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Tournaments | Story | 7/10/2016

16u WWBA Day 2 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown      Matt Czechanski     
Photo: Perfect Game

Day 1 Notes | Daily LeadersTop Ranked Players Team Database

As Day 2 of the 16u WWBA National Championship got going, the Houston Banditos Black sent out uncommitted righthander Marcelo Perez (2018, Texas). Perez has a smaller, athletic build but showed impressive arm speed on the mound with much less effort than you’d think. He threw from a lower three-quarters arm slot with a long, whippy arm action towards the plate. Perez utilized a crossfire element with some deception on the mound, while fighting his front side on his landing. He does not get fully extended down the mound with a short stride and higher release. His fastball worked impressively up to 91 mph and held between 89-91 mph with good, late arm-side life. He generated riding life with a high spin rate from his lower slot, successfully challenging hitters up in the zone. He utilized a pair of breaking balls, both with tight spin. His curveball had 11-to-5 shape with good late bite, though slowing his arm some for the pitch. His second was a slider with traditional 10-to-4 shape and late dive up to 75 mph. The arm speed and arm action play and along with his present feel for spin make him a potential weapon at the next level.

The leadoff hitter for the same team was shortstop Luis Tuero (2018, Fla.), and the infielder showed exceptionally quick hands at the plate and soft hands in the infield. He led off the game with a single up the middle with a quick bat through the zone and a compact swing. In his second at bat he pulled a double down the line with a linear swing plane, but strength to drive the ball.

Another impressive bat was Texas commit, shortstop and outfielder Jordan Groshans (2018, Texas). Groshans has impressive strength in his 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame with good athleticism and room to add strength. He drives the wall with said strength and backspin with a simple swing through the zone with a line drive swing plane. He also extends well to the ball with the ability to work it to all fields. Groshans collected a loud RBI triple to the opposite field with good strength in his wrists and he also showed impressive speed on the triple, rounding the bag at 4.27 seconds down the line. He projects well physically to add power to his game while maintaining his athleticism and defensive ability.

Over at the East Cobb complex, Florida commit and righthanded pitcher Christian Scott (2018, Fla.) took the mound and looked impressive as he fired seven one-run innings and struck out five batters. The long, lean righthander projects incredibly well for more velocity as he adds strength to his frame. He showed a longer arm action that was loose for the most part with a very soft stab at the end of his arm circle. Scott used a drop-and-drive element to his delivery and landed online with a measured stride towards the plate. His fastball worked 87-90 mph and hit 91 mph on several occasions in the first inning. The pitch generated good arm-side life, but also cut when he attempted to work the glove side. He held his velocity well, but struggled keeping the ball low in the zone. By missing up, he allowed hitters to battle at the plate and continue to foul off pitches without present feel for his breaking ball. He primarily went to his 11-to-5 shaped curveball that worked in the low-70s and also used a slightly harder version with more 10-to-4 shape. Both pitches were raw and he had trouble getting them over for strikes, but they showed promise. Given his size and present arm speed, Scott will continue to improve as he adds feel for his secondary offerings to complement his fastball.

Another highly touted player on Elite Squad was catcher Jake Holland (2018, Fla.). The well-built catcher showed well defensively and offensively backing up his high ranking in the class. Behind the dish, he moved well for his size and showed off his strong arm. He gunned down a would-be baserunner with a 2.08 pop time with a longer transfer, but quick release. His throws are accurate and to the bag with good carry. At the plate, he starts with a crouched stance with his hands slightly back, and he showed a quick bat through the zone with a compact swing plane. He hits off his front side some, but has the bat and hand speed to work the ball around the field. He legged out a triple in his first at-bat with a ball he hit hard down the left field line.

In the next time slot at East Cobb, the Diamond Skills Dodgers sent out third baseman and righthanded pitcher Jacob Steinberg (2018, Md.). They Miami commit has good physical strength in his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame and used it well. He used a deep drop-and-drive delivery with a long arm action and big leg kick. He collapsed his backside some coming into his delivery with a big cast of his front hand. Steinberg generated weak contact from his fastball that worked 86-88 mph and hit 89 mph several times with good arm-side life. His command was better to his glove side, missing in when attacking righthanded hitters on the inner third. Steinberg mixed in a curveball with 11-to-5 shape showing some depth with the ability to get it over for a strike. It was a very soft offering in the upper-60s with some loopy tendency, but the speed difference between that and his fastball kept hitters off balance. His third pitch was a changeup showing late fade, but slowing his arm for the pitch and showing it early. The lack of strikes hurt Steinberg’s ability to stay on the mound, but showed the stuff to help him project well.

Playing back-to-back games at East Cobb today was the 16u Astros team. Highly ranked third baseman/shortstop Kendall Simmons (2018, Ga.) is an elite level athlete with a strong arm on the left side of the infield and on the mound with good strength in his frame. Some prefer him on the mound where his fastball has been up to 94 mph in the past, but he impressed at the plate on Saturday for the Astros in their second game, showing off his plus bat speed. In past games his approach has been deemed pull heavy at times, but on this day he turned in one of his more advanced swings. He swings with a lot of intent through his lower half looking to drive the ball and he did so with a loud triple to the right-center field wall. It was a line drive swing plane through the zone with a positive entry angle into the hitting zone. He does have trouble at present picking up spin and being overly aggressive, but he hunts fastballs.

Moving back to LakePoint for the later afternoon games, righthander Carter Stewart (2018, Fla.) toed the rubber for the Central Florida Gators in the latter part of their doubleheader. The strongly built righthander, who is significantly bigger than his listed 5-foot-9, 190-pound size, likely stands around 6-foot-3, and he threw well and easy from a high three-quarters arm slot with a long, loose action. He landed on a stiff front leg and fought his front side some as his landing closed. He has above average arm strength working his fastball 84-88 mph with good arm-side life and riding action up in the zone. When he worked glove side the ball cut some on him with natural action, working more across his body. As Stewart learns more feel for sequencing and pitch location he’ll elevate his fastball more for a swing and miss. He also showed very real feel for spin with a spike curveball showing 11-to-5 shape with exceptionally tight spin offering a legit swing-and-miss offering with two strikes. The pitch had very hard, downward shape with late bite that came out of the same slot. The uncommitted righthander also showed some feel for a changeup at 80 mph with subtle late sink and developing feel.

Proving to be a main feature over the last week, outfielder and rigthhanded pitcher Mason Denaburg (2018, Fla.) made more loud impact in the game. This time the athletically built two-way player shined with the bat, driving a loud double to his pull side that one-hopped the wall. He has good rhythm and drives the ball effortlessly off the barrel. His above average bat speed and strength allow his line drive swing to carry the ball to deep parts of the field. The Florida commit is one of the highest two-way talents in the 2018 class.

UNF commit Cameron Robinson (2017, Fla.) impressed during the 7:15 p.m. slot on the mound for Orlando Baseball Academy. The athletically built 6-foot righthander showed good arm strength from a high three-quarters arm slot with a long arm action. He landed online and did not use much of his lower half with some spine tilt into his delivery. His fastball exploded out of his hand with riding life at 88-91 mph and missed bats. Backing up his fastball was a hard, slider up to 80 mph with downward shape and late snap. Robinson showed good feel for spin on the mound with the slider that had an impressive, well above average spin rate. He located very well and showed some feel for pitch sequencing.

– Matt Czechanski

Just as he does every time he takes the mound, top ranked 2018 Kumar Rocker (Watkinsville, Ga.) showed why he’s atop a talented class and doesn’t look to be going anywhere any time soon. Physically gifted at 6-foot-5, 235-pounds and still projecting for more given his age and youthfulness in his face, Rocker checks all the boxes and then some.

After several viewings last summer when the uncommitted righthander burst onto the scene it’s been fun to follow not only the progression of his pre stuff but also the mechanical adjustments and better tempo throughout his delivery. With more rhythm and another year’s worth of growth under his belt Rocker has seen his fastball go from bumping 91s and 92s to comfortably sitting in the 90-93 mph range, touching 94s while still projecting for a good bit more.

Coming through the backside the arm action is incredibly smooth and easy yet the results are anything but ordinary. More or less playing catch, or at least that’s what it appeared from behind the backstop, Rocker showed quality intent in working to either side of the plate with his heater and was by no means afraid to challenge inside. And even if he would occasionally miss a spot, the life on the pitch was just too overwhelming for opposing batters as he he racked up over a dozen swings-and-misses with the heater.

Like most young pitching prospects, Rocker’s secondaries have continued to improve at a radical pace showing three distinct offerings for strikes. At the Junior National Showcase it was the slider that was the go to pitch and it again proved to be a quality offering after opening the early portion of the game with his curveball. Throw in the 78-80 mph range Rocker’s slider featured tight life with subtle tilt as compared to his curveball in the mid-70s that offered more depth and 11-to-5 shape. The other pitch that’s continued to come on this summer is his changeup, a low-80s pitch that features quality fading life to his arm side with a replicated arm action though he threw just one or two in game and a an additional few in between innings.

Speaking of ultra-talented righthanders from the state of Georgia, Vanderbilt commit Ethan Hankins made a brief cameo last night and certainly didn’t disappoint. Standing at a very long and lean 6-foot-6, 195-pounds, Hankins came out firing as he bumped 94 mph with the very first fastball out of his hand and proceeded to sit in the 89-92 mph range. Similar to Rocker above, everything to Hankins’ mechanics are relatively simple with an abbreviated yet balanced build up to his balance point before driving to the mound.

And also similar to Rocker, Hankins shows a very full and loose arm action with excellent arm speed, all factors that helped produce the fastball velocity relatively easy while generating extension out front. Along with the velocity comes solid plane to his fastball land he showed comfort locating to his glove side with solid angle when on top of the pitch. The biggest takeaway however for me personally, even more so than the velocity uptick, is the development of his changeup. On the handful that the Georgia native threw, all came across at 80-82 mph and though he tends to slow his arm action some he’s able to create nice fade life with the same release point and proved he wasn’t afraid to throw it during a right-on-right matchup.

He may not be the biggest on the field but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the way Tennessee commit and 2018 second baseman Jarrett Ford (Decatur, Ga.) plays the game. A live athlete who’s full of fast-twitch muscle, Ford continues to improve in every facet of the game with every ounce of gained strength though did already feature a wide variety of intangibles. At the plate he shows very strong hand-eye coordination with a strong feel for the barrel and last night displayed comfort as he lined a ball sharply through the four-hole for a single and also showed a strong overall approach as he’s willing and able to draw a walk. And defensively Ford is just as impressive at second base where he projects to stay and showed off some range and footwork on a ball hit well to his left in which he showed plenty of quickness to get over to the ball and make the play.

A recent commit to Vanderbilt University, 2018 Ryder Green (Knoxville, Tenn.) offers plenty of upside both on the mound and with the bat, which is where he impressed yesterday morning. Full of physicality while retaining looseness throughout, Green offers extremely quick hands at the plate with a relatively short and simple swing, all ingredients that helped produce some impressive contact which included a 6.26 hang time on a deep fly out to left field.

Uncommitted lefthander Jake Sweeney (Hobart, Ind.) is certainly what you want a young pitching prospect to look when he toes the rubber as he stands 6-foot-6, 230-pounds with broad shoulders and physical strength throughout. He uses that strength well to generate solid velocity to his fastball, a pitch that worked rather comfortably in the mid- to upper-80s, peaking as high has 89 mph on my gun and touching 90 mph on others. One of the top uncommitted arms in the country with his present rank of No. 64 in the 2018 class, Sweeney worked primarily off of his fastball, flashing just a slider or two in the mid-70s with short tilting life to his arm side. Though his release point was a bit inconsistent today from his extended and lower three-quarters arm slot, Sweeney still managed to miss bats with his fastball showing short running life to his arm side.

Don’t let the fact that Drew Minter (League City, Texas) is listed as a primary righthanded pitcher fool you as he can certainly swing the bat and showed off some interesting power Saturday morning. Committed to the University of Houston, Minter connected for one of the loudest and more impressive pieces of contact that I’ve seen to this point. On an outer half mid-80s fastball Minter did a nice job of getting his arms extended and barreled a ball deep over the right-center field fence, showing not only pop in his bat but also the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field.

He might be listed as a primary outfielder but that didn’t stop about half of the ACC recruiting coordinators from checking in on 2018 Tyler Ras (Middletown, N.J.) as he took the bump at Kell High School. Working into the seventh inning the uncommitted righthander impressed with his present stuff while still projecting a good bit as he continues to fil out his 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame and gain additional reps on the mound. Ras opened up the game sitting 88-90 mph with his fastball, touching 91 and continued to hold that velocity into the middle of the outing, showing quality arm strength as well as a rather quick and easy arm action. His mechanics are fairly simple and he’s able to work down in the zone with short running life while consistently missing bats in the process. And when he wasn’t picking up strikeouts he was generating steady ground ball contact His breaking ball will continue to develop the more he throws it as it currently shows short 12-to-6 shape in the mid-60s, a similar velocity band of his changeup which showed some tumble down in the zone.

The Duke Blue Devils appear to have a solid middle infield prospect locked up in their 2017 class in shortstop Joey Loperfido (Haddonfield, N.J.). A lefthanded hitter with some foot speed and twitch to his overall profile, Loperfido is a solid athlete and he’s proved capable of bringing those intangibles up the middle. On more than one play throughout the afternoon the rising senior showed off both balance and solid footwork to his actions, consistently moving well up the middle with easy athleticism and a knowledge of what he was doing.

He only threw a couple of innings but that’s all that 2018 uncommitted lefthander Dawson Sweatt needed to make a lasting impression on the college coaches in attendance. After working in the 79-84 mph range just last June at the Jr. National Showcase, Sweatt came out and opened up at 86-88 mph, bumping an 89 in the first. Still projectable at 6-foot-2, 175-pounds with angular shoulders and a leaner build, Sweatt worked exclusively out of the stretch, which helped keep the delivery rather simple and in turn allowed for consistent strikes. He also did a nice job of utilizing his lower half and was able to generate solid extension out front while remaining balanced and producing short running life to his arm side. Sweatt came out of the gates hot pitching exclusively off of that fastball and though he didn’t maintain the higher band of his velocity, he did still show solid progress from his prior Perfect Game outing. And not only did he regularly get on top of this fastball, he also mixed in a few short curveballs in the low- to mid-70s with some shape and depth which he kept down in the zone just like his heater.

Uncommitted 2018 righthander Mateo Gil, who’s actually a primary shortstop, is a name we’ll certainly be hearing about for the next few years out of the state of Texas though his game is already plenty good to make an impression now. Not only does Gil offer a boat-load of projection with his young 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame, but he also has the baseball bloodline and grew up around the game as his father is former big leaguer Benji Gil. And if what he’s capable of doing on the mound is any indication of his overall game than another look will certainly be needed to see how the athleticism translates up the middle.

But for now the look on the mound will suffice as Gil came out pumping fastballs in the 86-88 mph range, bumping an 89 once or twice, all the while working exclusively out of the stretch. Coming through the backside the arm stroke offers plenty of arm speed and that’s a big reason for the present velocity as he’s still developing and incorporating the lower half into his drive. Even still, the baseball acumen is evident, the delivery is rather simple, and he offers three solid pitches for strikes. When he located down in the zone Gil proved capable of generating ground ball contact with the amount of life on his heater though he could also challenge up and beat bats based off of velocity. Both his changeup and slider are quality pitches at present with the changeup checking in at 76 mph with solid fading life and proper rotation whereas the slider, another mid-70s pitch, offered tight rotation and late bite.

Having been known for his abilities with the stick for almost two years now, Clemson commit and 2018 infielder Charles Mack (Williamsville, N.Y.) has only continued to grow strong which has led to even more power in his lefthanded stroke. And that attribute was on full display yesterday as he connected for a loud and hard hit ball that cleared the center fielder’s head, racing into third base for a triple and in the process showed off some footspeed. There’s plenty of intent in the swing as he loads well into contact and the hands are plenty quick, which should allow for even more growth in the power department. He also started at second base and made a nice play towards the end of the game in which he correctly read the hop and played the ball rather than allowing the opposite, recording the out while making a rather tricky play look quite routine.

– Jheremy Brown

Consistently under-scouted, the Great Lakes region of the country often produces high-end talent class after class after class, and the coming years look to be no exception, at least in the state of Michigan.

A shortstop and righthanded pitcher with Power Five college projection as either one, Spencer Schwellenbach (2018, Mich.) showed off his skills in the former category on Saturday afternoon. With high-level athleticism and some of the smoother fundamental actions one will see in a rising high school junior, Schwellenbach makes playing shortstop look easy. He has range to both sides with soft, clean hands, the footwork to bring it all together and a well above average throwing arm across the infield, giving him easy projection to stay on the left side of the infield at the next level. At the plate, his bat speed and path stand out, as he’s able to keep the barrel in the zone for a long time and make hard contact to all fields. He’ll drift to his front side at times but the launch sequence is not without balance, and he projects for both average and power at the next level. 

Schwellenbach has several highly talented teammates on his Motor City Hit Dog’s club, as well. Nino Puckett (2018, Mich.), coming off of a Michigan State Championship with De La Salle High School, came within one hitter of throwing a complete game on Saturday. Working 83-87 mph for the majority of his start, he did a good job pounding the strike zone with heavy fastballs and getting the opposing hitters to beat the ball into the ground, often directly at Schwellenbach at shortstop. Puckett is unafraid to pitch inside, and hit several batters as a result, but the aggressiveness within the strike zone and composure with runners on base were both promising signs for the young righthander.

Dillon Kark (2019, Mich.) is a name to know moving forward, as the highly projectable young middle infielder projects in every facet of the game, and the upside is enticing. With any athletic build and quick-twitch athleticism throughout, one could project Kark pretty much anywhere up the middle of the diamond defensively, and the raw bat speed and ease of his swing give him high-end offensive upside as well. He has been somewhat on the national radar for a few months now, but he’s only just beginning to take off as a prospect, and the developmental trajectory of his raw tools and ultimate prospect profile are going to be extremely fun to follow.

One of the few uncommitted EvoShield Canes, lefthanded pitcher Christopher Holcomb (2018, Mass.), took the mound for the Canes in their Saturday afternoon tilt. With a long, lean frame Holcomb is highly physically projectable and has lots of room to continue filling out. His delivery is loose throughout with only moderate effort over the front side, and the arm works well to a three-quarters slot release with solid extension. He worked 86-89 mph with his fastball early in his outing, but struggled to consistently be on top of the ball and his command suffered as a result. When in the zone, the fastball is heavy with good life to the arm side and he showed an overall quality three-pitch mix with projection on each. The changeup is the better secondary pitch currently, with good arm speed replication and fading action at the plate, all with good deception out of the hand. His slider will vary in shape, ranging from a horizontal sweeper to a more traditional tilting pitch, but he has feel to spin the ball and the pitch is ideally suited for his arm action and slot. When on, he will show three pitches with solid control, all from an ideal frame and relatively easy arm, giving him a pretty high upside.

Another projectable Michigander took the mound late Saturday night at LakePoint, and despite a negative result in the win-loss column, righthanded pitcher Branden Posky (2017, Mich.) showed some intriguing tools on the mound to go along with athleticism and projection. He struggled to repeat his delivery consistently, even pitch-to-pitch, but the arm certainly works and the body is highly athletic and projectable, and he’s a big candidate for a velocity jump in the future. He worked in the 85-89 mph range for the entirety of his outing, bumping a 90 and a 91 on my gun as well, and showing an easy release from a three-quarters arm slot that generated good sinking life on the fastball when commanded down in the zone. He mixed in a slurvy breaking ball that, while inconsistent in it’s shape and release, showed flashes of sharpness and command; and he got several empty swings off of it, especially when buried at the bottom of the strike zone. He also flashed solid feel for his changeup, clean off the hand with good bottoming-out action. When he was within the strike zone, especially towards the bottom, he was able to elicit both swings and misses as well as weak contact, but the command profile overall is where the most development will need to occur moving forward.

– Brian Sakowski

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