With the signing deadline, a big story on the Draft system, another one on the AFL rosters and some Pirates game coverage, getting on here to write about the AFLAC All-American Game, which took place way back on Aug. 16, has been more difficult than I would have imagined.
Better late than never? Here are some thoughts on players who participated in the game:
Bryce Harper, C: The “big” name, the phenom who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the presumptive No. 1 pick for next year. A word of caution: A lot can happen between now and then. Not saying he’s not good, just don’t crown the guy just yet. At the AFLAC game, he showed bat speed and plus arm strength. There were some concerns with his approach at the plate, where he seems more focused on hitting long home runs and didn’t make adjustments. His release on his throws was a little longer than it’s been in the past. He still showed plenty of tools, but he didn’t make in-game adjustments
Jameson Taillon, RHP: He looked like a Top 10 pick, throwing an explosive fastball up to 95 mph and locating it to both sides of the plate. He showed a slider and a curve, the latter of which might be a plus pitch down the line. The FB and slider are plus offerings right now. He even showed a changeup. He’s big, strong and showed an ability to throw down and to both sides of the plate.
Tony Wolters, SS/2B: He really knows how to play the game. He’s got good hands and a strong arm. The only thing that might keep him from being **** down the road is below-average speed, but he could be the type who sticks because of instincts and positioning. At the plate, he should hit for plenty of average, but not a lot of power.
Zach Alvord, SS/2B: He played second in this game, but he’s got the tools to play short for sure. He can really play defense. He has the chance to be a middle infielder who moves up quickly on draft boards next spring, kind of like Jio Mier did this year.
Reggie Golden, OF: He’s got all the raw tools you’d want to see and might have the best overall tool package in the Draft class. He’s an above-average runner, he’s got raw power to spare. The question is whether he’ll make adjustments. If he does in the spring, he’ll move up in a hurry.
There were a number of big-armed pitchers, guys I’ve written about in discussing other summer showcases. Stetson Allie was up to 97 mph, but looked more like a thrower than a pitcher right now; AJ Cole showed plus velocity as well, with questionable secondary stuff. DeAndre Smelter was up to 94-95 mph and was aggressive, going right after hitters. Cam Bedrosian looked ok, but a little nervous. Keep an eye on Peter Tago. The boxscore doesn’t look pretty, but some scouts liked his arm action. He was up to 94 mph and threw a slider at 82 mph that has the chance to be a good pitch.
On the hitting end, Yordy Cabrera showed good power and a nice swing — it reminded some of Andruw Jones’s finish — though since he’s a little older (he’ll be 19 1/2 come next year’s Draft), he’s tougher to evaluate. Brian Ragira showed a really good approach at the plate, laying off breaking balls and showing he can hit a fastball anywhere. When the game sped up, he kept up. He’s a Stanford commitment, so he might be hard to woo away from college. Chevez Clarke showed a good, short and quick swing, but he didn’t run as well as some had advertised.