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Chris Rodriguez 

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September 5, 2013 12:30 pm

Area Code Games


Chris Rodriguez

Some of the top arms at the summer's annual Area Code Games in Long Beach.

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.

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A look at some of the top high school prospects, who played in San Diego this weekend.

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.

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August 2, 2013 6:00 am

Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, August 1


Chris Rodriguez

Notes on 11 prospects, including Marlins left-hander Andrew Heaney and Astros catcher Tyler Heineman.

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. While not throwing a game with huge numbers, Heaney pitched very well in his first start at Double-A after dominating the Florida State League. Armed with a plus fastball and curve, he could be seeing his prospect status rise if he continues on this pace.

Position Prospect of the Day: Tyler Heineman, C, Astros (High-A Lancaster): 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB, 7 RBI. Heralded as a good defensive catcher getting drafted out of UCLA, Heinemann has hit very well in his first two seasons of pro ball. And while he is in a launching pad in Lancaster, the friendly confines can only aid him further up the chain.

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August 1, 2013 7:27 am

Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, July 31st


Chris Rodriguez

Notes on 11 prospects, including a couple of catchers: Max Stassi, who continued his hot hitting, and Austin Hedges, who earned a promotion.

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Jamie Callahan, RHP, Red Sox (Low-A Spinners): 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. The 18-year-old had been struggling in 2013, but in his last two starts he’s given up one hit and struck out 17 over 12 innings. He features a low-90s fastball and a 12-to-6 curve. Anyone who holds his opponent hitless with a shiny strikeout-to-walk ratio has to be pitching prospect of the day.

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Aaron Hicks.

The situation: The Twins wanted the 23-year-old Aaron Hicks to win a starting job in the major leagues this season. In the offseason, they traded away Denard Span and Ben Revere, re-tooling their farm system but also leaving a void in center field. Hicks, fresh off a bounce-back season at Double-A New Britain, came into spring training with the same attitude the Twins did. He batted .370/.407/.644 while clubbing 4 home runs in the spring, all but cementing his place at the major-league level. While the general consensus was that Hicks could use some more play in the minors, his great spring as well as an empty spot gave the Twins enough reason to stick him in center field on Opening Day.

Background: Hicks took the scenic route to reach his final destination in Minnesota, spending time in the Gulf Coast League, two seasons in the Midwest League, a season in the Florida State League, and finally a season in the Eastern League. Drafted in the first round out of high school in the 2008 draft, he profiled as a toolsy outfielder with a rocket arm who could move to the mound eventually if he did not hit enough in the early going. He signed quickly and got an early test in the Gulf Coast League and hit well, showing good patience at the plate for an 18-year-old. After his inaugural season, Hicks took the logical next step to Single-A Beloit where he struggled in what was his first full season of professional baseball. After repeating the level and producing better results, Hicks struggled again in High-A Fort Meyers, leaving some doubters ready to claim he was a lost cause. The Twins did not believe so, of course, and pushed him to Double-A where he put those tools to use more often, finally showing game power. Going into the 2013 season, Hicks was ranked third in the Twins farm system and 46th in the Top 101 prospects list, according to Baseball Prospectus.

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