Tournaments | Story | 7/6/2016

17u WWBA Day 5 Scout Notes

Matt Czechanski        
Photo: Perfect Game

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In what has continued to be a consistent trend over the course of this event, a power-armed righthanded pitcher took the mound early at LakePoint on Tuesday morning, this time in the form of Garrett “Hunter” Ruth (2017, Fla.). The quick-twitch, projectable righty was impressive in his outing, doing a good job of vaulting himself into the upper echelons of pitching prospects in this class. Ruth worked 90-94 mph, touching 95 on at least one gun early on in this event with his fastball, generating good plane to the plate and working downhill pretty consistently, though one potential mechanical issue is that his landing spot varies depending on which side of the plate he’s trying to command his fastball to. The South Carolina commit’s delivery is otherwise pretty clean with twitchy tempo, showing his athleticism throughout, and projecting for even more velocity in the future. His primary off-speed pitch is his slider, which worked in the low- to mid-80s and flashes the potential to be a plus pitch. It’s sharp with very good spin, sometimes operating with tilt and other times being more of a purely vertical breaker, but either way it’s a bat-misser.

The same FTB Tucci team that Ruth pitched for also features an extremely talented everyday lineup of position players, with seemingly every name being high on some way-too-early 2017 or 2018 draft list. Outfielder Jordan Anderson (2017, Ala.) had an extremely loud day, consistently barreling up the ball and showing significant power to the opposite field gap as well. He’s a plus athlete with plus speed (he clocked a 6.25 60-yard dash at the PG National), and has the potential to be an impact offensive player as well. The swing is short and quick with impressive hand speed, leveraged at contact with the ability and strength to drive the baseball all over the field. He looks to be an impact performer at the next level in several facets of the game.

He’s been mentioned before, but bears repeating: infielder Matthew Golda (2017, Fla.) has big-time defensive skills at a premium position (shortstop) along with an advanced approach at the plate, and on Tuesday morning turned on a ball and drove it loudly off the wall, on a line, in left-center field. As he continues to physically mature and add more strength to his offensive profile, the industry will begin to talk more and more about him as a high draft type of prospect.

A yet-uncommitted talent, lefthanded pitcher Mason Hazelwood (2017, Ky.) absolutely shut down a perennially outstanding Elite Squad Prime team on Tuesday afternoon, and he did so in front of several college coaches looking for a 2017 lefthander to polish off their respective classes. Working mostly 85-88 mph and touching as high as 89, Hazelwood’s delivery is extremely deceptive, allowing the raw velocity of his fastball to play up several ticks, inducing an inordinate amount of empty swings on mid-80s fastballs, simply because the opposing (extremely talented) hitters simply couldn’t pick up the ball quickly out of his hand. The pitch shows good life to the arm side and enough feel to throw strikes, and he backed it up with a swing-and-miss changeup and solid breaking ball. It’s a three-pitch mix from a 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame with athleticism and control, and it would be a shock if Hazelwood remained uncommitted for long.

Another uncommitted 2017 arm showed his stuff late on Tuesday night, as two-way talent Riley Christner (2017, Pa.) took the mound in relief for the Flood City Elite 17u Gold team, and immediately got this evaluator’s attention with a loose, easy arm action and heavy fastball. He worked 87-89 exclusively for his first two innings, absolutely pounding the strike zone to both sides of the plate, elevating when needed and getting a great deal of swings and misses on fastballs within the strike zone. It’s a long, loose arm action up to a high three quarters arm slot, powering downhill with extension and easy deceleration, and he projects to throw harder as well. There’s some spine tilt at foot strike as well at release, but the delivery has athletic looseness to it, and he projects extremely well overall on the mound.

– Brian Sakowski

To open day five of the 17u WWBA National Championship FTB Tucci sent out an intriguing arm with lefthander Brendan Murphy (2017, Ill.). The ASU commit is highly projectable on the mound, listed at 6-foot-4, 200-pounds with good athleticism. He created good angle towards the plate with the ball coming out very clean to the plate, working the ball well to both sides and for strikes with good present arm strength. Murphy employed a shorter stride, landing on a stiff front leg, fighting at times with slight crossfire action. He used a longer arm action with a slight hook in the back and threw from a three-quarters arm slot. Murphy worked his fastball between 84-87 mph on the mound and mixed in a curveball up to 77 with good depth. His fastball showed heaver action in the zone and helped him lay off barrels and miss plenty of bats. He tossed a strong three innings on the mound allowing one unearned run and struck out five batters.

During an off-and-on lightning delay, catcher/third baseman Will Banfield (2018, Ga.) showed off very loud barrel feel for Team Elite 16’s Prime. Known for his very strong arm from behind the plate, the Vanderbilt commit moved over to third base for a break from the wear and tear. His swing is driven with intent to drive the ball with a very quick bat through the zone and strength behind it. He drives the ball effortlessly pull side with a consistent line drive plane. His loudest contact came via a double that went to the left-center field wall with easy extension and lift.

Following up their loud win yesterday, the Central Florida Gators continued their impressive offensive streak with more hard contact. Florida commit, catcher and righthander pitcher Mason Denaburg (2018, Fla.), hit possibly the farthest ball of the tournament at 412 feet that narrowly missed the first row of parked cars behind the left field fence. The ball left the bat at 99 mph as he showed off his raw strength, driving from his lower half and collapsing his back shoulder for additional lift. Navy commit and infielder Aaron Ahn (2017, N.J.) delivered a ball that left the bat at 102 mph, somehow topping his teammate. The ball was smoked with a very quick swing that knuckled it was hit so hard at the left fielder and made its way to the wall. The overall offensive prowess of the Gators is impressive as they improve to 6-0.

The Diamond Simcox 17u took on Scorpions Prime 2017 in a big matchup and sent out an impressive uncommitted arm. Righthander and shortstop Chase Wallace (2018, Tenn.) – only listed as a shortstop in the program – took the mound to start and impressed. Wallace has a medium frame listed at 6-foot-1, 180-pounds with room to continue to add strength and showed athleticism on the mound. He showed impressive arm strength with a slow swing into his long arm action. With a slight stab at the end of his arm circle, he exploded downhill from a three-quarters slot and landed online. His fastball worked 86-89 mph and touched 90 with good sinking action to the fastball and heaviness. He showed a pair of breaking balls, the first being a harder slider up to 78 mph showing some bite. The second was a curveball with 12-to-6 shape that he showed much more feel for. He doubled down on the curve often and threw it for strikes with good depth. His command was slightly erratic with his fastball, spiking it at times, but did miss bats with the offering and being aggressive with it.

One prospect who is rapidly moving up scouts’ lists is uncommitted shortstop Jordan Westburg (2017, Texas) of the South Texas Sliders. Westburg has a highly athletic, physical frame at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds with easy plus, plus speed. He showed a quick swing, hitting slightly off his front side with good bat speed and strength through his wrists. He drives the ball effortlessly, as he whacked a triple to the opposite field. His speed from the right side of the plate is what sets him apart with an ultra-impressive 4.27 time down the line as he rounded first base.

Hitting right behind him in the Sliders’ order was the No. 5 ranked overall player in the 2017 class, outfielder Cole Turney (2017, Texas). Turney had a fairly uneventful game until the bottom of the seventh when the game was knotted at 2-2. A pair of runners got on base, including Westburg, and Turney delivered a loud home run that cleared the maintenance shed behind the right field wall. Turney has shown good raw power in the past, but he elevated and dropped his back shoulder to unload on a fastball.

Right as the Sliders were celebrating, on an adjacent field uncommitted righthander Kolby Kubichek (2018, Texas) toed the rubber for Twelve. Yet another soon to be primary arm listed as a shortstop, Kubichek generated loads of extension down the mound with plus arm speed from a high three-quarters arm slot. He also appeared larger than his listed 5-foot-10, 160-pound frame. He worked very quickly with an upbeat delivery and deep hip coil with a longer arm action and slight hook. The delivery was very deceptive with the hip coil start, hiding the ball behind him until the last burst downhill. His fastball was devastating righthanded hitters, carving them inside on the hands. Kubichek worked it between 88-90 mph and hit 91 with tons of arm-side life and above average spin. Speaking of above average spin, he mixed in a curveball in the low-70s with 2700+ RPM consistently. The pitch was raw, breaking up out of the hands at times, but with the feel to spin it helps the projection of the pitch. The uncommitted righthander will likely not remain that way for much longer.

On an outside field, Scorpions South 2017 Prime outfielder Reese Albert (2017, Fla.) crushed three home runs. Albert showed off the impressive power potential at the PG National with good torque and intent to his pull side. He hit a home run in batting practice there and showed very quick hands with loud contact off the barrel.

– Matt Czechanski

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