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Tournaments | Story | 10/1/2014

South Qualifier scouting notes

Todd Gold         Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game

Righthander Christopher Paddack (2015, Cedar Park, Texas) wasn't among the highest velocity Texas flamethrowers on display, but the Texas A&M commit was the most advanced present pitchability hurler to take the mound all weekend long at the 2014 WWBA South Qualifier. Padack pounded the corners of the strike zone with a fastball that sat 84-87 with plus tailing depth to the arm side from a low effort delivery that hides the baseball extremely well. He showed plus command and was able to live on the black of both sides of the plate. He issued three walks over seven innings of work despite an approach with a heavy focus on running the ball back over the corners which leaves very little margin for error.

He paired his sinking fastball with an equally advanced changeup which features identical arm speed and arm action, with even bigger darting life diagonally to the arm side in the mid-70s. While he didn't exhibit quite the same feel for the changeup as the fastball, he showed the ability to locate it to either side of the strike zone with control rarely seen on high school changeups. He rarely went to his breaking ball as it was unnecessary for him in this outing, and aside from one mistake that he was punished with a solo home run for, he was in cruise control for the Austin Banditos. He left the game tied at 1-1 after seven innings, striking out nine while allowing three hits.

 


First baseman Joe Davis (2015, Austin, Texas) continued his torrid pace, bludgeoning his way to MVP honors by crushing five home runs in seven games as the Houston Banditos Black successfully defended their title. He also crushed three doubles as well, and the amount of carry off of his bat was evident by the reactions of opposing center fielders. Thanks to the plus strength at contact from Davis, balls that look like medium deep pop ups wound up carrying all the way to, or over, the fence. His patient approach and comfort with letting the ball travel deep resulted in a handful of strikeouts throughout the tournament, and several walks, as he was pitched carefully, and his power was oriented around the middle of the field. He has shown an ability to hit against high velocity and high level stuff in the past and this weekend he showed an impressive approach that led to the monster performance.

Righthander Alfredo Villareal (2015, Brownsville, Texas) got the start in the title game and delivered a championship performance. He topped out at 90 mph and showed a sharp curveball with big depth up to 75 mph with good control of it, generating both swings and misses as well as locating it for called strikes. His fastball featured good life and he lived in the upper-80s throwing consistent strikes.

Righthander M.D. Johnson (2016, Red Oak, Texas) was one of the higher upside underclass arms to take the mound over the weekend in the Banditos Black's quarterfinal playoff game. He topped out at 90 mph and has a quick arm. His 6-foot-5, 165=pound frame has a lot of room to fill and there is a lot of funk to his delivery. But what stands out most about Johnson is his 12-to-6 curveball with sharp break and good depth in the mid-70s with good control. It was his put-away pitch, and any time he got into trouble he was able to go to it to get out of that trouble. He wasn't especially sharp in the command department in this outing, but in terms of raw ingredients he checks all of the boxes that scouts look for in underclassmen.

Jaxon Williams
(2016, Rosenberg, Texas) did his part to help send the South Texas Sliders into the championship game of the South Qualifier. With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the 10th, Williams stepped to the plate and connected for one of the loudest hit balls on the tournament, squaring up a fastball for a line drive home run over the left-center field fence, which would prove to be the game-winning hit.

Although a primary middle infielder, Williams also provided the Sliders with four innings of quality, shutout relief on the mound, working in the mid-80s with a nice feel for a sharp, late-breaking slider which he mixed in frequently. Williams finished the game off with a 1-2-3 inning on the mound after delivering his big hit.

Standing 5-foot-7, the University of Arkansas commit is full of lean, quick-twitch muscle, which he put on display in the championship with both his defense and on the base paths. Playing second base, Williams moved well on his feet getting to numerous ground balls and has obvious arm strength for the position, as he showed it off on the mound the game prior. His tool set projects well as he continues to gain strength, but already shows solid bat speed and his run tool plays well in game action, accelerating well while running from first to third.

Williams' double-play partners for the South Texas Sliders was Beau O'Hara (2015, Katy, Texas), who also was impressive throughout the weekend. He is a high energy player whose long strides in the infield give him the potential for plus range as he improves his ability to work through the baseball. He adjusted as the weekend wore on and became more comfortable with reading the hops on the artificial surface at Premiere Baseball of Texas. Even though most infielders' range diminishes by the time they played their seventh game in five days, O'Hara's range was still at the same level he showed in the opener. He is a high energy player with a strong arm and has some potential with the bat as well.

The web gem of the weekend came during the playoffs as Texas Drillers shortstop Quincy McAfee (2016, Houston, Texas) made a phenomenal play behind the second base bag. His momentum was taking him towards first base as he was charging hard to his left, and with a speedy runner coming down the line and the ball taking big hops on the artificial surface, he changed course mid-play. Instead of fielding with his glove as he had been planning, he left his feet and twisted his body in mid-air to put himself in position to barehand the ball on the hop and make a one-motion throw to first. He stood out at shortstop throughout the weekend before taking the mound to close out the quarterfinal playoff game working 85-88 mph with a highly athletic delivery.

Jung's Drillers teammate, 2016 catcher Michael Berglund (Corpus Christi, Texas), had a standout performance of his own. He cut down a basestealer in a critical situation in the playoffs with a 1.89 second pop time. He moves well behind the plate and is a small athletic catcher with quick actions. He has loose extension out front to his swing with quick hands and has promising two-way ability.

It’s hard not to notice shortstop Bryce Blaum (2016, Sugar Land, Texas) on the field, both for his athletic abilities and the fact that he is the first one of the field, always springing out to his position. An uncommitted junior, Blaum showed off high level Division I tools all weekend on both sides of the ball.

He shows the same high energy level in game action, moving very well at shortstop, with range to either side and quick, light actions on his feet. There was one particular play that Blaum made at Cy-Fair Sports Complex that stood out. Playing farther back in the infield, the hitter chopped a slow roller between the third baseman and Blaum who came in charging and delivered an off-balance strike to nab the runner at first base. He maintained control of his body very well and showed a strong arm across even with his momentum taking him away from the base.

As stated above, Blaum isn’t a one-dimensional player and is equally intriguing in the righthanded batter’s box. Standing at 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, Blaum shows a nice fluid swing with a strong feel for the barrel, making consistent, hard contact throughout the weekend. He showed strength to his pull side over the course of the weekend, losing a couple balls over the left field fence, and showed an IQ in the box as well. A Perfect Game field scout noted that after Blaum hit a home run in his first at-bat of the game he followed it up with a bunt single when he noticed the defense way playing back.

Jack Conlon
(2017, Sugar Land, Texas) and Blaum are teammates at Clements High School and will draw college recruiters in this spring, should they not be committed by then. Though he is just beginning his sophomore year of high school and is still 15 years old, Conlon had a strong showing on the mound, his first appearance on the bump in a Perfect Game event.

Standing at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds, Conlon’s frame is well proportioned with a strong lower half and long, loose limbs. After taking his warm up pitches, Conlon recorded two quick outs on two fastballs – which recorded 89 and 91 mph respectively – before unleashing 92 mph heat which rode up and in to a righthanded hitter. His delivery is still a bit raw as there isn’t much lower half involved in his delivery, but there is no mistaking the present and what Conlon can become with some refinement.

With a full, loose arm action coming through, the ball explodes out of Conlon’s hand and he maintained 88-90 mph with his fastball from the windup over his three innings of work. Throwing from an extended three-quarters arm slot, Conlon is able to generate run on his fastball back to his arm side and showed similar life on his changeup, which he flashed at 78 mph low in the zone. He also showed a slider, and though his release was inconsistent with the pitch, he showed the pitch has potential to be a plus offering with the final one he threw of the game. Thrown at 78 mph, the pitch showed tight spin with late, sharp 10-to-4 tilt low in the zone away from the righthanded hitter.

 


 A Mississippi State commit, Parker Ford (2015, Lufkin, Texas) sports a firm and physical 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame with long limbs and an athletic look. Perfect Game got their first look at Ford this June at the National Showcase where he topped out at 94 mph and showed nice feel for a deep 12-to-6 curveball.

Although he didn’t top out at 94 mph this weekend for the Texas Sun Devils, he did pound the strike zone with all his pitches, and it looked as though he has added a slider to his arsenal. Ford worked comfortably in the 88-91 mph range throughout his time on the mound, touching 92 early with a full and loose arm action and high three-quarters release. Ford creates deception with his delivery, keeping his hands and the ball close to his body until his takeaway, with a slight hip turn at top, and generated consistent downhill plane on his fastball, showing occasional cutting action on the pitch. As the innings progressed so did the feel for his curveball, which at its best was up to 78 mph with sharp 12-to-6 break and the ability to back door it to lefthanded hitters. His slider, a pitch we didn’t see at National, showed more 10-to-4 break with sweeping life across the strike zone and up to 79 mph.



 Ryan Leckich
(2016, Port Neches, Texas) set the tone early for Twelve in his outing, effectively changing speeds while pounding the strike zone. A Baylor University commit, the lefthander showed a nice feel on the mound for his full repertoire with the ability to spot throughout the zone.

With an up-tempo delivery, Leckich shows a slight turn at the top of his delivery while he loads his weight onto his backside before driving to the plate, showing some effort at release. The effort didn’t hinder his velocity however, as he sat at 84-86 mph with downhill plane, touching 87 later in the outing. He also showed both a slider and curveball, each with distinct shape, as the curveball showed 1-to-7 break at 70 mph while his slider showed a shorter 2-to-8 shape in the mid-70s.

An uncommitted senior, outfielder Elijah MacNamee showed the ability to use his long 6-foot-2 levers to create nice extension in his swing and drive the ball to the opposite field gap for a loud double. A strong runner, MacNamee projects well as he continues to add strength to his frame.


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