Area Code Games: Hitter Notes II

Nebraska prep C Jakson Reetz

Kiley shares more notes on hitters from the Area Code Games in Long Beach, CA. There are a number of elite prep hitters in this year's class from non-traditional states for top prospects.

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The only guy in this article, focusing on top hitters at Area Codes from non-traditional states for prep prospects, that made my High School Top 30 was Nebraska C Jakson Reetz (Nebraska commit). Unlike most prospects, he's been a little different in Long Beach than he was when I saw him in early June in Minneapolis. He looks like he's put on a few pounds in his upper body since then but is a little stiffer at the plate (and as you can see above, he doesn't have the loosest swing in the world) looks a step slower and his swing path has changed.

The swing path is the most easily fixable thing here. As you can see in the above video, Reetz loads his hands early but manages to keep them high enough to not be uppercutting the ball, with more of a linear stroke. It isn't ideal but he made so much hard contact in games at the PG National and Tournament of Stars that you can look past it, similar to Hunter Pence. In Long Beach, Reetz looks a little less athletic and in both BP and games, his hands are wandering down before he swings, so he's forced to uppercut at any pitch in the zone. He's still making some hard contact but this swing is less repeatable in pro ball than the swing in the video.

An area scout that's seen Reetz a good bit says his swing changes a good bit month-to-month and didn't seem too concerned about this development. Reetz was an average runner that projected for average power and at least an average bat in Minneapolis with a good chance to stay behind the plate due to his quick actions and above average arm. I'm a little more dubious about him now and he won't be easy to scout this spring with the weak competition in Nebraska. If he looks like this all spring, I'd see him as more of a project in the 2nd-3rd rounds but I think Reetz will be able to recapture the form of earlier this summer and possibly find his way into the late first round.

Four other hitting prospects from flyover states have impressed in their own ways at Area Codes after some solid showings earlier in the summer that got them on the radar: Missouri CF Monte Harrison (Nebraska commit), Wisconsin CF Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt commit), Iowa SS Ryan Lillard (Kansas State commit) and Montana C Slade Heggen (Oregon commit). Harrison is an impressive 6'3/200 physical specimen that's also a football recruit and has plus speed and above average arm to help him profile in center field. He's still raw at the plate with hitting mechanics that are a little awkward in BP and can sometimes break down in the game. Harrison loads his hands up rather than back, creating length to his swing if he doesn't quickly lower them to get in a better hitting position. If he lowers them to fast, it creates a loop in his swing which also creates length to the ball. Harrison has some feel for contact and doesn't have trouble hitting some of the weaker pitchers here. This could bode well for his future development if he focuses more on baseball and he could emerge this spring in the top 50 picks with a strong showing at the plate but is more of a projection guy in rounds 2-4 for me right now.

Kendall is another center fielder but a totally different kind than Harrison. Kendall is a 5'10/175 burner with a simple swing from the left side that has more punch than you'd expect and the plus-plus speed to wreak havoc on the bases. He's made a lot of hard contact this week and has definitely jumped into the 2nd-3rd round area where high school bats with everyday potential and some now skills tend to reside. He has an average arm and pretty good feel offensively and defensively so I wouldn't expect him to suit up for Vanderbilt. Lillard is a 6'2/185 lefty hitting infielder that plays shortstop now and with his above average speed, arm strength and good actions, you can't automatically rule out that he could stick there for awhile. He most likely fits at third or second long term and he has the potential to be above average defensively at the hot corner. Lillard has some looseness and bat speed but isn't too strong right now so he has a lot of pre-swing hand movement to get his bat started. He'll flash 45 raw power at times in BP but has a linear path, so you're looking for 10-12 homers and if he can play second and be an above average runner and hitter, then you've got a guy that can also work his way into the top couple rounds with low end everyday upside.

Heggen is the best Montana prospect in awhile and is clearly the best prospect on the Northwest regional squad (Royals) here at Area Codes in a bit of a down year for the area. He isn't too polished behind the plate but will flash above average arm strength and the ability to stick back there long-term. Heggen is an average to slightly above runner than has some projection left that lets you see average raw power coming down the road with a fluid line drive swing. He's still got some work to do making consistent contact in games, but like many of the players mentioned here, he hasn't seen a ton of high level pitching or gotten a ton of reps given his home state so scouts will give him some leeway. Heggen is still comfortably behind Reetz and Louisiana C Chase Vallot in this class but is in that second group with California's Tim Susnara and Oklahoma's Bryce Carter in that 2nd-4th round area.

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