I made it out to the El Toro v Mission Viejo game yesterday to get my second glimpse of the Diablos and to see how Chasen Ford would bounce back from a disappointing start last week. The day couldn't have gone any better for the Chargers as they pounded the Diablos 9-1 thanks in part to first inning home runs by Logan Roberts and Gavin Collins. Mission Viejo starter, Patrick Sandoval, lasted on two an two-thirds innings pitched but showed scouts in attendance why he'll be one of the top pitchers in the class of 2015.
Below are some thoughts and observations from the game.
Chasen Ford (ET) is going to have a very difficult decision come MLB draft time. Ford will be deciding between an Ivy League (Yale) education, and beginning his professional career immediately. The senior right handed pitcher sat consistently 87-89 with his fastball and touched 90 four times. He dropped his curveball down to 74-77. Scouts were clamoring at the thought of the progress Ford will make in the next couple of years. "He's only going to get bigger and stronger," said one scout in attendance. "He will develop the change up further and could add a few more MPH to his fastball. He's going to be a stud for someone, if they can sign him,"
Patrick Sandoval (MV) could develop into one of the top pitchers in the class of 2015 locally. He's all of 6'1" tall with a solid build. There is no baby fat and he is not skinny. The southpaw has incredible command with his sweeping curveball which he locates incredibly well. Think 2:00 o'clock to 8:00 o'clock. His fastball was sitting 83-84 with good command and he plays his position well defensively. He "hides" the ball very well, almost like Jared Weaver, without the exaggerated back turn. He got knocked around a bit in the first inning giving up the two home runs, but he responded by allowing only three hits the rest of his outing. I talked to a local junior college coach who said "I don't even bother scouting him, there's no chance he ends up JC. He's either D1 or pro."
Gavin Collins (ET) is going to have a real chance to thrive in the SEC (Mississippi St.). He flashed some power by hitting a line drive home run on a fastball that Sandoval tried to jam him with. His compact swing doesn't have a lot of moving parts which allows to cover the inner half of the plate. He's showing versatility by playing third base after suffering an ankle injury in the first series of the season. Collins is the leader in steals on a team that doesn't run much. He should be cleared to get back behind the dish in the next week or two but has acclimated himself well at the hot corner.
Dan James (ET) is a flat out baseball player. The left handed hitting first baseman laced a three RBI double in the middle of the game. He doesn't have a lot of moving parts in his swing despite having an open stance. James, a former Oregon commit, is beginning to get a lot of attention from scouts and rightfully so. His bat plays on the next level as does the glove. His arm strength is very good. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up on the mound at some point in his career. His frame is solid although he doesn't possess ideal height for the first base.
Jonah Arenado (ET) scouts I spoke with aren't sure what to make of Arenado yet. They know he can field his position as evidenced by an incredible double play turn to get one of Mission Viejo's speediest guys at first. After the play one scout looked at me and said in reference to his defense, "that plays at any level, including the highest." The biggest concern in scouts minds is Arenado's ability to consistently hit at the next level. He helped his cause a bit by going 2-for-4, but as one scout said to me, "this is a high school sophomore, not a frontline big league pitcher." The same scout suggested that Arenado may be best suited going to a Juco for a season which brought a huge smile to the three Juco coaches in attendance.
Tyler Clark (MV) is a prototypical leadoff hitter with blazing speed. The junior right fielder reached base on a slapper to third yesterday beating the throw by a step. He immediately stole second before scoring on a base hit. Defensively he didn't get many opportunities but made the plays he did get. Arm strength is still developing but is good enough to play at the next level. Someone is going to give this kid a chance and be very happy they did.
Kyle Candalla (MV) has proven to be the unselfish leader of his team. Playing out of position at catcher (he's a natural center fielder) he's done an admirable job behind the dish. While I haven't seen him play CF, I've been told by several people he's a natural out there. At the plate there is a lot to like about his approach; it's very quiet without a lot of moving parts. He's a leader on and off the field as evidenced by the foundation he runs with a couple of friends which helps provide baseball equipment to underprivileged children.