Breaking down the East Coast Pro Showcase bats
Hitters paled in comparison to pitchers at event, but some familiar names stood out
On Tuesday, the top pitching performances at this year's East Coast Pro Showcase were discussed. Now it's time to take a look at who impressed the most with the bat.
The ECPS comes right in the middle of the summer showcase season for 2014 high school Draft hopefuls, coming after the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minneapolis and USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., but before the Area Code Games and Perfect Game All-American Classic in California and the Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, in Chicago.
The East Coast Pro Showcase was a four-day event held in Syracuse featuring prep talent from all over the eastern United States. Run by Major League scouts, it gives the industry an opportunity to see players over a longer stretch, allowing for pitchers to throw more than once (and for multiple innings) and for hitters to pick up double-digit at-bats.
Scouts were a bit more effusive about the pitching at the event this year, but that doesn't mean there weren't hitters worth talking about. And even if some of the top prep bats didn't stand out in this particular showcase, there is some optimism about the upcoming high school hitting class.
The list below reflects conversations with a range of scouts, from area guys up to scouting directors, about the top bats in Syracuse.
1. Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (Fla.): Gordon didn't do anything overly exciting at the plate, though he still showed his innate ability to make contact and rack up base hits. He also showed defensive ability on both sides of second base. He's also playing in the Perfect Game All-American Classic and the Under Armour All-America Game.
2. J.J. Schwarz, C, Palm Beach Gardens HS (Fla.): There may not have been a hitter who helped himself more than Schwarz did in Syracuse. The son of former big leaguer and pitching coach Jeffrey Schwarz is on the USA Baseball 18 and Under Trials roster. Based on his East Coast performance, which saw him consistently hit the ball hard and pick two runners off of second, he should make that final squad.
3. Braxton Davidson, OF, T.C. Roberson HS (NC): He has a terrific left-handed swing that looks like it should allow him to hit for both average and plenty of power. He could join Schwarz on that USA Baseball roster heading to Taiwan at the end of August after playing in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.
4. Kel Johnson, OF, Homeschooled (Ga.): While Johnson showed a solid approach at the plate, and scouts feel he has all the ingredients needed to be a very good hitter, he didn't show the pop he has in the past, like at Tournament of Stars. Scouts will get to see him at the Perfect Game Classic as well as the USA Baseball trials.
5. Chase Vallot, C, St. Thomas More HS (La.): While his ability to stay behind the plate might be up for debate, if Vallot swings the bat like he did in Syracuse, there won't be any questions about his hitting. He'll get to show what he can do at both All-American games later this month.
6. Forrest Wall, SS, Orangewood Christian HS (Fla.): Wall was dealing with some kind of shoulder issue, so he wasn't able to show too much in the field, but it certainly didn't hurt his hitting. He seemed to hit everything hard over the four days of the showcase.
7. Benny Santiago C, Coral Springs Christian Academy (Fla.): That's right, he's the son of the long-time big league catcher of the same name. And some of the skills clearly were handed down. The younger Santiago, who will play in the Perfect Game event, looked terrific both behind the plate and at it, sending line drives to all fields.
8. Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (Ga.): Gettys also pitches but didn't throw as well as he has in the past. He did show flashes of all of his tools at the plate and in the outfield. He'll have them on display at both All-American contests.
9. Isan Diaz, SS, Springfield Central HS (Mass.): At first glance, Diaz may not jump out at you, but he definitely is the type who grows on you the more you see him. That certainly happened in Syracuse, where the left-handed hitting infielder impressed with his bat. He might be an offensive-minded second baseman down the road.
10. Michael Chavis, INF, Sprayberry HS (Ga.): It was hard not to like how Chavis played the games in Syracuse, showing aggressiveness and hustle. He also showed the ability to run and play defense. He didn't produce a ton in games, but showed the ability to swing the bat aggressively as well. He will be playing in the Perfect Game Classic in San Diego.
Others of note: Luke Bonfield, OF, Immaculata HS (N.J.); Reece Cooley, OF, Fleming Island HS (Fla.); Drew Lugbauer, C, Arlington HS (N.Y.); James Marshall, South Gwinnett HS (Ga.); Justin Smith, OF, Bartram Trail HS (Fla.); Pavin Smith, 1B, Palm Beach Gardens HS (Fla.); Logan Sowers, OF, McCutcheon HS (Ind.)