Commentary

Royals have strong workout in Northwest

Originally Published: June 29, 2011
By Jason A. Chruchill | ESPNHS.com

Pasco, Wash. -- About 30 scouts from various Major League Baseball clubs and colleges from east and west were in attendance to witness nearly 70 players from the northwest region of the country hit Gesa Stadium in Pasco Monday to strut their stuff for the Area Codes team coached by the Kansas City Royals. Absent were several of the area's top prospects for the classes of 2012 and 2013, but the cupboard isn't empty, thanks to some live arms and a crop of solid young catchers.

It was a long day in the sun, admitted Skyline (Wash.) High School catcher Jimmy Sinatro, but that didn't stop him from pushing through. "I have to fix these hacks," he said of his first round of batting practice. Sinatro is one of a handful of backstops to impress. For the record, Sinatro, a 5-foot-10 185-pounder and the son of former big league catcher Matt Sinatro, looked strong his second time in the cage, squaring up pitches to all fields.

Here are the rest of the highlights of the day:

Michael Rucker, RHP  Auburn Riverside (Wash.) High School
Rucker stands just 6-feet and is listed at 180 pounds, but he packs a punch with his 89-91 mph fastball that displayed late armside run and exploded out of his hand. His breaking ball was a slider that showed a tight spin at 79-81 mph but he didn't have a good feel for it on this day. His changeup came in around 80 mph with good fade, and while the pitch presently lacks ideal sinking action, his arm speed is good. He throws from a high three-quarter slot, repeated his compact delivery well, leading to the life on his four-seamer. Rucker was the most impressive pitcher in the ballpark.

Marty Luckenbach, RHP  Woodinville (Wash.) High School
Luckenbach showed sound mechanics for a 6-foot-6 kid that will not turn 17 until August, and matched Rucker's fastball velocity in the 89-91 mph range. He also showed some life with the pitch and his 68-70 mph curveball had depth when he finished through it. He did slow his delivery down a bit on the offspeed stuff, which won't play well against good competition down the road. He's projectable and could add velocity over the next year or so and sit low-90s or better which could get him into Day 1 contention come draft time.

Zach Torson, RHP  Mountain View (Wash.) High School
Torson's fastball was clocked at 85-86 mph with a useful curveball in the upper 60s, but his changeup showed sink and future promise, despite the fact that he was unable to find his release point with it until he punched out Hutton Moyer with his best one of his session.

Dustin Driver, RHP  Wenatchee (Wash.) High School
Driver touched 87 mph, though the pitch is true and he left it up in the zone often during his turn on the mound. His changeup (79-80 mph) was straight, but had good deception and he kept it well below the knees of the batter. His delivery is easy and there could be a little more velocity in there despite his lack of physical projection at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds.

Nick Bland, RHP  Tualatin (Ore.) High School
Bland, a strong right-hander at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, used a low-effort delivery to get to 87 mph on the radar, and though he sat 84-85 mostly there was some late life to it and he located well. He offers a low-70s curveball and a changeup in the 78-80 mph range that he threw with confidence.

Reese McGuire, C  Kentwood (Wash.) High School
McGuire, art of the class of 2013, impressed defensively with his quick feet, sound throwing technique and quick transfer, tossing out pop times (catch, pop up, transfer, then throw to second base) of 1.89, the best mark of the day, 1.92 and 1.97. His arm strength is about average, but could get better as he matures physically. He ran a 7.14 60 time, the fastest of all of the catchers, and that athleticism showed all day long. At the plate the lefty bat gets through the ball well with a line-drive stroke and went the other way well. He'll need to get stronger in general, but he just turned 16 in March and was the most impressive backstop in camp.

Matt Decker, C  Jesuit (Ore.) High School
Decker, another 2013 prospect, had one of the best arms and pop times among the catchers and showed good leverage and loft in the cage. He's a strong 6-foot-4 and 192 pounds and could easily outgrow the position, but his bat and arm strength could play in right field, if necessary, and he runs well enough to suggest he won't have problems with range.

Andrew Pullin, OF  Centralia (Wash.) High School
Pullin ran one of the faster 60 times of the day at 6.95 seconds and showed slightly above-average arm strength in throwing drills from right field, thanks a solid setup and quick release. His stroke from the left side is simple and he showed good bat speed, letting pitches get deep before committing to the swing. The left-handed hitter produced several line drives to center and left-center field.

Three middle infielders stood out Monday; Cabe Reiten from Academy Northwest (Wash.), Tyler Campbell of Lake Oswego (Ore.) High School and Lane Richards from Pendleton (Ore.) High School .

Reiten and Campbell are both listed as shortstops and showed an ability to stay there long term while Richards, listed as a second baseman, looked strong fielding and throwing from shortstop. Richards' arm strength is about average, but he gets throws off quickly and was very accurate.

Reiten is a sturdy 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds and was impressive on balls in the hole, going to his left and coming in, bested only by Campbell in all areas. Campbell was smooth, showing great hands, a quick, easy transfer and enough arm strength to buy as a shortstop for the long haul.

Campbell will need to get stronger to develop a little more punch at the plate, but he squared up balls well, especially to his pull side.

Best Fastball: Rucker
Rucker and Luckenbach both sat 89-91, but Rucker gets the nod here due to the late life and run on the pitch.

Best Breaking Ball:
Nick Sagendorf, RHP  Mead (Wash.) High School
Sagendorf, a projectable 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, spun an above-average curveball at 69-72 mph that could develop into a power breaking ball as he fills out and makes mechanical adjustments, possibly including a change in grip on the pitch.

Rucker had the best slider, but he was unable to throw it for strikes in the short time he was on the mound.

Best Changeup:
Andrew Sopko, RHP  Loyola Sacred Heart High School (Mont.)
Sopko complemented his mid-80s fastball with a 76-78 mph changeup that showed above-average sink and some tailing action away from the left-handed batter. He maintained consistent arm speed to provide some deception and appeared comfortable throwing the pitch during live at-bats.

Best Outfield Arm:
Alex Hardy  Emerald Ridge(Wash.) High School, Mitchell Gueller, WF West (Wash.) High School , Tyler Carlson, Enumclaw (Wash.) High School.
All three displayed above-average to plus arm strength and solid accuracy to go with good throwing mechanics, sometimes a forgotten aspect of throwing consistently.

Best Infield Arm:
Reiten, Shelton, Garret Anderson, Emerald Ridge High School (Wash.)
The trio, all shortstops, put good velocity on their throws with quick releases and accuracy.

Best Power Bat:
Brett Bafaro, C  Liberty (Ore.) High School, Theo Alexander, OF  Lake Washington (Wash.) High School
Both left-handed hitters get the honor here for different reasons. Bafaro consistently caught the sweet spot, driving balls deep to center and right-center field, staying back and exploding through the pitch. Alexander was a bit out front, but his pull power was well above-average, hitting the day's only home run over the wall in straight-away right. Alexander also showed some athleticism in the field and just missed the cut for best outfield arm.

Others that showed good abilities at the plate include Pullin, Puyallup (Wash.) High School OF Joey Crunkilton, Travis Key from Ferris (Wash.) High School, Carlson, Landon Cray from Chimacum (Wash.) High School and Sam Brown, an outfielder from Jackson (Wash.) High School.

Jason A. Churchill covers the MLB Draft, scouting and player development for ESPN Insider. He is the founder and Executive Editor of ProspectInsider.com. You can find him on Twitter at @ProspectInsider and @ESPN_MLBDRAFT, and you can e-mail him at Churchill@ProspectInsider.com.