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First report from Under Armour game

8/10/2009

Here's my first report from the 2009 Under Armour All-America Game, played Saturday at Wrigley Field in Chicago:

• The best pitcher of the day was right-hander Jameson Taillon, from The Woodlands, Texas. Taillon was throwing 93-95 mph with hard bore and threw a sharp 83-84 mph slider in striking out the three hitters he faced. He's 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, a great workhorse build, and uses his height to stay on top of the ball and get some downhill plane.

• Right-hander Karsten Whitson, from Chipley, Fla., wasn't far behind Taillon with a 91-94 mph fastball, a 79-84 mph slider with good tilt, and a changeup at 79-80 mph with good tumbling action, like a split-change would have. At 6-4, 195, he comes from a high three-quarter slot and drives his pitches down the zone, but he does hook his wrist at the beginning of his delivery and he didn't show the command that Taillon did.

• Right-hander A.J. Cole, from Winter Springs, Fla., showed a 90-93 mph fastball with a great, projectable 6-5, 190-pound frame, although his breaking ball wasn't as sharp at 73-79 and he doesn't move his fastball around as well as the previous two pitchers.

• Right-hander Kevin Gausman, from Grandview, Colo., showed more velocity on Saturday (92-93) than he did at the Area Code Games earlier in the week, and showed an upper-80s two-seamer with some tailing action, but he's still caught between a curveball and a slider and doesn't have a viable second pitch yet.

• Right-hander Andrew Smith, from Roswell, Ga., took a few pitches to get up to speed but settled in at 92-93. He threw a couple of short downer curves before finishing his outing with a pair of two-planers, all in the mid-70s, and was extremely aggressive on a day when most pitchers after the third inning struggled to throw strikes.

Deshun Dixon was one of the many two-way players in this game, but he was much better on the mound, where he sat at 88-91 from the left side and showed two breaking balls, throwing a short, tight curve at 75-78 for most of his outing but mixing in one big, slow one at 69. The harder pitch is more likely to be a weapon for him in pro ball, and his arm is very quick. At the plate, he's absurdly short to the ball, with no load, no stride, and no forward momentum - see ball, hit ball.

Stetson Allie, from Olmstead Falls, Ohio, was 90-95 on the mound and showed more fastball command than he did last week at the East Coast Showcase, where he walked three guys and hit two batters during his second inning, sending several upper-90s fastballs to the backstop. As a hitter, he has some glide but has quick hands and uses his upper body to generate power already. He's athletic enough to play third base if he doesn't outgrow the position. Because he's so raw on the mound -- he's just an arm strength guy, with poor command and no second pitch -- I'd draft him as a position player unless we see major progress from him as a pitcher in the spring.

• The hitting star of the game was Archbishop McCarthy third/first baseman Nick Castellanos, from Davie, Fla. Castellanos had four doubles, two to pull and two the other way, none cheap. He has very strong hands and wrists and generates power through bat speed even though he's not huge, although you can expect him to get stronger down the road.