Tournaments | Story | 7/24/2016

PG EvoShield Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game

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One of the main draws on the opening night at LakePoint in terms of college coaches was uncommitted 2017 lefthander Dylan Gentry of Danielsville, Georgia. Currently ranked No. 260 in the country, Gentry impressed at the Perfect Game National Showcase and did so again both in terms of present stuff and looking forward as he continues to fill out his high waisted 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame. With nice balance and consistent tempo to his delivery Gentry opened up at 86-88 mph with his fastball, creating nice angle with plane from a high three-quarters slot.

Living down in the lower third of the strike zone early with his heater, Gentry was able to produce weak, chopped ground ball contact even when he began working in the mid-80s at the end of his outing. The ball comes out of his hand cleanly with short running life from a quick, abbreviated arm action through the backside. His go-to secondary and perhaps his best pitch however is his curveball, a low-70s pitch that shows big depth with late bite to a righthanded hitter’s back foot. Though he hit two batters with the breaker early on, his feel developed nicely as the innings wore on, still showing tight rotation and late break.

Recently named Perfect Game All-American catcher/outfielder Steven Williams (Albany, Ga.) certainly has the tool set that makes him stand out amongst the best and opening day of the 17u Perfect Game Evoshield Classic was no different. The immediate thing you take notice of is his very broad and strong 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame in which he retains plenty of looseness and flexibility to his overall actions behind the dish. More than athletic enough to play in the outfielder at the next level whether it be Auburn University where he’s committed or professional baseball, Williams is currently ranked No. 45 in the 2017 class nationally as much for as his ability with the bat as behind the plate. He consistently showed pop times in between innings that hovered right around 2.0-flat, getting down to as low as 1.96 though not nearly at game speed and would be quicker in a live setting. Williams’ above average arm strength is a true weapon, which when coupled with his extremely fast transfer, make it difficult for runner to swipe a bag with throws that barely getting above the height of your hip. As stated prior the lefthanded swing is just as loud of a tool as he can truly impact the baseball, just as he did his first two at-bats with hard ground balls up the middle, showing off sneaky quickness down the line. In his final at-bat he got just under the ball but still drove the ball deep to the warning track in left field.

Following Gentry on the mound for Team Elite was 2017 righthander Riley Watkins (Cordova, Tenn.), who according to his Perfect Game profile is still uncommitted but is more than capable of pitching at the division one level. Up to 90 mph earlier this summer, the ultra-projectable 6-foot-2, 185-pound Watkins has both the frame and arm action that make it easy to envision a jump on his fastball which worked in 85-88 mph range last night. The arm action is loose and whippy coming through the back while showing nice balance to his delivery, allowing for a steady amount of strikes with plane and short sinking life to his heater down in the zone. With the type of life to his fastball and short, slurvy tilt to his 73-75 mph breaking ball Watkins was able to induce steady chopped groudball contact scattered throughout the infield.

Orginally committed to Auburn prior to their coaching change over a season ago, 2016 lefthander Tucker Bradley (Chickamauga, Ga.) is set to begin his freshman season at the University of Georgia and if he throws the way he did last night then he should serve an immediate role for the Bulldogs. A known commodity on the travel circuit and a participant of the 2015 Perfect Game National Showcase, Bradley got the start on the mound in the Georgia Jackets’ nightcap game and certainly didn’t disappoint. Opening up throwing a vast majority of 90 mph fastballs, Bradley continued to show that velocity over the first couple of frames, touching 91s and topping out as high as 92 mph in his second inning of work.

The arm action is incredibly loose and quick coming through the backside, working to a tough extended three-quarters slot, creating a difficult angle to his fastball, which hitters couldn’t seem to pick up comfortably. He shows comfort in his delivery and does a nice job of repeating it, allowing for consistent strikes to the lower third of the zone with late running life. As the innings progressed so did Bradley’s feel for his breaking ball, a 72-73 mph pitch which at its best showed late biting depth to the back foot of righthanded hitters and could very well develop into a swing-and-miss type pitch at the next level.

Righthander and 2019 graduate Ricky Tibbet (Chula Vista, Calif.) is an early commitment to San Diego State University and it’s easy to see why after watching just an inning of work. Listed at a long and easily projectable 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame with a high waist and long limbs, Tibbett came out working in the 80-84 mph range with his fastball, showing nice balance to his delivery with a clean and quick arm stroke through the back. Both the frame and body are components that are easy to dream on and envision additional velocity right around the corner. The ball comes out well at present and he already shows comfort in spinning a curveball that was up to 73 mph with short depth and 12-to-6 shape. Keep an eye on this future Aztec, especially as he continues to grow and fill out with additional physicality.

Jashia Morrissey (Jakel) is a young 2019 middle infield prospect who made the trip out from the West Coast with his CBA Cavs teammates and he caught my eye, though it was just a brief look with seven other fields going on simultaneously. Listed at 5-foot-10, 150-pounds Morrissey showed off very quick hands and a direct path from the righthanded batter’s box in each of the two at-bats I saw, first lining out hard to center field before ground out on a sharply hit ground ball to the third baseman. He looked good up the middle too with looseness to his actions and soft hands that played nicely out front fielding the ball.

He didn’t necessarily fill up the scorebook but after a couple of swing and a quick eye test you can tell that Auburn commit and 2018 shortstop Ryan Bliss (Lagrange, Ga.) has continued to add strength to his fast-twitch 5-foot-9 frame. And though he wasn’t challenged in the game defensively his soft hands still showed in between innings, funneling with lots of fluidity while staying light on his feet. The bat is where the strength shows the most however as his bat speed appears to have taken an uptick while remaining rather direct to the ball while also generating more leverage out front. It may have just a long strike, but it was in fact a long one as Bliss turned on a fastball and launched it deep down the left field line, putting the vendors in the middle of the complex in danger.

Though he wasn’t up to 91 mph like he has been earlier in the summer, uncommitted 2018 righthander Tristan McDonough (Whaleyville, Md.) still impressed in the early time slot, running his fastball up to 89 mph in the first inning of work while comfortably sitting in the 84-87 mph range, bumping multiple 88s early on. With an up-tempo delivery and very compact arm action through the back McDonough works to an over the top arm slot and though he didn’t always get on top of the ball he was able to create hard, natural cutting life when he was on top. He does a nice job of staying on line with his stride and was able to carry the velocity comfortably until his departure with improved command in the second inning. The cut action proved very effective in staying off barrels. He’ll have to continue to improve a consistent feel for spinning a curveball though he did flash a few for strikes in the mid-60s with short 11-to-5 shape.

A top 500 rated prospect in the 2017 class, Brycen Thomas (Spring Hill, Tenn.) is currently uncommitted according to his Perfect Game profile though he certainly has the talent to impact a college program, potentially on both sides of the ball. Physically imposing at 6-foot-3, 245-pounds Thomas tossed on an adjacent field and ran his fastball up to 91 mph while showing equal strength with his righthanded bat, leaving the yard with a long and loud home run.

Starting the second game for the East Cobb Colt .45s was 2018 lefthander Robert Bennett (Lilburn, Ga.) and though he didn’t necessarily show the biggest velocity of the tournament, he did show some of the better feel and overall command. With a simple, repeatable set of mechanics from which he works to a three-quarters arm slot, Bennett showed no problem commanding his fastball to either side of the plate with intent and regularly missed bats with the 80-84 mph pitch. He does a nice job of working over his front side and incorporating his lower half, something that allowed the uncommitted lefthanded to hold his velocity out of the stretch. Bennett also did a nice job of mixing in his off-speed for strikes, which included a short slider shaped breaking ball in the 67-69 mph in which he’d slow his arm action at times and a changeup at 73 mph, which he also threw for strikes.

Coming in out of the ‘pen for the .45s was Georgia Tech commit and hard throwing righthander Chase Patrick (Ellaville, Ga.), a 2017 commit. Coming out at hitters with an up-tempo delivery, Patrick attacked the strike zone with a fastball that comfortably worked in the 87-89 mph range, touching as high as 90 early on. Though there is effort at release it didn’t seem to inhibit his ability to throw strikes as he also showed some whip to his arm action while proving readily capable of missing bats with the heater.

The arm that closed it out however for East Cobb was arguably the most impressive in recent Georgia Tech commit and 2018 lefthanded Luke Bartnicki (Marietta, Ga.). A commodity amongst college coaches in the previous tournaments given his athleticism, plus build, present velocity, and the fact that he’s lefthanded, Bartnicki has been covered in prior recaps though what he showed opening day was certainly noteworthy. After touching 89 or 90 mph in prior outings this summer, Bartnicki came out and certainly let it loose as he sat 91-93 mph against the first batter of the outing. And though he ultimately walked the batter he did show the ability to settle in and worked comfortably in the upper-80s while still frequently touching 90 and 91 mph. The arm action is incredibly loose with solid angle and the ball jumps out of his hand with heavy life, all factors that could lead to another jump or two in the future, especially as he continues to incorporate his lower half into the delivery. And though his release point was inconsistent at times when everything synced up he proved to be one of more difficult arms to make contact off of given the explosiveness of his fastball and late life en route to the plate. Working two rather quick innings Bartnicki exclusively threw a fastball, only flashing a slider in between innings with short sweeping life in the low-70s. There will undoubtedly be further velocity gains for the young lefthander and he’s yet another arm in an ultra-talented 2018 class that the state of Georgia has to offer.

The most consistent bat in a talented East Cobb lineup on opening day was 2018 uncommitted catcher/middle infielder Jack Alexander of Kennesaw, Georgia who found the barrel as consistently as any player in the entire tournament. Staying short to the ball with his righthanded stroke while showing quickness to his hands and a refined overall approach at the plate, Alexander doubled to the pull side gap in his first at-bat, lined a pitch off the left field fence his second trip for another double, and then shot a line drive back up the middle for his third base hit of the game. The other part of Alexander’s game that’s noteworthy is his athleticism as he blended in nicely at second base despite being listed as a primary catcher. And just like with the bat, Alexander’s hands are quick defensively as he turned a couple of double plays and shows sound footwork around the bag.

Every time I see the Colt .45’s play uncommitted 2018 catcher Caleb Bartolero (Woodstock, Ga.) always seems to impact the baseball and my most recent look was no exception. A middle of the order fixture, the strongly built 6-foot, 190-pound Bartolero shows a full swing through the zone with plenty of strength at the point of contact and is more than capable of impacting the baseball. He also showed off quickness to hands and was able to pull them in on an inner half pitch, which he ripped down the left field line for a two base hit. Bartolero also performed well defensively behind the plate showing a quick transfer and release and plenty of carry out of the hand on his throws down to second base.

Obie Ricumstrict (Mount Pleasant, Mich.) had himself a nice day at the yard, even if he only saw two pitches total in each of his first two at-bats. A long and loose 6-foot-1 rising senior who’s committed to Cincinnati, Ricumstrict showed off an obvious aggressive, but under control, approach at the plate lining the very first pitch he saw for a line drive single into left field with a simple stroke through the zone. In the second trip to the plate however Ricumstrict did a little more damage as he simply shifted his weight through his lower half and drove the ball over the left field fence (video above), he didn’t even appear to get all of it, with the same simple and low effort swing he put on display earlier. He also showed lots of athleticism up the middle with easy actions and sound instincts, moving well to either side while putting solid arm strength on display across the diamond.

Following Ricumstrict in the two-hole is Duke commit Steven Mann (Farmington Hills, Mich.), another highly regarded rising senior who’s currently ranked No. 136 in the country. I can promise you that you’re not going to miss Mann in the field or at the plate as he’s physically impressive with his 6-foot, 190-pound build which appears to be a little short with the eye test. And that physical strength impacts his game on several fronts as he’s a very strong runner who isn’t afraid to swipe a bag and accelerates very well on the bases. His hands are very quick and there’s plenty of strength behind the barrel and though he didn’t square one up in my look, it’s easy to envision the ball going a long way when he does. The other tool that stands out for Mann, and one that’s not normally shown off in games, was his arm strength which was recorded up to 87 mph last June at the Perfect Game Junior National Showcase and appears to be stronger now as he delivered a one-hop strike to the plate, making the runner think twice about tagging up.

Starting the game for Arsenal Baseball was the same arm who finished it as 2017 righthander Amani Godfrey (Southfield, Mich.) went the distance and collected the victory. With a long and lean 6-foot-1, 152-pound frame Godfrey ran his fastball up to 87 mph early in the contest and continued to sit in the mid-80s throughout, registering 85 mph on his final two pitches of the game. His arm action is both loose and whippy with sound arm speed, all ingredients that helped generate late running life down in the zone. His curveball is still a work in progress as it’s a bit inconsistent on the release, occasionally showing 11-to-5 life while generating tilt on other pitch, both versions of which were thrown in the low-70s.

One team to watch in the 17u portion of the event to keep an eye on moving forward is Chandler Baseball 17u as they’ve simply out mashed their opponents and have won via run rule in each of their first three pool play games by a combined score of 32-3. Their third win was a quick 8-0 victory which was shortened to five innings in which their two pitchers combined for a no-hitter while the offense once again did their thing. One of the louder pieces of contact game from 2016 first baseman Livingston Morris (Woodstock, Ga.), a physical specimen who’s committed to Liberty University and hammered a line drive off the base of the wall in dead center field for a three base hit.

Righthander Chris Rolick (Marietta, Ga.) is another highly projectable 2017 arm who doesn’t have a commitment listed in the database despite being more than capable of already having one. Not listed on the Gerogia Bombers roster, Rolick is listed at a very believable 6-foot-5, 195-pounds and has been up to 91 mph earlier this month at the 17u BCS Finals after previously topping out at 85 and 87 mph in each of his previous two tournaments. Perhaps the velocity is truly blossoming now as he was once again up to 90 mph even with a light drizzle in the air and it’s easy to envision more on the way with physical strength gains. Opening up in the upper-80s in the first, Rolick came out and flashed 82 mph with his first fastball of the second inning after a long layoff but quickly climbed back up to 88 mph with the same full arm action and whip at release. The fastball comes out relatively clean and he uses his length well to generate both angle and plane while also creating short life down in the zone. His breaking ball as his go-to secondary and he was able to pick up a couple of swings and misses with it as he releases the pitch from a near identical slot as his fastball and the break happens rather late which causes a late reaction from the batter in turn.

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