Tournaments | Story | 7/22/2016

17u PGWS Day 1 Scout Notes

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game

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Each of the 24 teams in scorching Mesa, Arizona, played only one game on the first day of the PG 17U World Series, which mercifully allowed everyone to get out of the 115 degree heat a little earlier than will happen the next few days.

One player who didn't seem affected by the heat in the least was righthander Darren Nelson (2017, Granite Bay, Calif.), who threw a masterful complete game three-hit shutout in a 3-0 NorCal win over the Orlando Scorpions.  Nelson, a Cal Poly commit, is listed at 6-foot-7, 210-pounds in the PG database but he looks to the practiced eye more in the 6-foot-5, 230-pound area.  He's a big young man who looked like he hardly broke a sweat with an easy, low effort delivery that he repeated extremely well.  Nelson topped out at 87 mph but stuck at that velocity for virtually the entire game.  He threw fastballs on 72 of his 90 pitches and the key to his success was spotting the pitch right where he wanted to on both sides of the plate.  Lots of experienced and talented Scorpions hitters took bad cuts throughout the game.  Nelson broke out a mid-70s slurve with occasional depth the final time through the order and threw that for consistent strikes as well.  He struck out nine and only walked one.

NorCal was led offensively by outfielder John Lagattuta (2017, Davis, Calif.), who had a double and a triple and scored a run.  Lagattuta is a lefthanded hitter with a smooth and easy swing that is loose and fast at contact.  According to the PG database, he does not have a college commitment at this time.

From strictly a scouting perspective, probably the most interesting performance of the day came in the 13 pitches that third baseman/righthanded pitcher Joe Perez (2017, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) of Elite Squad threw in a 3-1 win over the SGV Arsenal.  Perez started at third base and had a solid day, collecting an RBI single in the first inning and starting a key double play from third base, but was brought in to close the game in the seventh inning.  Perez, who has limited experience on the mound but topped out at 96 mph at the PG National Showcase last month, topped out at 94 mph this time, working from a pretty low effort delivery and generating his plus velocity easily.  He also threw three curveballs in the 78-81 mph range, and although only one was a strike, they showed outstanding spin and a power break.  The concern with Perez on the mound, along with his inexperience, is his ability to throw strikes but he was on target this game.  His raw stuff is so quality that he doesn't have to spot it now, just get it into the strike zone.

Leadoff hitter and shortstop Jeter Downs (2017, Miami, Fla.) showed off his 6.4 speed for Elite Squad, reaching base on a couple of walks and stealing three bases.

SGV Arsenal righthander John Dearth (2017, West Covina, Calif.) threw well in the losing effort, allowing two unearned runs in five innings while working 86-89 mph with a low- to mid-70s curveball.  The San Diego State commit has an unusual lead into his delivery, as he stretches both arms, with his right hand in his glove, to full extension straight upwards to full length before settling into his pitching delivery.  It would be interesting to hear what inspiration behind this routine is.

T-Rex Baseball got off to a strong start, beating Elite Baseball Training/St. Louis Pirates by a 6-2 score in a game that lasted only one hour and 23 minutes.  The three T-Rex pitchers in particular worked extremely quickly (catch the ball on or near the rubber and look in for the sign immediately) and it was a clean and well played game by both teams.

T-Rex starter and righthanded pitcher Boyd Vander Kooi (2017, Mesa, Ariz.) went five innings, allowing both Elite runs but only throwing 68 pitches.  Vander Kooi touched 90 early but worked mostly 86-88 from a deceptive delivery that was heightened by how quickly he worked.  The most impressive pitcher of the game was T-Rex's righthander Joseph Montenegro (2017, Farmers Branch, Texas), who had a very easy seventh inning, throwing mostly 88-89 with a big-breaking slider that overmatched hitters.  Montenegro is only 5-foot-11 but throws extremely easily with a beautiful arm action and the slider is a difference maker.  His records in the PG database show he is a very good student but does not have a college commitment.  Based on the way he threw that one inning, he could pitch for most schools in the country as a freshman.

Outfielder Blake Paugh (2017, Scottsdale, Ariz.), an Arizona commit who is ranked 217th in the PG class rankings, had the key blow for T-Rex, a ringing bases-loaded triple to right-center field.  But the best swing of the game, one that left the scouts around the back stop buzzing for a few minutes, was laid on by Elite first baseman Bobby Miller (2017, McHenry, Ill.), who drove a double off the right-center field fence from a smooth and tension free lefthanded swing while not even really squaring the ball up cleanly.  The carry on the ball was impressive and the projection with the 6-foot-5, 190-pound Miller was noteworthy as well.  To add to the equation, Miller is actually a primary righthanded pitcher who topped out at 93 mph at the PG National Showcase.  Hopefully we'll be able to see him on the mound later in the event.

A pleasant surprise at the end of the day was Team California Warriors righthander Hunter Breault (2017, Ewa Beach, Hawaii).  The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Hawaiian worked in the 88-91 mph range from a mid to even low extended three-quarters arm slot and had a very fast and loose projectable arm action that makes it easy to project more velocity.  The arm angle creates some flatness to his pitches and he only flashed quality to a mid-70s slurve-type breaking ball, so there is still plenty of work to be done but there is plenty of upside talent there.  Breault had never been to a PG event previously and does not have a college commitment, while our information lists his grades as being very solid.

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