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Tournaments | Story | 3/13/2015

PG HS Showdown: Day 1 notes

David Rawnsley     
Photo: IMG

DeSoto Central Day 1 Feature | Kennesaw Mountain Day 1 Feature

The first two games Thursday at the 2015 Perfect Game High School Showdown weren't necessarily artistic baseball masterpieces but they certainly didn't lack for drama, as each went down to the final pitch. The Venice Indians, behind a route going performance by righthander Cole Kragel, edged the Magnolia Heights Chiefs 2-1, escaping a one-out, runners on second and third jam in the bottom of the seventh. The Houston Mustangs upset the DeSoto Central Jaguars 4-3 in the other game, surviving their own bases loaded, no-out jam in the seventh.

Kragel is a fairly unique prospect. He's every bit of his 6-foot-8, 215-pound listed build with proportionately long arms and legs. The senior throws from a true submarine release point and does an outstanding job of repeating his delivery and release point. He threw only 91 pitches over seven innings, mostly working with a 84-87 mph fastball that he spotted to both sides of the plate, and issued his only walk of the game (versus nine strikeouts) to lead off the seventh inning.

The Virginia Tech signee throws a pretty straight fastball for his release point however, something that he'll have to work on at the next level. He threw about 80 percent fastballs, mixing in an occasional slider and changeup.

Magnolia Heights starter Riley Self threw well for 4 2/3 innings but took the loss. A Mississippi State signee, Self pitched in the 86-90 mph range with an upper-70s slider that showed very good potential.

DeSoto Cental will still be one of the most watched teams at LakePoint this week but will not be playing for the championship as many had speculated. They started 6-foot-3, 205-pound righthander Dallas Woolfolk on the mound, and while Woolfolk had powerful stuff, the Mississippi recruit didn't mix his pitches effectively and Houston hitters began to get around on his 89-92 mph fastball with regularity, putting DeSoto down 4-0 early. Woolfolk has thrown a low-80s slider in the past but only threw a handful of mid-70s curveballs this outing.

Perfect Game All-American Austin Riley had a strong game for DeSoto Central. It looks like he's firmed and trimmed up his extra strong 6-foot-3 build since last summer and that showed on defense and on the bases. Riley even played shortstop for a few innings after Woolfolk moved from the mound to Riley's third base position and started a slick double play with a quick feed from the hole. Houston pitched very carefully to Riley, walking him twice, but he was able to crush one pitch hard up the right-center field gap for a triple.

Over in the Academies side of the High School Showdown, 2015 lefthander Sixto Torres started Faith Baptist's second game of the day with a generous number of scouts watching. Torres, who is ranked 111th in the PG 2015 class rankings, showed very good stuff, topping out at 91 mph and pitching at 88-89 to go with a big breaking curveball. He struggled with his delivery and release point, however, and ended up walking seven hitters in 2 2/3 innings, although he allowed only two runs in Faith Baptist's 3-2 win over SBO Puerto Rico.

The pair of 3:00 p.m. games lacked the last pitch drama of the first time slot on the high school side of the bracket, as the Kennesaw Mountain Mustangs run ruled the Columbia Wildcats 13-3 in five innings and the Parkview Panthers did the same to the Murfreesboro Central Tigers 12-1. Those one-sided contests did allow a number of talented position prospects a chance to shine, however.

Kennesaw Mountain centerfielder Reggie Pruitt is listed at 6-foot-1, 168-pounds and about two-thirds of that length appears to be in his legs. He is a gorgeous runner to watch with very long and graceful strides and instant acceleration. Pruitt led off the game with a bunt single, stole second, went to third on the wild throw and scored on a wild pitch, which is assuredly not the first time he's created a run in that manner. He finished the 3-for-4 at the plate, with three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. Pruitt also ran a 4.18 home-to-first from the right side while letting up in his last at-bat. The only correctable flaw in Pruitt's game today was that he had a chance to make plays on a couple of runners from the outfield but rushed his throws from a lower arm slot than he would usually have used.

2016 outfielder Terence Norman plays in right field beside Pruitt and may have a higher ceiling. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, he doesn't have Pruitt's speed but he is very projectable and already has present hitting tools and bat speed. His hitting mechanics are very smooth, with a good shift into contact and a very noticeable but still low effort explosion of his hands towards contact. He crushed two line drives to left-center field, one for a triple, that measured in the upper-90s off the aluminum bat. He's currently ranked 288th in the PG Class of 2016 rankings but it's not hard to see that ranking moving up significantly during the late spring and summer.

A third Mustang, catcher Tyler Stephenson, also had his chances to shine. A Georgia Tech signee who is ranked 103rd in the 2015 class, Stephenson is as strong as his teammate Pruitt is fast. He hits righthanded with a crouched stance and a very short and crisp swing for a 6-foot-4, 210-pound athlete. He shot one double down the left field line and into the corner and later rocketed a line drive up the middle at an even 100 mph off the bat that sent both the pitcher and the field umpire jumping out of the way. Stephenson has a big arm behind the plate and looked very accomplished at framing balls on the corners with his strong hands.

A player on Columbia we'll have to follow closely the next two days is 2015 outfielder Bryson Medious. Medious is a quick-twitch athlete who flashed very good bat speed.

2015 infielder Daino Deas, an Auburn signee and the 294th player in the PG class rankings, had a near perfect day for Parkview, going 3-for-3 at the plate to go with a walk, three runs scored and four RBI. One of Deas' hits was a triple into the right field corner and he showed his speed running a 4.25 from the right side to beat out an infield hit. Deas' at-bats were very similar in that early the count he took a big and ineffectual swing, he then worked the count patiently and ended up hitting the hard late in the count with a much shorter swing than he opened his at-bat with.

2016 catcher Austin Biggar also had a productive day at the plate batting in the cleanup hole behind Deas, going 2-for-3 with a booming double to center field included, plus driving in three runs. Biggar, who already has a verbal commitment to Georgia, has a loose and smooth power swing and plenty of strength at 6-foot-2, 195-pounds to create real bat speed.

The Panthers didn't need it but did received a very efficient and business-like outing from senior righthander Ryne Inman. The Georgia State signee threw 49 pitches in four innings, allowing two hits, no walks and striking out six Tiger hitters. Inman worked in the upper-80s, touching 90 mph a couple of times and showed a solid three-pitch mix with a hard spinning mid-70s curveball and a nice fading changeup.

There was only one game during the 6:00 p.m. slot Thursday but that game featured the No. 2 ranked team in the country in the IMG Academy Ascenders facing off against the Collierville Dragons, the 2013 Tennessee state AAA champions. For more background on the Ascenders, read PG writer Jeff Dahn's story on the program

IMG started the game off quickly, scoring three runs in the first inning and adding another in the second. Third baseman Ryan Karstetter, the 144th ranked player in the PG 2015 class rankings, keyed the scoring with a hard double into the left field corner, part of a 2-for-3 evening with a walk added in for the Virginia signee.

Collierville starter Alex Hicks settled down after that and started mixing in his nice slider more frequently and effectively and those would be the only runs IMG would score for the game.

For five innings it looked like all IMG would need would be one run with southpaw Logan Allen on the mound. Allen has been one of the most successful pitchers in Perfect Game history, having made eight All-Tournament teams as part of the EvoShield Canes over the past three years. Allen showed over those first five innings that he has taken another step forward as a prospect, working in the 90-92 mph range and touching 93 mph a few times. He didn't use his power curveball much and didn't need to, as he finished those first five innings throwing only 59 pitches, 70 percent of them for strikes, without issuing a walk or allowing a hit.

Allen eventually got tired and lost the vertical command of his fastball in the sixth inning and hadn't established feel yet for his curveball and just barely survived a two-run Collierville rally, with Hicks driving in both the runs with a bases loaded single. IMG hung on to win 4-2.

Allen is ranked 76th in the PG rankings and is signed with South Carolina. That ranking is based on his being a very successful lefty with a long resume and a upper-80s fastball with a highly advanced ability to pitch. If he established this spring that he is now a consistent low-90s pitcher while keeping the pitchability, it puts him in a different prospect category. A cross-checker coming in for a look at Allen tonight who was familiar with him from last summer and fall could easily put a second-third round evaluation on him.

The final set of games in the 8:00 p.m. time slot both proved to be pitcher's battles under the Lake Point lights.

The unofficial hosts of any tournament at LakePoint, the Cartersville Hurricanes, kept their legion of loyal fans at the park until late in the night as they had to play 10 innings before edging the Houston Mustangs 1-0. The Concordia Lutheran Crusaders pulled off a minor upset, if a team with two players ranked in the top 60 in the 2015 class can be an underdog, blanking the defending champion Sarasota Sailors 4-0.

Scouting 101: When you take a look at the lineup of a very good team, pay special attention to see if any premium position players or middle-of-the-order hitters are sophomores or freshmen. When you find them – and it is rare – it probably means they are very good.

Cartersville incredibly starts freshmen at both shortstop and second base and bats the precocious pair second and third in their lineup. 6-foot-1, 185-pound switch-hitting shortstop Devin Warner has a big physical presence on the field and looks like he will outgrow the middle infield at some point in the near future. The locals are already talking in glowing terms about his present and future power at the plate and he is said to put on an impressive display in batting practice despite his age.

But it was the incredibly versatile freshman Anthony Seigler that was the star of the game. Seigler is listed as a switch-hitting, switch-pitching catcher/lefthanded pitcher in the program. He started the game at second base, then moved to the mound in the seventh inning. He ended up collecting two hits, not including the game winning RBI on a fielder's choice in the 10th inning, while throwing four scoreless innings on the mound, topping out at 83 mph, while striking out six and not walking a hitter.  Imagine the athleticism of playing six innings at a position right handed, then coming in and pitching effectively for 4 innings left handed, although Seigler has thrown three innings right handed this year as well.

For Sarasota, the youngster is sophomore shortstop Alex Arauz. Like Warner, Arauz is an already strong 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete but it looks like he has the chance to stay in the middle infield with his athleticism and quickness. He batted leadoff in the Sailors lineup and showed very good present bat speed a couple of times.

Other prospect notes from the last two games:

Concordia Lutheran third baseman and PG All-American Ke'Bryan Hayes hit what might have been the hardest ball of the day, a line shot up the middle that just sounded different, even coming off an aluminum barrel. He also just missed on another ball, lining out to deep center on a curveball. Hayes' approach at the plate is extremely polished and he looks very confident as well.

His teammate, catcher Garrett Wolforth, did his thing defensively, coaxing 6 1/3 shutout innings from starter Thomas Altus before Hayes closed the game, throwing out the only Sailor attempting to steal and regularly popping 1.8 to 1.9 between innings.

Cartersville starting pitcher, southpaw Elliot Anderson, threw six shutout innings, allowing only four hits and striking out six. He topped out at 89 mph while depending heavily on a power curveball that reached as high as 76 mph. One thing about the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Anderson that stands out is his athleticism and energy on the mound. He turns into a ninth defender the moment he releases his pitch and is both fast and almost hyperactive about backing up bases and being in the right spot on the field when a play is made. That's something you love to see in a young pitcher.

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