2023 Area Code Upperclass Games: White Sox Quick Hits & Superlatives
August 23, 2023
PBR Draft HQ staff was on hand in San Diego, Calif., earlier this month to take in the annual Area Code Games. Shooter Hunt previously published team-by-team player rankings inside of his ‘Impact 60’ series for the Underclass event that preceded these Class of 2024 players we're breaking down below. Shooter and Draft HQ Advisor Ian Smith teamed up to produce these Area Code Upperclass scouting reports and superlatives from each of the eight teams in San Diego.
TOP PROSPECT: SS Caleb Bonemer
Quickly ascending into one of the top players in the class, the Virginia commit was a standout all week long in San Diego. There’s a strong chance for above-average to plus hit and power potential with Bonemer, and it was easy to see why. A keen eye for the strike zone with very limited chase against consistent spin throughout the week. A very simple, quiet pre-pitch load with a vertical bat path and premier bat speed, Bonemer shows an ability to pick up hard contact throughout the zone with immense barrel control. Fast hands allow the Okemos (MI) product to turn on and abuse elevated fastballs with ease. There was some high-level baseball IQ on the paths, picking up extra bases on a bloop and a willingness to steal. Defensively, it just looks so easy for Bonemer at both short and third with soft hands and effortless transfers while moving laterally. It’s a smattering of 55 or greater tools that’s led by a clear plus arm. The total overall profile appears to stack up with anyone in the class, and there’s even more to project.
TOP PITCHER: RHP Joey Oakie
Ankeny Centennial High School in Iowa is set to produce its second elite arm in recent years with potential 2024 first-rounder Brody Brecht in 2021, and now the ultra-physical Joey Oakie this upcoming spring. At 6-foot-3, while working out of a low three-quarters slot, the Iowa commit sits in the mid-90s fastball with barrel-missing late life and hard arm-side run. Above-average command allows Oakie to get consistent IZM and called strikes alike. A sharp, mid-80s slider has characteristics to be a potential plus pitch with clear plus spin that hovers around 3000 RPM and the ability to add and subtract sweep at will. Flashes a quality mid-80s changeup with some fade as well. Oakie offers true feel for three pitches, with the FB/SL combo having a chance to be one of the best two-pitch mixes in the class.
SLEEPER: RHP Kade Durnin
2024 RHP Kade Durnin (MO) comes out of the bullpen, and just might be my favorite arm so far this week.— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) August 9, 2023
92-94 T95 with impressive carry through the zone.
CB is a low-80s hammer that creates huge depth.
Absolutely pounded the zone. #PBRinSD // @ShooterHunt // @PBRMissouri pic.twitter.com/V4jIib3Bl2
Easily one of my favorite arms of the week, Durnin brought some high-octane velocity out of the bullpen for the White Sox. A tight arm circle into a deceptive near over-the-top arm slot with low- to mid-90s velocity with carry and command. Low-80s breaking ball was a weapon with tilt and creating big depth for swing and miss. Showed an ability to throw both for strikes consistently. Changeup appeared sparingly at 83-84 mph. An easy operation with a physical 6-foot-3 frame that is still uncommitted and could be just scratching the surface of his potential.
PICK TO CLICK: OF Garrett Shull
OF Slade Caldwell
Hit. Hit. Hit. That’s essentially all Slade Caldwell has done all summer long, and it continued in San Diego. Combining some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the class (90% contact rate at the event) with plus-plus bat speed, the Ole Miss commit will use the entire field with ease. Caldwell’s ability to shrink the strike zone and force hittable pitches is second to none, and was able to work four walks in 16 plate appearances. Tried and true in centerfield with impressive range and an above-average run tool that allows Caldwell to attack balls fearlessly. Spark plug energy who simply epitomizes the term “gamer."
RHP Owen Hall
One of my personal favorites following his performance earlier this summer at NPI, Owen Hall continues his upward trend in the 2024 class. Premier arm talent for the Vanderbilt commit, who lulls you to sleep with a slow leg lift into electric arm speed from a higher three-quarters slot. Ran the fastball up to an Area-Code high 97 mph while settling comfortably at 91-96. Plenty of carry through the zone with feel to move east to west that led to double-digit whiffs overall. Low- to mid-80s slider continues to improve, and showed some sharp bite. Firm 87-89 mph changeup is a distinct third pitch but lands for strikes. Hall is a high-level athlete with a strong lead leg block that shows ability to sustain velo throughout outings well. There’s potential to attack in a wide-open pitching class.
SS Tyson Lewis
‘24 IF Tyson Lewis (NE)— Shooter Hunt (@ShooterHunt) August 7, 2023
A favorite swing from earlier in the summer looks just as good. Exit velos up to 1️⃣0️⃣8️⃣. Simple thunder. Upside. #PBRinSD || @PBR_DraftHQ #MLBDraft24 || @PBR_Nebraska pic.twitter.com/htGenPs28Q
Seemingly every at-bat throughout the week from Lewis was competitive, getting on-base every game and working countless deep counts. Stays on-time with a quick trigger toe tap. Extremely fast hands that consistently fouled off tough pitches on the inner half. Lewis was able to catch barrels when he got extended, and showed massive juice to the tune of 108 mph EVs in batting practice. A confident defender in the middle-infield with one of the more projectable frames at the event, standing a lean, well-proportioned 6-foot-2, 195-pounds. The Arkansas commit will be one to watch heading into the fall and upcoming spring.
RHP Ryan Sloan
Uber-physical and equally athletic at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Ryan Sloan is one of the best arms in Illinois, and it was on display in San Diego. Explosive hand speed out of a deceptive low slot with flat VAA. Easily held mid-90s velocity with bore. Above-average feel to spin with supreme confidence to throw a mid-80s slider in the zone for whiffs and strong tunneling abilities. Changeup in the mid- to upper-80s has the potential to be plus down the line with hard arm-side fade. The Wake Forest commit can be a major factor among the best players in the Midwest.
RHP Anson Seibert
Standing at every bit of 6-foot-8, Anson Seibert had one of his most promising outings of the summer on a huge stage. High-spin, working downhill at 94-96 mph with some heaviness, but explosive at the top of the zone. Good feel for a tight breaking, low-80s slider and changeup creates depth out of the same tunnel as the fastball at 85-88 mph. Created 12 whiffs in just two innings of work, fanning five overall with consistent IZMs. There’s a substantial ball of clay to build on with the Tennessee commit.
MIF Tyler Bell
Quietly, the Kentucky commit was outstanding in multiple facets of the game throughout the week. Flashed 60 grade run times down the line (4.08) and jumped all over a first-pitch fastball for a pull-side grand slam. Switch-hitter, but Bell is more advanced from the left-side with ability to create leverage with ease and present bat speed. Soft hands with impressive footwork and range makes me believe that Bell will stick up the middle long term as well.
3B Kale Fountain
One of the most imposing bats in the lineup for the White Sox, and flashed his clear plus raw power early with a no-doubt home run in their first game of the week. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound slugger stays well-balanced throughout his swing with impressive bat speed and barrel accuracy that allows the LSU commit to do loud damage to all fields. Fountain worked a walk in every game played, and really showed the damage he can do with a team-leading seven RBIs with just two hits. Flashed a present above-average arm across the diamond with accuracy. Everything about Fountain is physical.
RHP Lance Davis
It’s hard not to bet on the frame and easy operation that the Razorbacks commit brings. Physical 6-foot-4 with present strength in the lower half and ability to repeat. Compact arm circle with a fast arm, Davis lives in the low-90s with hard arm-side run and more velocity to come. Gyro mid-80s slider creates swing and miss depth at the bottom of the zone, and will throw it at will. Present feel for a 83-84 mph changeup with some tumble that gives Davis three pitches he can land for strikes. It’s above-average or better command, and the stuff is quickly catching up.
OF Cole Crafton
A dual-sport athlete, and a QB1 at that, Cole Crafton really opened eyes throughout the week. Hands work very well, showing strength and creating separation on a physical left-handed cut. Tapped into some substantial raw juice with the longest pull-side home run of the week, going 392 feet off an elevated fastball. Easy actions in the outfield with sneaky foot speed and a strong, accurate arm. There’s much more to project on the 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, and the Louisville commit could be just beginning to tap into his upside.
LHP Brayton Thomas
One of the last arms we saw for the White Sox provides some real intrigue from the left side. Loads of strength throughout a 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame, especially in the lower half. Low-90s fastball has some natural cut and ability to move around the zone. Strong aptitude to land back-foot sliders for whiffs against RHH and some feel to land the high-70s pitch for strikes. The Indiana commit will flash a low-80s changeup as well to round out a solid three-pitch mix.
SS J.D. Dix
After standing out defensively at nearly every infield position early in the week, Dix started to get hot as the week ended. Picked up multiple barrels, including a 98 mph missile into the RF corner for an RBI double. A switch-hitter, with a near mirror image of mechanics from both sides of the plate, Dix offers strong bat-to-ball skills that can be a carrying tool as he continues to mature into a lean, high-waisted frame.
RHP Aidan Hayse
A brief, but loud look at the Tennessee commit. Simple, repeatable mechanics with whippy, explosive arm speed. Fastball lived 89-93 mph, touching 94 with some deceptive late life and command to paint the corners. Low-80s slider shows good tilt that creates depth. Hayse will deploy a firm, mid-80s changeup to RHH that flashes as a potential above-average pitch down the line. High-level athlete with both pitchability and projection remaining.