Area Code Games: Takeaways & Superlatives


Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

With the move to LakePoint for 2020, the Area Code Games definitely had a different feel, but the level of talent was unchanged. We’ve been lauding the Class of 2021 for a while now and it showed the praise is justified. Several hitters put up big performances, against pitching that continuously impresses with electric stuff. Here are some takeaways from the event.

THE ESTABLISHMENT

Always loaded with big names going in, it’s fun to see who shines in the spotlight and separates themselves from the pack. The top performer on the offensive side was unquestionably OF Daylen Lile (Trinity HS, KY). The Louisville recruit went 7-for-15 in four games with a double and triple.  His first knock of the event was a double that was scorched down the right field line off RHP Calvin Ziegler (St. Mary’s HS, ON), who was up to 95 mph early in his appearance. Five of Lile’s hits came in his final game against four very talented arms. RHP Irving Carter (Calvary Christian Academy, FL) started for the Nationals and hit 94 with his first fastball. Lile was unfazed and squared it up to right field for a single. LHP Josh Hartle (Reagan HS, NC)—more on him later—Lile stayed back on a slider and laced it back up the middle for another single. He then crushed a ball to deep right and cruised to third for a triple. He singled again with LHP Rocco Reid (Greenville HS, SC), who was up to 90, on the mound. His final at-bat was a walkoff single against 2022 RHP Kyle Larsen (TNXL Academy, FL), who hit 95 a few times in the game. Needless to say, Lile can handle velocity and legitimate secondary stuff. He has a calm demeanor in the box, taking a patient approach and using loose, quick hands to manipulate the barrel and work the whole field.

C Joe Mack (Williamsville East HS, NY) also had a big weekend, going 4-for-7 with a home run and four walks. He works counts to his favor and doesn’t get cheated when he sees his pitch, consistently putting the barrel on the baseball. His present strength translates to in game power and he can use it to go the other way, as evidenced by his opposite field home run in the final game. He’s no slouch defensively either, nailing a runner early in the event with a 1.9-second pop time.

On the pitching side, two lefties firmly put their names in for top southpaw in the class. Right now, for my money, that crown belongs to Hartle. He gave up a run on five hits in three innings and struck out two, but that came against the White Sox, who had arguably the best lineup in the event. Everything about the Wake Forest recruit is easy. He sat 90-92 early, finishing at 88-89, from a 3/4 slot and filled the zone. His slider was above average, showing hard sweep and some depth at 79-84, and he also mixed in an above average changeup with sink and run at 84-86. Standing at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he has room to fill out and help his already good stuff tick up even more.

In the conversation with Hartle is LHP Drew Gray (Belleville East HS, IL), who seems to know how to keep an audience on the edge of its seat. The Arkansas recruit closed out a game for the White Sox with two innings of work, allowing two hits while striking out six. It’s well known that he can spin a breaking ball, but he went strictly with the fastball in his first inning. It’s not like he needed anything else. It was 91-93 with life through the zone. Naturally, he started his second inning off with the curveball, which didn’t disappoint. It’s a future plus pitch at 76 with 1/7 shape, sharpness and depth. Couple that with his projectable frame and athleticism (he can handle the bat too), and, well, what else are you looking for?

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