By Sean Duncan
CARY, N.C. – Day 2 of the Tournament of Stars is in the books. Some news and notes from the Midwest players, and how they fared Thursday against the best competition in the country at USA Baseball’s training complex:
♦ Two of the top Class of 2013 players in Illinois – and the Midwest, for that matter – squared off to start the noon game between RBI and the Stars. RHP Andy Honiotes (Geneva HS, IL), a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder who recently committed to the University of Miami, opened the game with a flurry by striking out OF Corey Ray (Simeon HS, IL) on an 88-mph fastball. But as Ray is known to do on the bigger stages, he bounced back in his next at-bat against Honiotes, ripping an opposite-field two-run double to left field on an 86-mph fastball. Ray also got robbed of a few more RBI when the second baseman made a diving catch on a hot smash later in the game.
Honiotes struck out six in four innings work. He allowed five hits, two runs and one walk. He opened the game sitting 88-89 mph with his fastball, and settled in at 86-87. Honiotes’ 78-79 mph slider was extremely effective; he also showed a 74 mph curveball and changeup.
♦ No Midwest player made a bigger name for himself on Thursday than 2B Ro Coleman (Simeon HS, IL). Clearly the smallest player at the Tournament of Stars, the 5-foot-6 Coleman wowed the crowd a few times with his glovework at second base. He made at least three highlight reel plays over the two days, not to mention he made several difficult plays look easy. The switch-hitter also dropped down a bunt single and got down the line in 3.90 seconds. Perhaps most impressively, however, were several of his at-bats, in which he fouled off numerous pitches, laid off close pitches and worked a couple hard-fought walks. Never mind Coleman’s size; he can flat-out play. He plays the game hard, the right way, and is extremely fundamentally sound.
♦ One of the top Class of 2014 prospects in the country, Matthew Ruppenthal (Brother Rice HS, MI), was dominant in his one-inning stint for the Babe Ruth team. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound junior right-hander struck out two of the three batters he faced. Ruppenthal, who is already committed to Vanderbilt, sat at 88-90 mph with his fastball, and flashed a 72-74 mph curveball that had some bite.
♦ The showcase workout is set for Friday, so we will find out who exactly is the fastest player in the Tournament of Stars soon enough. But in game action, OF Alex Krupa (Greenwood HS, IN) is the fastest – at least on my stopwatch. On Thursday, Krupa was clocked at 3.81 down the line on a routine 4-3 putout. The left-handed-hitting Krupa’s 3.81 was clearly fastest non-bunt time in the two days. In fact, there were no other sub-4 times on full swings. Krupa is signed at Indiana University.
♦ It was a rough day for one of Illinois’ hottest prospects, 3B Ricardo Ramirez (De La Salle HS, IL). Ramirez, who was playing first base for the RBI team, tried to make a hustle play and dove into the fence trying to make a catch in foul territory. Ramirez gashed both his legs – one leg required 18 stitches, the other five stitches. I spoke with the Ramirez after the game and he was upbeat, declaring he will be back soon. No doubt. Ramirez was the top prospect at the PBR Top Prospect Showcase last Thursday.
♦ RHP Robert Ziegler (Defiance HS, OH), who’s one of the top prospects in Ohio, woke up on Thursday feeling sick and did not pitch. The University of Kentucky recruit is scheduled to pitch on Saturday.
♦ C Cassidy Brown (Walsh Jesuit HS, OH) had a better showing offensively on Thursday, as the physical catcher ripped a single and barreled another ball that ate up the third baseman.
♦ LHP Carlos Ortiz (Lincoln West HS, OH) started the game for RBI. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Ortiz showed an 80-83 mph fastball. He yielded three runs, four walks and one hit in his one-inning stint.
♦ OF Ryan Boldt (Red Wing HS, MN) is my favorite outfield prospect in the entire event. The athletic 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-handed hitter has an advanced plate approach, excellent speed, and plays an exceptional outfield. Boldt is committed to Nebraska.
♦ LHP Hunter Green (Warren East HS, KY) didn’t have the most success on Thursday, but the 6-foot-4, 170-pounder has a ton of upside. Green’s arm works effortlessly. Once his long and wiry fills out, he should see a significant spike in his velocity, which was 86-89 on Thursday.