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Juco  | Story  | 9/29/2023

Jayhawk Scouting Notebook: East

Brian Sakowski      Blaine Peterson     
Jayhawk Scouting Notebook: West

Noah Goodshield (Labette) stood out in a few ways over the course of the event, starting during the workout/showcase portion and continuing on into his all-star game at-bats. He’s a lithely-built athlete with twitch to his overall game who plays fast, and that shows up in the box score. The athleticism shows defensively, as he’s lighter on his feet and has balance to his actions, with clean footwork and solid hand actions. The arm strength is solid, reaching 88 mph on his recorded throws across the diamond, and looks to be enough to potentially stay on the left side long-term. He’s a righthanded hitter, with quality bat speed on a more linear plane, showing the ability to work to all fields on a line in BP and take that same approach into the game, where he barreled up a single to right field in his first at-bat. His hands are loose and the path is direct, showing a pretty simple and repeatable loading mechanism in his lower half and hands while getting the barrel on plane. He stole a few bases in this event also, showing off that first step quickness and ability to get up to top speed quickly. 

Johnson County brought a strong contingent of players to this event per usual, and I was impressed by the catching duo of Cal Kilgore and Kyle Hepburn. Kilgore didn’t play in the game but arguably stole the show during catcher workouts, showing probably the best lower half twitch amongst the catching crop while getting off a very quick release with the strongest catcher arm of the event as well. He popped as low as 1.93 seconds in a workout setting and clocked up to 83 mph on his throws, proving that if his blocking and receiving are on par with his athleticism and throwing skills, he’s likely to be one of the better JUCO defenders behind the plate. His batting practice session was solid too, showing off solid righthanded bat speed with some loft to the stroke and good ability to generate rotational strength, flashing good raw power to the pull-side and having the capability to do damage. 

Hepburn worked out almost as well as Kilgore in terms of metrics, popping as low as 2.00 seconds in the workout and throwing 80 mph from behind the plate. He’s a solidly-built backstop with good overall size, and stands out for his ability to generate true four seam carry on his throws down to 2nd base, something we didn’t necessarily see a ton of in this event. The athleticism and arm strength are solid, and he has a good bit of experience having seen time as a freshman last spring. He also had a pair of hits during the all-star game portion, with a double and a single to his credit in three trips to the plate. He does a good job of attacking pitches on both halves of the plate, and has the strength necessary to drive breaking balls up gaps. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him approach double-digit home runs next spring, all while playing quality defense behind the plate. Johnson County is, per usual, rich at the catcher position. 

Garrett Rusch (Allen County) had the loudest offensive day of anyone by a good stretch, going 3-3 with a double and a bomb, coming just a triple shy of the cycle but a perfect day nonetheless. Rusch looks like a good overall athlete, showing some speed on the bases and possessing an athletic build–though obviously the standout traits here are coming from his offensive performance. The righthanded swing is quick and direct, really generating torque in his hips and creating bat speed with rotational acceleration. The strength plays to the biggest parts of the ballpark, as both extra-base hits went towards left-center, including the home run which just kept carrying. He showed a strong arm across the infield during workouts and also flashed some utility on the mound as a righthanded reliever, but the recruiters in attendance surely walked away thinking first and foremost about how he impacted the game with the bat. 

Some of the best lefthanded power in the East crop of Jayhawk hitters belongs to Jase Woita (Kansas City-Kansas). Woita, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound lefthanded-hitting first baseman, hit a bomb in game play and took a loud round of batting practice to go along with it, showing off big lift to his stroke along with plenty of physical strength. He’s able to generate backspin with big carry to the pull-side, and he’s strong enough to impact balls the opposite way with authority as well. A solid mover for a player of his size, Woita also showed solid footwork and hand actions around the first base bag, with a solid arm for the position as well. Woita hit 20 doubles and 12 bombs a year ago for KCK, and is trending towards potentially having a 20 home run season in 2024. If you’re a recruiter looking to lock up a lefthanded power bat, definitely check in on Woita. 

Speaking of physical lefthanded hitters, Cade Schupp (Allen County) stood out for his workout performance as well as his in-game performance, coming off a freshman campaign that saw him OPS .935 in over 100 PA’s. Schupp takes a wider set at the plate and does a good job of getting into his back hip in his load and creating good hinge, sequencing well in his hands and getting to a clean, strong launch spot. The swing has good lift and the strength is obvious, with the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark pull-side, as he did in-game, as well as work the back-side gap, which we saw him do in batting practice. He’s a solid athlete who has played some outfield, though he came to this setting as primarily a first baseman, where his arm strength stands out. He should be a middle-order presence for Allen this spring and looks to be poised for a monster statistical year. 

Gehrig Goldbeck (Kansas City-Kansas) stood out in an all-around way, as a lefthanded-hitting shortstop who tested well and played well overall. Goldbeck, who was named the NJCAA Division One Defensive Player of the Year in 2023 for his work at shortstop for KCK, also slashed .354/.498/.449 with 32 steals and more walks than strikeouts as a freshman. Goldbeck’s defender of the year tag is rightly-earned, as the sophomore shortstop shows advanced actions in terms of his hands, above-average balance and a very good internal clock while patrolling the middle field. The abilities to play the middle of the diamond on the dirt long term are there, and Goldbeck should be amongst the first calls for D1’s seeking a JUCO shortstop. He’s still more long and lean in terms of build than anything, showing a quick lefthanded stroke on a linear path, getting the barrel out in front on velocity with some strength to the pull-side, but for the most part showing a confident and patient approach with good bat-to-ball skills and a willingness to work counts deep and take walks. He likely won’t hit for a ton of power but does have some extra base juice, and his on-base ability coupled with his defensive skills at a premium position make him an attractive prospect. 

Speaking of premium position defenders, Cowley shortstop Jadyn McNealy stood out through the showcase portion and into game play. McNealy slashed .345/.530/.387 a year ago for Cowley with a ridiculous 59 walks vs. only 24 strikeouts. McNealy, a righthanded-hitting middle infielder, looks to have the twitch, lateral agility and requisite athleticism to play the middle of the diamond long term. His arm strength was below average in this look, but he does get it out quickly and demonstrates the ability to throw from multiple angles both on-and-off platform with accuracy, Offensively, that on-base ability and overall approach stands out, and his swing from the right side of the plate is very much geared for spraying contact around to all fields and built for continuing to get on base at a high clip. McNealy is a versatile, athletic middle infielder with high-level offensive upside thanks to his abilities to work walks and get on base a ton, and should be a fit for a ton of the recruiters in attendance at the Jayhawk event. 

Another guy who jumped way out in the showcase portion but didn’t play in the game was Jaden Hill (Coffeyville), a left/left two-way player with great physicality and some loud tools at his disposal. He’s built really well, strong and physical with an athletic frame and a great combination of strength/twitch to his overall game. He showed off a big arm in the outfield, where he could profile in any of the three spots, and his arm strength also shows up on the mound where he worked 85-87 mph from the left side in a bullpen look. His raw power at the plate also showed up during his BP rounds, where he flashed above-average bat speed with power to the pull-side and up the alleys. Hill is also a talented football player whose first collegiate stop was to play both football and baseball, but now seemingly focused on baseball and baseball alone, his stock could blow up in the spring given the physical tools if he performs at a high level. 

Perhaps the hardest-hit ball of the day in terms of game play belonged to Jaret Nelson (Fort Scott), a powerfully-built righthanded-hitting first baseman who hit 22 bombs a year ago at Fort Scott and may have his eyes on 30 this year. Nelson is big at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, with obvious strength throughout his frame, and he’s a serious power threat thanks not only to that physical strength, but to his bat speed and barrel accuracy as well. Nelson went big fly in the game way out to left-center field, attacking a pitch in the middle of the strike zone and absolutely not missing it. He starts a little more spread out than normal in the box and hunches down into his load, taking a shorter stride and getting his front foot down in plenty of time. He’s really able to torque and drive his hips into contact, showing where a fair bit of that power comes from, and is able to do so quickly and efficiently without jerking his barrel off path. The barrel turns tight and gets into the hitting zone on time, allowing him to have that lag in the zone, and his power allows him to potentially leave the yard to all parts of the ballpark. He’s poised for a monster 2024 season at Fort Scott. 

-Brian Sakowski

Braxton Haywood, RHP, Labette Community College

A KJCCC-East 1st-team all-conference selection in 2023 as a reliever. Struck out 84 in 70 innings pitched a season ago. Showed a 3-pitch mix during the Sophomore Showcase game. The 6-4/205 right-hander was up to 87 with the fastball and operates from a unique deceptive slide step delivery. Ability to locate two off speed pitches stood out with a fading change up and a slider with vertical drop that was among the highest spinning breaking balls at the event.

Ricardo Hernandez, RHP, Coffeyville Community College

A pitchability 6-foot-3 right-hander that was a KJCCC-East 2nd-team all-conference selection in 2023. Pitched to a 4.32 ERA across 81.1 innings in 2023 and walked just 18 batters in those innings. Showed feel for the pitch mix, worked mid to upper 80’s with the fastball and showed the ability to manipulate the pitch. Change up played well off the fastball with maintained arm speed. Slider looked to be the premier pitch with late horizontal break and above average spin traits. Among the event leaders in breaking ball spin, with efficient late bite. Plenty of traits to like here and to build upon for year two in the Jayhawk conference.

Luke Singleton, LHP, Cowley College

A 6-foot-2 left-hander that showed a 3-pitch mix at the Jayhawk Sophomore Showcase. Fastball sat in the mid to upper 80’s and was worked to both sides of the plate. Big 1-7 shape curve showed as the best offering, with sharp and efficient break at spins over 2700 RPM. Pitch has the potential to both freeze hitters and induce swing and miss. Intriguing stuff from the left side that should continue to get better.

Gavin Brummund, RHP, Fort Scott Community College

A 6-foot-1 right-hander that showed a 3-pitch mix at the Jayhawk Sophomore Showcase. Up to 90 with the fastball sitting consistently in the upper 80’s with arm side sink. Mixed both the fading change up and slider well to both right-handed and left-handed hitters. Pitchability stands out and has a chance to develop into one of the more effective arms in the conference this season.

Mason Davenport, RHP, Kansas City Kansas Community College

A noticeable presence on the mound at 6-9/250. Gets downhill with the low 90’s fastball well, topping out at 92 at the Jayhawk Sophomore Showcase. Real chance to develop and make another velo jump this spring. Showed two off-speed pitches to compliment the fastball, the most notable being a slider late break and tilt that comes in at times on the same plane as the fastball. Intriguing overall profile with size, stuff and already over 65 innings of experience on a college mound.

Brayden Thompson, RHP, Allen County Community College

The hardest thrower of the day on the east side with a fastball topping out at 93 and sitting in the low 90’s throughout. Late breaking slider in the upper 70’s works as a swing and miss offering and the changeup gives him a usable third pitch in the low 80’s. Each offering showed notable velocity separation off the others. Has the ability to miss bats recording an 11.69 K/9 in 2023. Chance to become one of the more effective hard throwing right-handers in the conference this season.

Kyle Snyder, LHP, Highland Community College

Left-handed pitcher with a 3-pitch mix, present feel for spinning a breaking ball and room for added projection. Up to 85 at the Sophomore Showcase in a bullpen session. Among the leaders in breaking ball spin rate at the entire event. Plenty of traits to like and continue to develop here. A 6-1/155 frame suggests there’s plenty of strength gains and possible stuff jump in the future.

Cameron Robertson, RHP, Neosho County Community College

Showed an effective fastball and breaking ball out of a physical 6-3/215 frame on the mound. Sat in the upper 80’s with the fastball topping out at 89 and paired it with a big 11-5 shape curve that showed consistent shape throughout. Worked with pace, went right at hitters with the stuff and showed the traits to become an effective starter in the Jayhawk Conference this season.

Sawyer Allen, LHP, Johnson County Community College

A transfer from the Division 2 level a season ago where he threw over 70 collegiate innings and led his team in strikeouts as a true freshman. Brings a lot of mound experience to the Johnson County pitching staff this season and can be utilized in a variety of roles. At the sophomore showcase he showed a 3-pitch mix on the mound with a fastball up to 85, a firm upper 70’s slider and real feel for a change up. Pitchability stands out here and the the ability to mix and locate the stuff looked promising at

Brett McComas, RHP, Cowley College

Up to 93 on the mound in a bullpen session with a slider that spins above 2500 RPM at the Jayhawk Sophomore Showcase. Big arm speed out of a 5-9/170 frame on the mound. Showed athletic movements to the delivery to go with the arm speed. Had a 10.53 K/9 across 19.2 IP as a freshman in 2023 and looks poised for a bigger role this season. It’s a unique profile on the mound, and one that is likely to be among the hardest throwers in the Jayhawk Conference in 2024.

-Blaine Peterson