Tournaments | Story | 7/22/2016

15u WWBA Day 7 Scout Notes

Matt Czechanski        
Photo: Perfect Game

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With 32 teams remaining and working down to the final four on Thursday, we saw very impressive performances from a number of players.

The continuously impressive righthander Matthew Thompson (2019, Texas) took the mound for the Banditos Black and shined over seven two-hit innings, allowing just one run and pushing the Banditos to the quarterfinals. Thompson stands highly athletic with a 6-foot frame with room to continue to fill out with good physicality on the mound. He threw from a high three-quarters arm slot with a medium arm action and hook through the back. Thompson has explosive arm speed on the mound and it shows, firing his fastball towards the plate at 89-91 mph and hitting 92 over the first two innings. He held the velocity very well, still working at 90 mph in the sixth inning. His fastball had good riding life up in the zone with late arm-side wiggle. Thompson gets very well extended down the mound, routinely working over seven feet of extension, making his perceived velocity even tougher on hitters.

The feel for spin Thompson has for his age is one of his most enticing aspects of his game. He replicates his arm speed well for his 11-to-5 shaped curveball, throwing it around 80 mph with good bite. The pitch offered a swing-and-miss offering low in the zone with power break and the ability to get it over for a strike. He also showed a harder breaking ball up to 83 mph with more 10-to-4 shape, likely just over throwing his curveball and generating more traditional slider shape. Thompson, in Cueto-esque fashion, altered his timing to the plate, working normally from the windup and then using varying rocker steps before coming to the plate. It helped keep hitters off balance, doing it before throwing both his fastball and curveball.

His command could best be described as effectively wild on the mound, at times leaving his fastball over the plate. There is some violence in his delivery with a head snap and harsh recoil over his front side, and he did walk a trio of batters, but did throw over 64 percent of his pitches for strikes. Thompson is currently the No. 2 ranked player overall in the class of 2019 and with his performances so far this summer should hang on to that spot.

Wilson Sandlot Arizona cruised through pool play and their first round playoff game with a record of 8-0. Infielder Jonathan Ornelas (2018, Ariz.) stood out in their second round playoff game both defensively and at the plate. He showed very smooth actions at second base, making a diving stab at the ball to his right. The quick instincts to get to the ball helped save a run, and he then showed a quick release over to first base. Right after that play he came up second in the order and promptly laced a triple down the left field line. He showed the same athleticism in the field at the plate with good rhythm and quick hands through the zone. He came around to score on a wild pitch with a spry slide, working around the catcher’s glove to score the run.

UNC commit and shortstop Nicholas Biddison (2018, Va.) helped the EvoShield Seminoles advance through the second round with an early double down the left field line. Biddison stays inside the ball well at the plate with good bat speed through the ball and a linear swing plane. He generates backspin with very impressive strength in his wrists and hands, helping carry the ball over outfielders. Biddison could use additional lower half incorporation in his swing, often being caught out in front, but still finding success given his ability to drive the ball.

With Biddison not playing in the field Thursday morning that opened up the option for Jamari Baylor (2018, Va.) to slot up the middle. Baylor showed arm strength from several slots in the game, working well on the left side with some gather into his throws. He has developing footwork but got to balls and made a couple out of range plays. The most impressive play came on a bases-loaded, one-out situation with a hard groundball off of the pitcher’s foot. Baylor altered his charge, fielded the ball and turned the 6-3 double play to escape the jam and preserve the lead.

The East Tennessee Crusaders sent out a pair of intriguing arms in their matchup against Viper Baseball Academy 15u. Righthander Brandon Feathers (2018, Tenn.) looked the part on the mound with long limbs and broad shoulders and room to continue to fill out in his 6-foot-1 frame. He used a short, compact arm action on the mound with a slight pause before completing his weight shift. It was a lower effort delivery for Feathers who threw his fastball between 78-82 mph with short arm-side life. He was around the zone effectively and garnered swings and misses from his fastball. He slowed his arm for his 11-to-5 curveball and saw it generate heavy spin. His curveball worked best after relying on his fastball only in most at-bats, then dropping it in for a called strike three. Feathers allowed only a pair of hits over his five innings and struck out six batters with a pair of unearned runs.

Backing him up out of the Crusader’s bullpen was fellow righthander Noah Webb (2019, Tenn.). Webb stands with a medium build at 6-foot, 170-pounds with a short, quick arm action towards the plate and he threw from an extended three-quarters arm slot. He started with a small leg raise with an upbeat delivery and worked inside well to righthanded hitters. His fastball worked 82-84 mph with good arm-side life. He created good angle and extension down the mound, which helped lay off barrels in his two scoreless innings on the bump to close out the win.

Impressing up the middle for the Scorpions was shortstop Connor Walsh (2019, Fla.). Walsh showed smooth actions around the infield with soft hands and good footwork. He received the ball well with some twitch in his actions and an arm that worked from the left side. At the plate he stayed on plane well with some bat speed. The ball comes off loud from the bat with present feel for the barrel.

Starting for the Scorpions against the Banditos was righthander Casey Daiss (2019, Fla.). Daiss has a very strong, physical frame on the mound listed at 6-foot-4, 230-pounds. He threw from a long arm action with a small arm circle with some rigidness through the motion. He showed good arm strength on the mound in his two innings before the rain delay, running his fastball up to 88 mph and sitting in the 84-86 range with slight wiggle. From his extended three-quarters arm slot he created some angle to the plate, but had trouble repeating his mechanics and release point. He found the barrel in the middle of the zone as his fastball straightened out when elevated. He showed a softer curveball at 70 mph with 11-to-5 shape and did not show much feel for the pitch. The uncommitted righthander also floated a changeup in the first inning with some fade low and out of the zone.

Coming out of the rain delay caused both teams to switch pitchers and the Scorpions brought in highly ranked righthander Andrew Roberts (2019, Fla.). Roberts used a three-quarters arm slot with a longer arm action through his delivery. There was a heavy crossfire element, working across his front side with limited effort. The ball came out clean with riding life to his fastball that worked 84-86 mph in his relief stint. He showed good feel for a changeup up to 78 mph with some fade to the lower third. His curveball continued to show above average spin with 11-to-5 shape and sharp depth. He generated good extension down the mound, nearing seven feet for his fastball and cut it slightly for his curveball. Roberts fired an impressive five innings on the mound and struck out six batters.

For the Banditos, lefthander Yordani Carmona (2019, Texas), an FIU commit, held his own and helped push the Banditos on to the semifinals on Friday with five one-run innings and seven strikeouts on the mound. Carmona is listed at 6-foot-1, 195-pounds with good strength in his frame. He created very impressive angle with his fastball from his three-quarters arm slot and good plane to the lower third. Carmona used a medium arm action with a bigger hook in the back of his arm action. The future Panther showed good arm strength on the mound with a fastball that worked 84-86 mph and hit 87, holding that velocity over all five innings. What he did was generate lots of poor swings from the Scorpions’ hitters as well as lots of swings and misses. His fastball showed good life to the lower third of the zone, but straightened out when elevated. He showed a 1-to-7 shaped curveball with depth and used it well off of his fastball, placing it inside on righthanded hitters after working fastballs away effectively.

– Matt Czechanski

In a tremendous game from the perspective of someone who loves pitchers’ duels, the EC Sox Prime Snopek reigned victorious over the EvoShield Canes Coastal 15u by a score of 2-1. In no surprise, each starting pitcher was very good.

Lefthander Jackson Kimbrell (2019, Ala.) started for EC Sox Prime, and in his second outing of the tournament he was solid over his 2 1/3 innings. He struck out four and allowed only a single unearned run, working in the 78-83 mph range on his fastball, generating very good downhill plane from a high three-quarters to near over-the-top arm slot. He hides the ball well and finishes cleanly over his front side, and when combining the ease of his arm/delivery with his physical projection, it’s easy to see him throwing much harder in the future. He also showed a quality curveball with 1-to-7 shape, a pitch ideally suited to his arm slot and release, and a pitch he showed the ability to both throw for a strike and down in the zone as a chase pitch.

Christopher Willis (2018, La.) has been written about before, but the extremely physical and athletic lefthanded hitter warrants mentioning again, simply due to the fact that he’s an extremely talented hitter who is capable of punishing baseballs all over the zone. He’s committed to Ole Miss and while his versatility makes his future positional home a bit unclear as of this moment, there’s zero doubt that he’ll be an impact bat at the next level.

Sam Highfill (2019, N.C.) did a little bit of everything for the EvoShield Canes Coastal 15u club, going 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk and the lone EvoShield RBI, and going the full six innings on the mound, where he flashed legitimate upside. As mentioned, he worked the full six innings, allowing a pair of earned runs on four walks and four hits to go along with four punchouts. He’s a long, lean, highly projectable prospect whose body has lots of room to continue filling out, giving him a good chance to continue adding velocity as well. At present, he works in the 82-85 mph range for the most part, topping out at 86, with some solid arm-side life and heaviness down in the zone. He’ll also drop down to an extremely deceptive sidearm slot and fire fastballs at 80-81 mph from there, with excellent arm-side life, successfully breaking bats with the pitch to righthanded hitters. He shows a full complement of secondary pitches, with a curveball and changeup, both showing solid feel for his age and projecting well moving forward.

In another high quality pitching matchup, Midwest Elite 15u defeated the Dallas Tigers Hernandez by a score of 2-1, in an extremely quick-moving, hard-fought game.

Despite taking the loss, Sean Bolin (2019, Texas) was undoubtedly intriguing for evaluators, as the 6-foot-6, 170-pound righthander hasn’t even really started to fill out his frame yet. He worked mostly in the mid- to upper-70s, touching 80 mph, with his fastball, but had an advanced feel for commanding it down in the zone and creating good natural heaviness on the pitch. And, it’s almost silly just how much projection there is remaining in that right arm.

On the other side the winning pitcher was Michelle Artzberger (2019, Okla.), who went the full seven innings, allowing only a single unearned run on three hits and three walks, to go along with five strikeouts against a Dallas Tigers team loaded with quality hitters. The lefthander mixed and matched and in general, fitting the mold of the “crafty” lefty that is thrown around often. His compact, deceptive delivery added to his already quality stuff, highlighted by a fastball that he changed speeds on (it ranged anywhere from 75-82 mph all the way across seven innings), and he pretty much didn’t allow a well-struck ball the entire way. The curveball and changeup both missed bats as well, and on the whole it was a very impressive outing.

Impressing repeatedly this week and proving himself to be one of the better pure hitters in the class of 2019, William Hamiter (2019, Ala.) was once again loud with his barrel on Thursday afternoon. In his first at-bat, the lefthanded hitting middle infielder hit a line drive about six inches over the out-stretched glove of the second baseman that rolled all the way to the wall in right-center field, simply due to the fact that he hit it so hard, registering at 98 mph on TrackMan. The hand speed (and therefore bat speed) that he possesses are elite tools given his class and age, and he’s just now beginning to fill out his frame, giving big time credence to the lofty power projections we’ve been giving him. He’s without a doubt one of the bats to watch moving forward in the class of 2019.

Before falling to the Banditos Black later on Thursday evening, the Scorpions 2019 Prime team beat the East Coast Sox Select by a score of 9-5.

Tyler Owens (2019, Fla.) was very good on the mound, scattering four hits and one run over five innings with six strikeouts to earn the victory. He did so primarily with two pitches: His four seam fastball and his cutter, a pitch that the Sox simply couldn’t figure out early on. The four-seamer reached as high as 89 mph per TrackMan, usually working in the 84-87 range with good heaviness down in the zone and sink. The cutter was impressive, thrown anywhere from 78-82 mph, with subtle slicing action away from righthanded hitters and working to consistently miss barrels, and was responsible for much of the weak contact that he was able to generate.

Several Scorpions had big days at the plate, including Brandon Walker (2019, Fla.), an extremely athletic and projectable primary pitcher who looks to be an impact two-way talent moving forward. He went 4-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored out of the three-spot in the Scorps lineup.

Judson Fabian (2019, Fla.) added two hits of his own to go along with two RBI, including a missile of a triple over the center fielder’s head, showing big-time bat speed and leverage at contact, projecting to be an excellent hitter at the next level. Dylan Simmons (2019, Fla.) is committed to Florida State as a primary arm, but collected three hits of his own in this game, propelling a Scorpions attack that generated nine runs on 13 hits and six walks.

– Brian Sakowski

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