New Balance Players of the Game: Day 2

Nationals vs. Athletics

Some of the individual pitching performances were so dominant in the first game Saturday at the Area Code Baseball Games that New Balance recognized two hurlers as winners of the “Jose Bautista ‘Beastmode’ Award for players taking over the game.

--- The first Co-MVP was 6-foot-2, 180 pound righthander Freddy Avis from Menlo High in Palo Alto, Calif. who helped the Oakland A’s blank the Washington Nationals 8-0.

Avis, who verbally committed to Stanford shortly after the A's tryout July 6, pitched two innings allowing only on hit while striking out three of the six batters he faced.

"I felt great out there,” he said. “I was loose with a little bit of butterflies, but that's to be expected in an event like this. I wanted to concentrate on throwing strikes because in these things you never want to throw balls.”

“Also, it was important for me to mix my speeds because in a showcase like this guys can hit the fastball,” he stated.

Avis topped out at 94-miles-per-hour and had a half-dozen pitches over 90 on the radar gun. He went 10-1 with a 2.39 ERA and hit .459 as a junior to earn CalHiSports.com 1st team All-State Underclass honors.

--- Although the Nationals’ bats were quiet, co-MVP Brady Bramlett did his part to keep the opponents off the bases. In the fourth inning he struck out two of the three he faced and hit 92 mph on the gun.

“I felt good coming out of the pen,” said the 6-foot-4, 220 pound righthander from Arlington High in Bartlett, Tenn.

“I felt I could put any pitch where it needed to be. I got the first strikeout on a slider and the second on a curve. I was anxious, as anybody would be, but felt I did as well as I could today. I was an unbelievable atmosphere, it had the feel of being in a pro game.”

Bramlett, who went 11-0 his junior season with a 1.45 ERA and earned 1st team all-state honors, is committed to Ole Miss. His talents aren’t limited to just the diamond, however; he was also a 1st chair tenor in the All-Southwest choir.

One other similarity between the two strikeout artists is their skills in the classroom: Bramlett carries a 4.3 GPA and 27 ACT while Avis has a 3.8 GPA and scored 2060 on the SAT.

Brewers vs. Yankees

New Balance honored Tanner Rahier of the Milwaukee Brewers as the winner of the “Jose Bautista ‘Beastmode’ Award” for taking over the game in his team’s 4-2 win over the New York Yankees Saturday afternoon at the Area Code Baseball Games.

The 6-foot-2, 205 pound shortstop prospect from Indian Wells, Calif. shined offensively and defensively in the win.

In the top of the second inning Rahier made the defensive play of the game and shut down a potentially big scoring inning for the Yankees when he turned a double play by tagging out a runner at second on a steal attempt and then firing to the plate to nail a runner breaking for home.

Offensively, the SoCal native doubled and scored a run.

Althought Rahier attends Palm Desert High School he doesn’t play for the Div. IV team. Instead he’s played the last two springs in the ABCL Wood League where he gets to play 50 to 70 games against top level competition.

He believes playing against top talent in the spring has prepared him for facing the best this summer.

“The double play was fun,” he explained. "It's that you get used to doing it so much you don’t think about it (playing in so many spring games). The double I sat back looking for a pitch to hit and got a fastball."

" It’s great playing here, you get to meet cool people, play top competition this week and see how you do against the best.”

Reds vs Rangers (9-innings)

The first nine-inning contest of the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games was a showcase for the extra base power of Cincinnati Reds’ shortsop Alex Bregman, who was rewarded by New Balance as the “Jose Bautista ‘Beastmode’ Award” winner in the day’s third game.

Bregman, a 5-foot-11, 185 senior from Albuquerque Academy in Albuquerque, N.M, cracked a double and triple in his three at-bats and plated two runs although his Red’s squad fell 6-4 to the Yankees.

“I felt great today,” he said of his two hits. “I just tried to relax and get the jitters out from the first day. The triple, out of the box I knew I’d get to third.”

The LSU-bound infielder/catcher’s powerful bat is no surprise as he hit .678 with 19 home runs for the New Mexico state runners-up last spring. Bregman also had 23 steals on his way to earning All-State honors.

So where does he get his power despite not being huge in stature?

“I think my strengths are my hands, form and eyes,” he continues, explaining that he’s helped by having 20/13 eyesight. “I like to stay linear on my swing, too.”

His physical tools are complemented by a quick mind—in the seventh grade Bregman was the state champion in chess—but all that he’s thinking about right now is improving his game.

“I want to have fun this week, get better, be coachable, enjoy the beautiful weather and play well against the good competition,” he concludes. “So far so good.”