The Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego last Sunday was a high scoring game, but didn't have a lot of offense. It ended at 8-6 with the West on top but it was a sloppy game and was much more showcase than game. Many of the better players played showcase games to show off what they had, tools wise, than a baseball game to show their ability.
That is typical of these games and of many of the games that I see. I don't get the chance to sit on a lot of games in season for these guys as I am in the north and most of the best players are in Cali, Florida, Georgia and Texas. For that reason, many times, it's hard for me to get a grasp on the level of polish that a player actually has.
The way I approach these games is watching to see what level of tools and ability a player has and what he could do with them if it works out right and less on how likely a guy is to work a count, hit the cut off man or make a productive out. This is finding how much "clay" a player has to work with. Will player development have enough to make a statue or just a small bowl?
Like I said, the game wasn't that great. It was sloppily played. Catchers got crossed up. There were errant pick off moves and catcher interferences and so on, but it still had a pile of talent.
Alex Jackson is an impressive athlete but if I were on his side as an advisor, a parent or a coach, I'd get him out to right field as soon as I can. He could be a good catcher, but he needs a lot of work back there and the bat is too valuable to slow his progress down with that, in my opinion. His arm is a rocket. He has enough hit ability for the power to translate.
Jacob Gatewood is a big time power hitter who impacts the ball with a long, leveraged swing. He is the kind of guy that could be a poster boy for a team in the future with that big smile and over the fence power. Comparing him to recent draft picks, I'd put him in the same class as Carlos Correa but what I saw of Correa at this game a few years ago, Correa made a stronger impression.
Ti'Quan Forbes is an elite athlete. He has that loose swagger that I've only seen a few times, most memorably in Randy Moss. He just has that aura. His speed is plus-plus. He has a really good arm, good defensive ability and his power projects plus as well. Defensively, he needs to improve but has the athleticism to be a true five tool player.
Michael Chavis looks surprisingly like Michael Gettys, facially. Chavis is smaller but they look a lot alike. There are a few differences. Chavis is slower, average to slightly above average. His arm isn't as strong and he plays 3B. The biggest difference in my eyes is the hit ability. I'm confident he is a very good hitter and has impressive power. He is a tightly wound, muscular hitter. He isn't an imposing physical player but he has star potential.
Chase Vallot can hit. Man, can he hit. Vallot is a good defensive catcher and should be able to stick back there. He isn't a burner, so it would be best if he can stick behind the dish, but the bat will play anywhere.
Nick Gordon has all the tools. He is fast, extremely good defensively and has the family rocket attached to the upper right side of his body. He has more pop than his brother. He strikes the ball better than Dee and should be a well above average shortstop offensively and defensively.
Jackson Reetz has an unusual stance, swing and skill set but he sure can hit. He makes solid contact all the time, grinds and plays hard. Even though he doesn't have a solid fit defensively, he should be a soild defensive player in an up the middle position.
Monte' Harrison is a powerfully built athlete. He reminds me a lot of Torii Hunter. He has definite star potential if he commits to baseball but he is an very high level football recruit as well.
Braxton Davidson is a high-end bat. He only got one official at bat, so his ability didn't show in this game, but he could be the best prep bat in the 2014 draft. He has plus hit ability, which allows his plus power to play up. He has enough speed and athleticism that he isn't strapped to 1B and his arm would be an asset in left field or right field.
Stone Garrett is a pure power guy. His power is his carrying tool. He has a short, quick swing. He has good arm strength and profiles as a right fielder. While he isn't going to profile as an up the middle guy, that bat will be enough for a corner.
Greg Deichmann didn't show overly well in this game. If this was your only viewing of him, he wouldn't leave an impact but trust me, he is am impact player in the Chase Utley mold.
Michael Gettys oozes tools. His speed is probably a 70 on the 20-80 scale, as is his arm. His power is above average and he can play center field. I'm not sold on his hit ability but the tools are crazy and that will get him off the draft board quickly. His toolset isn't dissimilar to Bubba Starling a few years back and I have similar concerns with Gettys.
Kel Johnson is a high waisted, unusual swinging hitter. He has a lot of moving parts and creates a lot of power. He isn't a stellar athlete like many of the players in this game and he has a lot of unique qualities that set him apart from a typical prospect. As unusual of a player that Hunter Pence is, Kel Johnson is much like him. Physically, he looks similar. Facially, he looks like him. He could be a similar player.
Justin Bellinger is a huge individual, standing 6'6" or so, with a muscular frame. He looks the part. He looks like a power hitter but when he steps into the box, he hunches over and that saps his power. I don't think his hit tool will work until he changes his stance and he won't hit for the power he owns until he hits. He is a boom or bust talent with a ceiling of Justin Morneau at his best.
Gareth Morgan is a player I want to talk about but I don't know really what to say about him. He has a lot of power. He's a good athlete. He's an intriguing player because he's from Canada and hasn't had the reps many of his peers have. I'm not sure where he will end up next June but he has the tools to end up near the top of the heap if they all come together.
Jack Flaherty continues to underwhelm me. He has all the tools to impact the game on both sides of the game but I haven't even seen flashes of anything that allow me to project any more than a solid defensive, below average offensive third baseman.
Marcus Wilson is all projection. He is a long, lean athlete that could be just about anything from a 4th outfielder to a superstar center fielder. He will need time to develop but the skills are there to be a player to watch.
DJ Peters is a big, Richie Sexson-sized hitter. He has good bat to ball ability and will hit for a lot of power once he figures it out.
Sean Reid-Foley is an interesting arm. His fastball sits 92-94 and has great movement. He has a whippy arm action that creates good movement. Fastball rides up and in and is never straight. He has a hard 76-79 MPH curveball and an 83 MPH wiffle ball like slider. His change is 85 with good fade and sink. He was the best pitcher in this game and was extremely impressive.
Grant Holmes is a thickly built power arm. His fastball sat 92-96. His curveball is a second plus pitch, sitting in the low to mid 80's with good depth. He is pretty maxed out physically and may have to watch his weight, but his arm will get him taken very high next summer.
Tyler Kolek had the best fastball at the game and will have it until the draft next year barring anything unforeseen. He is a huge kid with a lot of potential remaining as he is country strong, not weight room strong. His fastball tops out in the upper 90's now, could add velocity as he gets stronger. His breaking ball is a second plus potential pitch. The sky is the limit on this guy.
Kodi Medeiros has a very low arm slot, almost sidearm but unlike many sidearm guys, he has very good velocity, sitting 91-93. Then he unleashes his slider. It's a plus-plus pitch. It looks like he's throwing a Frisbee. He releases it well behind a left handed hitter and it ends up outside to a lefty. It's crazy. He has a solid change as well but he could get MLB hitters out right now as a lefty specialist with just those two pitches. His ceiling is much higher than a LOOGY, obviously, but he is an impressive player.
Keaton McKinney is a big righty with a fastball that sits 89-92 and is a good pitch. His breaking ball is in the 77-80 range is a usable pitch but the story on McKinney is his change. It's a plus-plus pitch. He starts at bats with it and finishes them as well. It's a swing and miss pitch and he sells it well. He can pitch backwards and even the best hitters can't figure it out. Considering he's an Iowa kid and doesn't have a lot of innings under his belt, he really knows how to pitch. It may help that he works out with Jeremy Hellickson in the offseason.
Zack Shannon is an exciting two way player that can throw in the low 90's with a good 79-81 MPH slider. He's also a power hitting first baseman. His delivery isn't the cleanest but his arm is unquestionable.
Touki Toussaint is raw. He hasn't been playing baseball for a long time and it shows. He is going to need to move slow when he gets to pro ball but the payoff could be worth it. He is a very good athlete with big time stuff. He has four pitches that could be average or better pitches.
Luis Ortiz is a big bodied righty with a 92-95 MPH fastball. His slider is low to mid 80's and has late break and good depth. It could be a plus-plus pitch. He will have to watch his weight, but he looks like he could be a durable innings eater.
Dylan Cease has upper echelon arm strength, routinely throwing 96. That alone will put him toward the top of the draft, but his secondary pitches lag behind. His slider is 75-77 but he doesn't stay on top of it like he should for it to be effective. He can spin it so it should develop once he works that issue out. His change works but he isn't a polished guy.
Mac Marshall sat 88-90 but has the arm strength to hit 94. His breaking ball is good but not great. The money pitch for him is his change. It could develop into a plus pitch. His delivery is reminiscent of Clayton Kershaw, that's not to say his skills are, just his motion. He is projectable and I think he could add a couple ticks next spring and jump up to solidify his spot in the first round.
Cobi Johnson sits 90-93 with the fastball and has a big 12-6 downer breaking ball. It's a slow spinning breaking ball but it has a lot of potential. He has a good change that has impressive sink and fade and could be a plus pitch. He is very projectable as well.
Joe Gatto sits 89-91 and has nasty sink and tail on his fastball. He has a big breaking curveball that is in the mid-70's but he also throws a harder slider that allows it to play up. He is one of the better arms in the class.
Justus Sheffield is a short athletic lefty with a repeatable delivery. He sits 90-94 with the fastball. He has an upper 70's breaking ball, a low 80's slider that could be a plus pitch and a really good change.
Foster Griffin sits 88-91 and has a low 70's breaking ball. His change is solid and many see him as a top lefty in the class. I don't get it yet. Maybe I haven't seen him good, but I'm not on board yet. He is a solid lefty with projection. Maybe I'll see it next time.
Brady Aiken looks the part. He's a big, athletic lefty with an easy low 90's fastball and a sweet mid 70's breaking ball. He reminds me a bit of Max Fried but he doesn't have Fried's breaking ball. It gets better as he throws it harder. His change is solid and his command is very good as well.
Devin Smeltzer is a very deceptive lefty. He doesn't have the high end velocity that many do, as he sits 86-88 but it plays up due to his deception and arm angle. His breaking ball is in the upper 70's but is a little slurvy. There is more potential in him and he could be an interesting guy if his velo ticks up next spring.
Brandon Murray has a high effort delivery but it gets his fastball up to 92-94. He has good spin on his breaking ball in the mid to upper 70's. His really opens up in his delivery but it gives him good armside run and downhill plane. It allows his change to have good fade on it too. The delivery is the question but the stuff is really solid.
David Peterson sits 87-89 with his fastball, has a solid slider at 76-78 and a change with similar velocity. He has more projection in him and he will have to tick up this spring to be a highly rated prospect.
Michael Kopech sits 88-93 from a low ¾ delivery. He has a long arm stroke that restricts his ability to throw a great breaking ball but it's still is a soild pitch. He doesn't stay on top of them sometimes, but it still works. He's an interesting arm to watch.