Juan Soto isn’t the only big baseball addition heading to San Diego. The Five Tool scouting department and the best media man in amateur baseball are making a trip west to cover the prestigious Area Code games. If you’re unfamiliar with Area Code, professional scouts hold tryouts across their respective areas and select a roster to take to San Diego to compete against other rosters hand-picked by scouts in their respective areas. Basically, it’s one of the premier scouting events for high school players because area scouts, crosscheckers, scouting directors and general managers will all be in attendance.

Okay, so that introduction is a tad ridiculous, but it’s because we’re excited, to say the least, and not just because we’ll be leaving a ridiculous and miserable streak of days exceeding 100 degrees for the best weather in America. What are some of the things we’re looking forward and will be folloing closely? Drew Bishop and I share five each:

Drew’s Five

1. The number one thing I want to see in San Diego, regardless of age, is how guys move and carry themselves. Part of why we like to see guys in person as much is for this reason. The iPhone or camera can only tell so much about a player and getting eyes on guys against the best competition in the country in front of college and pro scouts can serve as a major springboard or, conversely, as a major reason for pause for decision makers. Things I will be watching are how hard are guys playing, how hard they run to first, how they react to failure, and how others respond to and interact with them.

2. Which guys go from being on the local and state radars to national names? In the past, pro scouts would have had a longer time to dig into the 2023 class. But with a later draft date, the exposure window has been condensed. Most already know about Blake Mitchell, but from the 2023 class, I am going to pick Zane Adams (LHP – Porter – Alabama commit) and Aden Howard (OF – Hebron – DBU commit).

Porter has had a big summer after returning from an ankle injury during his high school season. Aden Howard is a guy I am excited to see on the national stage with the summer he has had thus far. For me, Aden was one of those guys that you show up to the park to see some other names on the list but you see him move around and start asking “Who’s THAT?!.” The thing that excites me the most about Aden is that he seemingly is better every time out. I will have my eye on those two the most from the 2023 group.

3. Who carries the banner for the 2024 class in Texas? With 2023 seemingly being led by Blake Mitchell and Travis Sykora (RHP/IF – Round Rock – Texas commit) and 2025 led by the triumvirate of Marcos Paz (RHP – Hebron – uncommitted), Kayson Cunningham (MIF – SA Johnson – Texas Tech commit), and Luke Billings (RHP/C/OF – Prosper – Tennessee commit), who will separate themselves as THE elite of the elite in Texas?

4. GRASS! I am very much looking forward to watching infielders play on grass. I am a huge proponent of turf from an operational standpoint and always have been, but I do want to see how the infielders react to dirt and how they attack and maneuver to the ball. This will be an interesting test for some who probably haven’t played on much of it this summer and maybe even spring depending on their high school field.

5. Who are some out of state players committed to Texas schools to get familiar with? Here is a list of names currently committed to schools in Texas that we will get a look at over the course of the week:

Brett Antolick – RHP – Hazleton Area (PA) – Texas A&M
Casey Borba – IF – Orange Lutheran (CA) – Texas
Will Gasparino – OF – Harvard Westlake (CA) – Texas
Gavin Grahovac – IF/OF/C – Villa Park (CA) – Texas A&M
Evan Miranda – RHP – Orange Lutheran (CA) – Texas
Myles Naylor – IF – St. Joan of Arc Catholic (Canada) – Texas Tech
Robert Orloski – RHP – Middleton (ID) – UTSA
Carl Schmidt – IF – Marin Catholic (CA) – Texas A&M
Cole Selvig – RHP – Regis HS (WI) – Texas
Josh Tiedemann – 3B – Hamilton (AZ) – TCU
Zach Wadas – 1B – Hamilton (AZ) – TCU

As I scrolled through all of the Area code rosters, it was interesting to see where different schools focus their recruiting. In areas that aren’t college baseball hotbeds, who comes to raid those areas? I think there will be a large shift in national recruiting for some schools if D1 baseball does, in fact, move to full scholarships which may be on the horizon. But that is a topic for another day.

Dustin’s Five

1. I’d argue no hitter in the state has raised his profile as much as Southlake Carroll’s Ethan Mendoza. After a terrific junior season and a 6A state title, Mendoza has hit everywhere he’s gone this summer, including an outstanding performance at our AABC Don Mattingly World Series and maybe an even better one at the AABC Connie Mack World Series against many arms a year older than him.

An Arizona State commitment, Mendoza has quickly and impressively rocketed up the list of position players who are in the conversation as the best pure hitter in the state. Consistently making quality contact, timing pitches and recognizing the ball out of the hand seemingly come naturally to Mendoza, who puts together the type of excellent at-bats that make you wonder if his baseball brain works a different way than other hitters. Oh, he’s also played an impressive shortstop, too.

A lot of events separate who can really hit from the pack – Jett Williams proved this last summer – because there’s nowhere to hide when every roster is loaded with the nation’s best arm talent. I’m betting on Mendoza emerging as one of the most discussed hitters in the event.

I think you could describe Aden Howard (Hebron) similarly because he too has rocketed up evaluators’ lists, although his ascent has more to do with intriguing all-around tools, exciting production and projection than Mendoza’s bat being maybe the best right-handed hit tool in the state.

2. Sinton do-it-all megatalent and LSU commitment Blake Mitchell is unquestionably one of the top prospects and players in the nation. So, a lot of very important scouting eyes will be especially interested in his performance and how it stacks up in the same event that includes so many other prospects that are at or around his level. Fair or not, Mitchell is going to be compared to the history of his position – there simply haven’t been many prep catchers selected in the first round and that’s partially because of the success rate.

But I’d argue Mitchell is different. We haven’t seen many catching prospects like him and he’s so skilled and talented he could legitimately play anywhere on the diamond, which includes being a day one MLB Draft talent as a pitcher. If Mitchell’s bat stands out in San Diego, it’s possible he’d solidify his status as the type of prep catching talent worth drafting and paying first-round money. Along those lines, it’ll be fun to see how Mitchell and others stack up against some of the biggest names and best prospects in America. In addition to covering the Texas players extensively, we’ll have our eyes on many of the top national players, too.

How could we not want to see Max Clark (Franklin Community; Indiana) and his electric bat speed and extremely exciting tools in the outfield? Clark, known for his excellent competitiveness, could be the next prep player to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2023 MLB Draft and is a must-watch attraction anytime he steps onto the diamond. Or what about Oregon commitment and Aquinas (California) shortstop Eric Bitonti? He’s an extremely exciting talent offensive and defensively and one of the headliners on a loaded Brewers team that features a long list of exciting prospects. Could Bitonti and Noble Meyer (Jesuit; Oregon) team up at Oregon? Meyer, along with Justin Lee, is one of the pitching prospects I’m most excited to see and could be in the mix as the top prep arm in the country. Meyer recently made YouTube legend and famous baseball content creator Eric Sim, KingOfJuco, look silly by blowing gas by him and snapping off nasty, plus sliders. Roch Cholowsky, a UCLA commitment, is a slick shortstop with loud tools who is the next superstar from Hamilton High School (Arizona) and will help lead the way for the Cincinnati Reds. And the list could go on and on…

3. Who emerges from the tier of intriguing pitching prospects that could make a jump to join the top tier? Travis Sykora (Round Rock) is a safe bet to throw extremely hard, extremely effectively and remain one of the most discussed prep pitching names in the top tier of any MLB Draft list. I’d be surprised if Zane Adams (Porter) and Barrett Kent (Pottsboro) don’t solidify themselves as premier pitching talents in the state and Mason Bixby (SA Johnson) and Brayden Sharp (The Woodlands) will have a chance to do that, too; I’m particularly interested in seeing Sharp, a recent Tennessee commitment, again because I saw him touch 95 MPH during the regular season and then he looked a bit fatigued in the playoffs at 88-91 MPH.

But what about some newer names on the big-time evaluation scene, like Jackson Brasseux (North Lamar), Gavyn Jones (White Oak) and Alexander Solis (Weslaco East)? Solis was extremely impressive during a live look at the Texas Scouts Association Prospects All-Star Game and Brasseaux showed major intrigue during an early June look. I haven’t seen Jones yet, but he was exceptional during the AABC Connie Mack Qualifier, which led to Texas Tech immediately securing his commitment. And Blake Julius has shown flashes of becoming a major dude, too.

It’s not a guarantee, but I’d bet on at least one arm exceeding expectations and establishing himself as a player scouts will have to follow closely next season.

4. As for the underclass group, my appreciation for Kayson Cunningham is well-known in Five Tool circles. So, I won’t spend paragraphs discussing how good of a hitter the 2025 prospect from San Antonio Johnson is. Let’s just say I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t perform well even as a 2025 prospect against the best 2024 competition in the nation. And the same could be said about the other 2025 prospects on the Texas Rangers team – Luke Billings, Marcos Paz, Taylor Tracey and Minjae Seo. They’re all established, famous talents in the state even as 2025 players.

Of the 2024 prospects, I’m especially excited to see how Wyatt Sanford (Frisco Independence) performs and how his tools stack up against the rest of the nation. After seeing him for the first time during our Pudge Rodriguez World Classic, I began to wonder if he could become the top infielder prospect in the state for 2024 and maybe push his way into the No. 1 discussion. He was that impressive and looked excellent physically with good run times.

5. Because I haven’t seen them or haven’t seen them in person as much as the other 2024 players on the list, I’m especially excited to watch two-way talent Donte Lewis (Shadow Creek), outfielder Nathan Tobin (Eaton) and infielder David Hogg II. All three look like they have some of the best future tools in the 2024 class and all three could be standout hitters.

 

Podcast

Listen to our podcast from this week when we discuss some of the big national names we’re looking forward to seeing, dissect both Texas rosters and laugh about Drew’s Area Code story when he was smoked in the 60-yard dash by Greg Golson and had his updated height broadcast over the speakers.

 

Dustin McComas and Drew Bishop
Five Tool Baseball

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