Tournaments | Story | 7/23/2016

17u PGWS Day 2 Scout Notes

David Rawnsley         Gabe Ortiz        
Photo: Perfect Game

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Perfect Game strongly subscribes to the PitchSmart initiative endorsed by Major League Baseball and enforces it at all their events.  A perfect illustration of proper cooperation and understanding between a team competing hard to win a game and the guidelines occurred on Friday during an extremely competitive contest between the Orlando Scorpions and the Houston Banditos.

The Scorpions starter, righthander Jack Leftwich (2017, Maitland, Fla.) – the 64th ranked player in the 2017 class – was outstanding throughout the game, topping out at 94 mph in the fourth inning from an easy and lightning quick arm action.  Locked in a 2-2 game in the top of the seventh inning, Scorpions manager Matt Gerber asked the PG scout working GameChanger on Leftwich's exact pitch count to make sure there were no violations and he could face one more hitter, with two out and a runner at third base.  Facing the last batter he was eligible to face, Leftwich pumped in a 92 mph fastball for strike three to end the inning and his outing.  The Scorpions went on to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh on a bases-loaded single by catcher Chad McDaniel (2017, Coral Springs, Fla.).

"I asked about the pitch count before the inning started and again during the inning,” Gerber said after the game. “We know what the rule is and why it's there and we're going to follow it.  I'm just glad that Leftwich could throw to one more hitter, he's one of the best pitchers in the country and he was obviously still very strong."

PG All-American first and third baseman Tim Elko (2017, Lutz, Fla.) had an impressive day at the plate for the Scorpions.  He blasted a deep double to right-center field early in the game and his 390-foot double to the warning track in straight away center field with one out in the bottom of the seventh set up the winning run for the Scorpions.

BPA Rawlings lefthander Jack Owen (2017, Coto De Caza, Calif.) doesn't have eye-opening stuff on the mound but his performance record is extremely noteworthy.  The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Mississippi State commit threw over 30 innings last summer at Perfect Game tournaments and didn't allow a single run.  That doesn't seem likely to change this summer, either.  On Friday Owen threw a complete game two-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts and no walks, requiring only 84 pitches.  Owen worked in the 84-87 mph range while liberally mixing in a 73 mph curveball and a 78 mph changeup, but his big key is that he throws his fastball precisely where he wants to almost every time he throws the pitch.  The radar gun can stay turned off when Owen pitches.  Interestingly, Owen chose not to pitch in high school baseball this spring, citing the need to get a job according to the Los Angeles Times.  It certainly doesn't seem to have held him back on the baseball field.

PG All-American shortstop Tyler Freeman (2017, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) is showing why he has one of the best hit tools in the country.  He's 4-for-5 with a walk and four RBI after two games, both 6-4 wins for CBA.  Two of those hits have been triples and another a double.  A righthanded hitter, Freeman seems to see the ball better than most hitters and is very patient in taking pitches and waiting for the right one to attack and drive.  Even though he is has a prototypical 6-foot, 170-pound middle infielder’s build, Freeman has plenty of pop in his bat and is going to keep piling on the extra-base hits.  Defensively, Freeman has also made several sparkling plays at shortstop and stands out for his high energy and enthusiastic style of play.

Righthanded pitcher Daniel Ritcheson (2017, Northridge, Calif.), a San Diego commit, has a very projectable 6-foot-4, 175-pound build and a strong and loose arm.  He worked in the 88-91 mph range during Friday's game from a good delivery that got his lower half and core involved well.  Ritcheson got plenty of sink on his fastball and picked up lots of ground ball outs.

Three home runs were hit on the big league sized fields at the Cubs spring training facilities, with the most impressive blow coming off the bat of the EvoShield Canes big switch-hitting catcher Tyler Solomon (2017, Haymarket, Va.).  The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Solomon turned on a mid-plate fastball and turned a close 2-0 game against Academy Select Sun Devils into a 5-0 contest with a monster no doubt blast to right-center field.  EvoShield went on to win 7-0 behind a combined three-hit shutout by lefthander Andrew Abbott (2017, Nathalie, Va.) and righthander John Dancy (2017, Charlotte, N.C.).  Both hurlers have slender, very projectable builds and worked in the upper-80s with their fastballs while filling up the strike zone.

The other two home runs were hit by Orlando Scorpions third baseman Clemente Inclan (2017, Jacksonville, Fla.), a towering shot right down the right field line that provided a key run in the Scorpions win over the Banditos, and by North East Baseball's shortstop Chris Lanzilli (2017, Stoneham, Mass.), the 355th ranked player in the 2017 class and a Wake Forest commit. Lanzilli had probably the top offensive game of the tournament so far, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a triple and a home run, along with accounting for three runs scored and four RBI in North East's 10-4 win over CCB Elite.

GBG Marucci center fielder Jonny Deluca (2017, Agoura Hills, Calif.) is one of the more enjoyable players to watch and scout in the class, not only because he has high-level tools but because of how hard he plays the game.  He ran a 6.65 60-yard dash at the PG National Showcase last month but plays much faster than that on the field because of his quick-twitch athleticism and his energy.  Along with getting a hit and scoring a run from his leadoff spot Friday, Deluca made what might be the defensive play of the tournament in a very close 2-0 win for GBG, going deep into the right-center field alley for a leaping, over-the-shoulder catch that saved a probable late inning triple and a scoring opportunity for Elite Baseball Training/St. Louis Pirates.  Deluca is the 105th ranked player in the 2017 class and is committed to Oregon.

From Thursday’s recap we mentioned Elite Baseball Training righthander and first baseman Bobby Miller (2017, McHenry, Ill.) for his smooth and powerful lefthanded swing and on Friday he drew attention for his ability on the mound in the loss to GBG.  The long and lanky 6-foot-5, 190-pound Miller had a rough first inning, throwing 28 pitches and just barely emerging with only one run allowed.  He settled down very well after that, though, working aggressively ahead in counts with a fastball that topped out at 93 mph while significantly improving the command on his mid-70s curveball while throwing a six-inning complete game.  Miller's arm action is very long, which will be a concern to pro scouts moving forward, but it is also very fast and there well could be even more velocity in there with physical maturity.

San Diego Show outfielder Tora Otsuka (2017, San Diego, Calif.) is another fun player to watch.  Otsuka stands only 5-foot-9 but is quick-twitch and has very fast hands from the left side of the plate.  He picked up three hits and reached base a couple of other times during the Show's two wins Friday.  One of those hits was a triple that narrowly missed being the day's fourth home run, a hit where Otsuka showed his plus speed as well.  Otsuka, who is a San Diego commit, hit .404-5-28 with 25 walks and 18 stolen bases for Rancho Bernardo High School this spring.

– David Rawnsley

Center fielder Kevin Watson Jr. (2017, Beaverton, Ore.), who recently committed to Oregon State, was exceptional in center field for Baseball Northwest with a great jumps and high-level athleticism and range.  He showed off his arm strength as well and was very accurate.  Watson also had a single and his second triple of the tournament and scored both Baseball Northwest runs. Shortstop Mason De La Cruz (2017, Auburn, Wash.) gives the team two strong defenders up the middle and is a Washington State commit with a strong body and very smooth fielding actions and very sure hands.

Orlando Scorpions shortstop Anthony Servideo (2017, Jupiter, Fla.), the 172nd ranked player in the 2017 class, was the best player on the field in the Scorpions 7-1 win over the Southern California Bombers.  He has high end defensive tools with lots of rhythm to his game and smooth actions through the ball.  The Mississippi commit has plenty of arm strength and should stay at shortstop for a long time.  He also went 2-2 at the plate with a walk, a triple, a pair of stolen bases and two runs scored.

Servideo's teammate, righthander pitcher Ryan Dease (2017, Altamont Springs, Fla.), was impressive on the mound, displaying a quality three-pitch mix that he located consistently down in the zone while pitching four shutout innings.  He worked in the 85-88 mph range with his fastball and showed both a quality slider that got lots of swing and misses and a changeup with ideal velocity differential.  He is committed to Central Florida.

Team California lefthander Isaac Esqueda (2017, Pomona, Calif.) also stood out on the mound, throwing 4 1/3 innings of two-hit ball while working in the 86-89 mph range with some cutting action with his fastball.  He also showed a tight slider from a quick and compact arm action and three-quarters release slot that hitters didn't see very well, and he had confidence in his changeup.

– Gabe Ortiz

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