Dons drop 2-1 game to Hawaii, Balog shines

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

On Thursday night in Honolulu, USF dropped a close 2-1 game to Hawaii.  The Dons fell back to .500 with the loss and their offensive struggles again did them in.  On the bright side, the defense has played well of late and the pitching staff continues to give USF a chance to win.  On Thursday night soph RHP Alex Balog did his part.  The Archbishop Mitty grad began the game with six no-hit innings.  He gave up a hit in the 7th, which was followed by an error and two more hits, resulting in the two runs that proved too much for USF to overcome.  Balog struck out 11 and walked only two.

I have written about and mentioned some players who were on my Braves scout teams during my time as a scout and Balog was on my 2009 scout team, along with some higher profile players like SS/P James Roberts (now at USC), RHP Eric Jaffe (UCLA) and OF Joc Pederson (signed with Dodgers in 2010 draft).  Balog is a tall, strong pitcher and as a former water polo player (read that as a strong shoulder) I had a pretty favorable projection on him as a pitching prospect (projected his fastball to reach the 90-92 mph range in my reports on him). 

Well, fast forward to the 2012 season and Balog's numbers are sparkling: 21.2 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 22 K (9.14 K/G), 1.66 ERA.  Seems that my projection on him was a little light... Last night he was up to 96 mph (according to a scout) and settled into the 92-93 mph range.  Better yet, his fastball has sink and he has learned to use his height to create leverage and downhill angle.  You can read that as he is not giving up extra base hits.  He features two types of breaking balls as well, one of them a hard slider.

One thing I feel sure about is that if a pitcher with talent, tools, aptitude, work ethic, and some physical projectability ends up at USF with pitching coach Greg Moore, he is going to maximize what he can do at the college level and beyond in many cases.  Not only do pitchers develop their physical talent at USF, but because the USF coaching staff is exceptional at teaching the whole game, their pitchers also know HOW to pitch and understand how their execution of pitches fits in the entire game plan.

Kyle Zimmer will take the hill for USF tonight.

VCHS soph Brigman in MAxPreps Top 50 of 2014

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

I have not seen Bryson Brigman play much, but did come across him last June in Arizona (I think it was at the USA 16U tourney) and I was impressed.  It was hard not to be when he drilled a home run and remember, this was after his freshman year in high school.  Here is the link from MaxPreps.com, where Brigman checks in at #2 overall, behind Drew Ward, an infielder from Oklahoma.  I saw Ward at the Area Code Games and yes, he is VERY impressive.  I also saw him in the USA tourney I coached in last September and engaged him a bit while he was playing 1st base and I was coaching 1st base.  Real nice young man, seemingly quite humble, with a gracious attitude but an unmistakable quite confidence about himself.

Jacob Gatewood of Redwood HS (Visalia) is at #40.  I've not seen Gatewood but a source of mine in the Central Valley has mentioned him to me as one of the best players down there.

Q&A with Brett Jackson; via espn.go.com

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

One of the Bay Area's own, Brett Jackson is a major part of what the Chicago Cubs hope is a bright future.  Here is a link to a Q&A with Jackson, on the Chicago Cubs Report at ESPNChicago.

Jackson played at Miramonte HS and Cal, was a 1st round pick and has steadily produced in his minor league career.  He is expected to reach the big leagues some time in 2012.  The Bay Area World Series "Most Outstanding Player" Award was renamed the Brett Jackson Award in 2010.  Jackson participated in BAWS I and BAWS II and his younger brother Drew, now a senior at Miramonte HS (and signed at Stanford) also participated in the event, in 2010.

Willow Glen's Jenkerson turning heads

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

I know I have said it before and I have highlighted this particular player before, but it bears repeating... when tools and athleticism are met with hard work, determination and good coaching/development, players emerge.  That is the case with Willow Glen HS senior CF Michael Jenkerson (R/R, 6'0" 170).  I had been told of Jenkerson when he was at St. Francis (he left after his soph year) and first saw him at BAWS Futures in October of 2010.  I saw a good build on a young athlete.  I saw good bat speed, I saw the ability to track down balls in the outfield and the ability to make spectacularly athletic plays in the outfield.  I saw a very determined look in his eye.  I also saw a player who was raw, swung and missed too much, and hadn't quite yet figured out how to make his tools and athleticism fit consistently into the game of baseball.  During football seasons, as a wide receiver, that athleticism translated into performance much easier.

So after my report on him after BAWS Futures, after he transferred to WG, after attending some college camps last fall and winter, Jenkerson is a shooting star.  He went from too much swing and miss to a swing that was contact oriented and much shorter.  He was limiting his power potential with that short, somewhat steep-planed swing.  However, he had made a big adjustment, going from swinging and missing to now making much more contact.  At the camps he was evaluated as a contact hitter but the question from coaches was how much would that translate to performance at the D1 level.  Afterall, Jenkerson is a good runner, but not a blazer so he can't just hit the ball on the ground and leg it out.  He needed to gain the ability to drive the ball in the gaps and hit line drives into the outfield. 

If the beginning of his spring season is any indication, Jenkerson is doing just that, he is making more outstanding adjustments, which frankly, that is what baseball is all about.  So far he is hitting .409 on the season.  He has a homer and according to the stats, has not struck out yet, while walking four times.  He has been moved into the middle of the line-up for the Rams and is producing.  He has a .440 OB% and a .545 SLG%, has scored seven and driven in six runs, in six games, with two stolen bases.  I also know he has played a stellar centerfield.  He has had two hits in five of the seven games, one in another and in the game he went hitless he scored three times.  

Since I met him at BAWS Futures I have seen Michael in a few events and gotten to know him.  He is a humble but intense and hard-working young man, driven to succeed.  His make-up appears to be very strong and his no-nonsense approach to getting better at this game is speaking great volumes about what lies ahead of him.  I sure hope (and expect) that our local D1 programs with need for more outfield depth and athletes and the RIGHT kids, will look into Jenkerson.  I know I would and frankly, I am good at identifying the right players for that level of the game.

North Bay vs East Bay Showdown

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

Last Saturday I made it up to Cardinal Newman HS in Santa Rosa, for games two and three of the North Bay vs East Bay Showdown, which is a three game line-up featuring three quality teams from the East Bay playing three quality opponents from the North Bay.  I missed game one (won by Cardinal Newman, 4-2, over Clayton Valley) due to coaching my son's Little League game, but we saw games two and three.  Here are some notes...

Dublin vs Petaluma

Petaluma won the game 2-1 and as the score indicates, there wasn't much offense.  I would like to say it was all pitching and though pitching dominated, it was a few position players who drew my interest, in particular a couple from Dublin.  Junior 3rd baseman Ryan Morris (R/R) was the underclassmen I was most interested in.  I actually think he profiles best as a centerfielder.  Morris is a rangy 6'1" or so and though he was listed at 190 lbs on the maxpreps.com roster, he looked more like a lean, wiry 175 or so.  He has the athletic body type I think is easiest to project for future size and strength and with his plus speed (got him 4.11 down the line) I see him as a toolsy outfielder at some point.  Morris hits in the lead-off spot for Dublin and the reason he is not in CF is likely due to the presence of a sold outfielder in junior Zach Crittenden.  He is a smaller, pesky type (L/L) player who plays a good outfield and seems to fit well in the two-hole.  I am fine with Crittenden but the other junior I liked was 2nd baseman Cory Thurman.  Dublin has a senior at SS (Andrew Hobson) but otherwise I think Thurman would be at shorstop.  He hits in the four-hole and I really liked his swing, bat speed and potential to hit for some power down the road.  He was listed at 6'0" 160 lbs, I think and again, that size on a talented junior is quite projectable.  Dublin is a very young team and should be a factor in their NCS section for a couple of seasons.

As for Petaluma, the two standouts were senior centerfielder Dylan Parks and senior catcher Daniel Comstock.  Parks is a physical righthanded hitter with the type of bat speed, size, and strength that all project for big things with the bat.  He is headed to the U of Arizona next fall and some scouts have started to snoop around on him a bit.  He got into Arizona's business school and was awarded some academic scholarship money, so the baseball program is getting a diamond in the rough as a recruited walk-on.  Comstock is a converted 3rd baseman who had done some catching during summer seaons but until this year hadn't caught full time for the high school.  He is doing VERY well.  I like his exchange, his arm works, his feet are good, he blocked very well and the one thing I knew he could do is hit.  I have seen Comstock for parts of three seasons and he has always shown the ability to drive the ball in the middle of the field, from gap to gap.  Any D1 program in need of a blossoming catcher, one who could very well be an above average defender and above average hitter (especially valuable at that catcher position) should look in on Comstock.  The last Petaluma HS catcher to end up at a D1 as a walk-on was Cal's Chadd Krist... and we know how that has turned out for the Bears!


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