2014 UA Game Recap (Innings 7-9)

Through six innings of play, the Nationals held tight to a one run lead. After a slow start, Josh Naylor and Ryan Mountcastle got the National offense going with back to back two out doubles to scratch the first run of the game. The Americans had a runner reach third base in both the first and fourth innings, but they were unable to plate the run in either case.

Things appear to be trending the Americans way, even though they are down going into the seventh. They’ve only struck out four times in eighteen outs, while the Nationals have fallen victim to the strikeout twice in every inning except the fourth – the inning in which they scored.

7th Inning

Cole McKay

Cole McKay (Mike Janes)

6-foot-5 Texan Cole McKay took the mound to begin the seventh inning of play. The big right hander worked 88-91 mph with his fastball, and featured a curve and change both in the upper 70s. Like large framed lefty Justin Hooper, McKay (pronounced MICK-EYE) worked from an angle a little lower and more deceiving than often seen. His delivery and arm stroke were both on the compact side, but served him well to generate a solid three pitch mix.

LT Tolbert entered for Ke’Bryan Hayes in the fifth defensively, with his first plate appearance coming to lead off the seventh. He blooped a single to left, and made an aggressive turn around the bag at first. A very brief hesitation upon making the read would cost him (one of the mnemonic devices we use for Baseball Factory base running rule #3 – and hopefully those that have been to one of our Player Development events know this – is “HESITATE and you’re too late”), as Ryan Mountcastle was able to spin and throw him out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. Continue reading

2014 UA Game Recap (Innings 4-6)

Through the first three innings of play, each team had one runner get into scoring position, but neither team was able to get the first run across the plate. The American pitchers were more dominant early, recording six of nine outs via the strikeout, allowing no hits or free bases, and facing only one above the minimum number of hitters – and that was only because of an error. So, beginning the middle innings the game was still 0-0 and the National team was still looking for their first hit.

4th Inning

Austin Riley

Austin Riley (Mike Janes)

Two-way player Austin Riley took the mound to start the fourth. Even in a short outing in which he faced four hitters, he showed feel for pitching and was consistently around the plate with his fastball and curve. He worked between 88 and 90, and spun a mid to upper 70s breaking ball.

Chris Betts lead off the inning with a scorched line drive double directly over the head of Starling Heredia in center field. He made a great pass on an 87 mph fastball to get into scoring position with nobody out. Ke’Bryan Hayes followed with a great situational at bat, advancing Betts to third base with a firm grounder to Kody Clemens at second base. The at bat was indicative of his advanced and instinctual feel for hitting. He got a pitch away and went with it to move the runner – textbook winning baseball. Continue reading

2014 UA Game Recap (Innings 1-3)

The first pitch was thrown out by former Cub Lee Smith. His Major League career spanned 18 seasons and eight different teams, with most of his big league service time in a Cub uniform. He was a seven time All-Star, appeared in 1022 Major League games, and recorded 478 saves. He currently stands in third place on the All-Time Saves list, behind only Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Fittingly, he fired a strike to American team catcher Justin Cohen to get things started at the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

1st Inning

Wyatt Cross

Wyatt Cross (Mike Janes)

Corey Zangari took the mound first for the home National team. He delivered a 92 mph fastball for ball one to start the game. A couple of pitches later, Mitchell Hansen laced an 81 mph slider to left center field for a line drive double. Kyle Tucker walked, and then Dazmon Cameron took a fastball between the shoulder blades for a free trip to first base.

After seeing the first three hitters reach base, National team skipper Sean Casey came out for a quick chat with Zangari. Whatever he said worked, as the next three hitters would be retired in order.

With the bases loaded, Chris Betts struck out looking on a 92 mph fastball on the outside corner. The infield fly rule was signaled by the umpires on a Ke’Bryan Hayes popup to Kody Clemens at second base, bringing Demi Orimoloye to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a firm grounder right to Ryan Mountcastle at third base, who calmly stepped on the bag to end the inning. Continue reading

2014 UA Game Peak Fastball Velocities

Contrary to popular belief, the stadium gun in many cases was actually a tick slower than the gun we had behind the plate.

Based on our best available reading for each arm, three pitchers topped at 95, two topped at 94, and everyone at least touched 90.

Mike Nikorak was among three pitchers to touch 95 mph at the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

Inning National American
1st Corey Zangari – 94 Mike Nikorak – 95
2nd Corey Zangari Ashe Russell – 95
3rd Beau Burrows – 94 Luken Baker – 93
4th Austin Riley – 90 Hunter Bowling – 90
5th Justin Hooper – 95 Juan Hillman – 90
6th Sati Santa Cruz – 92 Cole Sands – 91
7th Cole McKay – 91 Bryan Hoeing – 91
8th Anthony Molina – 92 Gray Fenter – 92
9th Kyle Molnar – 92 Gray Fenter

2014 UA Game Awards Haul

The American team defeated the National team 2-1 in a close, well-played game. Look for a full recap in the coming days, along with scouting reports and other notes from the game and workout day.

Kelly Kulina Award

Corey Zangari

Corey Zangari

Given in honor of Kelly Kulina, former Baseball Factory Senior Vice President and father of three children, the Kelly Kulina Award goes to the player who demonstrated the best attitude, work ethic, dedication and enthusiasm. Kelly passed away tragically and unexpectedly in October of 2009, but his legacy lives on. This year, the award went to Corey Zangari.

Gatorade G Award

Mike Nikorak

Mike Nikorak

The Gatorade G Award goes to the player who shows the most hustle and soul, and never stopped challenging himself. Mike Nikorak won the 2014 award.

Under Armour Silver Spikes National MVP

Under Armour Silver Spikes American MVP

LT Tolbert

LT Tolbert

LT Tolbert won the Under Armour Silver Spikes MVP Award for the American team. He went 2-for-2 with two singles and the game-winning RBI.

Luken Baker wins HR Derby

Luken Baker launched a total of six balls out onto Waveland Ave

Luken Baker launched a total of six balls out onto Waveland Ave

Luken Baker put on quite a show during the HR derby, including a blast that bounced off the Toyota sign high above the left center field bleachers. He only needed six outs to record enough homers to defeat Starling Heredia in the finals. Heredia hit one that appeared to go through the middle of the same Toyota sign that Baker cleared.

Chris Betts and Devin Davis were both impressive in the first round. Betts put three balls onto Sheffield Ave over the right field bleachers, and only narrowly missed a fourth – it cleared the Protect This House banner and bounced off the railing at the very top of the bleachers. Davis drove the ball with authority to the biggest part of the ballpark, and went out onto Waveland Ave twice.

By my count, thirteen balls flew all the way out of the ballpark. Betts accounted for all the damage to Sheffield Ave, while three different right handers cleared traffic on Waveland Ave to left field.

First Round Totals

Mitchell Hansen – 2
Corey Zangari – 0
Chris Betts – 6
Josh Naylor – 2
Devin Davis – 5
Nick Plummer – 0
Luken Baker – 7
Starling Heredia – 3

Final Round Totals

Luken Baker – 5
Starling Heredia – 4

Home Run Derby Finalists Announced

Via the qualification round on Friday afternoon, and the wildcard selections Friday evening, the field for the Home Run Derby finals at Wrigley Field on Saturday is set.


Corey Zangari

Corey Zangari

Josh Naylor

Josh Naylor

Nick Plummer

Nick Plummer

Starling Heredia

Starling Heredia


Luken Baker

Luken Baker

Mitchell Hansen

Mitchell Hansen

Devin Davis

Devin Davis

Chris Betts

Chris Betts

No Holds Barred – National Team Pitchers

During our morning workout, I was able to catch up with six of the eight National pitchers for a quick tour of their stuff. A look at the grip on the ball and the position of the hand helps us get a feel for the intended action of each pitch.

Corey Zangari

FB 4

4-seamer across the horseshoe

FB 2

2-seamer with width right down the tracks


Fingers out in front of the ball, across the short end of the horseshoe


Another classic circle change, note the 2-seam look

Continue reading