While the coronavirus has disrupted scouting in many ways, the high school showcase circuit has been relatively unaffected this summer. Most of the top events have adapted and still been staged, the latest of which was the Area Code Games over the past weekend.
The Area Codes moved across the country from their home at Long Beach State's Blair Field to LakePoint Sports in Cartersville, Ga. While the location changed, the quality of talent did not, as many of the 2021 Draft's top prep prospects faced off against each other Friday through Monday. According to a half-dozen scouting officials we surveyed, these players stood out:
1. Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland HS (Linwood, N.J.)
Petty opened the Area Code Games on Friday morning by throwing a 99-mph fastball and following it up with 100-mph heater, setting a standard no one would match. He sat around 96-97 mph with sink for three hitless innings, backed up his fastball with an upper-80s slider and showed promising depth on a couple of changeups. His command wavered a little, but he struck out six without issuing a walk.
2. Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (East Amherst, N.Y.)
Like Petty, Mack also was one of the better performers at last week's East Coast Professional Showcase. He impressed on both sides of the ball, showing one of the best and most consistent approaches at the Area Codes and launching an opposite-field home run on Monday. Behind the plate, he recorded some sub-1.9-second pop times (the product of arm strength plus a quick transfer and release) and continued to show improvement as a receiver.
3. Lonnie White, OF, Malvern (Pa.) Prep
Though he has a scholarship to play wide receiver at Penn State, multiple scouts commented that White is much more advanced than the typical player juggling baseball and football. A strong and powerful 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, White employs a relatively compact right-handed stroke and lets his power come naturally. He's also a solid to plus runner with an average arm.
4. Max Muncy, 3B, Thousand Oaks (Calif.) HS
He's not related to the Dodgers slugger but this Muncy is also an offensive-minded infielder. He barreled balls throughout the Area Codes, highlighted by a grand slam off Shane Panzini (see below) on Sunday, and made an outstanding diving play Friday at third base, which figures to be his best position.
5. Joshua Baez, OF, Dexter Southfield School (Brookline, Mass.)
Baez possesses some of the best all-around tools in the 2021 high school class, featuring huge raw power, solid speed and an arm that delivers mid-90s fastballs on the mound. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder got a little home run-happy after blasting a 400-foot homer with an exit velocity of 107 mph on Friday, but is a force when he's locked in at the plate.
6. James Wood, OF, IMG Academy (Brandenton, Fla.)
Wood is also a toolshed and while he didn't light up the Area Codes as much as he did East Coast Pro, one scouting director noted, "He still has good at-bats even when he's not hitting." Wood plays under control very well for a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder and has the upside of a center fielder with plus tools across the board.
7. Josh Hartle, LHP, Reagan HS (Pfafftown, N.C.)
Hartle displayed feel for three pitches on Monday night, with the same scouting director calling him a better high school version of Nick Lodolo, who blossomed into the No. 7 overall pick in 2019 after three years at Texas Christian. An athletic 6-foot-5 southpaw with a low-three-quarters arm slot and an easy delivery, Hartle owns a sneaky low-90s fastball, a sweeping slider that's very tough on lefties and an advanced changeup.
8. Ben Kudrna, RHP, Blue Valley Southwest HS (Overland Park, Kan.)
Kudrna opened eyes with a three-pitch mix that included a 92-95 mph fastball, a sharp 82-85 mph slider and feel for a fading changeup. He has a strong 6-foot-3 frame and a sound delivery that hides the ball well from hitters. He struck out three in two innings against a deep Yankees lineup, fanning Mack on a slider.
9. Caedmon Parker, RHP, The Woodlands (Texas) Christian Academy
Parker also raised his profile with a quality two-inning performance, working with a 90-94 mph fastball and a tight 79-81 mph slider. There's still plenty of projection remaining in his 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame and he showed off his athleticism by making a nifty play behind the bag as a second baseman on Monday.
10. Shane Panzini, RHP, Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic HS
Though Muncy tagged him for a grand slam (all four runs were unearned), Panzini impressed with seven strikeouts in a three-inning start. He moved his heavy 92-95 mph fastball around the zone, threw strikes with his slider and also mixed in a downer curveball and an occasional changeup.
Other standouts (listed alphabetically)
Irving Carter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale)
Cameron Cauley, SS, Barbers Hill HS (Mont Belvieu, Texas)
Drew Gray, LHP/OF, Belleville (Ill.) East HS
Carter Jensen, C, Park Hill HS (Kansas City, Mo.)
Ryan Johnson, RHP, homeschooled (Red Oak, Texas)
Malakhi Knight, OF, Marysville-Getchell HS (Marysville, Wa.)
Miles Langhorne, RHP, Greenwich (Conn.) HS
Daylen Lile, OF, Trinity HS (St. Matthews, Ky.)
Christian Little, RHP, Christian Brothers HS (St. Louis)
Mason Marriott, RHP, Tomball (Texas) HS
Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Lewisberry, Pa.)
Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep (Pennsauken Township, N.J.)