ELGIN, Ill.--In Chicago, baseball is both pastime and sectarian clash. For once, geographical differences melted away.
For its Area Code tryouts, the Chicago White Sox invited nearly 200 of the best prospects from nine states, primarily in the Midwest. Players arrived as far away from California and Texas to Elgin Community College.
It all made perfect sense. As White Sox Midwest area scout Dan Durst addressed the battery of pitchers, outfielders, position players and other specialists, he pointed out last year's senior group just commanded nearly $50 million in signing bonuses from the just concluded Major League Draft.
The two-day event drew professional representatives and nearly 100 college recruiters that presented a prime stage for elite prospects to strut their stuff. The event was broken in two stages. The first day involved just pitchers and catchers, in which 75 players were in attendance. Poor weather forced the throwers indoors, but the catchers were able to field, throw and hit outside.
Here is a further report and highlights from some of the best pitching prospects.
Coon Rapids (Coon Rapids, Minn.) 2013
"He's at the top of that [national] class," said Durst. The physically imposing right-hander impressed with his command of the game, poise, control and his toughness and competitive tenacity. He consistently reached 90 on his fastball.
Oswego East (Plainfield, Ill.) 2012
The right-hander registered a scintillating 94 on the gun with his fastball, the top mark in the group. He completed the heater with feathery movement on his off-speed stuff.
Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.) 2012
The dominating left-hander is rated one of the top prospects in Illinois. A national selection for last year's Area Code, he overpowers with a 91 fastball.
Andover (Andover, Minn.) 2012
The southpaw recorded a 90 on the gun and also balanced the heat with superb movement and control. Impressed with his manner and toughness.
Mundelein (Mundelein, Ill.) 2012
Durst said he has better stuff than the Mariners' Scott Olsen at the same age. The imposing, tall (6-4) hit 90 on the gun and also showcased devastating movement and sudden drops on his breaking material.
Neuqua Valley (Naperville, Ill.) 2012
The right-hander was one of the most consistently hardest throwers who recorded a 91 on his fastball.
Davis County (Bloomfield, Iowa) 2012
The big (6-4) right-hander impressed with his speed (91 on the fastball) and his versatility, he also plays the infield. His tough, no-nonsense demeanor impressed the scouts.
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