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High School : : General
Scout's take: TUSA 18u Nat'l Team
David Rawnsley        
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012

USA Baseball announced the 40 players immediately after the Tournament of Stars that it will take to the next step in its trials process. They will eventually whittle that down to a 20 player roster to take to Seoul, South Korea August 30-September 8 for the IBAF 18U World Championships.

For the list of the 40 players, follow this link to the USA Baseball site.

USA Baseball’s “40-Man Roster” has a couple of obvious omissions that are likely the result of players not being able make the huge time commitment in August and September after school has started, with Justin Williams and Kevin Franklin being the most notable. For the purposes of this exercise, though, I will assume that everyone who was in Cary, North Carolina this past week is available.

The 20 man “Team” below is not a top prospect list from the event, although almost all the players listed would make a top prospect list from the event. It’s the group of players, separated from the numerous political and real world issues that USA Baseball has to face in selecting a team, that I feel would give the USA the best chance to bring home the gold.


STARTING LINEUP/BATTING ORDER

CF Ryan Boldt:
Boldt doesn’t quite have the overall tool package of Colorado Rockies 2012 first round pick David Dahl but the resemblance is unmistakable. Not only was the Minnesota left hander the fastest runner at the TOS (6.60), he also owned the left centerfield gap on offense.

2B: Christian Arroyo: Arroyo might be the best present hitter in the 2013 class. He squares up everything and squares it up hard. His run/throw tools will not excite scouts but if you want to win games against the best 18 year olds in the world, you want him in your line up.

3B John Sternagel: Sternagel looks and plays like a big leaguer both offensively and defensively. He’s very skilled and mature in all areas, performs and has the tools as well. He’s just a very solid overall talent.

RF Justin Williams: Williams was the top prospect at the Tournament of Stars from a draft perspective and showed that he had game/performance skills as well as huge physical tools. His at bat against top 2014 LHP Carson Sands and his play in right field on defense were two areas that resonated. I didn’t get to see his BP home run over the batter’s eye in straight way (400’) centerfield.

1B Pete Alonso: This was one of the hardest decisions on the roster, as C/1B Zach Collins has big power from the left side, but Alonso was superb in Cary and in addition to his powerful bat is an outstanding first baseman who will impact games on defense as well as on offense.

DH Jeremy Martinez: Martinez is going to make the team, as he played on last year’s 18U team and was one of the top offensive performers at the TOS. He doesn’t have the defensive tools and skills of the team’s other two catchers but he is an offensive presence.

C Reese McGuire: McGuire and Chris Okey (see below) are very similar players, outstanding defensive players who have surprising pop in their bats. McGuire’s being a left handed hitter gives him a platoon advantage but otherwise you’re splitting hairs to determine who is the better player/prospect.

LF Kevin Franklin: Franklin hit the hardest ball I’ve seen in years, virtually undressing 3B Gasuke Katoh Charlie Brown-style with a rocket that must have been 110 mph off the bat. There is a pronounced lack of outfielders in this group of 144 players and Franklin is a primary third baseman who has the athleticism to play left. It was no coincidence, I’m sure, that another regular infielder, Cavan Biggio (see below), played left field later in the event as the USA Baseball staff realized the same thing.

SS Connor Heady: Get used to hearing Heady’s name. Not only does he have top of the line physical tools at shortstop, he can really play both offensively and defensively. He’s a personal favorite of mine.


RESERVES

2B/OF Cavan Biggio:
Biggio continued to hit in Cary the same way he hit in Minneapolis at the PG National Showcase and one can only conclude that’s how he hits; line drives all the time. He could be a platoon DH with Martinez or play left field.

SS/RHP Nicholas Gordon: One of two 2014s on the team, Gordon and fellow RHP/SS Chris Rivera fill an important role on a short-rostered team in that they are legitimate high level pitchers to go with their abilities in the middle of the field.

C Chris Okey: Okey, along with McGuire, are athletic enough to play all over the field and it wouldn’t be surprising, especially with three catchers on the roster, to see them working out in left field and at third base.

SS/RHP Chris Rivera: You could make a convincing argument for Rivera as the team’s starting shortstop. He played very well in Cary and is smooth and confident on defense. He might serve as the team’s closer on the mound.


PITCHING STAFF

LHP Ian Clarkin:
Clarkin was a revelation in Cary after not pitching well in the Metrodome the week before. He was 90-93 in his starting appearance and pitched to the bottom of the zone with command and life.

RHP Kevin Davis: Davis can get up to 94 mph and perhaps more when trying to light up the guns but is a much more effective pitcher at 90-92 and using his off-speed pitches, which is exactly what he did in Cary.

RHP Dustin Driver: Driver and Davis are similar talents, strong armed right handers with big fastballs when they need them but the ability to mix in quality off-speed stuff and pitch as starters.

LHP Robert Kaminsky: Kaminsky is the staff ace, the one you want to set the rotation to have pitch against Cuba. His curveball is the best single pitch the USA team has to offer and his fastball and command are pluses as well. He also seems to have that “New Jersey” attitude on the mound that indicates he’s not going to be intimidated.

LHP Carson Sands: Sands is going to be one of the top prospects in the 2014 class and he might as well get on the big stage right away. He tops out at 91 and has a maturity beyond his years in using his slider and especially his change up, which has almost screwball type movement at times.

RHP Keegan Thompson: Thompson is a polished right hander with a full array of off-speed pitches he can and will throw at any time in a count, although he does pitch in the 89-91 mph area with his fastball.

LHP Garrett Williams: Williams’ curveball is just a small notch behind Kaminsky’s and he sits at 90 mph with command. He can also be the team’s backup first baseman if that need arises.



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