Area Code Underclass Games: Friday Notebook

Sat August 12, 2017



By Shooter Hunt
National Crosschecker
@ShooterHunt

Day 2 at the Underclass Area Code Games in California saw a few of the top players in the 2019 class step forward to announce their presence to the many professional scouts in attendance. Now a household name throughout baseball circles, 2019 SS Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville Heritage HS, TX), an Oklahoma commit, showed off his usual, gap to gap power during batting practice early in the morning as he banged balls off the wall. His lightning-quick hands whip the bat through the zone, and the ball jumps off at an impressive speed. It has become the norm to see Witt perform at a high level, but I am amazed by it each time. He was even better in the game where he roped a triple to right-center field, and showed off his plus speed. He would later double down the rightfield line after a tough at-bat against fellow Oklahoma-commit, RHP Kale Davis (Westmoore HS, OK). Witt plays the game like he constantly has something to prove, and appears to be constantly challenging himself to get even better. The most impressive moments on the day for him came when he went to a knee backhand before rifling a strike across the diamond for an out, and then later as he laid out up the middle after covering an impossible amount of ground before hopping to his feet a gunning the runner out at first. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder is an elite talent, and continues to show why he is the top ranked 2019 player in the country.

The sound of 2019 OF Riley Greene’s (Hagerty HS, FL) bat striking the ball is quickly becoming recognizable with your eyes closed. His consistent, loud contact has shined on a national scale for the last year as I have watched him develop into one of, if not, the top bats in the class. The wiry-athletic, 6-foot-3, 185-pound outfielder looked supremely confident and comfortable in the box against some stout arms. He took pitches with a calmness about him that suggested that there was little to nothing the pitcher could do to fool him. The left-handed hitting outfielder has quick hands, and his loose finish allows for the ball to scream off the bat, usually with backspin into a gap. Greene’s frame is athletic without being being bulky, and his elasticity helps him to create leverage on an uphill plane while allowing his barrel to spend a long time in the zone. He hammered balls throughout day one, and was even better on day two where he became a “must watch” for everybody in the stadium each time he stepped to the plate. The Florida-commit was a home run away from the cycle as he registered three hits on the day with each one being more impressive than the last.

While I wrote about 2019 SS/RHP Gunnar Henderson (Morgan Academy, AL) yesterday when I got my first glimpse of the Auburn commit, he may have been even better on day 2. He started the day by taking one of the most impressive rounds of batting practice with a short, simple stroke with a level to uphill path that allowed him to drive balls firmly into the gaps. His balanced approach makes him a threat at all times while his speed takes him to another level. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound, proportionally muscular infielder is consistently down the line at less than 4.1. He squared up multiple balls on the day, but was most impressive in the field where he got the game off on the right foot by charging a soft, broken-bat line drive that bounced and spun to his arm side. He showed instincts by barehanding the ball, and whisked it over to first for the out. He has firmly put himself in the discussion with the top infielders in the class, and with his speed along with a left-handed stick, he should continue to rise in the next couple of years.

Here are some more highlights from Friday's action...

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