Saturday marked the 2009 Southeast Top Prospect and Underclass Showcases by Perfect Game, and I was in attendance at the East Cobb complex outside Atlanta. Here’s some info on what happened:
–Andrew Toles (2010, Sandy Creek HS (GA)) was the biggest name coming into the event, but I can see why his stock has been steadily falling this summer. He didn’t have much energy in this event, and his performance was just average. He still has the good speed and defense skillset, but the bat was weak at this event. I had a scout remark to me that he wondered if Toles had played football the night before, and that’s never a good sign. Toles is committed to Tennessee, and if he continues his slide down, he’ll probably end up there next fall.
-The other big name there was Toles’ teammate at Sandy Creek, Chris Triplett (2010). Triplett’s committed to Georgia Tech, and his energy and athleticism were on display on Saturday. I was trying to think of who he reminds me of at shortstop, and all I could think of was Jimmy Rollins. He’s got solid hands, a solid arm, and his range is excellent. When his team was shagging during batting practice, all eyes were on his movements out in short left field, where he was gobbling up everything hit near him. At the plate, Triplett messes around with switch-hitting, but he was much more impressive from his natural right side. He got some good backspin on the ball, and he could be a solid hitter with time. His bat speed is excellent, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see his power develop either in college starting next year or in the minors. His speed is also solid, and I rated it somewhere along the lines of above-average to plus (55-60). I never saw him really have to bust it down the line, but his 60 time is solid. I like Triplett more than Toles, and I got the feeling that scouts are either headed that way or are already there, too.
–Alexander Cruz (2010, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (GA)) could be Triplett’s teammate at Georgia Tech next fall. Unlike Triplett, most of Cruz’s attraction is in his pure size. He’s listed at 6’2”/186, and I believe that. He’s highly projectable, and his batting practice round showed he has good power potential when his frame fills out. He stayed gap-to-gap during the round, and he showed quick hands and a solid hit tool. His speed doesn’t nearly match Toles or Triplett, and even though he has solid range, I think he’s best served as a third baseman in the future, where he can use a plus arm and average hands. His range will diminish as he fills out, and it’s already at the average level. If he fills out a bit this year and develops his power, he could be a guy picked in the top ten rounds next June, but it’s more likely that he ends up at Tech, where he could develop his entire skillset.
-One of the rising names I wanted to get an extended look at was West Forsyth HS (GA) hitter Tommy Ferguson. The first thing I noticed was his batting stance. He’s trying to emulate the great Albert Pujols, and I’m not sure it’s working. He’s a little inconsistent with his load, and at times his bat path becomes whippy and long, and he might be prone to strikeouts. However, he does show signs of being a solid hitter with a little power potential, though not a lot. He needs to work on his timing and fielding, as he doesn’t really have a set position. He’s committed to Young Harris JC here in Georgia, so he might end up there for a couple of years.
-One of the more impressive names at the plate was 2010 outfielder Paul Patterson (Starrs Mill HS (GA)). He showed great hands and bat speed, along with his normal excellent center field defensive tools. His batting practice was a combination of hard line drives and gap fly balls, and he’s got a solid hit tool. He’ll probably end up with a major D-1 scholarship, and he’ll be a solid leadoff man, though he needs to develop strength if he wants to go straight to the pros.
–Jordan Shusteric (2010, Allen Park HS (MI)) was one of the handful of players that came from outside the Southeast U.S. I have to say that Shusteric was the most impressive of the bunch. He’s got good size at 6’1”/177, and his strength was solid with room for more. I noticed that he has natural loft in his swing, and I think he’s got room for good power potential in the future. In one of the games, he smashed a line drive double over the center fielder’s head, which is quite a feat in a showcase that really favored the pitchers. He’s probably got one of the more solid wood-bat swings (these showcases only feature wood bats) from this group, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him climb up boards after his impressive display. His arm might work best at second base, but I wouldn’t move him off shortstop quite yet. With more strength, he might add enough zip to stick at short, where his range is solid-average.
-Arguably the best batting practice display went to 2010 outfielder Tanner Smith from North Laurel HS (KY). He knocked a couple of balls over the fence from the left side, something that didn’t happen multiple times with anyone else in the top prospect side of the showcase. He wasn’t a big name coming into the event, but a couple of bombs over the right-center field wall can add to his stock. His swing does require a bit of a long bat path, though, so he’ll be susceptible to the swing-and-miss if he doesn’t shore up his mechanics. However, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
-The best 2011 name was probably Lassiter HS (FL) shortstop Tyler Greene, who has already committed to Georgia. He’s a big kid at 6’3”/175, and he looks like he’ll add a good amount of strength to his frame. However, he’s in danger of adding too much, which would make him have to move off short to third base. His batting practice display wasn’t that great, but he’s got some time to improve his mechanics and work with the wood bat. For now, he’s just a name to follow closely for the 2011 draft.
-Another 2011 player that stood out to me at the plate was actually in the underclass side of the showcase. Columbus HS (GA) infielder Charles Sheffield has good size at 6’3”/180, and he put on one heck of a batting practice. He showed good current strength with room for more, and both his hit tool and raw power might be graded as above-average. He’s got a good setup at the plate and solid mechanics, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him explode between now and the 2011 draft. He’s still only 16, so repetitions will do him good. For now, he looks like a solid follow, and I’ll probably try to see him again in the spring to see if what I saw Saturday can be maintained in games.
-I was completely shocked to hear one scout talk about how similar 2011 outfielder Adrian Farris (Collins Hill HS (GA)) looked to how Alex Rodriguez looked back when he was 16 at events like this before he was a #1 overall draft pick. Farris doesn’t have the strength and pure athleticism that A-Rod had, but his approach and batting practice display was interesting. He sprayed balls from center over to right field, despite his being a right-handed hitter. His hands were quick, and his bat speed was solid, though the present strength is just not there. I’ll check up on him this spring, too, as I think he could be on the verge of gaining that strength to bring his name up more often. He’s not as tall and lanky as A-Rod was, but there’s definitely some potential here.
-On the pitching side, I didn’t see a lot of arms that really pique my interest. The best combination of raw stuff and size I saw was 2011 righty Sean Murphy from Westbrook HS in Maine. At 6’5”/200, you can really see projection in his body, but his command and mechanics aren’t great. He has a closer’s style of pitching, and his mechanics were inconsistent, leading to multiple walks, hit batters, and wild pitches. However, the raw stuff is big, and he just needs reps. His fastball is a potential plus pitch if he can corral it, and he flashed a potential average curve, too. However, he failed to snap it off most of the time, and he hit a batter with it once. He also had seemingly no clue about how to hold runners, so he’s a big work in progress. Keep his name in mind, though.
-One of the more interesting game performances by a pitcher was by F. Conner Smith, a 2010 righty from Lafayette HS in Louisiana. After starting out in the low-80s, he really put it together in his third inning of work. He reached 87 in his final inning and also flashed a potential plus changeup in the inning, one that was clocked at 78. He also threw a couple curves in the high-60s, and he has the makings of a solid pitch mix. At 6’2”/200, there’s not a whole lot of projection there, but the scouts that watched his third inning performance kind of looked at each other wondering why Smith couldn’t bring out that stuff earlier. He’s a name to watch between now and next June, and he hasn’t signed a scholarship offer yet.
-The only other pitcher I want to talk about is 2010 righty Christo Jones from Rutherford HS in Florida. He had good raw velocity, reaching 88 in game action, which was one of the better numbers from the day. However, his fastball caught too much of the plate most of the time, making him quite hittable. He’s got good pro size at 6’4”/225, but he’s almost maxed out physically, and his curve was a soft pitch with 45 future potential. He’s a name to watch, but I doubt he ends up with any real draft interest.
I saw tons of players on the day, so if you have a question about ones you know were there, just post it in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you.