High-SchoolBaseball: Freddy Avis

MLB Draft Stock Watch: Carson Kelly rises

May, 4, 2012
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Carson kelly Westview, BBDustin Snipes/ESPNHSWestview (Portland, Ore.) infielder Carson Kelly has worked his way into the first-round mix.
Each Friday in May, Jason A. Churchill, who covers the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, will look at the high school prospects whose stock is up and whose stock is down heading into the draft, which begins on June 4.

The 2012 MLB draft is less than five weeks away and several of the top prep talents are jockeying for position on the event’s first day (June 4), which consists of 60 selections.

As the spring progressed, a number of prospects made big jumps, others held serve and a few saw their stock sink. There is still time for things to change again, but here is how I see it right now in terms of talent.

STOCK UP

Albert Almora, CF, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
Almora, an above-average defender in center field, has impressed scouts this spring with a consistent swing, plus speed and good overall plate skills that suggest he will hit for average and work counts as a professional.

Carson Kelly, 3B, Westview (Portland, Ore.)
Kelly's stock has risen 15 to 30 spots this spring, depending upon who is asked, and he now appears to be a firm first-round pick with a solid chance to be taken off the board in the top 20. He fields his position well and the ball jumps off his bat thanks to sound swing mechanics and strong, quick wrists.

Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy (Lakewood Ranches, Fla.)
Travieso's most recent handful of starts have done wonders for his stock as the right-hander has seen a consistent uptick in velocity up to 99 mph, sitting 93-95. He's still a bit raw in some areas, but the arm strength may be enough for a first-round grade, albeit in the bottom quarter.

Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Cabbarus (Concord, N.C.)
Seager, whom ESPN Insider's Keith Law wrote last week could go in the top 20, has impressed senior scouts and scouting directors with his ability to drive the ball to center and left field -- he's a left-handed hitter -- and he's doing it with pop. He's playing shortstop now but profiles as a future third baseman.

Mitch Gueller, RHP, W.F. West (Chehalis, Wash.)
Gueller has been up to the mid-90s in recent weeks and is beginning to draw some big-time attention that could mean a Day 1 selection. He's well built at 6-foot-3 or 4 and 200-plus pounds and offers a low-to-mid 70s curveball and low-80s changeup.

STOCK DOWN

Tanner Rahier, SS, Palm Desert (Calif.)
Many talent evaluators who saw Rahier last summer at the Area Code Baseball Games wrote him off as a shortstop and spoke of third base as a future position. Some of those same scouts now have questions about Rahier remaining on the infield at all. He does possess the arm and feet to stick at third and perhaps just needs more experience, but his bat may not play there, either. Rahier, however, has made believers out of at least two clubs, with the Atlanta Braves being linked to him in recent weeks. Whether that's for round 1 or later in the draft remains to be seen.

Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)
Trahan is hitting but questions remain about his defense, despite plenty of arm strength and great speed and overall athleticism for the catcher position. He began the spring as a potential top 20 pick, but the buzz surrounding the prep arms and infielders in that range could push Trahan to the compensation round.

Joey Gallo, 3B, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Gallo's recent performance -- nine homers in his first 13 games after the USA Baseball National High School Invitational -- doesn't overshadow the struggles he endured at the tournament. He's pitched well, however, so his overall prospect status may remain. But as a bat, senior scouts are not convinced he's a top 30 player. Gallo, however, did go 5-for-5 with four home runs in a game two weeks ago and was intentionally walked in his final plate appearance -- with the bases loaded.

Freddy Avis, RHP, Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.) & Nathan Kirby, LHP, James River (Midlothian, Va.)
Both players are considered tough signs due to their strong commitments to school. Avis has signed on to pitch at Stanford, but he's making it awfully tough on himself as he could be first-round worthy. He's sat 91-94 mph of late and flashes a plus curveball. The fastball has life and he commands his pitches well.

Kirby, committed to the University of Virginia, has paired a sharper breaking ball in recent outings with a fastball in the 89-92 mph range. Kirby is considered a late Day 1 talent, but many believe he'll see the campus in Charlottesville, Va., and re-enter the draft in 2015.

HOLDING STEADY

Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty High School (Oviedo, Fla.)
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe High School (Lake Charles, La.)
Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)

HOLDING DUE TO INJURY

Alex Bregman, C/SS, Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
C.J. Hinojosa, SS, Klein (Spring, Texas)
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio)

Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at churchill@prospectinsider.com.

The Starting Nine: Preseason look

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
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The Starting NineMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP Images, Scott Kurtz/ESPNHS(From left to right) Byron Buxton, Lucas Giolito and Joey Gallo are the three top preseason candidates for The Diamond Gem, the title bestowed upon the nation's most outstanding baseball player based on on-field performance.

With spring right around the corner, ESPNHS has begun its search for the nation’s top high school baseball player, regardless of school year and based solely on on-field performance.

Every two weeks, we’ll rank the nine players in order in The Starting Nine. And at the end of the season, whoever is in the top spot will be crowned The Diamond Gem, our award given to the nation’s most outstanding player.

So to kick it off, we give you our preseason Starting Nine. Leading the way is Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) senior Lucas Giolito, the nation’s top right-handed pitcher who dominated opposing hitters last season and has looked very much like an early first-round pick in the early going this year.

The Starting Nine: Preseason

1. Lucas Giolito, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
RHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top right-hander, Giolito went 9-0 last year with a 1.00 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. He also pitched four complete games, three of which were shutouts.

2. Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
1B/3B/RHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The top player on the top team in the POWERADE FAB 50, Gallo hit .471 last year with 25 homers and 78 RBIs while leading Gorman to its sixth straight state title. He also was 3-1 on the bump with a 1.12 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.

3. Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
OF, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top outfielder and potential top 10 pick in June’s MLB draft flirted with the .600 mark last season (he finished hitting .594) and clubbed 10 homers while driving in 48 runs.

4. Lance McCullers Jr., Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
RHP/SS, Senior
Why he’s here: The hard-throwing right-hander (he’s hit 100 mph on the radar gun) went 5-2 with a 1.71 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 45 innings last season for the Class 4A state runner-up. He also hit .422 with seven homers and 24 RBIs.

5. Kayden Porter, Spanish Fork (Utah)
RHP/OF, Senior
Why he’s here: Porter picked up ESPNHS National Junior of the Year honors last year after leading Spanish Fork to its third straight state title. He went 9-1 with 85 strikeouts in 59 innings and hit .570 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs.

6. Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
SS, Senior
Why he’s here: Leader of Louisiana powerhouse picked up Gatorade State Player of the Year honors last season after hitting .548 with 10 homers, 41 RBIs and 32 stolen bases.

7. Max Fried, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
LHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top lefty, Fried went 7-3 with a 1.31 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 69.2 innings at Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, Calif.). He transferred to Harvard-Westlake after Montclair Prep cut its athletics program.

8. Kyle Carter, Columbus (Ga.)
OF/LHP, Senior
Why he’s here: Carter, who starred on the Columbus team that won the 2006 Little League World Series, set a single-season school record with 22 homers last season to help Columbus earn its second straight state title and 11th overall. He also hit .467 with 47 RBIs and went 9-4 on the mound with a 2.33 ERA.

9. Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
RHP/OF, Senior
Why he’s here: The leader of the No. 4 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, Hawkins led Carroll to a state title as a sophomore and the state semifinals last season. As a junior, he hit .410 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs and 22 stolen bases and was 10-2 with a 2.35 ERA and 81 strikeouts.

ON DECK
Another 25 players we’re tracking to begin the 2012 season

OF Albert Almora, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.), Sr.
RHP Freddy Avis, Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.), Sr.
1B Keon Barnum, King (Tampa, Fla.), Sr.
RHP Ryan Burr, Highlands Ranch (Colo.), Sr.
C Zach Collins, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), Jr.
C Clint Coulter, Union (Camas, Wash.), Sr.
OF David Dahl, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.), Sr.
RHP Ty Hensley, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.), Sr.
3B/RHP Carson Kelly, Westview (Portland, Ore.), Sr.
LHP Nathan Kirby, James River (Midlothian, Va.), Sr.
C Jeremy Martinez, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Jr.
C/SS/RHP Wyatt Mathisen, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas), Sr.
OF/RHP Ty Moore, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Sr.
3B/OF Mitch Nay, Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), Sr.
1B/RHP Matt Olson, Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.), Sr.
3B Rio Ruiz, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.), Sr.
SS Addison Russell, Pace (Fla.), Sr.
RHP Lucas Sims, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.), Sr.
LHP Matt Smoral, Solon (Ohio), Sr.
1B/RHP Jake Thompson, Rockwall-Heath (Heath, Texas), Sr.
RHP/OF Keegan Thompson, Cullman (Ala.), Jr.
C Stryker Trahan, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.), Sr.
LHP Hunter Virant, Camarillo (Calif.), Sr.
RHP Walker Weickel, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.), Sr.
OF/LHP Jesse Winker, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.), Sr.

Top 10 Class of 2012 right-handed pitchers

January, 27, 2012
1/27/12
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Lucas GiolitoScott Kurtz/ESPNHSHarvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) senior Lucas Giolito is the nation's top right-hander and a likely top 10 pick in June's MLB Draft.

The top Class of 2012 high school baseball players are just weeks away from starting their seasons. It will also be the time when those elite prospects will begin jockeying for draft position.

Each week from now until early March, we’ll take a look at those elite prospects by ranking our Top 10 players by position. This week, we kick it off with a look at right-handed pitchers.

Read More »

Lucas Giolito leads loaded Cali senior class

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
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Hunter Virant, Milwaukee Brewers, Area Code Baseball, Camarillo High SchoolScott Kurtz/ESPNHSCamarillo (Calif.) senior left-hander Hunter Virant went 6-1 last year with a 1.54 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 50 innings.

While the prep baseball season is months away, it's never too soon to evaluate what we'll be watching once the schedule gets under way. “The Golden State” is typically among the three hot spots for amateur baseball with Texas and Florida in terms of producing myriad elite prospects. But it’s California that often produces the most top prospects, and this year is no different.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 California high school prospects in the Class of 2012.

1. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
Giolito, a UCLA recruit, has the velocity — up to 97 mph — and projectability with his 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame to land in the top five in June’s MLB Draft. He sits in the 92 to 94 range with his fastball and also has a pair of promising secondary pitches with his changeup and two-gear breaking ball.

2. Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
Fried, who inked with UCLA along with his high school teammate Giolito, stands a projectable 6-foot-4 and combines consistent mechanics with above-average velocity that reaches 92 miles per hour. Fried, who will pitch in the same rotation as Giolito in 2012, stands a projectable 6-foot-4 and combines consistent mechanics with athleticism and above-average velocity that reaches 92 miles per hour. His changeup and curveball each figure to be average or better offerings, and when the smoke clears, Fried could hear his name called shortly after Giolito somewhere in the top half of the first round.

3. Freddy Avis, RHP, Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.)
Despite lacking the physical frame of some of his in-state rivals at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Avis has good arm speed and a fluid delivery, producing easy velocity in the 90 to 93 mph range and also holstering a curveball. He's believed to be a strong commit to Stanford, but is also likely to be considered in Round 1.

4. Trey Williams, 3B, Valencia (Valencia, Calif.)
Williams is a right-handed hitting prep shortstop who profiles defensively at third base. He's sturdy and strong with a plus arm and good athleticism. His setup needs work but with terrific hands and wrists generates well above-average bat speed that should result in plus power. Williams, a Pepperdine commit, is the son of former big league infielder Eddie Williams, who spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors after being the No. 4 overall selection in the 1983 Draft.

5. Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo (Camarillo, Calif.)
Virant, like Williams and Avis ahead of him, has the capability to soar to at least No. 2 on this list with a strong spring. He offers projection at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds and already boasts a solid to average fastball that has brushed 94 mph in the past. His arm action is somewhat short, but there's plenty of time to figure that out and it's not expected to negatively impact his draft status. The left-hander's mid-70s curveball and potential for added velocity suggest he's among the prep arms with the most upside in any state.

6. Rio Ruiz, 3B, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
Ruiz is a two-sport star at Bishop Amat, where he’s a standout quarterback in the fall and an elite baseball talent in the spring. He handles multiple gigs on the diamond, including on the mound, where he’s touched 93 miles per hour. He runs well (7.1 in the 60), stands 6-foot-2 and about 200 pounds and offers left-handed power. He has good hands and may stick at third if he doesn’t outgrow the position. But if he can’t stick at third, he has good instincts and could transition to right field without any issues.

7. Cody Poteet, RHP, Christian (El Cajon, Calif.)
Packing a bigger fastball than his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame suggests, Poteet is also able to create some plane to his heater that sits at 90 to 93 mph. He throws from around a three-quarter arm slot, which creates some tilt to his curveball. He's a bulldog on the mound and I'm a little bullish on him here at No. 7, but his lack of projection doesn't bother me all that much.

8. Shane Watson, RHP, Lakewood (Lakewood, Calif.)
Watson's arsenal includes a fastball in the 88 to 92 mph range, showing sink and arm side ride, and his frame (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) may produce more velocity down the line. But it may have to come from improved mechanics, primarily better balance and use of his lower half. Watson is committed to USC and should be considered early on Day 1 of the draft.

9. Felipe Perez, RHP, Fairmont Prep (Anaheim, Calif.)
This 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander pitches at 88 to 91 mph but has touched 93 and throws two breaking balls — a 72 to 75 mph curveball and a 77 to 79 mph slider. His arm works well from a high, three-quarter slot and he's performed well in showcase events, something scouts remember throughout the spring.

10. Ryan McNeil, RHP, Nipomo (Nipomo, Calif.)
One could argue that McNeil belongs as high as No. 7 on this lists — the last four players on this are all worthy adversaries. He’s got an aggressive arm with upside, and he’s touched 94 mph with his fastball. He also employs a slider. McNeil has committed to Long Beach State, but he could perform his way into the top 50 of the draft come June. Marina (Marina, Calif.) pitcher Trevor Megill — all 6-foot-7 of him — would have ranked here, but he decided to enroll early at Loyola Marymount.


On the Brink
Corey Oswalt, 3B, James Madison High School (San Diego, Calif.)
Chase DeJong, RHP, Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.)
Nolan Gannon, RHP, Santa Fe Christian (San Diego, Calif.)
C.J. Saylor, C, South Hills (West Covina, Calif.)

NOTES
Right-handers Giolito, Perez and Poteet and southpaws Fried and Virant have all signed with UCLA, which could make for an intriguing class if any number of them pass on pro ball the first time around … Saylor is an elite defensive backstop recruited to San Diego State, where he could catch Gannon if they both ultimately honor their college commitments … Giolito could be the No. 1 overall pick if the Houston Astros buck the building trend of avoiding prep pitchers with the top overall selection. At this stage, only Appling County (Baxley, Ga.) outfielder Byron Buxton rivals Giolito among the country's top prep prospects … The new Collective Bargaining Agreement in Major League Baseball may impact how many high school talents put their professional aspirations on hold for college ball. The new tax that is expected to be introduced this week by the Major League Baseball Players Association and the league will incorporate penalties for clubs that exceed a set amount for signing bonuses in combination for the first 10 rounds. This may or may not abbreviate the bonuses for some top picks.

Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB Draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at churchill@prospectinsider.com.

New Balance Players of the Game: Day 2

August, 6, 2011
8/06/11
4:59
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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.”

Athletics look for strong team in new region

July, 7, 2011
7/07/11
1:26
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The Oakland Athletics changed regions for the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games. For the last two years, they brought the team from the Southeast and some quality players, too. Now they move to their own backyard and look to bring Northern California's best. For the first time in over five years, California will have a seperate Northern California and Southern California team. The Athletics' region actually goes as far South as Bakersfield.

The A's held their only tryout at Banner Island Ballpark, home to their single-A affiliate - Stockton Ports.

One of the youngest players at the tryout was CalHiSports.com State Sophomore of the year, Ryan Tellez. The 2014 infielder is out of Elk Grove (Elk Grove, Calif.). During his batting practice session he hit a couple out of the park and showed some strong opposite field power.

Local product, Giovanni Brusa, showed some pop at the plate, too. Brusa is out of St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.).

The pitchers at the tryout don't get as many reps as one may think to show their stuff. Freddy Avis of The Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.) made the most of it. In the simulated game he topped out at 94mph on the gun, threw is slider 85mph and his curve sat at 75mph. That 20mph difference gave the batters fits.

Harold Abend coverd the tryout in Oakland for ESPN and you can read more of his report here.

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