High school prospects state their case
In summer showcases, potential first-rounders put talent on display
The last two major events on the summer showcase circuit are the Under Armour All-America Game and the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Virtually every potential high school first-rounder for the 2016 Draft appeared in the UA game at Wrigley Field on Saturday or the PG contest at Petco Park on Sunday.
Below are 10 players (listed alphabetically) who made a positive impression in either of the games, rather than a straight prospect ranking. The three most highly-regarded talents at the UA game weren't at their best.
St. Thomas Aquinas High (Overland Park, Kan.) right-hander Riley Pint tied a UA record by hitting 98 mph, but he couldn't command his fastball and didn't use his plus secondary stuff much. The Westminster Schools (Atlanta) outfielder Will Benson went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and two walks, and McEachern High (Powder Springs, Ga.) righty Alex Speas also had control issues but did top out at 96.
Austin Bergner, RHP, Windermere (Fla.) Prep
The top pitchers did a better job of living up to their billing at the PG Classic. Bergner fanned two in one inning of work, getting one strikeout on a 93-mph fastball down and in on a right-hander and the other on an 85-mph changeup that faded away from a lefty. His fastball ranged from 92-95 mph with armside run and he mixed in a couple of 74-77 mph curveballs and a pair of lively changeups.
Bo Bichette, 3B/2B, Lakewood High (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
There's a lot going on with his right-handed swing, but it also produces a lot of bat speed and usable power. The son of former All-Star Dante Bichette drove the ball to all fields while winning the UA home run derby, then went the other way on an outside 90-mph fastball for a triple into the right-field corner in the fifth inning. While Bichette's bat will be his ticket and he profiles better as a third baseman, he made a couple of nice plays at second base.
Carlos Cortes, OF, Oviedo (Fla.) High
He earned PG Classic MVP honors by collecting two hits and making a sliding catch in right field in the bottom of the ninth to help preserve the East's 3-1 win. Cortes did a nice job of waiting on a changeup down in the strike zone and grounding it hard up the middle in the fourth, then pulled a 91-mph fastball for a line-drive single to right in the sixth. Interestingly, he throws left-handed as an outfielder and right-handed when he plays second base.
Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat (N.J.) High
The best high school prospect in the nation lived up to his reputation at the PG game, starting it off by generating weak contact in a perfect top of the first inning. Exerting minimal effort in his delivery, Groome located his 92-96 mph fastball on both sides of the plate, showed feel for spinning a curveball and displayed a deceptive changeup.
Travis Hosterman, LHP, Hagerty High (Oviedo, Fla.)
He had the lightest fastball at the UA game, working from 86-89 mph, but he got swings and misses with it and spotted it well on the outside corner. In a perfect seventh inning, Hosterman recorded two whiffs with his 73-75 mph curveball and threw nine of 14 pitches for strikes -- a welcome sight in a sloppy game that featured 18 walks.
Carter Kieboom, 3B, Walton High (Marietta, Ga.)
He had the best at-bats of anyone in the UA game, beginning by grounding a 98-mph Pint fastball for an opposite-field single. The MVP for the American team, Kieboom worked full counts in his next two plate appearances, lining a 92-mph fastball to right-center for another oppo single and getting rung up on an offspeed pitch that was off the plate.
Alex Kirilloff, 1B, Plum High (Pittsburgh)
He was most impressive during the PG home run derby, going deep on his last six swings in the finals to beat Chaminade Prep's (Los Angeles) Blake Rutherford 12-11. Kirilloff created the game's first run by yanking a 93-mph fastball on the outer half into center field for a single to lead off the fifth inning, then using his solid speed to steal second, advance to third on a fly ball and barely sneak home on a wild pitch. He also made a nice dig at first base and showed a strong arm during pregame warmups.
Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep (Los Angeles)
The top prep position prospect for the 2016 Draft, he finished second to Kirilloff in the PG home run derby and drilled a 90-mph fastball off the base of the center-field wall for a fifth-inning double. He showed off his plus speed after drawing a four-pitch walk, stealing second base and racing to third on an errant throw.
Forrest Whitley, RHP, Alamo Heights High (San Antonio)
After Pint and Speas struggled to find the strike zone in the first inning, Whitley cruised through a perfect second inning on 13 pitches (10 strikes). The most physically imposing player in the UA game at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, Whitley pounded the bottom of the zone with his 94-96 mph fastball and showed promising bite on an 82-85 mph breaker.
Andy Yerzy, C, York Mills Collegiate Institute (Toronto)
He displayed his power by tying for top honors at the Junior Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game, then did it again by taking a 92-mph fastball into the basket in left field for an opposite-field homer in the UA game. The MVP for the victorious National team, Yerzy is intriguing as a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder with strength and bat speed from the left side of the plate, not to mention a legitimate chance to remain a catcher.