Tournaments | Story | 7/12/2016

16u WWBA Day 4 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Matt Czechanski        
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What a difference a year can make, especially in the case of 2018 righthander Austin Becker (Sundbury, Ohio). Consider this, last summer and nearly a calendar year to date Becker was a primary shortstop (now a primary righthanded pitcher), was uncommitted (now committed to Vanderbilt), was working in the 77-81 mph range (opened up Monday sitting 90-93 and bumping 94 mph) and checked in 6-foot-4, 185-pounds (he’s since grown at least one to two more inches).

Of course with those gains in physicality, height, and pure stuff there comes some difficulties in consistently repeating the delivery pitch-to-pitch, which caused for some scattered command Monday, but what the finished product could eventually evolve into is scary to think about. The pure fastball velocity comes rather easily and the arm action is clean, he’d just get caught up on his backside at times but when he was on time with the stride and lower half drive Becker showed what he was able of producing.

The running life to his arm side was filthy at times and when he was in sync he proved capable of working to either side of the plate and wasn’t afraid to challenge inside to righthanded hitters which is merely a death sentence for some of these wooden bats given the life. Being a former shortstop Becker possesses the athleticism to find a regular release point and repeat his delivery, which is fairly simple and athletic in and of itself. Not able to finish off the second inning courtesy of a lightning storm Becker was only able to flash a couple of upper-70s breaking balls though they showed quality shape in between innings where he also flashed a changeup with fading life low in the zone.

I’ll describe uncommitted 2019 infielder Matt Orlando (Marlton, N.J.) the same way I did a year ago; he’s a baseball player. Not overly physical at 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, Orlando possesses a natural feel for the barrel and certainly isn’t intimated in the box. Showing off a direct path and solid bat speed through the zone, Orlando barreled up the ball hard twice in each of his first two at-bats, the first for a line drive single back up the middle, which he nearly replicated his next trip to the plate. As expected Orlando continues to add physicality with every look I get though the barrel skills have remained intact thanks to the quick hands and overall feel for the game.

One name that consistently has come up throughout the tournament is rising sophomore and middle infielder C.J. Abrams (Alpharetta, Ga.), who’s already a plus runner and has instincts to go along with the speed. Currently ranked 36th overall in the 2019 class, Abrams had a quiet day at the plate as he popped out in his first at-bat and proceeded to walk in each of his next two trips, the latter of which was of the intentional variety as it was a close game and a single stroke through the left side could make a big impact on the outcome of the game. The hands are plenty quick at the plate, and though not challenged defensively he shows the type of looseness and athleticism at second base that could very well play at shortstop or in center field at the next level.

He may have just finished his freshman season at Staples High School in Connecticut but Chad Knight (Westport, Conn.) is already a household name. A strongly built 6-foot, 195-pound righthander, Knight began the game on the mound and ran his fastball up to 86 mph with some sinking life, however it may be with the bat where the uncommitted Northeast product leaves his biggest mark. He does a nice job of incorporating that physical strength into his swing, and though he has a high leg lift trigger he does a nice job of getting it down on time while staying both short and direct with his path. He made his presence felt with the bat quickly as he lined a ball sharply to his pull side during his first at-bat and nearly went 2-for-2 over consecutive at-bats as he connected for a hard ground ball back up the middle, which the pitcher snagged and recorded for a 1-3 putout.

It’s not often that you find a young pitcher who actually gets stronger the deeper the outing goes but that’s exactly what happened with Krishna Raj, an uncommitted 2018 graduate off of the Florida Stealth Aces. Facing a talented Georgia Jackets team, the strong built and broad-shouldered Raj worked rather comfortably in the 83-85 mph range over the first few innings with a short and compact, but quick arm action. As the fourth inning opened Raj began pumping 87s and 88s with his fastball and was in full attack mode, consistently missing bats with a tight release. He did a nice job of showcasing the ability to work the glove side with his fastball and the slider was a steady pitch in which he could miss bats, working in the low-70s with short slurvy shape and a feel for the bottom of the zone.

Another young and talented player on the Tri-State 15u Prime team is their starting shortstop Breyln Jones (Rutherford, N.J.), an uncommitted 2019 who formed a talented up-the-middle combo with the previously mentioned Matt Orlando. Jones looks taller than his listed 5-foot-9 size, and despite the added length he moves well up the middle, showing both confidence and actions moving to and through the ball. He moves well on his feet and showed enough arm strength across the diamond on this throws, showing comfort dropping down to a lower slot when ranging up the middle. A righthanded hitter, Jones shows a feel for the barrel as well as an approach, taking a walk in his first trip, which he followed with solid contact and jump off the barrel his next at-bat.

You know there’s a big arm throwing on the mound when there’s a large group of college recruiters looking on and that’s exactly what uncommitted 2019 righthander Brennan Malone (Matthews, N.C.) threw in front of on Monday. He’s 6-foot-3, uber projectable, throws easy and is up to 90 mph before even beginning his freshman year.

Like most arms who are still just 14 or 15 years old, Malone isn’t quite yet a finished product though he has plenty of ingredients to work with and it’s a skill-set that any college pitching coach would love to get their hands on. Even in the pregame bullpen you could see something was there in the young righthander as the ball was jumping out of his hand with big hop to the plate. The easy and cleanliness of the arm action continued once in game with a shorter and quick arm action that produced a rather effortless 86-90 mph fastball though he’d occasionally dip lower for a strike or when his upper and lower half weren’t quite in sync. Malone’s delivery is a simple one without many moving parts and shows solid tempo while working to a three-quarters arm slot. He flashed both a changeup and curveball in game, and though they’ll need work moving forward in terms of consistency, he showed the ability to generate proper spin and depth to either pitch.

– Jheremy Brown

As games got underway at LakePoint on Monday morning a pair of talented Team Elite 16’s Prime players shined big in their 13-1 win, keeping them undefeated. Their up-the-middle combo of SEC commits – outfielder/infielder Ryder Green (2018, Tenn.) and middle infielder Jerrett Ford (2018, Ga.) – bring a combination of high present skill and future projection.

Green played shortstop for Team Elite Monday morning, and is listed at 6-foot, 205-pounds with good strength. The strength comes across in the swing and in the field with clean fielding actions and got the ball across the diamond with carry. The arm strength and build along with slightly stiff actions make him an ideal candidate to play third at the next level, if he chooses to stay in the infield. The Vandy commit’s swing and power potential give him his high ceiling as he swings loose with intent through his lower half and the aforementioned strength in his frame. His hands explode through the zone with power and natural lift through the ball to all fields. He hit the ball well in both trips to the plate, turning on fastballs on the inner third and peppering them to the left side.

His double play partner was Ford who has an insane amount of quick-twitch athleticism in his game and should be able to remain up the middle at the next level. The Tennessee commit delivered a very loud, opposite field triple in the first inning that looked like it was hit near the end of the bat. Ford extended well to the outer third and used his strength to drive the ball to the right-center field gap, over the racing right fielder. He rounded first at 4.68 seconds and slid into third at 11.83 seconds, zooming around the bases. The quick, line drive swing works well and gets to all fields with good bat speed and strong wrists. One of the higher rated overall players in the class, Ford uses his athleticism to stand out.

An uncommitted arm in a pivotal pool play game between East Cobb Colt .45’s and the Ontario Blue Jays took the mound in lefthander Will Shirah (2018, Ga.). The long, leanly built Shirah used a compact arm action and had a slight hook in the back of the action. He threw from an over-the-top arm slot with good arm speed and landed slightly closed and on a stiff front leg. His fastball worked 85-87 mph and hit 89 mph early on with good arm-side life. He worked it well to both sides and generated weak contact, with half of his balls put in play being hit on the ground. He worked four scoreless innings and only allowed a trio of hits, while striking out five batters. His primary out-pitch was his slider that showed 11-to-5 bite that was up to 77 mph. He maintained his arm speed and showed developing feel for spin, but got the pitch over for strikes. The effort and head violence in his delivery are a concern, but throwing over 65-percent of his pitches for strikes help alleviate them.

A player who has continuously impressed over different events the last several years and continued it on Monday was outfielder Nolan Tressler (2017, Ga.). The recent Georgia Southern commit showed out again with a loud home run over the scoreboard at the East Cobb complex (and he complemented the swing with a bat flip of just as epic proportions). His swing works well through the zone with his hands getting through in a good spot with good bat speed. Tressler has lots of strength in his 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame and it works well in his swing. The strength and size don’t hold him back on the basepaths, running down the line with a 3.92 time on a bunt from the left side.

The novelty of the night continued to unfold when both-handed pitcher Anthony Seigler (2018, Ga.) took the mound for the EvoShield Canes after a lengthy rain delay. The Auburn commit opened up from the right side working with a very upbeat delivery starting from the first base side of the rubber. He showed a long, full arm action in the back and worked from a high three-quarters slot. There was effort in his delivery from both sides with slight head violence, but working to both sides of the plate with his fastball and creating angle when low in the zone. His fastball worked at 85-87 mph as a righthander and hit 88 mph with good arm-side wiggle. From the left side it was 85-87 mph as well with the same wiggle, but he was better at locating and attacking hitters inside. In his first inning of work, his fastball garnered five swings and misses. From both sides he showed an 11-to-5 and a 1-to-7 curveball in the low-70s with some depth and softer overall spin. He also dropped his arm slot from the right side for a breaking ball, but stayed with his higher slot for the most part. He struck out five batters over 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

An interesting uncommitted arm for Game On Stealth took the mound in righthander Alberto Gonzalez (2018, Texas). Gonzalez featured an ultra short, compact arm action with easy plus arm speed. It was an inconsistent in that he changed his drive from his lower half and his release point, severely hurting his command. With a shorter stride towards the plate and harsh recoil on his front leg that landed too far open, he opens himself up for inconsistencies. His arm speed absolutely plays, however. His fastball worked 88-91 mph and hit 92 mph with riding life on the pitch up in the zone. He struggled to locate it, as noted, and saw his velocity dip to 85-88 mph later on in his outing. He presently lacks feel for his curveball, thrown in the low-70s and continues to implement an eephus. With the arm speed and athleticism, Gonzalez is something to work with on the mound with upside.

With the clock past midnight, third baseman and righthanded pitcher Roberto Pena (2018, Fla.) wore out the left field wall with continued line drives. In his first at-bat he dropped his back shoulder and elevated and celebrated all over a soft fastball seeing it bounce on top of the left-center ield wall, which plated pair of runs for Palm Beach Select 16u. The uncommitted talent also drove the ball 97 mph off the bat with a line drive that nearly took down the left field wall for a double. Pena has impressive raw bat speed and strength in his frame, and he drives the ball easily off the barrel with consistent loud contact.

On the adjacent field, catcher Jake Holland (2018, Fla.) did the same, turning on a fastball for a deep home run to left. The Miami commit saw it leave the bat at 93 mph and cleared the wall at 345 feet. With the big strength in his frame he torques well through his lower half with quick hands through the zone. The above average bat speed and leverage allow Holland’s power to play up and let it continue to project moving forward.

– Matt Czechanski

For the second day in a row, the Central Florida Gators put on quite the hitting display en route to a run-rule victory in pool play during the 16u WWBA National Championship. They used quality pitching and defense as well, but their bats are what has propelled them to an undefeated start.

Connor Ollio (2018, Pa.) started on the mound for the Gators, and showed intriguing two-way upside for the next level, though he’s primarily an infielder and hitter. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righthander worked 82-85 mph through the majority of his outing, fighting his command at times but at others consistently pounding the strike zone to both sides of the plate with his fastball, which featured solid running life to the arm side. He also mixed in a sharp, firm slider showing the ability to miss bats with the offering to both sides of the plate and mostly commanding it down in the zone well. He’s also, as previously alluded to, and advanced hitter with intriguing upside with the bat. The swing is compact with good bat speed and leverage at contact, strong with jump off the barrel to all fields, and projects for both average and additional power at the next level with continued physical strength gains.

Nolan Gorman (2018, Ariz.) has been written about in these recaps dating back to the 17u WWBA National Championship last week, but deserves repeating just because of how impressive his raw hitting tools are. With incredibly fast hands and a balanced approach, even his outs come with impressive evaluative perspectives. He commands the strike zone well, doesn’t expand and is willing to take his walks, but is undoubtedly aggressive on pitches he can drive. He’s a quality third baseman defensively, as well and projects to stay there at least in the short term.

Over the past couple days and 2-3 games, Tyler Callihan (2019, Fla.) has really stood out on both sides of the ball. He has enough twitch to handle the middle infield, and though some refinements are necessary to stay up the middle long term, the raw actions are fine and the hands are very clean. Where he has really impressed, however, has been with the bat. With a smooth lefthanded stroke highlighted by excellent bat speed, barrel control and a swing path that allows the barrel to stay in the hitting zone for a long time, Callihan has consistently barreled the ball up with pop to all fields, with the ability to drive it on a line or backspin it up the gaps. He looks the part of a high-level hitting prospect with infield chops at the next level.

Elijah Cabell (2018, Fla.) survived a scare earlier in the week with a leg injury, and has been able to DH in recent games, though the knee is apparently still a little tender to play the outfield. It didn’t seem very tender on Monday, however, when he hit a walk-off two-run double to send the Central Florida Gators to a victory. He’s long been known for his exceptional bat speed and loose, explosive wrists, and the Louisiana State commitment absolutely projects to be make impact bat at the next level.

Mason Denaburg (2018, Fla.) has proven himself to be as impactful a two-way player as there is in the country over the past few weeks, working in the low-90s with big sink and a wipeout slider on the mound and continuing his assault on opposing pitching when in the box. He laced a double to the wall on Monday, for what seems to be his 100th hard-hit extra-base knock of the week.

Spencer Schwellenbach (2018, Mich.) has been drawing bigger and bigger crowds to his Motor City Hit Dogs games, as the yet-uncommitted shortstop and righthanded pitcher has continued to prove day after day that he’s a force to be reckoned with on the national scene in every facet of the game. He walked twice in Monday’s run-rule victory following a loud double over the left fielder’s head, and continues to show some of the cleaner, steadier actions at the shortstop position, with quality athleticism and well above-average arm strength.

We’d been hearing some buzz about Carter Macias (2018, Mich.) dating back to the spring, and though he’s been slowed a bit by a nagging injury in recent weeks, the switch-hitting, athletic Macias was able to show some of that intriguing offensive upside on Monday. He hit an inside-the-park home run righthanded, then drove a ball deep into the opposite field corner for an out lefthanded, and projects well with the bat from both sides of the plate. Coaches up north are starting to take notice and it won’t be long before everyone does.

– Brian Sakowski

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