- Keith Law, ESPN Insider
USA Baseball holds a showcase event every June at its complex in Cary, North Carolina; it's called the Tournament of Stars and features many of the best high school players from across the country. The ostensible goal of the event is to assemble the 18-and-under (called "18U") team to represent the US in the IBAF 18U World Championships this July, but it's also a popular event with scouts because a good chunk of the first-round talents in the high school class for 2011 are here, along with a handful of 2010 draftees who are still age-eligible and a few premium players for 2012. Some of these kids were worn out from the long spring when they got here, and the 99-degree heat didn't help, but here are some quick bullets on major names who appeared today.
• Indianapolis RHP Christian Montgomery was 89-93 with a very sharp curveball with some angle and great depth, although several ended up in the dirt. He also flashed a slider and struck out six in three innings of work. His main negative at the moment is his girth: he's listed at 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, and he's really not in game condition. If he drops 20-25 pounds by next spring, he could easily be a first-rounder with two above-average pitches and an arm that works well.
• Joe Ross, brother of Tyson Ross from the Oakland Athletics, doesn't have Tyson's scary arm action, with a more fluid delivery and higher slot -- although like his older brother he does land stiffly on his front leg. He was 90-91 but has the potential for a lot more, with other scouts telling me they'd seen him up to 94 recently.
• RHP Dillon Maples of West End, North Carolina struggled, lasting just one inning and facing nine batters. He was 90-91 with no command, but I like his short arm action and late release point, and he's also thrown much harder earlier in the spring.
• Two Vanderbilt commits were on display in RHP Tyler Beede and LHP Philip Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer has an insane, herky-jerk, rush-to-the-plate delivery and worked at 86-89 with good downhill plane and a mid-70s curveball, attacking hitters while he appears to be coming to tackle them. Beede is the more advanced prospect, touching 92 with a two-seamer at 90 that had bat-breaking tail and a short slider with good tilt. He commanded his fastball to both sides and showed a pretty good approach for setting hitters up. Neither will be an easy sign next spring, but I could see Beede rising enough to the point where someone buys him out.
• Colorado catcher Greg Bird, who caught Kevin Gausman in high school, showed a good left-handed stroke with strong hands and excellent extension. The consensus right now is that he won't catch in pro ball, but he's a decent athlete and I don't think it's a lock that he changes positions.
• Two names to keep in mind for 2012: Albert Almora, a very toolsy outfielder from Miami; and Lance McCullers, son of the big leaguer of the same name, a two-way player with one of the most electric fastballs of any high school pitcher in the country right now.
Keith Law is down at the Tournament of Stars in Cary, North Carolina, where he's scouting some of the top 2011 (and 2012) MLB draft talent. Names to know early: Joe Ross (younger brother of Tyson Ross from the A's) and Christian Montgomery.