JUPITER - I've been able to sit down and go over a lot of my notes over the past few days from the JO East in Jupiter. I decided I would give a crack at projecting the USA invites, and list out some of the top players that I saw during my 4 days there. Some players I am listing didn't have birthdates listed, and players must have a 1994 birthday to be eligible. There were also about 6 teams of the 72 team field that I did not see and about 6 others that I saw too briefly to make any clear cut distinctions on. JO West will have their own set of players invited, so this is my list just for the East. So by no way can this be considered a COMPLETE list, but this is what I saw...
Probable USA Team Invites
C - Chris Chinea, All American Prospects Blue
I would classify Chinea as an offensive catcher and one of the top hitters in the event. The Gulliver Prep's pops to 2B are average, but he more than makes up for it with his bat. Chinea can be fooled on pitches and still square them up on the barrel and hit them with authority. Chinea has above average batspeed. His body doesn't project very well, and I could see it scaring away scouts in the early rounds of his draft year and end up having him become a collegiate All-American type of player at the University of Miami and get drafted even higher out of college.
SS - Addison Russell, FTB Mizuno
I've said plenty about Addison Russell and it's no suprise that he's on this list. He's a 6.7 type runner, although he plays much faster on the bases. Plus bat, plus instincts, plus makeup. Good arm strength, good defender. 5-tool kind of guy.
3B - Eric Neitzel, Miami Snappers Green
Neitzel is another offensive player out of Gulliver Prep. High school coaches reading this right now are probably shaking their heads that one high school program has 2 potential Team USA guys, but read it and weep. Neitzel has a man child body that reminds me of Austin Maddox who is currently at the University of Florida. He looks like a grown man playing amongst boys at the playground. I didn't see Neitzel square up one ball in the 5 or 6 at bats that I saw him, popping everything up, and trying too hard to lift. He hit one pop up with hang time that would have made NFL punters jealous. But you can see the pop is there, the swing is there, and people that I trust that I spoke with says he rakes. That's good enough for me to pop him on this list - for now.
RHP - Lucas Sims, Team Georgia
Sims threw on the final day before the Wednesday off-day, and drew a small village behind home plate to watch Sims throw 87-90mph, 3 pitches for strikes, a quick arm, and a competitive demeanor on the mound. Sims' body is classic for a future front line rotation kind of pitcher and he projects toget his velocity well into the low to mid 90s.
RHP - Lance McCullers, Tampa Bay Warriors
For those of you who read my article, "The Lance McCullers Show", there isn't much more to say. 93-97mph, with an 83mph hammer. See you in Mexico...bring your sunblock.
RHP - Nick Travieso, South Florida Elite Black
In most other years, Travieso would have been the talk of the event with his low 90s stuff. Travieso's arm works very well, and he actually has shown a lot of potential with the bat. Just another day in the life of turning out big-time prospects at American Heritage in Plantation, FL.
RHP Walker Weickel, Orlando Scorpions Purple
Weickel's athleticism for his size is just sick. He can swing the bat and at 6'6"/170 he can actually run 6.7 type 60. Weickel's better on the mound where his frame gives him a quality downhill angle and a fastball that sits in the 88-91 range.
LHP Ivan Pelaez, South Florida Elite Black
There wasn't a better lefty PITCHER in the whole event. Pelaez can pitch at the division 1 level right now. He knows how to pitch, he's a good kid with a mean streak to him, his breaking ball is an above average pitch, his command is outstanding. His velocity is 85-87mph, and if you are the type of guy that just wants to see 90 on the radar gun you would have looked right past one of the best pitchers in the whole event.
-Michael Klement, South Florida Elite Black - Plus bat speed
-Taylor Gushue, Palm Beach PAL - Switch hitting catcher
-Cameron Varga, All American Prospects Red - Offensive force
-Alexis Rivera, FTB Mizuno - Offensive force
-Tomas Nido, FTB Mizuno - Good catch and throw and can hit.
-Jon Sandfort, Orlando Scorpions Purple - Velo was down, but he can do a little bit of everything.
-Stephen Brooks, Richmond Braves National - 85-88mph.
-Joe DeCarlo, Richmond Braves National - Hits.
-Avery Romero, Tampa Bay Warriors - Hits, 86-88 off the mound and a great barehanded play at SS.
-Jason Carmichael, Tampa Bay Warriors - High 80s/low 90s arm already.
--Brody Koerner, South Charlotte Panthers - 86-88 with good stuff.
-Nick Banks, OF, Houston Banditos - +body, strength, swing.