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General  | Blog  | 11/28/2023

Scout Stories: Part 1

Anthony Gambardella      John McAdams     
Mid-Atlantic Top Prospect Dream Team 

 As we approach the New Year, the 2024 Draft is something that will be spoken about quite frequently in scouting circles leading up to July. There will be plenty of movement as college guys continue to cement their spots on boards, while HS guys will be sure to rise as they make noticeable jumps from our last looks. With that said, we have decided to effectively create a “Dream Team” of Draft Eligible Top Prospects from the Mid-Atlantic region. (States included for consideration:  VA, WV, MD, DC, DE, PA. NJ & NY).  

C: Ethan Anderson, University of Virginia  
The overall hit tool and consistency is what stands out with Anderson, as he likely spends the majority of his time behind the dish for Coach O’Connor and the Cavaliers in 2024 but offers versatility and athleticism. It is an all-fields approach with excellent pitch recognition and some juice for the University of Virginia backstop, as he has continued to excel at the plate.  



1B: Nick Kurtz, Wake Forest  
Kurtz is a potential 1:1 selection and deservedly so, as the hulking 6-foot-5, 235-pound first baseman brings about as well-rounded of an offensive profile as you’ll find amongst prospect. It is an advanced approach with excellent patience and massive power to all fields. He is athletic despite his length and can be considered a plus defender as well. The overall hit tool coupled with near 70-grade juice make him a potential force within a lineup for years to come.  

IF: JJ Wetherholt, West Virginia  
Wetherholt has all the makings of being a special bat in this year’s crop, as the left-handed hitting 2B/3B has top of the scale feel for the barrel and packs some thump in his hands. He rarely swings-and-misses, uses the entire field extremely well and impacts the baseball loudly quite often. Defensively, he has the athleticism and range to handle third base if needed but an extremely offensive second baseman with plus instincts and top of the class overall hit tool makes sense.  


IF: Aiden Harris, 3B, Midlothian, VA  
This 2023 PG All-American may have one of the highest offensive ceilings within this Draft Class, as he regularly posts exit velocities north of 100 mph and has posted some 110+ in-game action. He made Chase Field look small at the PGAAC with some mammoth longballs that reached areas that left the crowd speechless. The power shows up in-game as he performed well across the circuit. Defensively, he has the agility and athleticism to man the hot corner, while showcasing enough arm strength across to stick there for the foreseeable future. The bat is certainly the carrying tool and boy is it fun to watch.  

IF: Owen Paino, INF/OF, Poughkeepsie, NY 
Paino is another 2023 PG All-American with immense projection physically that has performed well across the circuit throughout his prep career. The sweet left-handed stroke is fun to watch, as he uses the entire field well and has some massive power potential as he continues to refine his stroke. Defensively, he is an easy mover with good range and arm strength to stick on the left-side moving forward. The physical upside is still there to dream on, as he still has room to mature and expand his already enticing set of tools.  

IF: Carson DeMartini, Virginia Tech  
DeMartini has steadily climbed most draft boards and will assuredly have plenty of eyes on him this spring. The left-handed hitting third baseman was slowed in the second half of 2023 with a shoulder injury but still put impressive overall numbers and showed his grit by battling through it. He is a .332 hitter during his Hokie career with over 130 hits, over 100 RBI’s and has hit 25 HR’s in just two seasons of work. He is an extra base machine with middle-of-the lineup thump. Defensively, he provides some versatility but the bat should allow for him to always find a place within the lineup.  

OF: Michael Sirota, Northeastern  
Sirota is a dynamic athlete that can impact the game in a multitude of ways. Whether it is his game changing speed, excellent barrel skills or continued evolution of his in-game power potential; Sirota can be simply electric on both sides of the ball. He hit 18 homers in ’23 and has continued to get physically stronger each season, while maintaining his plus run times and athleticism. The Broad Channel, NY native is primed for another electrifying season and will be watched closely all spring.  

OF: Paxton Kling, LSU  
Kling should see more time this upcoming season for the Defending Champs, as playing time was tough to find in an absolutely loaded lineup. Highly touted as a prep, Kling offers an intriguing blend of athleticism and loud impact potential as he garners regular time. He could be a pick to click this spring, as he brings tons of bat speed and power potential to the table. If he is able to handle CF regularly, he stock should only rise as the spring goes on.  

OF: Casey Saucke, Virginia  
Saucke’s bat is the carrying tool, as he has continued to add strength and impacts the baseball with authority to all fields regularly. The power should continue to come, as the swing path has some natural lift to it and he will only continue to refine his overall approach. The 2020 PG All-American manned right field for the Cavs in 2023 but has the athleticism and acumen to play both in the grass and dirt. He continually performs in-game, while expanding his overall tools leading into 2024.  


OF:  Andre Modugno, Upper Saddle River, NJ  
Modugno is an absolute physical specimen with a toolshed of attributes that only continue to improve. He is a 6.44 runner despite his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame and produced throws up to 100 mph from the outfield in 2023. Add-in a refined approach that has aided his overall hit tool but he has massive power potential to all fields that showed in-game throughout 2023. Oh by the way, he has been up to 97 mph from the mound with some feel for spin.   
 
P: Luke Holman, RHP, LSU 
Holman has all the makings of an “ACE”, as the long, lanky right-hander pounds the zone with a heater into the mid-90s with desirable traits that elicit plenty of swings-and-misses. Add-in a well-tunneled spiked curveball that garners tons of awkward, empty swings and a developing slider that could turn into a true weapon. He completes his mix with a usable changeup that continues to evolve and competes in the zone regularly. The metrics coupled with the higher release allow for him to fit in to a host of Orgs looking for their next big arm. 

P: David Shields, LHP, Pittsburgh, PA  
Shields reclassified up into the 2024 Class to make himself eligible for this year’s draft. The strong, durable left-hander regularly works in the low-90s with his fastball and should continue to tick up there, while showcasing a two-tier slider with lateral sweep and depth to it. He completes his mix with a slightly faded changeup that will continue to evolve with expected velocity gains. He repeats his operation effortlessly with athleticism and fluidity down the slope, has performed at every stop along the circuit and the pitchability stands out.  

P: Jake Yeager, RHP, Odenton, MD 
Yeager is an electric right-hander with desirable projection and metrics that will certainly bode well for the future. He has been into the mid-90s with the fastball and pairs it well with a high spin breaker that is a weapon. He has flashed the makings of a solid-average changeup to complete his mix. The operation itself has some effort at release and the command can vary but once he refines the overall picture, coupled with the present arm talent will fun to watch.  

P: Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina  
Yesavage is a strong, durable right-hander that has continued to vastly improve each season at East Carolina. He has been up to 96-97 mph with the fastball at-times but mostly works in the 92-94 range with huge carry through the zone. He uses both a cutter that has late life to it and true banger with late depth as his breaking ball options within his repertoire. He finishes off his four-pitch mix with a tumbling splitter variation that gets tons of whiffs. He has continually gotten better and another strong 2024 campaign could catapult him even higher on Draft Boards.  


P: Tegan Kuhns, RHP, Gettysburg, PA 
Kuhns is another dynamic right-hander that projects to add more velocity despite peaking in the mid-90s already. The Tennessee commit is a spin monster with his breaking ball exceeding 3000 RPMs regularly, landing it for strikes with power and depth. He completes his arsenal with a usable changeup that he replicates effectively and the ceiling may be extremely high here as he continues to physically mature.  
 

Honorable Mention:  

Griffin O’Farrell, SS, Virginia  
Ryan Costello, 1B/OF, Howell, NJ 
Bryce Meecage, RHP, Pennington, NJ  
Christian Moore, INF, Tennessee 
Fran Oschell, RHP, Duke  
Gage Ziehl, RHP, Miami  
Lee Sowers, MIF, Glen Allen,VA 
Tague Davis, 1B/LHP, Chadds Ford, PA 
Griffin Burkholder, OF, South Riding, VA 
Luke Dickerson, MIF, Denville, NJ 
Christian Moore, INF, Tennessee 

-John McAdams


The Best Game I Saw: September Slugfest

The 18u WWBA Northeast Qualifier played host to a number of highly anticipated affairs but none held a candle to the September Slugfest that consisted of 10 long balls and two reputable programs in Oilers 18U and East Coast Lumberjacks 2024s. Despite both teams starting right-handers up to 90 mph, the bats were hot and the wind was blowing out at South Shore Babe Ruth in Staten Island, NY. Army commit Robbie Melo got the party started for the Lumberjacks with a pair of two-run bombs in the first two innings, lighting a pretty bright spark for his club. David Yorke and Andrew Pedrick matched Melo with two-run shots of their own for the Oilers in the second inning.

The Lumberjacks held on to a 9-4 lead after just two frames of baseball and by no means had any reason to feel comfortable with that margin. Jack Fitzpatrick and Evan Taylor went back-to-back for the Oilers in the top of the third to cut the Lumberjacks’ lead to two. The Oilers later snatched that edge in the top of the 5th with another Taylor home run as well as one from Christian Elliot, both of which were two-run shots.

Logan Norman quickly responded for the Jacks with a two-run bomb of his own on the other side of the fifth inning, tying the ballgame at 11 with time for just one final frame. After holding the Oilers to a zero in the top half, the Lumberjacks now had a chance to win it in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and empty bags all around, Shaun McMillan stepped in the box with bad intentions. The 6-foot-3 205-pounder jumped on the first pitch he saw and launched it over the right field wall. After hitting the tenth home run of the game while ending it in walk-off fashion, McMillan was met at home plate with a crowd of fellow Lumberjacks.

- Anthony Gambardella