All-Time Great Super 60 Performances

Sean Duncan

As we enter into the 20th annual Super 60 Pro Showcase on February 6, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic, particularly given the event’s humble beginning back in 2003. Last year, we had 100-plus pro scouts, 32 previous participants drafted overall, including three first-rounders and the No. 1-overall pick, Henry Davis.

Over the years, there have been 23 first-round picks and 24 second-rounders, which is remarkable given where the Super 60 first began. I still remember the very first one in 2003. In hindsight, it was embarrassing. The hitting and pitching was done inside a gutted-out barn, and there was a steady hum from a heating generator pulsing throughout the day. For the defensive portion, the scouts and players had to drive five minutes away to a tiny Montessori school gymnasium. We put a lot of holes in the gym walls. It was ugly.

I’m proud to say the Super 60 has come a long way, developing into the most heavily scouted preseason event in the country for draft-eligible prospects. And we no longer need generators to keep us warm; The Max is a state-of-the-art, 125,000 square foot open turf facility. And yes, it’s heated.

Over the years there have been countless incredible performances--and not-so-great performances from players who turned out to be great. Like switch-hitting catcher Tucker Barnhart (Brownsburg HS, IN, 2009). At the time, Barnhart was the biggest name at the event, but struggled offensively. Fortunately, he had a great senior season and was drafted in the 10th round by the Reds. He’s now entering his ninth season in the big leagues, widely regarded as one of the top defensive backstops in the league.  Or LHP Christian Friedrich (Loyola Academy HS, IL, 2005), who sat 82-85 in 2005, but went on to become a first-rounder out of Eastern Kentucky. Or OF/IF Jason Kipnis (Glenbrook North HS, IL, 2005), who was just another face in the crowd. 

Having scouted all the past 19 Super 60s, I compiled the top 20 all-time great showings, for one reason or another. OF Jarred Kelenic, who was the No. 6 overall pick by the Mets, made a strong case for the all-time best performance, but Justin O’Conner still holds firm because he showed first-round abilities at three different positions.

1. Justin O’Conner, C/SS/RHP, Cowan HS, IN (2009)
At the time, O’Conner was a 6-foot, 180-pound junior. The PBR Indiana scouting director said he was special, but what he did that day was absolutely jaw-dropping. First, he was 96 mph from shortstop (backhand, plant, throw in the hole). Back then, he was known primarily as a shortstop/pitcher. Nevertheless, he geared up and proceeded to fire consistent 1.75-1.82 pop times, showcasing ultra-athletic feet and plus arm strength (86 mph from crouch) behind the plate. At the plate, his hands were electric. He capped off his day on the mound, sitting at 93 mph. Till this day, O’Conner still holds the infield velocity and pop time records at the Super 60 (and 93 on the bump was incredibly rare back then, too). Unsurprisingly, O’Conner was a first-round pick the following year by the Rays.

2. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha West HS, WI (2017-2018)
As the only junior at the Super 60 in 2017, Kelenic was unequivocally the top prospect in attendance, and he easily surpassed his expectations the following year in 2018. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound left-handed hitting outfielder kicked off his day by running a 6.55 laser-timed 60, second fastest at the event. Defensively, he consistently fired mid-90 mph strikes to the catcher, topping out at 96. Offensively, his swing was remarkably balanced, quiet, consistent and, above all, explosive. The ball flight data illustrated exactly how consistent Kelenic was during his two BP rounds. He did not register an exit velocity below 93 mph, with a high of 104.39, and an average of 99.08. Nine of his 12 hits went over 325 feet, with an average of 310 and a best blow of 380.15. His explosive polish across all five tools is why Kelenic ultimately was selected No. 6 overall by the Mets. Kelenic made his major-league debut last year with the Mariners.


3. Trey Ball, LHP/OF, New Castle HS, IN (2012)
At the time, Ball was a junior, 6-foot-6 and rail thin. After watching his all-around performance, never had I been more convinced that a Midwest junior prospect was destined to be a top 20 pick in the draft. He was the rarest of talents, in that he had the ability to be a high draft as both a position player and as a pitcher. For his size, he was freakishly athletic: he ran a seemingly effortless 6.67 60. Offensively, he was one of--if not the best--hitter at the event. From the outfield, he was clocked at 93 mph. On the mound, Ball didn’t disappoint either. Long and loose, the left-hander topped out at 90 mph with undoubtedly a lot more in the tank. He also threw an 80-84 mph slider and a 78-80 mph changeup. A year later, Ball was selected No. 7 overall by the Boston Red Sox.


4. Braden Montgomery, OF/RHP, Madison Central HS, MS (2021)
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Montgomery was the showstopper in 2021, and by a wide margin. Which speaks volumes, given how loaded the event was last year. In the history of the Super 60, Montgomery’s two-way performance ranks right near the top. He did it all, and did it all at a very high level.  He proved himself to be a dynamic draft pick both as a position player and as a pitcher. But the offensive profile--switch-hitter that produced triple-digit exit velocities from both sides of the plate--is too tantalizing to pass up. He also shattered the outfield velocity record (99 mph), ran a 6.9 60, and measured near the top in all Blast and TrackMan data. Oh, and he also had the highest Vizual Edge score that measures how well he sees the ball. After going through the positional workout, the right-hander hopped on the mound and was equally impressive. He showed an advanced three-pitch mix that included easy 91-93 mph heat with ride and run through the zone. His effective velocity was even greater, thanks to his astounding 7.04 feet of extension. And, of course, his delivery was low-effort and athletic. Look for Montgomery to be a high-level draft pick out of Stanford.


5. Joey Wentz, LHP, Shawnee Mission East HS, KS (2016)
No player raised his draft status more in 2016 than Wentz, who decided to put down the bat and come only as a pitcher. Previously, he had fancied himself more of a left-handed, power-hitting first baseman. After his bullpen was finished, the highly projectable 6-foot-5, 220-pounder had established himself as one of the top southpaws in the country. Long, lean and athletic, Wentz’s fastball sat at 92 mph, topping out at 93, with late arm-side finish. His arm worked clean and effortlessly, indicating there likely was more in the tank as he fills into his frame and focuses more on pitching. His delivery was simple, balanced and athletic, as he stayed tall and worked downhill. Wentz continued to dominate in the spring, and was a supplemental first-round pick by the Braves.


6. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Minooka HS, IL (2010)
The 6-foot-5 right-hander was already a well-known prospect in the Midwest, but his showing at the Super 60 solidified him as an elite national arm. With an easy, athletic arm action, Foltynewicz sat 92-93 with a power 77-78 mph breaking ball. Later that spring, his velocity continued to climb as high as 96. Foltynewicz went on to become the 19th overall pick by the Astros in June. He made his major league debut in 2014 with the Astros and later became an all-star with the Braves. 


7. Joe Benson, OF/C, Joliet Catholic Academy HS, IL (2006)
One of the most tooled-out athletes I’ve covered over the last 17 years in Illinois, Benson was a physical 6-foot-1, 190-pound outfielder and catcher in 2006. He was also the top running back in the state. Benson had the rare power-speed combination. Back then, we didn’t have space to run a 60, but Benson was a 6.5-6.6 runner who punished baseballs. He also was clocked at 93 mph from the outfield. Benson was drafted in the second round with the Twins. He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2011, but unfortunately never stuck.

8. Ben Hernandez, RHP, De La Salle HS, IL (2020)
Every fastball Hernandez delivered looked 85 mph, yet nearly every pitch read 95 on TrackMan. His ease of operation, coupled with his actual velocity, made Hernandez the biggest winner at the 2020 event. Although I don’t have 19 years of hard historical data to validate, his average fastball velocity had to be the all-time best, as every fastball was 95, with the exception of two 94s out of the stretch. Now factor in Hernandez was a strike-pumping machine, and his changeup was without equivocation the best secondary pitch at the event--and arguably the best changeup in Super 60 history--it’s no secret why the 6-foot, 200-pound right-hander went early in the second round to the Royals. Hernandez, who’s Achilles heel had always been his curveball, also unveiled a harder slider/cutter in the mid 80s, which only cemented his starter profile.


9. Ryan Cusick, RHP, Avon Old Farms HS, CT (2018)
The 6-foot-5, 185-pound Wake Forest recruit delivered the best pitching performance in 2018. He showed premium fastball velocity with little effort, working 93-95 mph. His fastball showed arm-side finish with some sink, sitting mostly at 94 with a few 95s. He showed advanced feel for changeup at 86-87 mph, threw it aggressively and for strikes, flashing occasional power arm-side sink. Cusick eventually opted to attend Wake Forest, where his velocity regularly worked in the triple digits. He was eventually selected in the first round, 24th overall, by the Braves in last year’s amateur draft.


10. Ryan Borucki, LHP, Mundelein HS, IL (2012)
The 2012 edition of the Super 60 was absolutely loaded with top-level arms. Of all the impressive pitching performances, Borucki stood above the rest. And it’s not just because the 6-foot-4, 180-pounder topped out at an event-best 92 mph, or that he sat comfortably at 90-91. It was his secondary stuff--an 83-84 mph cutter and 79-80 mph changeup--that were equally electric. And also because he was all legs and arms, loose as can be, and far from reaching his physical peak. So good was his performance that, despite barely pitching that spring due to an elbow injury, he was drafted in the 15th round by the Blue Jays and signed. He made his MLB debut in 2018 as a starter, but injuries have slowed him down the last couple years.


11. Matt Vierling, RHP, Christian Brothers College HS, MO (2015)
In terms of two-way performances, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Vierling did it all in 2015. Never mind that the Notre Dame recruit had missed the summer and fall seasons with a broken leg; what he did was nothing short of remarkable. In the positional workout, Vierling ran a 6.73 laser-timed 60; he later said it was the first 60 he ran in like a year. Defensively in the outfield, Vierling told me he was trying to save his arm for the pitching segment, yet he posted an event-best 94 mph strikes to the catcher. Offensively, he showed a balanced and rhythmic swing with bat speed and burgeoning power potential. After doing all that, Vierling led off the pitching portion by firing 92-93 mph fastballs with arm-side life. He also threw a tight 78-81 mph slider and an aggressive 84-85 mph changeup. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies out of Notre Dame as an outfielder in 2018 and made his MLB debut last year.


12. Gavin Lux, SS, Indian Trail HS, WI (2016)
Legitimate high-level shortstops are few and far between, particularly in the Midwest. So when the 6-foot-2, 182-pound left-handed hitting Lux showed up to the Super 60 looking noticeably more physical than what we had seen over the years, and did what he has always has done on the baseball field--which is to say showcase a balanced, polished swing, athletic, fluid actions and premium arm strength across the diamond--there was little doubt he would shoot up some draft boards. At the event he registered an event-best 90 mph across the infield, smooth, effortless and accurate. He showed advanced rhythm and bat speed at the plate and ran a 6.86 60. Later in the spring, Lux was selected in the first round by the Dodgers, and has since won a World Series with three years service time.


13. Jake Smolinski, SS/RHP, Rockford Boylan HS, IL (2007)
Smolinski makes the list largely for his two-way abilities, but also because of the uniqueness of the situation. That year, an area Illinois scout decided he wanted to run a competing event on the same day. Smolinski was one of the few that originally chose the other event. Apparently he caught word that the majority of scouts were at the Super 60, so he left the event and got to the Super 60 at the end for what was essentially a private workout. Smolinski showed the balanced, powerful swing and overall athleticism that eventually made him a second-round pick by the Nationals. Smolinski played five seasons in the big leagues.

14. Nolan Watson, RHP, Lawrence North HS, IN (2015)
Every time we had ever seen Watson, he was good, dating back to his MVP performance at the PBR Future Games as a sophomore in high school. He was lights out at the PBR Labor Day Challenge, really solid at the Area Code Games and showed well as a junior at the Super 60. What we had come to expect was a lot of strikes, highly competitive outings, consistent 88-91 velocity and a short, tight slider. However, in 2015 he showed up to the Super 60 looking noticeably stronger and the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Vanderbilt recruit took the mound with a quiet confidence and, seemingly, something to prove. After he completed his bullpen session, Watson certainly proved to everybody that he deserved to be right at the top of the list of high-level arms in the deep 2015 class. Watson sat 91-93 with his fastball, topping out at 94 on his final pitch, with late arm-side sink. He was also throwing his slider considerably harder, in the 82-84 range, to go along with a 79-81 mph change. Watson carried his Super 60 momentum into a dominant spring and, was ultimately drafted 33rd overall by the Royals.


15. Nick Martini, OF, Prairie Ridge HS, IL (2008)
In 2008, a SPARQ crew came to the Super 60, back when it was en vogue. The left-handed hitting Martini was the top score in every category. Few really knew what that meant, other than he was highly athletic and explosive. He also was a top-level offensive player, 91 from the outfield and, above all, a hard-nosed baseball player. Martini attended Kansas State, and was eventually drafted by the Cardinals in the seventh round. He made his major league debut in 2018.

16. A.J. Reed, 1B/LHP, Terre Haute South HS, IN (2011)
Reed wasn’t highly regarded coming into the Super 60, but he was a hulking 6-foot-4, 228 pounds and left-handed. A few days before the event, our Indiana Scouting Director asked if Reed could also hit at the event. He said he had seen Reed tank a few balls in BP and might open some eyes. Sure, why not? At the Super 60, Reed was rather pedestrian on the mound, sitting in the mid-80s, but he put on one of the best shows of raw left-handed power we had ever seen at the event. Reed went to Kentucky as a two-way player, and earned the college player of the year honors as a junior, dominating both ways, and was drafted by the Astros in the second round as a power-hitting first baseman. Later, I was told that the Super 60 was the only showcase Reed had ever attended in high school.

17. Zack Burdi, RHP, Downers Grove South HS, IL (2013)
Zack’s older brother, Nick, a second-round draft pick himself, was a standout in 2010, but the younger Burdi stole the show in 2013. The athletically built 6-foot-3, 195-pounder had the most explosive fastball at the Super 60, sitting at 93 mph, touching 94 with late, hard sink. Coming from a 3/4 slot with a loose, lightning-quick arm, Burdi’s changeup, which sat at 82-84 mph with late arm-side sink, was equally impressive. He also threw two breaking balls: a 74-77 curveball and an 80 mph slider. With his 3/4 angle and arm action, his slider also had the potential to be a strikeout pitch. Burdi went on to Louisville, and was eventually drafted in the first round as a closer by the White Sox in 2016.


18. Magdiel Cotto, LHP, Nation Ford HS, SC (2020)
In 2020, we had a left-handed pitching crisis. As in, we only had two registered. So I sent an APB to our state directors, and our South Carolina director said he had a wide-shouldered, 6-foot-4, 230-pound uper-80s strike-pumper. Sold. Let’s get him there. Indeed, Cotto showed up, and in the biggest way. He had the whole Max buzzing about where the heck this big donkey came from, whose average fastball worked at 93.5, topping out at 95, all the while filling up the zone with three above-average pitches? Even Cotto himself was surprised. As he was coming off the mound, I told him that he was up to 95, sitting 93-94. He shook my hand (pre-COVID days, mind you), handed me the ball and said, “Wow, I’ve never been above 90.” Cotto wasn’t drafted out of high school, attended South Carolina for a year, and is now at Kentucky.


19. Tanner Houck, Collinsville HS, IL (2014)
Houck’s breakout performance at the Super 60 solidified his status as one of the premier right-handed prospects in the Midwest. From there, the then 6-foot-5, 210 pounder was drafted in the 12th round by the Blue Jays, and ultimately turned himself into a first-rounder, 24th overall, after dominating the SEC at Missouri. At the Super 60, Houck showed the most electric arsenal there, though some frowned that he was an open-toe, heel-strike guy. Whatever. Houck’s fastball was a clear standout among a list of top-level arms. Aside from sitting 92-93, it was his late, hard arm-side life that separated Houck from his peers. Providing further separation from the pack was his three-pitch arsenal, all of which had sharp, late action. His changeup, in the 83-85 mph range, showed the makings of being a big swing-and-miss pitch, as he threw it with fastball arm action and has late sink down in the zone. Houck also threw his 74-77 mph slider with similar conviction. Operating from a high-3/4 slot, his arm worked loose and quick. Now Houck is a big part of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff.


20. Henry Davis, C, Fox Lane HS, NY (2018)
Davis isn’t on this list because he delivered one of the all-time greatest performances. Far from it. Rather, he made the list because, well, he was the No. 1 overall pick last summer, and that’s pretty cool, right? Davis’ ascension from ultimately a lower-tier draft prospect out of high school to the first name called in 2021 is part of the beauty of baseball, and a nice feather in the cap to the Louisville coaching staff. Yes, Davis showed off one of the best defensive catcher arms in Super 60 history--86 mph missiles down to second base, registering consistent sub-1.9 pop times--but there’s not a single person who would’ve put a first-round grade on his swing. In fact, he went to Louisville as a catch-and-throw ONLY backstop. Three years later the Pirates signed him for $6.5 million.


Hopefully more indelible memories will be created this Sunday. More importantly, I hope all the players perform up to their best abilities. It should again be a packed house.

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