By: Baseball America
Posted on September 1, 2015
The Area Code Games began in 1986 and showcases top talent in the draft class each year. The All-Area Code Games team honors the players at each position who stood out in Long Beach with strong performances and strong tools. This year’s group of pitchers was loaded, forcing some very strong players off the team. Here's the line-up...
C: Cooper Johnson
Carmel Catholic HS, Mundelein IL
Johnson’s bat took a while to come around, but he reached base in five of his 13 plate appearances and earned his way onto his team with his excellent defense. Johnson has very quick feet and a strong receiving hand. Questions remain about his bat, but he solidified himself defensively this week, and he did show intriguing bat speed at the plate.
1B: Chris Winkel
Amity Regional HS, Woodbridge CT
Winkel squared up the ball consistently, pulling the ball deep into the gaps for several extra base hits. The ball routinely came off his left handed bat with authority, and he showed a smooth glove and quick feet around the first base bag. Winkel said that he plays first base for his high school team because that gives his team the best chance to win, but he has played a bit of outfield and is open to playing either position at the next level.
2B: Bo Bichette
Lakewood HS, St. Petersburg FL
Bichette’s swing starts with an extremely deep load, a barred lead arm and a back elbow raise, allowing him to generate outstanding bat speed and torque. His bat path is surprisingly level, and he showed mature timing for most of the week. His swing allows him to barrel line drives to the opposite field, and he did so with authority in Long Beach, hammering one bat to right field with an exit velocity of 108 mph.
SS: Nolan Jones
Holy Ghost Prep, Bensalem PA
Jones has shown intriguing fast-twitch ability all summer, and he started to put things together at the Area Code Games, driving the ball consistently to the opposite field with sharp backspin. Jones is also an advanced defender at shortstop, armed with quick feet and a plus throwing arm.
3B: Austin Shenton
Bellingham HS, WA
Shenton consistently hit the ball hard in Long Beach. He has quick hands and should develop power as he gets stronger. Shenton had not seen much high-level competition entering this summer, and his timing has seen significant improvements from where it was earlier in the summer.
RHP: Riley Pint
St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Overland Park KS
Pint was the star of Day 4, throwing three hitless innings while striking out three and walking one. His fastball touched 98 early and settled in at 92-95, and he showed the potential for a plus slider. Pint only threw one changeup, and it had excellent depth and fade as he dropped it in against a left handed hitter.
RHP: Kevin Gowdy
Santa Barbara HS, CA
Gowdy showed some of the best pitchability of the event, pounding the bottom of the zone with his sinking fastball at 88-90. His best secondary was a sharp slider that he used to pound the back foot of lefthanded hitters. He struck out four batters in two innings.
RHP: Reggie Lawson
Victor Valley HS, Victorville CA
Lawson’s week got off to a great start. In his first outing, he needed only 10 pitches to strike out the side, showing excellent fastball life and touching 94. Lawson’s breaking ball showed better than it had at earlier points of the summer, with late dive and the ability to compete for strikes in the zone. Lawson showed a changeup in his second outing of the week, but the pitch did not quite have the appeal of his fastball and curveball. His fastball worked more at 90-92 in his second outing. In total, he struck out six batters, walked none, and allowed one hit over three scoreless innings.
OF: Blake Rutherford
Chaminade College Prep, Canoga CA
Rutherford made the most consistent hard contact of any player at the Area Code Games. He sprayed line drives to the gaps with authority, and also pulled a few hard ground balls through the right side of the infield. Rutherford showed above-average speed, with run times from home to first hovering around 4.30 seconds. He had seven hits at the event.
OF: Brandon McIlwain
Council Rock North HS, Newton PA
A quarterback recruit for South Carolina, McIlwain is quickly developing into one of the best prep hitters in the country. At the Area Code Games, McIlwain squared up just about everything, and showed the ability to make adjustments. He sets up deeper in the batters box and has closed off his stance a bit, allowing him to get to pitches on the outer half more consistently. The righthanded hitter has bat speed, arm strength, and quick feet, and has a chance to develop into a true five-tool player.
OF: Mickey Moniak
La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad CA
The Brewers center fielder made one of the best catches in the history of the Area Code Games on Thursday, when he made an over-the-shoulder grab just in front of the warning track to rob a hitter of an extra base hit. Moniak showed off above-average speed on the base paths all week, and he went 8-for-19 at the plate. Moniak truly used the entire field, punching a few fly balls down the left field line, and pulling one ball deep into the right field corner.
DH: Ulysses Cantu
Boswell HS, Fort Worth TX
Cantu went 7-for-16, showing outstanding bat speed and a knack for creating line drives off his righthanded bat. He has impressive strength and power.
LHP: Jason Groome
Barnegat HS, NJ
Groome touched 95 early in his start and showed off his as-usual devastating curveball, with tight rotation and excessive depth from 11 to 5. Groome shied away from his changeup after fellow first-teamer Bo Bichette hit a hard ground ball on a changeup that Groome hung a bit. Even when he wasn’t at 95, Groome’s fastball sat at 88-91 with heavy sink and feel for the bottom of the zone. He struck out six batters, walked two, and allowed four hits in three innings.
LHP: Jesus Luzardo
Stoneman Douglas HS, Parkland FL
In terms of pure pitchability, Luzardo may have been the most impressive player at the Area Code Games. He pitched twice, and finished the week with four innings pitched, seven strikeouts, no walks, and one hit allowed. Luzardo’s stuff was better in his second outing, when he punched out five of the six batters he faced. His fastball peaked at 91, his breaking ball showed late dive, and his changeup flashed plus fade.
Photos by Bill Mitchell.