By: Burke Granger
Our 2016 MLB Draft coverage officially kicked off this weekend with a trip to Chicago for the Super 60, an annual event hosted by Prep Baseball Report (“PBR”) that welcomed players from 19 states and over 120 scouts. Debuted in 2003, the Super 60 is celebrating 14 years of bringing together some of the most talented high school seniors in the Midwest to showcase their skills for scouts and college recruiters.
Being my first Super 60, a couple of initial thoughts come to mind. I was especially impressed with the precision and efficiency in which the event was run. There were countless PBR colleagues who seamlessly transitioned players and scouts alike from stage to stage in the sizable venue.
I also took notice of the poise that many of these 17-18 years olds have when throwing to a catcher, taking batting practice, or fielding grounders with hundreds of on lookers a mere few feet away sans the usual chain link fence to separate the player and the scout.
The impressions gained from an event like this should be taken with a grain of salt. Being just the first week of February, many of these players have just started to gear up for the season with Spring practice, thus they’re not close to their best.
Bearing that in mind, the metrics attained during this showcase are a mere snapshot in time, and the numbers alone don’t reflect the progression that will occur as these kids prepare for the next level. They do, however, provide some fun data to look at. Next to each player below, I’ve listed where that individual ranks the initial high school draft prospect lists from Baseball America (BA) and D1Baseball.com (D1).
Let’s dive into these initial impressions:
Cooper Johnson – Carmel Catholic (Ill.) – Catcher. BA: 22, D1: 27. Objective numbers aside, Johnson had the most presence at the Super 60. With muscular 6’0″ 200 frame and donning a gold plated catching mask in the spirit of a Notre Dame football helmet, Johnson stands out even before he picks up a bat or ball. It doesn’t hurt when he backs up the swagger with pop times of 1.80, 1.81, and 1.83. Flashing a present 70 grade arm is one thing at a showcase, but I spoke with an AL area scout who had Johnson at 1.84 in live game action. The Mississippi commit’s catch and throw skills were unmatched by his peers at this event. At the plate, the right-handed hitting Johnson was solid. While Johnson’s bat speed isn’t as quick as some of his catching peers, he has a simple load with good balance and timing that produced loud line drives.
Ben Rortvedt – Verona (Wis.) – Catcher. BA: 44. D1: 30. The 5’10 190 Arkansas commit put on an impressive show in BP from the left side, producing positional best 103 mph exit velocity generated by a strong lower half and exceptionally quick hands. While his release is a beat slower than Johnson’s, Rortvedt produced pop times of 1.82, 1.88, and 1.91.
T.J. Collett – Terre Haute (Ind.) – Catcher. BA: 65. D1: NR. At 6’0 220, Collett might be a tick less athletic than Johnson or Rortvedt, but the Kentucky commit appears to have the most raw power, as his swing generates loud pull-side fly balls from the left side. Defensively he showed a long release and inconsistent footwork, but still produced pop times of 1.94, 2.00, and 2.02. Small sample size aside, he looked less likely stick behind the plate than his counterparts on this list.
Gavin Lux – Indian Trail (Wis.) – Shortstop. BA: 46, D1: 23. Committed to Arizona State, Lux possesses a tall thin frame and loose throwing motion that flashed above average arm strength across the diamond. While he had a couple throws off his back foot in the hole that looked questionable, Lux also tied for the highest infield velocity (90 mph) with Nate Fassnact (Pa.) and Gunner Halter (Kan.) at the event. He moved well to both his right and his left and showed some of the softer hands among the other middle infielders. The left-handed hitting Lux is loose at the plate as well, whipping the bat through the zone and making solid contact, pulling line drives on most of his BP swings.
Tyler Fitzgerald – Richester (Ill.) – Shortstop. BA: 63, D1: 41. The 6’3″ 190 Louisville commit looked strong at the plate. He showed good balance and timing pounding one line drive after another right up the middle. He showed nice first step quickness but looked a little rusty in the field and let the ball play him a few times. He showed no trouble making plays to his left, but struggled fielding cleanly on balls to his right. One of the faster players at the event, Fitzgerald ran a 6.71 60 yard dash.
Joey Wentz – Shawnee Mission East (Kan.) – LHP. BA: 58, D1: 44. With his hulking 6’5″ 220 frame, Wentz looks the part of a workhorse starter. Committed to Virginia, Wentz showed easy velocity sitting at 91-92 mph (T93) with his fastball. His change up was an inconsistent offering at 79-82 mph but when the pitch was right, it showed good arm-side fade. The curveball was a 12-6 pitch at 75-76 mph with nice late breaking action. Using a fairly straight forward rock and throw windup, Wentz demonstrated consistency of the release point of all three of his pitches.
Erik Miller – DeSmet Jesuit (Mo.) – LHP. BA: 25, D1: NR. Like Wentz, Miller stands at 6’5″ 220. A Stanford commitment, Miller throws slightly more across his body than Wentz. Miller alternated between two and four-seem fastballs that sat between 89-91 mph (T92) with good arm side fade. His curveball and changeup were inconsistent pitches that were often left up as Miller struggled to find his release point.