Dahn Day 3 features: Kodi Medeiros
| Justin Bellinger
| Touki Toussaint
Rodriguez Day 3 feature: Derek Hill
– Although the game of baseball comes naturally for Benito
Santiago, that doesn’t keep him from working around the clock to
improve his game and the performance of his teammates, and it’s
paying off big on the grand stage of the Perfect Game National
you’re here, you’re here for a reason and you’re in front of a
bunch of scouts and it’s just a once in a lifetime opportunity,”
Santiago said, recognizing what it means to attend the PG National
his first day at the Metrodome, Santiago recorded impressive numbers;
posting a 1.85-second pop time and an 83 mph throw to second plate
from behind home plate. Just as impressive, if not more so, was his
6.79-second 60-yard dash.
left-handed hitting catcher that can run is always unique,” said
Santiago’s Atlanta Blue Jays coach, Anthony Dye. “To have a
catcher being able to steal a bag for you running a 6.7-sixty, that’s
a weapon to have.”
the tools Santiago already possesses, he is a true student of the
game and the type of catcher and teammate every ballplayer wants to
have on his team.
a hard worker. He comes to the ballpark everyday to work,” Dye
added. “He likes to stay extra, get there early, and work.
always looking to learn and get better. (He’s) always looking to
make adjustments, so he asks a lot of questions.”
takes what he learns and transfers it over to his game a notch above
most players his age. At just 17-years-old, he has the major league
mindset with his work ethic, approach to the game, and discipline.
loves the game and plays it to have fun, but to him it means much
more than just something for him to do for fun. He is locked into the
game from the moment he steps into the dugout, soaking in all he can
in order to make plays happen on the field.
you’re in the dugout you can have fun, but you need to be focused
at the same time and start looking at the pitcher and the bullpen and
what they have,” Santiago said. “Your at-bat starts when you’re
prides himself on being the type of player that will always play his
hardest and will take his knowledge of the game and use it to make
the players around him better. That is the definition of a team
time I make the lineup they want Benito to catch so I have to
manage,” Dye said of Santiago's take-charge approach behind the
plate. “You don’t want to wear him out because they take a
beating back there.”
doesn’t seem to mind the popularity amongst the pitchers. In fact,
the selfless catcher shares the leadership of veteran MLB players,
like Jason Varitek and Yadier Molina, who study the game so closely
that they make those around them better players.
love getting pitchers better,” Santiago said. “I love working
with them and seeing them improve as a pitcher. That’s just what
you live for.
talent comes and when you see a pitcher striving and knowing that
they got somewhere and at the end of the summer they are better than
what they were when they came in, that’s the best feeling.”
Dye should consider himself very fortunate to have such an advanced
player and leader behind the plate.
really start to understand how good he is when you see him in an
environment like this,” Dye said about the National. “You start
to really appreciate how good he is, especially behind the plate.”
recalled an impressive display of skills from Santiago when, the
other day, Santiago dug a ball out of the dirt with a backhand and
then threw the runner out from his knees.
never know what you’re gonna get from Benito.”
thing you do know is that you’re always going to get his best.
the second straight year the Perfect Game National Showcase is
available for everyone to watch online. The live stream to all of
the workouts, batting practice sessions and games can be found on
iHigh's dedicated Perfect Game page:
last two teams, Vegas Gold and White, arrived at the Metrodome on Day
3 of the National Showcase. While both will conduct their drills
(60-yard dash, infield/outfield/catching) on Sunday morning, each of
the two teams took batting practice just before the Rawlings Home Run
Challenge which capped off Day 3 of the event. Detailed notes from
the batting practice sessions, as well as all of the game and skills
portions of the National Showcase, will be available in the scout
games were played on Saturday prior to the Vegas Gold and White teams
taking BP, the first three of which were the last games to be played
by the first six teams that reported to the Showcase.
game of the day, Game 7 overall, Jakson Reetz immediately made an
impression by throwing out would-be basestealers in each of the first
two innings. The first came at second base, the second at third
base. Reetz' defensive skills were impressive during the Day 1
drills (84 mph, 1.94 POP) as he continued to show a very quick
transfer and strong throwing arm.
also took the mound in the seventh inning of Game 7 where he
continued to show his impressive arm strength by sitting in the
Leftridge also made a stellar defensive play, coming up firing from
left field on a hard hit ball throwing out the baserunner at
Gatto was Reetz' battery mate and was a very pleasant surprise on the
day, not only for his stuff, but for the ease in which he threw and
his advance sense for pitching. His fastball peaked at 94 mph,
sitting comfortably at 89-91 over two innings, mixing in a sharp
breaking ball. He hit the corners well with his fastball, and his
loose, currently strong 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame looked as though it
still had plenty of room for added strength while maintaining its
Verdugo also looked sharp on the mound in Game 7, sitting comfortably
in the 88-89 range while touching 90 mph. He's a good looking
athlete that repeats his delivery well and spun a really nice 74-77
curveball. He's not afraid to climb the ladder with his fastball,
and his outing was particularly impressive since we learned he had
cut his finger prior to the National, making a stop at a convenience
store on the way to the Metrodome to pick up some super glue to keep
the wound sealed shut.
McKinney was the third pitcher that turned heads in this contest, as
he continues to get better and better the more we see him (which is
quite often since he plays in PG Headquarters' backyard). He
continues to add strength to his athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame.
His fastball peaked at 93 sitting in the 88-91 range while mixing in
arguably the most impressive changeup at the showcase so far, thrown
in the low-80s.
impressive overall athlete, McKinney also looks very comfortable in
the batter's box with intriguing power.
Deichmann, already one of the highest ranked players in the 2014
class coming into this event, has definitely cemented, if not
improved his status by hitting (crushing) yet another ball extremely
hard. Unfortunately the ball in question was pulled just foul, but
it landed in the second deck down the right field line.
hard hits continued in Game 8 as a pair of hitters from the Navy team
have been accumulating hard hit balls in bunches. Kevin Williams had
another hard-hit single in this game, followed by one for Max George,
hitting right behind Williams in the Navy order.
Hill made an amazing catch in deep right centerfield, robbing Spencer
Levine of an extra-base hit. Hill was off with the crack of the bat,
covering a tremendous amount of ground to make the over the shoulder
grab while making full extension. Hill later added a triple in the
game, just icing on the cake of what has been a spectacular showing
for the young outfielder. Be sure to read Matt Rodriguez' feature on
Hill as linked at the top of this page.
Gordon took the mound in the sixth inning, showing just how exciting
and well-rounded of a player he is. He pitched effortlessly,
throwing mostly 91-92 fastballs while mixing in a handful of
upper-70s curveballs. Gordon makes the game look easy in so many
different facets, it's hard to imagine him not enjoying success for a
long time to come.
Castellani started Game 8 for Columbia Blue, showing a very athletic
and still projectable build, working in the upper-80s and touching
the low-90s. He showed very good command and an advanced sense for
Gettys, who set the event record with a 100 mph throw from the
outfield on Day 1, continued to show that impressive arm strength
when he took the mound in the same contest. His fastball worked at
92-94 and showed plus life, while also mixing in an impressive power
of the most anticipated pitching performances came to fruition in
Game 9, the third game of Day 3 at the National Showcase, when
electric right-hander Touki Toussaint took the mound. Toussaint has
been more electric in the past, including last October's WWBA World
Championship, but he was still plenty impressive on this day,
throwing his fastball at 91-94 while mixing in a mid-80s slider and
mid-70s curveball. Be sure to read Jeff Dahn's feature on Toussaint
as linked above.
Ruibal followed Toussaint in the pitching order for the Purple squad,
and while not as electric, he too proved to have a live arm producing
low-90s heat with a sturdy, still projectable frame.
Bonfield continues to sting the ball, with Deichmann standing as
probably the only other National participant with more loud contact.
In Game 9 Bonfield added two more hard hit balls, a single and a
double to rigtht-center.
big hits in Game 9 included Garrett McCain's booming triple over the
center fielder's head as well as Blake Carines lacing a triple of his
own down the right field line. Cairnes also pitched in this contest,
working in the 89-90 range with a promising mid- to upper-70s
10 and 11, the fourth and fifth games of the day, featured the four
teams that arrived that day before. Similar to Day 1 of the event,
for teams 1-6, the pitchers stood out early.
Cease was the first that stood out, starting Game 10 for the Red
team. Cease came out firing, showing a very fluid and easy delivery
while producing 93-96 mph heat, peaking at 97. He also mixed in a
handful of nasty 75-77 mph curveballs. With a lean, wiry strong
athletic frame it's easy to envision more from Cease in the near
Reid-Foley also stood out in Game 10. He too had a nice, athletic
frame with room for added strength, working in the 91-92 range while
touching 94. His best pitch may have been his sharp, short breaking
upper-70s breaking ball. Reid-Foley also displayed an intense and
competitive demeanor on the mound, striking out all six batters he
Wood carried over his impressive performance during batting practice
on Day 2 to Game 10, smoking a double to the gap in left-center.
theme of big, high-powered arms continued in Game 11 with left-hander
Daniel Gooden. Yes another well-proportioned, currently strong yet
still projectable athletes, Gooden used his size well throwing on a
downhill plane while topping out at 93.
Burland started opposite Gooden, showing good feel for a polished
three-pitch mix that included a 89-91 fastball, a sharp, mid-70s
curveball and a change.
the expression goes, it's easy to dream on David Michael Burkhalter,
a 6-foot-4, 180-pound right-handed that physically reminded me of
Kevin Gausman at the same age with broad shoulders, a high waist and
long, wiry strong limbs. His fastball sat in the upper-80s peaking
at 90, showing good feel for his breaking ball.
Schmidt, the younger brother of 2011 National Showcase participant
and current Clemson Tiger Clate Schmidt, doesn't have his brother's
stuff at the same point in his career, but the younger Schmidt has
tons of projection and could really take off as he adds strength to
his 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame. In this game he was 87-89 with a
sharp upper-70s slider, showing a very good sense for pitching.
Lopez and Liam Sabino both hit triples in the fifth inning of Game
11, both hit to the gap in right-center.
Home Run Challenge
five games in which pitching pretty much stole the show, the hitters
were anxious to create some excitement during the Rawlings Home Run
Challenge to cap off Day 3. Braxton Davidson socked nine impressive blasts in the first round of the Challenge, advancing to the finals along with Chase Vallot and D.J. Peters.
With four home runs in the final round, Chase Vallot won the 2013 National Showcase Rawlings Home Run Challenge.
Rodriguez will have more details from the Challenge on Sunday.