Tournaments | Story | 10/10/2016

World Underclass Day 4 Notes

Matt Czechanski         David Rawnsley         Brandon Hohl        
Photo: Perfect Game

Daily Leaders | Day 1 Notes | Day 2 Notes | Day 3 Notes

Opening up the first round of the playoffs at JetBlue was Arizona commit, Matthew Liberatore (2018, Peoria, Ariz.) for the highly touted Central Florida Gators. Liberatore has prototypical starter’s build standing at 6-foot-4, 200-pounds with broad shoulders and long limbs. He has impressive current physicality and projects tremendously well moving forward. Liberatore showed a full arm action through the back and landed over a stiff front leg. He threw from a three-quarters arm slot and repeated it incredibly well with an easy release. He showed some long levers in his delivery throwing his glove hand up before tucking it through release. The Arizona commit showed a very easy arm action and a fastball to match that worked in the mid-80s and topped out at 89 mph. The pitched showed occasional life to different parts of the plate with good run up in the zone and occasional cut. His top secondary pitch was a big 1-to-7 shaped curveball with tremendous shape. He showed very good feel to spin and got the pitch over for strikes and helped aid in his eight strikeouts. He showed a changeup as well that he pulled off on at 81 mph with short sink.

Backing Liberatore up out of the bullpen was his teammate Carter Stewart (2018, Melbourne, Fla.). Stewart has a very lean, athletic build with a 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame with tremendous physical projection remaining. His arm works incredibly easily with a long, loose arm action that he repeats with ease. He starts with a medium leg raise, and short hip turn. He’s long levered, like his teammate, with a very projectable and efficient pitching action. His fastball came out easily with big riding life out of the hand jumping inside on the hands of hitters. It worked 89-91 mph with the aforementioned life and he held that velocity over his two-inning stint. What makes Stewart such an intriguing arm on the mound is his feel to spin. He’s known for dropping several 3000-plus RPM curveballs and showed no shortage of them on Sunday. The pitch showed big 11-to-5 shape with a hard, late snap that kept hitters guessing. He replicated his arm speed well and threw the pitch from the same slot. The curveball worked up to 75 mph and consistently sat in that range. He also snapped off a 79 mph slider that looked somewhat like an overthrown curveball, but had incredibly tight spin and two plane break. Stewart is one of the top uncommitted arms in the 2018 class and offers a tremendously high ceiling.

Opposing the Gators and helping shut down their normally potent offense was Steve Hajjar (2018, North Andover, Mass.) of Show Baseball New England. Hajjar was profiled in the notes of Day 1 of the tournament, and showed very similar traits on Sunday. He offers a durable pitcher’s build listed at 6-foot-4, 200-pounds with broad shoulders. His arm action showed long in the back with good deception at release. He threw relatively easily and filled up the zone, throwing over 72 percent of his pitches for strikes. His fastball worked in the mid-80s and topped out at 86 mph with heavy life. He did exceptionally well to generate swings and misses on his fastball, only showing his secondary pitches on rare occasions, while collecting a dozen strikeouts in his seven one-hit innings. He didn’t break out his hard slider that he showed on Thursday, but offered a curveball in the low-70s that he got over for strikes.

Providing a spark for the Royals Scout Team offensively was Arkansas commit Christian Franklin (2018, Overland Park, Kan.). Franklin has a lean, athletic build with a good bit of twitch in his overall actions. At the plate, he showed a very quick, linear swing with very impressive hand speed. His barrel worked quickly in the zone, occasionally getting off plane, but looking to put the ball in play to utilize his speed. His strides are shorter, but he has impressive foot speed down the line. He likely has more straightaway speed than his home to first times would indicate as he’s slightly slow out of the batter’s box. He moves very well once he gets going and it shows with his defense in centerfield. He has the ability to go and get the ball in the gap with efficient routes to the ball.

Taking over in relief for FTB was Florida commit Lyon Richardson (2018, Jensen Beach, Fla.). Richardson, like most of his teammates on FTB, have physical and projectable frames. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds with tremendous athleticism and projection remaining. He threw from a higher three-quarters arm slot with slight effort at release, but the athleticism he has allows him to repeat the delivery and throw strikes. He had a very quick, compact arm action with an exaggeratedly short stride to the plate. He landed closed and worked over his front side with slight recoil at release. He created tremendous plane with his fastball that worked 89-91 mph and hit 92 mph in his stint on the mound. He really did well to attack hitters in the lower third of the zone and garner a high number of swings and misses, over powering hitters with velocity. His curveball showed big depth at 73 mph with 12-to-6 shape. He did not show the pitch often, but it looked to have average spin with the ability to get it over for strikes. The velocity difference between that and his fastball was enough to create uncomfortable at-bats for opposing hitters. He struck out five batters in his three innings and allowed just one hit.

One of the most interesting players to take the field on Sunday was for CBC Elite, third baseman Devyn Munroe (2018, Nassau, Bahamas). Munroe was initially listed on his profile at 5-foot-11, but has filled out tremendously since that point. He now looks to be 6-foot-3, 190-pounds with tremendous physical upside with broad shoulders and long limbs. Munroe immediately stood out moving to the batter’s box in their first playoff game of the day and delivered a towering home run to left-center field. He uses an open stance and a very active hand-set away from his body and almost in front of his face. He generates very real bat speed at the plate and that is what in part makes him so intriguing. His swing is very raw in terms of replicating his plane, but his hands do get through with leverage when he gets timed up with torque through his lower half. There were not many opportunities to see him tested in game at third base, but his actions looked slightly stiff with a bend from the waist to field the ball. What he does possess is a very strong arm that he showed off between innings. Every throw was chest high on a rope with tremendous arm strength. To continue to add to the profile, in the third at-bat of the video above, he grounded out to second base and turned in a run time that would grade out as a 55 on the pro scouting scale. He’s a high level athlete and certainly turned heads and opened eyes with his performance this weekend.

After impressing earlier this weekend, Richmond Braves starting pitcher Daniel Ouderkirk (2018, Penn Laird, Va.). Ouderkirk made a very distinct impression when he took the mound standing at 6-foot-9, 215-pounds. His frame is very slender with nearly endless room to continue to fill out physically. His arms run nearly down to his knees and his delivery is tremendously easy. His arm action is very long and loose through the back and comes through with a three-quarters arm slot. He lands on a stiff front leg after starting closed with a slight hunch. He works across his body some with athletic actions off the mound for his size. His fastball worked in the mid-80s with limited effort and topped out at 87 mph with short arm side life. He generated a tremendous amount of ground balls and did a good job of keeping hitters uncomfortable in the batter’s box. The physical projection on its own makes him a very interesting prospect, but the arm action and fluidity helps further his case.

Marucci Elite advanced to the second round of the playoffs and leadoff hitter/spark plug Connor Feustle (2018, Reistertown, Md.) made several standout plays. He initially turned in a strong run time from the left side of the plate with a 4.18 dash down the first base line. The speed showed up again when he slashed a double down the left field line, rounding first base with ease. His swing is very short and more geared towards putting the ball in play and letting his speed become an impact factor in the game. He starts in the box with a tall, open stance and a high hand set with a quicker leg lift trigger. Feustle’s speed shows up in centerfield as well. On one play, he ranged very deep into centerfield close to the track to make a basket catch on the run to preserve the score. He gets good reads off the barrel with a strong first step to the ball.

Continuing the run of high-end athletes, third baseman and outfielder Troy LaNeve (2018, Gibsonia, Pa.) turned in one of the more impressive throws from the outfield I’ve seen in a PG event. On a ball hit to him in right field he charged cleanly with an absolute dart thrown on a rope to home plate in time to nail the runner. The throw ended the inning with the ball beating the runner to the bag by a good three feet. LaNeve offers high-end tools at the plate as well. He has tremendous raw bat speed with a mostly line drive swing plane. He starts open with a high hand-set and gets on plane early. He has trouble repeating that plane at times with developing timing. When he does connect though he shows the ability to barrel the ball and drive it to all parts of the field. It’s a collection of tools that will continue to improve as he adds strength to his frame.

A team that turned in two of the bigger upsets of the day was Show Baseball New England. They topped the ever talented Central Florida Gators and then the No. 3 seed Marucci Elite. Virginia Tech commit Dominic Keegan (2018, Methuen, Va.) turned in consistently loud barreled contact throughout their three games. He doubled in each of their playoff games and added in an additional three singles for good measure. He’s tremendously strong through the point of contact with the ability to drive the ball with a gap-to-gap approach. The catcher is built like one with big forearms and a compact lower half with a very physical overall frame. The bat-to-ball ability though is what’s intriguing. His line drive swing plane was consistent and with his strength offers power potential at the next level for the Hokies.

– Matt Czechanski

Playoff day at the WWBA Underclass World Championship dawned sunny and hot, so in other words the Fort Myers area had escaped the Hurricane Matthew effects and was back to typical southwest Florida weather.

Owen White (2018, N.C.) started on the mound for the South Charlotte Panthers in their consolation game, and while the raw velocity wasn’t at it’s typical peak (he just pitched a few days ago), he was still very impressive. With a compact arm stroke that generates above average arm speed, White gets up to a high three-quarters arm slot and generates very good downhill plane. He started the game out at 84-86 mph but then warmed up, sitting comfortably at 87-89 mph, touching 90, in the few innings after that. He ended up allowing one earned run over 4 1/3 innings pitched, with eight strikeouts and only two hits with zero walks. His curveball, a weapon pitch, is very sharp with excellent depth, and once he found his feel for it in the middle innings, he threw it with impressive conviction and got several swings and misses off of it. His body is ideally projectable and the arm speed is already impressive, making it easy to see why he’s ranked so highly in the class of 2018.

Davidjohn Herz (2019, N.C.) came on in relief of White and was very good in a short stint. He works with a delivery that features a significant spine tilt at foot strike, allowing his very long arm stroke to reach to a near over-the-top level, which helps to create a lot of plane to the plate in addition to good deception. He worked up to 86 mph with his fastball from the left side, and complemented it well with a good slider, thrown in the mid-70s with solid tilting shape and some sharpness. He showed the feel to pitch backwards and work to both sides of the plate, and while raw yet, he’s someone absolutely worth having on the radar at this point.

The SF Giants Scout Team-Christman ran through the competition on Sunday, marching their way into Monday morning’s quarterfinals with a 6-0 record. Keegan Fish (2018, Ohio) has done a lot of the catching for the Giants Scout Team thus far in the tournament, and absolutely looks to be an impact defender at the next level, where he’s committed to be an Ohio State Buckeye. He’s a good receiver with the strength and twitch necessary to be a very good blocking catcher to both sides, and his explosive lower half and quality arm strength, in combination with a lightning-quick transfer, make him an excellent throwing catcher as well. Sub 2.0-second pop times seem pretty easy for him, including a 1.94 on a throw down during Sunday morning’s game, and the approach at the plate is very good as well.

The No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2018 took the mound on Sunday morning when Kumar Rocker (2018, Ga.) took the mound for Team Elite 17’s. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said ad nasueam about Rocker. He’s extremely physical with outstanding strength and size, and his delivery/arm action have the same low effort level as 2016 No. 1 Jason Groome, just from the right side. He worked 90-92 mph early on, touching 93, showing significant downhill plane and angle from a very extended three-quarters arm slot, generating lots of natural sinking life and doing a good job filling up the zone, though his overall command was a bit loose within the zone. He threw three innings and 45 pitches, allowing no runs on a single hit and single walk, striking out four in the process. His breaking ball has made strides forward consistently in the past year, thrown in the low- to mid-70s with sharp downward break, and he flashed a changeup in the low-80s that consistently found the bottom of the zone and had no noticeable deceleration in arm speed, though the pitch was often a bit straight. It’s an extremely high-end profile, justified by his ranking.

Isaiah Byars (2018, Ga.) consistently shows as one of the preeminent defenders in the class of 2018, and there was no change to that on Sunday. He’s very well built, physically, with solid strength and excellent athleticism, which he uses to his advantage in the middle infield. The hand actions are very smooth and easy regardless of which position he’s playing, and the arm strength, while solid, is aided by the quickness of release, with zip and accuracy across the diamond. He projects extremely well as a shortstop to the next level, and Alabama is assuredly licking their chops to get him penciled into the 6-spot on an everyday basis once he gets to campus.

After a victory in the game that Rocker pitched, Team Elite advanced and sent MaKenzie Stills (2018, Ga.) to the mound. Stills showed the same electric arm speed he showed all summer, working up to 91 mph and settling in around 87-90 for the majority of his four innings, in which he allowed two runs on three hits and three walks, striking out two. He’s an extremely athletic and twitchy prospect, and that athleticism shows up in his delivery. While there is some effort, he’s able to repeat his delivery for the most part, driving extremely well to the plate. He flashed a very sharp, swing-and-miss slider with sharp tilt and deception due to no noticeable hump out of his hand, and while the secondary command wasn’t sharp, the pitch itself is a weapon.

Ethan Smith (2018, Ga.) is yet another Vanderbilt commit from the state of Georgia who plays on Team Elite, joining fellow pitchers Rocker and Stills, and he closed out the second Team Elite victory of the day on Saturday afternoon, pitching a scoreless final inning. His delivery is extremely deceptive, thanks to a Kershaw-esque pause after leg drop from his balance point, gathering himself in an unorthodox position but staying balanced and driving well to the plate. His fastball is very heavy at 86-89 mph, and it gets on hitters quickly.

FTB Tucci/Webgemz was finally the team to knock off Team Elite on the march to the championship, defeating them 4-3 later Saturday afternoon to advance to the quarterfinals. Raynel Delgado (2018, Fla.) looks to be an extremely high upside hitting prospect in the loaded 2018 class, and he does it from both sides of the plate. He’s got good size with athleticism and strength, and that strength has started to manifest itself into his offensive game, again, from both sides of the plate. The swing is very smooth with barrel-finding hand control, consistently driving the ball on a rising line to all fields from both sides of the plate. He’s got tremendous upside thanks to that bat-to-ball ability, and looks like an impact player at the next level.

– Brian Sakowski

Righthander Austin Becker (2018, Sunbury, Ohio) was one of the more impressive young pitchers on the summer circuit, leading to him being ranked 17th in the 2018 class rankings.  He is likely to move up from there based on his very impressive four-inning outing for the EvoShield Canes yesterday afternoon. The 6-foot-6, 185-pound Becker was 93-96 mph in the early going from an easy delivery and a high three-quarters arm slot that creates huge angle to the plate. And while his velocity settled down a bit after the first inning, not unexpected for a young pitcher at this time of the year, that fastball retained big life in the strike zone the entire outing. But Becker's best pitch wasn't his fastball. He flashed a plus curveball at 78-79 mph that had very tight spin and big depth to go with the angle he already has to his pitches. One scout watching dropped a Darryl Kile comp on Becker, which seemed like a very solid observation and not out of line.

Third baseman Nicholas Northcut (2018, Mason, Ohio) came in to get the save behind Becker, striking out the side in an impressive inning. Northcut has a big and burly power reliever's build and delivery and the stuff to go with it. He was up to 92 mph with his fastball and picked up a pair of his strikeouts with a power slider that dove out of the strike zone. Northcut can also swing the bat, as he drove in five runs with a double and a triple in Canes 7-4 win over Chicago Scouts Association later in the day.

While there is plenty of star power in the Canes lineup, the player that makes the team go is unquestionably shortstop Xavier Edwards (2018, Wellington, Fla.).  Edwards is only 5-foot-9, 145-pounds but he's been a standout on the travel ball circuit since he was in the eighth grade. While the switch-hitter has surprising bat speed from both sides of the plate and plus speed on the bases (he ran a 3.74 on a push bunt from the right side Saturday), his biggest impact is on defense, where he has outstanding range and hands. After Edwards made one brilliant play on a slow chopper over the mound, highlighted by an extremely quick release, a scout next to me remarked "a high school junior just cannot make that play, there are big leaguers who can't make that play."

First baseman Chase Sanguinetti (2018, Tampa, Fla.) is another Canes standout who has been playing at this level since he was in eighth grade. The lefthanded hitter is enjoying a strong tournament thus far, hitting .462 (6-for-13) with seven RBI. He reminds this scout strongly of Preston Palmeiro, the Orioles seventh-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2016 and the son of former big league slugger Rafael Palmeiro.

East Cobb Astros third baseman Kendall Simmons (2018, Macon, Ga.) is already ranked 11th in the 2018 class but he seems to be getting better in all areas of the game. He showed off his throwing arm, one of the best in the class, with a big league play deep behind third base in foul territory in one game but the biggest area of improvement is with his bat. Simmons has lightning quick hands at the plate and has the ability to wait on pitches and explode on them at the last second. He's hit a pair of doubles off the left-center field wall in at-bats I've observed this weekend, along with lofting a ball that just carrled foul down the left field line with easy home run distance that he didn't even impact cleanly. But just as impressively to this scout, Simmons looks like he really enjoys playing the game. He is set and ready in an advanced field position before every single pitch, he's a high-energy player on and off the field, he has a presence in the dugout and with his teammates and shows leadership ability. The physical tools are obvious, but the rest of the prospect package seems very advanced as well.

There's an old saying in baseball that every time you go to the ballpark you might see something that you've never seen before. That happened on Sunday. In fact, I shared the experience with a far more veteran friend who was working another field and he said it was new to him as well.

The situation was that a team had a runner at second base who attempted to steal third and did so successfully. The home plate umpire, though, immediately ran down the third base line, shouting "that is umpire's interference, I interfered with the catcher's throw, the runner has to go back to second, it is completely my fault." He then went to give the coach of the impacted team a quick explanation, which was immediately accepted without objection, and play resumed. Evidently what had happened was when the catcher drew back his arm to throw, his hand had run into the umpire's facemask.

Aside from the fact that I'd never seen an umpire call interference on himself, the impressive thing was how quickly the umpire owned the play and took charge of his mistake. I later related the story to Glenn Carnes, Perfect Games Director of Umpires, and he told me that the young umpire was one of the top graduates in the MLB umpire school last year, had completely skipped rookie league to start in the Appalachian League, a rarity in the umpire world, and was likely a fast track guy to a potential big league umpire's job.

– David Rawnsley

It was moving day on Sunday at the Underclass World Championship and all of the best talent was on display as the one and done playoff bracket began.

Lawrence Butler (2018, Atlanta, Ga.), a recent West Virginia commit for the Doubleday Dodgers, was the first player to grab some attention. The first basemen is a good looking athlete that has both size and strength with still more room to fill out physically. He showed range at first base on a nice backhand play to start a double play, throwing on the run and making a good feed. At the plate he has an upright stance with a loose, active barrel, a gather to his rear hip with a quick leg lift and his stride separated to a strong launch position. Overall he has impressive actions at the plate and a good feel for contact with a good barrel path and bat speed. He is also a well above average runner once on the bases. Butler has had four hits and five games, three of them doubles, with four runs scored.

Another uncommitted prospect from the Doubleday Dodgers is catcher Orlando Adams (2018, Atlanta, Ga.). Adams has a strong and athletic build and shows comfort and mobility behind the plate. He has a low set up in his crouch while his size and strength provide a good target with solid framing skills. Adams also showcases a strong and accurate arm with carry when throwing down to second base. At the plate he has a wide stance, high hands and back elbow, and the barrel is held at a 45-degree angle. Simple mechanics put him in a strong position to hit and drive the ball for power. He routinely makes solid contact and it is often put in play in the air. Orlando is having an impressive event hitting over .400 with a double, triple, home run and six RBI.

Rojo Prarie (2018, Fairfax Station, Va.) impressed again in the Stars Baseball 17u Red’s first game of the playoffs. He has medium height and a strong athletic build with an efficient delivery to the plate and short movements that work and put his body in a strong position to throw. He also uses a short leg lift with internal rotation that coils the front side and puts the body in a torqued position. Keeping the back hip engaged allows him to drive down the mound with a compact arm swing and a three-quarters release point. Prarie shows easy effort and is effective in the zone with his four-seam fastball at 89 mph. He worked diligently to both sides of the plate generating swing and misses. He showed that he was able to command his breaking ball, which was something he was not able to do in his first outing. The curveball was sharp with depth at 76 mph. Prarie finished his outing with three innings pitched, allowing one hit while striking out four.

A righthanded pitcher for the Banditos Elite, Ty Madden (2018, Cypress, Texas), came out strong immediately impressing with his velocity with a fastball touching 90 mph early and sitting 86-87 with occasional life and arm-side run. Madden mixed in a slider at 81 mph as well with tight, late break and more depth than sweep. He showed that he could maintain a higher velocity when he was able to take advantage of using his high leg lift rather than a slide step. After his high leg lift, Madden drives down the mound direct to the plate with a super quick arm. The arm action is clean and creates a good downhill plane from an over-the-top release point. Madden was able to pitch effectively in the zone with his fastball generating swing misses and elevating with two strikes. Madden finished with three innings pitched scattering four hits and four strikeouts.

Facing off against Madden and the Banditos Elite was Slammers Baseball lefthanded pitcher Brody McCord (2018, Parker, Colo.). McCord has a high leg lift and has a high separation to an easy delivery down the mound that is direct to the plate. His torso does rotate around his landing leg which allows him to work well to his glove side of the plate, hard in to righthanded hitters and hard away to the left. It looks like he may be trying to find a consistent separation point during his delivery. His fastball was a firm 84 mph but played faster and often resulted in swings and misses in the zone. McCord throws a changeup at 73 mph that is still developing some movement but he maintains good arm speed on the pitch. The best off-speed pitch is his nasty 1-to-7 curveball at 73 mph that is sharp with depth. He showed the ability to throw it as a get-me-over first pitch strike or a wipeout two-strike offering in the dirt.

Playing third base and hitting cleanup for Chain 16u Burress was the athletic and projectable, Rece Hinds (2019, Niceville, Fla.). The righthanded hitter stands tall at the plate and has simple mechanics. He starts his swing with a short shift to the rear leg, stride separates to a torqued landing position at heel strike and his barrel path works up to the ball with impressive bat speed. Listed as a shortstop, Hinds has the actions to stay there but played third base the entire first day of playoffs when we saw him. What was really impressive about him at an early age is his feel for depth at that position. Often times young players at third base will play shallow throughout the entirety of the game, but Hinds treats the corner like a shortstop. He often will change his depth depending on the situation and is confident to play deep and cover more ground. Hinds finished the tournament hitting .400 with three doubles and five RBI.

It’s hard to miss the heart of the order for FTB 55 Elite and we’ll start with shortstop and Florida State commit Nander De Sedas (2018, Montverde, Fla.). De Sedas has an athletic build with room to fill, loose actions at the plate and a fluid swing. He stands with the bat behind the ear, a gather to his rear leg, a high leg lift that coils the front side and he stride separates to a strong torqued position. He has good pitch recognition, balance throughout the swing and a good barrel path that works up to the ball. I saw him take a great swing on a triple to right field in his first at-bat of the second round of the playoffs. Nander has projectable gap-to-gap power with above average speed on the bases, and he plays a confident and comfortable shortstop as well making most plays look easy.

Jonathon Gates (2018, Brooksville, Fla.) is a Miami commit who showed good opposite field power from the left side and feel for contact at the plate. He stands in the box with the bat behind his ear, a high back elbow and his feet slightly open. Gates starts his swing with a gather to his rear hip, a toe-tap stride separation while exhibiting good bat speed and bat path. His lower half leads the swing and the load is elastic which creates good tension to a strong launch position, maintaining good posture and shoulder plane. Gates is currently hitting .467 with a triple and four RBI.

Finally, for FTB 55 Elite is Marcos Pujols (2018, Palm Bay, Fla.), an FIU commit. Marcus has a big and strong frame that projects him as a great target at first base. At the plate he has a tall, open stance, and a high, early leg lift coils the front side, putting the barrel in a strong launch position at heel strike. Pujols maintains his posture throughout the swing and has a steep bat path that works up to the ball putting his barrel in good position to match plane. Pujols has size that and strength that gives him a high power ceiling at the plate but he also shows a great feel for contact.

Facing off against FTB 55 Elite in the second day of playoffs and having an impressive top third of their lineup was Stars Baseball 17u. Leadoff hitter and uncommitted prospect Corey Rosier (2018, Waldorf, Md.) sets the tone for the Stars lineup. Corey has medium height and an athletic build. At the plate he has an open stance, with his back leg engaged, simple mechanics to strong launch, loose elastic tension during stride separation, good feel for contact and good bat speed. Corey has gamer qualities as he ran out an infield popup that dropped as he hustled his way to second base. He will show drag to keep the third basemen honest but also has gap-to-gap power as we saw him hit a triple to deep right-center field in the first round of the playoffs. He’s an above average runner and is currently Hitting .467 with seven runs scored.

Hitting second behind Rosier is Arizona commit Tyler Casagrande (2018, Leesburg, Va.). Like Rosier, Casagrande has another simple swing at the plate with a slightly open stance, loose hands with rhythm as his lower half leads the swing to a strong launch position and a stride separation with elastic tension and coil of the front side. He strides slightly open but maintains his torque by keeping the front shoulder on the ball. Casagrande is a good situational hitter with gap-to-gap power potential. He moved a runner over from second base in a five-inning layoff game with a forced groundball to the right side with two strikes. He routinely makes hard contact and runs well on the bases. Casagrande is currently hitting .357 for the tournament with three RBI and six runs scored.

Finally, Jose Rivera (2018, Largo, Md.), the third hitter for Stars Baseball 17u Red, has a strong and athletic build, a hinge stance with presence in the box and he runs well for his size. There is a lot of moving parts for rhythm in his stance which leads him to being on time consistently. He has an active barrel held over his head that he will tip perpendicular to his body with a gather to his rear hip with a leg lift that coils the front side, and his barrel tips to a strong launch generating good bat speed. He will spray the ball around the park with hard line drives the other way and is a great situational hitter, which will be play a huge part in Stars Baseball’s run through the playoffs. Rivera is currently hitting .400 with a double, two triples, eight RBI and five runs scored.

– Brandon Hohl

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