Prep Baseball Report

The Rode Show: Targeting Florida Prospects

By Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

The biggest aspect of The Rode Show’s first trip will be Florida prospects. Why not? The state is deep in talent and one only a few that actually has decent weather this time of year. After seeing Team Canada in Dunedin, I’ll head to the Orlando area for a few days to sit on a tournament and some local games.

Sandford Memorial Stadium and Lake Brantley HS are playing host to the 2015 Florida League High School Invitational. There are 16 teams—14 from Florida, one from Oklahoma and one from Tennessee—and it’s loaded with draft prospects. The event is headlined by SS Brendan Rodgers (Lake Mary HS, FL), the top high school prospects in the country and a candidate to be the first overall pick. Lake Mary’s first game is against Barron Collier HS, FL, at 1 p.m. at Lake Brantley. After Rodgers, pitching will be the main attraction at this event with RHP Tristan McKenzie (Royal Palm Beach HS, FL), LHP Thomas Szapucki (Dwyer HS, FL) and LHP Hunter Bowling (American Heritage-Delray HS, FL). McKenzie is very athletic with a long, loose frame. He has excellent upside and is off to a good start this season. Szapucki was reportedly up to 95 mph in a start against Park Vista HS, FL, and RHP Austin Smith, but he struggled with his control, walking six batters. Bowling was recently sitting 87-88 with a fringy curveball, but he’s a 6-foot-7, 215-pound southpaw that has found the low 90s before and is very athletic. Another offensive prospect playing in the tournament is Bowling’s teammate, SS Jonathan India. He has a strong frame that has become leaner since last summer and he has a quick, controlled swing.

The Orlando and Tampa areas have most of Florida’s prospects this year and there are plenty of local games to choose from outside of the tournament. LHP Juan Hillman (Olympia HS, FL) and RHP Brady Singer (Eustis HS, FL) should pitch next week so I’ll be on the lookout for their next starts. If I’m lucky, I might even get to sneak in a look at one of the country’s top 2016 prospects in RHP Austin Bergner (Windermere Prep, FL).

Once I’ve had my fill in Orlando, I’ll head to the Gulf Coast. North Florida Christian HS has a wicked one-two punch in RHP Cole Sands and 2016 LHP Cole Ragans. Ragans will face Venice HS on Friday night with Sands taking on Tampa Jesuit on Saturday. Sands is one of the top seniors in the state and Ragans has a case for being one of the top juniors in the entire country. They’ll have their share of Division I recruits to face in those two games.

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