Tournaments | Story | 7/5/2016

17u WWBA Day 4 Scout Notes

Matt Czechanski        
Photo: Perfect Game

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A verifiable giant of a human being with equally gigantic arm strength on the mound and raw power at the plate, righthanded pitcher Nick Storz (2017, N.Y.) took the mound for Team Elite early Monday morning, and got the 4th of July fireworks started by shooting flames out of his right hand. The Louisiana State commitment was electric early on, working 90-93 mph consistently with solid arm-side life down in the zone. His slider was a weapon on this day, continuing to make strides forward seemingly every time we lay eyes on him, showing improved sharpness, velocity, spin rate and amount of break, becoming more and more a true bat-missing pitch for him. The arm stroke is pretty clean and he repeats his delivery well, especially for a prospect of his size, and it's going to be very interesting to see over the next year where he projects better: On the mound or in the batter's box.

During the 16U WWBA National Championship last year, Golston Gillespie (2017, Ga.) put on an impressive display with the bat, showing extreme bat speed and strength from both sides of the plate, and looking every bit like a future impact bat at the collegiate level. Soon after, he committed to Ole Miss and is now a rising senior with designs on the MLB Draft. He showed off that power once again on Monday morning, turning on an elevated fastball and drilling it deep to right field (from the left side of the plate), a 6.0-plus second hang time mammoth home run, estimated by one scout to be well over 400 feet. His bat is going to be carrying tool in the profile, but if he continues to hit with that kind of power – and from both sides of the plate at that – his profile won't be a concern to anyone.

Coming off of an extremely impressive performance at PG National – one which spanned about 22 pitches in two innings and resulted in several weakly-hit ground balls – righthander Tommy Mace (2017, Fla.) took the mound and showed well again. Still very slender and extremely projectable, similar to Kevin Gowdy a year ago, Mace's delivery and arm action, when combined with that physical projection, lead many scouts to believe that he will eventually throw pretty hard. The velocity is fine right now, mostly in the upper-80s (topping at 89 mph on Monday) with subtle arm-side life and command to both sides of the plate. He generates good downhill plane to the plate and combines it with good extension, allowing his fastball to play up from his raw velocity, and mixes in a pair of off-speed pitches as well. The curveball is a bit shorter in terms of traditional depth, but there is good spin there and it flashes power break; while his changeup is clean out of the hand with good fading life and arm speed replication. He's a strike thrower with an easy delivery, and once the velocity pops he has a chance to a high-draft type of prospect.

One of the more anticipated appearances of the week came from righthanded pitcher Ben Jordan (2017, Ky.), a 6-foot-9 and insanely projectable future Kentucky Wildcat. After reportedly touching 96-97 mph at an Area Code tryout recently, Jordan worked 88-92 mph, up to 93, in this outing, generating an incredible 7-foot-7 extension at release per TrackMan, a ridiculous statistic by itself. At 6-foot-9, it's difficult for anyone of that size to control their body, but Jordan has the athleticism and ease of delivery to repeat it well enough. He takes the arm back flat into acceleration out of a slight wrist hook, with the arm action overall being mostly clean, before firing downhill from a high three-quarters arm slot and generating excellent plane. His fastball is heavy with good life down in the zone, and he showed a three-pitch arsenal of off-speed pitches to complement the heater. The curveball was inconsistent but flashed 11-to-5 shape with good depth; while the slider was the better pitch on this day, showing sharp tilting shape, firm at 79-81 mph. He also mixed in a changeup, a good pitch with fade and deception though without a ton of velocity differential from the fastball. Jordan could very easily end up being the highest upside pitcher in the class of 2017.

Native Mississippian Matthew Myers (2017, Miss.) has been on the national radar for a few years now, most notably for his loud tools of arm strength on the mound and power in his bat. He showed off that power on Monday evening, belting a loud, long home run into the LakePoint entrance walk, deep over the left-center field wall. His swing is geared for power, with big leverage at contact and a lofted path, along with big-time raw strength throughout his body that shows up in the swing. He's committed to Mississippi State, where he projects as middle-of-the-order power threat, who has the potential to be a two-way performer as well.

After a quality PG National performance, righthander Stephen Keller (2017, Texas) was on the bump for Phenom Texas in the late game at LakePoint Monday. The Louisiana State commitment showed a quality two-pitch mix that should play well in Baton Rouge, showing a fastball that topped at 89 mph before settling in at 84-88, and the strongly-built Keller projects for more velocity as well. His weapon pitch, once he found it, was the curveball, a pitch that he's able to throw easily from his near overhand arm slot, with powerful spin and sharp break, somewhat in between 11-to-5 and 12-to-6 shape. He was mostly around the zone with both pitches, and looks the part of a potentially hard-throwing reliever at the next level.

After opening a whole bunch of eyes as one of the few underclassmen invited to the Tournament of Stars, outfielder/pitcher Mike Siani (2018, Pa.) is high on follow lists for the 2018 draft. The University of Virginia commitment started on the mound and was up to 91 mph, striking out nine hitters over nearly five innings for the Philadelphia Whiz Kids, who fell to the EvoShield Canes Central in a hotly-contested 2-1 game. Siani is a high-level two-way talent, with lots of arm strength that plays well both on the mound and in the outfield, where he's also a very good athlete with quality speed. His greatest impact, however, may come in the batter's box. He has an advanced approach with an innate ability to recognize spin and not expand the strike zone, and he has the bat speed and strength necessary to drive the ball all over the ballpark, with even more power on the way. We're still nearly two years until his draft year, but right now he looks to be one of the higher upside hitters in the class of 2018.

– Brian Sakowski

Day 4 of the 17u WWBA National Championship led off with a loud bang provided off the bat of outfielder Jordon Adell (2017, Ky.). Adell showed off his absolutely vicious bat speed and unloaded on a ball that cleared the right-center field fence. Adell extended well to the outer third with good rhythm and weight shift to the ball and smoked it for a grand slam. The ball left the bat at 101 mph and traveled 409 feet. The sound it made off the bat was exceptionally loud and had scouts and fans watching different fields getting whiplash to see what happened. The Louisville commit swings with such intent and power through his hips generating the tremendous raw power.

Another highly touted and rated bat in the 2017 class, shortstop Mark Vientos (2017, Fla.), put on a show offensively over at Perry Park in the late afternoon. Vientos has long been on the national scene for his potential at the plate both with contact and power. In his first at-bat of the game he elevated and celebrated all over a fastball with quick hands and a line drive swing plane. He dropped his back shoulder, transferring his weight well, and peppered the ball over the left-center field fence. His second at-bat he turned in almost the exact same swing with the above average bat speed and saw the ball one-hop the wall for a double. It was good to see the Miami commit regain his swing and begin driving the ball with authority.

Another Elite Squad bat that impressed was Florida commit and catcher Zach Jackson (2017, Fla.). Jackson found a lot of barrel in the game starting with a loud pulled single with good bat speed. He then showed off his ability to create leverage by depositing a ball over the right field fence, narrowly avoiding a car window.

Elite Squad sent out an interesting arm in relief arm in righthander Jose Visaez (2017, Fla.), a University of South Florida commit. Visaez is a very strongly build righthander with a durable build at 6-foot-3, 215-pounds. The future Bull showed above average arm strength with a medium stride down the mound and very little lower half drive. In warmups he showed a longer, somewhat loose arm action, while in game he shorted it up, bringing it straight back into a hook before coming to the plate. His fastball worked 90-93 mph with firm, true action out of the hand and came out clean. Visaez struggled keeping the ball low in the zone, challenging hitters up and running into some barrels. As for his breaking offerings, he worked a slower 71 mph curveball with depth and softer spin with 11-to-5 shape that he got over for strikes. His second offering he used more selectively was a sweeping slider with big depth at 72 mph.

Backing him up out of the pen and securing the win for Elite Squad was the always exciting Tristan Casas (2019, Fla.). Casas would be physically imposing for an 18-year-old much less someone who is only 15 and playing against significantly older competition. He stands at a very believable 6-foot-5, 240-pounds with loads of present strength. He pitches with the same intent he uses at the plate and shows the same power as well. He showed a very quick, whippy arm action that he hid well from a high three-quarters to almost over-the-top arm slot. It is presently arm strength over arm speed for Casas, but with his size he works downhill well and challenges hitters. The Miami commit worked his fastball between 89-91 mph with slight arm-side wiggle, but got on top of it very well and blew it past opposing hitters. He showed a power 12-to-6 shaped curveball with big depth at 72 mph and the ability to get it over for strikes. He generated swings and misses from both offerings and kept hitters off balance. He showed on one pitch a slider with good bite and arm speed at 82 mph. The third pitch would be a new development for the highly touted underclassmen.

Playing in the same game as those noted above, shortstop Ryan Bliss (2018, Ga.) stood out for the Georgia Bombers showing a good bit of twitch and overall athleticism in the field and at the plate. Bliss has exceptionally quick hands through the zone and ability to get around on good velocity. He drives the ball well with a line drive swing and can get to all fields. On top of what he can do at the plate, the Auburn commit shows off very clean actions up the middle. His transfer skills and footwork help set him apart with actions that help him make tough plays.

Back over at LakePoint in the 7:15/7:30 p.m. slot, the Richmond Braves 17u Jones sent out a UVA recruit and righthanded pitcher Hunter Perdue (2017, Va.). Perdue has a lean, athletic frame listed at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds with room to continue to fill out physically. He starts with a very unorthodox and funky delivery on the mound, as he appears to swing his knee almost around his hip before driving to the plate. From the stretch he abandons the leg left almost entirely with a very quick delivery. Perdue showed a longer arm action with stab from a three-quarters arm slot and a crossfire throwing action across his body. His fastball worked 87-91 mph and hit 92 mph with slight arm-side wiggle. He worked around the zone well enough and gave up contact, though not hard, that fell for hits or worked its way through the infield. His top secondary offering was an 11-to-5 shaped curveball with above average spin and good depth. There was a slider as well thrown harder at 77 mph with slightly more true slider shape at 10-to-4 with some late bite. Perdue also threw a changeup at 82 mph and did well to replicate his arm speed for the pitch. It showed slight depth with some late fade and should be thrown more.

The Central Florida Gators are one of the best underclass teams in the event with loads of talented 16u players and have cruised to a 5-0 record thus far in the tournament. Led offensively by LSU commit and outfielder Elijah Cabell (2018, Fla.) as well as third baseman Nolan Gorman (2018, Ariz.), the Gators have outscored their opponents by a score of 30-3 through five games.

Gorman turned in the bigger night with a two-hit performance including a laser home run. His hand speed is possibly the best in the entire class, moving through the zone with tremendous speed and authority to drive the ball. He has very easy rhythm in the box with a line drive swing plane and intent. He has very present and clear barrel control through the zone with a good bit of feel for timing.

Cabell collected a base hit on the evening, but outside of Gorman’s home run, he made possibly the loudest contact of anyone in the game. Cabell’s rhythm at the plate is very impressive with a big leg kick and easy plus bat speed. For his age he has tremendous strength and he uses it well, creating leverage in his lower half and driving well to the ball.

The starting pitcher for the Gators was an impressive rising sophomore in righthander Andrew Roberts (2019, Fla.). Roberts showed impressive velocity on the mound for a player so young running his fastball up to 87 mph in the first and working comfortably in the 83-85 mph range throughout the start. He threw from a longer arm action with a slight stab in the back of his motion and hard cast of the front hand. It was a very whippy, quick arm action towards the plate with controlled effort. The crossfire action helped aid his deception on the mound and miss bats against righthanded hitters with his fastball. His secondary offerings included a developmental curveball with 11-to-5 shape and a changeup with slight fade.

– Matt Czechanski

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