Tournaments | Story | 7/21/2016

15u WWBA Day 6 Scout Notes

Matt Czechanski        
Photo: Perfect Game

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With the last round of pool play for most teams taking place this morning before the playoffs kicked off in the evening, several talented arms made their second starts and it offered an opportunity to get a second or third look at teams’ lineups.

Chris Villaman (2019, N.C.) took the mound for the second time for WM9 15u Signature. The long, lean lefthander has good projection remaining in his frame with present athleticism. He worked across his body with a crossfire element with a longer arm action and hook through the back of his circle. He threw from an extended three-quarters arm slot with good extension down the mound. He showed good arm strength on the mound and threw off of his fastball that worked 82-85 mph and was up to 86 on the bump. It showed some late wiggle, but flattened out up in the zone, which is where he ran into trouble. The uncommitted lefty worked his fastball to both sides well showing feel for command. He mixed in a 1-to-7 shaped curveball thrown up to 67 mph, slowing his arm, but offering it for good depth. The arm action itself was low effort with some slight head wiggle at release over a stiff front leg. He actually contributed at the plate as well, flicking an opposite field double to the left-center gap with good looseness in his wrists. Villaman’s projection and the fact he’s lefthanded should give him options moving through the recruiting process.

Facing off against Villman was Nelson Baseball School and Cartersville High School catcher Jake Gooch (2018, Ga.). What scouts will tell you is that the first thing they look at for in a catcher is receiving and skills, then power, and Gooch checks both of those boxes. He showed a quick transfer behind the plate and gained ground well with a strong arm and accuracy to the bag. He nailed a runner early on in the game and popped a 2.01-second time to make the play. At the plate against Villiman he turned in some of the louder contact against the southpaw with a barreled opposite field double. His strength works well through his swing with leverage created out front and a line drive swing plane.

For the Banditos, righthander Jack Kochanowicz (2019, Pa.) offered an ideal combination of physical projection and present skill on the mound. Kochanowicz qualifies as a player who projects large already, listed at 6-foot-6, 185-pounds with broad shoulders and long limbs. As he continues to fill out he’ll see his durability increase as well has physical strength. He draws his arm back very slowly in his arm action into a sight hook before exploding out of his hand from a three-quarters arm slot. There is violence in the delivery with a sharp head whack towards the ground, but he threw strikes consistently. He was around the zone and created good angle with his fastball that worked 83-85 mph and topped out at 86 with occasional life. He cut the ball some when working glove side and harder over his front side. The uncommitted righty did show some feel for sequencing and pitched backwards at times, throwing his 11-to-5 shaped curveball to open up counts before pounding the outer third against righthanders. He generated average extension down the mound with a shorter stride to the plate, but worked well through the ball. His curveball showed average spin, but he replicated his extension and arm slot for the pitch making it appear more deceptive. He struck out an impressive nine batters, most looking, over his two-hit shutout.

Facing the Banditos in their final pool play game was MS Baseball Academy Elite 15u who sent out a pair of intriguing uncommitted arms. Their starter was catcher and righthander pitcher Logan Tanner (2019, Miss.) who pitched like you’d expect someone listed as a primary catcher. He relied primarily on above average arm strength from his 6-foot, 190-pound frame with a slow, compact arm action and short stride to the plate. He worked his fastball 87-89 mph with short life in the first inning with harsh recoil over his front side. His velocity sat 83-85 mph then after and when he worked from the stretch. At present he’s more a thrower than pitcher, but he also showed a changeup from a lower arm slot that showed good depth and fade, at 73 mph. Tanner also mixed in a curveball with 11-to-5 shape at 64 mph. As he develops feel for his secondary offerings and cleaned up mechanics, Tanner could offer promise both behind the plate and on the mound.

Tanner’s teammate on MS Baseball Academy Elite was one of the better names in the event in righthander Farmer Abendroth (2019, Miss.). Abendroth is uncommitted at present, but that won’t last much longer with very impressive physical projection listed at 6-foot-4, 155-pounds with long limbs. He showed a very quick, short arm action with some hook with good arm speed. His fastball works very clean out of the hand with good sinking action to the lower third. With his long limbs he created good angle and extension down the mound. He struggled when throwing the pitch up in the zone as it worked right into the middle of the zone with its hard tailing action. As his outing went on, his velocity dipped slightly, but saw better spin on his fastball. His curveball did something similar. Working with 11-to-5 shape, he showed feel for spin on the mound with tight action in its lower velocity band with the ability to get the pitch over for a strike. He flashed a changeup at 74 mph with slight fade as well, but used it in limited quantities. He threw strikes, getting to both sides of the plate in his relief stint. He worked very hard over his front side to get glove side with some body jerk.

One of the flasher defensive plays I saw in the field was turned in by infielder Dustin Dickerson (2019, Miss.). Dickerson has some physicality in his frame and is bigger than his listed height and weight. He showed feel for his backhand with a quick step into a sliding stop. He popped up deep in the hole and fired across the diamond to get the runner. The arm strength plays from the left side with a very quick release.

On an adjacent field, Chain National Moss tried to salvage their playoff hopes with a Johnny Wholestaff game. The second arm they threw stood out for his plus extension and easy mechanics. Lefthander Dylan Collins (2018, Ga.) threw easy and free on the mound with a long, mostly loose arm action. He has plenty of room to fill in his lean, slender frame with a live arm at present. His fastball worked 82-84 mph and hit 85 and showed very heavy action with good angle to the lower third of the zone. Throwing from a very high three-quarters arm slot, the heavy spin to the fastball is uncommon and when he got downhill and got on top of his fastball he had the most of his success. When on top, his fastball showed very hard running action to his arm side. Collins mixed in a 1-to-7 curveball with very heavy tumble with decelerated arm speed at 71 mph. There was also a changeup he flashed with short fade to his arm side. His command is developing on the mound with misses to his arm side consistently. He only allowed one hit in his two shutout innings on the mound with most of his contact coming weakly off the bat.

Taking the mound for Team Elite 15’s Prime was Joseph Brandon (2018, Ga.). The smaller framed righthander attacked and challenged the US Elite hitters and competed on the mound over his 4 2/3 innings. What impressed the most about Brandon was his use and feel for his changeup. He replicated his arm speed well and threw it from the same slot with late, diving fade out of the zone. He threw the pitch up to 80 mph with the ability to generate a swing and miss and the feel to throw it against opposing righthanders. He slower arm action through the back with quick acceleration through his arm circle down the mound. His fastball showed arm-side life and threw it at 84-87 mph early in the outing. It worked more in the 82-85 mph range in his later innings with the same life. His command was hit-and-miss and often worked as effectively wild on the mound. He did walk four, but struck out seven batters challenging hitters up in the zone.

Catching Brandon and the entire Team Elite staff was Raymond Torres (2019, N.C.). The LSU commit has one of the better arms behind the plate of anyone in his class with impressive accuracy and carry. He receives the ball clean and blocks well with good athleticism. His arm works clean with a quick arm action and gaining ground well into his throws. Though he did not have a hit in Wednesday night’s action, he has barreled the ball throughout the event working all fields.

Earning the win over Team Elite was US Elite 2019’s in a walkoff effort in the eighth inning. Third baseman and outfielder Will Carlone (2019, N.Y.) has driven the ball off the barrel as well as anyone this past week, leading the way for the US Elite offense. Carlone eventually delivered a game-tying single in the bottom of the eighth, but also got them on the board with a loud double to the left-center field gap in the first inning, knocking in a pair. Carlone has good strength in his frame and has good rhythm in the box with the ability to impact the ball off the barrel. He has some bat speed at the plate with the ability to generate backspin and work the ball to all fields.

The Dulin Dodgers did not advance past the first round of the playoffs but shortstop Dalton Freeman (2019, Miss.) stood out. A slick fielding shortstop with sure hands up the middle and a strong arm from the left side, Freeman was an asset to his pitchers. He vacuumed up balls hit to him, moving well to both sides with feel for his backhand. At the plate, he used a short, compact swing at the plate and generated loud contact off the barrel with feel for timing. He squared up a line drive and took it to center field, but right to where the center fielder was positioned. His swing works well with quick hands and a repeated plane through the zone.

The EvoShield Seminoles also advanced thanks in part to a strong outing from UVA commit and lefthanded pitcher Carson Jones (2019, Va.). Jones starts with a stereotypical UVA perch before going into his delivery, with a long and mostly loose arm action towards the plate. Jones’ arm works well, seeing the ball come out clean with a crossfire element. It was a fairly low effort delivery from Jones who has a very projectable 6-foot-2, 155-pound frame with broad shoulders and room to handle additional strength. He generated some extension down the mound with slight spine tilt in his delivery. His fastball worked up to 86 mph and consistently sat at 82-84 with arm-side life. The angle he created down the mound helped him work lower in the zone, generating weak contact. Jones did struggle with his command in the outing, walking a trio of batters in his five innings of work, but with mechanical fixes and location of the arm at foot strike it will improve. He showed a curveball with 1-to-7 shape between 73-76 mph with good spin and the ability to use it for a swing and miss. Jones impressively struck out eight batters in five innings on the mound, pushing the Seminoles to the third round of the playoffs that begin Thursday morning.

– Matt Czechanski

Wednesday morning of the 2016 15u WWBA National Championship dawned the final few slots of pool play before the playoffs began in earnest on Wednesday night, with many teams still jockeying for seeding positions.

Zachary Agnos (2019, Va.) comes out of the powerhouse Battlefield High School program in Virginia, and is an extremely high-end shortstop prospect for the class of 2019. He took the mound on Wednesday morning for STARS Baseball 15u Red, and impressed there as well. He worked in the 83-86 mph range for the majority of his time on the mound, with a quick arm from an up-tempo, athletic delivery. There is some violence and head whack in the delivery, but with his athleticism he’s able to repeat it and throw strikes consistently nonetheless. His curveball was a weapon pitch, thrown in the low- to mid-70s with sharp, two-plane snap that got several empty swings from opposing hitters. When he wasn’t missing bats, he was getting weak ground ball contact, thanks in part to the heavy arm-side life he generated on his fastball.

Another outstanding pitching performance on this day came from New England Ruffnecks starter Joshua Gruenberg (2019, Mass.). He went five shutout innings in the Ruffneck victory, scattering three hits and allowing zero walks, collecting three strikeouts as well. He did so by really “pitching,” something not seen very often in this younger age bracket. His fastball worked in the upper-70s, touching 80 mph, but he had outstanding command on this day, working to both sides of the plate at will and using all four quadrants of the zone, creating good angle to the plate and most definitely unafraid to pitch inside. He mixed in a sharp breaking ball as well and seemingly didn’t give up well-struck contact a single time.

James Dillon (2019, Mass.) provided a pair of hits to the Ruffneck offensive attack, including a loud double over the left fielder’s head. Dillon’s swing is compact but extremely strong, with a lofted path and leverage at contact, giving him the ideal swing when paired with his natural strength to create good power, something he obviously showed in game action.

The Saddleback Cowboys, out of California, lost in the playoffs on Wednesday night but certainly flashed lots of high-end talent. Starting pitcher Evan Fitterer (2019, Calif.) took the loss, but was undoubtedly impressive in terms of raw stuff and projection moving forward. He started the game at 83-87 mph with his fastball, and showed feel for a variety of off-speed pitches. He yanks himself across to the glove side at release in his delivery, causing significant command issues at times, but the raw stuff is plenty good and he projects to be a pretty significant prospect. The curveball feel is very good, with 10-to-4 shape and good snap at the plate, with the ability to miss bats consistently on the pitch. He’ll also tighten it up and give more of a slider look at a higher velocity band, though the pitch has the same shape and doesn’t quite seem to be a distinct third pitch. He also flashed a changeup with good arm speed and tumbling life, giving him a full arsenal of pitches to work with moving forward.

Getting the start opposite of Fitterer for Phenom Signature was Sean Rimmer (2019, Ariz.), a physical righthander with good projection as well as present size. He shows a compact arm action with a hook in the back, but clean acceleration out of the hook and lots of deception thanks to pretty significant spine tilt at foot strike, hiding the ball from the hitter but also inhibiting command down in the zone at times. He opened up at 83-86 mph before settling in at 81-84, with good downhill plane when commanded down in the zone from a high three-quarters arm slot. He mixed in a solid curveball with 11-to-5 shape, backing up at times but when spun correctly showing tight spin and very good snap. Walks definitely hurt him in this game, but he showed the ability to both miss bats and generate weak contact, and he’s most definitely a name to watch moving forward in the class of 2019.

Ryan Sehdev (2018, N.J.) provided a good amount of offense for Phenom, including two hits in their eight-run third inning. He tripled deep up the left-center field gap over the center fielder’s head, then drove an RBI single through the left side later in the inning. His body definitely projects, and he has good athleticism throughout as well, to go along with the already impressive bat speed and power projection.

The Banditos Black advanced in the playoffs on the strength of an 8-4 victory late Wednesday night, and Derrick Cherry (2018, Texas) was undoubtedly the star. He doubled twice in a pair of at-bats, collecting two RBI as well, and then closed out the victory for the Banditos, coming on in a high-leverage situation and delivering. He got the final out, working 89-92 mph with his fastball and showing a sharp slider as well, from a compact delivery with a bit of a hip turn that hides the ball well from the hitter, making it very tough to pick up out of his hand, adding to already impressive velocity. He’s a very high-end two-way talent committed to the University of Houston who needs to be tracked closely in the class of 2018.

– Brian Sakowski

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