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August 16, 2013

Scouting the Draft

Summer Circuit: PG All-American Classic

by Jason Parks, Nick J. Faleris and Chris Rodriguez

Last Sunday Petco Park hosted the 11th All-American Classic, and the second since Perfect Game began headlining the event last summer. Always one of the most highly scouted events on the summer circuit, this year’s PGAAC saw more 225 scouts in attendance to evaluate 49 of the top amateur talents in the country, as well as the top draft-eligible talent north of the border.

The full showcase included multiple workout days at the University of San Diego, live-streamed (and archived) at Perfect Game’s website, along with the nine inning game itself, which was carried on MLB Network. Jason Parks and Chris Rodriguez attended the events in person, while Nick Faleris followed remotely. This is what they saw.

Player Spotlight: Position Player

Nick Gordon | SS/RHP | Olympia HS (Orlando, FL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/170 pounds

B/T: L/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 7 months

Commitment: Florida State

One of the highest-profile players in the 2014 draft class, Gordon routinely impresses on and off the field, with the San Diego showcase being no exception. With standout tools, an excellent feel for the game, and major league bloodlines through both his father Tom and brother Dee, Nick received plenty of scout attention as an underclassman, and continues to ride high on follow lists as he enters his draft-eligible senior year.

Scouting Notes: Top overall talent for me in the class; everything he does looks easy; natural glovework at shortstop with some swagger; soft hands; excellent backhand pickup; smooth; arm is very strong; no doubt at the position; body has more projection than his brother’s, with more strength potential; plus run; lunges at the ball a bit at the plate, but hand-eye is exceptional and can put barrel on the ball; good bat speed; don’t see a lot of power coming but he can sting the ball; timing can get disrupted by off-speed stuff; could develop into plus-hit-tool shortstop at highest level; bloodlines and makeup are there; could be a top 5 pick in 2014. –Jason Parks

Summer Stock: Gordon has had some ups and downs the past couple months on the showcase circuit, but he has shown so well in past viewings that his stock is unlikely to affected by a few hiccups here and there. At his best, Gordon boasts a dynamic defensive skill set, with impact potential in the hit tool. It has been a long eight months for the two-way standout dating back to the January Perfect Game World Showcase in Fort Myers, Florida, and evaluators will be champing at the bit to see a rested Gordon in a couple of months in Jupiter, and then again next spring. –Nick J. Faleris

Player Spotlight: Pitcher

Touki Toussaint | RHP | Coral Springs Christian (Coral Springs, FL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/190 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 17 years, 11 months

Commitment: N/A

The high-waisted righty struggled to command his offerings in game, but continues to flash some of the best, and most projectable, stuff in the draft class. Toussaint is a scout’s player, with athleticism, physical projection, loud stuff, and natural arm speed – all of which were on display throughout the weekend’s events. There are arms in this class producing more velocity, and bodies offering more projection, but you would be hard pressed to find a combination of present profile and projected upside to match Toussaint’s.

Scouting Notes: Electric raw stuff; three-quarters slot; easy and lighting-fast arm; throws the ball downhill better than any pitcher at the event; lost his release early but showed the ability to make quick adjustments; fastball worked 92-94; touched 95; appears much faster; ball really jumps; impossible to touch when he spots it down; command was off in this showing; slow to the plate (1.65 seconds) with runners on; showed slide-step and held velocity; curve was poor early and then started to flash its promise; 72-75 mph with lots of bite; showed a cut-change offering in the mid-80s; more deliberate than curveball; arm speed and present fastball make me think a really, really good changeup is going to develop out of this arm; could end up as complete starter package; very inconsistent but power arm with very high upside. –Jason Parks

Summer Stock: The BP Prospect Team was huddled behind home plate last October for Touki’s big coming out party in Jupiter—a three-inning outing for the Atlanta Blue Jays against defending champs Marucci Elite in which Toussaint fanned nine and showed a plus curve and lively low- to mid-90s fastball, all as a 16-year-old. He finished the tournament with 18 strikeouts over six innings, standing out as one of the top arms at the event.

This summer, Toussaint’s carrying characteristic has been inconsistent command, though the “now” stuff and projection continue to impress evaluators at each step on the circuit. He’s generally been 89-93, touching 94/95 mph, while showing a hard curve that will flash plus, and a low-80s true change. This June he started mixing in a cut-change that runs from the mid- to upper-80s with cutter action, and the pitch has made regular appearances throughout his various outings. It hasn’t been a dominant summer, but for a player who has flashed front-end potential since the age of 16, Toussaint is doing what he needs to on the field to remain in consideration for early first round selection next June. –Nick J. Faleris

Five More from Parks

Scouting notes from Jason Parks on five more prospects who stood out in San Diego.

Alex Jackson | C/3B/OF | Rancho Bernardo HS (San Diego, CA)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 210 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 5 months

Commitment: Oregon

Scouting Notes: Big talent; reminds me of Jorge Alfaro because of build and skill-set; arm is a 7; showed sub-1.9 pops; feel for catch-and-throw; shows leadership qualities behind the plate; moves better than expected; still new to the position but work ethic impressed; can stay behind the plate if he wants to; bat is highly projectable; both raw hit and power; good bat-to-ball skills; contact is easy and loud; power is going to be there; could be a 6/6 hit/power type if everything clicks; big makeup; potential to be a top-five pick in 2014.

Kodi Medeiros | LHP | Waiakea (Hilo, HI)

Height/Weight: 6 feet/185 pounds

B/T: L/L

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 0 months

Commitment: N/A

Scouting Notes: Impressive; deception pitcher with stuff but not a gimmick guy; worked from extreme low three-quarters slot—basically a sidearmer; fastball worked 93-94 with plus movement; ball was diving under barrels; upper-70s to low-80s slider was filthy; fastball disguise and pure funk on the late two-plane break; showed mid-80s changeup as well; curious to see if he can hold velo and command the fastball to both sides of the plate; can’t wait to see him this spring.

Tyler Kolek | RHP | Shepherd HS (Shepherd, TX)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-6/250 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 6 months

Commitment: N/A

Scouting Notes: Big Texas beef; easy 6’6’’ and easy 250; standard three-quarters slot; some effort; comes across the body a bit; jerky in the set-up with a smoother release and landing; starts with low hands and offers some deception in the swing; 97 mph on first pitch; fastball worked 93-98, touched 99; heavy pitch; some horizontal movement as well; low-80s slider with some tilt; overall command wasn’t sharp and breaking ball didn’t wow, but arm strength is exceptional and fastball is impact pitch; body and arm to chew innings.

Michael Gettys | OF/RHP | Gainesville HS (Gainesville, GA)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 205 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 7 months

Commitment: Georgia

Scouting Notes: Physical and athletic; built like a free safety, with a strong upper body; clearly has raw physical tools; run is easy plus; clocked a 4.03 to first in game action; gets out of the box fast and reaches top speed very quickly; arm is a hose—looks like a 7 (plus-plus); batting practice performance stood out; loud contact from easy swing; barreling up everything; game swing was still impressive, but didn’t find the same contact; not sure about the recognition; don’t see impact bat but red ass player with tools and a chance to hit.

Luis Ortiz | RHP | Sanger HS (Sanger, CA)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3/220 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 7 months

Commitment: N/A

Scouting Notes: Good size, strength; pitched from the stretch; starts with high hands; high leg lift; slight rock back and stays tall; good balance; good drive to the plate; arm is fast; fastball worked 92-95; downhill; some sink; slider at 83 with some late tilt; 1.35 seconds to home with runners on; looked comfortable on the mound; showed two quality pitches.

Three Noteworthy Developments

Nick Faleris has been following the progress of this draft class throughout the summer scouting circuit. Here are three performances he found noteworthy.

Sean Reid-Foley | RHP | Sandalwood HS (Sandalwood, FL)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3/208 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 9 months

Commitment: Florida State

History: Reid-Foley’s solid PG National showing in June kicked off his summer, and he quickly followed up that performance with a Tournament of Stars showing that earned him an invite to the USA Baseball 18U Team Trials beginning today in Fullerton, California. Two weeks ago the Florida State commit sparkled in a three-inning outing in Syracuse, New York during the East Coast Pro Showcase, easily carving through the outing sitting 92-94 mph and showing two future plus offerings in a low-80s slider and mid-80s changeup. His follow-up outing in Long Beach at the Area Code Games last week involved a step back, as he struggled to find consistency in his offerings and left some evaluators wondering whether he was running on empty after a long summer schedule.

Development: This past weekend in San Diego, Reid-Foley was once again dominant—this time in a one-inning showing during the Perfect Game All-American Classic. His fastball sat in the 92-94 mph range, touching 95, and his slider was back to flashing plus with hard bite and tilt. It was an important outing in front of a lot of high-level decision makers, particularly after struggling in front a lot of the same faces last week in Long Beach. Reid-Foley has raised his stock greatly this summer and should enter the spring as one of the top righty arms in the class.

Keaton McKinney | RHP | Ankeny HS (Ankeny, IA)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-5/220 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 5 months

Commitment: Arkansas

History: McKinney started the summer in style, sitting upper-80s to low-90s with a heavy fastball at the Perfect Game National Showcase in June, while showing off a highly deceptive changeup a grade better than he’d shown in past showcase outings, and among the best off-speeds of any arm at the Metrodome over those five days. McKinney maintained his stuff through USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars, earning himself an invite to the 18U Team Trials along side Reid-Foley. He showed well at the Area Code Games last week, as well, and entered the Perfect Game All-American Classic as an arm of interest, but not necessarily one of the big names in the class.

Development: McKinney breezed through his inning of work on Sunday, striking out three and walking one. The big Iowan set the tempo for the outing in his first four pitches, going changeup, fastball, changeup, changeup to big slugger, and Vanderbilt commit, Justin Bellinger, drawing empty swings on each of the off-speeds and sending Bellinger to the bench. As impressive as McKinney’s changeup has been thus far this summer, it was at its best at PGAAC, and the deceptive quality of the offering, along with the late tumble, left the East Squad hitters helpless. It’s a deep crop of high school arms this year, with a number of potential impact hurlers at the college ranks as well, but a dominant outing in front of the right collection of evaluators can do wonders for a players draft stock—McKinney’s inning was just such an outing, solidifying for him a prominent spot on follow lists for next spring.

Jakson Reetz | C/ RHP/OF | Norris HS (Hickman, NE)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 190 pounds

B/T: R/R

Draft Day Age: 18 years, 5 months

Commitment: Nebraska

History: Reetz entered the summer as a talented but raw backstop, flashing big athleticism and almost casual actions on the field, belying his loud and impactful tools. In the Metrodome in June, Reetz stood out at the PG National Showcase for his catch-and-throw game, gunning down multiple baserunners and showing sub-2.0 pop times to second, in addition to a couple of hard hit balls, in game. He has built on that showcase throughout the summer, making loud contact with increasing regularity throughout his showcase and tournament stops. Like Reid-Foley and McKinney, Reetz’s Tournament of Stars performance at the end of June bought him a ticket to the USA Baseball 18U Team Trials, and the Nebraska commit continued a successful summer with impressive showings at both the Perfect Game 17U National Championship in July and the Area Code Games last week.

Development: Reetz added another impressing showing to his summer, earning MVP honors for the game. While he struggled some handling the arms while behind the plate, no player had a greater impact offensively. Reetz went 2-for-4 with a long opposite-field double off of hard-throwing Dylan Cease, and added three stolen bases to his output over the course of his four trips to the plate. There is simply no ignoring the growth in Reetz’s game over the past two months, and he’ll get a chance to add to his rapidly expanding resume should he earn a spot on the final USA Baseball 18U squad. His Marucci Elite travel club will be one of the favorites at the final event of the scouting circuit—the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Florida this October—and, should he attend, Reetz will be one of the most highly scouted catchers in the tournament. He’ll almost certainly enter the spring as the top draft prospect in the Cornhusker State.

Quick Hits

Notes on six more players—two apiece—from Parks, Faleris, and Chris Rodriguez.

Grant Holmes (RHP, Conway HS (Conway, SC)): strong build; three-quarters slot; some deception in the arm swing and the high front side in the delivery; brings up a high leg and breaks hands late; arm-heavy delivery with some sling; good arm speed; fastball was meaty at 92-93, touching 94; showed good sink; slider at 82 mph with some bite; attacked and showed poise. —Jason Parks

Brady Aiken (LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (San Diego, CA): Excellent size; major-league body; high three-quarters slot with a high front side; deliberate with the leg lift and plant; pretty easy and repeatable; pace was inconsistent and he struggled with runners on; slow release around 1.50 seconds to plate with runners on; fastball comfortable at 91-92 with some sink; long, tumbling curve at 73-74; good feel for the offering; fastball command limited the pitch. —Jason Parks

Justus Sheffield (LHP, Tullahoma HS (Tullahoma, TN)): Four-pitch lefty who continues to impress—showed all four pitches despite facing two batters; fastball worked in the low 90s; low-80s slider; low-70s curve; low-80s change; all pitches in line with his previous summer showings; advanced feel and pitchability; works the quadrants and already shows understanding of sequencing; repeatable motion and solid arm action; high-level follow, Day 1 candidate; Vandy commit. —Nick J. Faleris

Jack Flaherty (SS, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, CA)): Potential five-tool shortstop, even money to shift to third due to maturing body—could be plus defender there; quick for size; good straight line speed that requires some ramp up; put together solid at-bats; sacrificed chance to swing for disciplined approach, refused to expand zone; flashed glove and arm at third in game, showing easy actions and good accuracy on the run; good jump on stolen base; diverse profile opens lots of developmental doors; first-round candidate; UNC commit. —Nick J. Faleris

Braxton Davidson (OF/1B, TC Roberson HS (Asheville, NC)): Big 6-foot-3, 215 pound frame; big trunk; square stance; a toe-tap timing; balanced, fluid swing quick to the ball; creates good loft; potential 6/6 hit/power guy; arm is solid and accurate; chance he’s limited to first base, but could be a good one; hit tool is one of the most advanced in the prep class. —Chris Rodriguez

Ti’Quan Forbes (SS/OF, Columbia HS (Columbia, MS): Wiry, athletic build with plenty of room to fill out; open stance; quick-twitch swing with bat speed; some pre-load movement; line-drive stroke in game action; potential for some power down the line; athleticism plays on defensive side; easy actions; highly projectable at 6-foot-4, 177 pounds; very high ceiling, a lot to dream on. —Chris Rodriguez

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here
Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here
Chris Rodriguez is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Chris's other articles. You can contact Chris by clicking here

Related Content:  Draft,  Prospects,  Scouting

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