Tournaments | Story | 7/7/2015

17u WWBA Day 4 notes

Andrew Krause        
Photo: Perfect Game

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Listed at 6-foot-7, 230-pounds,
Forrest Whitley (2016, San Antonio, Texas) strikes an imposing figure on the mound. The Florida State commit embodies the Texan archetype as a physical righthanded pitcher with a crisp fastball. Whitley had been clocked as high as 96 mph just a few weeks ago at the Tournament of Stars, and on Monday he took to the mound in front of a number of evaluators.

With broad shoulders and an extra-large frame, Whitley still has room to add more good weight and get stronger, especially in his upper body. For someone of his size, Whitley does a pretty good job of repeating his delivery, using an easy build up and deliberate pace out of the windup with a leg lift above his belt and slight hip turn and coil at the apex of the lift. After loading off of the backside and collapsing his back leg a bit, Whitley bursts forward and drives to the plate, releasing from his high three-quarters arm slot with some late energy and slight recoil. He was able to create some downhill plane and angle from his higher arm slot, and his fastball, which sat in the 89-92 mph range early on played well down in the strike zone. Whitley was cruising pretty easily in the low-90s throughout his start, but as he went deeper in the outing he started to ramp it up a bit more, emptying the tank in his last two innings and running his fastball more consistently in the 92-93 mph range and touching 94 once. Whitley’s ability to hold velocity well is encouraging and typical of successful players that own the same workhorse, innings-eating type of frame.

Aside from the notable size, impressive stamina and quality fastball, Whitley showed an adept feel for three secondary offerings. His primary off-speed offering of choice on Monday was a short slider/cutter that typically registered between 84-86 mph on the radar gun. The offering had some occasional late, slight depth, but typically it showed more lateral movement with short slice that carried the ball away off of barrels and resulted in a handful of swings and misses. Whitley also worked in a 78-81 mph curveball. The breaker had varied tilt and shape, with some showing more downer action and 12-to-6 shape and others displaying slight gloveside finish and 11-to-5 break. Both varieties had solid depth.

Finally, Whitley also flashed a changeup in the 83-85 mph range. While he didn’t use it quite as much as his breaking balls, Whitley showed an ability to keep the pitch down and at times the offering played well off of the fastball and had solid, late diving action.

One of the only players that was able to consistently give Whitley trouble on Monday was
Tyler Lasch (2017, Lake Forest, Calif.). Even though he’ll just be a junior in high school come this autumn, Lasch displayed some serious juice and strength from his compact 5-foot-9 frame as the lefthanded hitter turned on an elevated 90-mph fastball and deposited it over the right field fence for a solo home run. Later in the game, the Mississippi State commit again showed off his strong, quick hands by singling through the right side. Additionally, the catcher plays with enormous energy and showed good flexibility, agility and movement behind the plate.

Jaxon Williams
(2016, Rosenborg, Texas) makes it look extremely easy at shortstop. At 5-foot-9, 160-pounds, Williams is tightly wound and oozes with quick-twitch athleticism. He displayed great range to both his left and right and has soft hands and smooth actions. The Arkansas commit also has some feel for the barrel and solid bat speed, as he showed off by ripping a triple to right field on an 88 mph fastball.

North Carolina State commit
Davis Daniel (2016, Montgomery, Ala.) threw well at the National Showcase. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound righty has some broad shoulders, a lean build and a projectable frame that should be able to carry additional strength as he continues to mature. Daniel is deceptive as he lands slightly closed and can work crossfire and show some tough angle on his fastball. As he did at PG National, Daniel ran his fastball up to 92 mph, sitting consistently in the 88-91 mph range and showing good arm-side life and sink at the knees. While he predominately works from a high three-quarters arm slot, Daniel will occasionally drop down and use a lower sidearm or submarine arm slot, and although the velocity dips significantly, the pitch shows intriguing movement and serves to change hitters’ eye levels and timing. Daniel didn’t have the most consistent feel for his breaking ball on Monday, but when he’s on the sweeping, mid-70s breaking ball shows good glove-side finish and some late depth.

Daniel’s Triton Rays Scout Team teammate,
Taylor Trammell (2016, Powder Springs, Ga.), is a super-athletic outfielder that is committed to another ACC school, Georgia Tech. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound lefthanded hitter as a well-proportioned frame with present strength in both halves, and strong lean legs to go along with a high torso and tapered waist. At the plate Trammell showed off some bat speed and some feel for the barrel, serving a single into right-center field in his first at-bat and ripping triple into right field and rounding first base with a 4.41 second time on the turn.

Tobias Myers
(2016, Winter Haven, Fla.) is a talented two-way player that recently participated in the National Showcase last month. The South Florida commit took the mound for the Scorpions Prime 17u team on Monday afternoon. At 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, Myers has a projectable frame with broad shoulders, a wide back and tapered waist. With a lean, well-proportioned build Myers has solid athleticism and as such is able to repeat his delivery pretty well. Using a well-paced, simple delivery out of the windup, Myers employs a small hip turn at the apex of his leg lift and gets online to the plate pretty well. His fastball sat in the 88-91 mph range and showed some occasional arm-side run and late riding action when located up in the zone. Myers also flashed a breaking ball in the mid-70s. He varied the tilt and shape of the offering, as at times it showed more darting two-plane action and others it offered tighter downer action.

Mark Potter
(2016, Melbourne, Fla.) came on in relief of Myers and the 6-foot-7, 245-pound righthander has the long limbs that one would of expect of someone with such a large frame. The Jacksonville University commit has a very compact arm action that can provide some deception to hitters seeing it for the first time. Potter shows good balance in his delivery, sitting on his backside early in his delivery and getting online to the plate at release. Working to his tight three-quarters release point, Potter shows some downhill plane and angle on his 88-90 mph fastball, which can be an effective pitch when it is located down in the strike zone.

Carlos Cortes
(2016, Oviedo, Fla.) has made some noise for the fact that he throws from both the right and left side (playing the outfield as a lefthander, second base as a righthander, and pitching from both sides a la Pat Venditte), but those who get to see him on a regular basis know that it is truly the bat that helps separate Cortes from many other players his age. The lefthanded hitter has a slightly open setup at the plate and he uses the considerable strength from his 5-foot-8, 185-pound frame well. The South Carolina commit has above average bat speed and he’s able to whip the barrel through the zone with controlled violence. He showed the ability to stay balanced and keep his hands back, stroking a double to left-center field, and his high level hitting tools project well at the next level.

Another compactly-built middle infield prospect that participated in the National Showcase and should be a high-average hitter at the next level is
Morgan McCullough (2016, Seattle, Wash.). The University of Oregon commit has an advanced approach and an astute feel for both the strike zone and using the barrel. He performed very well in both the workout portion and game action of the PG National, and on Monday McCullough again displayed quick hands and an efficient, line-drive oriented swing path in driving a single up the middle. He also has smooth actions in the infield with soft hands and a quick transfer, release and confidence in charging the ball and working through his throws.

Antonio Velez
(2016, Brandon, Fla.) threw well in a quick, efficient two-inning appearance for FTB Tucci. The South Florida commit has a lean build and medium 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. The southpaw has some deception in his delivery with a small pause at the apex of his leg lift and later hand separation. Velez has solid arm speed and his 86-88 mph fastball looked faster than listed on the radar gun, showing mild running action to the arm side. Velez showcased a quality curveball with 12-to-6 shape, and when it was at its best the 73-75 mph breaker had late break, tight rotation and was located down in the zone. While it was a brief outing, Velez still was able to break out his changeup, and he did a solid job of maintaining fastball arm speed and arm action on the pitch, which combined with the slight fading action makes it a promising pitch for future development.

Andrew Krause

For a long time now, Elite Squad Prime’s 2016 righthander
Anthony Molina has figured prominently in the discussion of the “who’s who” as far as the top 2016 pitchers are concerned. Being ranked highly by Perfect Game early on, Molina has been high on the list of must-see pitchers wherever he throws and has consistently impressed with his physicality, athleticism and arm strength. After a quality PG National appearance, Molina took another step forward in his development on Monday morning.

Standing 6-foot-4 and possessing the near-ideal level of physical athleticism and overall looseness of his arm, Molina is an imposing presence on the mound, but mechanical inconsistencies as well as off-speed inconsistencies have kept him from taking that next step into the top tier of 2016 arms. On Monday, he may have taken that step.

Working 91-93 early on and 89-92 throughout the duration of his start, Molina showed the same loose and easy arm action we’ve seen in the past, but with a more consistent and in-sync lower half, which enabled him to pound his fastball down in the zone to both sides of the plate with more consistency. His curveball flashed legitimate potential, really getting on top of the pitch and getting excellent snap and depth on the offering. He still got to the side of a few at times, but overall it was the most consistent breaking ball we had witnessed from him.

Molina’s teammate, fellow Elite Squad Prime member
Greg Veliz, is widely known for his exploits on the mound, where he regularly sits in the mid-90s from the right side. With that being said, Veliz is still the starting shortstop and regularly hits in the Nos. 3 or 4 spots for Elite Squad, and he showed off those hitting chops on Monday by launching a moonshot home run over the right field wall at North Cobb Christian High School. Displaying above average bat speed with quick wrists and tons of strength, Veliz is a legitimate two-way prospect, both collegiately and professionally speaking. We should get a look at him on the mound a little later on in the tournament as well.

2016 shortstop
David Hamilton displayed some really loud tools at PG National a few weeks ago, and put those tools on display on Monday afternoon. Hamilton ran a 6.43 60-yard dash at National, and threw 91 mph across the infield, putting him near the top of the class in both categories. On Monday, he showed off legitimate defensive tools at shortstop with quick feet and range to both sides, pretty smooth fielding actions with soft hands and good footwork and that excellent arm. He has no issue fielding balls hit either way, and does a great job around the bag turning the double play. At the plate, the lefthanded hitter shows surprising pop, as he lofted a long triple deep over the center fielder's head, and cruised easily into third base after making the turn at a scalding 4.33 seconds. There are very few questions, if any, with the bat, and if he continues to show more and more power moving forward, his stock will continue to skyrocket.

The Team Elite Roadrunners are consistently a high-end talent team in the Georgia area, and this year is no exception. With high-end talent both on the mound and throughout their lineup, they are one of the most heavily scouted teams in the entire event.

2016 righthander
Griffin Jolliff started for the Roadrunners and certainly did not disappoint. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound righty is a well-built, broad-shouldered prospect with excellent present strength throughout his body. He uses that strong lower half well in his delivery, driving downhill to the plate and creating good angle from a high three-quarters slot. He worked primarily 87-89 throughout his outing, touching 90-91 several times early on. The fastball has some natural heaviness to it, and he sinks it well to the arm side, generating whiffs as well as weak contact on the pitch when located down in the zone. The arm has a bit of hook in the back of the arm circle, but works well for the most part. His primary off-speed pitch on this day was the curveball, with 11-to-5 shape and excellent depth, the pitch flashed hammer potential. His command of the offering wavered a bit, but for the most part it was a swing-and-miss quality pitch for him.

Relieving Jolliff was 2016 lefthander
Justin Glover, who came on to throw the final two innings of the game and did so in dominant fashion. Working consistently at 86-87 mph and touching 88 with his fastball, Glover painted the corners at the knees with good arm-side run, and made it look easy. The arm works very well, and generates good plane and angle from an extended high three-quarters slot. A bit of crossfire adds some deception, making him very tough to pick up for both righties and lefties alike. He added an excellent curveball at 74-75 with 1-to-7 shape and hammer depth, a true weapon pitch.

2016 shortstop
Cam Shepherd, another PG National participant, had quite a day at the plate for the Roadrunners. He hit a monster home run to the pull field complete with a plus-plus bat flip, highlighting the bat speed and leverage that we saw at National. He followed that up with a line drive single the opposite way, showing an innate feel for the barrel and the ability to use the whole field with authority. He’s a smooth, clean defender at shortstop with quality actions throughout and more than enough arm to play the position at the next level as well.

Yet another team with an absolutely stacked lineup, the Houston Banditos Black are having an excellent tournament, as expected. 2016 righthander
Carter Henry started for the Banditos on Monday evening, and didn't disappoint. With a slight hip coil delivery, pinching his front knee and front elbow together some, he loads well on the back side and drives forward with longer arm action up to a high three-quarters slot and excellent arm speed. Working 88-89 early (mostly 85-88 throughout) with heavy, sinking life, Henry was able to get both whiffs and weak contact on his fastball and did a good job working down in the zone with it for the most part. A primary shortstop, Henry also shows his plus athleticism on the mound, with an outstanding pickoff move highlighted by dancer-quick footwork. Complementing his heavy fastball with a sharp-breaking curveball with excellent depth, Henry was able to keep hitters off balance all night.

Coming on in relief for Henry was
Richard Gilbert, a deceptive 2016 lefthander with easy arm action and a crossfire delivery that gave opposing hitters fits. He worked 86-88 with his fastball, spotting it on the black to both sides with no problem at all, racking up just as many strikeouts looking as he did strikeouts swinging. He’s very balanced throughout his delivery despite the crossfire action, and complemented the power fastball with an excellent curveball, showing 1-to-7 shape and the ability to throw it for strikes as well as bury it down and out of the zone when needed. He commanded the curveball just as well as he did the fastball, and with the overall quality of the pitch combined with the deception he creates out of the hand, it was nearly impossible for opposing hitters to even come close to it.

Banditos 2016 shortstop
Andres Sosa, showed off all five tools in different ways on Monday night. Hitting with a very advanced, patient approach, Sosa is more than willing to wait for his pitch and take walks if the opportunity presents itself. Once on base, he’s always a threat to run with excellent speed and base-running instincts. He also has excellent feel for hitting to go with developing power, driving a ground-rule double to left field, showing good backspin and great carry from his naturally lofted swing. That present gap power promises to turn into more home run power as he continues to physically mature moving forward. In the infield, he shows off smooth actions at shortstop with soft hands and easy, quick footwork to both sides. Overall, he’s an excellent prospect who will contribute on the field in every way possible.

One of the best Midwestern teams around, Elite Baseball Training Chicago took the field for the nightcap at LakePoint. One of the perennial stars of the team, 2016 catcher
Sam Ferri, has always impressed when in PG events, and looked the part again on Monday night. A no-doubt excellent defender behind the plate, Ferri has the kind of quick-twitch athleticism that isn’t easily found in catchers, and he uses that quickness and agility to his advantage. He blocks easily side-to-side and receives well, also showing off a very good arm on throws down to second base, popping consistently in the 1.95-2.10 range during warmup throws. He’s also noticeably stronger than he was even as recently as October, and is using that strength at the plate, hitting the ball harder and driving it better than he has in the past, making him a high-potential two-way catcher moving forward.

2016 uncommitted righthander
Dylan Mulhivill started for Elite, and certainly looks the part of a workhorse, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at a well-proportioned 220 pounds, Mulhivill’s arm is very loose and easy, leading to the conclusion that there is even more velocity in the tank than the 88-89 mph that he sat at early in his start. Generating excellent plane and angle from a medium three-quarters slot, he has whippy arm speed and some deception, making the fastball very hard to square up. Flashing life on the fastball to the arm side when located down, Mulhivill did a good job of commanding the fastball for the most part and had no issues getting weak contact on the offering. His best off-speed pitch is a power slider, which shows legitimate tilt and is a bat-missing pitch when commanded, even if it's a bit shorter than traditionally sliders. He may be uncommitted now, but that certainly shouldn't last very long.

Brian Sakowski

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