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Monday, August 10, 2009
Top performers at Area Code

By Ronnie Flores
ESPNRISE.com

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- With just one day left of play at the 2009 Area Codes, we take a look at how the teams and players have fared:

NEW YORK YANKEES
The Yankees haven't been able to get the big hits when they've needed them. They are 0-4 going into their final game Monday. New York has quality position players but its pitching has been prone to ugly innings.

Sean Coyle (Germantown Academy / Chalfont, Pa.) 5-9, 175 INF Sr.
Has displayed the tools that make him comparable to the best infielders in the country. After the Washington Nationals' Joshua Sale, Coyle is in the group of four or five players whose game performances have drawn the most positive reviews.

Mike Antonio (George Washington / New York City) 6-2, 180 SS Sr.
Talented with his glove, Antonio teams with Coyle and center fielder Cito Culver (Irondequoit / Rochester, N.Y.) to give the Yankees strong defense up the middle. One National League Area Scout called this slick-looking fielder "one of the best looking players at the event," but his played tailed off as the week wore along.

Tyler Beede (Lawrence Academy / Auburn, Mass.) 6-4, 180 RHP Jr.
He has a live arm, a great demeanor and has done an outstanding job on the mound. Recognized as one of the top players nationally in the Class of 2011, Beede mentioned the most impressive player he saw was the Milwaukee Brewers' Blue 2011 prospect Travis Harrison and that the two have a friendly rivalry.

Timothy Kiene (Avon Old Farms / South Windsor, Conn.) 6-4, 230 1B Sr.
He broke his hand early in the week, but showed what kind of character he has by gutting it out. Kiene possibly gets his toughness from his father who played in the NHL. He's a classic power hitting first baseman but those types usually don't hit for a average at Blair Field.

More standouts for the Yankees include:
Jessie Biddle (Germantown Friends / Philadelphia) 6-5, 225 LHP Sr.
Kevin Ziomek (Amherst Regional, Mass.) 6-2,180 LHP Sr.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
This team has really impressed, and heads into Monday's unofficial 2009 Area Code Championship Game against the Cincinnati Reds with a gaudy 3-0-1 won-loss record. The A's have a solid group of hitters and a nice blend of speed and defense. They have also done a nice job on the base paths and have nicely worked out of jams.

Kevin Jordan (Northside Columbus, Ga.) 6-1, 190 OF Sr.
This kid has stepped up his game and is hitting well, although he does need to work on putting his bat on the off-speed stuff. Scouts have noticed his live hands and projectable tools.

Paul Kronenfeld (Woodbury Forrest / Greensboro, N.C.) 6-3, 195 OF Sr.
Kronenfeld made an impact in the A's first game, and although he hasn't been on board via base hits that doesn't mean he hasn't made good this week. Plenty of players that are currently making millions have been 0-for at Area Code in year's past. Kronenfeld can do three things well: run, throw and hit.

Ty Linton (Charlotte Christian / Matthews, N.C.) 6-3, 210 OF Sr.
This two-sport standout has been coined "Hard Hittin' Linton" by scribes in the press box for his bat work. He has a quick bat through the zone and is obviously athletic. He can hit with a bat and with his body, as he reportedly will attend the University of North Carolina on a football scholarship.

More standouts for the Athletics include:
"Forrest Koumas (Elgin / Lugoff, S.C.) 5-11, 190 3B/P
"Colby Suggs (Woodberry Forrest / Greensboro, N.C.) 6-0, 230 RHP

TEXAS RANGERS
The Rangers are solid, not spectacular, but they play hard to the last out. Similar to the Washington Nationals, they have improved their performance as the week wore on by making consistent, hard contact with the ball. This is certainly not the most talented Rangers team from a raw skills standpoint compared to what we've seen in past years, but this team takes on the mold of its architect, general manager Randy Taylor, who likes players who just want to win and will do anything to get there. The Rangers enter their last game against the Milwaukee Brewers Blue with a 1-2-1 won-loss record.

Matt Lipka (McKinney, Texas) 6-1, 192 SS Sr.
He's shown he's good with the glove, but even more important, Lipka seemed to control the tempo of the team. As he went, so did the Rangers, as his teammates seemed to follow his lead. Lipka has given a baseball verbal to the University of Alabama. He's made inquiries to walk-on the football team, but if he red shirts in football, he'll have to do the same in baseball so Lipka is not sure he'll be able to do that.

Jacob Felts (Orangefield / Orange, Texas) 6-1, 195 C Sr.
Felts is a strong-bodied backstop who flew to play in the Under Armour All-American game at Wrigley Field in Chicago and hopped on a plane and headed right back to Long Beach. Felts leads by example and his body language is also a big plus.

Brian Ragira (James Martin / Arlington, Texas) 6-2, 180 OF Sr.
A rangy fielder who has made some great catches in the outfield. Ragira has adjusted well to the spacious confines of Blair and the Rangers as a team seem to have adjusted defensively better than most.

Austin Kubitza (Colleyville Heritage / Colleyville, Texas) 6-5, 185 RHP Sr.
Has a mid three-quarter delivery with good deception. Even with that deception, scouts loved the fact he was still throwing strikes.

More standouts for the Rangers include:
Dex Kjerstad (Canyon Randall / Amarillo, Texas) 6-2, 205 OF Sr.
Tyrell Jenkins (Henderson, Texas) 6-4, 175 P Sr.
Jared Lakind (Cypress Woods, Texas) 6-2, 195 1B Sr.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Baseball talent is cyclical, and the talent in the Pacific Northwest is definitely up. One American League Area Scout was in the opinion this team is the most talented overall at Area Code. "They have high-end players," he said. Nationals General manager Ryan Fox felt his club had a strong team concept and played better as the week wore on. After their last game, he also took a moment to inform his team about Area Code director Andrew Drennen of ESPN RISE and the hard work he put it to give the Area Code players the opportunity to compete. The Nationals, who ended the week with a 2-1-2 record, gave Drennen a nice applause.

Sal Arena (Puyallup, Wash.) 6-2, 200 UTL Sr.
This two-sport athlete displayed good bad speed and the intangibles that turn scouts' heads. Another positive for Arena is his plus arm.

Drew Vettleson (Central Kitsap / Bremerton, Wash.) 6-1,185 P/OF Sr.
This jack-of-all trades really made his mark in Long Beach. There is little he can't do on a baseball field. He hits for average and tries to kill everything up the middle. Another plus is Vettleson can really run, as he can go from first to third during a game situation as well as anyone in attendance. Vettleson had a four-hit game early on, several multi-hit games and over a dozen in total to unofficially lead all players in attendance.

Joshua Sale (Bishop Blanchete / Seattle) 6-0, 205 UTL Sr.
For what he did last year at Area Code, Sale (pronounced Saw-lee) drew a lot of attention from scouts, college coaches and media scribes coming in. The attention was deserved, but Sale improved his overall performance from 2008. He's added 10 to 15 pounds of muscle to his already-compact frame and was hitting everything hard. Sale hit behind Vettleson and the duo created scoring opportunities nearly every time through the line-up. In fact, they were the hardest heart of the batting order to put out in Long Beach by a fairly wide margin. Only two home runs have been hit (through Sunday) and Sale has both of them. He went deep to the left side of the scoreboard in right center in the first game of the event on Wednesday and went yard again in the Nationals' closing game, a 9-1 victory over the New York Yankees. There is still some question as to what position he'll play, but as one American League Area Scout remarked, "his bat will find him a position." Based on what he did in the field in Long Beach, it looks like first base will be his eventual position.

Ryan Brett (Highline / Seattle) 5-8, 170 UTL Sr.
A sparkplug for the Nationals, Brett was also a terror on the base paths for the Nationals all week long. Brett often distracted pitchers and was usually on board when the heart of the order came to bat. He's a high-character guy whom was coined a "baseball rat" by the Washington Nationals coaching staff.

More standouts for the Nationals include:
Evan Hudson (Bothell, Wash.) 6-6, 240 RHP Sr.
Spencer O'Neil (Southridge / Kennewick, Wash.) 6-4, 170 OF Jr.
Kyle Olson (Henry Jackson / Mill Creek, Wash.) 6-2, 185 C Jr.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
This team is built on the strength on their arms such as Dylan Bundy (Owasso / Sperry, Okla.), Archie Bradley (Broken Arrow / Muskogee, Okla.) and Jordan Shipers (South Harrison / Bethany, Mo.). Through Sunday, the White Sox have an 0-2-2 record.

Archie Bradley (Broken Arrow / Muskogee, Kansas) 6-4, 210 RHP Jr.
This young pitching prospect has arguably received as much attention from scouts as any player in attendance. He's been a veteran of Area Code for two years and to be a rare three-time attendee next year shows what scouts think of this kid. Last year, he was hitting 90-91 on the gun, and this year he's in the 93-96 range.

Chucky Jones (Boonville, Mo.) 6-3, 230 OF Sr.
Jones is not the prototypical prospect, but scouts love his tools and where he projects. He's struggled in getting hits against the top-level arms in attendance, mainly because he doesn't see high-level pitching at the high school level. Down the line, when he gains experience, he'll have the chance to become a special player. He'll likely be off the board by the end of the first day of next year's draft.

Michael Maddle (Tell City, Okla.) 5-10, 190 C Sr.
Probably the most instinctive player on the White Sox, Maddle is a brain in the classroom and commands respect from his peers. His ceiling for physical growth is not high, but he's always two plays ahead of the action and is a valuable commodity on this team.

Jacob Rice (Union / Tulsa, Okla.) 6-3, 190 SS Sr.
One Area Scout compared him favorably to Tyler Matzek, a first-rounder in this year's MLB draft. The comparison was made because of his long, athletic body and his approach to the game. He runs well and projects as a kid who has a future hitting the ball.

More everyday position standouts for the White Sox include:
Justin O'Connor (Cowan, Muncie, Ind.) 6-0, 190 INF Sr.
Jordan Brown (Blue Springs, Mo.) 5-11, 180 OF
Kenny Mahala (Andrean, Highland, Ind.) 6-2, 210 3B

CINCINNATI REDS
The Reds are a solid ball club that is winning games, sporting a 3-0-1 record. It's not a flashy team, but it has players on the roster who make plays. The Reds also have some solid arms.

Kevin Gausman (Grandview / Centennial, Co.) 6-4, 185 RHP Sr.
One of the better arms in attendance, Gausman has shown quality velocity (90-91 plus) and is a premiere draft prospect. He'll be watched closely in the fall and heading into next spring.

Marcus Littlewood (Pine View / St. George, Utah) 6-2,190 INF Sr.
If any player jumps off the Reds' roster, it's this guy. He's an athletic player with a good arm and an excellent swing.

T. C. Mark (Pinnacle / Phoenix) 6-1, 210 C Sr.
In there is one area where this year's Area Coders crop is a little down, it's the defense behind the plate. Mark is the exception, as he does a good job blocking the plate and controlling the game. With his bat, he's strong at the point of contact.

More everyday position standouts for the Reds include:
Jaycob Brugman (Desert Vista, Phoenix, Ariz.) 6-0, 175 OF Sr.
Kris Bryant (Bonanza, Las Vegas, Nev.) 6-5, 190 INF Sr.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS (BLUE)
They don't possess the overwhelming talent of recent years in regards to position players, but the Blue team does have some premier pitchers. When the pitchers are on, as they were in Friday's 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees, the innings are quick and the bats short. The Brewers Blue team is 2-1-1 heading into Monday.

Christian Lopes (Valencia, Calif.) 6-0, 188 SS Jr.
Another player similar to the White Sox' Archie Bradley in that he could be a three-year Area Code standout next season, Lopes is solid in all aspects of the game. Lopes has good range in the field, and a solid glove, but hasn't played in the field this week. The coaching staff has taken a precautionary measure in allowing him to only DH since he's coming off injury.

Angelo Gumbs (Torrance, Calif.) 6-0, 190 OF Sr.
Talk about a buzz, Gumbs has a lot of people talking, so to speak. "He's on the move up," remarked on National League Area Scout. He's had a strong all-around performance so far this week.

Travis Harrison (Tustin, Calif.) 6-2, 215 3B Jr.
One National League Area Scout remarked that Harrison has one of the top five bats of any player in attendance. His strength definitely stands out.

Tyler Kuresa (Oakmont, Roseville, Calif.) 6-3, 185 1B Sr.
This kid has one of the nicest swings in Long Beach, a smooth stroke that he uses to make consistent contact.

Peter Tago (Dana Point, Calif.) 6-3, 180 RHP Sr. Tago can get the ball over the plate consistently. Strikes come in bunches and he also has good command of his pitches.

Gabriel Encinas (St.Paul / Santa Fe Springs, Calif.) 6-4, 200 RHP Sr.
With an arm that has topped out at 94 mph, Encinas has impressed scouts. Tago, Encinas, Valdez and Aaron Sanchez (Barstow, Calif.) are pitchers with what they call "now" velocity. When the Blue team's pitchers are on, they have the ability to shut down batters on a consistent basis.

Jesus Valdez (Port Hueneme, Oxnard, Calif.) 6-3, 185 RHP Sr.
Kid with a big arm has displayed a fastball with a lot of sink. When he's on, and he has been on a few occasions in Long Beach, he makes hitters swing and miss often.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS (GRAY)
This team doesn't have some of the beef of the power teams such as the New York Yankees, but that could be deceiving. Size is not as important as strength in many aspects of the game and the Gray club has some players that catch eyes on a second look. The Gray team checks in with a 2-3-0 won-loss record heading into Monday.

Joc Pederson (Palo Alto, Calif.) 6-1, 185 OF Sr.
Scouts love his athleticism and when you combine that with his solid bat, you have the makings of a player who can get things done.

Brando Tessar (Chaminade / West Hills, Calif.) 6-1, 185 RHP Sr.
He's the stepson of former Major League catcher Tim Laker, and has a number of tools. In fact, he has tremendous potential as a two-way threat.

Cory Hahn (Mater Dei / Santa Ana, Calif.) 5-10, 160 OF Sr.
Similar to Pederson and others on the Gray club, Hahn does not overwhelm with his physical makeup, but he is quite effective. Scouts seem torn on what Hahn's future will be. There seems to be no middle ground on his potential as the scouts we spoke to have a love/hate relationship with him.

A.J. Vanegas (Redwood Christian / San Lorenzo, Calif.) 6-3, 200 RHP Sr.
He can throw strikes on a consistent basis and was clocked at 92 mph on the radar gun. Many scouts in the stands and reporters in the press box commented on his performance in the Blue team's second game on Saturday after they were routed by the Washington Nationals in the first game of the twin bill. He got the Brewers back on track with a spectacular performance as the starting pitcher against the White Sox. He took command on the mound and set the tone for the game.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor of ESPN RISE. If you're an ESPN Insider, check out Keith Law's analysis here. For more information, check out the ESPN RISE baseball blog. For Area Code updates, follow us on Twitter. For more information on the Area Code Games, click here.