I LOVE L.A.
And not just because it got me out of Pittsburgh, where the wife tells me it will be 2 degrees on Monday, and it was close to 80 degrees here. The good weather did, however, enable me to see some pretty good draft talent as the 2008 draft season unofficially got underway at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton.
Now any scouting director will tell you that the draft season actually begins the day after the previous draft ends, but things are really starting to pick up now. And this event — the second of what I hope are many annual versions — serves as a kind of kickoff that things are going to get crazy busy in short order.
The scout turnout was terrific — and we couldn’t have asked for a better day — as 56 of Southern California’s top high school players perform in a one-day showcase. Like with any of these things, you can’t take too much from one day. This won’t make or break a player in terms of draft status. It can help — and hurt — obviously and there are times when guys put themselves on the map with a standout performance. For the most part, though, it’s just more information to put in the proverbial file. One interesting thing about events like this that scouts have pointed out to me is not just that it allows you to see players against good competition. During the high school season, a lot of these hitters will be the stars on their team. Opponents, trying to win games, will pitch around them with regularity. Frustrating for scouts, but a reality. At a showcase like this, though, there’s none of that. Pitchers want to get the best hitters out and hitters want to best the top pitchers the region has to offer.
If this group is any indication, it’s going to be a good year for left-handed pitchers on the prep scene in SoCal. Scouts saw a dozen or so southpaws take the hill on Sunday. Here’s a look at some of the top performers:
Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS, Riverside: He was the clear MVP of the game, with an opposite-field homer in his first AB after a real strong BP session. He also showed off a plus arm behind the plate, throwing out three would-be base-stealers. His catch and throw skills have been a question mark to some. Today may have erased some doubts. He’s money player who does seem to turn it up a notch in big situations.
Tyler Chatwood, OF/P/SS, Redlands East Valley HS, Redlands: Chatwood can do it all, and do it pretty well. He didn’t show much with the bat today, but he probably was the most impressive pitcher in the event. Listed at 6-0, 175-pounds, it will be interesting to see if he gets drafted as a pitcher, but he was up to 94 mph with his fastball. He good feel for a breaking ball, around 72-75 mph and a changeup which he thew in the 80-82 mph range. He’s a terrific athlete, as evidenced by his 6.5-60 yard dash time, second fastest in the group. He can play shortstop and the outfield and it should be a pretty good debate over whether his future is on the mound or in the field as the season progresses. He might be the best all-around baseball player in the region.
Ryan O’Sullivan, RHP, Valhalla HS, El Cajon: His brother, Sean, is a pretty good pitching prospect in the Angels organization. Ryan stood out as being particularly sharp on a day when several pitchers struggled with comamnd. He was one of the more consistent throwers in the game, topping out at around 91 mph with the fastball while showing a good, hard curve (77 mph) and a good feel for a changeup (82 mph). He threw strikes and mixed his pitches well.
John Lamb, LHP, Laguna Hills HS, Laguna Hills: The lefty later in the game and stood out a little with decent velocity (88-91 mph) a pretty good breaking ball (75 mph) and a change up (80 mph). What made him stand out was his combination of velocity and ability to throw strikes.
Isaac Galloway, OF, Los Osos HS, Rancho Cucamonga: No, he’s not on here because of my affinity for saying Rancho Cucamonga (those of you familiar with my Around the Minors radio work in the past know what I mean). Galloway has some serious tools and highlighted a group of exciting, toolsy outfielder at the event that included Aaron Hicks and Anthony Gose. Those two might be a touch more projectable; Galloway is more of an advanced hitter. By no means does that mean Galloway has no ceiling. Quite the contrary. He’s just a little more "right now" than Hicks and Gose. And at this event, it showed, with Galloway having the best day of the trio.