Firecracker Classic


By: Austin Alexander-June 26-27, 2008

Diamond Prospects made the rounds in Myrtle Beach on Thursday and Friday to check on some in-state talent on display at the Firecracker Classic hosted by Coastal Carolina. Today, DP breaks down a few of the top performers on the mound, at the plate and in the field.

Gaither Bumgardner-2009, Great Falls HS, RHP: The slender righty sat at 84-85 on Thursday with a hard slurve at times that registered in the mid-70’s. Bumgardner is a three-sport standout at 1A Great Falls and the 6’6" two-way player is a very good athlete. He has clearly made some strides on the mound since my last viewing of him in January. Still a little crude, Bumgardner exhibits a high up-side, not just because of his height but more so when you take into account his arm speed and lack of time on the baseball field. His footwork is very quick on picks and he bounced well off the mound on a well-placed swinging bunt on the right-side of the infield. Bumgardner also turned at 4.56 on his single through the left-side. Definite follow for college guys this summer because it will be difficult to get another glimpse of him if you miss him before football season.

carlsonb-headdp.jpgBen Carlson-2009, Mauldin HS, RHP: A very long-bodied, broad-shouldered, quality athlete that is not as much of a secret. Carlson (right) pitched between 84-87 on Thursday with a straight fastball and inconsistent curveball. When Carlson brings the breaking ball with him, it shows flashes of an above average college second pitch. Carlson has a very high ceiling and will likely be gobbled up in the Early Signing Period.

DolanP-headDP07.JPGPat Dolan-2008, Summerville HS, UTL, RHP: Perhaps the most under-rated graduated player when you talk to coaches. Dolan (left) has tools, high-energy and a frame that will handle college weight well. He put a charge into one on Thursday and shows every single pre-sign of success at Charleston Southern, potentially as a two-way guy.

gruelb-headdp08.jpgBlake Gruel-2009, Beaufort HS, 3B: A prep shortstop, Gruel (right) seems to have found a home at the hot corner or behind the plate during summer ball. Not a plus runner by any means but he is athletic and has shown some versatility around the infield defensively. His calling card may be a flat swing that has shown the ability to punish mistakes, as evidenced by his bomb to left-centerfield on Friday at Coastal Carolina.

Zac Fuesser-2008, York HS, LHP/1B: It was Fuesser’s left arm that landed him as a 19th rounder in the June draft to the Braves but if he ends up at school, his bat will make some noise among the JC ranks. His offensive numbers in high school were gaudy and he showed why when he took a few swats at marginal pitching on Friday. Fuesser has a clue at the plate and exhibits some juice.

Christian Dickson-2008, Buford HS, RHP: Dickson sat on 86 MPH from a high slot and featured a quality curveball. Dickson posted big numbers at a small high school but it appears that his overall stuff may be good enough to log innings next spring at SMC.

MatthewA-headDP08.JPGAdam Matthews-2008, White Knoll HS, OF: Matthews’ (left) bat failed him during Friday’s viewing but you can see how he also changes games with his feet and arm. Obviously he posts strong running times but he is a very smooth runner too. He glides around the bases and to fly balls, he has what is referred to functional baseball speed (as opposed to racing speed). The one area that his tool must improve in before USC is with the short game. That caliber of runner could bunt .600 or better just by putting the ball on the ground and taking off for first base.

Darien Campbell-2008, Colleton Co. HS, UTL: Campbell is a very "handsy" hitter spraying the ball all over the field, depending on where it is pitched. Campbell has committed to Savannah State and projects to be a quality handler of the bat atop the line-up or as an 8, 9-hole type.