By BLAINE CLEMMENS
One of the most important positions on the field is shortstop. And from a scouting perspective, the position takes on added significance.
It is common for a high school team’s best overall athlete to be the shortstop. That doesn’t always mean he is the best player or the most polished player, just the best athlete.
When a scout arrives at a high school game, there is a progression of where his eyes go as he scans the players on the field. He starts with the pitcher then he goes to the shortstop. When he sees the shortstop, maybe he will feel like he is seeing the next Jimmy Rollins, but more likely he could be seeing the next B.J. Upton or Sergio Santos.
Upton may be a center fielder and Santos a closer, however both were shortstops in high school. Upton eventually was moved to center field where his plus speed, plus arm and overall athleticism serve him better than they did in the infield, where he made too many fundamental fielding mistakes. Santos didn’t hit enough in the minor leagues to make it as a position player but his plus plus arm remained a valuable asset and he quickly made the transition to the mound.
You see, the best athletes have tools, and it’s the tools scouts are after. The position, well, frankly doesn’t matter.
Of course, scouts still want to find a high school shortstop who can become the next Jimmy Rollins, but that’s a long shot. Their job simply is to find and draft the tools, and then put those tools in the hands of their mechanics “” the player development staff.
So who are some of the talented high school shortstops in the Bay Area? Among the seniors, Max Dutto of San Ramon Valley High is a good one. He is a left-handed hitting shortstop (always an extra-valued commodity) who is headed to Cal next fall. Drew Jackson of Miramonte High is probably the area’s best overall athlete at the shortstop position. He is headed to Stanford where he may or may not move to another position, like his brother Brett (now a highly-touted OF prospect for the Cubs). Both Jackson’s played in Bay Area World Series.
Freddy Avis of Menlo School is a two-way player (SS/RHP), and in addition to being one of the top high school right-handed pitchers in the nation, he can also really swing the bat.
Some juniors I have seen and liked a bit are Brett Binning of Monte Vista, Logan Lanza of Rodriguez-Fairfield, Steven McLean t Los Altos, and Chris Baker of St. Francis-Mountain View. Lanza, McLean, and Baker will all be at BAWS 2012.
Sophomore Bryson Brigman of Valley Christian-San Jose is already on the national radar due to his big time hitting tools.
There are many local players having very good statistical seasons. Performance matters to a scout, but just not quite as much as talent and tools “” so long as there is some performance with the talent and the tools.
Blaine Clemmens is the founder and director for the Bay Area World Series showcase event that will celebrate its ninth year this June. He has been a Bay Area scout for several years, spending time as the recruiting coordinator for USF and the Northern Californa scouting supervisor for the Atlanta Braves. For more information on the Bay Area World Series, visit www.bayareaworldseries.com
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