Top prospects shine in California-Carolina League ASG
Indians DH Rodriguez among standouts with power display in Home Run Derby
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- Class A Advanced All-Stars from the Carolina and California Leagues got together on Tuesday night to celebrate the best players in their respective leagues.
The evening began with a Home Run Derby with four representatives from each league participating.
The Derby consisted of two rounds. The winner's of the first round were Nellie Rodriguez of the Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland Indians) for the Carolina League and the California League's A. J. Reed of the Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros).
Both participants showed their strength and ability to get loft on the ball with an exciting finish to the Derby.
Rodriguez was able to win, 5-4, but not without a last minute thrill.
Trailing by one home run with the last of his six outs remaining in the final round, Reed hit a high, long blast to right center field. The ball fell at the base of the fence and Rodriguez was crowned the winner.
The California League All-Stars then went on to top the Carolina League All-Stars, 9-2.
Five impressive standouts
As a scout I took special note of a select group of players that seemed to stand out among their peers. They included:
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Modesto Nuts (Colorado Rockies)
McMahon is a left-handed-hitting California native. He has a short, sweet line-drive stroke with the ability to let the pitch travel deep in the zone. McMahon uses quick hands and strong wrists to hit the gaps, as he did in this All-Star Game, smoking a double in his first at-bat. Enjoying a multiple-hit game against Carolina, McMahon has a .306 average in the California League. Among his 70 hits at the midpoint of the Class A Advanced season are six home runs, 23 doubles and two triples.
Playing very high quality third base in addition to being able to hit quality pitching, McMahon is the fourth-ranked prospect on the Rockies' Top 30 Prospects list.
Reed, DH/1B, Lancaster Jethawks (Astros)
Reed is listed at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, but he looks much bigger. He is a very powerful left-handed hitter with some uppercut in his stroke. A bit aggressive, his power will play extremely well in any size park. Reed finished as the runner-up in the Home Run Derby and had some excellent at-bats during Tuesday's game. He has the type of swing that will feast on right-handed pitching. Reed may scuffle with lefties. I was impressed with his plate discipline, patience and his willingness to see pitches and take a walk.
Reed is the No. 12 prospect on the Astros' Top 30 Prospects list.
Rodriguez, DH, Lynchburg Hillcats (Indians)
Rodriguez won the Home Run Derby. Solidly built at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, Rodriguez has a rather long, aggressive swing. He will do damage with barrel of the bat line drives to the gaps. Able to gain backspin on the ball, Rodriguez will only gain power and strength as he develops further. But he'll have to watch his conditioning and weight.
I didn't see much in the toolbox beyond his power, but that may be enough to propel Rodriguez to a big league career as a potential fence buster.
Rodriguez is No. 27 on the Indians' Top 30 Prospects list.
Cody Bellinger, 1B, Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers)
Bellinger is a tall, thin left-handed-hitting and throwing first baseman. At 6-foot-4, 180 pounds it is difficult to see how he generates power. But he does. Bellinger's quick hands through the ball form the foundation of very good hitting mechanics.
In his multi-hit performance before his home crowd on Tuesday, Bellinger showed extremely good hands and feet around the bag at first base. His defense is almost as advanced his offense. Both will play well for the athletic line-drive hitter with a bright future.
Bellinger is the No. 17 prospect on the Dodgers' Top 30 Prospects list.
Brett Phillips, CF, Lancaster JetHawks (Astros)
Phillips has an outstanding combination of speed and power. Once he drives the ball to the gap he is off and running and it would take a perfect throw to stop him from taking an extra base.
So far this season, the No. 6 prospect on the Astros' Top 30 Prospects list has 14 home runs, 19 doubles and 51 RBIs.
The 6-foot, 181 pound Phillips is a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower with five very good tools.