Tournaments : : Story
Sunday, July 03, 2016

17u WWBA Day 2 Scout Notes

Brian Sakowski         Matt Czechanski        
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After an eye-opening performance at the PG National, followed by a tremendous week at Tournament of Stars, righthanded pitcher Alex Scherff (2017, Texas) took the mound for the Banditos Black team on Saturday morning and immediately established his dominance. In the first inning, Scherff worked 94-96 mph, touching as high as 97 on at least one gun, with impressive arm speed and a simple, easy delivery. There isn't much effort throughout any of Scherff's arm action or delivery, though he does have a slight hook through the back of the arm circle and will land closed off. He creates good leverage in his arm action, and it's easy to project him to spin the ball even better than he already does, which produces a slider that flashes average (on the pro 20-80 scale). The slider can get slurvy at times, but in this viewing he was able to sharpen the pitch up a bit and show more traditional slider tilt, at least at times.

The calling card – aside from the obviously powerful fastball – is the highly advanced feel he has for his changeup. He replicates his arm speed extremely well and turns over the pitch out front without sacrificing extension, producing an above average, fading changeup down in the zone that works to get swings and misses in any count.

As discussed before, the Banditos Black team is absolutely loaded, and has to be one of the prohibitive favorites in this event. PG National participant and Arkansas commit Alerick Soularie (2017, Texas) checks a lot of boxes for evaluators, combining a great frame with lots of athleticism, bat-to-ball skills and developing power. He has quality bat speed with a clean, direct hand path, which allows him to consistently hit the bottom half of the baseball and drive it into the air, with the potential to spray rising line drives to all fields. His developmental trajectory has been an exciting one over the past few years and he's not done getting better either.

The class of 2018 in the state of Georgia is shaping up to potentially be a legendary one, with nine of our top 50-ranked 2018 players coming from the Peach State. One of the most projectable arms in the class is Cole Wilcox (2018, Ga.), who, at 6-foot-5, 210-pounds, possesses the type of broad-shouldered and lean build that makes scouts excited as far as pitchers go. The stuff matches the body and projection, too, as Wilcox worked 89-93 mph throughout his outing, peaking at 94 with an extremely fast, loose arm action that projects for even more velocity moving forward. He throws from a traditional three-quarters arm slot with slight spine tilt at release, but the delivery isn't violent and he is able to repeat it relatively well at this point, speaking to his athleticism.

The fastball has some serious jump at the plate, and he was able to overpower opposing hitters simply by throwing fastballs within the zone. He shows feel to spin the ball as well, and though the shape of his curveball varied a bit as he fought to find his release point, when he was consistently on top of the pitch it showed good depth and spin, with mostly 10-to-5 shape.

The EvoShield Canes, winners of three straight WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Fla., will be talked about repeatedly in these recaps, simply due to the overall level of talent they possess. They survived a bit of a scare on Saturday afternoon, however, carrying a 1-1 tie deep into the game before prevailing late to stay unbeaten. They started righthander Trey Dillard (2017, Ariz.) in their game, and though the stuff wasn't as crisp as it was a few weeks ago at the PG National, he still managed to hold the Illinois Sparks to a single run. He worked 87-88 mph for the most part, consistently getting downhill and finding the bottom of the zone, elevating when necessary, and eliciting both whiffs and weak contact. His curveball showed better shape than it has in the past, with power depth at times, bottoming out late with sharpness out of the hand, giving him a quality two-pitch mix for the still-uncommitted rising senior – the only uncommitted prospect on the Canes roster.

The person responsible for giving the Canes such a scare was righthanded pitcher Ryan Kutt (2017, Ill.), a 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect who is committed to Illinois. Kutt was very impressive throughout his outing on the mound, working 86-89 mph and topping out at 90 a few times, with a very quick arm up to a near over-the-top arm slot, powering downhill and creating significant plane. He hides the ball extremely well until release, making his fastball's effective velocity play up extremely well, and he complemented the fastball with a very sharp, firm slider that he liked to throw quite a bit.

Another of those perennial favorites, FTB Tucci has potentially one of their most talented rosters ever, including a cavalcade of extremely high-end pitchers, of which they threw three in their 4-0 victory Saturday afternoon.

Tanner Burns (2017, Ala.) started, and was his usual powerful self. Everything about Burns screams power, from his extremely strong build to his arm speed, delivery, and raw fastball velocity, which peaked as high as 96 mph on a few guns before settling in the 90-94 range. He powers downhill well despite his 6-foot frame, and the fastball is a weapon pitch down in the strike zone, in addition to being able to elevate it to get swings and misses. His breaking ball feel was inconsistent on this day, fighting his release point and resulting in varying shapes and spins, but at it's best it's a powerful downer pitch with tight spin and very good snap.

The second FTB arm on this day was a veritable giant in 6-foot-9 Mitchell Stone (2017, Okla.), who absolutely dwarfs most everyone else in the state, let alone on the field. His is a controlled delivery with deliberate pace, working hard to control his tremendous size and be athletic, and he does a good job of it all things considered. He peaked at 91 mph early, settling in around 88-90, powering downhill with steep plane when on top of the ball. It's a moderately lengthened arm stroke with smoothness to a high three-quarters arm slot, and the fastball can be a weapon pitch when commanded. He mixes in a traditional 12-to-6 curveball, a good pitch when spun correctly, changing eye levels and speeds with it.

Finally, FTB brought out one of this evaluator's personal favorite pitchers in the class in Logan Allen (2017, Fla.). Allen is one of the better pure pitchers in the class, with tremendous feel for the game, combining four effective pitches with command, deception, and an innate understanding of sequencing. His fastball works in the upper-80s to low-90s, peaking at 92 mph in this outing, with command to both sides and a ton of angle from his extended three-quarters arm slot. He hides the ball well through the takeaway and throws across his body body with lots of looseness and solid arm speed, managing to command the fastball to both sides of the plate despite a bit unorthodox delivery. He mixes in a curveball, slider and changeup, all with advanced feel, and despite the obvious differences in size, reminds this evaluator a great deal of 2016 first-rounder Eric Lauer of Kent State. They have very similar profiles in terms of feel, command, and stuff, though the projection and size differences are indeed quite different.

FTB is not without bats, however, and then can roll out an extremely talented lineup of position players, both in terms of offense and defense. Two of those extremely high-end defenders are shortstop Matthew Golda (2017, Fla.) and catcher M.J. Melendez (2017, Fla.). Golda is one of the best middle infield defenders in the nation, with range and extremely easy, quick-twitch actions, along with high quality contact skills and an approach to hitting at the plate. Melendez is the preeminent defender behind the plate in the country, with easy receiving/framing skills, lots of athleticism, and the type of arm strength that simply shuts down running games.

We've already discussed a giant in Mitchell Stone, but another gigantic human being took the mound later on at LakePoint on Saturday evening in 6-foot-8, 235-pound righthander Jackson Rutledge (2017, Mo.). Rutledge has one of the heavier fastballs in the class, consistently thrown downhill to both sides of the plate with the ability to shatter bats seemingly almost at will. There's a ton of leverage in his arm stroke due to an exaggerated hook through the back, so it's easy to see how he can create such heavy life on his fastball. He'll mix in a solid 11-to-5 shaped curveball and a straighter yet deceptive changeup as well, giving him a three-pitch mix and absolutely looking the part of an innings eating, durable starter at the collegiate level.

– Brian Sakowski

Day two kicked off at LakePoint with a pair of talented arms facing off in Arkansas commit Hunter Milligan (2017, Ark.) and Wake Forrest commit Will Sprinkle (2017, N.C.). Milligan is strongly built at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds with a good frame that could continue to add strength. He’s another short-striding lefthander with good arm speed, slightly fighting his front side at landing. He started with a slight drop and drive into his delivery with a longer, slightly rigid arm action. Milligan feasted on the inner third of the plate against lefthanded hitters with his fastball that worked 84-88 mph with good arm-side life that actually broke a pair of bats in the first couple innings. He mixed in a slider that flashed as an above average pitch with hard 1-to-7 shape up to 78 mph and showed tilt at times. He also showed a changeup on the mound with good replicated arm speed that showed good tumble, but choked it, seeing it spike before the plate. He filled the zone, working well to his glove side and struck out seven batters over six scoreless innings.

The opposing pitcher, Sprinkle, turned in a strong outing as well over five innings allowing just one earned run and recording three strikeouts. Sprinkle, a righthander, has lots of projection remaining in his frame with a lean, slender build. He’s very well balanced on the mound from a mid three-quarters arm slot with a longer arm action and slight hook in the back. He worked well from a drop-and-drive delivery with a medium stride toward the plate and landing online. The ball came out clean with a fastball that ran up to 90 mph and worked consistently at 86-88 mph with plenty of arm-side life. Sprinkle also showed a changeup up to 80 mph that showed tumble while slowing his arm for the pitch. He showed enough feel for the pitch to double up on it in any count and to righthanded hitters for a swing and miss. The third pitch for Sprinkle was a breaking ball that showed slightly slurvy tendencies and occasionally flashed tilt. He worked the pitch around the zone well enough to complement his other two pitches.

On the opposite side of the quad, Team Elite 17’s Prime saw its offense come to life. Two of their many offensive performers were first baseman/righthanded pitcher Nick Storz (2017, N.Y.) and Steven Williams (2017, Ga.). Storz hit possibly the hardest hit ball I’ve ever seen with a 103 mph home run off the bat that possibly apexed at 12 feet off the ground and nearly took out a car window. The strength and power the LSU commit possesses is awe inspiring with a simple swing to the ball and very impressive bat speed. Williams, an Auburn commit, drove the ball as well as any of his teammates collecting a trio of hits including a smoked double in the first inning. It’s a very simple, easy swing to the ball with good hand speed and some feel for timing allowing loud contact off the barrel.

The East Cobb Astros sent out Cody Greenhill (2017, Ala.) to try and continue their hot start through the first two days of the tournament. He tossed a clean three innings allowing an earned run and fanning two batters. Greenhill threw from a deceptive low three-quarters arm slot with crossfire action and a short, quick arm action. Greenhill generated occasional life to his fastball working it to both sides of the plate at 87-90 mph, touching 91, while working it hard in on righthanded hitters. He fights his front side some with a stiff landing and slight recoil and maintained his velocity well through his three innings. He also mixed in a curveball in the low-70s showing some depth with softer spin.

Over at Alatoona High School during the 11:30 a.m. time slot, the Florida Burn Platinum 2017 and their talented roster took on the Virginia Cardinals. Noted in yesterday’s recap, catcher Matheu Nelson (2017, Fla.) continues his hot stretch with yet another home run. The strength in the FSU commit’s frame is hard to ignore with good bat speed and lots of intent to drive the ball. He creates a lot of lift in his swing with backspin to help carry the ball out of the park, frequently.

The other standout in their order is shortstop Brady McConnell (2017, Fla.), a Florida commit. McConnell has long been a highly ranked prospect, but made a big jump at the National Showcase. McConnell has very smooth actions in the infield, with good footwork up the middle and a strong arm across the diamond. He runs very well down the line and was clocked between 4.13 and 4.18 per various stopwatches on a run time, and then stole second with ease. At the plate, he relies on a very quick bat through the zone with a line drive swing plane and strength. His hands work very well in his swing with the ability to take the ball to all fields.

Moving along to Etowah High School, righthander Mattheu Sauer (2017, Calif.), an Arizona commit, took the mound for CBA Marucci National. Sauer possesses a very physical, strong frame at 6-foot-4, 192-pounds with lots of present strength throughout. He threw from a three-quarters arm slot with a long, quick arm action and some fluidity through the throwing motion. He throws across his body some with good deception and arm speed, landing closed. He has a medium stride towards the plate with a slight weight shift to his back leg before coming to the plate. His fastball worked consistently 88-90 mph in the first inning and settled in at 87-89 mph with subtle arm-side life to the pitch and ability to create good, downhill angle towards the plate. He filled the strike zone and attacked righthanded hitters on the inner third, getting swings and misses with his fastball.

Sauer showed a promising changeup in warm-ups, but only utilized it a couple of times in the game, showing depth and flashing diving action out of the zone. His top secondary offering was his slider that worked in the upper-70s showing some tilt while slowing his arm slightly. He raised his arm slot for a mid-70s version that appeared to be his curveball with softer spin and shape. Sauer generated good extension for his fastball, while cutting it some for breaking pitches. He missed quite a number of bats, and when hitters did make contact, he missed barrels with the only run he allowed coming off of soft, blooped base hits. He struck out seven batters over four innings.

Another live Sothern California arm emerged back at LakePoint in the early afternoon slate with righthander Carlos Lomeli (2017, Calif.) pitching for the Southern California Bombers. Working from a low three-quarters slot with a longer arm action and medium stride to the plate, Lomeli relied primarily on his fastball to try and beat hitters. He struggled creating angle from an already low arm slot with hitters, but did well to fill the strike zone and challenge hitters to beat him. Lomeli’s fastball worked impressively at 88-91 mph, touching 93, with true action with the ability to elevate up and out of the zone. His arm speed was impressive without using a lot of his lower half and still generating above average velocity. He lacked the necessary put-away pitch with two strikes early on and then turned to a slider that hit 78 mph and flashed. He slowed his arm slightly, but with increased feel for the pitch it could turn into a weapon and be the swing-and-miss offering he needs to let his fastball play up.

It was a longer list of arms standing out through tournament play today with another in righthander Ty Abraham (2018, Texas). Pitching in the same game with the high-powered FTB Tucci arms, the righthander for the Columbia Angles impressed as a younger, promising arm. He worked from a longer arm action with some quickness and good arm speed through the delivery. He employs a slight drop-and-drive start from a three-quarters arm slot with controlled, minimum effort in his delivery. His fastball came out clean and worked at 86-89 mph with a higher spin rate showing good riding life. He worked quickly and around the zone with it laying off barrels of hitters and generating weak contact. Abraham showed some feel for a changeup up to 78 mph and added deception by replicating his arm speed with the pitch. He flashed a slider as well with tight breaking action, although used it sparingly in his two innings. Command will determine the ceiling on Abraham as he at times struggled working to his arm side seeing his fastball run out of the zone. Cleaning up his mechanics would allow the spin on his fastball to help elicit more swings and misses.

Righthander Alberto Gonzalez (2018, Texas) proved to be an interesting uncommitted arm that started the game for the PNT Titan Bats. Gonzalez has loads of arm speed as that will be the calling card for him as he moves to the next level. He has a Carter Capps-esque drive off of his back foot, almost skipping off it coming towards the plate. Listed at 6-foot-2, he takes a very short stride to the plate, putting some additional stress on the arm, while landing closed. He had some recoil in his landing as expected, with the aforementioned arm speed and shorter stride. His fastball impressively worked at 89-91 mph, touching 92 with some occasional arm-side life, but was often left up. He mixed in a very, very slow curveball at 66 mph with softer shape, but with the vast difference in velocity between his fastball, it messed with hitters. He also very early on in the game dropped in what appeared to be a 50 mph eephus, which was a first for me in person.

– Matt Czechanski

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