I saw an entertaining game on Wednesday afternoon, which was won by De La Salle, 8-5. DLS had an 8-1 lead (I think) before the Cowboys made a late run after the DLS staff put in some reserve players and pitchers. I was there to see quite a few De La Salle players, some for my own interest and a couple at the request of some college coaches.
Ok, first and foremost, I went out to catch up with a player who is one of the more complete and solid seniors in the area yet doesn't yet have a four year school to attend (though he has had two D1 programs invite him as a walk-on, the schools were too expensive). The player is 2nd baseman Chris Fornaci. Here is some video of him hitting yesterday and he was on it pretty good. The batting average for the year isn't outstanding but he knows how to hit. He also showed the ability to play above average D at 2nd base. He came in on one play with a runner at 1st base, got to the ball to make it an easier short hop instead of an in between hop, closed ground on the ball because it was a double play situation, made a great backhanded flip to the covering SS and started the double dip like he was a seasoned pro. It couldn't have been done better by a big leaguer.
Later in the game Fornaci was covering on a steal attempt and though the throw led him into the runner, he caught the ball, squared up to the runner, took some contact and made the tag, without one ince of give to the runner. It was a great play. He was talking all game long on D, talking the "right way" during the game, with energy yet not just useless chatter. I was sitting with an associate scout and he says to me, "that kid plays like a Fullerton kid"... I agree.
As for his hitting, he was locked in. He was spitting on balls, showed the ability to take pitches the right way, was quick to the fastball and didn't chase anything out of the zone. He squared up two balls, one for a 5-3 out and one for a screaming L6. He also took a dose without flinching and took his base.
Look, this kid doesn't do anything flashy or show big tools, but he is a PLAYER and a glue type guy, the type of player every good team has and the type of player that bad teams miss out on and can't appreciate. He is the type of player who as a college freshman would push older kids, starters, would get pinch hit chances and do well, would be a great defensive replacement at times, could start in the case of an injury and might not ever come out of the line-up if he got that chance. I wish more kids like him would get the attention of college coaches instead of some toolsier kids who simply can't play.
Ok, that's enough about Fornaci, for now. Who else did I like in this game?
2013 RHP Drew Buckley (DLS) - he is 6'2" 205 and was 86-89 in his four innings, showed potential for a good slider (was 80-81) and his strong, physical frame looks durable for innings. Didn't see a third pitch of significance and he has some delivery inconsistencies, but he is talented and someday will throw at least in the low-90s.
2012 CF Sean Peters (DLS) - an athletic kid, 6'2" 170, R/R, runs well, showed a good and accurate arm, bat speed and some leverage in his swing for power potential. His tools and frame grade out for D1 baseball. This is the type of athlete that a school can take a chance on and get nothing but a benefit, with very little risk, particularly if he is a walk-on.
2012 1B Allen Smoot (DLS) - lefthanded hitter who can really keep his hands in the strike zone. He knows how to hit and keeps his hands back. I can see pretty high average for him and with his 6'2" 180 frame, there is also power potential. Also saw him make a nice play on a short hop at 1B where he stayed low and worked below the ball.
2012 RHP Thomas Peterson (DLS) - he is 6'3" 195 so obviously that is noticeable. He is a long armer and got a lot of movement on his fastball (82-86). He didn't locate the FB very well yesterday and with all his movement, it was odd to see him pitching from the 1st base side of the rubber and trying to pound the outside corner, sort of negating his movement. He never went in and Livermore had no trouble elevating those fastballs for some opposite field hits down each line. Some might see those hits as fluky or that he had bad luck but the fact is, those pitches were up a bit, he has a long arm and allows hitters to see the ball early and because of those factors, the hitters were late but still got the barrel there eventually, as opposed to getting blown up on the inner half. He could make some adjustments and be very effective. His breaking ball was slurvy though the spin was decent and he had a slow change-up that might have been a split or something. I can see quite a bit more velocity for him in the coming years because he has arm speed and will be able to create some front side leverage.
I'd talk about two other DLS players, junior OF Hunter Mercado-Hood and senior catcher Mitchell Kranson, but they already have their college commitments and neither excites me right now as a professional prospect. Mercado-Hood could evolve into one by this time next year though.
As for Livermore, their sophomore 3rd baseman Daniel Slominski is one I really like. He can hit and he hammers the fastball, particularly the fastball on the outer half. He can get tied up a bit on the inner half (at least that is what I have seen in two games this spring) but he is physical and has a nice approach. At 3rd base he showed off some hands and a good arm, with pretty good feet. He also pitches and though is not a hard thrower, he has craft and feel with a nice breaking ball.
Livermore leadoff hitter Justin Chase (senior) had some great at-bats, particularly against Buckley. He is a lefthanded hitter and showed good contact skills and some bat speed. I think he has a chance to hit beyond the high school level. He also did a nice job in the infield. Nice looking player. Probably headed to a JC but from there he should continue to get stronger and get better. I like him.