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Baseball HS All-American Games Impressions

by Steve Garrity on Aug. 16, 2010
This past weekend was the high schoolers time to shine, with the top two high school All-American games taking place. First on the slate Saturday was the “B” game – the Under Amour All-American held at Wrigley Field. Though it did feature several top players from the 2011 draft class, I couldn’t help but feel let down by the overall showing, with several pitchers showing a lack of control and sloppy team defense. Few players truly stood out or improved their overall standing among Major League teams. The rosters also included two extremely raw 15 year old players from the Dominican Republic, Ronniel Demorizi and Ronald Guzman, both who will be eligible to sign as free agents next July and both of whom looked very overmatched during the game. Next on the docket was the Aflac All-American game, held on Sunday at Petco Park. I was looking forward to this one the most, as it always features the top upcoming seniors, with players more developed and able to put on a better show. This game certainly proved to be the case this year. The game MVP Tyler Marlette popped a two-run homer in the fourth for the East and for the West, and Phil Evans went 2-3 with two walks and a run while providing some nice infield assists at short in a losing effort. It is no shock that the players that stood out the most were on the offensive side, since these showcase games are basically here for pitching and offense- with defense usually being the last to show. Offense was definitely king this year.


The Under-Amour All-American game featured some good names for the 2011 MLB Draft. Bubba Starling impressed in his one inning of work and could be this year's Zack Lee, although he probably won’t be as tough of a sign. In addition, Dwight Smith Jr. proved to have one of the quickest bats in the class and Chris McFarland played extremely well during the game, displaying his speed and showing why he is one of the top names in the 2011 class.

In trying to find one player who impressed me the most and one player who impressed me the least amongst these two games, the two names that stuck out with me happened to be playing in the same game, for the same team. These were Dante Bichette Jr. and Brandon Nimmo.

Bichette is obviously the better known commodity amongst fans, as his father is former ML All-Star Dante Bichette, he led his team to the Little League World Series, and he is one of the top players in Florida. It is not hard to see why scouts like the younger Dante, as he is big and strong at 6'1" and 215 lbs, he moves decently at third (he made a nice play charging a grounder in the middle innings), and when he connects it goes a long way. While watching the game though, one prominent flaw kept sticking out. When in the batter's box Bichette likes to use an open stance, which many players utilize, but Jr.’s problem is that he bails out badly swinging at pitches, meaning he steps towards third instead of the pitcher. This leaves him very susceptible to anything on the outside half of the plate and kills his overall plate coverage. In his at-bats, Bichette struck out on a pitch on the outside corner, grounded out to second, lined out to second muscling off an inside fastball, and singled in two runs. The one pitch he was able to hit out of the infield was an inside fastball- the part of the plate he will have no problem covering with his current approach. Bichette is also very off-balanced during his swings; he is no doubt up there to do one thing- homer. His problem is he swings so hard, he lands on his heels and spins himself around. With this many flaws noticeable in a high school all-star, it makes you wonder how he will fare against more advanced pitching or if his hit-tool will ever transfer to the professional ranks.

As for the player that intrigued me the most, his name is Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo is known amongst scouts, but you would be hard pressed to find many fans that knew who he was. After this weekend it may be a little easier. Brandon Nimmo is from Wyoming. The only problem with that is there is no high school baseball. He is stuck playing legion and only legion to get his baseball fix. Luckily he has had no problem dominating. He won the 2010 state tournament MVP and has made his way onto the showcase circuit. Playing in the Tournament of Stars this year, a showcase to help build for the U-18 World Championship, Nimmo showed off a solid setup and approach, with a nice smooth left-handed stroke. He also has above-average speed and a solid arm in the outfield. At the Under-Amour game he did the exact same thing, winning game MVP honors, with a triple and a single to go with two RBI's and a run scored. He also made a play in leftfield foul territory at Wrigley Field, getting to a ball that could have given Alfonso Soriano trouble. At the plate Nimmo showed that same approach for the Tournament of Stars, with good plate coverage and solid pitch recognition. His quick compact stroke should allow him to make consistent contact wherever he plays. Brandon no doubt proved he is a name to follow for the 2011 draft; it will be interesting to see where he falls if he has not found a high school team and other players from the class have had their spring seasons. Nimmo has the size and build at 6' 3" and 180 lbs that scouts love to see, and has great athleticism and a very good hit tool. The potential is definitely there for him to succeed. His only problem right now is going to be leaving Wyoming and finding a high school team to play with.