SoCal Draft Showcase
While most people look at this time of year as Pitchers & Catchers time, with good reason, it’s also right around the time when things start to pick up for the Draft season.
Case in point, the Major League Scouting Bureau hosted their annual showcase at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., on Saturday. Southern California, as most of you know, is typically a hotbed for amateur talent, and this one-day showcase has been a must-see in years past.
The overall sentiment after the event was, “Ehhh.”
Yes, scouts tend to be skeptical. Yes, I typically will report, nearly every year, that this year’s Draft class isn’t very good. So we’ll add some grains of salt if it makes you feel better. But it does seem that the SoCal high school scene isn’t thrilling.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t good players. There are. But there aren’t too many “wow” types, top of the first round guys like, say, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were a year ago at this time. Dominic Smith is the best player in the area, but he didn’t attend the showcase as his team was playing in a tournament last weekend.
In the end, the best player at the event was actually from NoCal. Carlos Salazar is a right-hander committed to Fresno State, more or less in his backyard. Often at these events, the young arms shine in one-inning outings. Salazar was the only one who lit up radar guns, throwing 94-97 mph and showing a sharp breaking ball with decent command. He reminded one scout of Javy Guerra in terms of his delivery.
Lefty Ian Clarkin, from the San Diego area, also threw well, 89-92 mph with a very good curve.
That may have been it in terms of “standout performances.”
One scout I spoke with said that there’s depth, but it’s all round 5-10 type guys, and most will go on to college (and most need it, he thought).
While there were no “coming out parties,” kind of like Christian Yelich had at this event a few years back, so guys did turn in solid performances. Some “highlights”:
- 3B Kevin Franklin, from Gahr HS and an Arizona State commit, had the best raw power.
- SS Chris Rivera (El Dorado HS) was the best defensive shortstop, but there are questions about his bat.
- SS Terrian Arbet (Great Oak HS, commited to U of San Diego) looked like a solid all-around player. He reminded some of Brandon Martin, the Rays’ 2011 draftee from SoCal, though the scout who mentioned him didn’t think he’d be a sandwich pick like Martin was.
- 1B Jake Bauers (Marina HS) may have been one guy to help himself. He simply just hits and had a balanced approach and good at-bats. It’s all about his bat, as he doesn’t have many other tools. But the kid can hit.
- SS J.P. Crawford (Lakewood HS, USC commit) looked good, but he’s all about projection. The now tools weren’t on display. It’s a high risk/high reward kind of situation, but is the reward enough for him to be a first-rounder?
- C Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei HS, USC commit) was solid, but a scout I spoke with about him worried about his low ceiling.
- 3B Ryan McMahon (Mater Dei HS) is a solid athlete with the right body and toolset to be a solid third baseman.
- C Tyler Alamo (Cypress HS, Cal State Fullerton commit) looked the part of a catcher. He was athletic behind the plate and showed an at least average arm with some accuracy. He was a little stiffer with the bat, though.
- LHP Stephen Gonsalves (Cathedral Catholic, U of San Diego commit) did not throw well, clocking in at 85-88 mph with poor command and a below-average breaking ball. He’ll need to prove that he’s more than that this spring, and perhaps in three years of college.