USA Baseball holds a showcase event every June at its complex in Cary, North Carolina; it's called the Tournament of Stars and features many of the best high school players from across the country. The ostensible goal of the event is to assemble the 18-and-under (called "18U") team to represent the US in the IBAF 18U World Championships this July, but it's also a popular event with scouts because a good chunk of the first-round talents in the high school class for 2011 are here, along with a handful of 2010 draftees who are still age-eligible and a few premium players for 2012. Some of these kids were worn out from the long spring when they got here, and the 99-degree heat didn't help, but here are some quick bullets on major names who appeared today.
• Indianapolis RHP Christian Montgomery was 89-93 with a very sharp curveball with some angle and great depth, although several ended up in the dirt. He also flashed a slider and struck out six in three innings of work. His main negative at the moment is his girth: he's listed at 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, and he's really not in game condition. If he drops 20-25 pounds by next spring, he could easily be a first-rounder with two above-average pitches and an arm that works well.
• Joe Ross, brother of Tyson Ross from the Oakland Athletics, doesn't have Tyson's scary arm action, with a more fluid delivery and higher slot -- although like his older brother he does land stiffly on his front leg. He was 90-91 but has the potential for a lot more, with other scouts telling me they'd seen him up to 94 recently.
• RHP Dillon Maples of West End, North Carolina struggled, lasting just one inning and facing nine batters. He was 90-91 with no command, but I like his short arm action and late release point, and he's also thrown much harder earlier in the spring.
• Two Vanderbilt commits were on display in RHP Tyler Beede and LHP Philip Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer has an insane, herky-jerk, rush-to-the-plate delivery and worked at 86-89 with good downhill plane and a mid-70s curveball, attacking hitters while he appears to be coming to tackle them. Beede is the more advanced prospect, touching 92 with a two-seamer at 90 that had bat-breaking tail and a short slider with good tilt. He commanded his fastball to both sides and showed a pretty good approach for setting hitters up. Neither will be an easy sign next spring, but I could see Beede rising enough to the point where someone buys him out.
• Colorado catcher Greg Bird, who caught Kevin Gausman in high school, showed a good left-handed stroke with strong hands and excellent extension. The consensus right now is that he won't catch in pro ball, but he's a decent athlete and I don't think it's a lock that he changes positions.
• Two names to keep in mind for 2012: Albert Almora, a very toolsy outfielder from Miami; and Lance McCullers, son of the big leaguer of the same name, a two-way player with one of the most electric fastballs of any high school pitcher in the country right now.