Tournaments | Story | 9/17/2016

PG/Evo Upperclass Day 1 Notes

David Rawnsley     
Photo: Perfect Game

Daily Leaders

CBA Marucci opened up their defense of their 2015 PG EvoShield Upperclass National Championship with a business-like 6-2 win over a competitive Utah County Prospects team Friday morning.  Perfect Game All-American shortstop Tyler Freeman (2017, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) was his usual self at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a hard double to right-center field and scoring a pair of runs.  6-foot-3, 200-pound third baseman Tyler Hardman (2017, Corona, Calif.), the 142nd ranked player in the PG class rankings and an Oklahoma commit, also had two hits, including a big home run to left field.  Hardman did a very nice job pulling his hands in on his home run, adjusting to an inside fastball from a sidearm righthander, and there was little doubt it was gone from the moment it left the bat.

CBA righthander Roman Phansalker (2017, Edmond, Okla.), an Arizona commit, was very impressive in three innings of work for BCA, getting all nine of his outs via strikeout.  Phansalker worked in the 86-89 mph range with a loose and fast arm action and three-quarters arm slot.  At 6-foot-2, 175-pounds with his arm action and low effort mechanics, Phansalker is a good bet to keep adding velocity as he physically matures.  His swing-and-miss pitch this outing was mostly a 78-80 mph slider that has tight spin and nice late biting action.

Utah County righthander Drew Hill (2017, Mayfield, Utah) had the raw stuff to keep CBA in check when he threw enough strikes.  The Utah Valley commit also worked in the upper-80s, topping out at 89 mph, and threw both a curveball at 73 mph and an upper-70s slider that were quality pitches.  Hill's issue was throwing enough strikes with his fastball to get ahead in counts and he ended up with four walks and four wild pitches in addition to striking out nine in five innings.

CBA Marucci went on to win its second game Friday by an identical 6-2 score behind four shutout innings from righthander Conner Thurman (2018, San Tan Valley, Ariz.).  Thurman has a big and strong 6-foot-1, 200-pound build and is pretty mature physically.  He throws from a back turn delivery that creates good torque in his upper body through release and has a fast arm from a three-quarters to mid three-quarters arm slot.  Thurman, who has been up to 91 mph at a couple of PG events this summer and is committed to Arizona, worked in the 87-89 mph range and did a nice job getting the ball to his glove side when he wanted to.  He could have thrown more of his mid- to upper-70s slider but didn't really need to this outing.

Tall pitchers always get attention and they don't come any taller than 6-foot-11, 195-pound righthander Brayden Weyer (2017, Erie, Colo.) of the Gameday Columbia team.  Weyer works from the stretch exclusively and does a good job of keeping his delivery simple and repeatable, an important factor especially for taller pitchers.  He has a relatively short stride out front and throws from a compact high three-quarters arm slot, which gives his pitches extreme angle to home plate.  Weyer threw almost exclusively fastballs, working in the 83-85 mph range and getting good sink when he was down in the zone.  He's obviously very slender and has lots of room to grow, with adding some weight in his hips and core probably the biggest need.  Weyer has committed to Seattle.

2019 outfielder Michael Dixon (Oakland, Calif.) is already the 56th ranked player in his class nationally and will be an enjoyable player to watch develop over the next few years.  He is 5-foot-11, 170-pounds currently with a high-waisted Justin Upton-type build and good present strength.  His EJ Sports Warriors team played two games on Friday and Dixon collected four hits, including a pair of doubles and a triple, plus four RBI.  A righthanded hitter, Dixon gets loaded on his back side very well and explodes through contact with an aggressive swing with lots of bat speed for his age.

Righthander Aidan Maldonado (2018, Rosemount, Minn.) of the Minnesota Blizzard is a loose-armed young 6-foot pitcher whose velocity has been inching up all summer and should keep going up as he gains strength.  He's topped out at 84 and 85 mph at previous PG events this year and worked five innings in the 83-87 mph range on Friday.  Maldonado also showed a nice curveball from a high three-quarters arm action that has promise.

Fellow righthander Tony Bullard (2018, Riverside, Calif.) only needed 10 pitches, all fastballs, to pick up a four-out save in the ABD Bulldogs Red's 6-4 win Friday afternoon but they were an impressive 10 pitches.  All were in the 88-91 mph range, nine were for strikes and they produced a pair of strikeouts and two weak grounders back to the mound.  The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Arizona commit is ranked 18th in the 2018 class and we're hoping that he gets a chance for a more extended outing later in the tournament.

Offensive tools and performance is a nice way for a position player to be noticed and included in the tournament scout recaps but defensive standouts get noticed as well.  Shortstop Enrique "Kiko" Romero (2019, Tucson, Ariz.) is only 5-foot-9, 150-pounds but is very quick and agile on defense.  He made a number of acrobatic plays, including one full length diving stop, pop up and throw to first for an out, along with a number of routine ones, in Southern Arizona Prospects 8-0 loss to Trosky Mizuno.  The lefthanded hitter hit leadoff for the Prospects and has a swing that can be developed with additional strength.

The CAB Soldiers went 2-0 Friday with two run-rule victories but all the Perfect Game scout at the field could talk about was how impressive Soldiers catcher Chris Troye (2017, Brentwood, Calif.) was on defense, both with his plus throwing arm and with his receiving and blocking skills.  The scout, one of PG's veteran field scouts and a long-time former professional player, didn't even mention what Troye did at the plate.  A look at the box scores showed that the 6-foot-4, 215-pound righthanded hitter went 3-for-3 with three walks and five RBI during the two Soldiers wins.  Troye is committed to UC-Santa Barbara.

– David Rawnsley

Spread out over three separate professional complexes in the Valley, the PG/Evoshield Upperclass National Championship started in earnest Friday morning. Advanced Baseball Academy Majestic, a travel club from the state of Kansas, took a pair of losses on Friday at Camelback Ranch but still ran out a pair of intriguing righthanded arms.

Joshua Lucas (2017, Kan.) started the first game and worked anywhere from 82-87 mph across his 4 1/3 innings pitched. He racked up seven strikeouts over those innings, allowing only a single hit and single earned run while scattering a trio of walks. The arm is pretty quick with some hook through the back of the arm circle, though he accelerates out cleanly and gets online with the plate. The fastball, while flatter-planed, showed good arm side life at times and was relatively tough to square up when commanded down in the zone. He also flashed a solid slider in the mid- to upper-70s with sharp tilting shape, a good bat-missing pitch at present.

In game two of their morning doubleheader, Advanced send Ethan Axman (2018, Kan.) to the mound for the start against Sacramento Sports Center. The uncommitted Axman started strongly, working 86-90 mph in his first inning with heavy, late sinking action on his fastball — so much life, in fact, that it was tough for him to consistently throw strikes with his fastball due to the amount of movement he was able to generate on the pitch. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and gets over his front side well, allowing him to generate quality plane to the plate in addition to the significant life he creates on the fastball. He showed a three-pitch mix on this day, with a curveball and changeup in addition to the fastball. The curveball showed pretty traditional 11-to-5 shape with solid depth and spin at times, though too often he struggles to finish the rotation at release and it backs up on him; whereas the changeup is pretty deceptive off his hand, as he throws it with good arm speed to mimic the fastball and generates solid fading life to the pitch.

BPA DeMarini 2017 brought a very talented roster to Arizona this weekend, and several players stood out. Tyler Lasch (2017, Calif.) had a pair of hits including a double, to go along with one RBI and a run scored. The left-handed hitting catcher shows big time hit-ability nearly every time he steps on the field, and took a pair of very quality at bats in this game. With a man in scoring position, he kept his hands back just long enough on a slider darting down and in on him, and was able to line it back up the middle for an RBI single. He’s balanced in the box with plenty of bat speed, and is absolutely capable of attacking the whole field with good extra base pop.

Brett Borgogno (2017, Calif.) showed well in several facets on Friday, consistently making quality plays at the shortstop position and definitely showing the athleticism, actions, and range necessary to profile at the 6 spot at the collegiate level, where he’s committed to play at Cal State Fullerton. He’s undoubtedly a basestealing threat as well, with plenty of speed and the quick acceleration needed to consistently swipe bags. He also profiles very well at the top of the order, with advanced on-base abilities and a quick, compact stroke that profiles perfectly as a high-contact, high-average line drive hitter with solid power as well.

Jack Owen (2017, Calif.) will be joining Tyler Lasch at Mississippi State next year, and he closed out BPA’s 2-2 tie on Friday afternoon with a pair of perfect innings, striking out four. Owen was his classic self on Friday, working 84-87 mph with his fastball and commanding it to all four quadrants of the zone, and mixing in both the curveball and the changeup. His delivery and arm action are both extremely easy, and the ease with which he throws helps to create some deception at release, which makes the effective velocity of his fastball play way up above what the raw velocity says. He has the frame and arm speed to continue to add strength and velocity moving forward, as well, making him a very good bet to be an early contributor in Starkville next year.

Maceo Campbell (2017, D.C.) had himself a very good day for Crab University in their 5-5 tie with Bownet Elite on Friday afternoon. The extremely strong, physical Campbell started on the mound and hit cleanup for Crab, impressing in both parts of the game. On the mound, he worked up to 88 mph with his fastball before settling into the 83-86 mph range, creating lots of angle and plane from an extended high three quarters arm slot, powering downhill and creating good life to the arm side on the fastball. He worked in both a curveball and slider, with both giving different looks and having some success. The curveball worked in the upper-60s with 11-to-5 shape, flashing power spin and depth, often burying it down and out of the zone for swings and misses. The slider was firmer in the low-mid 70’s with sharper tilt at times, though it was often left up in the zone and got hit a bit. At bat, as one would expect, he’s extremely physical and parlays that strength into good bat speed and excellent power. The swing plane is lofted well and gets to a positive launch angle, and he roped a line drive single into left field, followed by a long triple way up the left-center field gap, showing legitimate power when he squares the ball up. He’s committed to Longwood, and certainly looks the part of a potential two-way contributor there.

In a bit of a pop-up, unexpected performance Friday evening, relative unknown righthander Zach Espinosa (2017, Calif.) took the mound for Birds Black in their 10-3 victory over Sol Baseball. Espinosa is a very interesting story, seeing as this is his first Perfect Game event (he’s not found in our database yet), and according to the scuttlebutt from college coaches behind the plate, he’s really only been a pitcher for less than a year. The physical right-hander worked up to 88 mph with his fastball, flashing heavy sinking life, before settling in mostly in the 83-87 mph range for the duration of his three innings. As one would expect, he’s very raw on the mound, but the arm speed, body, raw arm strength, and overall tools most definitely stand out.

– Brian Sakowski

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