By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
August 6, 2009
Tyler Kuresa (Oakmont HS, Roseville, Calif.) lined a hard-contact RBI single up the middle in the first inning and Stefan Sabol (Aliso Niguel HS, Calif.) followed with a well-hit RBI double down the third base line. Christian Yelich (Westlake HS, Thousand Oaks, Calif.), an intriguing prospect because of his 6-4, 185 frame, drove a ball to deep center field for a RBI triple in the first inning Thursday for the Brewers Blue (Southern California) against the A’s (Southeast), starting Day 2 of the 2009 Area Code Games at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif.
Yelich won’t be a speed burner any time soon, but he has enough athletic actions to warrant a closer look, and may have grown a bit since the end of the high school season.
The damage was done against A’s starter Nate Foriest (Harpeth HS, Kingston, Tenn.), who pitched with his fastball at 85-87 and with a curveball at 75-76 in the first inning. Listed at 6-2, 190, with a lean, loose and fast arm, Foriest did well for himself by adjusting the second time through the order and turning a showcase into a simulated game environment. He showed that one inning wasn’t worth giving up on him.
He was better in the second inning, most noticeably when he brought his curveball into the game, but his third inning was his best. Foriest struck out outfielder Austin Wilson, a highly coveted outfielder from Harvard-Westlake HS (North Hollywood, Calif.), with a sinking fastball featuring good late life. He finished his outing when he faced Kuresa again. He mixed in a good change-up and induced Kuresa to hit a soft ground ball to second baseman D’Monte Grissom for the final out of the inning.
As for Grissom, it’s going to be hard to find another second baseman here who can redirect the ball in and out of his glove with the same electricity. It’s an overlooked skill but it flat-out plays at the big league level.
Another G-man, Angelo Gumbs (Torrance HS, Calif.), got down the line in 4.14 seconds from the right-hand side, which is typical for this athlete. Gumbs also drew a walk, and while I’d like hitters to do what they’re gifted at, I’m not the one handing out the contracts. So Gumbs’s hint at patience will be considered a virtue among some clubs, who groan when they see athletes not play like athletes. Gumbs also showed that his speed is a weapon on the bases, where he twice advanced to second with sound base running, took third on a wild pitch, and scored from third on another close play. Gumbs is the only player from Southern California’s South Bay to be playing in the Area Code Games, Baseball Beginnings is most pleased to report first.
On the mound for the Brewers, left-hander Griffin Murphy (Redlands East Valley HS, Highland, Calif.) topped at 89, though he has reached 90 in the past. He struggled with consistency but also worked in a few curveballs at 75-76 and regained himself enough to finish with three sound innings. Despite lapses of command and occasional frustrated body language, Murphy has every chance to be a solid draft out of high school.
Tyler Shreve, a 6-4, 215 right-hander also from Redlands East Valley, showed up with his power arsenal. He pitched at 90-93 in his first inning with a curveball at 77, slowly getting loose, clearly with a little bit more there. Shreve is reminiscent of right-handed Joe Blanton for his stuff, style and physique.
Jesus Valdez, a right-hander lacking dominating height (6-3, 195) but possessing a strong lower half, reached 91 with the final pitch of his first inning of work. Valdez, from Hueneme HS (Oxnard, Calif.) pitched two solid innings.
Two A’s players with familiar names are Brett Geren and Bobby Geren (San Ramon Valley HS, Danville, Calif.). They are similar types of players and hitters and both have clearly benefited from advanced instruction and have absorbed their training. Both are definite college players, with Bobby perhaps possessing a tad more physical projection than his brother. Bobby Geren lined an RBI single against Chris Wilson (St. Paul HS, West Covina, Calif.).
A ’s outfielder Kevin Jordan (Northside Columbus, Columbus, Georgia) is one of the best all-around athletes here, but his first few at-bats weren’t his best Wednesday. He also had trouble picking up Sabol’s double in the corner. His arm strength and accuracy is below average now, but Jordan should be athletic enough to raise it to average major league levels.
Jordan found a pitch he could drive in his last at-bat, driving a double into left field, showing 4.1 speed to first base from the left side, and later scored on a single by Ty Linton (Charlotte Christian HS, Matthews, NC).
Linton, a good athlete with a good 6-3, 210 baseball frame, stole second base, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly, showing a good first step. He also warrants following.