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Tournaments | Story | 9/19/2016

PG/Evo Upperclass Day 3 Notes

David Rawnsley     
Photo: Perfect Game

Daily Leaders | Day 1 Notes | Day 2 Notes

Playoff baseball often brings out the best in players and teams and Sunday's playoff games at the Reds Complex was no exception.

The most exciting game, without question, was the Solana Beach Cardinals 4-3 walkoff win in the bottom of the seventh inning against Bownet Elite.  Third baseman Jake Herman (2018, Coronado, Calif.), who entered the game as a pinch hitter earlier and singled, delivered a two-out bases-loaded double to left-center field to score the tying and winning runs and set off a semi-dogpile out by second base.

The Solana Beach rally seemed to set the team up for the rest of the day, as they played tough and inspired baseball the rest of the day in winning two more games and reaching Monday's semifinals.

The Solana Beach rally took the win away from Bownet starter, lefthander Daniel Pimienta (2017, Panorama City, Calif.), who threw six strong innings, allowing five hits, one earned run and struck out nine.  Pimienta threw about 90 percent fastballs, topping out at 87 mph, but had outstanding running and sinking life on fastball and got plenty of weak swing and misses on balls out of the zone.

Bownet center fielder Andrew Lucas (2018, Camarillo, Calif.) is a quick-twitch 5-foot-10 athlete who is committed to Cal-State Northridge.  He had a strong game, going 2-for-2 with a long double to left-center field in addition to drawing a walk and stealing a base.  Lucas finished the tournament 6-for-10 at the plate and scored six runs.

The first round of the playoffs brought out the best in entire GBG Marucci Navy team, as eight different players had base hits. Righthander Gabriel Ponce (2017, San Luis, Ariz.) threw a complete game shutout and the defense turned in a number of sterling plays in a 8-0 run-rule victory over ABD Bulldogs Red.

Ponce, a San Diego commit, was especially impressive while throwing a two-hitter, striking out seven and throwing only 63 pitches in five innings.  He topped out at 90 mph with a long and loose arm action and good extension to the plate.  Ponce flashed good sharpness on a 77 mph slider he could have used more frequently if he had needed it.

Center fielder Jonny Deluca (2017, Agoura Hills, Calif.), second baseman Kevin Kendall (2017, La Mirada, Calif.) and third baseman Jaden Fein (2018, Simi Valley, Calif.) all made very good defensive plays to help keep the shutout intact.

Fein is San Diego State commit who is ranked 275th in class nationally.  He's listed as a primary outfielder on the GBC roster but looked outstanding charging the ball at third base and getting off a strong and accurate throw.  At 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, Fein has a strong and loose swing with some present gap power.  He went 2-for-3 with two RBI in this game and was 6-for-11 through GBG's first four games.

The second round of playoff games Sunday featured what was probably the best "prospect" game this scout has seen in the tournament, as the CAB Soldiers brought out two high quality pitchers and beat GBG Marucci 4-2 to gain a spot in the quarterfinals.  Righthander Griffin McGarry (2017, Portola Valley, Calif.) started for CAB and went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run while striking out five.  McGarry, a Virginia commit and the 209th-ranked prospect in the class, worked in the 87-90 mph range with his fastball and showed solid off-speed pitches, including one very nice changeup that picked him up a strikeout.

The Soldiers then brought in lefthander Patrick Wicklander (2018, San Jose, Calif.) and he completely shut down the GBG bats, striking out five hitters over the last 2 1/3 innings to close the game out.  The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Wicklander owned the inside corner to righthanded hitters with his 86-89 mph fastball and produced a number of uncomfortable swings from GBG hitters who couldn't get their hands and barrels out to the ball.  Wicklander is a Dallas Baptist commit who is ranked 165th in the 2018 class.

CAB catcher Chris Troye (2017, Brentwood, Calif.) continued his very impressive tournament with a booming triple to center field, prompting his teammates on the bench to ride him with the age old "let go of the piano!" taunt after his slide into third base.  Troye finished the tournament after CAB's quarterfinal loss with a .636 (7-for-11) batting average, including a pair of doubles and the triple and is a hitter to definitely follow in the future.

Another catcher, GBG's Adam Kerner (2017, Agoura Hills, Calif.), had a strong tournament and finished in style, also hitting a triple and scoring a run.  Kerner, a San Diego commit who had some big hits on the summer circuit, went 6-for-12 this weekend with two doubles and two triples, as he continued to show surprising power for a 5-foot-10, 165-pound catcher.  He also threw a runner out stealing Sunday and is a quick-twitch athlete behind the plate defensively.

A lefthander for NorCal Young Guns was the exact opposite in many ways as Patrick Wicklander (above) but just as effective in the first round of the playoffs.  Tyler Stultz (2017, Livermore, Calif.) worked in the 79-82 mph range with his fastball and featured a nice changeup and curveball to throw a three-hit shutout over Slammers Zavares/Akerfelds in leading his team to a 3-0 win.  Stultz looked to be in complete control the whole game, throwing only 92 pitches in the seven-inning effort.  He looks to be the prototypical "soft tossing lefty" who gets outs and leaves hitters with an uncomfortable 0-for-3 game at the plate.

This scout has seen Trosky Mizuno play parts of three games as they've cruised to a 5-0 record and a spot in Monday's semi-finals and they've impressed me more with their balance and overall quality of play more than for any single player, especially position player.  Trosky is hitting .392 as a team and has notably struck out only 20 times in five games.  Watching them work through their lineup once is instructive, as they all seem to have very sound middle-of-the-field approaches and consistently square up the ball and put pressure on the defense.  The same has held true for their pitching staff.  They've thrown 11 different pitchers through five games and those 11 pitchers have combined to walk five hitters in 32 innings.

One Trosky player who has stood out with his performance on both sides of the ball is righthanded pitcher/infielder Keaton Carattini (2018, Encinitas, Calif.).  Carattini has thrown seven innings in two games, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out nine and is also 4-for-10 at the plate with four RBI.  Carattini works in the mid-80s on the mound and has the same short and sound swing at the plate that all the Trosky hitters feature.

– David Rawnsley

CBA Marucci, a perennial title contender at any number of Perfect Game events, fell in the quarterfinals late Sunday night; but not before rattling off a pair of victories to reach that point. In their first playoff game, they sent Jonathan Stroman (2017, Calif.) to the mound, and the young righthander was tremendous, continuing an exemplary summer that has vaulted him into serious MLB Draft consideration.

Stroman struck out eight over his complete game seven innings on the mound, walking three and allowing only one hit en route to the shutout. He came out firing 89-91 mph fastballs consistently, and held his velocity at 87-90 mph through the duration of his 84-pitch outing. The fastball features good late life through the zone to the arm side, and can act like a sinker when commanded down in the strike zone as well. His primary off-speed pitch is his slider, thrown in the mid- to upper-70s, and at it’s best it flashed major league average, with hard, biting tilt and plenty of depth. He’ll also show a slower curveball that works well as a change-of-pace pitch in the low-70s with quality spin and depth, and he was able to throw it for a strike when he did choose to use it.

Kenny Oyama (2017, Calif.) hit leadoff throughout the tournament for CBA, and did an outstanding job of fitting the mold of on-base/stolen base machine while playing quality defense in center field. His swing is geared for hard, line-drive contact to all fields, and is very compact and direct to the ball with the kind of barrel control necessary to avoid striking out much, and he shows the ability to drive the ball into the gaps as well, giving him more of an offensive profile that a typical leadoff hitter. He’s a terror once he’s on base as well, stealing bases with relative ease and easily taking the extra base when the opportunity presents itself.

North East Baseball (NEB) didn’t make it through to the playoffs, but still had a successful run through this event, and showed a pretty loaded roster, as they usually do.

Chase Wallace (2017, Tenn.) took the mound to start their consolation game against Canyon Thunder and didn’t disappoint in his two innings on the mound, as the Tennessee commit showed some serious next-level stuff in the brief look. He worked 85-88 mph with his fastball, getting downhill and generating plane from a high three-quarters arm slot, forcing hitters to swing early and often due to his ability to be around the plate consistently. The true weapon for Wallace was his slider, a pitch that is capable of missing bats in college right now. It’s truly a dynamic pitch, thrown in the upper-70s with zero hump, looking like a fastball out of the hand until an abrupt, sharp break nearly all the way to the plate, missing bats with ease when thrown correctly. Now, as is the case with every prep pitcher, it was inconsistent in shape and effectiveness on this day, but when it flashed, it flashed legitimate hammer potential, something only a few prep arms can boast.

Derek Orndorff (2017, Pa.) hit leadoff for NEB, and the future Penn State Nittany Lion looks the part of a quality top-of-the-order hitter who is capable of playing all over the diamond once he arrives in Happy Valley. He seemingly barrels up everything when hitting and is an above-average runner once underway, and when paired with the fact that he’s going to get stronger and stronger, he may end up with some quality power as well. He played center field in this game, but has played infield and even done some catching before, so the possibilities for how Penn State may deploy him are many.

Coming off of a victory in the 17u PG World Series back in July, the AZ T-Rex Baseball Club roared through pool play and the playoffs here at PG/Evoshield Upperclass en route to a 5-0 record heading into the semifinals on Monday morning.

2016 Perfect Game All-American Jacob Gonzalez (2017, Ariz.) continues to get better and better with the bat, especially in terms of strength and hit-ability. He’s always been strong, with excellent raw power and the ability to launch the ball to all parts of the park, but over the past six months he’s done a very good job developing the finer points of hitting, including pitch recognition and command of the strike zone. On Sunday, he showed off that increased feel for hitting in a T-Rex playoff game. One of the most impressive feats of the tournament, he tripled way over the center fielder’s head in his first at-bat, something not altogether uncommon for him, but what made it special was how he managed to do it. A bit fooled by a curveball breaking down out of the zone and nearly bouncing, Gonzalez had collapsed onto his front side a bit and wasn’t exactly in the traditional “power position” when he made contact with the ball, but still managed to get all barrel and drive it nearly 400 feet into the air to dead center. That kind of strength and barrel control — while being fooled in his lower half — is pretty special, and to have the power to not just get barrel on it but to drive it that far is ridiculous. Even more scary is that he’s likely not done filling out his frame, making his potential power at maturity anyone’s guess.

Gonzalez’s T-Rex teammate, Trevor Hauver (2017, Ariz.), is committed to Arizona State, and the lefthanded hitting infielder certainly flashed some legitimate offensive potential of his own. He went to nearly the same spot as Gonzalez on an extra-base hit, way over the center fielder’s head into no-man’s land, and followed it up with a single up the middle and a two-run base hit down the right field line. His hands are very quick through the swing and he creates excellent leverage with his front side at contact, and has the strength necessary in combination with the swing path and leverage to create excellent power, with the potential for even more in the future.

Midwest Elite 18u, a club out of Oklahoma who consistently shows well in our events with high-end talent, made it through to the playoffs of the PG/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship before falling in the quarterfinals.

Hal Hughes (2017, Okla.) and Kaden Polcovich (2017, Okla.) both stood out for the Elite in different ways. Hughes is a quick-twitch, quality defensive shortstop who is heading to Louisiana State. He’s quick seemingly everywhere in his game, with a quick stroke that covers the plate well on a line drive plane, built ideally for hitting liners to all fields with a high on base approach, capable of and willing to draw walks, while playing excellent defense at a primary position.

Polcovich is the more physical of the two, and between them they form quite the keystone combination for the Elite. Polcovich has some serious bat speed and strength as well, with a direct swing path capable of doing consistent extra-base damage, consistently driving the ball into the air (or on a line) with excellent loft through his swing path, a swing that will definitely do some damage at the University of Oklahoma, where he’s committed to play baseball at the next level.

– Brian Sakowski

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