As most high schoolers prepare to head back to school after the summer, some of the top prep prospects in the country concluded their summer tour at the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game that took place on Saturday, August 14 at Wrigley Field. Follow the jump to get an in-depth look at the event.
Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, Orangewood Christian HS (Fla.)
Committed to Georgia, the right-hander has some of the best raw power in the high school ranks, and it was on fine display in batting practice Saturday morning. Bichette generates plus bat speed and tremendous loft through an open stance and a huge timing step, which will need to be quieted down as he faces more advanced pitching. His plus raw power potential is strictly to the pull-side right now, as all but one or two of his hits went down to left field. During game action, Bichette showed similarities to a key-hole hitter, looking for one pitch in particular, a fastball on the inside corner, that he could drive, resulting in a pseudo-patient approach that may be mistaken as a good approach (overly selective). At the hot corner, Bichette was very sound, showcasing a great arm to go along with good actions and demeanor.
Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner HS (Kan.)
Committed to Nebraska as a quarterback and to play baseball, Starling is one of the best athletes in the draft, and is sky-rocketing up the charts as a both a hitter and a pitcher. While he also showcased a 90-92 mph fastball and a 74-76 mph 11-5 curveball with good two-plane break on the mound, he is a true five-tool talent as a position player, with plus speed to go along with the plus arm in the outfield. At 6’5’’, 190 pounds, Starling profiles best in right field as he continues to mature and add muscle on his lean frame. At the plate, Starling displayed tremendous bat speed in batting practice using a fairly compact swing and generating good loft. During game action, Starling showed a patient approach and rarely chased after pitches out of the zone. There is some cleaning up to do, as he could benefit from starting his hands higher, but he barreled up pitches better than anyone at the event, and with his frame, the potential is there for a plus hitter with plus power.
Chris McFarland, IF/OF, Lufkin HS (Tex.)
Committed to Rice, McFarland has some of the quickest hands in the high school ranks, and they stood out immediately during batting practice. The right-hander showed surprising pop to all fields for his frame, staying inside the ball well and using plus bat speed to project for above-average power potential. An outstanding athlete as well, showcasing a very strong, yet somewhat erratic arm at the hot corner and getting down to first base at 4.0-4.1 during the game and an even better runner underway. McFarland has legitimate five-tool potential and is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he can do during game action.
Rookie Davis, RHP/1B, Dixon HS (N.C.)
Committed to East Carolina, Davis packs some serious power, both at the plate and on the mound. He was very impressive in batting practice, launching balls into the top level seats in left field at Wrigley. Rookie is a monster physically, standing at 6’5’’ and 220 pounds, likely leaving him limited to first base as a position player. Davis has plenty of bat speed and while his timing could use some work, his hands work tremendously well, barreling pitches with good tilt even when he is fooled. On the mound, Davis worked 90-92 with good command of the fastball and also showcased a hard-biting 11-5 curveball at 74-76 that has above average potential.
Dwight Smith, Jr., McIntosh HS (Ga.)
Uncommitted thus far, the son of former major leaguer with the same name, Smith may very well follow in his father’s footsteps as he has packs a tremendous swing in a small frame. He generates some of the best bat speed in the country in a compact swing from the left side. The power potential is there, mainly to the pull-side for right now, but he also laced line drives to left field as well. He has little projection to work with, but Smith is a hitter in the purest form and easily had the best swing mechanics of the day. In the outfield, he wasn’t terribly impressive but he certainly didn’t hurt himself out there. He looks faster than he actually is and there’s not a whole lot of arm strength there, but neither tool subtracts from his overall tool set.
Nicky Delmonico, C, Farragut HS (Tenn.)
Committed to Georgia with Bichette, Delmonico is a sweet-swinging left-hander with a polished all-around player and a good athlete to boot who can play multiple positions. Delmonico consistently recorded sub-2.0 pop times in the workout at University of Chicago-Illinois the day before, and his game arm ranged from 2.0-2.2 with good accuracy on Saturday afternoon. He impressed as a leader behind home plate and his ability to receive pitches stood out as well. During batting practice, Delmonico consistently sprayed line drives to all fields but struggled in game action with some issues with his timing. He went 0-4 on the day with two strikeouts, both chased out of the zone. But, overlooking the small sample size, Delmonico is an advanced hitter with a good approach and he will generate some buzz as a catcher.
Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (Fla.)
Uncommitted thus far as a top 2012 prospect, Russell was an absolute treat to watch both in the field and at the plate. You could make a legitimate argument that he is the top position player in high school right now, including the 2011 crop. Russell makes it look extremely easy in the field, complete with above-average to plus actions, arm, instincts and range. While not a plus runner, his athleticism plays up in the field, where his range is tremendous – showcasing it during infield practice. At the plate, Russell displayed some of the best bat speed at the event, and there’s little doubt he’ll be able to hit for both average and power at the next level. He’s a very aggressive hitter, and might need to cut a few steps during his load, but as for now, his hands are making up for any mechanical insufficiency he has. Russell has easy five-tool potential, and will be a top five pick in 2012.
Nick Burdi, RHP, Downers Grove HS (Ill.)
Committed to Louisville, the MVP for the National Team was outstanding – striking out the side in the first on 13 pitches. Burdi comes at hitters from a low three-quarters arm slot and his fastball sat at 92-94 with natural sink and tail and good command of all quadrants. He also features a hard 83-85 mph slider that has good short two-plane break and a 79-82 mph change-up to keep hitters off-balance. Burdi understands how to pitch and executed his pitches brilliantly on Saturday. His mechanics aren’t the prettiest; however, as there’s a bit of habitual rushing going on that could suggest command issues, but there certainly was no problem in this game. At six-foot-four, 210 pounds, Burdi projects well and should be consistently sitting in the mid-90’s once he adds muscle to his frame.
Hudson Boyd, RHP, Bishop Verot HS (Fla.)
Committed to Florida, Boyd is physically maxed at six-foot-two and 235 pounds. But, he’s just as powerful as his frame suggests. His fastball sat consistently at a very heavy 92-93 mph with very good command of the pitch and a sharp 11-5 slider that he likes to back door lefties with that sat at 79-81. Boyd also showed a good feel for an 80-83 mph change-up, as well. With two above-average pitches and a good feel for a change as well as overall command, Boyd is without a doubt one of the most polished pitchers in the 2011 high school ranks.
Porter Clayton, LHP, Bonneville HS (Idaho)
Committed to Oregon, Clayton has somewhat flown under the radar being a crafty left-hander from Idaho, but he is everything you look for in a pitcher. His fastball sat at 86-88 on Saturday with probably the best fastball movement of the event that he commanded very well. Both of his secondary pitches are potential above-average pitches in his 74-76 mph change-up and a 78-80 mph sweeping breaking ball that he used for one of his two strikeouts. Clayton works quick and easy with an intelligent pitchers mindset and a very effortless delivery.
Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Wheeler HS (Miss.)
Committed to Mississippi State, Woodruff is a strong athlete with a durable frame that showcased three above-average pitches at the event. With a drop and drive type-delivery, Woodruff worked at 90-92 with solid-average command and some good run on the pitch. His curveball is a sharp 11-5 breaker that ranged from anywhere from 74-80, and he complimented that with a very good feel for a straight change-up at 79-81. There was a little bit of effort in his delivery, as he picks his arm up with his elbow, but overall, nothing jumps out as worrisome.
Lance McCullers, Jr., RHP/IF, Jesuit HS (Fla.)
Committed to Florida as another top 2012 prospect, McCullers woke up a relatively dead crowd in the fourth inning on the mound on Saturday – reaching back and pumping 95-97 mph heat. Obviously, the arm was the best of the day, and he was able to showcase his 83-85 power curveball as well. Both pitches have plus to plus-plus potential. The only downside on this day was his control and command, which graded out as below-average. He could have just been trying to do too much as a younger kid at a national event full of older players, so he’ll get a pass for now. The arm action is pretty long, so I’m curious to see how the control develops in the next couple years. Also a top prospect as an infielder, McCullers has some big-time raw power in his swing as well. But, my gut feeling based on what I saw on Saturday sees him as a pitcher down the road if he can correct a few mechanical errors.
Ronald Guzman is a very athletic outfielder from the Dominican Republic that put on an impressive batting practice in the morning. He barreled up pitches to all fields as good as anyone at the event, and he’s only 15 years old. At 6’4’’, 180, scouts can easily project above-average power in the future. Guzman is a top international prospect for 2012.
Ronniel Demorizi was the other Dominican prospect at the event. As is true for just about every Latino middle infielder, Demorizi flashed a very fluid glove and made a 6-3 double play look remarkably easy during game action. He’s not as polished as Russell is, but as a 15 year old, there’s a lot to like here.
Drew Stiner is an athletic catcher from Oklahoma and is one of the top defensive catchers in the high school ranks. I had three pop times from Stiner, all sub-2.0 at 1.87, 1.89 and 1.93. Stiner also impressed with receiving and handling advanced stuff and got bonus points for his hustle and leadership.
Best Athlete: Shon Carson, OF, S.C. HS
Best Pure Hitter: Dwight Smith, Jr.
Best Power Hitter: Dante Bichette, Jr.
Best Strike-Zone Judgment: Greg Bird, C/1B, Grandview HS (Colo.)
Fastest Runner: Carson or Connor McKay, OF, Regis Jesuit HS (Colo.)
Best Defensive Player: Addison Russell
Best Infield Arm: Lance McCullers
Best Outfield Arm: Brandon Nimmo, OF, East HS (Wyo.)
Best Fastball: Lance McCullers
Best Secondary Pitch: Carson Baranik, RHP, Parkway HS (La.)
Best Command: Porter Clayton