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.
The event is a hotbed for college recruiters and the pro scouts that want to get an early jump on players. Schools from the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Pac 12, Big West, Mountain West, and WAC were all on hand to get a glimpse of uncommitted players. With recruiting being what it is these days, many players are already committed. For example, the Brewers (West region) had 18 of its 29 players already boasting a college commitment.
Below is my Top 10 list of players that stood out during the event.
- 2017 SS Mark Vientos (Pembroke Pines, FL)
Considered by many outlets as the number one 2017 position player in the country, Vientos looks the part of a future Major League shortstop. The 6’3” 180 pound University of Miami commit showed some of the best bat speed of any player to go with the ability to drive the ball all over the field. Vientos eats up ground with his long stride while on the basepaths. Defensively his range at shortstop was unmatched. His arm strength is fair at the present time but it projects to be well above average. One longtime scout said to me, “he looks like what Manny Machado looked like as a rising junior.”
- 2017 INF Royce Lewis (Aliso Niguel, CA)
Like Vientos, Lewis was simply on another level. The current infielder projects as a future center fielder because of his elite speed (8.02 on a standup double) and his athleticism. Lewis, a UC Irvine commit, uses advanced feel for the barrel in driving balls to all fields and showed very good bat speed generated by fast hands. His pitch recognition is off the charts good. Lewis has a good infield arm that should improve as he continues to fill out his 6’2” 180 pound frame. One college coach said to me, “he’s a baseball player that happens to be an elite athlete which isn’t always the case at this age.”
- 2017 CF Garrett Mitchell (Anaheim, CA)
Like Lewis, Mitchell possesses elite speed (3.96 to first base) to go with an advanced feel for hitting. Mitchell has made some adjustments to his approach since the end of the high school season and it’s paying off in spades. The UCLA commit consistently squared balls up and is beginning to show some power too. Mitchell, who is a very good basketball prospect, is already one of the best center fielders in the country with his ability to track down everything to go with a big power arm. Said one scout, “he doesn’t even know how good he can be and that’s scary.”
- 2017 OF Cole Turney (Richmond, TX)
Turney arguably showed the most consistent power of any player in the showcase. The Arkansas commit was regularly hitting balls hard to all fields and had two of the top four exit velocities per Trackman. Turney showed the ability to capitalize on pitchers mistakes and shows very good pitch recognition by not chasing bad pitches. Defensively, Turney showed very good body control and athleticism in chasing down fly balls by taking excellent routes to the ball and delivering strikes with a strong arm. Said one SEC coach, “he’s got a chance to come into our league and start right away, he’s that good.”
- 2017 SS Nick Allen (San Diego, CA)
Allen makes up for his lack of size with some of the best defensive abilities of any prospect in the showcase. Simply put, he makes plays other players can’t. The University of Southern California commit is so advanced with the glove that you don’t look away on any ball hit his way. Allen is also a proven hitter who can handle elite pitching and shows the ability to drive the ball with some juice. Said one Pac 12 coach, “he’s going to thrive in our league because of his mentality and makeup; he doesn’t give in to anyone and plays with a chip on his shoulder.”
- 2017 OF Blake Wagenseller (Poway, CA)
Wagenseller proved this week that he belongs in the conversation with the elite players in his class despite being somewhat of an unknown until recently. The Stanford commit is a hitting machine who projects some future power potential. An average runner, Wagenseller is quicker than he is fast and takes very good routes to the ball. He also possesses a very strong, accurate arm from the outfield. Said one pro scout, “he’s got a chance to develop into a high round pick because of his natural skill set and ability.”
- 2017 C MJ Melendez (Montgomery, AL)
Unquestionably the best catcher in the event, Melendez showed high level ability behind the plate in blocking balls, body control, calling a game, and footwork. The Alabama State commit also had the best arm behind the plate in regularly having pop times in the 1.84 – 1.99 range. His offense is behind his defense presently, but he does show some ability there as well.
- 2017 INF Francis Villamon (Orlando, FL)
Villamon is a physical presence at 6’1” 194 pounds and showed versatility in playing third base, shortstop, and second base. Nimble for his size, the uncommitted prospect has the arm strength and athleticism to play any of those positions in college. A line drive hitter, Villamon shows very good pitch recognition and strike zone awareness.
- 2017 OF Zachary DeLoach (Coppell, TX)
DeLoach is a hitter in the purest sense of the word. While his swing is very aggressive and often violent, he shows the ability to keep the barrel in the zone and drive the ball with power to all fields. An average runner on the bases and in the outfield, DeLoach could easily move to first base when he arrives at Texas A&M where his power numbers should only increase.
- 2018 SS Brice Turang (Corona, CA)
Turang is known player to coaches and scouts thank in part to earning MVP honors of the 2014 USA Baseball 15U National Team and he certainly lived up to that hype this week. A very good runner (4.12 to first base), Turang also has very advanced defensive skills and a strong arm. At the plate, the left handed hitting Turang, shows advanced feel for the strike zone and very good bat speed. Currently uncommitted, Turang is being pursued by a who’s who of elite baseball programs.