Tournaments | Story | 7/17/2016

15u WWBA Day 2 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Matt Czechanski        
Photo: Perfect Game

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A physical and still projectable right anded pitcher, Chase Wilkerson (2018, Ala.) took the mound for Chain on Saturday evening and was absolutely overpowering early on. Working 89-92 mph in the early innings, all with explosive riding life up in the zone, Wilkerson dominated with his fastball and didn’t really even need command, at least early on. The arm action is mostly clean but the delivery is not without effort, highlighted by a pretty violent head whack at release, but his athleticism allowed for him to repeat his delivery relatively well for a rising junior. The curveball is the weapon pitch here, thrown in the mid-70s with hammer depth and spin, up to a 2800 spin rate per TrackMan. It has 11-to-5 shape at its best with no hump out of the hand, just a hammer drop with legitimate swing-and-miss break, and has the makings of a future plus pitch.

The East Cobb Colt 45’s 15u are pretty loaded with talent for this event, as is per usual for them, and they put that talent on display later Saturday evening. Hunter Gray (2019, Ga.) is a strong, physical rising sophomore who looks to be able to play several spots around the diamond, but played first base for the Colt .45’s on Saturday. Regardless of where he plays, the bat is the selling point here. The swing is lofted with good strength throughout and quality bat speed, allowing Gray to be a power threat whenever he steps to the dish. He lofted a long double into the right-center field gap early in game action, then followed it up by walking and then lining another double, this one one-hopped off the wall to the pull field in left. He’s got a chance to be an impact bat at the next level, wherever he plays.

The Colt .45’s won their game on Saturday night by a score of 5-0, and while the aforementioned Hunter Gray had a lot to do with the scoring of the East Cobb runs, the story of keeping the opposing hitters off the board was all about righthanded pitcher Zach McManus (2018, Ga.). McManus threw a complete game, one-hit shutout on 94 pitches, walking only three and striking out 11 over a performance that could only be described as dominant. He worked in the 82-85 mph range consistently with heavy sinking life and feel to get the ball to both sides of the plate, keeping his defense involved while also missing bats with the pitch. He showed a pair of breaking balls as well, with a sharp slider he could bury out of the zone and a more traditional curveball with 11-to-5 shape that he used to freeze opposing hitters and throw for a called strike.

Team DeMarini, composed of mostly 2019 graduates out of Illinois, won their nightcap game by a score of 9-0, thanks mostly to a third inning which saw them push across all nine of their runs. Jake Kmiecik (2019, Ill.) had two very loud hits in that decisive third inning, including a double, and shows an interesting combination of bat speed, feel for the barrel, and a body that really projects moving forward. Leadoff hitter Elias Flowers (2019, Ill.) is going to be a pest for anyone who plays against him, as he can definitely go get it in center field and makes tons of contact when hitting, fouling off tough pitches and working the count deep before ultimately barreling up most of what he sees, in some ways similar to the Yankees’ Brett Gardner. Catcher Luke Fitzgerald (2019, Ill.) can really catch and throw, with quick reactions behind the plate and smooth footwork into his throw-down mechanics. He’s a well-built, physical prospect who definitely projects well to the next level behind the plate.

Nolan Crisp (2019, Ga.) has been well documented by Perfect Game over the last year-plus, and he was dominant again on Saturday night, as has become pretty typical for him. He threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing only one run on one hit and three walks while racking up 10 strikeouts, several of which came on called strike three’s. He worked 88-90 mph early on before settling into the 86-89 mph range with his fastball, which features excellent late sinking life down in the zone, and he was able to swing it back over the glove-side corner, which accounted for several of his strikeouts. The arm is mostly clean, and though there is some effort and head violence in his delivery, he’s a quality enough athlete to repeat that delivery and maintain control. The slider flashed legitimate swing-and-miss bite down in the zone, and he showed a continually improving changeup with good arm speed replication and fading action. He pounded the zone for the most part, and even on the contact he gave up, he wasn’t squared up.

– Brian Sakowski


The first arm of the day to take the mound for the Scorpions 2019 Prime was Miami commit and righthanded pitcher Austin Thomas (2019, Fla.), who has an exceptionally high ceiling. Thomas is listed at a believable 6-foot-4, 195-pounds with very long limbs, with room to support additional strength and weight as he fills out. He showed a long arm action on the mound with a slight stab at the end of his circle and threw from an extended three-quarters arm slot. Smith has a bigger leg raise and coils his front hip high and close to his body with minimal weight shift on to his backside. He landed slightly open down the mound with plus extension, routinely over seven feet. The extension helped the perceived velocity of his 86-89 mph fastball increase from the hitters’ perspective with its late, sinking life. The heavy action low in the zone when he worked downhill generated weak groundballs around the infield and also got swings and misses when working away to righthanded hitters. As he continues to refine his mechanics, Thomas will learn to let the heaviness of his fastball work best in the lower third and live off of weak contact. He also showed a big, looping 11-to-5 shaped curveball as well with some loose rotation, but plenty of depth. Working off his fastball well he dropped the pitch in for a strikeout in his second inning.

One of the better uncommitted, lefthanded arms in the 2018 class is Kaleb Hill (2018, Ark.). Hill, like Thomas, possesses a highly projectable, athletic frame listed at 6-foot-4, 180-pounds. Working with a short, compact arm action, Hill showed the ability to generate deception on the mound and attacked hitters with his fastball. There is a drop-and-drive element to his delivery with a slight backside collapse and crossfire element as he works over his front side, landing closed. With the quick arm through the back and at release, Hill shows very little effort outside of a slight headshake at release. The ball comes out very clean from his hand at 85-88 mph with some late arm-side life in the lower third. Like almost every pitcher, Hill worked his best when he got downhill, letting some of the heaviness to his fastball do the work for him. He struggled keeping the ball low and saw more balls put in play due to the inconsistencies in his release point and lower half drive. Hill also showed the makings of a promising breaking ball on the mound. His curve showed 1-to-7 shape with softer spin, but good depth. Currently working as a get-me-over type, it did just that helping freeze hitters who were more shook with the change in velocity. Hill will likely not be uncommitted for long.

Coming out of the rain delay, a pair of players on the Georgia Jackets 14u team impressed as well. Shortstop Josh Davis (2020, Ga.) showed sound, fundamental actions up the middle with a good first step. The lateral range he showed was impressive with an arm that will continue to develop with age. His swing is a bit raw at the plate, with a slightly linear path through the zone, but good intent through his hips. Even on his takes you could see the desire to fire through his load and drive the ball, albeit the raw swing path.

Coming in for the Jackets in relief after the delay was righthander Josh Shuler (2020, Ga.) showing impressive arm speed for his age. With a short stride to the plate and a very short, compact arm action, Shuler relied on that arm speed with good deception leaving his hand. The ball exploded out from his three-quarters arm slot and showed subtle running life inside on righthanded hitters. His fastball showed the ability to garner swings and misses as well, which was impressive for his age. Shuler ran it up to 84 mph on the mound and comfortably worked in the low-80s during his scoreless inning of relief. He also flashed a slider on the mound, slowing his arm for the pitch, but showing the ability to spin the ball.

Infielder Brenden Dixon (2019, Texas) made a loud impact on the mound for the Dallas Tigers Hernandez in their game at LakePoint Saturday evening. Dixon opened up the first inning with a pop fly that registered an impressive 6.0-plus second hang time. In his third at-bat he showed that the power-suggestive measurement was not a fluke and delivered a line drive home run that left the bat at 94 mph. His hands enter the zone at an ideal angle for impact off the barrel with the bat speed and strength to drive the ball out. Then in his final at-bat, Dixon delivered what was essentially a walkoff three-run double to left field that left the bat at 95 mph. The consistent barreled contact was impressive with good torque generated through his hips and feel for timing of his barrel release.

Possibly the best bat I ran into all day was first baseman Kellum Clark (2020, Miss.). Clark is physically impressive for his class and grad year, listed at 6-foot-3, 205-pounds with good physicality and strength. Most of this for any other player would be done with the caveat of saying there is a lot of room for error with his age, but Clark’s approach and swing mechanics transcend the normal stigma of a young player. Clark uses his lower half and creates more leverage in his swing than most players in classes older than him, and he creates easy, plus extension to the outer third of the plate with well above average bat speed. His hands start behind his body, but accelerate through the zone with impressive speed and a launch angle conducive to continuous and peppered line drives. In his first at-bat (and my first look at him) he pulled a triple down the first base line and rounded the bag with a turn of 4.68 seconds. In his second at-bat he waited back and roped a double over the right fielder’s head on a line. In his third at-bat was an effortless home run well beyond the wall. The power and fluidity in Clark’s swing is a special thing for a player so young and he deserves to be watched exceptionally closely moving forward.

On an adjacent field from Clark, you could see college coaches make the trek back and forth to see several talented players on the Memphis Tigers Green roster. Their starter, uncommitted righthander Christian Delashmit (2019, Tenn.), impressed and carved throughout his five no-hit innings on the mound as he struck out five batters. Delashmit did not over power with stuff, but filled the outer thirds of the zone with his 81-83 mph fastball and hit 84 mph. He worked from a lower three-quarters arm slot on the mound with a long, looser arm action towards the plate. He projects very well physically, too, with a slender frame, already listed at 6-foot-2, with plenty of room to fill out. Between his arm action and his physical projection it is very easy to imagine him throwing harder in the near future. More importantly than his velocity, he located his fastball to both sides and showed the ability to get good arm-side life. His game wasn’t about swings and misses on the mound, but creating weak contact to let his teammates behind him work. Delashmit created very impressive angle to the plate with good extension down the mound. He did show a curveball, despite coming from a lower slot with tight spin at 70 mph. He altered his wrist position at release to help him get on top of it more with 11-to-5 shape and good depth. From that slot, he will most likely eventually convert to a more traditional slider grip to pair with his running fastball.

Rounding out the late night action was Griffin Holcombe (2019, Ga.). The projectable righthander, listed below his actual size at 6-foot, 160 pounds, likely stands around 6-foot-2 with a similar slender build. As he adds strength to his overall frame his arm strength should improve in kind. He worked quickly on the mound with a long, slightly rigid arm action from a three-quarters arm slot. Working four efficient innings, Holcombe threw his fastball between 83-85 mph and hit 86 early on. From the stretch he saw it dip some, but rebounded in each inning. His fastball showed some heavy action that worked best when he got downhill and stayed on top of the ball. He was throwing it frequently in the upper third of the zone and found barrels at times, but with more consistency in his drive he should be able to replicate the ideal release. He worked both sides of the plate with his fastball that had some late wiggle to his arm side. The uncommitted Holcombe also showed a curveball showing some depth, but slowing his arm for the offering. He struck out a pair in his four innings on the bump and allowed only one run.

– Matt Czechanski

Just last week we at Perfect Game got our first viewing of uncommitted 2019 righthander Brennan Malone (Matthews, N.C.) and yesterday we were given an encore. Listed at 6-foot-3, 175-pounds Malone more than looks the part of a high-end arm as he toes the rubber and with a single pitch he reaffirms that notion. The arm action Malone shows on the mound is extremely fast and low effort, producing a consistent upper-80s fastball that bumped as high as 91 mph in the opening frame, all the while looking as though he was playing a game of catch. The delivery is rather balanced as well and though he’d occasionally pull his front side and miss up and out to the arm side with his fastball, Malone showed vicious running life at times when down in the zone when on top of the ball. Though uncommitted now, Malone may not last too long on the recruiting trail, especially as he continues to develop his breaking ball that he showed in the low-70s and a nice, late fading changeup that he flashed at 75 mph.

Any time college coaches can find an uncommitted lefthander they take notice. But when he’s just coming off his freshman year, already touching 88 mph, and projects for another jump or two as he continues to fill out, then they really take notice. And that’s exactly what rising sophomore Bryson Lucas (College Station, Texas) brings to the table. Looking both taller and stronger than his listed 5-foot-10, 167-pounds out on the mound, Lucas delivery steady mid-80s fastballs from a higher three-quarters arm slot while staying short and fast with his arm action through the back. With an up-tempo pace to his delivery Lucas showed overall balance to his delivery and projects for additional lower half as he continues to improve his lower half directionality to the plate. He was however able to generate steady cut action to his fastball when locating to his glove side and seemed to throw his upper-60s curveball for strikes at will, showing nice depth and 1-to-7 shape on the pitch.

The Banditos Blacks continued to roll out the impressive young arms as uncommitted righthander Oscar Moralez (Baytown, Texas) toed the slab for their second game of the day and came out pumping. Living in the 86-88 mph range early before settling more in the mid-80s over the middle innings, Moralez came out showing a full and fast arm action through the back with steady plane to the lower third of the strike zone.  And while the velocity and high RPMs (according to TrackMan) are noteworthy on his heater, the slider might just be his best pitch which, like his fastball, shows an above average spin rate. Thrown upwards of 76 mph, Moralez was able to generate tight tilting life on the pitch while maintain both his arm speed and release point on the pitch. He also flashed a curveball, a 73-74 mph pitch that offered additional depth and 11-to-5 shape.

The next in line to take the ball was lefthander Yordani Carmona (Hialeah, Fla.) who provided relief for Moralez. Listed as a Florida International commit, Carmona definitely looks the part on the mound with a strong, broad-shouldered 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and his arsenal follows suit. Living in the 83-85 mph range, bumping an 86 in his second inning of work, Carmona works from a high three-quarters arm slot and regularly lived down in the zone with occasional cut action to the heater. The delivery is balanced and he showed no qualms in repeating, staying short with his arm action which in turned allowed for consistent strikes. Like his teammate Bryson Lucas above, Carmona was able to throw his curveball for strikes and featured 1-7 shape on the upper-60s pitch, showing short depth to the bottom of the zone.

An early commit to the University of Miami, Jared Thomas (Lakewood, Calif.) is listed as a primary catcher in the program though he also showed off his athleticism and versatility getting the start in center field in his team’s second game. A lefthanded hitter who stands 5-foot-11, 165-pounds, Thomas showed good instincts in center to move to a sinking line drive in the gap with solid closing speed. In the box Thomas is just as impressive with a full, fluid swing and quickness to his hands, all ingredients that helped connect for a loud line drive double down the right field line, turning around first base in 4.53 seconds.

Squaring off against Brennan Malone was another young, talented, and uncommitted righthander in Sam Wibbels (Hastings, Neb.). With broad shoulders on his 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame Wibbels projects to still grow strong and came out of the gates hot showing bigger fastball velocity than he did in my prior viewing. Up to 88 mph early in the contest with a bunch of 87s, Wibbels settled into the mid-80s range both out of the windup and stretch, all the while creating very consistent cut action to his fastball from a near over-the-top arm slot. He’s able to generate deception to his delivery as he quickly turns into his delivery, creating some drop and drive to his release though he was able to regularly work on top of the ball. There’s certainly more velocity in the tank as he fills out and gathers over the rubber some more but he should prove to become a steady ground ball pitcher with his ability to live down in the zone and the life he generates. Throughout the contest he was able to elicit weak, off balanced contact and flashed an 11-to-5, occasionally 12-to-6, shaped curveball with short depth in the low-70s.

Another early commit, 2019 shortstop Isaac Nunez (New York, N.Y.) gave his verbal commitment to the St. John’s coaching staff and has proven to be a very nice young get for the Johnnies. Listed at a still very projectable 6-foot, 160-pounds, Nunez possesses advanced actions up the middle with extremely soft hands and flair to his game. The footwork and overall actions are very smooth and easy and the arm strength more than plays from the left side at this level. He also showed off with the bat as well putting a quality swing on a Brennan Malone mid-80s fastball that he stayed short and quick to and lined back up the middle for a base knock.

– Jheremy Brown

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