A look at seven arms from the Cape Cod League All-Star Game with aspirations for the 2020 MLB Draft.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Under Armour All-American event in Chicago. The two-day event is one of the premier showcase events and most of the premium prep talent in the nation was participating. I’m not nearly as up to date on the prep circuit this early in the 2020 draft prep, but this is a can’t miss event and one I couldn’t pass up.
Day one of the event is the showcase. All the participants are ran through the defense drills, and afterwards take batting practice. From my count every MLB team was represented and some teams sent their scouting directors (can confirm Cardinals, White Sox and Padres). I went into this event relatively blind. I had heard of Blaze Jordan and Dylan Crews but for everything else I rely on colleagues Kyler Peterson and Tom Mussa to fill in the gaps. Here are my individual notes on each player. I’ll begin with the bats and list them in how they were lined up, starting with the National squad.
Pete Crow-Armstrong- The six-foot-one lefty has a projectable frame and was registering plus run times. He only reached base once, but stole second and third (would’ve been out at second but fielder couldn’t hang on). At contact he’s in more of a crouch than when he starts with his hands up high, and he utilizes a “double toe tap” with his front foot as a timing mechanism. I’m interested in seeing him more, and is one of the better players in this game.
Zac Veen- Veen was one of the more impressive players that I saw, and from talking and listening to people around me, he’s made a rapid ascension up the draft boards. The left-handed hitter has a lean, projectable frame, and he’s already hitting for power. Stance has no wasted movement, and he’s direct to the ball. Runs well enough to play center but he’s listed at six-foot-four so he could move to a corner as he fills out. He’s a first-round talent.
Jack Bulger- Bulger was my favorite of the catchers I saw and I was more impressed with his defensive skills and accurate throwing arm when compared to other catchers. He’s a physical kid, very well built. His offensive game is built around strength and power. He registered the highest exit velocity of all the bats here while hitting in the cage according to some of the tech at the field.
Austin Hendrick- Hendrick stole the show with his double-plus raw pop. He was the winner of the home run derby before the game and took advantage of the wind blowing out to right, his pull-side. Hendrick hit one over the video board in right at Wrigley. His arm was also the best amongst the outfielders. From some of the video I saw it looks like he reworked his swing and I like the new changes. He’s more direct to the ball, but there’s still a lot of noise with the hands. He uses almost a double-load, and that combined with the length in his swing will lead to strikeout issues.
Kevin Sim- Sim stood out for his unique swing, which involves pulling the hands down as he loads before attacking. The ball jumps off of his bat. There are some defensive questions here though, but he’s strong with a quick bat. He also made that athletic slide to score a run in the first.
Jace Bohrofen- Bohrofen had the most well struck ball of the game when he ripped a double in the right center field gap. I’m looking forward to seeing more here.
Blake Shapen- Shapen was known as “the football guy” by a lot of scouts, and that’s due to his commitment to Arizona State University to play quarterback as well as shortstop. He’s very athletic and has good range and a strong arm and made a spinning play behind the second base bag. The swing is simple and powerful, and he utilizes a big leg kick for his timing mechanism. I hope someone takes him high enough in the draft to get him on the diamond full time.
Coby Mayo- Mayo is a monster, at six-foot-five, 215 pounds. From baseball powerhouse Stoneman Douglas, he had the strongest arm from third base and had the chance to display it in game. I’m not sure he has the lateral quickness to stick at the hot corner, but the power could play at first.
Werner Blakely- Blakely was one of the better defenders during the showcase. The left-handed hitter gets out on front foot at times, but I liked what I saw from him.
Alek Boychuk- Boychuk is a well built catcher. Hope to see more of the right-handed hitter in the future.
Mario Zabala- Zabala may have been the most tooled out kid at the event, but the swing is long and he struggled to make contact.
Steven Ondina- This was my absolute favorite kid from the showcase. The Puerto Rican native is next in the long line of plus defenders from the island, and he absolutely put on a show from the shortstop position during the showcase. The hands and feet are elite for his age, as is the body control. He always found himself behind the baseball despite covering a lot of ground. The arm is above average at least, may even be plus and he’s very strong despite being five-foot-eight and a listed 165 (probably a bit lighter than that). Even during the homer run derby event he was driving balls to the wall. He had a few stolen bases during the showcase event, and the plus instincts allow the speed to play up.
Kyle Karros- The son of a big leaguer, Karros has a six-foot-five frame with plenty of room to add good weight. It’s a power over hit tool for me in my brief exposure. Looks to be limited to first as well.
Now for the bats on the American squad.
Robert Moore- Son of Royals GM Dayton Moore, Moore is a stocky but well built middle infielder. He’s a switch-hitter with a high baseball IQ that played up the middle. Line drive gap-to-gap profile at present.
Ed Howard- The local kid for this event, Howard is a product of Mount Carmel. If it wasn’t for Steven Ondina, Howard would’ve been the defensive shortstop I’d be raving to you about. He’s a physical specimen that does everything well.
Drew Romo- A switch-hitting catcher, Romo has a nice balanced swing, but he hits for more power from the right side. He has a nice frame with a good amount of projection remaining.
Blaze Jordan- This kid scolds the ball with every swing. During the home run derby he hit one that nearly went on to the roof of a building that was about 50 feet beyond the left field fence. The power is very real. He would’ve won the home run derby but the wind really picked up and started blowing in from left field. He generates plenty of natural loft and has significant power upside. He’s likely a first baseman down the line, but it doesn’t matter. The bat will play. He recently just re-classified and is now a 2020 draft prospect. Look for him in the top half of the first round based on his bat alone.
Dylan Crews- Crews has been sold as one of the best hitters of the class for a while now, and I see why. He’s a strong and athletic kid, but he struggled during the game and looked like he was caught in between. He will seemingly always has some contact issues, but it just depends on the rest of his game how much you can tolerate, and it looks good so far.
Robert Hassell III- The lefty has a smooth swing and the range to stick in center. Besides Hendrick he had the next strongest arm and was the favorite of a certain AL East teams representative at the game.
Slade Wilks- Wilks is a power threat, and looks the part. Filled out six-foot-two frame, he’s a presence from the left side of the box. Corner outfield profile, and runs decently well for his size. Strong kid.
Tanner Witt- Witt made a nice play on the infield during the game, and he moves pretty well despite his six-foot-six frame at his young age. Big time raw power, but it’s just a matter of getting to it consistently. Hopefully he doesn’t completely outgrow third, because he’s an athlete.
Robby Ashford- Ashford is the TOP athlete here, and was incredibly an Under Armour All-American in football as well. Above-average power and speed, the ceiling for Ashford is immense. Just need to keep him off the football field.
Yohandy Morales- Tall, lean build but has some power he was showing off during BP and the derby. The swing is long and he starts his hands high, and most of his natural power was to right center. The right-handed hitter has good hands and showed off a strong arm. (Eddy’s Editor Note: Shout out to my high school alma mater G. Holmes Braddock Senior High)
Daniel Susac- Susac’s older brother is a former top prospect behind the plate, so it’s only fitting that his younger brother is also a legitimate catching prospect. Susac is a switch-hitter that brings himself down to a crouch before the pitch, and uncoils with nearly unmatched raw power. He put on a show during the derby but ultimately came up short as the runner up.
Cayden Wallace- Wallace didn’t have a standout tool in my view, but also didn’t have a glaring weakness. He will be an interesting infielder to follow. He can go so many different directions.
Nolan McLean- McLean was the only two way player to perform both in the field and on the mound in this event. He’s also a highly thought of high school quarterback, so he obviously is a plus athlete.
The 2019 NHSI concluded Saturday night with Orange Lutheran winning its third consecutive championship. Much like previous years, the 2019 “crop of talent” featured a myriad of pro prospects, attracting scouts from college and professional ranks. At this type of event it is common to have several concurrent games, forcing an excruciating choice between top prospects on different fields. Having little exposure to many of these kids, it made the most sense to prioritize my schedule around pitchers. The tournament is only four days, which means each pitcher will throw once and you’ll only get one opportunity to see them. Let’s walk through ten pitchers with the most pro potential in this year’s tournament*: