and recorded the final out with a 97 mph heater that the hitter had no chance on. He only threw one off speed pitch, a curve at 76 that had whiffle ball break to it.
Tago has a similar build to to Taijuan Walker, a little thinner though. He has a good body and is athletic. A lot of sites talk about the inverted W and to be careful with the pitchers that have this in their mechanics. He does have a bit of a W, but I don't totally buy into there being an increased injury risk. . .all pitchers have injury risk.
Last night you could see what Tago could be down the road, a knock out closer. I'm not limiting him to a pen role, as he generally has maintained his velo late into games, but coming out of the pen will allow him to boost the velo even more, which would help his stuff play up quite a bit.
Mater Dei has become quite an athletic factory over the years, and you can see a lot of future studs coming up in their baseball program. Their catcher, Jeremy Martinez is a strong armed catcher who hit 360 this year, and he is just a freshman. Ty Moore got the save yesterday, and he is just a sophomore, and Mater Dei had a few other underclassmen contribute to their championship run. They will be loaded for the next few years. . .
Dana Hills note: A very fundamentally sound team, Dana Hills didn't have the studs that Mater Dei had. You can tell they are a well coached team and play the game the right way. They just didn'thave the sticks to match the Monarchs. It looked like they brought up most of their JV team too, which made for the longest infield/outfield I've seen in a long time. . .