Contributing: Frankie Piliere, Jheremy Brown
spent my Saturday watching the action over at Jet Blue and got more
of it than I’d bargained for. That’s because the Red Sox and the
Twins were playing a pair of 10:00 a.m. instructional league games
right alongside the PG/WWBA tournament games.
I got to see players like 2012 PG All-American lefthander Steven
Gonzalves, the Twins 2013 fourth-round pick, Red Sox first
baseman Nick Longhi, top Dominican signee and 2013 World
Showcase participant third baseman Rafael Devers and a host of
other familiar players on the field in a professional setting.
Gonzalves was solid as the Twins starter, pitching in the 89-91 area
and showing a much better curveball than he had in high school.
Academy played the exact same script in their Saturday morning win
over the Palm Beach Shockers as they did Friday night – a top
prospect left starter dominates, the bullpen finished the no-hitter,
while the lineup can’t score against the opposing starter but
hammers the bullpen.
top prospect starter in this case was 2014 lefthander Willie Rios
and this was the best I’ve ever seen him throw. After suffering
some bouts of wildness late this summer, Rios needed only 73 pitches
to strike out 10 hitters in six hitless innings. He was steady at
89-92 in the early going and threw some very nice 86 mph two-seamers
with big late life. Rios worked primarily with his fastball, only
throwing a handful of curveballs, but they were big and sharp and
hard at 75 mph.
IMG gets deep into the playoffs there is no reason that Rios and last
night’s starter, Logan Allen, shouldn’t be available for
some work on Monday.
2015 righthander Phillip Sieli was just as effective as
Rios for the first four innings, not allowing a hit or a walk while
striking out six hitters. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Sieli has a nice
delivery and had pinpoint control of an 84-87 mph fastball and a 70
mph curveball. He’s a very solid young prospect.
Prospects International is a team made up of players from the
Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and teams like that are always fun
to watch, not only because they have some talented players, but
because they play a loud, raucous brand of baseball and have fun.
The two most interesting prospects I saw in a couple of looks at them
were righthander Francisco Rodriguez, a slender 6-foot-2,
165-pound Dominican who threw five innings in the 84-88 mph range
with a nice clean, fast arm action, and 6-foot-2, 180-pound
outfielder Michael Rosario, who showed lots of raw bat speed
and a very projectable build.
righthander Bryce Van Horn of the Florida Express is a very
interesting young pitching prospect. The 6-foot-4, 175-pound
sophomore threw four shutout innings in the Express’ 10-0 win over
TBW Select, throwing only 56 pitches while walking no one and
striking out seven. Van Horn has an outstanding delivery that
enables him to spot his pitches with very advanced precision for a
pitcher his age. He was up to 84 mph with a low-70s curveball and is
just going to keep getting better as he gets stronger.
Express also boast one of the top middle infields at the tournament
in shortstop Joseph Morales and second baseman Nick Agosto.
formula that Chet Lemon’s Juice uses for its continued success
still works if their first two games are any indication. The key
ingredient in that recipe is to have a seemingly limitless supply of
mid- to upper-80s pitchers who pound the strike zone. They won a
pair of games today 5-0 and 11-1, getting complete game wins with a
combined one walk in 12 innings by a pair of right handers, 2015
Brady Singer and 2014
6-foot-4, 170-pound Singer needed only 87 pitches in seven
innings, striking out 10 hitters without issuing a walk. He was up
to 88 mph early in the game before settling into the mid-80s and
beginning to use his curveball more often.
6-foot-2, 185-pound Waldren threw only 64 pitches in five
innings, striking out four hitters. He topped out at 87 mph and
threw a big breaking 69 mph curveball and a nice 73 mph changeup.
Juice’s roster lists 13 primary pitchers, so you can be sure more
of the same is coming up on Sunday for their opponents.
catcher Caleb Leach is the Juice’s cleanup hitter and drove
in three runs in the game I stopped in on; he’s a talented young
player. His backup is a 2016, catcher Jake Sullivan, who
served as the DH in this game and showed a good swing from the right
side. Any time a sophomore is starting for the Juice one can deduce
that he’s a pretty good player that needs to be focused on. I also
enjoyed watching 5-foot-7, 155-pound 2014 second baseman John Sprowls play. He’s a high-energy player who swings the bat
with surprising bat speed and gap power.
Baseball Club’s 2015 righthander
Jordan Gubelman has already pitched in an eye opening 21 Perfect
Game events, but I’d venture a guess that his outing Saturday
afternoon against Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy was the best thus
far. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound righty threw a complete game three-hit
shutout, striking out 10 Beltran hitters in a 8-0 win. Gubelman was
in the upper-80s the entire outing, topping out at 89 mph, but the
most impressive thing he did was show the ability to get big glove
side running action on his fastball similar to Greg Maddux. Very few
young pitchers can do this with intent, and Gubelman picked up a
number of strikeouts against lefthanded hitters by starting his
fastball off at the hitters elbow and having it dive into the strike
zone over the inside corner. Gubelman’s changeup was a potential
plus pitch he could have thrown more, while his curveball was on and
off due to lowering his elbow and slot often on the pitch.
catcher Brandon Chapman did an outstanding job catching and
framing Gubelman’s movement and ability to throw the ball to spots.
Jovani Moran kept his team in the game
for five innings, allowing only three hits and two runs while
striking out six hitters. Moran has a young and loose 6-foot-1,
165-pound build, and a fast left arm that was consistently in the
mid-80s, topping at 86 mph. Sarasota hitters didn’t see his
fastball well, either, taking some weak late swings at pitches that
looked hittable from behind the backstop.
- David Rawnsley
Brady Singer started off Saturday’s action, taking the ball
for Chet Lemon’s Juice at City of Palms Park. He worked at 85-87
mph with his fastball, topping out at 88 while displaying a
repeatable delivery and arm action in the process. His 6-foot-4 frame
is highly projectable and he’s already showing a solid feel for his
breaking ball. He’ll need to be monitored very closely heading into
Tejada was one of the most athletic looking players I’ve seen
so far this weekend and it doesn’t take him long to make an
impression in the game. He looks like he hunts fastballs early in
counts and gets the barrel out very well even against high level
velocity. Tejada, who plays left field for FTB Rawlings 2016, drove a
double into the left-centerfield gap on Saturday afternoon off an 87
mph fastball on the inner part of the plate. It’s a fluid stroke
and he gets excellent extension out in front. As a result of that
extension, the ball behaves a little differently off his bat. He has
easy, natural backspin and produced a 6.20 second hang time on a long
foul fall during Saturday’s action as well.
That’s an impressive
number for a 2015 graduate, and shows the type of lift he is capable
of generating. His medium, athletic build is one that should continue
to add strength and allow him to develop some more power. Tejada’s
approach is heavily geared toward pulling the ball right now, but he
has quick enough hands to learn to let the ball track deeper in the
zone. He’s a player I’m very much looking forward to seeing more
been an excellent first two days in Fort Myers for South Florida
Raiders’ infielder, Joe Dunand. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound
Miami native has swung the bat exceptionally well, showing easy
pull-side carry, a fluid swing path and smooth actions at shortstop.
Dunand did some things I really liked in Minneapolis at the National
Showcase back in June, and there’s good reason that he’s ranked
124nd in our rankings of the class of 2014, but I also believe he’s
an improved player since then, or at least a more comfortable one.
still needs to work on covering the outside part of the plate and
hitting the ball to right field, but when pitchers have thrown
something he can pull in these first two days of action, he has not
missed his pitches. Most notably he raked a double that hit off the
base of the deep left field wall at City of Palms park, a ball he was
able to easily spin on on the inside part of the plate. In a later
at-bat, he was given some trouble by the soft stuff down and away
from him, but I have far fewer questions now about his ability to hit
the good fastball. His swing path was efficient enough so far this
weekend to answer any questions I had about that. He’s a strong,
athletic player that I think could be just coming into his own
don’t see a lot of 2016 graduates that truly pique my interest at
the plate very often. I’ll often note swing mechanics, projectable
frames and flashes of intriguing tools in players that young, but
when you see standout bat speed from a player in just his sophomore
year in high school, it’s highly notable. A primary left-handed
pitcher and secondary outfielder for Gatorball, Austin Langworthy
showed that type of bat speed on Saturday afternoon.
If he continues
to swing the bat the way he did on this day, his arm is going to have
to work hard to keep up. Langworthy takes an aggressive load from the
left side of the plate and has a significant amount of head movement,
but when he gets his hands going it’s a highly efficient and fast
bat path. He takes an aggressive hack and looks to pull the ball. It
looks like a swing that would be a little out of control at times,
but the reality is that he did a good job of staying in the strike
zone and he’s compact to the ball. Langworthy produced two hard
line drives to right field in Saturday’s action, including a deep
drive to right center. With his high level bat speed, athleticism,
compact swing path, and the fact that we’ve seen him up to 85 mph
in the past, he certainly has a lot going for him. He’s a 2016 bat
to keep a close eye on.
Demby pitched on day one of the
Florida Qualifier for the Florida Storm Chiefs, but since writing
time ran short on Friday, we’ll squeeze his performance into
today’s notebook because of just how noteworthy it was. We last saw
Demby in July as a projectable righthander that worked at 82-84 mph.
Flash forward to Friday evening and Demby was working at 87-89 mph
early on in his outing, reaching as high as 90 mph. He flashed good
late life through the zone and at times would have produce pure
two-seam action away from lefthanded batters. He lost his command
velocity at times when he failed to finish his pitches – this was
particularly a problem for him out of the stretch position. His go to
off-speed pitch early in his outing was his changeup, which is
somewhat surprising considering how difficult the pitch can be to
master and that Demby is a primary infielder. The changeup checked in
around 78-80 mph and his feel for it was surprisingly consistent. He
mixed in his breaking ball more and more as his outing moved along,
coming in mostly around 73-75 mph with solid 11-to-5 shape.
6-foot-3, 190-pound righty saw his velocity dip at times to 83-87 mph
late in his outing, but he did bring it back up, consistently hitting
89 throughout the game. Also worth noting is Demby’s offensive
upside. He nearly drove a ball out of the yard to his pull side, and
the athleticism that also makes him intriguing on the mound make him
nearly as interesting at the plate.
- Frankie Piliere
the second game of the day for the Florida Hardballers was Garrett
Cave, a 2014 righthander from Sumterville, Fla. Cave projects
well as he has a very lean frame and high waist, along with a quick
arm action. Yesterday he was able to bump his fastball to 89 mph,
while sitting 85-87/88. He gets good extension down the mound with
his lower half, allowing him to get downhill plane. He showed a nice
feel for an 11/5 curveball, which topped 70 mph and was able to
maintain the same arm speed as his fastball. Cave also flashed a
changeup, which he kept low in the zone at 80 mph.
outfielder Anthony Churlin and the SWFL 17U Carrera team faced
off against Cave, and despite being the only 2016 on the roster,
Churlin turned in a strong performance. He shows a quick bat and
present strength in his righthanded swing and should progress as he
matures and fill outs his frame. Cave tried to get an 88 mph by
Churlin on the outer half, but he just went with the pitch and drove
it over the center fielder’s head for a double. He gets down the
line very well and his speed picks up once he gets going.
catcher Zach Jackson is an interesting prospect to watch over
the next few years, despite the fact that hasn't played a high school
game yet. In the box he shows lift and strength to his pull side
(right field) with some bat speed. He's sound behind the plate and
has no problem handling velocity. Jackson also has a strong, accurate
arm down to second and popped a 2.03 and 2.06 in between innings.
Gabriel Rodriguez came in for the final inning of FTB Louisville
Slugger's game and had a nice 1-2-3 outing, striking out the side.
His fastball sat 87-89 mph, despite his 5-foot-9 frame, due to his
quick, loose arm. He also flashed two hard, late biting sliders for
strikes at 76 and 77 mph which was his out pitch on two of the strike
Evan Harold and Brendan Rodgers had a strong day at the
plate for the Orlando Scorpions '15 Prime, each going 3-for-3 in the
game. Harold hit the ball hard in all three of his at-bats, with his
last hit being a hard line drive, registering 96 mph off the bat. He
shows quick hands and good bat speed with the ability to stay inside
picked up a couple doubles, with one in his first at-bat and another
in his third. He has the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields
and did just that, as he drove a ball to the left-centerfield gap and
then hit a line drive to the right-centerfield gap, each resulting in
two bases. Rodgers also impressed defensively, putting his glove work
and range son display, going far to his right at shortstop to make a
back handed play and get the lead runner out at third base to help
thwart a big inning.
Impact was in Fort Myers not too long ago for the Labor Day Classic
tournament, making a run deep into the playoffs, and hope to do even
better this time around. Their roster looks a bit different as they
added some bats, but also lost some arms in the process. Two of the
bats the picked up are Tyler Dietrich, who recently competed
in the PG Underclass All-American Games in San Diego, and Marc
Coffers, a 2016 who looks good on both sides of the ball. Both
are students at Barron Collier High School in Naples, Fla., and each
splits time behind the plate while hitting at the top of the lineup.
has a strong, well-proportioned frame with broad shoulders and will
continue to get stronger. At the plate he barreled up everything,
using a quick bat and strength. One at-bat stood out in particular,
as he turned on a pitch for a deep double to left field, one-hopping
the fence. Coffers also plays sound but aggressive defense behind the
plate, as he knows he has a strong arm and isn’t afraid to
back-pick runners at first base
also had a nice showing at the plate, lining a pitch back up the
middle for a single. He has a smooth swing with good bat speed and
should see his power continue to develop over the next few years.
Castillo is a lean, long limbed 2014 lefthanded pitcher who
twirled a six inning no-hitter last night as his team won by the
score of 8-0. Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, Castillo ran
his fastball up to 84 mph and showed a nice feel for his curveball
which had 1-to-7 break and depth to it.
- Jheremy Brown