The third annual Metropolitan Classic high school tournament, hosted by the New York Mets, took place this past weekend. The Northeast Mets squad, coached by current Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi, won the tournament for the first time, using a team filled with players likely to go high in the 2016 and 2017 drafts. The Northeast Mets beat the Orlando-based team Chet Lemon's Juice, a squad with fewer high picks but more balance top to bottom.
The event has been a huge success so far, with 93 players who appeared in the first two Metropolitan Classics selected in subsequent drafts, including 2015 first-rounders Brendan Rodgers, Beau Burrows, Garrett Whitley and Ashe Russell. This year's event had at least five players I'd call potential first-rounders for next year, as well as significant depth thanks in part to a very promising draft class from New England down to Virginia.
Here are some of the things I saw there:
• Infielder Bo Bichette (pictured) of Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, will be compared to his brother, Dante Jr., a former sandwich-round pick who hasn't performed at all in pro ball to date. That's unfair to Bo, who's a better athlete and better hitter than his brother with a good chance to play above-average or better defense somewhere in the infield (second base?). Bo can swing uphill like his brother, collapsing his back side to hit for power, but most of the time in games, he stays more upright, with great recognition of pitch locations and the hand strength to hit line drives the other way. Most of the kids play hard at this event because there's an actual championship at stake, but Bichette stood out for his energy level, too.
• Georgia right-hander Alex Speas of McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia, was the best arm I saw at the event, 92-96 mph with a hard slider that projects to plus and a big mid-70s curveball, but he showed poor command, with a lot of pitches missing the target by a foot. His body is outstanding, like a young Doc Gooden's, but his delivery isn't consistent and he tends to fly open, at which point the four-seamer starts sailing up to his arm side. He's a wild card; if he can calm down the delivery and throw strikes, he's a top-10 pick.
• I don't know where Joe Rizzo is going to end up on the field, but the Oakton High School (Vienna, Virginia) infielder can hit. A little undersized at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Rizzo has strong hands and plenty of hip rotation for both hard contact and power. He was rough at third base, but his body isn't that different from Nolan Arenado's at the same age, and Arenado has certainly developed into a capable third baseman.
• Avery "Friar" Tuck might be the reason for my annual spring pilgrimage to San Diego; the 6-foot-5 outfielder from Steele Canyon High School (Spring Valley, California) can run and has bat speed, although his swing can get long as a result of an extended load, and he hasn't played defense commensurate with his speed when I've seen him.
• Connor Darling of North Gwinnett High School (Suwanee, Georgia) was 91-93 mph with some tailing life and good depth from a 78-81 power curveball, although he had some violence in his delivery, including a head-snap at release. He has a starter's build at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds already, and the life on the fastball might mean he can ease up a little on the effort.
• Hopkinsville, Kentucky right-hander Easton McGee was 89-90 mph with good tilt on an upper-70s slider and some feel for a changeup. He's 6-foot-6, 195 pounds, and very projectable but needs to finish more out over his front side to get better break on the slider and pick up some velocity, too.
• Atlanta-area outfielder Seth Beer is pretty famous after several years on the showcase circuit, and I've seen him hit a lot of balls hard, but I don't love the approach overall, as he can roll over a lot of soft stuff on the outer half. His age -- he'll be older than 19 years, 8 months old on draft day -- will work against him in a lot of draft rooms.
2017 kids: Quentin Holmes, a very young (born July 7, 1999) rising junior from Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in Queens, New York, was the best underclassman at the event, which featured a good selection of potential breakouts for 2017. Holmes showed good bat speed with some loft in his finish, plus running speed and the ability to turn on good velocity. Nick Storz, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound junior from Poly Prep in New York, will turn 18 in January but isn't draft-eligible until 2017 unless he graduates early. He was 88-91 with a sharp, spike-like curveball and a too-firm changeup at 84-85. Brian Morrell, from Shoreham-Wading River High School on Long Island, was 87-89 with good sink and a 71-73 mph curveball with tight spin, a promising combination with a little projection left in his body that should get the fastball up to average. Jordan Adell of Louisville is all projection at this point, born in April of 1999, listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds but looking leaner than that. I like his quick-twitch actions and overall athleticism more than his present baseball skills.