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September 25, 2013

Area Code Games

The Hitters, Part Two

by Chris Rodriguez

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Here are five more hitters who shined in front of hundreds of scouts at the Area Code Games a couple weeks back. You can see part one here.

Blake Wiggins, 3B/ C/OF, Yankees #14

If there was one player who impressed the most, it was Blake Wiggins. In the cage, Wiggins showed some good bat speed, and I liked the way his hands worked, getting through the ball quickly. He even showed some surprising game power as he delivered a rare homer, a booming shot down the left field line that just cleared the fence against stiff winds. He later added another double off the wall down the left field line. Wiggins isn’t a huge kid, but he’s strong and can really attack fastballs middle-in, which he saw a lot because of the showcase atmosphere. At third base he fared well, showing off a strong arm and good actions. I didn’t see him play behind the plate, but if he has a chance to play there as well, that would be good for his draft stock. He certainly has the arm and athleticism for it. Regardless, Wiggins has a verbal commitment to Arkansas, and I don’t see him getting there if he continues to showcase his talents to scouts across the country the way he did that week.

Stone Garrett, OF, Rangers #7

With a superb athletic build, Garrett was hard to miss. He’s 6’2, 195 and has already begun to get stronger in his upper body. During batting practice he showed off a nice line-drive stroke, with solid hands and wrists. He doesn’t get much loft on his swings unless he gets out in front of the pitch, but if can add a little more muscle mass I think the power will come. In the outfield, his athleticism really shows, with a strong arm and plus range. Routes and consistency will get better with time, and I think he could start his professional career in center field. If he ends up getting bigger, he could be a good fit for right field. Garrett has a good combination of baseball skill and raw talent, and once his skill catches up with the latter he could be a force on the ball field. He’s a quick-twitch player and can flash all five tools, and major-league teams will eat that up come draft day.

Ryan Johnson, OF, Rangers #12

The other 2015 grad who really impressed me, Johnson already has great size and a powerful left-handed swing. He’s 6’3, 200 and looks strong in his legs and forearms. His BP session was a real showcase of his raw power, with a quick path to the baseball and a strong two-handed swing. The best thing about Johnson was his quiet pre-swing approach. He didn’t have too much unnecessary movement that could trip him up facing high velocity, which is exactly what he faced that whole week. While his results weren’t the best, he didn’t look completely overmatched, which is all you can really hope for with a young guy. Defensively, he looks like a prototypical corner outfielder and can also play some first base. His power is what impresses, though, and I can’t wait to see how he looks at next year’s Area Code Games. He could be a first-round talent by 2015.

Jacob Gatewood, SS, A’s #32

One of the golden boys of the tournament. Gatewood’s calling card is his huge power. He launched a couple booming shots over the fence and into the trees in left field during batting practice, one of only a handful of hitters who had a chance of hitting the ball even to the fence. Because of the persistent wind, these six days were a great test of who really had sock, and Gatewood didn’t disappoint. The bat speed is crazy and he was doing nothing but yanking and dipping his back shoulder to show off. His power has to be plus. Given that he’s 6’5 and only 190, I wouldn’t hesitate to say there’s room for more once he adds some muscle. Now to the disappointing part. During game play, his approach from batting practice stuck with him. He didn’t make any adjustments or try to shorten his swing at all, and breaking stuff killed him. The power is crazy, I get it. But I’d like to see some type of approach from Gatewood so that we could see more of that power against live pitching. Also, I don’t see Gatewood sticking at shortstop for the long term. He relied on his arm (which is huge) to throw guys out, rather than using proper footwork. That arm is great and his glove isn’t made of stone, so third seems like a likely place for him to excel. Come the 2014 draft, there will be a team out there who will take Gatewood based on that power potential and pray that he will hit for a decent average. Given his bat speed and his physical tools, I can’t say I’d bet against him.

Jakson Reetz, C, White Sox #7

Reetz really showed a strong stroke during batting practice, with good extension through the ball and quick wrists. His swing is built for line drives, and as he gets stronger that gap power should translate to some over-the-fence power. His approach during the games was great, as he was going up the middle and to the opposite field with regularity. He handled some tough velocity during both the AC Games and the Perfect Game All- American Classic. He even showed some surprising speed on the basepaths. Reetz struggled a little behind the plate, but I believe he can stay there long term due to his athleticism and sub-2.0 pop times. He’s a very projectable player who already is flashing his offensive ability during game action. Depending how strong his commitment is to Nebraska, Reetz could be an early-round pick in the 2014 draft.

Chris Rodriguez is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Chris's other articles. You can contact Chris by clicking here

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