TigsTown ATG: Citgo/Ouachita H.S. Tourney

Rare is the opportunity to see not just one, but two of the top prospects in the Louisiana prep ranks on the same field, so on Friday night, I trekked over to Monroe, La., where Barbe High School was in action against Ouachita Parish in the 7th annual Citgo/Ouachita High School Tournament.

The Buccaneers entered the week ranked 10th in the country by Baseball America, and have a shot at repeating as the 5A state champs with shortstop Carmen Angelini and catcher Thad Griffen leading the way.

Both players made waves at the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer, and their performances so far this spring should bring in many of the highest talent evaluators in baseball to Southern Louisiana.

Through this weekend's action, Angelini was hitting .412 with four homers, 31 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases, while Griffen stood at .377 with five homers and 20 RBIs.

Even though Angelini has plenty of juice in his bat (he homered twice the night before in front of several scouts, including a Tigers representative), but bats leadoff due to his speed, and he didn't take very long to utilize it in his first at-bat.

Stance-wise, Angelini stays closed and his left foot is slightly more off to the left than his right foot. He'll get into a more pronounced bending of the knees as the pitch is delivered, and has no wasted movement in his swing. He is also very quick to the ball, and there is little effort when he swings the bat.

On the first pitch of the game, Angelini hit a rocket to third that was officially scored as an error, but should've been ruled as a hit. Angelini then beat a throw to second on a force play on a slow roller up the middle, and stole third base with ease.

He later scored the first of four runs in the frame for Barbe, and even though he has good speed (he has been clocked at 6.6 in the 60), what struck me about his running ability is that he simply glides around the bases without exerting much effort to get into top gear.

Griffen, who also homered on Thursday in front of the throng of scouts present, has a more open and basic stance than Angelini, and he stands straight up before slightly bending his knees as the pitch is thrown.

He didn't get a chance to swing the stick in his first at-bat, as he drew a walk.

In the second inning, Angelini came up with runners at first and third with one out and took a pitch on the outer half of the plate and drove it to deep right field for a sacrifice fly. Griffen also came up with a runner at third, and showed his power by driving a pitch into deep right-center for a long sacrifice fly.

Angelini just missed a home run in his third at-bat, as he crushed a pitch to dead center field, but on a cool evening, it died short of the fence for an out. Griffen collected his second RBI of the night in his next at-bat, as he got ahead in the count 3-1, and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to left-center.

Angelini went to deep right field for a double in the fifth, and Griffen bounced into a double play later in the frame.

Both got one final at-bat in the seventh, and Angelini laced a single up the middle and Griffen showed his strength by chopping a base hit to left field.

Defensively, Angelini didn't get any chances at shortstop, but Griffen showed why he is a solid defensive catcher. He presents a big target and frames pitches well. Griffen also made a nice play on a bunt, as he pounced on the ball and made a strong, accurate throw to get his man.

One thing that I did notice is that instead of sliding on his feet to move around the plate, he will stay in his crouch and hop to where he wants to set up.

What makes Griffen's performance more astonishing is that he has been playing with a partially torn hip flexor, which inhibits him from running hard, and it clearly bothered him when barely made it down the line on the double play in the fifth, and on his base hit in the seventh.

Even though these players didn't see pro-caliber pitching, they were content to work counts in their favor, and drive their pitch when they got it. Griffen's double-play ball was the only ball not hit hard by either player, and I think both will have a difficult choice to make in June.

Angelini is a top-notch student and has committed to Rice, which will certainly give scouts pause, but he is a legitimate five-tool talent, and already shows nice present power with more to come as he fills out.

He could be a monster should he go to school. Griffen is a Louisiana-Lafayette recruit, and is a solid defensive catcher, which alone will make him a valued commodity, but he has the strength to have good power projection down the line.

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