Terry Bernal/Daily Journal File Photo
Burlingame slugger Jonathan Engelmann is one of three San Mateo County players participating in the Area Code Games, a national showcase of talent this week in Long Beach.
Folks know Jonathan Engelmann can hit.
In the spring, the junior slugger captured the Burlingame team Triple Crown with a .412 batting average, two home runs and 17 RBIs. Through the summer though, Engelmann has displayed a range of tools to emerge as a promising amateur prospect on the national baseball scene.
Engelmann is one of three San Mateo County players currently taking part in the Area Code Games, a showcase of approximately 225 amateur players from around the nation playing in a six-day exhibition league from Aug. 4-9 at Long Beach’s Blair Field. Also playing on the Oakland Athletics team — comprised of the elite high school talent from Northern California — is Menlo-Atherton pitcher Matt McGarry and Serra outfielder Chris Papapietro.
The Athletics — managed by Oakland A’s area scout Jermaine Clark — are off to a 1-0-1 start. After finishing in a 3-3 tie with the Royals Monday on opening day, Tuesday the Athletics rallied in their final at-bat to top the Royals 6-3. Engelmann has had three hits through two games, including a pinch-hit single Monday and an RBI double Tuesday amid a three-run rally in the third inning.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well,” Engelmann said. “I’m striving to hit more extra-base hits as the summer has gone along. I’ve made some adjustments with some coaches and … am hitting in the middle of the lineup and driving guys in and getting it done.”
Offensive production is just a day in the life for the 6-4 Engelmann. The surprise has come with his smooth transition to center field. Before transferring to Burlingame as a sophomore, Engelmann was a freshman third baseman with the varsity squad at Aragon. With the Panthers in 2013, he moved over to first base. During his junior season, he blossomed as a right fielder.
But midway through the summer with his travel-ball team Nor Cal Baseball, Engelmann made the conversion to center field. And with his combination of speed and arm strength, he seems to have found a home there.
“I’ve just kind of found a home out there and found success,” Engelmann said. “It’s my favorite position to play.”
Even for a big man, Engelmann has always been able to run. He’s stolen 29 bases in two years at Burlingame. And he’s made strides towards improving on the base-running tool this summer. During the Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, Florida held June 14-17, Engelmann ran a 6.75 second 60-yard dash, he said. This week in Long Beach, he set a new personal best with a 6.68 second 60, he said. Also, his throwing velocity from the outfield clocked at 94 mph.
Engelmann was chosen to play for the Athletics after a tryout in July at the Stockton Ports’ home yard, Banner Island Ballpark. The tryout culminated in one 10-inning exhibition game with 17 players in each team’s lineup. It made for a long day, especially with the most promising young pitching arms in Northern California on display.
“At this level, it’s very pitcher heavy because the pitchers are developed more than the hitters are,” Engelmann said. “You get guys throwing 90 mph and it’s tough for high school kids to catch up to. But it was a good tryout.”
While Engelmann only received two at-bats in the exhibition, he played eight innings in center field. The result was his landing on the Athletics Area Code Game team, along with his Nor Cal Baseball teammate, McGarry.
“It’s actually really good to be around him because he’s a guy,” Engelmann said. “He’s committed to Vanderbilt. He’s potentially going to be a good, high-round draft pick in the future, whether that’s this upcoming year or three years down the road out of Vanderbilt. Being around him, it really helps my game.”
The Area Code Games consist of eight teams, with each national region being sponsored by a big-league organization. The Northern California region is sponsored by the Athletics, but is coached by a myriad of scouts from nine different affiliated organizations, including San Francisco Giants area scout Keith Snider.
The rest of the league is comprised of the Chicago White Sox, Midwest region; the Cincinnati Reds, Four Corners and Hawaii; the Kansas City Royals, Pacific Northwest; the Milwaukee Brewers, Southern California; the Texas Rangers, Texas and Louisiana; and the Washington Nationals, Southeast and Virginia.