The third day of the 2015 Area Code Games had a full slate of games giving scouts an opportutity to see every team in one day. While the event has reached the point where scouts have seen enough from position players to have a fair evaluation, there is still plenty to see from the pitchers and we were treated to some really good performances.
Below are some notes (in no particular order) from some of the best performances we saw yesterday.
LHP Jordan Roberts (Euless, TX) was a pleasant surprise to those of us who hadn't seen him on the mound. The Arizona State commit worked in the 89-92 mph zone with his fastball that he worked to both sides of the plate with an effortless over-the-top delivery. Working from the first base side of the rubber, Roberts hid the ball very well using a high leg kick and back turn that allows him to keep the ball at thigh level. The southpaw made things difficult on hitters by throwing a 74-75 mph curveball and a 76 mph changeup which had hitter guessing.
LHP Ben Brecht (Wilmette, IL) was a late addition to the White Sox roster and he was very worth it. The southpaw flashed a very good curveball (68-70 mph) that, despite it's lack of velocity had one of the highest spin rates according to Trackman. Another pitcher with excellent mechanics and a free/easy delivery, Brecht showed very good body control as well as an advanced pick off move that caught a runner napping at first base.
OF Mickey Moniak (La Costa, CA) is proving to be one of the best outfielder not only in the event, but on his team which features two other players expected to go in the first two rounds of next years draft. Moniak faced a bases loaded, infield in situation in the first game and slapped a ball passed the shortstop that scored two runs. One college coach sitting next to me said, "I've been coaching college for 15 years and I can't get 21 year olds to do that." Then, in yesterdays game he made the defensive play of the week where he sprinted 25 yards from centerfield before making an over-the-shoulder catch that brought the crowd to its feet and drew applause from scouts. You can see video of it here: https://twitter.com/leslukach/status/629510495498711040
RHP Ryan Nelson (Las Vegas) was also impressive in his outing for the Reds. The Oregon commit worked 89-91 mph with his fastball, but it looked much heavier, and have late life in on right handed hitters. Working from the right side of the rubber, the long limbed pitcher shows the ability to work both sides of the plate with his fast ball as well as his changeup (76-78 mph), which has plus pitch potential.
C Ben Rortvedt (Verona, WI) has been one of the best bats all week and he continues to prove worth of all the hype he's received which includes being an All-American. The Arkansas commit is one of the top catchers in the event. Shows very good balance and technique behind the place along with a strong arm that regularly pops sub 2.0. At the plate he's a flat-out hitter keeping his hands close to the chest before exploding into the ball and driving it to all fields.
LHP Jason Groome (Barnegat, NJ) is the guy all the scouts came to see and it's pretty obvious why. Groome showed a 92-95 mph fastball that comes from a easy delivery that indicates there's more in there and shows late life. The best pitch might be his power curveball that sat 76-79 mph and touched 79 with a spin rate of over 2500 RPM which, if you're into that sort of thing, is very high. One scout told me, "lefties have zero chance on his curveball. They're missing it by eight to twelve inches."
LHP Rian Haire (Hudson, NC) was a guy that caught everyones attention with his solid outing. Deception is a big part of his game and it was in full effect during his stint on the mound. Using an exaggerated back turn along with a fast arm, the ball jumps out of his hand and "gets on" the hitter in a hurry. Working 90-92 mph with the fastball with late life and arm-side run, Haire also mixes in a 75-77 mph curveball that shows good depth and late break.
RHP Hans Crouse (Dana Hills, CA) is one of the few rising juniors in the event and he showed why he bleongs in his one inning on the mound. As one scout put it to me, "he's probably the best arm in the 2017 draft and would be a first rounder in this coming draft." Rather that give you my notes, I'll pass along this video taken by Steve Fiorindo (@socalsteve on Twitter). https://twitter.com/socalsteve9/status/629498629649244160
Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @LesLukach for updates throughout the remainder of the event. Also, the Underclass Area Code Games will take place beginning Sunday and running through Tuesday of next week and will feature the best rising juniors and sophomores as selected by scouts.