Tournaments | Story | 10/23/2015

World Championship: Day 1 Recap

Andrew Krause         David Rawnsley         Chris King         Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game

Day 1 Daily Leaders
| Feature: Syracuse Sports Zone | Feature: Reds Midwest Scout Team

Lefthander John Kodros (2017, Coppell, Texas) is the type of pitcher who can frustrate opposing batters with his funky and deceptive style. The 6-foot-4 Kodros has a long and wiry frame that will fill out nicely and he likes to release the ball from a mid to high three-quarters arm slot. He shows a good amount of arm speed and the arm stays loose all the way through. With the differing angles and a slight turn of his torso, Kodros hides the ball well and allows his fastball to sneak up on his opposition. The LSU commit had his fastball sitting comfortably 84-86 mph range on Thursday with some late life, which he showed he can already control. Kodros peppered the strike zone with knee-high fastballs to both sides of the plate on a regular basis.

To go along with the heater, the crafty lefty showed two other offerings, a sharp slider in the 78-79 mph range and a changeup that he keeps around 75-76. At the moment, he appears to have better feel and confidence with the breaking ball, but he did flash a couple changeups that showed a lot of promise of a potential third pitch weapon. With all the deceptiveness and the ability to mix and match his off-speed with the fastball, Kodros made easy work and generated a bunch of weak contact.

Cole Turney (2017, Richmond, Texas) was easily one of the most impressive players of day one at the WWBA World Championship as he showcased some loud tools for the Texas Scout Team Yankees. The 6-foot 190-pound outfielder is built strong from top to bottom and still displays some very nice athleticism. He stands in the box with a slightly opened stance with great balance. He is able to pick up the ball quickly out of the pitchers hand and let his bat go to work. With premium bat speed and excellent barrel control, Turney is able to consistently put a controlled but aggressive swing on the ball. The lefthanded Arkansas commit keeps a level plane on his swing through the zone and will add some loft when he gets a pitch he can drive. The most impressive part of his swing is how he keeps the barrel in the zone all the way through. He gets loaded quickly and quietly and then unleashes.

Drake Fellows (2016, Plainfield, Ill.) wasn’t at his best today, but there was still plenty to like. The Vanderbilt commit has the size (6-foot-5, 205-pounds) and a three-pitch mix that will allow for plenty better days ahead. His arm action is long but clean for the most part and he fires his fastball from a high three-quarters slot with minimal effort. There is a lot of present arm strength here, and as he matures he will learn how to harness it. Fellows was sitting at 87-90 mph with the fastball while topping out at 91. Getting a consistent release point will be key for his development.

Fellows possesses two secondary offerings and both showed a lot of promise on Thursday. His go-to off-speed pitch is a firm power slider that he can locate and miss bats with. Fellows drops his arm slot to more of a mid three-quarters angle wit this pitch, and he had it routinely crossing the plate in the 80-82 range. The slide piece is already a weapon in any count and with the feel he currently has, it will only get more dangerous. The third pitch was a changeup that flashed better than advertised. Fellows was able to throw a few that got deep and displayed some nasty horizontal movement. The consistency isn’t there yet, but the velocity seperation from his fastball is. Coming across at 75-77, he’s getting a good 10-12 mph differential.

Jarred Kelenic (2018, Waukesha, Wis.) is already committed to Louisville and the Cardinals have to like the potential he brings to the table on both sides of the field. Kelenic is very athletic and has more strength than a lot of 2018’s. The forearms really stand out as he stands in the box and grips the bat. This allows him to handle the bat very well and guide the barrel through the zone. His stance is upright in his upper body with as slight bend at the knees allowing him to stay balanced and track the ball with minimal head movement. Kelenic put a few very aggressive and quick swings on the ball today. He showed a good idea of the strike zone, but did expand on a couple elevated fastballs.

Defensively, Kelenic showed very well. He got great reads off the bat and has a quick, decisive first step that allows him to cover a good amount of ground in center field and get to balls that are well struck into the gap. He made the best catch I saw all day on a hard hit line drive in the right-center gap. The 6-foot-1 Kelenic read the ball perfectly off the bat and took a quick, efficient route to the ball and was able to make the catch with a full extension dive to his left. It was a very impressive play.

Jakob Newton (2016, Oakville, Ontario) throughout day one there were some very impressive swings and at-bats, and Newton was right up there with a lot of the bigger names thanks to his compact and smooth lefthanded stroke. Newton gets loaded and drops the barrel into the zone very efficiently and keeps it there until contact. He displayed advanced bat speed and very quick hands which he uses well to keep the bat inside the ball. Newton showcased the ability to be short to the ball and turn and drive inside fastballs.

Another thing Newton brings to the table is high energy and high baseball IQ. Whether it’s running out of the box, alertly taking an extra base, when the opportunity presents itself, or just running onto the field between innings, Newton does it at full speed and it’s the type of intangible that his teammates can see and feed off of.

Chris King

To say that international free agent and Cuban righthander Yaisel Sierra drew a crowd at the Roger Dean Stadium might be an understatement as scouts crammed into the section behind home plate to grab a first hand look. The crowd was to be expected however as there were reports circulating about a loose armed, mid-90s free agent who hasn’t been seen much stateside.

With every warmup toss pregame being closely monitored just as his bullpen was and eventual game throws, Sierra proved those prior reports true as he came out firing and certainly has teams lining up with offers in their pocked. Sierra stands close to 6-foot-1 and though there’s already present strength to his frame there’s also projection remaining on the loose and quick-twitch righthander. He came out and immediately showed what the scouts and directors were hoping to see as he warmed up steadily at 92-93 mph in the bottom of the first before sitting 94-95 while bumping 96s in the next two subsequent innings. The velocity was what you were hoping to see but it was how he generated it and the command he showed of it that were just as noteworthy.

Sierra worked with a full arm action through the back side before coming to a traditional three-quarters arm slot while consistently getting on top of the ball which not only allowed him to fill up the strike zone but work both sides of the plate. Pitching mostly of his mid-90s four-seam fastball, Sierra also mixed in a handful of two-seamers in the low-90s that featured late running life that could get in on the hands of righthanded hitters. Showing some whip to his arm action at release Sierra showed little problem holding the velocity over his three innings and looked almost as though he was gaining steam each inning, working to his glove side well and continued to missed bats with his slider that showed plus.

The slider was a pitch that simply overmatched the opposing hitters and proved to be a steady swing-and-miss pitch. Sierra did a nice job of repeating his release point and arm speed on the 87-88 mph slider with late tilting life and occasional two-plane break. Though he didn’t show a third pitch against batters, Sierra did flash an 87-88 mph changeup in between innings that showed running life to his arm side.

I personally hadn’t seen infielder Bo Bichette (2016, Tierra Verde, Fla.) in about a calendar year but with the added physicality to his frame and the same fast hands he’s always shown the loud round of batting practice he produced came with little surprise. Listed as 6-foot, 200-pounds Bichette begins with a rather high hand set and though he also employs a high leg lift trigger he does a nice job of staying balanced and on time allowing for hard, barreled contact to all fields. The bat path is smooth and fluid and as a result was able to work the opposite gap nicely at the beginning of the round before turning on a couple that probably would have cleared the left field fence if not for a strong wind blowing directly in.

Kennan Bell (2016, Jacksonville, Fla.) and Francisco Thomas (2016, Carolina, Puerto Rico) both took quality rounds as well with Bell showing more of a power approach at the plate while Thomas showed barrel skills from both sides. A University of Florida commit, Bell showed a smooth and fluid stroke from the left side with easy bat speed and quality jump coming off to his pull side. Thomas, a San Diego State commit, showed some of his better power from the right side but used an all fields approach from left while be more contact/barrel oriented as he sprayed hard line drives gap-to-gap.

Both Herbert Iser (2016, Miami, Fla.) and Max Guzman (2016, Miami, Fla.) are capable of putting on shows in batting practice and while the lefthanders like Iser had a little more success putting balls out due to the wind, Guzman was still able to produce. After seeing a couple pitches deep and lining them to the opposite field for barreled contact Iser began to turn on the ball and left it loose, launching a couple of balls out during his round to his pull side. Guzman, another Perfect Game All-American on the Astros/FTB Tucci roster has put his big pull strength on display throughout the summer circuit and did so again before his final round. Within that last round Guzman showed a gap-to-gap approach with hard jump off the barrel and was able to produce it with rather ease thanks to his big bat speed and physical 6-foot, 215-pounds.

Matt Manning (2016, Elk Grove, Calif.) is one of the top ranked pitchers in the 2016 class rankings and after his performance Thursday night for the EvoShield Canes it’s easy to see why. With a loose and projectable 6-foot-5 frame the Loyola Marymount commit may not have had the longest outing (two innings) but he made his presence felt as all six strikeouts came by way of the strikeout.

The tone was set for what Manning had in store after his very first warmup pitch that crossed the plate at 93 mph. Over the course of the first inning he worked comfortably in the 92-94 mph range showing a fast and easy arm action without exerting much effort at release. Though lands closed and a bit cut off with his front foot Manning is able to still work over his front side and showed the ability to locate to his glove side with some riding life through the zone. An athletic righthander who is also a star on the high school basketball team, Manning did a nice job of staying tall on his backside which helped him work on top of the ball and generate downhill plane to the bottom of the zone with his heater.

Again working comfortably around 92 mph in his second inning of work with similar velocity out of the stretch, Manning relied mostly on his fastball to induce the swings and misses for his strikeouts though he did flash a couple of curveballs both in game and in between innings. Manning wasn’t able to establish a consistent release point to his curveball though he did bury one down in the zone at 78 mph for his second strikeout after locating the previous two fastballs.

Outfielder Austin Langworthy (2016, Williston, Fla.) had previously been listed as a primary pitcher at prior Perfect Game events with a lefthanded swing that had always been undeniable, leading to the belief that he could be a two-way at the University of Florida. Now listed as a primary outfielder, Langworthy has continued to swing a loud swing and set the table atop the EvoShield lineup. Listed at 5-foot-11, 180-pounds Langworthy shows big intent on every pitch he sees and unleashed on an outer half fastball that he lined through the six-hole for a hard line drive single in the top of the first. While his next two trips were as “loud” as he first at-bat he did still get on base and showed a knowledge of the zone taking the free passes that were handed his ways.

East Carolina commit Bryant Packard (2016, Greenville, N.C.) came through with one of the harder hit balls of the night and resulted in two runs for EvoShield, a double that registered 103 mph off the barrel per TrackMan. With a strong 6-foot-3 frame that has room for additional strength Packard showed a short and fast path to the ball, using his strength well to create the previously mentioned hard jump to his pull side on the two base hit.

Regarded as one of the better hitters in the entire country, Joe Rizzo (2016, Oak Hill, Va.) may have picked up a sharply hit single through the right side though it was his defensive that proved to be noteworthy also. A broad shouldered 5-foot-11, 215-pound third baseman who’s currently ranked No. 11 in the class, Rizzo showed some range to his backhand as well as footwork and quickness that helped complete two rather impressive plays. With runners on first and second and only one out Rizzo received a soft chopper and rather than attempting to throw across his body and to begin a 6-4-3 double play the South Carolina commit let his momentum take him to third before delivering a strike across the diamond despite not having his feet underneath him. The next play was a bit more routine on a soft chopper where Rizzo came chagrining in and while showing balanced delivered a similar type of off balance throw across the diamond.

Morgan McCullough (2016, Seattle, Wash.) and Brock Anderson (2016, Huntsville, Ala.) both wasted little time in Marucci Elite’s first game to make their offensive presence felt. McCullough, who has done nothing but find the barrel and get on base this summer, continued to the trend on one of the first pitches he saw of the game, turning on an inner half fastball and with a short and quick stroke to the ball drove it to the right-center field gap for a standup triple. Brock Anderson is an uncommitted lefthanded bat out of Alabama who jumped on a 3-2 89 mph fastball and showed a similar swing to that of McCullough’s with a direct path and loud jump, 97 mph off the barrel per TrackMan, again to the right-center field gap for a three base hit.

Will Ethridge (2016, Lilburn, Ga.) looks as though he’s filled out his 6-foot-5 frame some since earlier in the summer, now listed at 205-pounds and still has room for additional growth. And while the Ole Miss commit still projects his present stuff is very good and proved to be more than effective over his five innings of work.

After opening up at 91 mph the first handful of pitches and bumping a 92 Ethridge worked comfortably in the 88-90 mph range with consistent sink that proved to keep his infielders alert for the seven ground ball outs he was able to produce. He does a nice job of staying all on his backside and gathering some before coming to the plate with a quick arm action and some angle at release. Ethridge did a nice job of working his heater to either side of the plate with the same late sink from the extension out front and another velocity jump shouldn’t be too far away. His slider was a pitch he mixed in frequently with short, tight tilt between 81 and 83 mph though he would manipulate the ball some and show bigger depth in the same velocity the band. His 84-85 mph changeup gave him a full three pitch and may in fact be the stronger of his two off speed pitches. The changeup mimics the arm action Ethridge shows on his fastball and has just enough velocity differential to get hitters out on their front foot while showing late fading action to his arm side.

Jheremy Brown

The expanded play on Thursday, designed to give more to the seemingly never ending crowds of scouts in Jupiter, included not only some exhibition games but also some deep rostered teams taking an hour long batting practice. One of those was the Mets Scout Team/Orlando Scorpions.

Probably the most impressive BP from the Scorps was from the righthanded bat of PG All-American shortstop Luis Curbelo (2016, Carolina, Puerto Rico). Curbelo has added even more strength since his impressive summer performance and showed superior raw bat speed during the pro style BP. Most of Curbalo's very hard contact cames in the form of line drives to left-center field and shaggers at shortstop were in peril on many. He's setting himself up for a potentially huge spring.

Infielder Nick Derr (2016, Sarasota, Fla.) has been going to PG events since he was a freshman but looks stronger, and most importantly, has a much better swing mechanics than we've seen before. It's short and crisp to the ball with good extension out front and lots of pull power.

Youthful outfielder Elijah Cabell (2018, Winter Park, Fla.), one of the youngest players in Jupiter, also showed impressive bat speed and neither looks nor acts like a sophomore in the batter's box.

PG All-American outfielder Carlos Cortes (2016, Oviedo, Fla.) took a strong round and looks able to continue where he left off this summer as one of the most impressive hitters in the class.

I also caught the early part of the Astros Scout Team/FTB Tucci batting practice and continue to be impressed by third baseman Anthony Gonella (2016, Riverview, Fla.). The 6-foot-4, 215-pound lefthanded hitter doesn't have a big national profile but that has a good chance to change between now and the 2016 draft. He showed the easiest loft power I saw in the BP's today, with outstanding low effort leverage in his swing.

Jheremy Brown recapped 24-year old Cuban righthander Yaisel Sierra's very impressive exhibition game performance already, but I found one thing very interesting. In doing some background reading on Sierra before he pitched, his delivery was described as being complicated with a big back turn. It's also noted that he walked 64 hitters in 101 innings in the Cuban League in 2013, undoubtedly a result of his delivery. That description bore no resemblance to the pitcher on the mound at the Roger Dean Stadium on Thursday, nor did Sierra show any hint that he should have command problems in the future. His delivery defined simplicity and good direction and he spotted up both his 94-96 mph fastball and upper-80s slider to both sides of the plate.

Sierra is compared to fellow Cuban Raisel Iglesias, who signed a seven-year, $27 million contract, including a $5 million signing bonus, with the Reds in 2014 as a 24-year old. I was able to see Iglesias throw against the USA National Collegiate Team in 2013, and based on the same one-time look, I like Sierra more. Given that there appears to be more money awash in baseball for international signings, it's easy to draw the conclusion that Sierra could be offered a more lucrative contract in what is likely to become a spirited bidding war.

Elite Squad Prime first baseman Alejandro Toral (2017, Davie, Fla.) is the No. 1 ranked player in the 2017 class and did nothing today to give room for argument or discussion on that question. The first pitch he saw in Elite Squad's narrow 6-5 win over the Syracuse Sports Zone Chiefs was deposited about 400 feet over the right-center field fence for a no-doubt home run. Toral also drove home another run with a single later in the game.

The aspect of Toral's lefthanded swing that is so enjoyable to watch is how well he uses his strong lower half to generate power. It's not a big or severe action but his weight shift into contact and his hip coil and lower half explosion are absolutely ideal when he's timed up on a pitch. Toral was on the home run and it was fun to watch.

David Rawnsley

Ben Rortvedt (2016, Verona, Wis.) is widely regarded as one of the most polished high school catchers in the class of 2016, and on Thursday he displayed some of the skills that made him a Perfect Game All-American. At 5-foot-10, 190-pounds, Rortvedt is rather compact, but he is extremely well-built and has tremendous strength throughout his body. The lefthanded hitter has been praised for his offensive prowess—and rightly so—as he has hit well in both batting practice and in game action at a number of Perfect Game events including the National Showcase in June and the All-American Classic in August. Rortvedt did not make his mark at the plate on Thursday, going 0-for-3 with two groundouts and a strikeout (looking), but he still displayed the bat speed and solid strength in his forearms and wrists that have impressed scouts all summer.

Even though his offensive performance was not up to his usual standards, Rortvedt showed solid defensive chops behind the plate, something that could help assuage any doubts about his defensive home at the next level. The Arkansas commit showed good footwork, a quick, compact exchange and clean release to go along with above-average arm strength, all of which allowed him to nab three attempted base stealers, and post a couple of in-game pop times in the 1.8s (1.86 and 1.83). Scouts will surely want to see Rortvedt more, but he’s flashed solid tools on both sides of the ball throughout the summer and fall of 2015, and with continued strong performances on the defensive side of the ball, he could make a strong case to be the first prep catcher drafted next June.

Alek Manoah (2016, Homestead, Fla) flashed big velocity on the summer circuit, and the big physical righthander did so again on Thursday. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound West Virginia commit is an imposing force on the bump, and he came out of the bullpen pumping in 91-94 mph fastballs. With a large leg lift above the belt and a slight pause and collapse on the backside, Manoah has some deceptive elements in his delivery and the ball comes out his hand pretty cleanly and gets on hitters’ quickly. The offering consistently had spin rates at 2400 or higher (per TrackMan), which helps explain the seemingly late jump and life it had even when located up in the zone. While he used his heater very frequently, Manoah also found some time to mix in a curveball in the 77-78 mph range and an 84 mph changeup. Both offerings lag behind his heater, but the changeup showed interesting potential, as he maintained solid armspeed on the pitch. The big-bodied Manoah repeated his delivery better out of the windup than he did when working from the stretch, and his in-zone command still needs some refinement, but Manoah’s physicality and velocity/life combination on the fastball make him an interesting 2016 arm to monitor in the coming months.

Davis Daniel (2016, Montgomery, Ala.) turned plenty of heads at East Coast Pro when the athletic righty touched 94 mph with his fastball. The Auburn commit was impressive again on Thursday night, as he consistently worked in the 91-94 mph range with his fastball over the course of his two innings of work. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound righty has previously showed that he will drop down to a sidearm slot and give hitters a different look, but he has seemingly put that to the side for now (and if he keeps throwing like he did on Thursday night he will definitely not to use such methods to get outs). Daniel has a very quick arm and he consistently pounded the bottom half of the strike zone from his natural three-quarters arm slot. He also worked an impressive breaking ball in the upper-70s. The slider was extremely effective, showcasing above-average potential with tight spin and late 11-to-4 bite. Daniel’s fastball/slider combo was more than enough to get outs, but he also worked in a low-80s changeup with some slight fading action and deception off of the fastball. He doesn’t have the largest frame, but Daniel certainly has some room to add strength without sacrificing any of his present athleticism, and he’ll be particularly interesting to follow this spring as he’s seemingly already made significant strides in the past few months.

Andrew Belcik (2016, Oldsmar, Fla.) started opposite of Davis Daniel, and the righthanded pitcher made some noise as well. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Notre Dame commit came out and was 88-89 in the early going before settling into the 86-87 mph range with fastball. Belcik has some deception in his delivery with some later hand separation and he does a solid job of hiding the ball, so his fastball tended to get on hitters quickly, especially when he was working in the bottom half of the strike zone. Working from a high three-quarters arm slot, Belcik displayed quality feel for a 78-80 mph breaking ball with varied 11-to-5 to 10-to-4 break. Later in the game, Belcik lost some feel for his delivery a bit and opened his front side too early, but he generally did a good job and competed well against a talented Braves Scout Team/Ohio Warhawks lineup.

Kyle Hurt (2017, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) is one of the top pitchers in the 2017 class, and the big righty pitched well in his two inning appearance for the Braves Scout Team/Ohio Warhawks on Thursday night. The 6-foot-4, 205 pound Southern California commit has a large, well-proportioned frame and athletic build, and he should be able to carry an additional 20-30 pounds at physical maturity without sacrificing any athleticism or looseness in his body. As he’s been for much of the summer circuit, Hurt worked in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball, showcasing a clean, extended arm-action and a quick path to a three-quarters arm slot. Currently ranked the No. 3 righthanded pitcher in the 2017 class, Hurt showed big confidence in his 79-80 mph changeup, using the pitch often and throwing the offering with conviction and quality armspeed. The pitch flashes big fading action and can be a true out-pitch when it is thrown hard. Hurt also flashed a handful of sliders in the upper-70s, with some of them showing quality finish and slice to the gloveside. While it’s still his third pitch, the breaking ball looked a bit tighter and sharper than it had earlier in the summer/fall, albeit in a brief look.

Jan Figueroa (2017, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) may be another 2017 righthanded pitchers that scouts will monitor closely over the next 18 months. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Puerto Rican native has a large frame and physical, strong-bodied build that belies his age. Figueroa has a quick arm and he touched 92 mph with his fastball, predominately sitting in the 88-91 mph range.

Nathan Walker (2016, Carlsbad, Calif.) showcased some quality stuff while working out of the bullpen and relieving Figueroa. Walker, a primary catcher, has a good pitcher’s frame and build with a projectable 6-foot-4, 185 body. The lean, long-limbed righty who is currently committed to the University of San Diego, creates some downhill plane and shows the ability to get extended over his frontside while releasing from his high, overhand arm slot. There is some head snap and effort at release, but Walker showed that he could still throw strikes, even locating his 88-90 mph fastballs to the gloveside rather consistently throughout his brief outing. The heater flashed quality armside running life and was particularly hard to barrel and lift when located down in the zone, which he was able to do pretty often. Walker’s mid-70s curveball is still a work in progress, as he had some issues generating consistent spin and depth on the offering, but the best pitches showed loose 11-to-5 shape with some depth. Walker is often thought of as a catcher first (where he has quality defensive tools), but with his projectable frame, loose arm, and downhill fastball, there may be an argument that Walker’s future home may be on the mound.

Sam Ferri (2016, Norridge, Ill.), another primary catcher, performed well on the mound on Thursday. Ferri came out of the bullpen for the Chicago Scouts Association and the 5-foot-11, 175 pound righty pounded the strike zone with his fastball and slider. While he doesn’t have the best plane on his 88-90 mph fastball, Ferri has solid command of the pitch and shows that he can keep the ball down in the zone, where the offering shows more armside run and late life. His bread-and-butter pitch however, is his slider a 79-82 mph pitch with good two-plane depth and late tilt. Ferri shows very good feel for the pitch, using it often when ahead in the count to induce empty swings and weak contact. While he may project best behind the dish, Ferri—an Arizona State commit—has the stuff and feel for his fastball/slider combo to be a quality bullpen arm in college.

Tyler Thompson (2016, Knoxville, Tenn.) is not one of the most well-known pitchers in the 2016 class, but the righthanded pitcher has a projectable frame and he ran his fastball up to 91 mph on Thursday. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound righty is a bit narrow, but he should still be able to add strength to his slender, lanky frame over the next few years. His 87-91 mph fastball shows some running life, and his tight high three-quarters arm slot can present a different look for hitters.

Nick Troglic-Iverson (2016, Oakville, Ontario) pitched very well against a quality Chicago Scouts Association lineup, and the uncommitted righthander has a lean build with very long limbs that bodes well for future projection in his 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame. While he’s a bit narrow, he should have room to continue filling out. He ran his fastball up to 89 mph in the first inning before settling in the 85-87 mph range. He also flashed some feel for a low-70s curveball, mid-70s slider, and upper-70s changeup, all of which could use further refinement but were located for strikes at various times throughout his outing. He’ll be an interesting arm to monitor in the coming months.

Mike Schwartz (2016, Merrick, N.Y.) was another interesting uncommitted pitcher that threw on Thursday. Coming out of the bullpen for the San Diego Padres Scout Team, Schwartz displayed some deception and funk from his three-quarters arm slot. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound southpaw has a solid, athletic frame and has some angle and solid downhill plane from his slight crossfire release. While his 83-87 mph fastball may not wow viewers with raw velocity, he presents hitters with a different look and is able to keep the offering down in the zone. Schwartz also worked in a mid-70s changeup with some quality depth and velocity differential, and it is a pitch that should induce groundballs when located down in the zone and sequenced properly.

Andrew Krause

Cooper Johnson (Mundelein, Ill.) has long been lauded for his defensive prowess, and he did nothing to dispel the notion that he’s the best defensive catcher in his class on Thursday. Consistently popping in the 1.9-2.0 seconds range in between innings, he wasn’t challenged on the bases in game, and perhaps wisely so. He’s very well built with excellent strength and overall physicality, and when coupled with the athleticism and defensive actions he shows behind the plate, he’s a no-doubt high round draft choice waiting to happen just based on the glove alone.

Centerfielder Dominic Clementi (2016, Hartland, Wis.) has continued to add strength to his 6-foot-2 frame, and the athletic centerfielder put that strength on display by launching a long triple up the opposite field gap, displaying explosive hands with strength in his forearms/wrists into excellent bat speed. He runs well, showing a complete top-of-the-order toolset.

Lefthanded pitcher Cameron Beauchamp (2016, Peru, Ind.) came on in relief for the Reds Midwest Scout Team and was impressive. Working in the 86-89 range and touching 90, Beauchamp rotates his hips well and in unison with his shoulders and gets his body online and downhill well. He generates good plane to the plate, spotting his fastball to both sides of the plate with effectiveness and command. The out pitch is his curveball, however, thrown from the same slot and with the same arm speed as his fastball, with sharp 1-to-7 shape and plenty of depth.

The Mets Scout Team/Scorpions finished as the runner up a year ago, and they certainly brought an absolutely loaded roster again this year, along with a pair of new assistant coaches in Carson Fulmer and Brendan Rodgers. They threw a three-headed monster in their close opening night victory, in 2016 prospects Tyler Baum (Ocoee, Fla.), Cole Ragans (Crawfordville, Fla), and Todd Peterson (Lake Mary, Fla.).

Baum started for the Scorps, and like always, he really stands out for his ability to uncoil his hips and generate tons of torque and explosion in his lower half, helping his fastball velocity to sit comfortably in the low-90s, touching 94 several times. The pitch has solid life to the arm side, and while he was a bit wild at times, he shows the ability to get to both sides of the plate in the lower part of the strike zone, eliciting both swings and misses as well as weak contact. His out pitch is his sharp, deep curveball with impressive spin and overall break, projecting to be a true bat-misser at the next level.

Following Baum on the mound was Ragans, the picture of ideal physical projectability from the left side. Ragans came on in a tough spot with a couple guys on base and two outs, and got a weak fly ball off a curveball after painting 89-90 twice to the glove side. He had some of the better fastball command this scout has seen from him, working consistently down in the zone to both sides and showing a special affinity for getting to the glove side from his extended three quarters slot. His curveball was also on point late Thursday, showing excellent shape and depth in the low- to mid-70s. He was able to bury the curve down and out of the zone as a chase pitch, but also froze a few opposing hitters by throwing it for strikes.

Closing it out for the Scorps was Todd Peterson, a big, physical righthander committed to LSU. Peterson has made some serious mechanical adjustments and refinements in the last year, which have allowed him to generate a bit more life on his fastball, better overall feel to spin on his pair of breaking pitches, and in general look more comfortable and easy on the mound. He did a very good job of throwing strikes for the most part with his fastball, which peaked at 95 and worked 91-94, extending well out in front and generating some solid arm side life. His best offspeed pitch on this day was the slider, thrown in the mid- to upper-70s with solid tilt, and he mixed in a slower, deeper curveball and flashed a straighter change as well.

Though undoubtedly loaded on the mound, the Scorps also feature an incredibly deep lineup, 1-10. Chase Cheek (Orlando, Fla.) is one of the fastest players in the country and can definitely go get it in center field, with leadoff-type contact ability at the plate.

Jared Herron (Orlando, Fla.) is a highly physical catcher with serious strength and bat speed at the plate, and his approach to hitting has improved tremendously over the past several months.

Elijah Cabell (as detailed above) is as impactful a bat as they come in the class of 2018, with elite level bat speed and tremendous strength off the barrel. He’s just now coming into his own as a hitter, and the results right now are outstanding, but the projection and future of his game are truly scary to think about.

Carlos Cortes (also detailed above) should be among the first prospects mentioned as far as best pure bats in the class of 2016, and if there’s a such thing as the “clutch gene,” he has it. Lining a single the opposite way in the seventh inning, Cortes brought home the go-ahead run that ultimately proved to be the winner. His natural bat-to-ball skill is uncanny, and when combined with the overall strength he creates in his swing and the barrel control he has to use the whole field, he’s as tough an out as they come in the prep ranks across the country.

The Upstate Mavericks played the Mets Scout Team/Scorpions just about as close as they possibly could, leading 1-0 until the top of the seventh, and they did so on the back of some excellent pitching. Righthander Ryan McDonald (2016, Charleston, S.C.) started, and was very effective pitching off his fastball nearly 90% of the time. The West Virginia commit worked consistently in the 86-88 range, hitting 89 several times early on and then tapering to more 85-86 towards the end of his outing. The fastball has good arm side running life, and is especially effective with some sink on it, which came when thrown down in the zone. At 6-foot-7 with broad shoulders and long limbs, even for his height, McDonald still projects on the body and there’s certainly room for velocity enhancement with added strength.

Relieving McDonald was 2016 lefthanded pitcher Richard Gregory (Gaffney, S.C.), and he had the best breaking ball this scout saw on Thursday, aside from Yasiel Sierra. Gregory throws a slider—an insanely sharp, tilting slider in the 76-79 range—and he drew some audible reactions from the scouts in attendance with the break on the pitch. He’s got advanced arm speed with athleticism on the mound, and his fastball worked 86-89, while reaching back for 90-91 a few times when he needed it.

As always, Team Elite Prime brought with them a loaded stable of talent both on the mound and in the lineup. 2016 shortstop Cam Shepherd (Duluth, Ga.) continues to improve both in the field and with the bat every time we see him, and he’s to the point now where he’s a legitimate option for the draft in June.

2016 shortstop Nolan Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) has one of the best combinations of speed and strength in his hands that you’ll find in this event, giving him the bat speed and jump off the barrel to turn in impressive exit velocities on line drives. His swing is leveraged with easy power right now that is only going to continue to impress as we move towards the draft.

Terence Norman (2016, Marietta, Ga.) is a quick-twitch, excellent athlete with the chops and skills to play center field at the next level, to go along with the speed and hitting tools to project to the top of the order at Kennesaw State when he arrives there next fall. He made a few impressive plays in center field on Thursday, ranging far in towards second base and sprawling out to snare a sinking liner, putting on display that speed and those instincts.

Brian Sakowski


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