Tournaments | Story | 7/5/2015

17u WWBA Day 2 notes

Andrew Krause        
Photo: Perfect Game

Day 1 Recap

Day 2 of the 17u WWBA National Championship dawned rainy and miserable, causing numerous games to either be delayed or cancelled. Regardless of the weather, the talent certainly came out to play, as several prospects did a great job making names of themselves in front of the seemingly hundreds of professional scouts and college coaches.

Jesus Luzardo
, a 2016 lefthander from Parkland, Fla., took the mound for Elite Squad Prime 17u in their game at East Paulding High School. Luzardo was undeniably impressive, especially early in his start, working 90-92 with good arm-side run while generating good downhill plane to the plate. He has above average arm speed at present, and projects to add some velocity as well as he continues to mature as a pitcher, though he’s close to physical maturity already. He complemented his fastball with a power curveball in the mid-70s with outstanding bite and depth with sharp 1-to-7 shape. He was able to throw it for strikes as well as get at least 7-8 swings-and-misses on the pitch.

He turned over a few really quality changeups, though he didn't seem to trust it quite as much as he did the curveball. When at it’s best, the change has legitimate tumble away from righthanded hitters while mimicking the fastball out of the hand well, adding to the already present deception of the offering. Luzardo is a well built prospect with good strength throughout his body and a quality delivery, though the arm is not without effort. He pounds the ball downhill from a medium three-quarters slot and does a solid job of repeating his delivery as well.

Fellow Elite Squad Prime 17u member
Alejandro Toral, a 2017 prospect out of Davie, Fla., continued to impress with the bat, coming off of an outstanding performance at Junior National. You would be hard pressed to find a stronger prospect in the class of 2017, as well as a prospect who hits the ball harder than does Toral. Combining that insane strength with excellent bat speed and advanced feel for the barrel, Toral doesn't get cheated when he swings, but makes loud and hard contact significantly more often than one would expect, given the violence of his swing. That combination of violence, intent, bat speed and strength, along with that advanced barrel control, make Toral a seriously high-end prospect in the 2017 class.

Tyler Santana
, yet another Elite Squad Prime 17u member, is a 2016 righthanded pitcher who came on in relief of Luzardo and shut the door in emphatic fashion. He worked with a fastball consistently in the 87-89 range, complemented by a 10-to-4 curveball that could get a bit sweepy, but also flashed legitimate shape and quality snap. He pounded the zone with both pitches, showing a deceptive delivery with a very quick arm stroke and cleanliness throughout the overall arm action and delivery. He’s a well-built and strong prospect who is close to being physically maxed out, but the quickness and ease of the arm action lend credence to some overall velocity gain in the future.

The Virginia Cardinals and Cincy Flames squared off in a highly-anticipated pool play matchup, pitting several Division I prospects against each other on Saturday morning. 2016 first baseman and lefthander
Vinnie Pasquantino (Moseley, Va.) woke everyone up by launching a mammoth shot off the scoreboard in right-center field (pull-field gap for the lefthanded hitting Pasquantino), displaying the bat speed and leverage necessary to be a power hitter at the next level. At 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, he’s already quite strong, but projects to add significant amounts of strength moving forward still, giving him the chance to become a preeminent slugging first baseman as he reaches physical maturity.

2016 lefthanded pitcher and Virginia commit
Jackson Tedder started for the Flames, and showed off the athleticism and arm speed necessary to project well at the next level. Working 81-84 early and touching 86 mph, Tedder battled his command early and missed repeatedly up to the arm side, a result of a bit of unbalance in his delivery. He smoothed it out pretty well, and went on to be effective throughout the rest of his start. He’s athletic and projects well moving forward, both in terms of physicality and velocity. He has quality life on his fastball to the arm side and flashed the makings of a potentially dynamic breaking ball that could be a true bat-misser at the next level.

Opposing Tedder for the Cardinals was fellow 2016 lefthander
Corey Klak, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound prospect who is committed to Old Dominion. Klak has some of the better deception we’ve seen so far in this tournament, using his long arms to create excellent angle from a three-quarters slot, making him very tough on lefthanded hitters. He projects very well physically, with plenty of room to fill out his broad-shouldered frame. He has some serious crossfire action in his delivery, again adding to the deception he already creates. His slider was mostly horizontal but flashed legitimate tilt when he got on top of it, working mostly 72-74 with bat-missing capabilities, especially against lefthanded hitters.

2016 lefthander
Andrew Baker (Taveres, Fla.) took the mound for Chet Lemon’s Juice on Saturday afternoon, and showed really well in front of over a dozen scouts despite being a bit unlucky. Baker has some of the best arm speed you’ll see from the left side in this class, and generates excellent angle to the plate from his extended three-quarters arm slot. Touching 90-91 several times in his outing, Baker was mostly in the 88-89 range with good life on his fastball in addition to some deception, making the pitch pretty tough to square up. He would drop his arm slot down to near sidearm at times to give hitters a different look, throwing a fastball from that slot at around 83-84. Baker is a near max-effort pitcher on the mound, but the overall high level of athleticism he possesses throughout his body allows him to repeat that kind of max-effort delivery with pretty good effectiveness, whereas for other pitchers without that level of athleticism, such repetition would be harder and near impossible. Baker complemented his power fastball with a very sharp slider, thrown in the 78-81 range, with bat-missing tilt when commanded. The ball just comes out of his hand really easily, and in addition to the rest of his profile listed above, makes him an exciting prospect moving forward in the class of 2016.

Francis Villaman,
a 2017 shortstop from Orlando, Fla., played with FTB Mizuno on Saturday and certainly looked the part both defensively and with the bat. He’s an impressive physical specimen at 6-1, 185-pounds, and is built really well, but still retains excellent athleticism and quickness at the shortstop position with range to both sides and the necessary quick-twitch to play it at the next level. He also showed well at the plate, notching a pair of singles in his first two at-bats, with good bat speed and an aggressive, smooth stroke.

Daniel Fischer,
a 2016 righthanded pitcher from Louisville, Ky., opened some eyes when he took the mound in relief for the Ironmen Baseball Club. Having previously topped out at 84 mph velocity-wise at a PG Event (last year’s WWBA 16u National Championship), Fischer came out of the chute in relief pumping 90-91 with his fastball from his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. Having grown two inches and added 10 pounds of good weight in the last year – not to mention adding 6-7 miles per hour of fastball velocity – Fischer looks to be one of those “popup” guys that we have every year. He’s a very athletic, highly projectable prospect who has already taken massive steps forward. His fastball was very heavy when down in the zone, and he complemented the offering with a slider at 80-81 with short, sharp tilt. He’s certainly one to watch moving forward, and should find himself climbing up the board very soon.

Brian Sakowski

Austin Todd
(2016, Round Rock, Texas) is an uncommitted utility player – with the ability to play both the outfield and middle infield as well as pitch – that had a loud performance on Saturday morning. The Austin Banditos’ leadoff hitter started off the game with a bang, lacing a fastball on the outer half of the plate over the right field fence for an opposite field home run. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound righthanded hitter also walked and lined a single to right field in the contest, and he displayed good bat speed with an obvious feel for the barrel and an ability to stay balanced and keep his strong, fast hands back and in coordination with his lower half.

Speaking of uncommitted prospects, righthander
Joe Fulcher (2016, Munford, Tenn.) impressed in a one-inning stint on Saturday morning. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Fulcher has a lean, athletic build with broad shoulders and long limbs. The righty came on in the seventh to close the door in Batters Box Demarini’s victory. Working from the first base side of the rubber, Fulcher was able to repeat his delivery well, showing an astute ability to get extension out over his front side and work to the bottom of the zone. With a three-quarters arm slot, Fulcher generated some natural arm-side run with his 90-92 mph heater that touched 93. The offering also showed some heavy sinking action at the bottom of the strike zone and with his laser focus and sharp command, there was little need for him to use off-speed pitches. However, Fulcher did break out a straight changeup and a developing slider in the upper-70s that come out of the same plane and served to change hitters’ timing.

Sticking with the theme of talented players without a current college commitment,
Wyatt Featherston (2016, Lakewood, Colo.) recently participated in the National Showcase and continued to perform at a high level on Saturday morning. The athletic outfielder ran a 6.76 60-yard dash and displayed some power potential in the workout portion of PG National. On Saturday he showed some feel for the barrel in game action, as the righthanded hitter ripped a single to left field and a double in the gap. When he’s on time with his stride and his upper and lower halves are synchronized the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has the bat speed and strength to impact the baseball.

Greer Holston
(2016, Long Beach, Miss.) also impressed at the National Showcase and performed well in his first appearance at the 17u WWBA National Championship. The righthanded pitcher has an extremely projectable 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame with a well-proportioned, leaner build. The Ole Miss commit has some deception in his delivery with a slight hip turn at the apex of his leg lift and a longer, slingy arm action that works to a lower three-quarters arm slot. Early on Holston displayed some of the low-90s velocity that he showed at the National Showcase, but with a large lead he dialed it back a bit and sat comfortably in the 86-88 mph range in his following two innings. The heater was still a quality offering as it offered late arm-side run and sink. Even without the premium velocity when the fastball was located at the knees, which was quite often, the pitch showed monster life and was difficult for hitters to do anything with it other than pound it into the ground. He rarely used (or had to use) his secondary pitches on Saturday, but at the PG National Holston displayed feel for a low-80s slider with sweeping break and glove-side finish, and a low-80s changeup with good fading action that played well off of his fastball trajectory, and a softer breaking ball with more depth in the mid-70s.

Baseball U ran out a plethora of quality arms, with all of them throwing one inning each.
Jeff Belge (2016, Syracuse, N.Y.) was very solid at the National Showcase last month, and while he didn’t showcase the same 87-92 mph fastball on Saturday, he still battled and was effective. The physical 6-foot-4, 235-pound southpaw worked more in the 83-86 mph range, but he was able to locate well enough and mix in a quality mid-70s breaking ball with two-plane depth and late glove-side finish that he was able to strike out the side.

Robert Peto
(2016, Monroe Township, N.J.) came out firing in his one-inning stint. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound righty has room to fill into his long, lean frame and he projects well going forward. Like Belge, Peto participated in the National Showcase, but he saw a velocity spike on Saturday. Last month in Fort Myers Peto’s fastball sat in the 87-90 mph range, but on Saturday night the North Carolina commit’s heater was consistently clocked at 92-93 mph. Peto has a long arm action with some presentation on the back side, but he’s able to get extended and work through and over his frontside well with his quality arm speed and athleticism.

Peto’s teammate,
Max Kranick (2016, Jessup, Pa.) is listed at 6-foot 3, 190-pounds and also has a lean, projectable frame. The University of Virginia commit has some deception in his delivery as the righty does a good job of hiding the ball behind his hip after a later hand separation. Kranick uses his lower half well in his delivery and maintains a solid line to the plate. With a loose, clean arm stroke Kranick works to a three-quarters arm slot from which he’s able to produce some big tailing life on his 88-90 mph fastball. At times he can lose the pitch a bit to the arm side, but he generally did a solid job of locating the offering. While it was just a brief one inning outing, Kranick did well to incorporate his mid-70s breaking ball. The pitch showed solid two-plane depth and flashed some late bite and sharp finish to the glove side.

Cole Stetzar
(2017, Scranton, Pa.) is listed as a primary shortstop but the soon-to-be junior showed some talent on the mound with solid feel for two pitches. As with many of the Baseball U Prospect pitchers, the 6-foot, 180-pound righty displayed some arm strength with a fastball in the 86-89 mph range. What really stood out was his advanced feel for an upper-70s breaking ball that featured true slider tilt and sharp two-plane break.

Speaking of short, yet impressive pitching performances,
Zach Hess (2016, Forest, Va.) pitched just two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen on Saturday in Dirtbags All Blacks comfortable win. However, he turned some heads as the Virginia Tech commit worked in the 93-95 mph range with his fastball. There’s some energy and moving parts in his delivery that may need to be cleaned up a bit as he climbs the ladder and advances to the next level of competition, but there is no denying Hess’ big-time arm speed.

At 6-foot-1, 190-pounds
Will Brooks (2016, Madison, Miss.) is a well-proportioned, athletic middle infield prospect. The Mississippi State commit has broad shoulders, tapered waist, and he displayed above average foot speed in turning in a 4.25 home-to-first split from the righthand side on a groundball to shortstop. While he walked in two other plate appearances, Brooks showed good plate discipline, solid balance, and looked to be tracking the ball very well as he had a number of quality of takes on the day.

While he’s not a member of Baseball U Prospects, another Northeast arm threw very well on Saturday, as
Morgan McSweeney (2016, Hudson, Mass.) was impressive in his start for the NE Ruffnecks. McSweeney, a Wake Forest commit, has a lean, well-proportioned 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame with some present strength and looseness and flexibility. The righty’s delivery has a brisk pace, and while some may be too quick to label it as “high-effort” McSweeney is able to repeat his mechanics without issue. Similarly, McSweeney showed that he was able to hold his velocity, as he consistently sat in the 87-90 mph range over the course of his five innings. He pounded the strike zone early and often, displaying an advanced feel for commanding his heater to both sides of the plate. With such solid fastball command, McSweeney did not have to use his off-speed pitches too often, but he still was able to work in a mid-70s breaking ball with three-quarters tilt and some occasional sweeping action and a 80 mph changeup that flashed some potential with decent arm speed and slight fade.

Garrett Gooden
(2016, Decatur, Ga.) is an imposing figure on the mound. The Georgia Tech commit is listed at 6-foot-5, 210-pounds and he owns very long limbs that can make it difficult for opposing hitters to pick up the ball and follow his extended arm action. Gooden works from a high three-quarters arm slot and is able to generate big angle and downhill plane when he gets over his front side and locates down in the zone. Clocked as high as 91 mph in past Perfect Game events, Gooden worked predominately in the 88-90 mph range, although he did register 92 mph with his last pitch of the first inning.

Andrew Krause

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