The Inside Pitch: Central AZ Takes JUCO World Series and A look at the draft
It was the culmination of an up and down season that saw the Vaqueros scramble through conference play for most of the year but catch fire at the right time.
In early April Central lost doubleheaders to Yavapai and Pima in consecutive weeks, but then rattled off 20 wins in their last 23 games en route to the title.
Congrats to 2018 Desert Mountain alum Jake Meyer, who was named to the All-Tournament team.
A solo home run in the top of the 9th inning proved to be the difference as Northern Oklahoma Enid ended the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds season 5-4 in the championship game of the NJCAA Division 2 World Series in Enid Oklahoma.
Congrats to the staff and players at Mesa for a great showing after one of the strangest years in recent ACCAC history.
Mesa finished with a 19-19 conference record and was the only Arizona D2 team to finish .500 or better.
Tonight marks the beginning of the 2019 MLB draft, with rounds 1 and 2 taking place tonight, rounds 3-10 on Tuesday and rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.
Unlike 2018, when 2 Arizona players (Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman) were taken in the first round, and 2 more (Jonny Ornelas and Jayce Easley) were selected in the 5th round, this year will be quite a bit different.
To be very candid, this may be the lightest crop of Arizona high school draftees in memory.
While I never expected this to be a big time group as far as draft prospects, the situation became worse when many of the players on follow lists just did not show very well this spring.
So now that the dust has settled here is what I expect to see:
If you are looking for AZ high school guys on day 1- forget it.
If you are following day 2 in anticipation…..tune in late in the day.
My guess as to the first AZ high school player to go is Outfielder Manny Collier from Westwood, and I expect it to happen in round 8ish.
Collier is not a guy who has shown up on all the player ranking sites, but he has legit tools. He is a plus runner and shows bat speed that may translate well to the next level. The arm is below average, but he profiles to center field and is certainly capable of hitting a cut off man.
He plays with good energy, sometimes with a flare that might bother some old school purists.
But the bottom line is this is one of the few players that really helped himself this spring and his apparent signability may get him off the board in day 2.
The word on the street is that Jose Dicochea (RHP- Sahuarita ) may have priced himself out of the first 10 rounds with his money demands.
Dicochea showed the arm strength that teams look for (up to 95 this spring), but the arm action doesn’t wow anybody and the secondary offerings are below average.
If he falls into day 3, don’t be surprised to see someone take him and pay him with leftover top 10 round pool money.
As always, any number of guys could hear their names called in day 3:
Kody Huff- C Horizon HS : One of my favorite guys in the class, but with a Stanford scholly in his back pocket teams are not likely to pony up.
JD McLaughlin-OF Hamilton HS: There are tools here. He has improved his speed to make himself an average runner. The arm is a plus tool. At the plate I thought he really improved this year, but he’s more of a college guy to me who could be a top 10 rounder in 3 years.
Nick Wallerstedt- OF/RHP Mountain Pointe HS: I think the jury is still out on what Nick’s future is. He has tools to burn with good speed, a projectable frame and some juice in the bat. But the swing needs work to succeed at the next level. On the mound he never showed the kind of command that scouts wanted to see.
TJ Clarkson- OF Mesquite HS: While he was a wildly successful prep pitcher, it’s the left handed swing that has some guys interested. He’s attended at least one pre-draft workout.
Enrique “Kiki” Romero- Canyon del Oro C/IF: A left handed bat with good power potential, Kiki should hear his name called. He’s a solid catcher and played shortstop for much of the season for CDO. He has a big time arm as well, up to 94 on the mound.
Chandler Murphy- RHP Liberty HS: The U of A commit had some arm issues that sidelined him for much of the season, so scouts got a limited look.
Shane Murphy- LHP Hamilton HS: Shane has a big durable frame and pitchability to spare. The fastball velocity is a few ticks shy of what pro guys want to see, but someone may look past that. Either way he’s on track to be a dude in 3 years coming out of GCU.
Seth Nager- OF Ironwood Ridge HS: Seth has a projectable frame and a left handed bat with some power potential. He was getting some love from scouts for much of the season
Nate Baez- MIF/C Ironwood Ridge HS : Scouts like the bat, but position wise Nate is a bit of a mystery. Some scouts would like to see him transition behind the plate.
Brian Kalmer-3B/1B Corona del Sol HS: Brian shows the power tool, and teams covet that, but the overall athleticism probably puts him at 1B and then he will really have to hit.
Corona del Sol SS Hunter Haas and Mountain Pointe SS Carson Tucker were both selected to participate in the MLB/ USA Baseball Prospect Development Pipeline League.
The event is a one month program featuring the top 80 prospects in the country and is being held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton , Florida.
The Four Corners Classic is in the books, with the Wilson Sandlot 2021 team playing up an age group and taking home the 2020 championship. Sandlot defeated Albuquerque Baseball Academy 4-3 in the title game.
In the 2021 division it was GBG- Arizona taking home the hardware.
Kudos to the 2020 Angels White Scout Team, who won their pool over Wilson Sandlot 2020, T-Rex 2020, and Athletics Orange.
Now I’m going to be candid here.
On paper the Angels team had no business winning this pool. They are a solid team, but the roster isn’t full of big time prospects.
This Angels team, however, played hard all weekend.
It’s a refreshing sight to see guys grind their way through at bats, play consistent defense and basically ball out in a summer tournament.
I have real concerns regarding the energy level of players when they get outside of their high school programs and the accountability that is inherent when games really matter.
I’m worried about how we are developing players.
I’m seeing more and more players who, after committing early, are not improving their games.
Remember,committing to a college is not the end goal. The college commitment is nothing more than an opportunity to show you can compete at the next level.
The one thing I know is this: there is no such thing as a 16-17 year old finished product. If you think otherwise you are in for a rude awakening.
By the same token, I am concerned about how many of our 2018 Division 1 signees were unable to make even a minimal impact in their low to mid major college programs.
I hate to be the “stay off my lawn” old man here, but I feel an obligation to give it to you straight.
As I tell the players and families that I work with in the recruiting process, if you want someone to tell you what you want to hear, I’m not that guy.
I think it’s even more important to point out areas that need to be improved in a player’s game.
While there are legions of guys running around tweeting your at bats and shouting accolades, please remember that this is not how players get recruited.
College coaches are not trolling Twitter looking for players.
This is how companies market themselves on Twitter, and you, the player, are the virtual sandwich sign.
I certainly embrace the talents of young players and go out of my way to communicate that info to colleges, but these are private conversations not held on social media.
See you at the yard, RB