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Tournaments | Story | 10/7/2015

California World Series notes

Andrew Krause        
Photo: Perfect Game

With 36 total teams playing at least three games (not including playoff competition) across seven fields over the greater Fresno metropolitan area, it was difficult to see all of the talented players that participated in the California World Series, but here are some of the players that stood out to this one evaluator over the course of the long weekend.

Matt Manning (2016, Elk Grove, Calif.) has an extremely projectable frame. The righthanded pitcher was a participant at the Perfect Game All-American Classic just a couple of months ago at Petco Park in San Diego, where he hit 95 mph in his one-inning stint. On Saturday, the Loyola Marymount commit took to the mound for the NorCal Baseball Upperclass team in front of a handful of scouts from the area. The 6-foot-6, 190-pounder has very long levers and plenty of room to fill into his angular, lean frame.

Working consistently in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball in the early going, Manning was able to overpower most of the opposing lineup. Manning lands slightly closed and works a bit crossfire, but he creates a good angle to the plate and can be particularly difficult against same-sided hitters. At times, he falls out of his delivery, getting too rotational and spinning over his frontside in the process, but as he continues to add strength and develop physically he should be able to more consistently stay within himself.

Manning has plus arm speed coming through the backside, and he flashed some feel for his 76-78 mph curveball, with the best offerings showing 11-to-5 break with solid depth and later break. At times, the pitch could spin a bit too early out of the hand and show softer, rolling depth in the 73-75 mph range. There are still some things to be ironed out, but with the physical projection and present raw elements, it is easy to see why Manning is discussed as one of the top righthanded pitchers in the 2016 class.

Arman Sabouri (2016, San Jose, Calif.) pitched opposite of Manning on Saturday night, and the California commit more than held his own. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound southpaw has a solid build with present strength and athleticism in his compact frame. Sabouri has some funk and deception in his delivery, as he works to a three-quarters arm slot with an extended, loose arm stroke. His 84-88 mph fastball has natural short tailing action and solid finish, and he did a solid job of keeping the ball down in the zone, where it was difficult for hitters to barrel and lift. Sabouri also showed quality feel for his slider, with the offering displaying short, late tilt in the 79-80 mph range and some more sweep and gloveside finish when in the 76-77 mph velocity band. He also worked in a changeup in the upper-70s, but was largely able to succeed on the command and feel for his fastball/slider combo. He has an advanced feel for pitching and sequencing and he should be a quality pitcher at the next level.

Matthew Fraizer (2016, Fresno, Calif.) was the headline prospect for the Central Cal Baseball Academy Upperclass, a scrappy team that reached the semifinals and nearly advanced to the championship game, losing a close game in extra innings against CCB Elite. Fraizer, a Perfect Game National Showcase participant, is committed to the University of Arizona. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound outfielder has a highly projectable frame. He has some present strength and shows solid bat speed and the ability to whip the barrel through the zone. He could develop some more power as he continues to fill out and develop physically, while at present he shows a measured gap-to-gap approach utilized to take advantage of his plus speed (4.09 home-to-first from the left side). His speed plays well in the center field as well, where he showed an ability to track down balls into the gaps with relative ease.

Carter Aldrete (2016, Fairfield, Calif.) helped CCB Elite Upperclass advance to the Upperclass Championship game. The Arizona State commit is a physically impressive player, as the 6-foot-2, 185-pound shortstop has plus projection remaining on his frame. He is a solid athlete and moves well to either side while playing defense. At the plate, the righthanded hitter has solid balance and bat speed with quick hands and strength in his forearms and wrists.

Korey Lee (2016, Vista, Calif.), an uncommitted catcher, played well this weekend. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound righthanded hitter has quality strength and bat speed, and he showed some power potential, stroking a well-hit double to the left center field gap. At times his swing could lengthen a bit, but Lee has high-level hitting tools to work with. Lee was also solid behind the plate, showing quiet hands and receiving and lateral quickness to block balls in the dirt.

Chris Jimenez (2017, Fontana, Calif.), another catcher that is presently uncommitted, performed well and always a pleasure to watch. At 5-foot-8, 170-pounds, Jimenez doesn’t fit the prototypical catcher mold, but his game is reminiscent of players such as Austin Barnes, as Jimenez also has the ability to play both the infield and outfield. He’s polished defensively behind the dish, showing good flexibility, receiving and footwork to go along with a strong arm. He’s always a threat to cut down opposing runners, as he did over the course of the weekend, including throwing out two runners in one game on Saturday. At the plate, the right handed hitter has a contact-oriented approach with good plate discipline/coverage and comfort in using the entire field.

Donta Williams (2017, Las Vegas, Nev.) was named the MVP of the Underclass Pacific tournament, and the University of Arizona commit has a high ceiling. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound outfielder patrols center field well. Williams’ speed is game-changing and he did a tremendous job of setting the table the entire weekend as CBA Marruci’s leadoff hitter. He showed off a disciplined approach at the plate, using the entire field and rarely expanding the strike zone.

Evan Rocha (2018, Fresno, Calif.) is an intriguing uncommitted infielder. The compact 5-foot-7, 150-pounder showed good actions at shortstop and impressive range to both his left and right. At the plate he showed a contact-oriented approach with solid hand-eye coordination and good tracking and plate discipline. While he may project best at second base at the next level, Rocha is definitely a player worth watching in the coming years, particularly if he continues to add strength and mature physically.

Brian Hefner (2018, Madera, Calif.), Rocha’s teammate for Central Cal Baseball Academy Underclass, is another interesting uncommitted plater out of the greater Fresno area. Hefner, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound first baseman is a bit raw, but the lefthanded hitter has the physical tools, bat speed, and strength that can play at the next level. Starting with an open stance, Hefner has a good shift and weight transfer a la Adam LaRoche, and he maintains solid balance in his swing. There some stiffness in his swing and overall actions in the field, but as he continues to mature and grow into his body, Hefner should more consistently show off his impact potential.

Zachary Chalmers (2017, Sam Ramon, Calif.) is an uncommitted righty that displayed some impressive arm strength. The 6-foot, 175-pounder sat in the 85-88 mph range with his fastball, touching 89 mph in the early going of his outing on Saturday morning. He also worked in a 74 mph curveball.

Chalmer’s teammates on the North Coast Reds Underclass, Quentin Selma (2017, Clovis, Calif.) and Zach Presno (Clovis, Calif.) both showed off quality tools that have made them Fresno State University commits. Selma has a nice 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame and displayed above-average bat speed and developing power potential, while Presno has solid defensive skills behind the plate with quality receiving and blocking skills.

Brendan Tinsman (2018, Cape Elizabeth, Maine) was one of the few non-California players that participated in the tournaments this weekend. The Maine native, playing for Phenom Signature underclass, cuts an athletic figure and it easy to see why the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is currently ranked 71st in PG’s 2018 rankings and is already committed to Wake Forest. Tinsman should continue to add strength onto his frame, and he shows good balance and an easy, measured weight shift in his swing. He’s able to generate natural backspin and carry, which along with his impressive strength allows for considerable carry off of the barrel. He feasts off of mistakes and ripped a double on a fastball left up in the zone. He’s certainly a player worth monitoring over the next few years.

Patrick Wicklander (2018, San Jose, Calif.) is an interesting uncommitted southpaw. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore has a projectable frame and some deception in his delivery and three-quarters arm slot. He generally worked in the 82-84 mph range with his fastball and showed flashes with his 68-71 mph breaking ball that had quality sweep and finish to the gloveside.

Isaac Esqueda (2017, Pomona, Calif.) pitched opposite of Wicklander on Saturday afternoon, and the uncommitted lefty also showed off solid stuff. Esqueda has some funk in his own delivery, with a quick pace and varied direction to the plate. He touched 88 mph with his fastball, generally sitting in the 84-87 mph range and generated solid plane and angle from his high three-quarters arm slot. While his secondary pitches still need some refining—he showed off a sweeping breaking ball and a changeup—Esqueda has natural cut action on his fastball, and it was a quality pitch when he located it down in the zone.

After impressing at the PG Evoshield Underclass back in September, Carlos Lomeli (2017, La Habra, Calif.), a St. Mary’s commit, again showcased his quality heater running his fastball up to 92 mph. He worked to all four quadrants with his fastball and showed quality feel for his changeup.

Johnny Kuhn Jr. (2017, Lakewood, Calif.) and Matt Sauer (2017, Santa Maria, Calif.) both also performed well and the PG Evoshield Underclass last month, and the talented right handed pitchers carried that performance over to this weekend. Kuhn, a Long Beach State commit, and Sauer, an Arizona commit, pitched in the same game for CBA Marrucci. Kuhn again displayed quality feel for both his 85-86 mph fastball and 77-77 mph slider, striking out six over three innings. Sauer came on in relief of Kuhn, and the projectable 6-foot-3, 185-pound righty sat in the 87-90 mph range with his fastball. He has plus armspeed coming through and is a good athlete. On this occasion, Sauer showed quality feel for his mid-70s slider with it offering good two-plane tilt and sharp finish.

Josh Zamora (2017, Foothill Ranch, Calif.) displayed good defensive actions and athleticism at shortstop. The uncommitted infielder has very good body control, range, and smooth hands to go along with a quick release and accurate arm.

Carson Rudd (2017, Agoura, Calif.) was a participant at June’s Junior National Showcase, and the projectable righty continued to show why he’s such a highly regarded pitcher for the 2017 class. Rudd touched 88 mph in the early innings, working mostly in the 84-86 mph range with his heater. The 6-foot-5, 160 pound Stanford commit has a narrow frame but still has plenty of room to fill out, and with a clean and loose arm-action it is easy to envision him adding velocity over the next few years with additional muscle and physical development. Rudd also flashed a low-70s curveball with good depth and varied 12-to-6 to 11-to-5 shape.

Javier Felix (2019, Watsonville, Calif.) pitched opposite of Rudd in what was one of the premier pitching matchups of the Underclass tournament. Just a freshman in high school, Felix has a large, yet projectable 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame. He has quality present strength, but has the potential to grow into a physical specimen as he has broad shoulders, wide back and well-proportioned lower half. With a measured, simple pace Felix is able to repeat his delivery and mechanics very well for such a young pitcher. He has a full, extended arm-action with a slight hook on the backside, but with his plus armspeed and athleticism he is able to work to his three-quarters arm slot with ease. Touching 85 mph throughout the game, the young righty predominately sat in the 82-84 mph range with his heater. While his fastball command still needs some fine-tuning, he flashed the ability to use the offering to both sides of the plate. Felix has very good feel for his 71-74 mph slider, using the pitch often and able to manipulate the shape and depth on the pitch depending on count and situation. It has a chance to be a very special offering for him down the road.

Hayden Petrovick (2016, Azusa, Calif.) displayed quality arm strength from the left side. The 6-foot-3, 195 pound southpaw is a San Diego State commit. On Sunday, Petrovick touched 89 mph with his fastball, locating the offering pretty well to his armside. He flashed some feel for a low-70s curveball, locating the offering better in the later innings, while also working in a harder breaking ball and changeup in the upper-70s.

Jaylon McLaughlin (2016, Los Angeles, Calif.) is a live-bodied athlete with impressive quick-twitch and explosion. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Nevada commit presently plays shortstop, although he also has the athleticism and speed to fit in center field.

Nathan Webb (2017, Moreno Valley, Calif.) flashed loud tools throughout the weekend. He hit two homeruns on Saturday, and the 5-foot-11, 185-pound UC Riverside commit has a strong, sturdy build with good bat speed and quick, strong wrists. He also has some big arm strength, showing a fastball up to 91 mph off of the mound in a one inning stint. While he’s extremely raw as a pitcher, the arm strength is undeniable and plays well in right field (and potentially catcher although I did not see him play there this weekend).

Webb’s teammate on Saddleback Cowboys, Rory Smith (2017, Riverside, Calif.) showed solid defensive skills behind the plate. The 6-foot, 185-pound catcher is a Cal Baptist commit, and he is a vocal leader with quality receiving and blocking skills.

Jimmy McClenaghan (2017, Modesto, Calif.) was named the Underclass Coastal MVP. The 6-foot-2, 164-pound outfielder impressed at the West Underclass Showcase a few months ago, and the Nebraska commit again displayed his potential this weekend. He has solid bat speed and strength at the plate to go along with solid foot speed and defensive instincts in center field and he projects well.

Julian Favela (2018, Modesto, Calif.) helped the NorCal Young Guns Underclass capture the Underclass Coastal Championship thanks to his strong pitching performance. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound sophomore has an online delivery with solid downhill plane. He showed good command of his 80-85 mph fastball, locating the offering to either side of the plate and effectively using it at or above the letters with two strikes. He also showed some feel for a developing 67-70 mph curveball with varied 11-to-5 to 10-to-4 shape.

Over the course of the summer Jack Owen (2017, Coto De Caza, Calif.) has been very impressive at a number of Perfect Game tournaments. Owen pitched extremely well on Monday, throwing a complete game shutout in a semifinal game. The Mississippi State commit again showed advanced pitchability, mixing in three pitched adeptly. Owen commands his 83-85 mph fastball well, keeping it down in the zone often and has tremendous feel for his deceptive, fading 69-71 mph changeup. Additionally, he’s a good athlete who plays a quality center field and swings the bat well.

Daniel Martinez (2016, Riverside, Calif.) is a primary shortstop, but he showed off some arm strength and competiveness on the mound on Monday. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound UC Riverside commit hides the ball well and has some deception with a slight pause in his delivery. He worked in the 83-86 mph range with his fastball and showed off very good feel for a diving 76-78 mph changeup. Additionally, flashed a solid breaking ball with occasional hard, slider tilt. Martinez also hit well, with the lefthanded hitter showing good feel for manipulating the barrel.

Sean Ross (2017, El Cajon, Calif.) also displayed big arm strength and a two-way potential. Ross, a primary outfielder, helped CBA Marucci clinch the Underclass Pacific Championship as the 6-foot, 180 pound Arizona commit threw four shutout innings. The tightly-wound Ross is a tremendous athlete and he was up to 89 mph in the first inning before settling in at the 86-88 mph range with his heater. While there is some head snap and recoil, Ross commanded his fastball well, locating it down and to the gloveside without issue. At the plate Ross has a large leg lift trigger and big-time bat speed.

Daniel Cervantes (2017, La Mesa, Calif.) has impressive strength in his compact 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame. The uncommitted middle infielder hit well all tournament and is a solid overall athlete. As he did at the PG Evoshield Tournaments last month, Cervantes showed quality bat speed from the right side and some juice and pop to his pullside. He manipulates the barrel well and has shown the ability to use the entire field with authority.

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