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September 5, 2013

Area Code Games

The Pitchers

by Chris Rodriguez

The Area Code Games are the premier event of the summer for amateur players looking to boost their draft stock before heading into the long winter. Hundreds of scouts and coaches from big league organizations, colleges, and scouting sites descend upon Long Beach for six long days of baseball.

The first day started with a five-hour batting practice, with every player taking swings. Games begin in the afternoon of the first day and continue throughout. I headed to Long Beach with Nick J. Faleris to film the event. Here are reports (with video) on pitchers who caught my eye.

LHP/OF Alex Verdugo, Reds, #10.

Verdugo impressed throughout the games, both on the mound and at the plate. He featured a fastball that sat 90- 92 and touched 93 with good arm-side life. The arm strength was evident but there was plenty of effort in his delivery. He was able to spin his curveball well and get nice vertical drop with it. Verdugo might have more upside in the outfield, though, with solid tools across the board. The arm is obviously plus, and he pairs that with good outfield defense and above-average speed. During batting practice, he rocketed balls into the gaps and sold out for a little more pull-side power. He was dipping his back shoulder and trying to lift, but he did hit a couple balls off the wall and one that cleared, no easy feat with the wind blowing in hard. In game action, Verdugo showed off natural hitting ability with several balls hit hard in the gaps, including a triple.

Verdugo has tools and a feel for the game, but he lacks size, as he is listed 6’0” and 195 lbs. Some are torn on where he will end up on the diamond. From what I saw, he has greater upside in the outfield and could be a good LF/CF candidate. If he can add some strength, I could see RF as an option, too. Verdugo has gobs of talent and it will be interesting to see where he goes in the 2014 draft.

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