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Local baseball players earn national recognition

Posted by on March 7, 2013 – 1:21 pm

Several local baseball players have received national attention in the earlygoing. While it doesn’t look like there is a sure-fire top draft pick from the Arizona prep ranks this season, there does seem to be some good depth.

Here is a list of East Valley standouts who have been highlighted by national publications:

• Gilbert shortstop Dustin Peterson was named Baseball America’s No. 72 high school draft prospect for 2013 (subscription access only). Peterson is committed to Arizona State but could be an early-round selection. His brother, D.J., who also went to Gilbert and now plays for New Mexico, is expected to be a high draft pick as well. Dustin Peterson is batting .467 with a homer, eight RBIs and eight runs scored in 15 at-bats for the Tigers. He has an on-base-plus-slugging-percentage of 1.498.

• Mountain Pointe shortstop Brantley Bell was listed in the ‘Next 50’ by Baseball America for players who just missed the top-100. He is the son of former major leaguer Jay Bell. Brantley is committed to Mississippi.

• Desert Ridge shortstop Riley Unroe is ranked the 83rd-best senior in the country by Maxpreps. Unroe was named a preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger. He is committed to play at Southern California next season. He is the son of former major leaguer Tim Unroe.

• Hamilton first baseman Cody Bellinger was named the No. 88 senior nationally on the same list. The sweet-swinging left-hander takes over as the top offensive bat on the Huskies following the graduation of third baseman Mitch Nay. Bellinger’s dad, Clay Bellinger, is also a former major leaguer.

• Basha shortstop Jamie Westbrook also made the top-100 list at No. 99 overall. He was the Coaches Association’s pick for Player of the Year a season ago after hitting .532 with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs. He is committed to Pepperdine.

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  • Fishy says:

    National recognition is terrific. Interestingly, all of the kids here have ties to people (fathers, brothers, etc) who are connected to pro sports. That sure is a nice “in” for these kids who attain this “national recognition”. Having been in the East Valley, I have seen all of these kids play, a lot. They are good. Westbrook can sure hit, but can’t hardly get to .800 fielding percentage. Bellinger is tall and can bring the pitches but has significant control issues and has been torched several times already this year. Unroe is quick and a better fielder than Westbrook but not by much and he certainly does not have the bat strength. Bell is okay and has nice range. Pederson has put on 30 pounds in 6 months and is big with a bloated average and high on base percentage from HBP (crowding the plate and leaning into it).
    The fact is, there are a lot of kids that are really good who should have recognition, local or national, based on their skills on the field and ethic and scholastics. Just because they have a parent or a sibling (or school history for that matter) that has “connections” to routinely call in favors shouldn’t automatically place these kids at the forefront. Maybe the kids who don’t have the connections or wherewithall or the name dropping ability should get recognition from the various writers (EV Trib, Republic, others) locally.
    Again, some solid, good kids listed in this article but certainly not the titans and game changers they’re being touted as. Their combined 17-10 team records reflect that.
    With all of the baseball going on in this area, there are plenty of standout kids who deserve some un-biased attention.

    • Asprtsfn says:

      @fishy…I have also had the pleasure of watching these kids play and have to disagree with your opinion. First, the players named in article have had national recognition because they have “earned” it. There is no special favors or calls in to anyone, that is not how this works. There is more to baseball and to these players than what you stated in comments as to why they are considered in the top 100! Unroe is a switch hitter, hits for power, runs a 4.4 to 1st and can play infield and outfield. Westbrook hit almost .500 last season and has a strong skill set as a middle infielder and with more time will be a fluid solid player who also shows speed on bases. Bellinger is not a pitcher, so your comments about him are way off base considering the article mentions his “sweet swing” and the fact that he has pitched in relief this season and has 5 innings with NO runs. His bat is what is his mark of excellence and his glove at 1st (defense) is way beyond his years. He also has speed on the bases. Overall, all of the players mentioned in article have a tremendous knowledge of the game. These players have played on teams that have gained recognition nationally, not just on their HS teams. There are a lot of amazing players here in AZ and possibly there are a few that are going to surface this season. So instead of pointing out what you think are weaknesses in these players listed, perhaps the next time there is a need to comment, you will just bring up those players you think are not getting recognition and point on their strengths.

    • asprtsfn says:

      ^@fishy…I have also had the pleasure of watching these kids play and have to disagree with your opinion. First, the players named in article have had national recognition because they have “earned” it. There is no special favors or calls in to anyone, that is not how this works. There are 80 plus payers listed nationally in front of them. There is more to baseball scouting and to these players than what you stated in comments as to why they are considered in the top 100. Unroe is a switch hitter, hits for power, runs a 6.4 – 60 yrd. dash and can play infield and outfield with a very strong and accurate arm. Westbrook hit almost .500 last season and has a strong skill set as a middle infielder and with more time will be a fluid solid player who also shows speed on bases. Bellinger is not a pitcher, so your comments about him are way off base considering the article mentions his “sweet swinging bat” and the other fact that he has pitched in relief this ’13 season and has 5 innings with NO runs. His bat is what is his mark of excellence and his glove at 1st (defense) is way beyond his years. He also has speed on the bases. These 3 players mentioned have D1 offers to great baseball programs…not because of ANY special favors or calls. They earned it.
      Overall, all of the players mentioned in article have a tremendous knowledge of the game. These players have tried out and played on teams that have gained recognition nationally, not just on their HS teams.
      There are a lot of amazing players here in AZ and possibly there are a few that are going to surface this season to the top. So instead of pointing out what you think are weaknesses in these players that you listed and the phantom calls in to people for favors, perhaps the next time there is a need to comment, you will just bring up those players you think are not getting recognition and point out their strengths.

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