2017 Under Armour All-America Game: National Team Hitter Breakdown
CHICAGO—While pitching was the main story after the 2017 Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, plenty of position players showcased their talents as well, both at the plate and in the field.
In Baseball America's continued coverage of the 10th UA Game, we break down each of the hitters from the National team.
Triston Casas | INF | American Heritage High, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Casas displayed his plus raw power in the home run derby prior to the game, hitting eight homers in his first round. He was one of just two players—along with Nolan Gorman—who left the park to straightaway center field.
During the game, Casas went just 1-for-5, although his one hit happened to be a crucial RBI double in the top of the eighth inning that scored Nander De Sedas and tied the game, 1-1. During that at-bat, Casas squared up an elevated fastball on the outer half and one hopped the fence in left-center.
He just missed a home run in the top of the third inning, getting under an 89 mph fastball from Ben Harris and flying out to the warning track in right field.
Denzel Clarke | OF | Everest Academy, Pickering, Ontario
Clarke went hitless in the game during four at-bats, including two strikeouts but did draw a walk in his first plate appearance in the top of the second inning against Denaburg.
It was a fairly quick at-bat, as Denaburg missed down with three straight 93 mph fastballs—including two in the dirt—before putting a 92 mph pitch over the heart of the plate to get the count to 3-1. Clarke spit on the next pitch, another fastball in the dirt, to take his free pass.
Clarke had several chances in the outfield and camped under a couple of fly balls, but didn’t need to show off the speed and athleticism that he has in his toolbox, or show what kind of an arm he has.
Nander De Sedas | INF | Montverde (Fla.) Academy
After arguably the most impressive home run derby round earlier in the day (De Sedas’ nine homers in his first round were the most of any player) De Sedas started his game with an impressive 7-pitch walk against Ethan Hankins. He swung through the first 96 mph fastball he saw and fouled off a 96 mph fastball up and away with two strikes before watching another 96 mph heater miss on the outside corner.
He grounded out on a 90 mph fastball from Ben Harris in his second at-bat, clocking a 4.37 run time to first out of the righthanded batter’s box.
During his third at-bat he fell victim to an above-average, two-plane curve from Cole Winn, which fell into the dirt but was sharp enough to get De Sedas to swing and miss.
His fourth at-bat was against Garrett Wade, where he did an excellent job keeping his hands back and inside a 90 mph fastball, driving a hard line drive to right field for a single—he wound up on third base after a 2-bag error and scored the National team’s first run of the game one at-bat later. De Sedas’ final at-bat was a strikeout looking against Matthew Liberatore after working the count full and seeing eight pitches.
De Sedas also showed advanced body control while at third base, coming in on a ground ball barely in foul territory and getting rid of the ball quickly and accurately to first from a low arm slot.
Raynel Delgado | INF | Calvary Christian Academy, Miami Lakes, Fla.
After having one of the more impressive batting practices at Northwestern on Thursday from both sides of the plate, Delgado went hitless in four at-bats—three groundouts and a flyout to centerfield.
He reached first base in 4.65 seconds on a groundout to first in his first at-bat and then clocked a 4.50 second home-to-first time on a groundout to second base during his next trip to the plate.
Defensively at second base, Deldgado showed quick lateral movement to his left, picking a ground ball off the bat of Alek Thomas near the grass, spinning and making an accurate throw on the run to beat Thomas—who reached first in 4.26 seconds—to the bag.
Joe Gray Jr. | OF | Hattiesburg (Miss.) High
Gray didn’t have his best performance Saturday night, reaching on an error on a ground ball in his first at-bat of the game and striking out three times, but he did show the quick hands and bat speed that continue to make him intriguing at the plate.
A particularly strong at-bat came against David Luethje in the top of the fifth. Gray started by swinging through two upper 70s curveballs. He then spit on two balls low in the zone to even the count before fouling off a pair of 90 mph fastballs up in the zone to stay alive. The seventh pitch of the at-bat was a 79 curve in the dirt that Gray held back on before he took a borderline 91 mph pitch on the inside corner for strike three.
Gray flashed above-average to plus arm strength on a throw in the top of the seventh inning, after Elijah Cabell doubled to the fence down the right field line over his head. He got rid of the ball quickly without getting his feet completely set or crow-hopping, and the ball still carried well and was accurate to the cutoff man.
Jordan Groshans | INF | Magnolia (Texas) High
Groshans went 1-for-3 at the plate with one of the more impressive hits of the game, a triple to deep right-center in the top of the seventh inning. He took a 77 mph curve from Matt Rudis over the heart of the plate for a strike, then put a charge into a 91 mph fastball on the outside corner on the next pitch.
Groshans uses a fairly big leg kick to start his load, and his foot usually lands just before his hands fire into the swing. On this occasion he did an excellent job keeping his hands back to stay with the pitch and drive the ball to the opposite field with authority.
He rounded first in 4.7 seconds and rounded second in 8.29 seconds. Earlier in the game, Groshans grounded out to shortstop, and clocked a 4.55-second home-to-first time.
Rece Hinds | INF | Niceville (Fla.) High
Hinds had the honor of participating in the home run derby as one of two underclassmen in the All-America game (along with Bobby Witt Jr.) and while he didn’t find the results he was looking for—just four home runs—he did impress fans after the fact by casually snapping his bat over his knee. Power is power, after all.
Hinds had three at-bats during the game and struck out in his first two before getting just under a 90 mph pitch from Liberatore in his third at-bat and flying out to center field.
Noah Naylor | C | St. Joan of Arc, Mississauga, Ontario
Naylor also went 1-for-5 in the game, with his first at-bat being his best, to lead off the top of the second inning against Mason Denaburg. After just missing a 92 mph fastball that was left over the plate, Naylor was caught out in front of another 92 mph pitch down in the zone. On the next offering, Denaburg hung a 79 mph curve over the plate and Naylor made him pay for it, slamming a hard line drive into right field and rounding the bag in 4.22 seconds.
The Canadian backstop rolled over on pitches in his next three at-bats—all groundouts—and flew out to left in his final chance in the top of the 11th inning.
Perhaps the most impressive look from Naylor came when he had his catcher’s gear on, in the bottom of the fourth when Jarred Kelenic attempted to steal second. Naylor exploded out of his stance behind the plate and fired a strike to the bag to catch Kelenic stealing on a close play, eliciting several excited remarks from scouts behind the plate.
Naylor’s receiving wasn’t exceptional for the most part, as he dropped several catchable balls late in the game, but he showed that his arm is a real weapon.
Mike Siani | OF | William Penn Charter, Glenside, Pa.
Siani grounded out to second base during his first at-bat, but ran well down the line (4.25 seconds according to Baseball America’s stopwatch) and was hit by an 81 mph curveball from Matt Rudis during his second trip to the plate.
His third time up, Siani battled with Liberatore for seven pitches, taking two pitches just out of the zone to stay alive, before swinging through a 92 mph fastball up in the zone.
What really stood out about Siani’s night, was when he took the mound in extra innings with little time to properly warmup, pitching 91-92 mostly but touching 94 mph once against Will Banfield while varying the speed of his windup.
Kevin Vargas | INF | International Baseball Academy, Las Mareas de Salinas, Puerto Rico
Vargas got the start for the National team at second base, playing his first three innings there, then moving to shortstop for the fourth and fifth.
The second batter of the game, Vargas saw three mid-90s fastballs from Ethan Hankins before grounding into a 4-6-3 double play on a 79 mph curve, where he posted a 4.26 run time out of the righthanded batter’s box.
In his second at-bat he flew out to left field on an 80 mph changeup against Ben Harris and in his third he squared up a 92 mph fastball from Cole Winn for a hard, low single through the right side of the infield. In his fourth at-bat he flew out to right field vs. Garrett Wade, getting under an 89 mph fastball that was down and in.
Vargas’ final at-bat in the top of the 10th again showed solid contact, as the Puerto Rican infielder took a low curveball against Matthew Liberatore before driving a fastball past third base for his second single of the game.
Vargas didn’t show a ton of present power in-game or during batting practices throughout the week, but has quick hands and a solid line drive swing, showing good feel for the barrel against quality arms.