CARY, N.C. -- The 100 high school players on hand at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex for this year’s PDP League were greeted by rain Wednesday morning, which limited some activities, like running the 60-yard dash. But after a two-hour delay, position players were put through their paces with batting practice and infield/outfield in front of a sea of scouts, many of whom were putting a pause on 2022 Draft planning to get a glimpse at what '23 might have to offer.
While pitchers participating did throw bullpen sessions, they won’t be evaluated until games start Thursday (1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET, streaming on usabaseball.com), so all focus was on the hitters. And while no one is going to put too much weight into one BP and infield/outfield session, it never hurts to make a good first impression.
And several from the Class of 2023 did just that. Scouts were impressed with this group’s overall feel to hit to all fields, with a special nod to the infield depth, particularly from the West Coast.
After talking to evaluators on hand, here’s a group of ten hitters who stood out Wednesday to kick off the week of PDP League action, with position and hometown listed:
Eric Bitonti, INF (Hesperia, Calif.): Bitonti is 6-foot-4, but you wouldn’t know it based on how well he moved at shortstop. There’s plenty of left-handed pop here, but he showed a good overall setup and swing at the plate.
Max Clark, OF (Franklin, Ind.): When you come in as the top player in the class, the bar is set very high. By his own admission, Clark didn’t have the best BP session of the day, but he still showed an ability to hit the ball hard from the left side of the plate. That's without mentioning his premium athleticism in the outfield.
Dean Curley, INF/OF (La Verne, Calif.): The 6-foot-3 right-handed hitter hit the ball consistently hard in his rounds, showing considerable raw power, especially to the gaps and his pull side.
Dillon Head, OF (Flossmoor, Ill.): Head has been on the radar for a while as a Breakthrough Series participant, and Wednesday he showed why, with plus bat speed and very impressive hittability.
Cameron Kim, INF (Jurupa Valley, Calif.): Like Bitonti, Kim moved very well in the infield, especially given his 6-foot-4 frame. He also showed off a solid right-handed swing.
Walker Jenkins, OF (Oak Island, N.C.): Jenkins immediately stands out for his physicality, and like with Clark, his reputation precedes him a bit. He swings it with ease from the left side, and showed off his all-fields power by pulling one pitch over the fence in right, and then going opposite field with just a flick of the wrists on the next.
Kevin McGonigle, INF (Aldan, Pa.): McGonigle is already known for his ability to hit from the left side, as he’s done it pretty much everywhere he’s been. This was no different, with another professional BP session, this one with more power than expected. He also showed well in the infield.
Tai Peete, INF (Tyrone, Ga.): He’s one of the youngest players in the class -- he’ll still be just 17 years old at the 2023 Draft -- and he really looked like he belonged, impressive since this is really the first time he’s playing at this level. He has power and twitch at the plate and brings high energy to the field. Oh, and he’s up to 94 mph from the mound, something he’ll get to showcase once games get started.
Adrian Santana, INF (Hialeah, Fla.): Santana came in known for his elite-level speed and strong defense at shortstop and clearly wanted to show evaluators he’s capable of driving the ball from both sides of the plate. He succeeded, yanking several balls to his pull side, both left-handed and right-handed, over the fence.
Andrew Wiggins, OF (Indianapolis, Ind.): Breakout star alert. Big, strong and athletic at 6-foot-3, Wiggins showed off more raw power than any other hitter Wednesday, making the field seem very small. He's an explosive left-handed bat, one that could end up being the talk of the summer.
Exit velocity (mph)
105.5, Braden Holcomb, INF/OF (Ocoee, Fla.)
105.3, Tommy Roldan, OF (Poolesville, Md.)
105.2, Andrew Wiggins, OF
105, Braden Holcomb
104.3, Gavin Grahovac, INF/OF (Orange, Calif.)
104, Eric Bitonti, INF
103.9, Nikolas Sanders, C/OF (Waco, Texas)
103.6, Arjun Nimmala, INF (Valrica, Fla.)
103.2, Walker Jenkins, OF
103, Colt Emerson, INF (Cambridge, Ohio)
418.8, Walker Jenkins
409.4, Kevin McGonigle, INF
406, Walker Jenkins
404.8, Eric Bitonti
403.8, Nikolas Sanders
402.7, Seth Farni, OF (Long Beach, Miss.)
401.9, Edward Phelps III, INF (Norcross, Ga.)
400.6, Camden Kozeal, INF (Omaha, Neb.)
399.5, Walker Jenkins
396.8, Zach Wadas, OF/INF (Chandler, Ariz.)