Tournaments : : Story
Monday, July 21, 2014

17u PGWS Day 2 scouting recap

Todd Gold        
In a tournament loaded with top prospects on every field during every time slot it would be a reasonable expectation that the headliner from day two's action would be a power arm, an athletic up the middle position prospect or a power hitter. And while there are several strong representatives from each of those demographics, several of whom will be highlighted as well, the biggest impression from day two was the pitchability of left hander Logan Allen (2015, Fletcher, N.C.).

To be clear; Allen is by no means a soft tosser. The southpaw topped out at 93 mph a couple of weeks ago at the 17u WWBA National Championship in Georgia. But what stands out about Allen is not the power behind his arsenal, but rather how he utilizes it. He worked comfortably at 85-89 mph and reached back for 91 on the final pitch of the first inning. But there was intent to each pitch he threw, and rarely was that intent to simply throw the baseball as hard as possible. He located both his fastball and low 70s sweeping curveball on both sides of the plate with plus command. He threw 39 of his 52 pitches for strikes (69%), which is impressive in it's own right, but even moreso when you consider that how thoroughly he worked the corners and stayed out of the middle of the plate. There were several ball calls where Allen hit his spot just inches off the corner when ahead in the count and that percentage could easily have been into the seventies. He also flashed a few quality changeups. The most recent comp for Allen in recent PG history is Ian McKinney, who has been highly effective thus far in the Cardinals organization since being drafted in 2013.

The highlight moment of the day came on a deep blast off the bat of Elite Squad outfielder Daniel Reyes (2015, Miami Lakes, Fla.). The towering fly ball that landed on the warning track in left field was notable not only for the impressive power required to generate the combination of loft and distance. But more importantly, the bases clearing triple in the Elite Squad's last not only capped off a rally all the way back from an early 9-0 defecit, but also clinched a playoff berth. The triple pushed across three runs to tie the game at 11-11 and Reyes would come in to score the winning run in a highly improbable comeback that handed the Prospects National Team their first loss of the tournament.

The shot by Reyes trumped the leader in the clubhouse very late in the day after Chandler World outfielder Kyle Dean (2015, Poway, Calif.) had held the title for hardest struck ball of the day. Dean tore into a hanging breaking ball that exploded off his bat into left field at 99 mph for an authoritative double. Later in the day CBA Marucci catcher Chris Betts (2015, Long Beach, Calif.) made a case for the title with a warning track shot to right center with plenty of loft as well. The pitching stranglehold is beginning to loosen a bit as the tournament wears on, perhaps the next couple of days will bring the type of offensive outbursts that have been unusual in the opening days of this tournament.

After hitting a home run (a rare feat in this tournament) yesterday, shortstop Nick Shumpert (2015, Lone Tree, Colo.) got under a few balls today that didn't do any damage, but had hangtimes that warn opponents of the threat he poses, with a couple just a shade under six seconds, and one coming in at 6.44 seconds. Shumpert has one of the most exciting combinations of tools in the 2015 high school class and his every move is watched closely by the scouts in attendance.

In a tournament chock full of big name prospects, there was one highly notable PG debut on day two. GBG Marucci turned to their newest acquisition to finish off FTB in a 12-0 blowout victory. Right hander Cody Deason (2015, Ojai, Calif.) was a virtual unknown prior to taking the mound at the Area Code tryout a couple of weeks ago. He came on in a blowout but after his performance he may see action in a much higher leverage situation as GBG Marucci begins their playoff run tomorrow. Deason threw 10 pitches, all for strikes, and struck out two of the three batters he faced. He sat 90-92 from an over the top slot with a powerful compact arm stroke and a delivery that is reminscent of Arizona State All-American (and former PG All-American) Ryan Burr. He also worked in a pair of curveballs at 79 and 81 mph with bite.

In GBG Marucci's offensive outburst switch hitting middle infielder Jagger Rusconi (2015, , Calif.) finally got a chance to show what he can do from the right side after opening eyes with his combination of left handed bat speed and athleticism on opening day. In a crop of SoCal prospects that is light on up the middle talent, Rusconi looks poised to take advantage and has a chance to separate himself from the pack as the draft process moves along. His pure speed make center field a potential fit as well, though he has shown well at second base in this event, which also gives him some versatility.

In a tournament dominate by the top 2015 prospects, one underclassman has been forcing scouts to take notice with his tools. Houston Banditos catcher Garrett Wolforth (2016, Spring, Texas) has shown off an impressive combination or arm strength and bat speed. He has some work to do when it comes to developing his lateral agility behind the plate, in part to due to a narrow setup, but he's a soft receiver who stole a few strike calls with his pitch framing and posted an in-game pop time of 1.88 and had several more throws in that range between innings. He's a switch hitter who is now 4-for-8 on the tournament and is displaying solid present bat speed from both sides and projects well physically, as he gets stronger his loose swing should generate even more bat speed.

The other standout underclassman on day two was West Coast Mariners right hander Kenyon Yovan (2016, Beaverton, Ore.). Yovan had a highly impressive first inning of work against the Tri-State Arsenal, sitting 88-89 and touching 90 mph a couple of times with a heavy sinking fastball. He got into trouble missing over the plate in the second inning and ran into some trouble, though he was still highly effective inducing ground balls and managed to hold the Arsenal to just one (unearned) while pitching into the fifth inning and striking out four to just one walk. The Oregon commit is currently listed as a primary third baseman, but the physical right hander looks like he has a bright future on the mound. He backed his upper 80s sinker with a upper 70s/low 80s slider with tight short break and a soft deep curveball.

In an event full of draft prospects who are already committed to Division I powerhouse college programs, there aren't as many recruitable players for college programs as there are at most PG tournaments. But there was a very interesting uncommitted arm who came on in relief for the Elite Squad yesterday who bares mention. Right hander Richard Cruz (2015, Miami Lakes, Fla.) came into a must-win game that was slipping away, and was likely being saved for the playoffs. As a six foot righty who topped out at 89 it would be easy for him to get overlooked at a star studded event like this. But he spun a gem in relief to earn the W in a crucial game and he did it against a potent Prospects National Team lineup. Cruz sat 86-88 with sink and he located well, his changeup featured good arm speed and he mixed the fastball/change combo well to keep hitters off balance and showed feel for his mid 70s curveball as well. With a listed GPA of 3.4 and no listed college commitment, Cruz should be a highly attractive recruit.

These observations and opinions are those of one member of the PG scouting staff. With games being played on up to eight fields simultaneously, it is impossible for the preceding recap to be fully comprehensive. Rather these are the players and moments that stood out the most while watching some of the top players in the country compete in an intensely competitive atmosphere. 

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