Feature Photo: Dave DeFreitas presents Hans Crouse with
2080 Baseball’s Prospect of the Year Award (Photo by Perfect Game)
Each August at PetCo Park in San Diego, the summer amateur showcase circuit peaks with the Perfect Game All-American Classic – an All-Star game showcasing fifty of the top high school talents in the country. The 14th incarnation of the Classic will be held tonight, and can seen on MLB Network at 8pm EST (5pm PST), and the game promises to be another impressive display of on-field excellence.
In addition to various off-field events held for the All-American players, the weekend leading up to Sunday’s main event is comprised of player workouts, a scrimmage, and the first rounds of the annual home run derby (with the finals held on Sunday as part of the pre-game festivities). This schedule gives evaluators to focus exclusively on some of the summer’s top performers and to identify some early favorites to find their way to the top of the MLB First-Year Player Draft next June, so in that context the Classic is considered a must-see event for those looking to crystalize their early impressions on the following year’s draft class.
You can get caught-up on all the ins and outs of this weekend’s events at the Perfect Game All-American Classic Blog by clicking here, and rosters for the East and West Squad are available by clicking here.
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Crouse Earns 2080 Baseball’s Prospect of the Year Award
Each Saturday evening before the Classic, Perfect Game hosts an awards banquet for the players and their families, highlighting the accomplishments of the players, unveiling the uniforms for Sunday’s contest, and handing out a smattering of awards for several of the All-Americans.
2080 Baseball’s Dave DeFreitas was on hand a to present the 2080 Baseball Prospect of the Year Award to this year’s recipient, Hans Crouse (RHP, Dana Hills H.S., Dana Point, CA). An explosive arm that dazzles with both his stuff and his unique delivery – or deliveries, to be more accurate – the big-bodied righty attacks hitters with a power arsenal and loads of deception thanks to multiple looks and arm slots, making him one of the most uncomfortable at-bats of the summer for this year’s crop of draft talent.
Crouse has impressed throughout the summer, consistently sitting in the low-to-middle 90s with a lively fastball that plays up thanks to his ability to fire the pitch from multiple arm angles, while mixing-in mechanics that vary in pacing from pitch to pitch, making timing a herculean task for even the best of bats (a multi-look approach patterned after Jhonny Cueto (RHP, Giants). Additionally, Crouse works well to make use of his long limbs and big frame, getting good extension to the plate to further cut down on the already-limited reaction time afforded to hitters.
While the velocity and quirky motion are the headliners for the USC commit, Crouse is more than just power and Cueto-esque timing disruptions. His curveball is an impressive 11-to-5 shaped bender that comes in with good depth and is an absolute hammer when broken off in the middle 70s. He’ll also show a solid low- to mid-80s changeup that acts like a split-change with hard, straight dive. While the arsenal is impressive in a vacuum, Crouse’s comfort delivering three quality offerings from multiple arm angles sets him apart from your typical high school hurler.
This was 2080 Baseball’s first opportunity to partake in the PG All-American Classic Awards Banquet, and Crouse’s elite talent, unique approach and commitment to excellence on and off the field made him the quintessential “Prospect of the Year” recipient. He’ll toe the rubber in PetCo this evening in what is just the next stop along the way in his march towards bigger and better things in the world of baseball.
For a look at Perfect Game’s feature on Crouse, click here.
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PG All-American Classic Scouting Notes from Dave DeFreitas:
2080 scout and contributor Dave DeFreitas was on hand for the weekend’s workouts, and passed along some notes from his Friday views…
Friday’s workout afforded me the chance to see more of the 2017 amateur draft class as they ramp up for their next event, the All-American Classic. Here are a few of the position players that stood out to me going into the Saturday workouts.
Jordon “Jo” Adell, OF/RHP, Ballard (Louisville, KY)
Commit: Univ. of Louisville
6’3”/185 B/T: R/R Age as of 2017 MLB Draft: 18yrs, 2m
Adell continues to show top-shelf bat speed with big-power potential. His wiry-strong frame, plus athleticism and quick hands have him as one of the top outfield prospects in the 2017 draft class at present, and on the short list to come off the board at the top of the first round next June. His raw power grades out as plus and that may be light, though his in-game production had lagged behind his BP displays prior to last week’s showing at the Area Code Games. He doesn’t throw nearly as well from the outfield as he does from the mound, but he should run enough to stay in center field early in his pro career – assuming he signs out of high school – and his overall defensive game will undoubtedly see more refinement as he continues to develop. Adell remains one of the most exciting players in the entire 2017 draft class, and if you’re betting on someone to do something spectacular during the All-American Classic, he’s as good a bet as anyone here.
Royce Lewis, OF/INF, JSerra Catholic (San Luis Capistrano, CA)
Commit: Univ. of California – Irvine
6’2”/185 B/T: R/R Age as of 2017 MLB Draft: 18yrs, 0m
Already showing present strength, Lewis still has room to fill out and get even stronger. Lewis has above-average bat speed and generates good backspin on his line drives. His pop to the big part of the field makes him stand out on the offensive side, as he’s regularly displayed that pop throughout the summer showcase circuit. He has some long levers, but does a good job getting the barrel out front, and I can see him getting consistent barrel exit as he develops, and adds more strength to the actions. He did not throw particularly well from the outfield, but he got good jumps and read the ball well off the bat during workouts. Lewis was 4.33 down the line, this weekend, but has recorded better home-to-first times this summer (as well as 60 times in the 6.6-6.7 range), and in general runs better underway. I would expect him to stick in center field once he turns pro, with clubs seeing Lewis Brinson (CF, Brewers) comps on the high side, and Desmond Jennings (LF, Rays) comps on the low side.
Nick Allen, SS, Francis Parker (San Diego, CA)
Commit: Univ. of Southern California
5’9”/155 B/T: R/R Age as of 2017 MLB Draft: 18yrs, 8m
Undersized as he is, this kid is a baseball player. He is a very good athlete and should have no trouble sticking at shortstop going forward. Allen has a 60-grade arm with 65 not being a stretch, and his feet work really well around the base. He rounds out the defensive package with above-average range and above-average hands. Offensively, the USC commit has some feel for the barrel. He’s not going to be a power guy, but he’s stronger than he looks and uses the middle of the field well. It’s a contact-oriented swing and Allen generally stays short to the ball despite a small hitch in the load. He will have to clean up the hip travel going forward, but his swing mechanics overall are pretty low maintenance, so my money would be on him making the needed adjustments. If I’m a scouting director, this is the type of guy I want in my system yesterday, so he can be getting that high-level instruction started ASAP.
Terriez “Terry” Fuller, OF, Griffin (Griffin, GA)
6’4”/240 B/T: L/R Age as of 2017 MLB Draft: 18yrs, 6m
Fuller still lacks natural fluidity on the field, but he’s a force nonetheless. Massive already with a chiseled v-shaped body, he’s a good – but not a plus – athlete. The raw power is immense – 60-grade raw at least, maybe 70. His swing is short and level and he gets tremendous backspin to the big part of the field. There is not a ton of effort in his swing either, which makes me think there is some room for him to possibly improve very quickly. I wonder about his feel for the game overall, and I see average off-speed stuff giving him fits. He should be able to handle velocity, but could be a project as a high school draft guy. He has a very stiff gait, but still gets down the line O.K. He is, hands down, a corner outfielder, mostly because he is so bulky that he could have trouble getting low enough to handle balls at first base. He does have some arm strength – I saw a 50 on throws from left field, and that is with his restricted arm action. If he focuses on some mobility in his training and increases his range of motion, he could end up being one of those rare guys that adds actions to the strength and really takes off.
Je’Von Ward, OF, Gahr (Cellitos, CA)
Commit: Univ. of Southern California
6’5”/190 B/T: L/R Age as of 2017 MLB Draft: 17yrs, 7m
A long, lanky kid, there is some significant projectability here. Ward has very long levers and generates good backspin when he gets the barrel out front. However, he lacks much present strength, and he tends to get really rotational with his swing when trying to get to the fastball. He doesn’t have much of an approach right now, with below-average plate discipline for the level, making him pretty easy to pitch to. I think once he starts adding some strength to his actions we will see the bat speed pick up and he will start being able to get the barrel out front better. He has some raw power right now, and the potential is there for him to grow into above-average playable pop. He runs just O.K., and looks locked into a corner outfield spot – probably left field due to below-average arm strength. I’m probably not the first to want to compare him to Gregory Polanco (RF, Pirates) as the body projects in much the same way. However, there remains a fair amount of space between the present profile and that lofty projection.
M.J. Melendez, C, Saint James School (Montgomery, AL)
Commit: Florida International Univ.
6’0”/180 B/T: L/R Age as of 2017 MLB Draft: 18yrs, 5m
In BP, Melendez shows a smooth, easy stroke from the left side that generates some loft and gets good carry to the pull side. His in-game strokes were lest consistent, however, with his grip on the bat tightening, his crouch more pronounced, and the bat speed down some (though he has shown a little better bat speed throughout the summer circuit). His calling card is on the defensive side at the moment, with his plus arm being the standout tool. Though one of the more advanced defensive catchers in the 2017 draft class, he can still get a little noisy and with unnecessary movement behind the plate as the pitch is being delivered. He is a little slow going side-to-side, but I think some of that has to do with the lack of present lower-half strength and, certainly, the wear and tear of a long and draining summer. He shows that he has an idea on how to stick pitches and his hands look strong, just a bit inconsistent. There is some work to do on both sides of the ball, but there are ingredients to work with here.
Connor Uselton, OF, Southmore (Moore, OK)
6’4”/195 B/T: R/R Age as of 2017 MLB Draft: 19yrs, 0m
Uselton already has some wiry strength to him, with ample room to add more. He stays balanced at the plate and has a level stroke, with a bit of a hitch in the load that is overly pronounced and keeps him from getting the barrel out front as quickly as he could. Still, the athleticism is apparent and he has a chance to calm it down (there’s some Clint Frazier (OF, Yankees) to the actions, and as we’ve seen, Frazier has been able to dial it back to some degree during his professional development). Uselton is not the same type of player Frazier was at this level, but I like the bat speed, the balance, and how comfortable he looks at the plate. The arm strength is adequate and has flashed plus earlier this summer, though his plus straight-line speed is limited at times by inefficient routes and jumps. There’s time for him to grow that aspect of his game, and he has the raw tools to do so. If scouts view him as more of a corner outfielder long term, it will put some pressure on the power blossoming next spring in order for him to maximize his potential as an early-round pick in 2017.