Tournaments | Story | 7/16/2016

15u WWBA Day 1 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Matt Czechanski        
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To open day one of the 15u WWBA National Championship, several talented uncommitted prospects took the field, most being seen for the first time by scouts and coaches alike.

For Marucci Houston, the uncommitted Andre Duplantier (2019, Texas) took the bump and offered a projectable righthanded arm. Duplantier worked from a 6-foot-2, 175-pound pound frame with a short, compact arm action and a three-quarters arm slot. He did not use much of his lower half, with a short stride and landing slightly open down the mound. Duplantier showed impressive arm strength for his age working his fastball up to 85 mph and consistently working in the low-80s throughout his start. He worked to both sides of the plate and generated swings and misses off of the pitch with eight strikeouts in his 3 1/3 innings. For his age he showed impressive feel for a changeup at 75 mph with good late fade as shown in the video. With more repetition he’ll be able to get the pitch over for a strike and it’ll be a legit swing-and-miss weapon. He also showed a slow breaking curveball in the low-70s with some depth, but had trouble repeating his release point.

BPA Rawlings 2019, fresh off their quarterfinal trip in the 16u WWBA tournament, took the field at LakePoint during the mid-morning slot and sent out projectable righthander Hunter Cranton (2019, Calif.). Listed at 6-foot-2, 160-pounds with long limbs and broad shoulders, Cranton looks to be able to put on additional weight and add strength. He threw easy from an extended three-quarters arm slot and long, loose arm action. He showed some effort on the mound, but it was controlled well with some recoil when working more over his front side. His fastball showed some riding life up in the zone at 83-86 mph with limited arm-side wiggle. Cranton extended well down the mound and struggled garnering a swing and miss with his fastball, but worked quickly and put his fielders to work. He showed feel for a changeup with late tumble low in the zone. He also featured a curveball with 11-to-5 shape and good depth with some late snap. The talented uncommitted arm worked four innings on the mound and struck out a pair of batters.

The shortstop for BPA Rawlings, Brooks Lee (2019, Calif.), was put to work in their morning game, standing out in the field with soft, sure hands up the middle. He showed sound footwork to both sides with a quick transfer. The arm strength is still developing for Lee, but he got the ball across the infield with carry.

Closing it out for BPA was Arizona State commit and lefthanded pitcher Cooper Benson (2019, Calif.). The smaller built Benson stands at 5-foot-11, 180-pounds with good strength and physicality. His delivery was very upbeat with an emphasis on tempo and filling the zone. He attacked hitters with a quality two-pitch mix featuring a short, compact arm action that he repeated well. The quick arm played well with a crossfire element from the left side and his ability to work around the zone helped him get quick outs. He struck out the side in his first inning, pounding hitters inside with his 85-87 mph fastball that showed good, late life. In the second he broke out his big 2-to-8 shaped curveball with late snap and good depth. The pitch is a legitimate put-away offering for strikes from the same arm slot. He cruised through his two perfect innings on the mound on 22 pitches with over 80 percent of them going for strikes.

An additional pair of shortstops stood out in the afternoon slate with FTB Kudagra’s Daniel Bautista (2019, Fla.) taking center stage. He showed very advanced feel up the middle with already impressive instincts and range. He possesses the frame to grow into additional strength, listed at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds and likely checking in below both of those numbers. As he fills out, both his strength at the plate and arm strength in the field will improve. He collected a pair of hits at the plate, going to the opposite field both times with a simple, compact swing path. He swings with a line drive plane and simple weight shift into contact. He also showed a high baseball IQ on the bases, waiting before advancing on a groundball to the left side while on second.

On an adjacent field, the highly athletic Georgia Jackets’ shortstop C.J. Abrams (2019, Ga.) stood out in their first pool play game. Abrams, like Bautista, looks the part up the middle with quick-twitch athleticism in multiple facets of his game. He fields the ball cleanly and gets it out with alarming quickness, helping make the bang-bang play at the bag or starting a double play. The quickness of his transfer and release make it likely he stays up the middle when projecting him forward. At the plate, he flashed the bat speed that could help making him one of the most talented players in the class. His hands work very quickly through the zone with a linear swing path and some present strength in his frame. He has also been known to turn in above average run times from the left side, which is believable given his quickness in the infield.

Hunter Pence Baseball Danielson topped the highly touted Jackets in the first round pool play behind the bat of catcher Easton “Bo” Willis (2019, Texas). Willis has a very physically mature frame with good strength that he uses well in his swing. He starts very high with a narrow, open stance with a big leg kick timing mechanism. He gets his hands through the zone despite the high load with the aforementioned strength. There is quickness to his barrel through the zone with line drive ability including the double that left his bat at 96 mph and drove in a pair of runs.

Moving over to Hillgrove High School later in the evening, Team Elite 15’s Prime sent out a pair of talented arms, starting with uncommitted lefthander Justin Wrobleski (2018, Ga.). Wrobleski stands with a slight frame, listed generously at 6-foot-2, 162-pounds with good athleticism and room to add strength. He used a crossfire element to his delivery, working hard over his front side and throwing from an extended three-quarters arm slot. He used a medium arm action with slight hook in the back before driving towards the plate. He generated good heavy action on his fastball that held 83-87 mph throughout his five innings on the mound and hit 88 mph early on. With the action to his fastball it worked best low in the zone and kept his infielders busy with a bevy of groundballs. He also showed feel for a sharp slider that flashed occasionally with 2-to-8 shape and downward bite. He also showed a changeup with good, late tumble that worked in the upper-70s and hit 80 mph. In his five innings on the mound, Wrobleski generated 15 swings and misses between his arsenal of pitches and struck out 10 batters. The impressive lefthanded arm will likely not remain uncommitted for long.

Closing out the game for Team Elite was the very well-known righthander Ethan Hankins (2018, Ga.). The Vanderbilt stands at 6-foot-6, 195-pounds and is possibly the most projectable arm in the class. The physicality in his long, slender frame projects almost endlessly with long limbs and broad shoulders to add good strength and help him build up innings on the mound. He uses little to none of his lower half in his delivery and still manages to throw effortlessly in the low-90s. His arm speed is elite for his age and will continue to improve with strength and lower half drive. Hankins’ fastball sat 91-93 mph in his two scoreless innings with heavy downhill life. He creates tremendous angle low in the zone with big arm-side life for a swing and miss. The velocity alone in this age group would be enough, but the life on the pitch makes it that much more impressive. Hankins’ also showed off his 11-to-5 hammer curveball. He struggled with the release as he got going, shown in the video above, but found the feel and began dropping it in to helpless hitters for strike three. The improved changeup he showed last week was thrown once and spiked in the dirt at 84 mph and was not used other than that. All said and told it was another impressive outing for the 13th-ranked player in the class.

– Matt Czechanski

Opening day of a tournament typically yields big arms throwing throughout the state of Georgia as teams look to get a quick win and then bring their top arm back at either the end of pool play or for the playoffs should they make it that far. WM9 starting lefthander Chris Villaman (Thomasville, N.C.) got a later start than most as previous games pushed the start time back but the uncommitted 2019 arm made it worthwhile for the college coaches in attendance, arguably saving one of the best performances of the day for last.

Looking at least an inch, maybe two, taller than his listed 6-foot height, Villaman has the type of build that’s very easy to dream on with broad, angular shoulders, a high waist and a lean, ultra-projectable frame. And on top of the body and the fact that he’s both young and lefthanded, Villaman showed one of the best fastballs I saw on the day, though his appeared to play up from the 85-88 mph range he worked in with late hopping life the last few feet to the plate. Working from a high three-quarters arm slot, Villaman’s arm action is incredibly loose and clean which helped produce the fastball with minimal effort while absolutely pounding the lower third of the strike zone with hard angle out of the hand. While not an entirely accurate number (since I didn’t keep track), it felt as though Villaman collected more strikeouts over first three innings than he threw a pitch for a ball.

He’s able to elicit swings and misses with his fastball with the best of them and that more or less what he did as he worked almost entirely off of his fastball. Over the first three frames Villaman didn’t show a breaking ball in game action though he did flash a changeup or two down in the zone in the mid-70s, though he was never at a point where he needed to stray from the heater. And while college coaches will certainly want to get a look as what Villaman has aside from his heater, they’re perfectly content with what he brought to the table on opening night.

Throwing on the exact field that Villaman did, uncommitted 2019 lefthander Carson Palmquist (Fort Myers, Fla.) toed the rubber roughly 11 hours earlier during one of the first games of the tournament in the 8:00 a.m. slot for the Florida Burn. And like Villaman, Palmquist looks to be closer to 6-foot-3 than his listed 6-foot frame, something to be almost expected with players at this age as they’re rapidly growing. Whether it’s 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3, Palmquist is an arm who will need to be monitored very closely as he’s a high-waisted, extremely projectable lefthander who already shows a strong feel for his mechanics on the mound.

In terms of pure stuff, Palmquist worked in the 80-83 mph range, bumping an 84 early in the contest while showing a fast arm action with which he was able to create solid angle and short running life through the zone. Though he would occasionally get around the ball, which would cause for some sling at release, it also would create cut action to the fastball which he was still able to locate within the zone for a strike. There’s undoubtedly more velocity in the tank as he continues to grow and fill out but also as he begins to incorporate additional lower half into his drive and work over the front side upon release. Take into everything already mentioned and then consider the fact that he showed a nice feel for a breaking ball in the 70-73 mph range, it becomes clear pretty quickly that he’s an arm who will be on radars over the next couple of years.

One player who’s already been on radars and has already made his decision on college is 2019 shortstop and Oklahoma commit Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville, Texas). The son of former big leaguer Bobby Witt, the younger Witt is very much a high level prospect in his own right and appears to be on a different path from his father in regards to being a shortstop rather than a righthanded pitcher. Currently ranked No. 12 in the class of 2019 rankings, Witt shows immense potential with the righthanded stick and despite his 6-foot, 165-pound frame he’s able to generate bat speed that can rival almost any in this tournament. Just watching him load and take a pitch you can see there’s big time intent and when he lets go on a ball watch out as his hands are plus quick and there’s surprising jump off the barrel given his listed size. In his first at-bat the future Sooner shot a pitch back up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher and then later drove a line drive through the four-hole, showing an advanced feel for the barrel. He also showed off an average run tool with a 4.29 and a 4.34 down the line, something that’ll only continue improve with added strength.

Sticking with the theme of ultra-projectable, high level potential types, uncommitted 2019 outfielder Logan Britt (Aledo, Texas) certainly looks the part with a long and lean, high waisted and broad shouldered 6-foot-4, 180-pound build and he shows interesting intangibles to go along with it. Batting in the three-hole for a talented D-Bat Elite Gowins club, don’t let Britt’s frame fool you as he’s able to generate solid present pop right now off the barrel, a trait that’s easy to envision turning into over the fence type strength with additional physicality. In the righthanded batter’s box Britt showed off a sound approach in which he wasn’t willing to readily expand though when he had to he’d attack. He’s more than athletic for a young player his size and shows nice balance to his actions whether it’s running the bases with long and fluid strides or tracking down a ball in center field.

He may not have played a game in high school yet but the actions that 2020 shortstop Jordan Carrion (Miami, Fla.) put on display aren’t those typically found in somebody entering their senior year, let alone freshman year. Checking in at 6-foot, 155-pounds, Carrion obviously projects like many players in the tournament though there isn’t anything he currently lacks up the middle. The footwork is highly advanced and the glove and hands are plus soft, all traits that help the uncommitted Carrion make the difficult play look routine. He funnels well with a smooth transfer and shows more arm strength than you’d expect and it’s plenty for right now with the ability to make the long throw while still projecting for more. The defense is currently the strongest suit of Carrion’s game though he does show a handle for the barrel and projects nicely on the offensive side with additional strength which will certainly come in the following years.

One player who already sports solid size and strength is 6-foot-3, 181-pound uncommitted righthander Riley Cornelio (Monument, Colo.) who made the trip out from Colorado along with his Team Colorado squad. As impressive as the combination of present size and future projection are, Cornelio’s arm action and ease at point of release are just as noteworthy, if not more so and these are some of the things that point to another velocity jump or two in the near future.

As it stands now the young righthander was able to consistently live in the 83-85 mph range and bumped an 86 early in the contest and impressed with his ability to carry the velocity well into the middle innings of the game. His arm action is very clean and very quick coming through the back and he did a nice job of filling up the strike zone, particularly to his glove side with occasional running life to the pitch. Cornelio has a bit of a short stride down the mound at present though it doesn’t inhibit his ability to generate plane at present, nor does it affect the feel for a breaking ball.

With above average spin rates according to TrackMan, Cornelio’s curveball looks different than most in the tournament as it’s plenty tight in 72-74 mph range and offers late biting life with swing-and-miss potential. And on top of the life he showed comfort and more than enough feel to double up on the pitch just as he did in the fourth inning before recording the strikeout with an 85 mph fastball. He also flashed a changeup at 77-78 mph with the first one coming on a 3-2 pitch to finish the first inning. An obvious athlete, Cornelio was proved capable of repeating his delivery while staying balanced and showed off a nice feel for a full three-pitch mix.

Another 2020 middle infielder who needs to be followed extremely closely over the next few years is Michael Brooks out of Lake Worth, Florida. A future member of Park Vista High School, there’s no telling Brooks’ graduation year (aside from his 5-foot-9, 140-pound frame) with how he carries himself, oozing confidence and never looking outmatch in any juncture. And though it’s been just a one game look thus far, Brooks has the type of talent to be a potential high-level player. On both sides of the ball the game appears to come easy for Brooks, a righthanded hitter who dug in against a lefthander who’s already committed to the University of Arkansas and proceeded to line an 86 mph fastball back up the box for a hard piece of contact. He showed off a consistent approach in the box and wasn’t afraid to hit with two strikes, staying short and simple with his swing while creating nice extension out front. Defensively he stands out just as much at second base, exhibiting quality actions both with the feet and hands as he more than once came chagrining in on chopped ground balls and made the plays rather easily.

Another player on the offensive side of things who’s continued to take a step forward in terms of progression is uncommitted 2019 center fielder Judson Fabian (Ocala, Fla.). Listed as a switch-hitter in the program Fabian hit righthanded throughout the game, both against righthanders and lefthanders and showed off fast hands, which helped generate quality bat speed through the zone. And though he didn’t fill up the score book he did put together a nice at-bat or two and projects to become and impact type bat when it’s all said and done he’s continued adding weight to his current 6-foot frame.

The future for the Orlando Scorpions appears to be just as bright on the mound as well and they began the talented parade of arms with uncommitted 2019 righthander Casey Daiss (Clermont, Fla.). Very strongly built at a broad shouldered 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, Daiss came out pounding the lower third of the strike zone with a fastball that sat in the 86-88 mph range and left his hand from a long and loose, whip-like arm action. Maintaining balance well in his delivery, Daiss proved capable of locating to his arm side with his heater while missing bats with the pitch. He also flashed a short breaking ball at 73-74 mph, which he mixed in well to give hitters a different look.

Following Daiss was Florida State commit Brandon Walker (Tallahassee, Fla.), a highly athletic righthander who continues to make adjustments to his delivery and has seen his stuff consistently climb. With better directionality to the plate with his lower half the 6-foot, 173-pound Walker was able to pound his fastball downhill, working rather comfortably in the 87-89 mph range with a lot of 89s while bumping a 90 in his second inning of work. His arm action is full through the back but very quick and clean, helping to produce the noteworthy velocity while projecting for more and showing occasional running life down. His breaking ball may also be one of the better curveballs of the tournament as it regularly showed big 12-6 shape with sharp depth in the low- to mid-70s with a maintained arm action and slot at release.

Rounding out the trio of big arms, righthander Dylan Simmons (Jacksonville, Fla.) joins Walker as a future Seminole and like his two counterparts is currently ranked within the top 100 prospects for the 2019 class. Another similarity to Walker is that Simmons is continuing to refine his delivery and though there’s still some adjustments to be made he was outstanding Friday afternoon, regularly missing bats with a three-pitch mix. Listed at a strong 6-foot-3, 187-pounds, Simmons opened up working almost exclusively at 90 mph, occasionally dipping below in the first inning before working mostly in the upper-80s during his second inning. The arm action is a bit more abbreviated than in my past viewings but he did a nice job of creating solid arm speed and plane to his fastball, which seemed to get on hitters in a hurry with late, heavy life. He filled up the strike zone with quality strikes and was able to miss his fair share of bats with his fastball, though he also picked up some empty swings with his mid-70s curveball, a pitch that offers tight, late biting action and was thrown for consistent strikes.

Another young player off of the EC Sox Snopek team, who was covered thoroughly last week despite playing in an older tournament, is outfielder/righthanded pitcher Logan Letney (Spring, Texas). Coming off his freshman season at Oak Ridge High School, home of current TCU flamethrowers Luken Baker and Durbin Feltman, Letney looks to follow in Baker’s footsteps as a true two-way talent. Of course Letney isn’t built like Baker, pretty much nobody is, but he does have the ability to impact on both sides of the ball at the next level and has shown no problem handling both tasks in Georgia. A lefthanded hitter at the plate, Letney continued to show off quick hands as he was able to turn around an inner half fastball for a three base hit, accelerating well from first to third once underway. And once he jumped on the mound he proved to be just as interesting of a prospect as with the bat as he worked comfortably in the 84-87 mph range, bumping an 88. For a non-primary pitcher Letney’s mechanics are very smooth and repeatable and his arm action is quick and clean, all assets that allowed for continuous strikes to the bottom of the strike zone while showing a nice feel for a breaking ball at 72 mph.

– Jheremy Brown

Early on day one of the 15u WWBA National Championship, recent Virginia commit and lefthanded pitcher Carson Jones (2019, Va.) took the mound for the EvoShield Seminoles 15u. The long, lanky lefthander wasn’t as tight with his command as he’d like, and that drove up his pitch count some, Jones flashed legitimate next level potential consistently. He worked 82-85 mph with his fastball, touching as high as 86 from a tough, extended three-quarters arm slot. He mixed in a 2-to-8 shaped, slurvy curveball with good spin and depth, showing the ability to throw it both as a strike and as a chase pitch, and flashed the occasional changeup as well. It’s a highly projectable three-pitch mix with feel for all three and the beginnings of command, making him one of the more intriguing names to watch moving forward in the class of 2019.

Nicholas Biddison (2018, Va.) is committed to North Carolina and showed a high-contact, whole-field swing and overall hitting approach that should fit nicely at the top of a lineup when he gets to college. Jamari Baylor (2018, Va.) has some juice in his swing with good bat speed, showing the ability to drive the ball deep into the air in several of his at-bats, including a long double over the center fielder’s head.

James Ingram (2018, N.J.) had one of the louder offensive days of the tournament, showing an innate ability to absolutely plaster baseballs to all parts of the field en route to a 4-for-4 performance with two doubles and a triple game for the Zoned Redhawks. He doubled over the center fielder’s head, doubled up the left-center field gap and then tripled up the right-center field gap, all on extremely hard-hit balls with impressive exit velocities and carry. The hand speed and shortness of the stroke are impressive, and as he continues to fill out he could become a very real power threat.

Ryan MacKenna (2019, N.J.) also squared up a few balls in the Zoned-MSI game, showing legitimate bat speed from the left side. It’s a big swing that takes him off balance at contact, but has the power and path to do damage on balls within the hitting zone.

After strong showings at both the Sunshine Northeast and then the Junior National, Jack Leiter (2019, N.J.) took the mound for Tri State Arsenal on Friday afternoon. He threw four innings on only 54 pitches, striking out five and allowing only a single hit. He worked 82-85 mph with his fastball over those four innings, showing solid life to the arm side with occasional sink, and the advanced ability to work the fastball to both sides of the plate. He showed both a slider and a curveball, with the curve generating several awkward swings. It was mostly 69-71 mph with power spin and depth, and the type of hand speed he possesses to be able to spin the ball that quickly absolutely speaks to the projection of his overall velocity moving forward. The slider worked in the low- to mid-70s with good tilt, thrown more as a strike pitch than a chase pitch. It’s a quality three-pitch mix from a body and arm that project, giving him legitimate upside to go along with advanced feel for pitching, especially for his age.

The Lids Indiana Bulls-White brought in Wyatt Geesaman (2019, Ind.) out of the bullpen on Friday night, and the 6-foot-4, 185-pound righthander showed an intriguing combination of present stuff, mechanics and physical projection. He touched as high as 86 mph on my gun, working in the 83-85 range for the most part with a quick, easy arm action and command to both sides of the plate. The delivery is a bit disjointed, as he swings open the front hip while simultaneously collapsing on his backside a bit, but the arm definitely works and he has feel to spin the ball, showing a sharp slider in the mid-70s that worked really well thrown in on the hands of lefthanded hitters. He flashed a changeup as well at 77 mph, replicating his fastball arm speed well and adding deception as a result.

Late, late Friday night Brandon Madrigal (2020, Calif.) took the mound for the CBA Bulldogs National team, and the very young righthander immediately stood out. The physical young prospect touched as high as 84 mph, eventually settling in around 80-82, generating solid plane from a high three-quarters arm slot and hiding the ball well through his arm stroke. He’s raw in several facets, as is to be expected, slowing down/changing his arm action of off-speed stuff, but he pounded the zone for the most part and generated several uncomfortable swings, scattering only three hits and one walk over 4 2/3 innings while striking out six.

– Brian Sakowski

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