Prep Baseball Report

Area Code Games Standouts

Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

The 2019 Area Code Games took place last week in Long Beach, CA, with many of the top 2020 MLB Draft prospects showcasing their abilities at Blair Field. The Hotlist highlights 20 who stood out among their peers.

Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS, OR
Even on an off day Abel stands out. Checking in at 6-foot-5, 184 pounds, the Oregon State recruit has a long, lean frame with tons of room to fill out and add strength. He didn’t have his best fastball at the Area Code Games, but still sat 89-93 mph with life and flashed an above average slider and changeup. The slider was 82-84 with late bite and the changeup features fade at 83-84. In two innings, he allowed two hits and two walks while striking out four.

Drew Bowser, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS, CA
A Stanford recruit, Bowser immediately jumps out with his 6-foot-3, 201-pound frame. His size and mobility will likely precipitate a move to a corner position, but it’s not his defensive home that catches attention. His physical strength is noticeable at the plate, where he can punish a baseball. He was 4-for-10 with a double in four games and his outs were loud too. Two of his hits had exit velocities of 95 and 98. He also had a groundout that was 94 and a flyout that was 98. If not for the lingering marine layer, the flyout would have been a no-doubt home run. While he has clear power to his pull side, he showed the ability to go the other way with authority too.

Cam Brown, RHP, Flower Mound HS, TX
Brown has a big, durable frame at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. The Texas Christian recruit had a dominant appearance the PDP League and followed it up with two more strong ones in Long Beach. Closing things out in the Rangers’ second game, he sat 90-93 and mixed in a plus slider and above average changeup. The slider has sharp, late break and sits in the 77-81 range while the changeup is 85-86. He struck out the first five batters he faced and didn’t allow a baserunner in two innings in his first outing, then came back on the last day to strike out four more in two innings while walking one. He fastball velocity backed up in the second appearance—not unexpected for a young arm on short rest at the end of the summer—but still showed the ability to snap off some nasty sliders.

Joey Dixon, RHP, Bingham HS, UT
Dixon is an athletic Stanford recruit with considerable upside. He stands at 6-foot-1, 187 pounds with a loose, easy and athletic delivery. He struck out one in one inning of work early in the event, sitting 91-93 with arm-side sink while showing good feel for a changeup at 82-85. Making his second appearance on the last day, he was 89-92 and showed the low-80s changeup again with sink and fade, as well as two breaking balls—a curveball at 75-77 with 12/6 depth and a slider at 79-83. He tossed three innings, allowng a run on three hits and a walk while striking out three.

Dax Fulton, LHP, Mustang HS, OK
A Vanderbilt recruit, Fulton showed why he is one of the top southpaws in the country. The 6-foot-6, 217-pounder had two perfect innings, striking out the side in the first and adding a fourth strikeout in his second. His fastball was 89-92 from a high-3/4 slot and loose delivery. His curveball is a plus pitch, sitting 79-81 with tight break. He also mixed in a heavy changeup in the mid 80s.

Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Glendora HS, CA
Gonzalez has a rangy frame at 6-foot-2, 188 pounds and moves athletically in the field. At the plate, he has loose, quick hands from the left side. He showed patience and the ability to put the bat on the ball, going 2-for-5 in four games with a double, four walks and no strikeouts. There is some length to his swing, but the barrel stays in the zone a long time and he can drive the ball to the opposite field. He is committed to Mississippi.

Kyle Harrison, LHP, De La Salle HS, CA
Harrison, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound UCLA recruit, made his case as California’s top pitcher. Starting the first game of the event, he struck out five in two innings, allowing two hits and a hit batter. His fastball ranged from 87-92 mph with good arm-side life. His slider is above average with hard sweep at 76-78. He can lose the zone at times when he gets out of sync, but he has a loose, easy delivery.

Cade Horton, RHP, Norman HS, OK
A two-sport and two-way prospect, Horton clearly has athleticism on his side. The 6-foot-2, 186-pound Oklahoma recruit started opposite Abel on the first day and breezed through his first inning, getting a strikeout looking on an above average slider. He allowed a run on one hit in the second and added one more strikeout. His fastball was 91-93 with a spin rate in the 2300-2500 range. The slider was 78-79 with late break. He has a simple, athletic delivery and could take off when he focuses on one position in one sport.

Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS, IL
An Oklahoma recruit, Howard has a lean, athletic frame at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. One of the top defenders in the country, he glides around the infield with ease, has athletic actions and an above average arm. He didn’t set the world on fire at the plate, going 3-for-6 with three singles in four games, but there’s enough life in his bat to get people excited and run him way up the board. There is a little length to his swing, but it’s loose and he has bat speed. In his final at-bat of the event, leading off a game at 8 a.m., he woke the crowd up with a rocket back up the middle that was 103 mph off the bat. He had just one strikeout and walked twice on the week.

Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS, TX
The first man on the mound for the Texas Rangers in a game loaded with pitching, Kelley took in place in Area Code Games lore. The Texas recruit is known for his extra-large frame at 6-foot-2, 229 pounds, blazing fastball and ease of operation. All of that was on display, as he retired the first eight batters he faced, walked one and struck out six in his three innings of work. In the first inning, he spotted up 96-98. Both strikeouts came on 98 mph fastballs. He didn’t need any help behind him in the second, sitting on 96, striking out one and fielding two comebackers. He struck out three and walked one in the third, sitting at 93-95. Kelly’s slider has been inconsistent in the past, but he has developed another plus pitch in his changeup. He has excellent feel for it, as it sits in the 80-84 range with power sink and fade. His slider was 80-83.

Robert Moore, SS, Shawnee Mission East HS, KS
The son of Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore, Robert Moore is the 2020 class’ diminutive prospect who will win the hearts of any spectator with an appreciation for a grinder mentality and supreme defense. The Arkansas recruit stands at 5-foot-8, 168 pounds, is a switch-hitter and has magic in his hands. He has a loose, quick swing from both sides of the plate that will allow him to spray line drives to all fields, but if you want to fully appreciate is ability, just watch him on defense. His hands are arguably the quickest in the country, making it seem like the ball doesn’t even hit his glove. In one pregame session, he made a quick transfer at second base on a double play pivot and threw a strike to first base—without even looking at the first baseman. He has excellent footwork and body control, allowing him to make plays on the move with ease.

Jack Moss, 1B, Cherry Creek HS, CO
Moss, who recently committed to Arizona State, had tremendous results in Long Beach. In five games, he was 8-for-16 with four doubles, a triple, four RBIs and three runs scored. He has a tall, long frame at 6-foot-4, 189 pounds, but stays relatively short and drives the ball to all fields, as his bat stays in the zone.

Kevin Parada, C, Loyola HS, CA
Parada saw his strong summer continue in Long Beach with the Georgia Tech recruit consistently squaring balls up to all fields while also providing strong defense. The 6-foot, 193-pounder had four exit velocities of 95 or better, two at 100 and 102. He also showed well defensively with strong, accurate throws to second base.

Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands HS, TX
Romo’s defense is among the best in the country and it showed up at the Area Code Games, where he threw a base stealer out at third base with a 1.68-second pop time, caught another at second with 2.04 and back picked one at second with a 1.93. He also quietly had a solid week at the plate. He had two hits in his third game, singling and launching a two-run home run to left field in his second. It was 97 off the bat and traveled 368 feet.

Alex Santos, RHP, Mount St. Michael Academy, NY
Arms typically don’t throw more than three innings at an events like the Area Code Games, but Santos logged four innings for the New York Yankees and allowed just two walks while striking out three. The Maryland recruit has an ideal frame at 6-foot-3, 192 pounds with plenty of projection left. His fastball was 89-93 with elite spin (2500-2700 rpm). His curveball is a hard, downer breaking ball at 76-80, but it was inconsistent in this outing, as he was spiking it a fair amount. However, he did show good feel for a changeup, turning it over with sink and fade at 83-84.

Jason Savacool, RHP, Baldwinsville HS, NY
Like Santos, a fellow Maryland recruit, Savacool started a game for the New York Yankees and went four innings, allowing a run on three hits while striking out nine. After allowing a single to start the game, the 6-foot-1, 191-pounder settled in and dominated with his fastball to strike out the next three batters. On previous looks this summer, Savacool didn’t land his slider, but the arm and fastball were always electric. In Long Beach, he was able to spin his slider at times. It was still inconsistent, but he flashed some that were average to above average in the low 80s with late bite. His fastball was 90-93 with arm-side life and he even mixed in a changeup with sink and fade.

D’Andre Smith, SS, San Dimas HS, CA
Smith trailed only Moss for the most hits in the Area Code Games with seven, thanks to two three-hit games. The 5-foot-8, 178-pound Southern California recruit routinely made solid contact with a compact swing and quick hands, and didn’t strike out in five games. He made a real statement on the final day, hitting a hard flyout to center in his first at-bat. He then had an inside-out swing that produced a double to the opposite field. In his third at-bat, he had a hustle double, busting out of the box and never breaking stride to take an extra bag on what should have been a routine single. He had a single in his fourth at-bat and took second on a throw to home. He also scored two runs and showed athletic actions defensively. With runners on the corners, the one on first broke for second. As the catcher’s throw went to second, the runner on third made his break. Smith cut it off in front of the bag on a short hop, made a quick exchange and threw a strike to home to get the runner.

Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS, CA
Soderstrom was arguably the biggest winner of the Area Code Games, vaulting himself into the top catcher in the country conversation. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound UCLA recruit translated his loud BP to the games, in which he went 4-for-10 with a triple and double. He had at least five balls that came off the bat at 91 or better. One went for a double that was 104 mph at the second baseman, who tried to make a spin move to pick it, but also simply survive really. He has a quiet set-up from the left side and consistently finds the barrel with an easy swing. He is also a quiet receiver and makes smooth exchanges with strong throws to second base.

Carson Wells, OF, Bishop Gorman HS, NV
Wells, a Southern California recruit, has a wiry, athletic frame at 6-foot-1, 184 pounds. He has loose, quick hands that produce a sweet left-handed swing with above-average bat speed. He routinely made strong contact throughout the week and had two exit velocities of 95. He was 4-for-9 in five games with a couple stolen bases. He gets down the line in 4.2 seconds.

Tanner Witt, 3B/RHP, Episcopal HS, TX
Witt is a legitimate two-way player with projectable power and strength in his right-handed swing, but at 6-foot-5, 199 pounds with long limbs, the needle was probably tipping toward him being an arm. It may be leaning even more that way after two stints on the mound in Long Beach. He tossed two innings as part of the Rangers’ pitching show with Kelley and Brown, allowing a run on a hit and two walks while striking out four and running his fastball up to 93 with above average spin. He was even better as the starter for the Rangers’ final game. He tossed two innings against the Oakland Athletics, allowing a hit and walk while striking out four. He was 90-92 mph, working downhill well and getting a high spin rate on his fastball. His breaking ball ranged from 72-77, varying in shape and showing a spin rate in the 2700-3000 range. He also showed feel for a changeup in the low 80s, as he maintained his arm speed on the pitch and got swings and misses. At the plate, the Texas recruit was 4-for-13 with two singles in the first game that were 100-101 off the bat.

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