The second edition of the Underclass Area Code Games concluded Tuesday of this week. The games are open to rising sophomores and juniors and use the same selection process as the upperclass games; pro scouts select the players through a tryout process. Several players that participated in last year’s underclass games made the jump to the upperclass games this year.
Below is my Top 10 list of underclassman pitchers that stood out during the event.
- 2017 RHP Jeremiah Estrada (Palm Desert, CA)
Estrada continues to impress with his ability to command three pitches at an advanced level. His fastball (90-92) shows late arm side run which his changeup (80-82) has the chance to be a plus pitch in the future. His curveball (76-77) is one of the best in his class in Southern California. Listed at 6’1” 179 pounds Estrada, who is committed to UCLA, has the frame to add weight. Said one pro scout, “he reminds me of Justin Garza from Fullerton in that he generates incredible arm speed for a guy his size.”
- 2017 RHP Kevin Abel (San Diego, CA)
Abel continues to show that he may be the best 2017 pitcher to come out of Southern California when it’s all said and done. While his fastball is 85 – 87 mph, it’s his change up that separates him from his peers. The Oregon State commit has the confidence to throw the pitch in any count with good results. Abel also showed some of the best repeatable mechanics of any pitcher in the showcase. Said one scout, “he may have the best changeup of any pitcher in any class.”
- 2017 RHP Tylor Fischer (Midland, TX)
Fischer has the stuff of what you think you’re going to get from a power pitcher from the Lone Star State. An easy 89 – 92 mph fastball that shows some late life in the zone is the premier pitch for Fischer, but don’t sleep on his 79 – 80 mph changeup that he throws in any count. The 6’3” 165 pound Fischer has the frame to add about 40 pounds which should only make his pitches add velocity.
- 2017 RHP Matthew Sauer (Santa Maria, CA)
Sauer is an interesting prospect for a number of reasons and none excites scouts more than his 6’4” 185 pound frame which projects to add 30 pounds. His fastball has a lot of movement and work 87 – 90 mph already. His curveball is sharp and sits 69 – 71 mph, but it’s his slurve (74 – 76 mph) that raised eyebrows from college coaches and pro scouts alike. The pitch is sharp and has late bite which makes it nearly impossible for right handed hitters to hit and runs in on left handers. Said one college coach, “based on ability alone, this kid can be a weekend starter for most schools the minute he steps on campus.”
- 2017 LHP Brian Gursky (Laguna Hills, CA)
After moving to Southern California from Indiana last spring, Gursky continues to make a name for himself in the eyes of scouts. The Southern Cal commit shows very good feel for a fastball that works 88 – 91 mph with arm side run late in the zone. His secondary pitches are good, but can at times be a little loose. At 6’2” 195 pounds, Gursky has a chance to be add velocity and command over the coming years giving pro scouts more time to evaluate.
- 2017 RHP Kyle Hurt (Rancho Santa Fe, CA)
The 6’4” 205 pound Hurt has transformed his body from pudgy to fit and athletic in the last year and the dividends are showing themselves on the mound. A simple, easy delivery results in a fastball that works 89 – 91 mph and moves in on right handed hitters. His curveball (72 – 74 mph) shows potential of being a plus pitch. The Southern Cal commit has a chance to be one of the best in his class in Southern California.
- 2017 RHP Devin Fontenot (Conroe, TX)
Fontenot was a treat to watch for scouts because of his pitchability and feel for three pitches. His fastball was heavy at 88 – 90 mph and worked it to all quadrants in the strike zone. His power curve was sharp and biting at 73 – 76 mph that he kept in the lower quadrants. The University of Texas commit doesn’t waste pitches regardless of the count. Said one scout, “he could still grow and is definitely going to fill out which is exciting because he already knows how to pitch.”
- 2017 RHP Isaiah Paige (Diamond Bar, CA)
Paige was one of the most intriguing 2017 prospects in the showcase because of his ability to get outs without overpowering stuff. His fastball (84 – 86 mph) moves so much it looks like other pitches and misses bats. His curveball (71 – 73 mph) is effective and Piage shows a lot of confidence in it by throwing it any count. Paige is also an above average center fielder who has proven he can hit good pitching which makes him that much more enticing to college recruiters.
- 2017 RHP Everett Hurst (Sebring, FL)
What Hurst lacks in size (5’11”, 165) he makes up for with ability. His fastball (86 – 88 mph) runs all over the place and stays down in the strike zone. Hurst also flashes a sharp curveball that shows good depth at 75 – 76 mph. The University of Central Florida commit could easily add velocity given his clean, repeatable mechanics and arm speed.
- 2017 LHP Russell Smith (Midlothian, TX)
Smith possesses very good feel for pitching, especially on his slider (78 – 79 mph) that moves hard in on right handers and was not touched by left handed hitters. At 6’9” 210, the TCU commit will add weight, which should translate to added velocity on his fastball (83 – 86 mph) that has some arm side run. His changeup (74 – 75 mph) is serviceable but will need to improve if it is to be a pitch hitters will have to worry about.