Tournaments | Story | 7/7/2016

17u WWBA Day 6 Scout Notes

Matt Czechanski        
Photo: Perfect Game

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On the last day of pool play several teams were saving their arms with their chances of winning their pools on the line. After an extensive rain delay, the HBF Maroons sent out Michigan commit Jeff Criswell (2017, Mich.). Criswell is very projectable physically with a long, lean frame and square shoulders listed at 6-foot-3, 185-pounds. He starts on the mound with a very big leg kick that comes well past his waist. He collapses his backside some and has slight spine tilt into his delivery. He threw from a three-quarters arm slot and showed a slight hook at the end of his throwing motion. He showed good arm strength on the mound, slightly more present than arm speed and landed on an open front leg. The future Wolverine generated good arm-side run on his fastball that worked and held 87-90 mph and hit 92 mph in the middle innings. His top secondary offering was an 11-to-5 shaped curveball that showed depth, albeit softer spin up to 75 mph. He was able to get the pitch over for strikes and doubled down on it, showing good confidence. Criswell also threw a big, sweeping slider on rare occasion up to 78, but it’s possible he just yanked a curveball on one pitch.

It would not be a day at a PG event without a standout play made by shortstop Nick Allen (2017, Cal.). The athletic infielder made a full leaping play up the middle to save a base hit in the bottom of the first. It was a full extension catch onto the center field grass with a very quick first step. Allen showed off the same agility and athleticism by stealing both second and third after his first inning walk. He gets very impressive jumps on the bases and constantly keeps pressure on the pitcher.

One of the better pure bats in the high school ranks lies with outfielder Calvin Mitchell (2017, Cal.). Mitchell has loads of strength in his frame with a compact lower half and very strong wrists. His hands work exceptionally well through the zone with plus bat speed and a strong line drive plane. The San Diego commit works the ball well to all fields with a quick toe tap into his swing and good rhythm at the plate. The ball comes off the barrel loudly as he shows off the strength and bat speed through the zone. At the plate he collected a pair of base this with the hardest being a double to the opposite field.

After an additional delay, the Central Florida Gators took the field and continue their impressive run through tournament play. Some of the loudest, awe-inspiring contact on Wednesday was delivered by shortstop Tyler Callihan (2019, Fla.). The very projectable 5-foot-11, 180-pound infielder absolutely decimated a home run down the right field line. The ball cleared a tent just beyond the wall and its final destination has yet to be determined. It left the bat at 96 mph and traveled 398 feet. Not to get caught up in one swing, but the sound off the barrel with strength was something to behold. And to top that off, with his team up by eight in the bottom of the sixth, he made a ranging play that ended up in a normal fielding spot for the shortstop and threw across his body to nail the runner at first and end the game. He showed impressive range with a strong arm overall impressive footwork.

Taking the mound for the Game On West Braves was South Carolina commit, Aaron Brown (2017, Tenn.). The strongly built 6-foot-4, 205-pound starter showed a longer, looser arm action on the mound from a three-quarters arm slot with good extension and downhill angle. Brown showed very impressive arm strength on the mound working his fastball 86-89 mph and hitting 90 mph on several occasions with arm-side life to the pitch. He generated swings and misses on his fastball up in the zone, but found barrels when attempting to place it in the lower third and the riding action taking it to the middle of the plate. The balls, to his credit, were hit on the ground, and thanks to his defenders he avoided trouble. Given his intent on the mound and arm action, it would not be a surprise to see his velocity tick up in the future with good projection remaining. Brown also mixed in a changeup on the mound with very impressive late fade. The pitch showed the potential to be an above average offering as he replicated the arm speed and overall feel for it. He doubled down on it routinely and got several swings and misses when pushing it down and out of the zone.

– Matt Czechanski

As has been custom this week at the 17u WWBA National Championship, the day usually starts off with some kind of gigantic righthanded pitcher taking the mound. On Wednesday, this was no different, as 6-foot-6, 225-pound Joe Boyle (2017, Mo.) started for the St. Louis Pirates Strickland. Boyle’s developmental trajectory has been exciting to follow over the past year-plus, and he took another step forward at this event. Though he struggled with fastball command, Boyle showed the type of physicality, arm strength, and ease of delivery that suggests a tremendous upside. He touched as high 96 mph, working pretty easily downhill at 93-95 early on, with an easy arm action and plus arm speed that projects for even more velocity moving forward. The fastball is nearly unhittable when commanded down in the strike zone due to a combination of raw velocity, plane, movement, and extension, and the aforementioned developmental trajectory gives him a ceiling that is potentially limitless. He’s committed to the University of Notre Dame, but if he continues on the upward trend he’s set in the past year or so, it seems he’s more likely to be a first rounder than a Fighting Irish.

Boyle’s teammate, first baseman John Bischoff (2017, Mo.), is uncommitted as of this writing but his offensive impact looks to be a quality fit in college baseball. His swing is lofted and built for power, and he generates quality backspin off the barrel with good strength. He shows the ability to stay back and drive the ball, with plenty of pop to the pull field, including a long double over the right fielder’s head in game action on Wednesday morning.

A Texas A&M commitment, righthanded pitcher Tylor Fischer (2017, Texas) absolutely looks the part of a future Texas flamethrower, as the 6-foot-4, 165-pound righty combines an ideal amount of physical projection with intense arm speed to give him excellent velocity projection moving forward. He worked in the 88-92 mph range on Wednesday, generating tremendous life on the pitch to the arm side as well as some sinking action when down. He’s able to run the fastball way in on the hands of right-handed hitters, eliciting some very weak swings on pitches that ended up well off the plate inside, simply due to the amount of late life found on the pitch.

Later in the day, Team Elite Prime 17’s and Games On Braves locked into a very good game, one which ended well after midnight in a 3-3 tie. Several players from each side stood out.

Connor Thomas (2016, Ga.) showcased some really good stuff, and he’s going to be an impact arm at Georgia Tech, potentially as soon as next season. The skinny, projectable lefthander worked 84-88 mph for the most part from a tough three-quarters arm slot, creating lots of angle on the fastball and being very tough to pick up in general. The weapon, however, was the breaking ball, a sharp slurvy offering with tons of spin (up to 2900 per TrackMan, a huge stat by itself), generating lots of swings and misses and otherwise uncomfortable swings from both right and lefthanded hitters. At his best, he pounds the zone downhill to both sides, and his arm speed and frame both suggest velocity gains in the future, to go along with that swing-and-miss breaking ball.

Morgan Copeland (2017, Ga.) caught for Game On, and showed big potential both behind the plate and at it. He lifted and separated all over an elevated fastball, driving it deep into the night for a long home run, and his bat speed, lofted swing path, and raw strength project for many more home runs in the future. He has well above average arm strength behind the plate as well, popping consistently in the 1.95-2.05 seconds range in game action, with lots of twitch. He may end up being a better pitching prospect, as more than a few scouts noted that could be a mid-90s guy on the mound as well.

Late in the game, Game On brought in reliever Logan Ward (2017, Ga.), and he lit up the radar guns almost immediately, clocking as high as 92 mph several times on both the guns behind the plate and the TrackMan technology. He has a very quick arm and generates downhill plane despite his size, in addition to good natural heaviness on the pitch. He hides the ball well and got a few swings and misses on fastballs even as low as 88-89 mph from the stretch. He worked mostly with his fastball, flashing one slider at 82 mph with some sharpness, but the bread-and-butter pitch here was undoubtedly the fastball.

– Brian Sakowski

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