Tournaments | Story | 10/7/2016

World Underclass Day 1 Notes

Matt Czechanski         David Rawnsley         Brandon Hohl        
Photo: Perfect Game

Daily Leaders

Opening up action at JetBlue on Thursday afternoon was Steve Hajjar (2018, North Andover, Mass.). Pitching for Show Baseball New England, Hajjar took the mound and certainly looked the part, listed at 6-foot-4, 205-pounds with broad shoulders and room to even continue to fill out with strength. The uncommitted righthander showed a long arm action with slight wrist wrap through the back with ease at release. His fastball showed impressive plane and heaviness when working on top of the pitch at 84-86 mph and topping out at 87 mph. He lands on a stiff front leg, working over his front side and was athletic off the mound. Hijjar showed a very hard slider at 77 mph with good feel to spin the pitch, though he was very selective with it on the mound. The slider had 10-to-4 shape and looked to be a quality swing-and-miss offering. Throughout his three innings on the mound, Hijjar only allowed a pair of hits and struck out six batters. He worked primarily off his fastball and with his frame and arm strength should continue to improve and will not likely remain uncommitted for long.

Potros LCA picked up and impressive win against a strong US Elite 2019 club behind and impressive offensive attack. Shortstop Edward Guzman (2018, Naranjito, Puerto Rico) was one of the more physically impressive players in attendance, listed at 6-foot, 180-pounds. That does not sound overly impressive, but the strength Guzman possesses for his age is remarkable. He has broad shoulders and a compact lower half and has an incredibly mature build overall. Guzman’s swing shows uppercut traits, but through the point of contact he is very powerful. He has impressive raw bat speed for his age and ability to lift and drive balls to deep parts of the field. His swing will need refinement, but he has tremendous upside at the plate with his bat speed and power potential.

Before a weather spell ended his brilliant outing short, righthander Cole Ayers (2018, Loveland, Ohio). Ayers blended a three-pitch mix and utilized a long arm action. His arm worked straight back and was slightly stiff, locking in the back. Ayers showed tremendous tempo on the mound, working quickly and effectively in on the hands of hitters. He showed a quick arm and repeated his arm action well enough with a fastball that sat 86-88 mph and hit 89 mph three times in his final inning. He worked off of the pitch with an impressive changeup at 79 mph that showed good, late tumble. Ayers also threw an 11-to-5 shaped curveball as well with depth and flashed tightness. The three-pitch mitch was impressive for the underclassmen, and once he harnesses his release point he will continue to garner a high volume of swings and misses. There is effort at release, but Ayers ability to not rely on the fastball and throw enough strikes allow him to get away with that. He struck out six batters in a 4 2/3 inning outing shortened by rain.

Playing up the middle for Longshots Baseball Teal was shortstop Paddy McKermitt (2018, Hampshire, Illi.). McKermitt is a bit undersized, listed at 5-foot-6, 150 pounds, but plays bigger on the field. He made a spectacular play ranging to his left and adjusting off of a bad hop to still have time and get the runner. His transfer was quick and smooth with an accurate arm over to first base. As he continues to add strength to his slight frame his arm strength should continue to improve to allow him to remain on the left side. At the plate, he uses a shorter, more compact swing that works through the zone quickly.

Following up the rain delay was righthander Luke Wootten (2018, Middletown, Del.) for Mizuno Aces National 17u. Wooten has a lean, slender build on the mound, listed at 6-foot-1, 165-pounds with square shoulders and room to continue to add strength. He pitched with a longer arm action and a side step start into his delivery. He landed online with consistency with a quick arm through release. Wootten’s release point varied at times, causing his command to come and go on the mound, but flashed the ability to repeat. His fastball worked 84-87 mph on the mound with mostly true action. It was most effective inside on hitters, but when left up and over the zone it was exposed some. His changeup was the more advanced of his two secondary pitches with short fade at 75 mph from the same three-quarters arm slot. His curveball showed 11-to-5 shape as he slowed his arm slightly for the pitch. He showed good hand speed and ability to spin the ball at 68 mph with inconsistent shape out of the hand.

Making perhaps the most athletic play of any player on the field, US Elite centerfielder, Cameron Hubbard (2019, Easton, Pa.) showed elite level range in the outfield. Hubbard retreated straight back in centerfield on a ball hit by Mendoza who was noted above. He made a spectacular over the shoulder catch about two feet in front of the waning track likely covering 70-plus feet to make the play. His first step and read off the bat were beyond impressive.

– Matt Czechanski

On Deck O's righthander Brett Kerry (2018, Clemmons, NC) turned in one of the most unique performances in Perfect Game/WWBA history Thursday afternoon, striking out 18 hitters in a complete game three-hit shutout.  What made the 6-foot, 185-pound Kerry's performance unique, aside from the 18 strikeouts, was that he only threw 77 pitches in seven innings and an incredible 69 of those pitches were strikes.  In fact, Kerry opened up the 25 hitters he faced with strikes all but one time.  Adding another wrinkle to the game was that Kerry endured over a two-hour rain delay between the fourth and fifth innings before retaking the mound.

The abnormal pitch count couple with the results prompted a senior PG official to ask this scout "Did that really happen; did you see it?"

It did happen.  Kerry was facing a younger team in Elite Baseball Club 2019 and realized early in the game it seemed that he could rely just on his 86-89 mph fastball to blow the ball past most of the hitters.  He throws from an athletic and simple delivery and gets lots of late life on his pitches so that whenever a pitch did stray outside the strike zone, it wasn't by much and the Elite Baseball hitters often chased it.  Kerry threw some 69-71 mph curveballs between innings but never broke it out to a batter.

Kerry has not made a college commitment yet but there were 15-20 appreciative coaches behind the Clemente Field backstop watching in the action, prompting one observer to note "I bet you he's committed by the end of the weekend."

The player who garnered the most pro scout attention at Terry Park Thursday was South Charlotte Panthers righthander Owen White (2018, Mt. Ulla, N.C.).  The 16th-ranked prospect in the 2018 PG class rankings, this scout had seen White up to 94 mph this summer to go with a hard and sharp curveball.  White was "only" up to 91 mph this game, striking out five hitters in 1 1/3 innings while on a 30 pitch count limit to potentially save him for the playoffs beginning Sunday.  White did throw a couple of 75-77 mph curveballs that were sharp and tight and even mixed in a few 74 mph changeups.  The 6-foot-3 athlete also crushed a two-run triple over the right fielder's head in the first inning.

Panthers shortstop Jaylen Guy (2018, Greensboro, N.C.) was also very impressive while going 2-for-3 with three runs scored.  Guy is a wiry, quick twitch 5-foot-10, 150-pound athlete with outstanding quickness and some hidden strength in his hands.  His two hits were hard line drives to right field that had some bat speed behind them and he ran a 4.27 on a ground ball down a very wet first base line.

The game between the Doubleday Dodgers 17 and the Florida Canes, a team made up primarily of players from the Dominican Republic, was an outstanding game to watch from a scout's eyes, as the field seemed full of prospects and next level bodies.

Canes righthander Angel Munoz (2018, Dominican Republic) struck out 11 hitters in 4 2/3 innings, working in the 85-89 mph range and showing two outstanding secondary pitches in a hard downer curveball that reached 78 mph and induced many half-hearted swings by Doubleday hitters.  He also mixed in an impressive diving changeup he could have used more.  International scouts surely know about him.

Doubleday countered with two likely college bound 2018 righthanders in what was eventually a 5-1 victory in 6-foot-6, 220-pounder Cooper Stinson (2018, Peachtree Corner, Ga.) and 6-foot-4, 180-pounder Herndon Akridge (2018, Mobile, Ala.).  Stinson, who is uncommitted, touched as high as 88 mph early while working 4 2/3 innings and allowing only two hits while striking out seven.  His 78-80 mph slider, although only used a half dozen times, was a potential out pitch with late bite and good depth.  Aldridge, a South Alabama commit, has a very loose and easy arm that produced a 84-86 mph fastball that is going to keep inching upward as he gets stronger to go with a 71 mph curveball.

Center fielder Cabera Weaver (2018, Decatur, Ga.) stood out for Doubleday with his outstanding range in the outfield on defense and his advanced approach at the plate.  The 6-foot-3, 175-pound athlete has a taller Willie McGee-type body, with slopping shoulders and the same sort of front side leaning walk/run that was McGee's trademark.  Weaver is a Georgia commit and the 319th ranked player in the 2018 class.

Left fielder and first baseman Christian Hall (2019, Calera, Ala.) hit third in the mostly 2018 Doubleday lineup and it's easy to see why.  Hall is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound rock solid and extra strong sophomore and although he went 0-3 against the Dominican pitchers, he showed outstanding raw bat speed and big power potential.

Typical of Doubleday's line up depth was the game's hero, catcher Orlando Adams (2018, Atlanta, Ga.), the eighth hitter in the lineup.  An extra strong right handed hitter, Adams thought he just missed driving a ball hard, dropping the bat with his head down in a resigned gesture after hitting what he thought was a routine fly ball to center field.  That quickly caused a few of us observers to quickly look at each other a bit surprised, then resume watching the ball as it hit off the center field fence 400 feet way for a game changing triple.  It was obvious that young Mr. Adams underestimates his strength and bat speed.

Marucci Elite lefthander Hunter Milam (2018, Smiths Station, Ala.) was lifted after three no-hit  innings of work in the Elite's 4-0 win over SWFL 2019 but not before he'd recorded eight strikeouts and issued only one walk.  Milam resembles 2016 PG All-American D.L. Hall in his lean and athletic body type and in his overall delivery mechanics and relied almost solely on a lively fastball that touched 90 mph early to dominate the SWFL hitters.  Interestingly, Milam is not ranked in the top 500 in the PG class rankings, something that is sure to change in the near future, nor does he have a college commitment, although there was a very healthy contingent of college coaches at Mack Field watching the game.

Kurtis Byrne (2019, Chesterfield, Mo.) of the St. Louis Pirates is a very interesting young catcher to follow.  He has a very strong 6-foot, 195-pound body and is a very mature receiver with strong and sure hands, especially for his age.  Byrne also has a cannon for an arm and his raw arm strength might already be in the plus range on the professional scale.  Byrne also swung the bat well from the number three hole, going 2-for-4 with a double in a 7-1 Pirates win.

– David Rawnsley

On a rain-soaked and breezy Thursday in Southwest Florida, the 2016 WWBA Underclass World Championship got underway from several sites across the greater Fort Myers area.

Before the rains came, however, a few arms stood out over at the 5-Plex Player Development Complex. Jacob Denner (2019, N.J.), a lefthanded pitcher, got the win for the Indiana Prospects in their first game of the tournament, really showcasing his advanced pitchability skills over six strong frames, allowing only a single run on three hits and a walk, while striking out six. He creates deception in his delivery by landing purposefully closed, creating a crossfire look, and generates solid angle to both sides of the plate with advanced fastball command. He worked to both sides consistently, for the most part in the 79-82 mph range with his fastball, and the arm speed absolutely allows evaluators to project increases in velocity as he continues to add strength to his frame; while the aforementioned pitchability and command are beyond his years in terms of development.

A pitcher who undoubtedly generated a lot of buzz behind the plate among college coaches was lefthander Michael Prosecky (2019, Ill.). He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 184-pounds, but looks even taller than that, with broad shoulders and a highly projectable frame that should allow him to add significant strength to his build as he continues to mature. His delivery is extremely easy, with very good balance throughout and drive in his lower half, getting downhill with ease and consistently being on time with his arm at foot strike. He worked in the 80-83 MPH range with big velocity projection due to how his body projects and how easy his arm works. For the most part over his 45-pitch outing, he sat in the 80-83 mph velocity band, but it’s very easy to postulate that he could be an upper-80s (or higher) pitcher in the future, all with the delivery, arm action, and athleticism to potentially project above average command as well. He’s definitively a name to follow for the next few years.

After the rain washed away a significant amount of the afternoon and evening, games got back underway after dark and a few spots across the area. The US Elite Baseball 2018’s secured a Day 1 victory late on Thursday night at City of Palms Park, and there were no shortage of contributors.

Daniel Lloyd (2018, S.C.), a future South Carolina Gamecock, started on the mound for US Elite and was very good over his four frames. The righthander struck out four, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk, throwing 60 pitches. He possesses a very interesting delivery, one where he hunches forward over the rubber and lands closed-off, comes through crossfire as a result and throws from an extended low three-quarters arm slot, undoubtedly a very uncomfortable at bat for righthanded hitters. There’s some effort to his delivery and the arm stroke features a deep hook through the back, but he accelerates relatively cleanly and the deceleration is clean as well, and he has the torso flexibility necessary to get to both sides of the plate despite the amount of crossfire he employs. He worked 85-88 mph for the most part, with significant arm side life that is capable of getting weak contact down in the zone and missing bats up in the zone, and while the command is still raw, the control is solid, and he did a good job pounding the strike zone. His weapon pitch, one that looks like it could play right away out of the bullpen in the SEC, is the slider, a Frisbee pitch with sharp, two-plane break. It’s an extremely good pitch, especially to righthanded hitters, and he showed some feel for manipulating the break of the offering, with the ability to add and subtract depth and horizontal movement, something that should serve him well as he continues to develop the pitch as a weapon against both handedness of hitter.

In scoring eight runs, US Elite had several offensive contributors stand out. Justin Williams (2018, Pa.) stood out for the strength he possesses at the plate, with the strength necessary to hit the ball to the outfield even when he doesn’t barrel it up. He shows plenty of leverage out front at contact with the ability to drive the ball up the gaps, and he should only get stronger and add more and more power to his game as he continues to mature.

A Vanderbilt commit, Troy LaNeve (2019, Pa.) showed some seriously advanced hitability in the game Thursday night, with highly advanced barrel control to go along with a very smooth stroke and fast hands, creating very good bat speed into a swing that keeps the barrel in the zone for a long time. Those raw hitting tools and mechanics easily allow evaluators to project high-level hitting ability into the future, and the swing is lofted enough to where similar power projection is easy as well, especially as he continues to fill out his frame.

Mason Ronan (2018, Pa.) threw only one inning, undoubtedly for the sake of being saved to pitch again this weekend, but the future Michigan State Spartan was very good in that one inning. Allowing only one walk and striking out the side, Ronan worked with an advanced arsenal of stuff and feel. He sat 85-88 mph with his fastball, and showed the makings of a future dynamic curveball. He already spins it extremely well, thrown in the 70-72 mph range for the most part, with big 12-to-6 to 1-to-7 shape and big time depth, throwing it for a strike to both sides of the plate for a strike with ease. It’s a knee-buckling pitch, and looks like it could be a plus pitch in the Spartan rotation in the years to come.

– Brian Sakowski

With Hurricane Matthew looming on the East Coast of Florida, we got underway early in the afternoon at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Weather definitely played a factor in offensive performance as the winds seemed to howl from all directions and stifled offenses which left the door open for pitchers to make an impression.

Jack Baird (2018, Parker, Colo.) impressed on the mound and set the tone for a talented Slammers team. The uncommitted righthander and the sixth-ranked player in the state of Colorado has a tall frame with a lean, athletic build. He definitely has room to fill as he matures and the lineage to support that. He employs a high hand set, a quick and high leg lift and a long arm swing with tight arm action as it gains speed to a three-quarters release point. His two-seam fastball touched 88 mph and sat 86-87 consistently. Baird varied the pace to his delivery, which adds deception in his off-speed pitches and also maintains good arm speed and plane on both his slider and changeup. The slider is consistent and sharp at 79 mph and was an effective two-strike pitch. The changeup showed good depth and fade at 78 mph, keeping hitters off balance and causing swing and misses. Baird finished his outing with 3 2/3 innings pitched, giving up no runs and only one hit with four strikeouts.

Over at South Fort Myers High School, a pair of relievers faced off against one another making for an intriguing handful of innings. Caleb Larson (2018, Wheaton, Ill.), a righthanded pitcher, took the mound early in the game for Elite Baseball Training. Larson has a very similar makeup as the previously mentioned Baird and was equally impressive. The University of Illinois commit has a fluid delivery to the plate that starts with a high leg lift, a smooth stride and a long and loose arm action at a three-quarters release point. His easy effort level on his delivery allows him to repeat his mechanics and manage a solid three-pitch mix. He worked his four-seam fastball early in the count that ranged 86-87 mph before going to his curveball or changeup, showing an advanced feel for both pitches. The curveball falls in to the slurve category with 11-to-7 arc at 73 mph, a pitch comes up out of the hand slightly but is sharp enough to be effective at this point. Larson is easily athletic enough to command his plane, and the changeup was also impressive at 75 mph, repeating his fastball’s arm speed and getting good depth and fade. Like Baird, the pace of Larson’s delivery also adds more deception on his off-speed pitches. Larson finished with 3 1/3 innings pitched, allowing no earned runs on two base hits while fanning four batters.

Facing off against Larson and Elite Baseball was Stars Baseball Red righthanded reliever, Rojo Prarie (2018, Fairfax Station, Va.). With a medium height and strong athletic build, Prarie has an efficient delivery to the plate with short movements that work and put his body in a strong position to throw. He uses a short leg lift with internal rotation that coils the front side and puts the body in a torqued position. Keeping his back hip engaged allows Prarie to drive down the mound with a compact arm swing and  a three-quarters release point. With his easy effort he’s effective in the zone with his 86 mph four-seam fastball. He worked diligently to both sides of the plate generating swing and misses. He only threw one slider that spun out of the hand and was never in the zone. Prarie’s arm action is clean and repeatable enough, along with his athleticism, to compensate and develop a better feel for his secondary pitches. It was a strong two-inning outing, as he didn’t allow a run on one hit and he struck out five.

– Brandon Hohl

 Give us your feedback
Copyright 1994-2019 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.