Even with no hits in three games, Clovis shortstop Jacob Gatewood still shined the most during last week’s event in Long Beach. San Diego Cathedral Catholic pitcher Brady Aiken’s 92-mph fastball also turned the most heads.
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A six-day, five-game sampling in any form of baseball – especially where the rules and criteria are geared to each player getting an equal share of at-bats and plate appearances — makes judging any player’s performance during that span much more difficult.
What the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan has learned over the years of interacting at the Area Code Games with top scouts, however, is that it’s the little things they are looking for. It’s not the stats.
Example. It’s not only how fast a player gets to first base but the hustle he shows and his body type compared to a time. Why do you think they all have a stop watch?
The way a player fields his position is one of the most important factors scouts use in the evaluations. Arm strength, hitting the cut-off, accuracy and the angle of the throw for outfielders, and similar but different criteria for infielders and catchers.
The top player from California, according to all of those polled, was Jacob Gatewood (Clovis) of the Oakland Athletics even though he did not have a hit in three games before leaving for another event.
Despite not hitting, Gatewood did hit balls well that were just caught and did everything else in superlative fashion, increasing his already high stock. Gatewood also was one of 24 players from California out of the 76 named overall for Area Code Games’ honors. In addition, he was one of six on the 20-player All-Area Code Games First Team.
More All-Area Code First Teamers
•A pitcher that made a cameo appearance, showed tremendous stuff, and then departed for another event was Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) of the Milwaukee Brewers. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound left-hander wetted everyone’s whistle with a 92-mile per hour fastball that not only is “plus” in scout’s terms for a lefthander, but had movement as well. His breaking ball was in the mid-70s and his change-up clocked in at 83 on the radar gun. He struck out seven in three innings worked.
•Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year and State Junior of the Year Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood) of the Milwaukee Brewers started slow at the plate, but before he left for another event he had made an impression at third base and was 2-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored.
•Of the four catchers to make All Area Code First Team, the only backstop from California was 2013 All State Underclass First Team member Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego) of the Milwaukee Brewers. He displayed an excellent arm, had an RBI and scored two runs in only four plate appearances.
•Another player that hit the ball hard and had nothing to show for it but still was named All Area Code First Team at third base was Joe Gillette (Scotts Valley) of the Athletics. Like Gatewood, he played defense at the corner like a pro and did the little things that don’t show up in the stats.
•The scouts also liked Milwaukee Brewers’ first-baseman Eric Ramirez (Rio Mesa, Oxnard), who also made First Team All Area Code.
•Another member of the Brew Crew that displayed a solid arm, excellent range in left field, and all-around speed was D.J. Peters of Glendora. The First Team All Area Code Games’ selection had two doubles, a walk, an RBI and two runs scored in four at-bats.
Six California players made the 13-player All-Area Code Reserve Roster:
2B – Bryson Brigman (Valley Christian, San Jose) Oakland Athletic
CF – Derek Hill (Elk Grove) Oakland Athletics
C – Tim Susnara (St. Francis, Mountain View) Oakland Athletics
3B – Kevin Padlo (Murrieta Valley, Murrieta) Milwaukee Brewers
1B – Chris Williams (De La Salle, Concord) Oakland Athletics
OF – Shane Mardirosian (M.L. King, Riverside) Milwaukee Brewers
Top Area Code pitchers and the 90-mile per hour club
LHP – Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) Milwaukee Brewers
Of the 33 pitchers ranked by Student Sports at the Area Code Games, Aiken was number one.
RHP – Luis Ortiz (Sanger) Oakland Athletics
The No. 4 ranked pitcher at the Area Code Games, he led the A’s staff with a 93-mph heater and reportedly hit 94 earlier in the summer.
RHP – Mason Perryman (Bakersfield) Oakland Athletics
He was consistently at 90-91 in an excellent outing versus the Yankees. Perryman also was No. 11 overall for pitchers during the week.
RHP – Stetson Woods (Liberty, Madera) Oakland Athletics
At 6-foot-9, 211 pounds, the scouts liked what they saw. Even though he’s not fully developed, the No. 19-ranked pitcher hit 90-91 on the radar gun consistently.
RHP – Parker Joe Robinson (JSerra, San Juan Capistrano) Milwaukee Brewers
The No. 28-ranked pitcher touched 90 and showed good off-speed stuff.
RHP – Joe Demers (College Park, Pleasant Hill) Oakland Athletics
The 2013 First Team All Underclass pitcher got close to 90 but his array was solid enough in two innings pitched to make him the No. 30-ranked pitcher.
RHP – Mitch Hart (Granite Bay) Oakland Athletics
He fell in behind A’s teammates Demers at No. 31 in the pitchers’ rankings and topped out at 90 on his fastball.
LHP – Justin Hooper (De La Salle, Concord) Oakland Athletics
The 6-foot-7 lefty’s two innings with a high 80s fastball and sweeping curve in which he struck out three and the opponents barely put the bat on the ball earned him the No. 33 and final spot in the Area Code Games pitcher’s rankings.
RHP – Nathan Hadley (Loyola, Los Angeles) Milwaukee Brewers
The second team All State Underclass honoree topped out at 90 miles per hour on his fastball with a slider that clocked 79 on the radar gun.
RHP – Tylor Megill (Los Alamitos) Milwaukee Brewers
Along with Aiken, he topped the Brewers staff with a 92-mile per hour fastball and his curve dropped in at 73 on the radar gun.
RHP – Jonathan Teaney (Quartz Hill) Milwaukee Brewers
He hit 91 quite a few times in his three innings and was second to Aiken for Californians with five strikeouts.
RHP – Kyle Molnar (Aliso Viejo, Aliso Niguel) Milwaukee Brewers
Just a junior with another Area Code appearance probably next summer, Molnar topped out at 90 for the week.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend