AFLAC Classic Report: Day One

With the nation's top 38 rising high school seniors preparing to do battle in an East meets West showdown on Saturday in the 2005 AFLAC All-American Classic, we give you the highlights from the first day of workouts as we already begin our 2006 MLB pre-draft coverage.

The participants in this year's AFLAC All-American Classic began a stretch of daily workouts on Wednesday in Towson, Maryland, and will have workouts to showcase their skills in front of countless scouts and Scouting Directors on both Thursday and Friday before playing the actual all-star game on Saturday at Ripken Stadium.

Bear in mind that the pitchers participating in the AFLAC All-American Classic do not truly get to show their mettle on the mound until the game begins on Saturday. They are limited to side bullpen sessions as the positional players strut their stuff on the field.

First Impressions

OF/1B Cody Johnson of Panama City, Florida, put on the most impressive power display on Wednesday. A finalist for the Jackie Robinson Award as the nation's top high school player, Johnson routinely deposited balls over the right-field fence. He cleared the 25-foot scoreboard in right-center field with one shot and even hit one into the street that runs adjacent to the John B. Schuerholz Baseball Complex at Towson University, a street that sits an approximated 50 feet from the end of the field.

After day one, Johnson appears to be the frontrunner to win the AFLAC Home Run Derby prior to Saturday's game. One national league scout commented: "He's got plus, plus power." He was by far the most impressive batter at batting practice on Wednesday. The left-handed hitting Johnson resembles Shawn Green at the plate.

RHP/SS Kyle Drabek of The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas, also looked quite impressive at the plate. At 6'0" and a rock-solid 190 pounds, Drabek is the son of the 1990 Cy Young Award winning, Doug Drabek. Kyle appears to be a very good gap hitter with good projection for more power as he matures. He hit a couple of long bombs of his own on Wednesday, including one that hit mid-way up some tall trees in left-center field.

Drabek is widely considered the top high school pitching prospect after striking out 155 batters in 77 innings pitched as a junior last season. If pitching is what he does best, and after seeing his ability at the plate, he must be cut from the same cloth as his father.

1B/LHP Aaron Miller of Channelview High School in Channelview, Texas, also looked to be one of the more impressive hitters on the first day of workouts. Like Cody Johnson, Miller has nice loft on the balls he hit. His stroke appears more compact than that of Johnson however, which means he could hit for a higher average down the road.

No Right Fielders?

While many of the AFLAC participants put on decent hitting displays - and granted, the dimensions of the field were akin to those of Camden Yards - the crop of outfield arms appears to be a weak one this season, at least, judging from the first day of workouts. Drew Rundle of Bend High School in Bend, Oregon, clearly had the best arm among the outfield prospects. In fact, if Wednesday's first workouts were any indication, he may be the only one of the group with a plus arm in the outfield.

Weak Catching Group

Perhaps spoiled with the likes of Preston Paramore, Jonathan Egan, and Ralphie Henriquez in 2004, the 2005 group of catchers did not have a very good exhibition on Wednesday. The collective group of Robby Alcombrack, Hank Conger, Torre Langley, and Max Sapp did not showcase a quick release from behind the plate or very accurate throws down to second base. Thursday is a new day however and scouts are hoping to see more from them as the week continues.

Also Impressing At The Plate

3B/SS Chris Marrero of Monsignor Pace High School in Miami, Florida, appears to have a very powerful stroke. He hit quite a few home runs on Wednesday and he has a very projectable body.

1B Chris Parmelee of Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California, appears to be a decent power-hitting first baseman from the left side of the plate.

SS Ryan Jackson of Florida Christian School in Miami Springs, Florida, was perhaps the most intriguing hitter of the afternoon. At 6'2" and just 170 pounds, he already displayed some good power and his body, like Marrero's, projects very well. He might be one to watch as the week, and the upcoming year, progresses.

We'll have more reports over the next few days and be sure to keep an eye out for our individual features on all 38 participants of the AFLAC Classic in the coming months as we preview the 2006 MLB Draft.

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