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Tournaments | Story | 9/21/2014

PG/Evo Upperclass Day 2 recap

David Rawnsley      Todd Gold     
Photo: Perfct Game

Dbacks Elite Scout Team outfielder Tyler Williams (2015, Peoria, Ariz.) was mentioned in the Day 1 notes but had an even better game Saturday morning in the Dbacks 10-0 run rule win over the So Cal - White Sox Scout Team. Williams went 2-for-2 with a double, a three-run home run and a walk, driving in four runs overall.

Michael Carter, who played 13 years professionally and currently lives in Phoenix and works with many of the top young players in the area, including Williams, was the Perfect Game field scout for the game and offered this comment on Williams recent rapid development:

"What people don't realize is that a couple of years ago Tyler wasn't very coordinated. He was big and fast and looked the part but he really wasn't a very good athlete. It's only recently that he's started to gain his coordination; you can see it in the way he runs much straighter lines and the balance that he has in the batter's box. And he's just going to keep getting better as that coordination improves."

Carter also said to pay very close attention to a one of the youngest players in the PG/EvoShield National Upperclass Championship, Dbacks Elite outfielder/first baseman Nick Brueser (2017, Chandler, Ariz.), especially when the lefthanded hitter is at the plate.

There are no official PG records for fastest game at a tournament but Saturday's game between the CBA Bulldogs and the Trombly Nighthawks, with a likely berth in the playoffs on the line, has to rank as well above average. The 3-1 CBA victory was completed in a brisk 1 hour and 14 minutes, with the key contributor being CBA righthanded pitcher Liam Ogburn (2015, Newport Beach, Calif.). Ogburn threw only 70 pitches in his complete game victory, nearly 73 percent of those for strikes, while not issuing a walk. He wasn't overpowering, topping out at 78 mph, but had outstanding feel for his curveball and spotted both pitches on the corners.

He also benefited from a strong defense behind him led by left fielder Rigsby Duncan (2015, Newport Beach, Calif.), who gunned down a runner at the plate with an outstanding throw, and catcher Dalton Blumenfeld (2015, Los Angeles, Calif.). Blumenfeld, a Loyola Marymount commit, was also one of the offensive stars, driving in a run with a booming triple directly over the Trombly right fielder's head.

Aaron Greenfield (2016, Los Angeles, Calif.), who was one of the most impressive hitters at the PG/EvoShield National Underclass Championship last week, continued to swing the bat well, driving in a run with a double down the right field line and adding an infield single.

Righthanded pitcher
Jonah DiPoto (2015, Newport Beach, Calif.) pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning for the Nighthawks, throwing only eight pitches, all fastballs in the 85-88 mph range. DiPoto, who was making his first appearance at a Perfect Game event, is the son of Los Angeles Angels General Manager Jerry DiPoto. Interestingly, Jonah DiPoto's middle name is Seaver, as he was born while his father was pitching for the New York Mets as a teammate of Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.

One of the most impressive team performances of the first two days of the tournament was turned in by the pitching staff of Iowa Select Black, who did not allow a run, earned or unearned, during three games of pool play. Saturday afternoon it was lefthander Spencer Van Scoyoc (2016, Cedar Rapids, Iowa) who did most of the work, throwing five shutout innings in a 2-0 win over So Cal NTT. Van Scoyoc topped out at 88 mph on his fastball and used a big breaking low-70s curveball frequently.

Zach Daniels (2015, Robins, Iowa) came in to throw the final two innings and was very impressive in picking up the save, pounding the strike zone with 87-90 mph fastballs from a deceptive mid three-quarters arm slot.

Middle Infielder
Dylan Doherty (2015, Santa Ana, Calif.), whose lefthanded power hitting exploits were described in the Day 1 notes, threw a complete game as the hard luck loser for So Cal NTT. He was very impressive on the mound, allowing only four hits and striking out eight while pitching almost exclusively with an 85-88 mph fastball. Doherty also had one of So Cal NTT's four hits and just missed changing the course of the game in another at-bat, getting under a Van Scoyoc fastball and lifting a high fly out to deep right field.

So Cal Halos righthanded pitcher Dane Aguilar (2016, Moorpark, Calif.) is very projectable and struck out seven hitters in four shutout innings in the Halo's 3-1 win over MAP Baseball. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Aguilar has a young and loose body and effortless arm action that produced a consistent 82-84 mph fastball that is certain to keep adding velocity. He threw a curveball and a slider, both of which had quality spin, and threw all his pitches to spots low in the zone. It is worth pointing out that Aguilar is only 15 years old and his birth date would normally put him in the 2017 class.

Another 2016 righthander who stood out Saturday was So Cal SKLZ/TROSKY's Casey Legimma (2016, Chandler, Ariz.). The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Ligimma also threw four shutout innings, enabling So Cal to earn a playoff birth in an 8-0 win over IP Baseball. Legimma pitched in the 85-89 mph area, and like Aguilar, showed lots of projection in his arm action and a pair of quality off speed pitches in a curveball and a changeup. Legimma's change was an especially impressive pitch thrown in the mid- to upper-70s with big running life at times.

The slate of games on Day 2 at the Goodyear complex offered a veritable feast of quality pitching prospects. It looked as though the high level pitching matchup between defending champion GBG Marucci Navy and Southern Nevada Baseball would be the headliner of the day. But in the nightcap the 50th state had a hurler steal the show in his mainland debut.

2015 righthander Ian Kahaloa (Ewa Beach, Hawaii) made his first appearance at a PG event and he made a very strong first impression. The Prospects National Team saved him for what they expected to be a must-win game to earn a playoff berth, and while the standings didn't pan out for that situation to come to pass, Kahaloa stepped up nonetheless. With his adrenaline pumping in the first inning his fastball peaked at 92 mph, though he battled some early wildness resulting from overthrowing and walked a pair before blowing a 90 mph fastball past the final hitter to strand both runners. From that point on Kahaloa was dominant. He wouldn't allow another baserunner until the fifth inning, when he finally allowed his first hit, and an unearned run. He finished the game with a line of five innings pitched, one hit, two walks and twelve strikeouts.

Kahaloa hides the baseball well during his compact and well coordinated delivery with a compact release from a mid three-quarters arm slot. He controls his delivery well for the most part and the ball comes out his hand with ease and features good life at release. His upper-80s fastball frequently hit 90 throughout with several 91s mixed in early on. His secondary arsenal featured a hard upper-70s slider, a low-70s curveball and an upper-70s to low-80s changeup which flashed big darting life. His secondary stuff is still a work in progress in terms of consistency and refinement, but he shows the ability to impart hard spin to create hard bite and has the makings of a quality changeup. As he learns to harness his raw stuff and get the most out of his fast, loose arm, Kahaloa has a chance to develop into a high level prospect on the national scene, and is already established as the top Hawaiian high school prospect in the 2015 draft.

The day started with a bang as 2015 righthander Austin Rubick (Ventra, Calif.) matched up with 2016 righthander Jack Little (Henderson, Nev.) head-to-head in a matchup with playoff implications. The pitcher's duel was as advertised with each hurler hitting 90 mph or better and trading three scoreless frames until an unearned run came across for each squad in the fourth inning.

Rubick sat 89-91 mph with life when on top of the baseball and had decent success with his attempts to work both sides of the plate and move the ball around the strike zone. He worked heavily off of his fastball which he was able to overpower hitters with in this outing, and he worked in several changeups in the 80-83 mph range with plus life tumbling to the arm side. He tended to bury those changeups, but the arm speed, delivery, pace and arm slot all matched that of his fastball. That gave the pitch deception and caused some swings and misses, and as he learns to command the pitch it could become a legitimate weapon, not only to lefthanders but also against righties.

His breaking ball flashed hard spin when he was able to get over the top of it, though Rubick had a tendency to get caught working uphill, and that was exacerbated on his curveball and he scrapped the pitch after a couple of innings. While the pitch has a ways to go, particularly his ability to spin it, his athleticism suggests that he can get there and develop a quality breaking ball. He showed improved control since his outings at the PG National and the Area Code Games where he topped out at 92 mph but had trouble staying in the strike zone.

Video of Rubick:

Little topped out at 90 mph with a deliberate pace to his delivery and heavy sinking life on his fastball. He pounded the strike zone throughout his outing, dotting every area of the zone with intent. His primary off-speed offering was a changeup, which he showed two separate versions of. He had a 78-80 mph change with later dive that induces swings and misses when he breaks it out. However, given his clear approach that favors pitch efficiency he frequently went to a slower low- to mid-70s version of the changeup which enticed hitters to roll over for easy ground ball outs and allowed him to cruise through the first five innings.

Little's curveball showed good shape and depth with 12-to-6 downer break at it's best, though he was cruising along well enough with his fastball/changeup combination that he rarely found a need for the breaking ball in this outing. Little finished the game throwing 53 of his 68 pitches for strikes over 5 2/3 innings and didn't issue a walk.

Video of Little:

The most pleasant surprise of the pitcher's duel was the recent improvement in foot quickness behind the plate by 2015 catcher Ryan Fineman (Agoura, Calif.). He's always showed off big arm strength from behind the plate and plenty of interest in using it in games. But over the past few months he's worked hard to improve his release time and the results were impressive in this tightly contested matchup. Fineman gunned down the first two attempted basestealers, with pop times of 1.94 and 1.90 respectively. He also nearly picked another runner off of first with a firm back-pick throw, had a couple sub 1.9 between innings pops and handled Austin Rubick's high level stuff well as a receiver. Fineman is a high level D1 prospect who is currently uncommited and his standout defensive performance in this game certainly was noticed by the large gathering of college coaches in attendance.

In the time slot following the pitcher's duel between 90 mph club members from the 2015 and 2016 classes, the 2017 class sent out their own representative as 2017 righthanded pitcher and catcher Hagen Danner (Huntington Beach, Calif.) got the start for BPA DeMarini Elite. Danner was mentioned in this space yesterday for his performance behind the plate and with the bat, but he was even better on the mound.

Danner delivered a gem for BPA, who despite their youth has to be taken seriously as a title contender for the PG/EvoShield National Upperclass Championship. Danner went the distance, getting through all seven innings on just 83 pitches (52 strikes), allowing just two hits and not issuing a walk while striking out seven. Danner lived at 90 mph in the early going and occasionally touched 91, before settling in at 87-89 in the middle and late innings. His arm action is long, fast and whippy and he's made strides with getting extended toward the plate and pitching downhill, creating a sharp plane when he releases the baseball out front. His fastball featured life down in the zone, and while he didn't touch 92 or 93 mph again today as he's reportedly done in the past, his control was the sharpest PG has seen it to date.

He had little need for his secondary offerings, but he did flash a deep downer curveball at 77-78 mph and a low-80s changeup with straight sink. He also added a hit in a 1-for-3 day at the plate.

Video of Danner:

Field 3 on the Cleveland Indians quad was the place to be to see dominant performances from the 2017 class, as righthander Kyle Hurt (Torrey Pines, Calif.) put up a suitable encore to Danner's dominant outing in the following time slot. Hurt was slightly more efficient than Danner, also firing a complete game, and managed to best him by three pitches with an 80 pitch effort. Hurt also didn't issue a walk, struck out four and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits. He worked 82-86 topping out at 87 mph with good sink and good in-and-out feel for his fastball. Of his 80 pitches, Hurt threw 59 of them for strikes (73.8 percent) and cruised along.

The one earned run he allowed came on a surprise suicide squeeze bunt that he did a very good job of reacting to. On the play Hurt fired a perfect off-balance strike after getting off the mound quickly to get to the bunt down the third base line. His curveball flashed late bite and he located it well at 72-75 mph. Shortly after the game Hurt accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Southern California.

Video of Hurt:

Hurt wasn't the only standout 2017 prospect on the San Diego Show. His battery-mate Myles Emmerson (Spring Valley, Calif.) showed off a hose from behind the plate and is an athletic receiver. He nailed a basestealer with a 2.01 in-game pop time and posted some sub 2.0s in between innings. He also showed impressive bat speed and a solid approach at the plate. He went 2-for-3 with two RBI in this contest, after going 1-for-2 with a walk in his first game.

Video of Emmerson:

Emmerson's teammate Casey Schmitt was highlighted in this space yesterday, and he followed up his impressive showing on Day 1 with a triple (see video below) on Day 2.

Video of Schmitt:

Other highlights from Day 2 at Goodyear included a grand slam from 2015 outfielder Bakari Gayle (Stone Mountain, Ga.), 2015 righthander Gilbert Suarez (San Ysidro, Calif.) topping out at 90 mph, and 2015 shortstop Nick Shumpert (Lone Tree, Colo.) crushing a line drive to the opposite field gap that left the bat at 100 mph and later nearly legged out an infield single in 4.07 seconds.

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