Jupiter Rewind: Stars Shine, Others Rise
Jupiter is among the high points on the scouting calendar and it has been that way for a number of years now. Perfect Game has consistently done an outstanding job of gathering the very best talent from around North America, and the tournament has cultivated a spirit of extreme competition that’s created a highly unique environment in which to see these players and see how they hold up in the pressure cooker.
The event is not like a showcase where individual performance is the only thing onlookers are analyzing, but instead we see players fail, react to pressurized situations, and compete against their elite peers. Because of this environment, there is typically a vigor among scouts, many of which are the same scouts that grow weary and tired of the summer showcase circuit by this time. College coaches, scouts and agents love Jupiter. It’s a meeting of baseball minds not quite like any other. So, when you get all those minds together in one place, they can give you an interesting perspective on the event as it rolls along. And the consensus on Jupiter this year was that while the position player crop jumped off the page, there was a sense of disappointment that many of the elite arms among a potentially historically talented group of high school pitchers did make an appearance in this benchmark on the scouting calendar.
“Where are the whales?” asked one high ranking scout in the midst of Jupiter action. “There’s a boatload of good high school arms in this class, but they’re just not throwing this year. You always have talent here, and there’s a ton of quality here, but it’s too bad some of the bigger arms didn’t make the trip.”
That was the theme of the week. All the scouting world could talk about over the four or five months since the last draft was how special this next crop of prep arms could be. But as it turned out, all of those “whales” sat this one out. There was no Riley Pint and his 95-98 mph fastball. There was no Jason Groome, the lefty with the picture perfect delivery and Clayton Kershaw arsenal. Gargantuan 6-foot-7 righty Forrest Whitley and his 95 mph fastball also did not make the trip to Jupiter. Jesus Luzardo, arguably the most advanced lefty in the class, was another no show.
Now, this is certainly not say that these arms had any obligation to pitch in this event. They are established star prospects and they strung together spectacular summer performances. With all we now know about protecting arms, sitting this event out may have been very wise.
On the other end of the spectrum, what should not be forgotten about Jupiter is how strong of a pure baseball event it can be. It generates excitement in a way no other high school baseball event can. While top arms have shut it down and not pitched in Jupiter in past years, 2015 was the most extreme example in recent memory, where essentially the entire top of the pitching class did not make an appearance. Scouts can learn things about these pitchers in one Jupiter outing that would be difficult to learn in showcase competition, or even in another tournaments. It’s a testament to just how good this pitching class is, however, that the list of impressive arms on display this year is still a very long one.
Crown jewel arms need to be protected, but hopefully that won’t be done at the expense of seeing massive crowds of golf carts filled with scouts gathering a Friday night in Jupiter to check out “the next big thing” in coming years. Scouts this year were still left wondering what could have been.
“The pitching in the class is special, but they’ve just shut it down,” said another scout. “There’s been a little velocity out here, but every one of these arms, there’s a little something that you can pick apart. Guys that aren’t that physical, guys that need to spin it better…they aren’t finished, polished products, you know? Jupiter is always loaded, but we didn’t see the best arms in this class.”
Jupiter will always be Jupiter, and the crowds of scouts will always pour into the Roger Dean complex in late October. And while it wasn’t the Woodstock-esque gathering of historically talented prep arms that this class could have allowed it to be, there was still plenty that scouts came away highly impressed with.
After thorough discussion with scouts, agents, and coaches in attendance this past week, we’ve developed a list of some of the players who came up in those conversations the most and helped themselves with their Jupiter performances, noting players who were already consensus top prospects who cemented their status, as well as previously lesser known prospects who made huge leaps forward in terms of draft stock:
Stars Who Shined
Josh Lowe, 3b/rhp (Marietta, Ga.) Commitment: Florida State
Matt Manning, rhp (Elk Grove, Calif.) Commitment: Loyola Marymount
Bo Bichette, ss (Tierra Verde, Fla.) Commitment: Arizona State
Delvin Perez, ss (Loiza, P.R.) Commitment: None
Rian Haire, lhp (Hudson, N.C) Commitment: South Carolina
Joe Rizzo, 3b (Oak Hill, Va.) Commitment: South Carolina
Carlos Cortes, 2b (Oviedo, Fla.) Commitment: South Carolina
Charles King, rhp (Coppell, Texas) Commitment: Texas Christian
Seth Beer, of (Suwanee, Ga.) Commitment: Clemson
Travis Hosterman, lhp (Oviedo, Fla.) Commitment: UCF
Zach Linginfelter, rhp (Sevierville, Tenn.) Commitment: Tennessee
Andrew Schultz, rhp (Alpharetta, Ga.) Commitment: Tennessee
On The Rise
Davis Daniel, rhp (Montgomery, Ala.) Commitment: Auburn
Evan Floyd, rhp (Pensacola, Fla.) Commitment: Air Force
Bryant Packard, 1b (Greenville, N.C) Commitment: East Carolina
Hudson Sanchez, ss (Southlake, Texas) Commitment: Texas A&M
Jordan Roberts, lhp (Euless, Texas) Commitment: Arizona State
Miles Sandum, lhp (Apple Valley, Calif.) Commitment: San Diego
Nate Brown, rhp (Hartland, Wis.) Commitment: Florida
Gianluca Dalatri, rhp (Wall, N.J.) Commitment: North Carolina
Ben Rortvedt, c (Verona, Wis.) Commitment: Arkansas
Matt Cleveland, rhp (Windsor, Conn.) Commitment: Florida SW State College