Well, pitching definitely stood out in this year’s event. Really the presence of quality left-handed pitching was the most surprising thing, albeit in inconsistent doses. The performances of right-handed starters not named Toussaint were also notable, as we know after a long summer showcase circuit that guys like Tyler Kolek are right there with (if not past) the popular pitcher.
There are a few standout hitters in the 2014 prep class (namely Gatewood, Jackson, and Gordon), but they didn’t really shine this Saturday, and no one else did much to improve their stock either. A more complete report (in one or two posts) will be coming up soon. For now, here’s a quick Top 10 of who Matt and I saw:
- Michael Kopech, RHP (Texas HS): The righty had strong velocity (low-to-mid 90s on Wrigley’s radar), and a quality breaking ball that generated a number of swinging strikes with its tight rotation. Aside from Toussaint, he had the best fastball/breaking ball combination in Saturday’s action.
- Tyler Kolek, RHP (Texas HS): He dominated in his inning of action with a fastball that sat regularly from 95 to 97 (occasionally touching 99 MPH) with late movement. His delivery looked fairly relaxed, as if he wasn’t working terribly hard to generate that kind of velocity (which makes some sense when you take his build into account at 6’5″, 250 lbs).
- Alex Verdugo, LHP/OF (Arizona HS): Flashed plus stuff on the mound, and a short, compact stroke at the plate. I’m not sure there is anyone who can top him for overall two-way talent. While Verdugo’s velocity was strong, it was his slider that really stood out (at 79 MPH) with a lot of bite and drop to it. He only had one at-bat to show what he could do, and Verdugo made it count with a liner into the opposite-field gap.
- Jacob Gatewood, 3rd/OF (California HS): A little inconsistent at the plate, as he was overly aggressive at times with some big whiffs at the plate. Gatewood had a quality 6 or 7 pitch at-bat that ended in a ringing double that hit off of the outfield wall. It’s a small sample size obviously, but he’s still plenty raw.
- Michael Gettys, OF (Georgia HS): He might not have made the HR Derby final, but the outfielder had one of the best showings on Saturday with big power generated by a short swing and excellent bat speed. Gettys struggled to produce during the actual game, though the same the bat speed and compact swing were still on display.
- David Peterson, LHP (Colorado HS): The lefty threw both a low 90s fastball and mid 70s curve that kept hitters off balance during his appearance with a very clean and easy delivery. Peterson showed solid command and mixed in his offspeed stuff often. His curve was particularly impressive as it had consistently tight rotation while also keeping the pitch in and around the zone.
- Nick Gordon, INF (Florida HS): Gordon was one of the most balanced hitters Saturday, reaching base three times (three hits, two left the infield) while also stealing three bases. Alex Jackson and Jacob Gatewood have been ranked above him fairly consistently, but Gordon was able to show why he’s right there with them.
- Dylan Cease, RHP (Georgia HS): The righty had some of the best velocity of any pitcher, consistently touching 95 on the gun. His offspeed stuff didn’t do much, which may not matter much at the moment.
- William Ramos, LHP (Connecticut HS): While Ramos was pretty wild overall, he featured quality velocity and a very impressive slider for a lefty. He started the inning off well, and seemed to be off balance after taking a liner off his ankle against the 2nd hitter Ramos faced. Aside from a funky leg kick (which seems to only add deception), his delivery is clean and looks as if he is fairly balanced on the mound all the way through to the plate.
- Touki Toussaint, RHP (Florida HS): Though he underwhelmed a bit, a somewhat off showing at Wrigley won’t hurt his stock. Toussaint’s velocity was certainly strong as he sat in the mid 90s with his fastball, and he did have a few decent curveball’s, but his command of the latter pitch was spotty at best.