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November 14, 2013

Perfect Game Presents

Before They Were Pros: AL West

by Patrick Ebert, Todd Gold and David Rawnsley


As part of Perfect Game's partnership with Baseball Prospectus, David Rawnsley, Todd Gold and Patrick Ebert will be conducting a “Before They Were Pros” series, providing select scouting reports on some of the top prospects in baseball from when they were in high school attending PG events. This six-part series (one for each division in MLB) will appear once Baseball Prospectus has provided their own detailed scouting reports of the top prospects, team-by-team, as part of their “Prospects Will Break Your Heart” series.

We start with a look at the American League West. Be sure to read Baseball Prospectus' features on each of the five teams:

Astros | Mariners | Angels | Rangers | Athletics

Houston Astros

Carlos Correa – SS
The first Perfect Game event that dynamic shortstop Carlos Correa attended was the 2010 16u BCS Finals held in late July in Fort Myers, Fla. Fort Myers served as Correa's home away from home the next few years, as he returned five more times, the last of which was his incredibly impressive performance at the 2012 World Showcase. In 2011, Correa was the first Puerto Rican named to the Perfect Game All-American Classic, prior to becoming the highest-drafted Puerto Rican ever when the Astros took him no. 1 overall in 2012.

While Correa's tools were always evident, including his large, modern-day shortstop build, smooth, gliding infield actions, strong arm and budding power potential, he firmly put himself in the conversation for the no. 1 pick in the draft with that performance. He set an event record by throwing 97 mph across the infield, took one of the more impressive rounds of batting practice, and looked even better in game situations against elite pitching.

In his first at-bat of the event, Correa showed the ability to pull his hands in and drive a 93 mph fastball out of the hand of fellow Puerto Rican J.O. Berrios and drove the pitch hard over the left fielder's head for a double. In his second at-bat, against hard-throwing left-hander Anthony Siese, Correa drove an upper-80s fastball over the wall in left-center field for a booming home run. Not only were his bat speed, strength, and leverage already evident, but his pitching recognition and ability to make adjustments against high-level pitching were even more impressive.

Here is his PG report from that showing:

Outstanding athletic build, inevitable comparisons with Alex Rodriguez at same age. Unparalleled infield arm strength, PG record 97 mph in drills, does it with game actions and footwork, smooth quick soft hands, could work through ball more aggressively but doesn't need to with arm strength. Big improvement with bat, showed plus leverage and bat speed, long loose extension, back spins the ball with plus carry, consistent hard contact, can make swing adjustments and pull hands in but wants to extend. Huge BP and game home runs to left-center field.

The biggest question at the time involved his eventual position. Although he always displayed deft infield actions at the shortstop position, his body size and type led to questions about whether or not he would have to move to third base, where he would have more than enough arm strength and power potential to fit the mold at the hot corner. However, that was and continues to be a long-range conversation and not something that will need to be addressed at any point in the near future. —Patrick Ebert

Mark Appel – RHP

Mark Appel's arm strength has always been evident, and he showed encouraging development in a seven-month span when his fastball velocity spiked from 87 mph at the National Underclass Showcase late in 2007 to 92 mph at the National Showcase in June of 2008.

At the National, Appel showed the full three-pitch repertoire that continues to serve as the foundation of his current arsenal. In addition to his fastball, he threw an upper-70s slider and low-80s changeup. A good overall athlete, Appel also offered some promise as an outfielder, where he displayed his usual strong arm to go along with good foot speed and the ability to drive the ball when he squared it up.

Here is his scouting report from the National Showcase:

Appel has a very good pitchers build and uses a 3/4 arm slot and touched 92 with his fastball. He can easily throw 90 and has good arm speed. His fastball also has good life. He compliments his fastball with a 78mph slider that works, 82 mph change and also threw a 85 mph cutter. He projects well and showed athleticism by running a 6.94 sixty. He keeps improving each time we see him and will be interesting to follow over the next year. He is also an outstanding student.

After being selected by the Tigers in the 15th round of the 2009 draft, Appel opted to honor his commitment to Stanford where his stuff continued to improve. His statistical performance didn't reflect his dominant stuff until his junior year in college when he truly found comfort changing speeds between his fastball, which now sat in the 93-97 range peaking a few ticks higher, a biting mid-80s slider and a polished fading changeup. His fastball can flatten out at times and can be hittable despite the gaudy velocity readings, but he routinely displayed the stuff, in addition to the prototypical size and stature, to develop in a future staff ace at the big-league level. —Patrick Ebert


Mike Foltynewicz – RHP

Before to the start of his junior campaign at Minooka High School in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago, Foltynewicz put himself on the radar 15 months prior to the 2010 draft by showing a lot of potential at the 2009 PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase. He topped out at 90 mph and showed bite on his curveball in that outing, earning himself an invitation to the PG National Showcase. The Illinois native showed consistent development through the spring of his high school season, seeing his fastball velocity climb occasionally into the mid-90s, and while he wasn’t able to consistently show a reliable breaking ball, he did flash elite potential with it frequently enough for scouts to project it to become a plus offering over time.

The following February (2010) Foltynewicz returned to the PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase where his fastball velocity showed a significant uptick in velocity. Here's his report from that event:

Pro profile build, good overall strength, some physical maturity. Outstanding power arm, comes through fast and clean, hip turn delivery, gets plenty of power from lower half, does tend to occ drift to the plate and leave FB up. FB to 94 mph, lots of 93/94's, gets late hard running action even at 94, flashed power CB with sharpness, big 11/5 shape, inconsistent release this date, change also had good deception and running action. Potential first round pick, keeps improving. Signed with Texas.

In hindsight his commitment to Texas wasn’t a huge factor to his draft stock, as he went on to become a first round pick. But as a relatively late bloomer, he didn’t firmly establish himself as a first round candidate until the spring of his senior season and prior to that development there was some uncertainty about whether he’d pass on the Longhorns if he were to last until the second or third round.

Foltynewicz is the kind of story that scouts really enjoy watching unfold. He went from a potential D-I recruit to a solid draft prospect before working his way into first round prospect status through a steady rate of development over time. —Todd Gold

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