Riley Greene plays in the 2018 Area Code Games on August 6-10, 2018 at Blair Field in Long Beach, California

Feature Photo: Riley Greene, LF, Hagerty HS (Oviedo, FL)

Feature Spotlights

Riley Greene, LF, Hagerty HS (Oviedo, FL)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/190           B/T: L/L           Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 18y, 7m

Greene’s advanced physicality and left-handed raw power have long made him one of the more hyped prospects in the 2019 draft class, and coming from the Orlando area, he has been known to pro scouts for some time already. To his credit, that visibility and the pressure that comes with being a top prospect haven’t seemed to phase him on the showcase circuit this summer, where he has continued to rake, and he raked aplenty all week at the Area Code Games.

Built with a thick 6-foot-two inch, 190-pound frame, he’s fairly physically mature and only fits a corner profile defensively. Even though that puts more pressure on the bat, Greene shows enough offensive tools that it might not matter. There’s plus bat speed for a teenage hitter, and it pairs well with the natural strength in his frame, Greene has significant power potential from the left side. The ball explodes off his bat, and his plate appearances were disciplined and composed. He can put his pitch out of most parts of the ballpark, but stayed within himself during his game at-bats and showed he can work the count and use both fields. He only projects as a left fielder if he does remain in the outfield, though 40-grade range and a fringy arm had me wondering if Greene ultimately is going be landlocked at first base as a pro.

One of the top bats in this high school class, he will have every chance to prove he hits enough to lessen concerns about the long-term defensive profile. He will go into Jupiter this fall with Day 1 helium, checking all the boxes of an early-round pick.

Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Statesboro, GA)
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/200           B/T: R/R           Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 18y, 4m

Espino was born in Panama and moved to the United States a few years ago. His high-90s fastball has been the talk of the showcase circuit this summer, and he has established himself as one of the top arms in next year’s class. He threw a few innings for the Nationals team in Long Beach before an electric one-inning performance a few days later in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

A nice mix of present strength and future growth potential, Espino’s 6-foot-three, 200-pound frame is extremely athletic and flexible. He works from a slow-paced semi-windup delivery, loading up on his backside through a tall leg kick before a powerful drive forward. The landing is closed with some slight crossfire, though it’s a low-maintenance overall operation that can make the small tweaks all young pitchers need to. Espino dialed the heater up to the 98-to-99 mph range airing it out in the PETCO game but generally sits in the middle 90’s. He was 93-to-97 mph with his fastball in Long Beach, showing excellent life up in the zone and above-average tail when down. Espino stays around the plate with his fastball, and he’s enough of an athlete to continue projecting developments in his command. His primary off-speed pitch is a sharp, low-80s slider with consistent bite and shape. Espino flashed a mid-80’s changeup at the ACG that showed promising dive, and he also wrinkled in a true curveball at 76 mph in San Diego with distinctly different tilt than the slider.

As a plus athlete with the best fastball in the prep class, and with advanced secondaries, Espino checks all the boxes of a prospect who will enter the spring with first-round buzz. Barring injury or something else unexpected, he should be in the conversation for 2019’s early picks.

Brock Jones, CF, Buchanan HS (Clovis, CA)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185           B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 18y, 2m

Even though he’s from California and gets exposure to scouts as a result, Jones wasn’t as known as some of his peers from the state because he splits time with football, where he’s a high D1 recruit at safety. That will change after his performance in Long Beach, however, as Jones’ athleticism, raw tools, and hard-nosed style of play made him one of the more impressive position prospects at this year’s Area Code Games.

He’s a muscular 6-foot-one and 185 pounds, with chiseled strength throughout his forearms and lower half. Jones has the range and speed you’d expect from a high-level football player, able to track down balls in centerfield and into both gaps. His arm is fringy—not uncommon for two-sport types at this age—but he’s enough of an athlete to start in center at the pro level. At the plate, Jones showed impressive hard contact all week from a fast and aggressive left-handed swing. His hands are extremely strong, and he’s able to stay inside the ball while generating natural backspin. Jones capped off his week at the Area Code Games by launching a no-doubt homer to right field that left little doubt about his power potential.

Jones wasn’t a name going into Long Beach, but he certainly is one we’re staying on heading into the fall. He’s the type of player whose well-rounded skillset impacts the game on both sides of the ball, and he brings an aggressive, hustling approach to the game that spills over from his time on the gridiron. Jones reportedly still sees himself as a two-sport athlete and aspires to play both baseball and football in college. On raw tools alone, I saw the potential for an early-round pick, though his commitment to football clouds the signability.

Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis HS (Spicewood, TX) 
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/210           B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 19y, 6m

Baty anchored the lineup of the Rangers team in Long Beach, putting together consistently quality at-bats with hard game contact all week at the Area Code Games. Listed at 6-foot-three and 210 pounds—though he looks to be both taller and broader than that already—he’s a pro-framed body with enough present strength for game power with wood, impressive for any rising high school senior. The ball makes a different sound off his bat, and it  jumps off the barrel to both fields thanks to a smooth, low-effort stroke with excellent hip torque and quick hands. Baty showed he can work counts and hits with a plan, taking close pitches to get to fastball counts in a few of his plate appearances. His body type and left-handed power check the boxes of a pro third baseman, where his arm grades as average to a tick above. Baty’s range and lateral mobility are fringy, and if he moves to first base (where he already gets occasional reps) or left field, it will be more because of his actions than any problem with the arm strength.

Baty was the Texas 2018 Gatorade High School Player of the Year as a junior, though he’s nearly a full year older than most 2019 prep prospects and could have graduated in 2018. He will be 19-years-old next June, a draft factor that teams now place more weight on. Despite this, Baty’s excellent showing in Long Beach gives him some helium going into Jupiter this fall. The pro-ready frame and left-handed offensive tools have put him on the national radar. I came away really impressed with the bat, which has a chance to carry the profile even if he moves off the hot corner and ultimately winds up lower on the defensive spectrum.

More Area Code Games Spotlights:

Name POS Draft Age School State Video Spotlight
Andrew Compton 3B 18y, 2m Governor Livingston HS NJ Video Spotlight
Derek Diamond RHP 18y, 4m Ramona HS CA Video Spotlight
Will Frisch RHP 18y, 10m Stillwater HS MN Video Spotlight
DJ  Gladney 3B 17y, 10m Illiana Christian HS IL Video Spotlight
Jack Kochanowicz RHP 18y, 5m Harriton HS PA Video Spotlight
Derek Shaver SS/3B 18y, 10m Grand Junction HS CO Video Spotlight


Field Notes: Top 2020 Prospects

Seeing as the Area Code Games has an underclass event, simply being invited to participate in the main event is a significant statement about a 2020 graduate. We’re just getting a read on the 2019 class, but it’s never too early to look ahead. The following list of rising juniors all showed pro potential, and most of them are already considered top follows for the 2020 MLB Draft.

Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Cedar Mill, OR)

Tall and projectable righty (6’5”/180 lbs) with clean delivery and usable four-pitch mix. Lively fastball 88-to-92 mph with very polished control, going to throw much harder. True slider (80-to-84 mph) could be an above-average pitch at the pro level. Impressive feel for mid-80’s changeup, worked with three pitches while mixing in a wrinkle curveball (77-to-79 mph) with distinct action from the slider. Stuff and pitching IQ are well beyond his years, fit in and competed against older competition. Will have first-round buzz entering the showcase circuit next summer.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)

Athletic, medium frame with long limbs and wirey strength resembles Drew Waters (CF, Braves) at the same age. Could be a similar player to Waters if he’s showing more game power by his senior spring of high school. Instinctual player, gamer, used to playing in front of scouts and was unphased by the high-pressure showcase environment. Sweet left-handed stroke, balanced and athletic finish, sprays line drives all over the field. Above-average runner, aggressive on the bases, great jumps and timing. Wheels show up defensively, above-average center-field defender with excellent natural playmaking ability. Well-rounded toolset, does a bit of everything.

Carson Montgomery, RHP, Windermere HS (Windermere, FL)

Young even for a 2020, just turned 16-years-old. Muscular and athletic build (6’2”/190 lbs) with impressive arms trength and flashes of three-pitch mix. Fastball was 92-to-94 mph early before settling into the low 90’s, seems like there’s 95 or more in the tank as his body matures. True slider with mid-80’s power to it, sharp bite at times but inconsistent present execution. Changeup (82-to-84 mph) isn’t as advanced as fastball or slider, but shows some cursory feel for the pitch and has time to develop one. Wild at times, will need to iron out effort in mechanics. Has some of the the loudest raw stuff in the 2020 high school class.