Tournaments : : Story
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shumpert shines on day 3 at PGWS

Todd Gold        

On day three there were several position prospects whose elite tools have been on display throughout the tournament that elevated their game further during the playoffs.

Outfielder Ryan Johnson (2015, College Station, Texas) possesses arguably the highest offensive ceiling not only of the loaded PG World Series field, but possibly the entire 2015 draft class. He has tremendous bat speed from the left side and good present strength to go with remaining projection. His power ceiling is very lofty and while he hasn't squared the ball up all that frequently this week while being pitched carefully, the amount of force he generates on his mishits come off the bat hard enough to to pick up hits at a good clip. He's currently 6-for-13 on the tournament and has shown off big time arm strength in right field.

While Johnson has the tools to headline just about any group of prospects, day three's biggest highlight was middle infielder Nick Shumpert (2015, Lone Tree, Colo.). He and his Prospects National Team teammates suffered a pair of walk-off losses today and were eliminated from the playoffs. But Shumpert wouldn't go down quietly. He led off the elimination game with a seven pitch at-bat, which included well struck foul balls against an upper 80s fastball as well as a pair of breaking balls, before unloading on a 91 mph fastball for a double in the left center field gap. Shumpert has consistently wielded his above average present bat speed throughout the week and his big league average raw power has manifested itself both with an in game home run, hard hit balls in play and loud fly outs. While his all-out aggression leads to empty swings and throwing errors, it also creates plenty of 'wow' moments. With continued development and game repititions in games played at this pace, those wow moments should gradually increase while the miscues decrease over time. While there are several other prospects with high end offensive upside on display at the PG World Series, Shumpert has arguably the highest ceiling given that his loud tools pair with an up the middle profile.

Another up the middle athlete with a high offensive ceiling who has really opened eye this week has been Jagger Rusconi (2015, Valencia, Calif.). The switch hitter heated up in the biggest games of the week, going 5-for-7 with a pair of triples in GBG Marucci's two intense playoff battles. He's a plus runner who has quality bat speed from both sides of the plate and present gap power that projects. His athleticism is an asset up the middle where he and double play partner Alejo Lopez (2015, Glendale, Ariz.) have been a force on defense and in the top two spots in the lineup. Lopez is also a switch hitter with some pop, particularly from the right side and is a smooth fielder at short with a solid arm.

It comes as a surprise to report that we've yet to see the first homer of the tourney from slugging catcher Chris Betts (2015, Long Beach, Calif.). Conditions were ripe during CBA Marucci's winner's bracket matchup against the Houston Banditos as temperatures soared north of 100 degrees and the desert winds blew out towards right field. Unfortunately for Betts they blew a bit too hard as he hammered a ball down the line that sailed foul with plenty of distance. The night before he smashed a towering shot that landed on the right field warning track and continued to threaten to leave the yard throughout the day but ultimately came up short. The stage was set for him to play the hero when he came to the plate with the winning run in scoring position with two outs in a tie game but after a wild pitch opened up first base the Houston Banditos intentionally walked him before escaping the inning and ultimately pulling out the W in exras.

Johnson and EvoShield Canes teammate LT Tolbert (2015, Piedmont, S.C.) have been an impressive tandem for the Canes and it comes as no surprise that when paired with a dominant pitching staff, the Canes can earn a return trip to the championship game with a win tomorrow. Tolbert went 3-for-4 in the Canes' extra innings thriller against GBG Marucci and has played well defensively. The Canes are extremely deep and depending on the game they find themselves with significant offensive contributions from several other hitters in the lineup in addition to Tolbert and Johnson, some of whom will be covered in this space in further updates from this and future tournaments, but those two have blatant future upside to go with their present production.

While most of the top arms have been burned to reach the playoffs, the never ending depth of the EvoShield Canes allowed them to roll out lefty Dylan Cyphert (2015, Oil City, Penn.) for their opening playoff matchup. Cyphert topped out at 88 mph with his fastball and worked up and down the 80s but his ability to hide the baseball allows it to play up a tick and his command was sharp. He slowed down a GBG Marucci lineup that had been firing on all cylinders during pool play and was coming off of a 12-0 mercy rule shortened blowout in their previous game.

Cyphert was opposed by GBG Marucci right hander Cody Deason (2015, Ojai, Calif.). Deason made his PG debut the day before, throwing 10 pitches in relief, all of them for strikes. A former football player who has relatively little pitching experience, Deason was unfazed by being thrown into the fire to face an EvoShield Canes team that has the highest pedigree of any travelball team in the nation. While he works in the low 90s in short bursts he took the mound knowing that he'd need to navigate the deep Canes lineup a couple of times through to give his team a chance to win and while dialed back to 84-88 he not only competed but had the defending champs on the ropes. He threw nearly two thirds of his pitches for strikes and struck out six compared to just two walks over five strong innings of work. We are told that Deason has developed rapidly since shifting his focus to the mound and now that he has given up football there is a chance that he can continue to do so. He is currently uncommitted, though there is certain to be strong interest in his services going forward with what he has shown over the past three weeks at the Area Code tryouts and here at the PG World Series.

One player who has continually flown a bit under the radar that must be mentioned is Arizona Prowlers infielder Tyler Wyatt (2015, Peoria, Ariz.). The six foot shortstop climbs north of 90 mph when he takes the mound and shows a quality curveball and could potentially come out of the bullpen as a two-way player at the college level. He shows quality bat speed and sees the ball well at the plate and flashes power when appropriate. His hands work well defensively, and while he isn't a plus athlete who commands close attention of scouts, he's a very solid defender and is currently 4-for-8 with three walks and two doubles.

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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