Tournaments | Story | 10/25/2014

World Championship Day 2 notes

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

JUPITER, Fla. – Cole Aker (2015, Kernersville, N.C.) served as an early morning wakeup call for the scouts gathered at the Cardinals’ quad for the 8:00 a.m. time slot, showing off a loose, easy arm and a hopping 87-90 mph fastball. He topped as high as 91 mph. He pitches from a three-quarters arm slot and showed good sinking action down in the zone. He couples that live fastball with a sharp 74-78 breaking ball with 10-to-4 depth, and he showed an ability in this game to spot it to both sides of the plate. His 6-foot-2 frame is a wiry, projectable one, and he should continue to pick up velocity with maturity. Aker carried his velocity well into the latter innings of what was an efficient, highly effective complete game effort. His polish and command stood out throughout the outing.

Cole Baker
(2015, Grimes, Iowa) presented scouts with another intriguing arm to watch in the early morning time slots, flashing a heavy 87-89 mph fastball with big sinking action to his arm side. The powerfully built, 6-foot-4 righty works from a three-quarters slot, and the ball comes out of his hand very well. His command will need to be refined, but his very live arm is worth noting and he flashed good shape to his 72-74 mph curveball.

Domenic DeRenzo
(2015, Pittsburgh, Pa.) has opened some eyes of late with his combination of strong throwing arm behind the plate, righthanded power and solid athleticism. After pulling out badly on a breaking ball in a Friday morning at-bat, DeRenzo showed an ability to make an adjustment on the fly and stay closed longer when he saw another pitch on the outer half. He took this pitch and hooked a hard line drive over the third base bag for a double. He has stand-out bat speed and also moves well on the bases for a catcher. His lean, athletic frame and quick actions behind the plate will allow him to easily profile there long term, and his throwing arm grades out as easily above average.

Patrick Raby
(2015, Knoxville, Tenn.) put himself squarely on the scouting radar this summer, and solidified his status as a rising prospect with a strong showing on Friday morning for the Royals Midwest Scout Team. The owner of a powerful lower half, Raby uses that strength effectively in his delivery, but also gets back on top of the ball and finishes well. He works down in the zone mostly at 88-90 mph with his fastball, and topped at 91 on one radar gun in his Friday outing. He relied heavily on his fastball life in this one, and his consistency with his 75-76 mph curveball will need to improve, as will his changeup feel, but his clean arm and durable frame make this Vanderbilt commit an intriguing commodity at the next level.

Saying that M.D. Johnson (2016, Red Oak, Texas) is quirky or funky on the mound wouldn’t quite do him justice. He showed on Friday that besides just using his above average raw stuff he will use everything at his disposal to get hitters out. He varies his timing to the plate, from taking his time with runners on to quick-pitching a hitter out of the windup. He uses a high leg kick to hide the ball and even starts his windup from a unique, bent over position. The long, rangy 6-foot-5 righty worked mostly at 87-90 mph on Friday, but topped at 92 mph in the first inning of his outing. He also shows confidence in two different breaking balls, a slurve at 78-80 and a bigger true curveball at 72-73 mph with 11-to-5 depth. His changeup feel is still developing, but he has confidence in his assortment of pitches and gives hitters a lot to think about in the box.

As it turns out, the Dallas Tigers weren’t done sending premium 2016 arms to the mound, as they followed Johnson with Charles King (2016, Coppell, Texas) in their 12:40 p.m. time slot. And, King looked every bit the deserving recipient of his 17th overall ranking in the 2016 high school class. A polished, yet highly projectable 6-foot-4 righty, Johnson commanded his fastball very consistently at 89-91 mph and never strayed all that much out of the lower quadrants of the zone. His fastball has late sinking action and life, and the soft ground ball contact he induced told that story pretty well. He tended to overthrow his 80-82 mph slider, but it flashes solid-average potential. This is an arm that is only going to continue improving.

Andrew Miller
(2015, Stratford, N.J.) turned in an eye opening performance in front of a large professional scouting contingent on Friday afternoon, showing complete command of his above average fastball-slider combination. Miller’s slider is not a typical one, however, for a high school lefty in his velocity range, as we’ll touch on in a moment. The athletically built lefty lived consistently at 88-90 mph with his fastball, but it’s what he follows that up with that sets him apart. Miller threw a sharp, short, late biting slider at 81-84 mph, and when you throw a breaking ball with that type of velocity, it tends to be predictive of future fastball velocity. The fastball comes out of Miller’s hand extremely well and it would not be surprising to see him end up in the low-90s within a couple years. Miller also mixed in a late diving changeup that flashed average potential and quality arm speed.

It’s difficult to coax the hoards of professional scouts away from a field featuring talent for the upcoming draft year, but the exploits of Austin Bergner (2016, Windermere, Fla.) certainly tempted more than a few in attendance to at least look on with a high degree of curiosity when he took the mound. And what Bergner showed on Friday night was that had he been a 2015 instead of a 2016 draft prospect he could very well be the No. 1 high school pitcher in the upcoming draft. Reality of course has to be accepted that we’ll have to wait another year before Bergner is in the spotlight, but one can’t help but marvel at just how advanced he looked on Friday night.

Bergner came out of the gate spitting fire, working at 93-95 mph with his fastball with bowling ball life down in the strike zone. To his credit, he carried this velocity deep into the outing, slipping only to 92 mph at times. We’ve seen Bergner throw an outstanding changeup before, and he showed that again at 84-86 mph with excellent arm speed in this outing. But, the biggest difference in Bergner in this outing was his curveball. The long, lean righty has developed a knack for seeming to improve with each time we see him step on the mound. In this outing, he showed the most dynamic curveball he’s ever shown at a Perfect Game event. A true plus offering, Bergner showed off a hammer with outstanding 11-to-5 depth at 77-79. He did hang a couple of them, but for the most part, it was a pitch that drew gasps from those behind the plate.

Athleticism is a key part of Bergner’s prowess on the mound, and his ability to repeat his delivery and keep a superb rhythm is a big part of that. With his size, projection, and potential for three plus pitches, it truly can’t be understated just how high this younger pitcher’s ceiling really is.

Frankie Piliere

The nightcap doubleheader for CBA Marucci was one of the biggest scouting draws of the day as it features a well established early round prospect in catcher Chris Betts (2015, Long Beach, Calif.) and several others of significant interest. Their second game of the doubleheader was of particular appeal thanks to their matchup with power armed righthander Wesley Rodriguez (2015, Bronx, N.Y.), who not only is a big draw for the northeast based scouts, but also a very good matchup arm with which to evaluate CBA's hitters.

One of the biggest draft wild cards coming into this event is CBA third baseman Tyler Nevin (2015, Poway, Calif.), who has missed the majority of the past two years dealing with a UCL injury. Nevin was being followed closely as an underclassman back in 2012 prior to the injury, which he attempted to rehab rather than opting for Tommy John surgery, though he ultimately would require surgery, and is just now beginning to play the field again after returning to the field in a DH role late this summer. Scouts are now trying to catch up on their evaluations of Nevin, who combines a highly projectable frame with loud offensive tools.

Nevin sees the baseball well out of the hand and tracks it deep despite the fact that he appears to be able to accurately read the pitch type and location quickly out of the hand, which puts him in a good position to take advantage of his bat speed. The swing is long and he appears to be susceptible to high velocity inside, though he proved he could get his hands in and at least spoil firm fastballs in while facing Rodriguez, fouling off a pair of 93 mph fastballs boring inside on him to earn a walk in his first plate appearance. He has shown a mature approach with on-base skills thus far, working one walk in each of his first two games, and as he begins to fill his frame he has a chance to develop above average or better raw power, which his hit tool should allow him to tap into well in game swings.

Nevin played first base in the opener and moved well around the bag and showed good coordination with his footwork. What he will bring to the table defensively long-term will make a big impact on his draft stock and prior to the injury his arm strength at third base was an asset. His defensive tools will be one of the biggest story lines going forward and will be followed closely by scouts as the tournament progresses if he moves to the other side of the infield to show where he's at as a third baseman.

Nevin's return to the field isn't the only significant development scouts are keeping an eye on with CBA Marucci. His teammate, PG All-American catcher Chris Betts, showed up in Jupiter in improved shape from the summer. The physically built lefthanded hitter has obvious offensive tools as well as big arm strength behind the plate. 

It's clear that Betts is easily in the conversation for the top few rounds of the draft already, and thus is being scrutinized thoroughly, so his every move is followed closely. His work to firm up his body and lose the weight has been noted by scouts and they paid particular attention to how it improved his defensive ability. His pop times rarely stayed below 2.0 in the past despite plus arm strength – which also translates to 90 plus mph fastballs on the mound – but he ranged from 1.88-2.01 on his between innings throw-downs in his first defensive work in Jupiter. His one in-game opportunity wasn't his best effort and sailed on him, getting to the second baseman in 2.07 seconds, but his footwork is a bit quicker now and he's beginning to show more agility. He's still not a plus defender yet, but he does combine receiving polish with the arm strength, and if he can continue to improve his athleticism he can become a defensive asset in addition to his offensive production, creating the potential for an impact prospect profile.

Betts showed off his offensive prowess by squaring up a fastball down and in on the first pitch from power armed Wesley Rodriguez to collect his second hit of a 2-for-5 night that included a hit by pitch. He has big bat speed from the left side and has shown a decent feel for hitting, and thus his third trip to Jupiter is one that is firmly on the scouts' radars.

One of the most exciting aspects of Jupiter is seeing the improvements from the big summer showcase events to the fall. Righthander Wesley Rodriguez is a good example of this. This summer Rodriguez showcased as a primary third baseman, and while his arm strength is an asset at third and he has plenty of bat speed and raw power thanks to an aggressive approach, his arm action drew scouts thanks to his potential on the mound. Now that he's spent the intermittent months developing himself as a pitcher he's taken a significant step forward and looks to be living up to his potential as one of the top arms in the northeast in the 2015 draft crop.

Although Rodriguez lacks the prototypical long, lanky frame that scouts prefer in pitching prospects, when you focus on what he does bring to the table there is a lot to like. The obvious thing that stands out is the pure arm strength, and his delivery has improved since the summer as he's gathering himself over the rubber better, which is allowing him to utilize more of his strength and has coincided with a velocity jump. He typically worked 90-92 during the summer, but his fastball reached 95 in Jupiter while sitting 92-94 early on and settling into his old 90-92 range during the middle innings of his start against CBA Marucci. His fastball featured heavy boring life in on righthanders and he showed some ability to control the powerful fastball as well. He paired it with a breaking ball that had inconsistent shape, morphing between a two-plane curveball and slider at times, though the hard spin caused the break to be sharp and late on the majority of them, with several very nasty ones. He also showed a solid changeup and held CBA Maruccci's prospect-filled lineup to just two hits and walked just two while striking out seven over four shutout innings.

CBA Marucci infielder Ross Dodds (2015, Clovis, Calif.) played himself into the conversation of top prospects from his loaded team as well. While he doesn't profile at a premium position or possess plus power, he has shown over a long period of time that he can swing the bat and he also showed off a strong arm from third base with playable infield actions. He went 2-for-5 and hammered a double in his first day of action with CBA. In doing so Dodds showed the ability to catch up to velocity and a propensity for driving low pitches, and while he's not a burner he gets out of the box well and plays with a hard-nosed style.

Dodds' teammates Kevin Collard (2015, Vista, Calif.) and Bryce Fehmel (2015, Agoura, Calif.) also stood out from a tools standpoint, with Fehmel's continued development and projection pairing well with a smooth swing and solid arm strength, in addition to topping out at 88 mph on the mound.

Lefthander Bailey Falter (2015, Chino Hills, Calif.) showed signs that he's growing into the potential that scouts have seen in him for years after being chosen for the 2013 Area Code Games as an underclassman. His velocity had settled into a low- to mid-80s plateau for some time, but he was up to 88 on Friday and had a bit more life on the fastball than in the past, piling up 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as a result.

Texas PG Teal outfielder Jacob Parrott (2016, Lucas, Texas) had a very loud opening night, following up a booming double with a 400 foot home run to left field – according to TrackMan – that left the bat at 103 mph.

Middle infielder Cash Case (2017, Mount Dora, Fla.) is one of the few sophomores who has stood out in a senior-centric tournament, showing projectable hitting tools from both sides of the plate with emerging bat speed and solid infield actions.

Case's fellow 2017 grad and teammate, outfielder Ronald Washington (2017, Houston, Texas), showed big tools in this game though he wasn't able to translate them into production, but his right field arm strength and right handed bat speed were quite evident even on the same field as 2015 draft prospects.

The mid-day time slot featured an impressive pitching performance by righthander Javier Medina (2016, Tucson, Ariz.). He finally yielded a couple of runs in the sixth inning as he began to run out of gas, but he struck out six and allowed just four hits over six innings to pitch GBG Marucci to an opening game victory over Drake Fellows and Chicago Scouts Association. Medina topped out at 90 mph and lived in the upper-80s with feel to both sides of the plate, showing advanced pitchability and feel for three pitches. He showed impressive feel for a sweeping upper-70s curveball with big depth that he landed on both sides of the plate effectively for both called strikes and swings and misses. Medina also showed good life on a low-80s changeup that featured late darting action to the arm side.

Slugging outfielder Daniel Reyes (2015, Miami Lakes, Fla.) crushed a home run to left field to cap off a 3-for-3 day that also included a walk as Elite Squad Prime rolled to an 11-0 victory. Catcher Michael Amditis (2016, Boca Raton, Fla.) hit the first homer, blasting a two-run shot to left in the top of the second as an impressive follow up to nailing a would-be basestealer in 1.93 seconds in the bottom of the first.

Todd Gold

A late flipping of the rotation had FTB Chandler/Cardinals Scout Team sending out Sixto Torres (2015, Orlando, Fla.) to start the game and he didn’t disappoint in his two innings of work. Standing 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, the Alabama State commit came out firing, touching 93 mph with his first pitch before settling into the upper-80s to low-90s. Torres showed a loose and easy arm action while creating nice angle from his arm side with occasional late run down in the zone. Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, Torres maintained his arm action and slot very well on all three pitches which included a changeup and a curveball. He created nice depth to his 1-to-7 curveball with late break in the mid-70s, up to 77 mph, and showed nice, late fading action to his changeup low in the zone at 81 mph.

Although it was only a one inning look, young righthander Altoon Coleman (2017, Sanford, Fla.) made a strong impression in his WWBA World Championship debut. Showing the same loose and easy arm action that he has displayed all summer, Coleman topped out at 93 mph with his fastball, showing nice run to his arm side. What was perhaps the most impressive thing to come of his outing was the development on his curveball that he showed at 70-71 mph with 11-to-5 shape and nice depth to it.

Already known for their abilities to hit the ball hard in game action, both Tyrone Perry (2015, Avon Park, Fla.) and Ryan Mountcastle (Winter Springs, Fla.) reaffirmed that knowledge in their team’s second game of the WWBA World Championship. A strong, lefthanded bat, Perry is able to create enormous bat speed, whipping the barrel through the zone and connected for a loud home run in his first at-bat of the game. The Florida State commit got the pitch he was looking for and didn’t miss it, driving the ball onto the street behind right field of Marlins 4, coming off the bat at 105 mph per TrackMan.

After just missing the ball in his first at-bat in which he produced a fly ball with a hang time of just over six seconds, Mountcastle made sure to get all of it in his next trip to the plate. With an inside curveball, the University of Central Florida commit did a nice job of pulling his hands inside and turning on the ball, wrapping it around the left field foul pole before it came crashing down on the roof of an on looking golf cart.

The last time I saw Garrett Milchin (2016, Windermere, Fla.) take the mound was earlier this summer and the first difference between the two outings was that the University of Florida commit was working from the windup last night. The projectable 6-foot-4 Milchin showed a loose arm action coming through the backside and pounded the lower quadrants of the strike zone through his six innings of work.

The velocity of his fastball, which was 87-89 mph, and projectability of his frame are both intriguing, but what sets his fastball apart from others is the amount of life he is able to generate. Not only was Milchin creating hard run to his arm side but he was also getting consistent, late sink on the pitch. The righthander did a nice job of manipulating the baseball, moving it all around the zone and moving it in all directions. His curveball showed sharp 11-to-5 life with big depth and late break up to 76 mph which he used to collect his eleven strikeouts.

A quick-twitch, athletic shortstop, Harrison Ray (2016, Longwood, Fla.) showed off fluid actions up the middle for Chet Lemon’s Juice in their first game Friday evening. Standing at 5-foot-11, the Vanderbilt recruit made a play during the middle innings that made one think “wow” while watching the play unfold. On a soft chopper hit between the pitcher and shortstop, Ray picked the ball with his glove, and while working through the ball and charging in he delivered a strike to first base with plenty of strength and carry.

Like his teammate Milchin above, Andrew Baker (2016, Tavares, Fla.) is a high level two-way prospect who made noise with his bat in his team’s first game. The smooth, lefthanded swinging Baker showed a nice approach at the plate with the ability to drive an outside fastball to the left-center field gap, cruising around the bases as though he was in fast forward mode. The ball jumped off his barrel, showing a short and fast path with interesting carry when squared up.

Braxton Garrett
(2016, Florence, Ala.) is one of the more projectable arms in the 2016 class, showing a loose and tension free delivery which he repeats very well on all of his pitches. With a short, fast arm action coming through the backside, Garrett is able to create nice angle on his 87-90 mph fastball, topping 91, from the first base side. Though he was opening his front side a bit early and would throw across his body at times, the Vanderbilt University commit also showed big downhill plane with late arm-side run when he stays on top of the ball. His curveball is a plus pitch with sharp, late 1-to-7 break at 77-78 mph, and he also flashed an advanced changeup which showed late dive, coming out of his hand looking like a fastball at 80-82 mph.

Last time we saw Christopher Paddack (2015, Cedar Park, Texas) throw was about a month back in the WWBA South Qualifier where he dominated throughout his entire outing using a fastball-changeup combo. Not only did Paddack show better velocity yesterday, sitting in the upper-80s and bumping 91s whenever he needed to finish a batter, but he also showed a nice looking curveball in the low-70s which he showed a strong feel for. With his long limbs and over-the-top slot, the Texas A&M commit was able to generate very nice downhill plane and induced a lot of ground ball contact. Though he didn’t throw it as frequently as he did in his start prior, Paddack still showed a solid changeup with late fading life in the mid-70s.

Though it was only a one inning outing, righthander Ian Kahaloa (2015, Ewa Beach, Hawaii) was able to bring the same silence over the scouts behind the backstop of Marlins 4 as Antonio Santillan did the night prior. Having attended a Perfect Game event earlier this fall in Arizona, Kahaloa made his debut on the east coast yesterday afternoon.

Standing at 6-foot-1, the uncommitted Kahaloa has broad shoulders and a loose, athletic build which projects for added strength. Throwing from a short, lower three-quarters arm slot, Kahaloa is able to create very nice deception in his delivery, hiding the ball behind his backside just until he delivers the pitch. The ball comes out of his hand clean and easy and was able to work downhill when he stayed on top of the pitch, working in the 88-91 mph range, bumping a 92. To complement his fastball, he also showed a tight spinning – 2600 RPM per TrackMan – 12-to-6 curveball with depth and created nice fading action on the changeup he flashed at 74 mph.

A University of Louisville commit, righthanded pitcher Sam Bordner (2015, Baltimore, Ohio) is hard to miss as he stands 6-foot-6, 235-pounds with broad shoulders and long limbs. Once he throws a pitch, his stuff is hard to miss too as he worked his fastball in the 89-91 mph range early, topping 92, with good downhill plane and late life on the pitch. Throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, Bordner does a nice job of using his long limbs to get on top of the baseball and create big extension out front at release and with his lower half. He also showed a slider throughout his innings on the mound and typically threw it in the 81-83 mph with short, late 10-to-4 life.

The last time Perfect Game saw righthander John Murphy (2015, Merchantville, N.J.) was earlier this summer at the National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. Since then the Maryland commit has been working hard on his frame and it’s quite noticeable once he steps on the mound.

Murphy came out firing in the first, sitting in the 90-92 mph while throwing from a loose and easy arm action. He hides the ball very well through his delivery, and with the extension out front that he creates the ball really jumps on hitters who were taking swings as though he was in the mid-90s. Staying on top of the ball well throughout the outing, Murphy was able to create some late, heavy life on his fastball, making it tough to square him up when he was down in the zone. Over the course of his seven innings, he surrendered only three hits while striking out six batters en route to a complete game victory

With Tri-State already chasing a run late in the game,
Willie Burger (2015, Marytown, Pa.) executed a difficult play to ensure the deficit stay at one heading into the final two innings. A recent Penn State commit, Burger-who made several nice plays throughout the game-made his best one towards the end of the game with one out and a runner on third base. On a slowly hit ball to him at third base, the Perfect Game All-American came charging in and delivered an off-balance strike through a small opening in the running lane to cut the runner down at home.

Jheremy Brown

Walk-off hits were the story on the Marlins Quad during the first time slot as three of the four games ended on the last swing in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Reds Midwest Scout Team shortstop
Ethan Skender (2015, Metamora, Ill.), a Kansas State commit who is ranked No. 281 in the PG 2015 class rankings, launched a three-run walk-off home run in the Reds 4-1 win over Palm Beach Select. Skender also drove in the Reds' first run with a single as the 2013 semi-finalists raised their record to 2-0.

Houston Heat catcher
Hunter Hearn (2015, Cosby, Texas) rolled a bases loaded single up the middle, his second hit of the game, to give the Heat a 4-3 win over Team Elite Prime.

Heat righthanded pitcher
Jordan Hicks (2015, Houston, Texas) may have struggled with command but his arm strength and stuff made him a big attraction to the assembled scouts. The very projectable 6-foot-2, 185-pound Tulane commit pitched steadily in the 91-93 mph range from a low-effort release. His pitching mechanics are raw, especially with a pre-release pause that disrupts his flow to the plate and some cross-body angle at release, but he has a high ceiling young arm.

The St. Louis Gamers' 3-2 win over Baseball U Tucci Lumber ended on a walk-off infield error but not before Baseball U pulled a rarely used defensive gambit to survive a bases loaded, one out jam in the bottom of the seventh, pulling in an extra outfielder to form a five-man infield.

Almost 12 hours later, the theme continued, as the Richmond Braves
Khalil Lee (2015, Centerville, Va.), a lefthanded hitting outfielder, blasted a dramatic two-out, two-run home run to give his team a comeback 4-3 win over the Florida Burn.

The Evoshield Canes used their familiar formula of pitching and defense to edge a scrappy 9ers Baseball Club 2-1. Canes righthander
Dakota Chalmers (2015, Gainesville, Ga.) was simply outstanding in his three shutout innings, throwing in the 92-94 mph range, touching 95 mph once and throwing both a quality slider up to 84 mph and a sharp curveball at 77 mph. Chalmers threw only 38 pitches and should be available to work late Sunday or Monday if the Canes continue to win.

Paul Hall (2015, Norfolk, Va.) served as the Canes closer and has some of the funkiest southpaw mechanics this side of Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams. Hall was 89-91 and touched 92 with his fastball and had a nasty 78 mph changeup that he picked up a pair of outs with, so the comp with the former closer Williams is multi-tiered.

Right fielder
D.J. Artis (2015, Greensboro, N.C.) made several nice running catches moving towards the line for the Canes, while L.T. Tolbert (2015, Piedmont, S.C.) was his usual smooth and steady self at shortstop.

Chicago Scouts Association righthander
Drake Fellows (2016, Plainfield, Ill.) wasn't quite as sharp as he was two weeks ago at the WWBA Underclass World Championship but his strong five innings of work made GBG Marucci have to fight for a 4-2 victory. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Fellows has a rotational "swing the gate" delivery with a mid to regular three-quarters release point that produces big running and sinking action on his fastball. In fact, he recorded nine outs via ground balls without a single fly ball out in the contest. His slider comes at hitters from the same release point and he was most effective when he was mixing the two pitches together.

Marucci Elite righthander
Greer Holston (2016, Long Beach, Miss.) is a very similar junior prospect to Fellows in size and overall stuff, although he has a bit more directional delivery and higher arm slot. Holston pitched in the upper-80s for three innings with a deep and hard upper-70s slider in Marucci's 15-2 drubbing of PRBAHS.

David Rawnsley

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