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Las Vegas continues to be hotbed for baseball talent

By Norm Clarke  (VSiN Columnist) 

April 19, 2017 11:58 PM

When a city suddenly produces superstars such as Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant, scouting directors are going to take notice.

Meet the latest hot prospect out of Las Vegas: Austin Wells, a junior catcher out of powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School.

Scouts are already projecting him as a potential first-round pick in the Major League Baseball amateur draft in 2018.

“Anywhere from first round to third round,” is how a veteran talent evaluator put it.

“He’s a four-tool guy who will develop the power to become a five-tool prospect,” said the source.

Scouts are drooling over Wells’ arm strength. He reportedly has been timed at pegging the ball to second in 1.78 seconds. “That’s Molina time,” said the source, referring to St. Louis Cardinals seven-time All-Star catcher Yadier Molina.

One of the more fascinating prospects is College of Southern Nevada pitcher Howie Good, a 20-year-old, 6-foot-8, 265-pound right-hander from Puyallup, Wash.

“Right now he’s a rough diamond,” with mechanics and control issues, said the source.

“He’s got a long way to go, but when you see 95 come out of his hands… (pause) he’s a very interesting prospect. If player development can straighten him out you’ll have something.”

It reminded me of a top New York Yankees scout who basically used the same words three decades ago to describe a 6-foot-10 prospect at the University of Southern California. All those invariables came together for Randy Johnson.

“He’s getting good looks,” said the source. Good’s social media proclamations have raised eyebrows. His obsession with throwing 100 mph being one of them.

Last year’s Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year Nick Quintana is having a strong debut at the University of Arizona.

The former Arbor View standout reached baseball safely in 23 straight games, the longest streak by an Arizona freshman since Jason Donald (30) in 2004. He’s playing a lot and hitting .354 in 130 at-bats.

There’s undoubtedly some extra motivation after being projected as a fifth-round pick in the MLB draft. The top prospect in Southern Nevada fell to the 11th round and 328th overall pick, by Boston. had him as the 107th-ranked prospect going into the draft after hitting .449, with 58 runs batted in and 15 home runs.

Too young to be on the radar of big league scouts, but getting looks because of name recognition is Jaden Agassi, a freshman pitcher at Bishop Gorman.

He’s reportedly got his own pitching coach and works with Gil Reyes, the former UNLV trainer who helped elevate Andre to tennis’ greatest heights. Jaden has participated in tournaments featuring the best 13 and 14 years olds from around the country.

He’s hard to miss, with his long Tim Lincecum-style locks. Lincecum was young Agassi’s early childhood hero.

The scene and heard

Mariah Carey’s breakup with billionaire James Packer also led to a heavyweight business split, according to Hollywood insider Roger Friedman (

Packer’s business partner, director-producer Brett Ratner, introduced his good friend Carey to Packer. They hit it off, at least for a while, and got engaged. But when that romance blew up last fall, so did the company they formed, RatPac, which included Steve Mnuchin, now Secretary of the Treasury in President Donald Trump’s administration. RatPac financed the bulk of Warner Bros.’ film lineup. Ratner and Carey remain tight.

This footnote: In September 2008, Ratner was recruited by Steve Wynn to film a commercial TV spot that featured Wynn standing atop the 638-foot Encore.  


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On this day…

April 20, 1955: The Riviera, the first high-rise hotel and casino on the Strip, opens with Liberace as the headliner. The flamboyant pianist becomes a regular there, with a $50,000 per week salary.

The punch line

“It’s come out that a Navy SEAL has been moonlighting for seven years as a porn star. Even more surprising: It turns out that the guy who killed Osama bin Laden was Ron Jeremy.” – Conan O’Brien.

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