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Tournaments  | Story  | 10/21/2016

World Championship Day 1 Notes

Kevin Schuver      Matt Czechanski      Vincent Cervino      David Rawnsley     
Photo: Perfect Game

Daily Leaders | TrackMan Live

When one really sits down to think about it, it’s a little weird how some of the biggest events on the amateur baseball calendar aren’t known by their official names, but rather some kind of shortened nickname. The Area Code Games are often known as the AC’s or Long Beach, the Perfect Game National Showcase is known simply as the National. That’s just how it works.

However, there’s no event on the schedule that carries as much esteem in a single word as ‘Jupiter.’

On the first full day of the WWBA World Championship, or Jupiter, there were scores of standout performances from some of the very best amateur talent in the country across several classes. As was the case with many of the pitchers in particular, savvy coaches threw their aces for a shortened amount with the hopes of bringing them back in a few days for a deep playoff run.

Hunter Milam (2018, Ala.) is one of those cases, as the lefthander only threw one inning for the Braves Scout Team, but undoubtedly raised eyebrows, especially among college coaches still looking to lock in a lefty for their ’18 class. Milam worked 86-88 mph over his 10-pitch inning, getting several swings and misses on the heater, and based on the swings you’d think he was throwing 95. It’s a clean delivery with minimal effort, and while the arm stroke features some a bit of an axis-crossing stab through the back, it’s mostly clean and works well with quality arm speed. A complete evaluation will have to wait until he throws again — and ideally throws all of his pitches — but in a brief viewing the delivery, arm action, arm speed and deception all stand out for the young lefty.

Perfect Game All-American Drew Waters (2017, Ga.) had a very good day across two games, collecting three knocks (including a triple and a double), with the triple being 98 mph off the bat up the opposite field gap. Waters has always been lauded as an advanced hitter from both sides of the plate, and he has uncanny feel for the barrel with outstanding hands at the plate, capable of finding the barrel from both sides on pitches of any variety in seemingly any location, and his above average speed allows him to be an impact player both on the bases and in the outfield, as well.

Fellow Braves Scout Team member and fellow PG All-American Calvin Mitchell (2017, Calif.) also had a very good day, including a three-hit performance in the Braves’ victory over the Mountain West Slammers late on Thursday night. Mitchell is a very physical, lefthanded hitting outfielder who features big-time raw power from the left side and profiles well in a corner outfield spot (he played left field for the Braves Scout Team). It’s an exceedingly smooth stroke from the left side, complete with fast hands, above average bat speed and ideal plate coverage; capable of staying on the ball as long as possible and hitting line drives the opposite way when necessary. He’s also capable of turning on the ball and launching drives to the pull field, and as a result he’s one of the more complete hitters in the country, worthy of his lofty No. 14 overall ranking in the class of 2017.

BPA, another loaded club out of California who has been on quite a roll of success as a program in the last few years, moved to 1-0 in pool play via a 2-0 victory on Thursday. Jack Owen (2017, Calif.) was his usual self on Thursday, and by usual I mean that he was outstanding and continues to show that’s he’s one of the best pitchability prospects in the country. Despite not overpowering (he worked in the 83-85 mph range consistently) Owen has advanced command of his fastball and likes to pitch backwards. His changeup and curveball are both advanced, and he has the command and confidence necessary to throw either in any count at any time, really doing an outstanding job of keeping opposing hitters off balance.

Jayson Gonzalez (2017, Calif.) and Tyler Lasch (2017, Calif.) are two completely different hitters, but they pace the BPA attack and hit 3-4 in the BPA lineup for a reason. Gonzalez is an extremely physical, strong prospect with at least plus raw power from the right side, capable of driving the ball out of the ballpark to any field while Lasch might be the more “hitterish” of the two, a lefthanded hitter who can put his bat to the ball with linear authority to all fields, more than capable of spraying line drives to all fields and up both gaps. He’s also a very good defensive catcher, who will join Jack Owen at Mississippi State next season.

One of the headliners of Thursday from an MLB Draft perspective was Caleb Sloan (2017, Colo.), a righthanded pitcher who this evaluator has said might end up throwing the hardest at maturity of anyone in the class. He started late Thursday night for the Mountain West Slammers, and though his command got away from him from the second inning on, showed the type of arm speed to really intrigue, as he’s done all summer and fall. He held his 90-93 mph velocity pretty much for the entirety of his 54-pitch outing, showing steep plane to the plate with good extension and life on the pitch, making it extremely effective when located down in the zone. There’s undoubtedly some effort in his delivery and the arm action stabs a bit through the back, but he’s on time at foot strike with good direction and drive to the plate, giving him the mechanical tools necessary to consistently have solid command, which should only come with continued development. He’s shown the ability to spin a good slider in the past, but struggled to get a feel for it on this night, going primarily with the fastball for the most part.

Another prospect who elicited quite the gathering of scouts behind the dish was Jack Leftwich (2017, Fla.), another physical righthander who made quite a name for himself in the past six months on the draft trail. Known partly for his highly advanced changeup, he didn’t throw it at all during his abbreviated two-inning outing for the Twins Scout Team/Scorpions, who won over the Sandlot Scout Team by a 4-2 score. Leftwich reached as high as 94 mph on a few different scout guns, working in the 88-92 mph range for the most part throughout his outing. He flashed varying feel for his slider, generating solid tilt in the 77-78 mph velocity band, but overthrowing it at times and flattening the pitch out at 80-82 mph or so. Back in the spring, Leftwich showed exceedingly impressive extension, often measuring well over seven feet of extension per TrackMan, which allows his raw velocity to play up a couple ticks. The extension was inconsistent on Thursday night, however, which one can pretty easily connect to his inconsistencies commanding the fastball down in the strike zone. Having only thrown two innings, Leftwich will likely be eligible to be brought back later in the tournament if the Twins go on a run, so we’ll look forward to getting another look.

Opposing Leftwich and the Twins/Scorpions was the Sandlot Scout Team, who sent Zackery Matthews (2017, Okla.) to the mound. Matthews was very, very good for the most part, showing a delivery and arm action that successfully hides the ball from the hitters until release, and working a consistent 88-91 mph with heavy sinking life. He also showed a curveball that flashed as a good pitch, with good depth and downward action when he was on top of it in the upper-70s, though, as is often the case with young pitchers, he got to the side of it at times and fattened it up. He consistently threw strikes to the bottom of the zone with the aforementioned good raw stuff, and is certainly in line for a hefty jump in the class of 2017 rankings in the coming months.

Kaden Polcovich (2017, Okla.) continues to show as a high-level hitting prospect at PG events, and did so again on Thursday night. Though his box score shows 0-for-3, he roped the ball in his final at-bat, resulting in a lineout to right field. He continuously shows advanced hand speed with excellent leverage off his front side at contact, and very good strength into the swing. He’s capable of driving the ball all over the field, as we’ve seen him do so consistently. He’s only recently become uncommitted, and he’s likely a high-priority target for many big time schools across the nation.

Brady Smith (2017, Fla.) had one heck of a night for the Twins Scout Team/Scorpions, as the University of Florida pledge went 3-for-3 with a double, a shot down the left field line, and continues to develop behind the plate where he’s relatively new to the position. The bat, undoubtedly, is the calling card here. It’s a smooth righthanded stroke with lots of bat speed and near-ideal loft, creating positive launch angles with the strength and bat speed necessary to project quality power in the future. He can definitely hit, putting his barrel on pitches all over the zone with authority, impressing especially with the strength of his hands and the leverage he’s able to create, making him a definite high follow as we move towards the 2017 draft.

Bryce Bonnin (2017, Texas) was one of the more impressive arms who threw on Thursday from this evaluator’s perspective, working at a consistent 90-92 mph with a very fast arm, touching as high as 93 mph on the guns of a few scouts seated behind home plate. He struck out six over three innings, allowing only a single hit with no walks and throwing a mere 35 pitches. The arm action is, for the most part, extremely free and easy, accelerating easily out of a hook through the back but without much in the way of effort or violence. His fastball jumps out of his hand and projects in terms of velocity, featuring very good, bat-breaking arm-side life at times, a true weapon of a pitch. However, despite the fastball being a dominant offering, it was his slider that was really dynamic. Simply put, the slider disappears, easily showing above average on the scouting scale and flashing plus, with very tight spin and tilt that drops off the table at the last second. At it’s best — and to be fair, there were some inconsistencies with the pitch at times — there’s no hump out of the hand and it looks like a fastball until the last possible millisecond, at which time it disappears off the table down in the zone, generating lots of empty swings over the top of it. It’s a dynamic pitch when on.

A mere two weeks after sitting 92-95 and touching 96 mph at the WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers, Austin Becker (2018, Ohio) was a bit under the weather in terms of health, but gamely battled and delivered a victory for the EvoShield Canes as they work towards an unprecedented fourth straight WWBA World Championship. Becker worked a comfortable 88-91 mph over his three innings, allowing a few hits and a walk but keeping Iowa Select off the board. He’s an extremely projectable, long-levered pitcher with highly advanced arm speed and delivery directionality and intent. The curveball is a future plus pitch, with the shape, spin and action all necessary for future 60 grades, and it legitimately shows as a hammer at times, with very good depth and snap. He shows a changeup as well with good velocity differential and action, though he’ll slow the arm down a bit at times. It was a very gutsy performance from a prospect who was not feeling well physically, speaking well to an undoubtedly “gamer” mentality and makeup.

The Dirtbags and Team Indiana locked in a 1-1 tie in their opening pool play game on Thursday, a very hard-fought battle all the way through.

Jack Perkins (2018, Ind.) lost his command a bit in his second inning out of the bullpen, but in the first inning absolutely showed why he’s ranked very highly in the 2018 class. He worked up to 92 mph, settling in at 88-91 mph, generating good downhill plane from a high three-quarters arm slot, as well as some sinking life to the arm side. In his first inning, the command was on point to both sides of the plate, with an extremely easy arm action and delivery that is repeatable. The Louisville commit showed what has to be one of the better breaking balls in the class, a sharp downer slider with lots of depth and bite, generating several empty swings with the pitch. His command has already come a long way just in the past few months, and as I wrote just a few months back, he may have one of the highest velocity upsides in the entire class.

On the other side, highly-touted Dirtbags righthander Kyle Blendinger (2017, N.C.) came on in relief for a very quick, 16-pitch two-inning stint. The reason he was able to be so efficient was pretty obvious; he threw 81 percent strikes with a heavy sinking fastball, getting consistent quick outs at 86-90 mph on that sinker. He also mixed in a slurvy breaking ball in the mid-70s with good depth; a pitch that helped his fastball to play up that much more.

Several hitters from both sides stood out as well. Hyper-athletic and speedy Kier Meredith (2017, N.C.) hits leadoff for the Dirtbags and is an absolutely perfect fit in the leadoff spot, as he’s easily a plus-or-better runner with twitch out of the box from the left side, outstanding baserunning chops, a quick stroke that can produce liners all over the field, and an advanced approach—all definitely qualifiers for an outstanding leadoff hitter.

In the other dugout, Adisyn Coffey (2017, Ind.) stands out on both sides of the ball, with extremely athletic and smooth actions at the shortstop position with gracefulness and ease, moving well to both sides with body control and quality footwork. He’s equally smooth at the ball too, fielding cleanly with consistency and displaying above average arm strength across the diamond. He shows a good approach at the plate as well, able to work the count into his favor with an understanding of the strike zone and the ability to control the barrel on a line drive plane, spraying the ball on a line to all fields consistently in what is a very high-contact approach. He’s committed to Arizona State, continuing Head Coach Tracy Smith’s habit of recruiting the Midwest to the desert, and looks to be a future impact player there.

– Brian Sakowski

Cash Case (2017, Mount Dora, Fla.) was his normal athletic self while playing shortstop for Tri-State Arsenal Prime on Thursdsay. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound shortstop appears to have added more strength since the National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., in mid-June at JetBlue Ballpark. Case showed off his usual reliable hands at shortstop along with his compact, smooth barrel path while at the plate. The future Notre Dame infielder left the game early due to an injury – which appeared to be minor – sustained to his hand while attempting to steal second base.

Hugh Fisher (2017, Eads, Tenn.), a Vanderbilt commit, has the ability to run his 91 mph fastball to each edge of the plate with a loose, whip-like arm action from a three-quarters slot. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound lefthanded pitcher repeats his arm action and slot very well while working from the windup, but seemed to lose some command to the edges and that ability to repeat when working out of the stretch. Fisher’s changeup proved to be very effective when he was able to first establish his fastball in the zone. His upper-70s changeup flashed solid fading action that caused many hitters to be off balance and out on front of the pitch. The future Commodore’s lean frame and arm action projects for additional velocity with continued physical maturity.

Starting opposite of Fisher was the Central Florida Gators lefthanded pitcher Matthew Liberatore (2018, Peroria, Ariz.). The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Arizona Wildcat commit hid the baseball very well prior to accelerating his arm through its finish. The lefthanders fastball ranged between 87-89 mph with very heavy actions to the plate. Liberatore flashed a curveball with 12-to-6 downer shape with very late bite when located down in the strike zone. He has the potential to be a game-changing pitcher when he is able to establish his fastball early in the count. Lineratore finished his 3 2/3 innings pitched allowing no runs on one hit while striking out six Dulin Dodgers.

Mason Denaburg (2018, Merritt Island, Fla.) closed out the game for the Central Flordia Gators. Denaburg is a primary catcher who is committed to the University of Florida but flashed his two-way value against the Dulin Dodgers. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Denaburg consistently pounded the strike zone with a running fastball that topped at 91 mph. Probably most impressive was his ability to mix a mid-70s slider at any time in the count. Denaburg made quick work of his one inning, tossing only 11 pitches while striking out two batters.

The Florida Burn Platinum recievied outstanding pitching throughout their 8-0 victory over EC Grays Scout Team. Bradford Jones (2017, Osprey, Fla.) and Colton Gordon-Zimring (2017, St. Pete Beach, Fla.) finished the last three innings. Jones, an uncommitted righthanded pitcher, showed very good arm whip from a high energy three-quarters arm slot. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder utilizes his lower half well while driving to the plate that allowed his fastball to sit at 88-91 mph throughout his two innings of work. Jones showed a curveball with 10-to-5 shape with good depth, but his changeup seemed to be his weapon pitch. The righthander repeats his arm action very well while delivering the changeup that was very deceptive for both right and lefthanded hitters to pick up.

Gordon-Zimiring did exactly what you want a pitcher to do in the late innings with a lead: throw strikes. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound lefthanded pitcher delivered a 70 percent strike rate in his one inning of work. The future Florida Gator releases from a three-quarters slot that generates very good downhill angle to the plate from 87-89 mph. Gordon-Zimiring’s frame creates a very intimidating presence for opposing hitters, and as the lefthander continues to add strength and improves his velocity, he undoubtedly will be a force to be reckoned with while pitching for the Florida Gators.

Astros Scout Team leadoff hitter Jeter Downs (2017, Miami, Fla.) showed that he is a constant threat due to his speed on the bases and hitting ability at the plate. The 6-foot, 180-pound shortstop may look like a typical leadoff hitter, but Downs can definitely drive the baseball to the outfield gaps with intent. The Miami commit has a dangerous mix of speed and power that can change the outcome of a game at any time.

Mark Vientos (2017, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Gabriel Rodriguez (2017, Toa Alta, Puerto Rico) drove in three of the Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime’s four runs against the Chicago Scouts Association. Vientos flashed his raw power and bat speed in the first inning as he drove a line drive single to right-center field that left the bat at 98 mph. Vientos, a University of Miami commit, stays behind contact well that allows him to drive the baseball to all fields with power. Gabriel Rodriguez collected his two RBI with a bases-loaded, full count double down the third base line in the first inning. Rodriguez has tremendous barrel skills that allows for him to foul off tough pitches and take pitchers deep into counts.

Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime starting righthanded pitcher Cole Winn (2018, Longmont, Colo.) received the win. Winn was dominant in his three innings of work allowing zero hits while walking one and striking out eight batters. The Notre Dame commit has a very loose, easy arm action that produced consistent running action on a fastball that sat 89-92 mph. Although Winn set the tone with his heavy fastball, his curveball opened eyes of many patrons watching the game. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound righthanded pitcher delivered sharp, late-breaking balls that consistently produced 2,600 RPM. Winn’s mechanics, arm speed and projectable size make him a very intriguing 2018 graduate to follow very closely.

Christian Santana (2017, Hialeah, Fla.) finished the last two innings for the Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime. The Florida International commit attracted a lot of attention with his running fastball that reached 94 mph. Santana generates a lot of his arm speed by utilizing and driving off his lower half. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound righthanded pitcher relied on his fastball early before showcasing his off-speed pitches. Santana flashed a curveball with 12-to-5 shape that bolstered 2,300 RPM consistently. His most effective pitch was a low-80s changeup that had late, sinking action from a very deceptive arm action that matched the fastball offering. Santana consistently mixed all three pitches throughout his two innings of work, leading to three strikeouts.

Illinois commit Ryan Kutt (2017, Orland Park, Ill.) received one inning of work against the Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad Prime for the Chicago Scouts Association. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthanded pitcher only needed 10 pitches to strike out three batters and complete his only inning of work on Thursday evening. Kutt’s fastball ranged between 89-91 mph with hard, heavy downhill angle to the plate. His primarily off-speed pitch is a split-finger fastball with late, sharp diving action that primarily sits between 82-84 mph. If Kutt can continue to improve his command of the lower third of the zone he will be a very commonly heard name among teams in the Big Ten.

– Kevin Schuver

In what was an incredibly impressive first day of action at the WWBA World Championship, several high power armed stood out as we entered pool play and teams played their consolation games.

Opening up in their consolation game, the Canes sent out TCU commit Austin Mihlbauer (2017, Mukwonago, Wis.). Mihlbauer stood with a medium, lean build with room to continue to fill out his athletic frame. He pitched with a full arm action and lower effort at release, His fastball worked in the upper-80s and topped out at 88 mph with some deception given his crossfire throwing action. His arm worked very clean through the back and came through with an extended three-quarters arm slot. He worked over his front side as noted with average extension down the mound. His fastball showed good life and worked effectively around the zone in his two innings. He generated a good bit of swings and misses with a sharp curveball that showed varying shape between 2-to-8 and 1-to-7. He had trouble staying on top of the pitch, but consistently showed good spin and the ability to keep the ball low and out of the zone. He struck out five of the seven batters he faced.

Backing up Mihlbauer out of the bullpen was the highly touted Jordon Adell (2017, Louisville, Ky.). Adell has a tremendously physical frame with large, broad shoulders and plus athleticism. His arm action works long and clean through the back with a bigger arm circle. He threw from a high three-quarters, to over-the-top arm slot and repeated it well on the mound. Adell landed online with tremendous extension through the ball, attacking hitters around the zone. His fastball worked 92-94 mph in his lone inning on the bump with big arm side life up in the zone, riding up. He also showed the ability to cut the ball as well when getting glove side. He did in the video above on a pitch that was a tick over 94 mph per TrackMan with hard cut away from a righthanded hitter. Adell has tremendous feel to spin with his hand speed and showed with a hard, vertical breaking slider that worked up to 83 mph with tremendous shape and spin. The pitch was short breaking and hard out of the hand when kept low. It offers him a legitimate swing and miss weapon. Adell also flashed a changeup at 84 mph with good arm side fade as he turned the pitch over for a swinging strikeout. In his only inning he recorded all of his outs via strikeout and the hits given up were weak off the barrel and found no-man’s land.

And finally, Virginia commit Hunter Perdue (2017, Chesapeake, Va.) came in to finish off the game for the Canes. The well-built and physically projectable Perdue worked a fastball that bumped up to 90 mph and sat comfortably in the upper-80s. He began his delivery generating a good bit of deception with a leg kick that appeared to be circuitous, swinging in a circle well past his belt before driving down the mound. He created good angle on his fastball and worked the lower third of the zone. He showed a longer arm action with full action through the back and came through with a three-quarters arm slot. He pitched with extreme crossfire down the mound, making it an uncomfortable at-bat for righthanded hitters. Perdue showed a changeup with good fade out of the hand at 81 with depth, making for a quality secondary. He also showed a bigger curveball in the low-70s that worked over for strikes.

Taking the ball for NEB to open up their round of pool play was Tennessee commit Chase Wallace (2017, Seiverville, Tenn.). Wallace stands with a lean, athletic build listed at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds. He threw from a high three-quarters slot with a very quick, compact arm action. He generated good extension through the ball though landing closed and working over his front side at landing. His fastball consistently worked in the upper-80s on the mound and topped out at 90 mph several times in the first inning. He generated good arm side run to the pitch and the pitched looked to be most effective to the lower portion of the zone. He showed a pair of breaking balls on the mound, using the 12-to-6 curveball first. The pitch showed good depth in the low- to mid-70s with tight spin. He also mixed in a harder slider up to 80 mph with downward 11-to-5 shape. The pitch showed good spin and he showed the ability to throw it for strikes. Command came and went on the mound for Wallace as he flashed getting to both sides and then would lose his release point. There is effort at release which is concerning for command, but he does have athleticism to maintain the delivery.

Continuing the trend of strong-armed pitchers was Caden Lemons (Birmingham, Ala.). The projectable Ole Miss commit is listed at 6-foot-6, 175-pounds with a very lean, slender frame and lots of room to continue to fill out. Lemons used a longer arm action that worked back into a stab with a longer arm swing. He threw from a three-quarters arm slot with good arm speed through his delivery. His fastball worked in the upper-80s and topped out at 91 mph before running into trouble later in the game. He had trouble locating the pitch and often left it up in the zone. His fastball showed short arm side life and good sink to the lower third. He flashed the ability to spot up and get to both sides and was needless to say more effective there. He showed a changeup at 81 mph with fade and also mixed in a curveball at 77 mph with 11-to-5 shape. The pitch was thrown with replicated arm speed with above average spin. Staying through the ball and keeping it low and out of the zone would help best actualize his potential.

USF commit Brady Allen (2018, Lakeland, Fla.) was one of those players taking advantage of mistakes on a strong FTB Mizuno team with consistent loud contact. Allen has a very mature, filled out 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame with good strength throughout. His swing works clean to the ball with a impressive lower half incorporation and drive off the barrel. He tripled in his first at-bat that was 92 mph off the barrel and then he lined out later in the game. It’s a leveraged swing out in front that works fairly fluid to the ball. There’s more power potential in there with the strength he possesses and the barrel control through the zone.

In one of the more compelling matchups of the day, a pair of loaded rosters in Chain National and the Toronto Blue Jays Scout team faced off. Chain sent out A.J. Labas (2017, Middleburg, Fla.) to the bump. The physically built Labas has an extra-large frame with long limbs and broad shoulders. He showed big arm strength from a longer, rigid arm action through the back. Hs flastball worked up to 90 mph and he held that velocity well in just under six shutout innings. He showed impressive feel for his changeup up to 81 mph that showed good fade and deception from the same arm slot. He worked in a pair of breaking balls as well with a slider up to 79 mph with 10-to-4 shape and a firmer curveball at 75 mph. He landed online down the mound with a drop and drive element in his delivery. Labas certainly did his part to keep Chain in the game.

Helping combat that for the Blue Jays was Luis Campusano (2017, Augusta, Ga.). Campusano showed similar advanced catch-and-throw skills from behind the plate with a strong arm that turned in consistent pop times around 2.00 in warmups. The transfer is clean with a longer takeaway, but he is incredibly accurate to the bag. He moves well behind the plate and receives clean, making a comforting target for his pitching staff. He showed off his arm strength as well in game, with an emphasis on controlling the running game he looked to back-pick whenever possible making snap throws behind runners.

Opening the game for the Blue Jays was Jerryell Rivera Gonzalez (2017, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico). Rivera Gonzalez is listed at a very projectable 6-foot-4, 205-pounds with very long limbs and lots of room to continue to fill out. He’ll continue to add strength through and build up durability. He did not wow the collection of scouts behind the plate with velocity like his teammate who followed him, but what he did was show impressive command to both sides of the plate with good sink to his fastball. He pitched with good tempo and a longer arm action through the back with slight wrist wrap. He landed open with good acceleration of his arm speed. His fastball worked in the mid-80s mostly and topped out at 88 mph. He generated a tremendous amount of swings and misses (13) with most of those coming on his sinker that ran low and out of the zone. Hitters were chasing the pitch as he set them up with a 1-to-7 shaped curveball that showed good depth, but slowed arm speed. You could pick the pitch up out of the hand, but he still showed the raw ability to spin the ball. In his four shutout innings he struck out nine batters.

What had scouts buzzing all morning was the talk of Wilberto Rivera (2017, Naranjito, Puerto Rico) taking the mound. Rivera did not disappoint. He pitched with a longer arm action that was slightly rigid through the back and came through an extended three-quarters arm slot. He’s a very raw product on the mound as he showed varying levels of extension through the ball and lower half drive. His lower half drifted at times because of how fast his arm was and caused his command to be spotty. His arm works incredibly quickly through release with good hand speed. His fastball sat 93-96 mph and bumped a 97 mph with good arm side wiggle. He worked very slightly across his body with good directionality towards the plate. His curveball showed bigger, sweeping depth from the lower slot at 76 mph. There was a bigger falloff towards first base, but the delivery was not filled with much effort. The effort that was there was controlled and he repeated his arm slot well with a similar fall off. The FIU commit will have to bypass next June’s draft to get there, but as he refines his consistency in his lower half drive and curveball he is definitely one to watch for this spring.

Elijah Cabell (2018, Winter Park, Fla.) and Nolan Gorman (2018, Glendale, Ariz.) were their usual selves for the Central Florida Gators as both players turned in quality offensive performances. Gorman might have the highest offensive potential in the class with the ability to consistently find the barrel and do so with above average strength and lift. The ball comes off effortlessly with a very clean hand path leading into a positive launch angle. To open up the first inning, Gorman waited back on a curveball and and turned it around at 96 mph for an RBI double. He showed impressive contact later in the game as well with a deep fly ball out to the warning track in the seventh inning.

Cabell turned in an average day by his standards with a pair of base hits. The timing for Cabell is still a bit raw, but every hitting tool is present. He’s showed plus raw power in past events, but showcased the ability to go the other way with loud impact and extension. He creates easy leverage with big time strength through the point of contact and drive ability to all fields. His lower half doesn’t always fire on time, but he uses it well and can clean that up with experience and repetition.

One of the better fielding players in the 2017 class is that of Matthew Golda (2017, Bradenton, Fla.). Golda is immensely gifted up the middle with an easy transfer and release of the ball. It comes out clean with good carry out of the hand with rising throws right to the first basemen’s chest. His actions through the ball are incredibly fluid with sure hands and footwork. He made several plays in his game where you take the time to appreciate the skillset. He makes the game look very easy on the defensive side and will always have a baseball future because of it. The FAU commit has potential with the bat as well. He will lose plane at times, but when on, he will work gap-to-gap with doubles strength.

Helping round out the night’s action was GBG Marucci and their starting shortstop Kevin Kendall (2017, La Marida, Calif.). Kendall made a big impact on the game with his glove early on with smooth defensive actions and footwork. He moves very well to the ball with a high-energy first step. He has a very strong arm to boot with accuracy on the move and the ability to remain on the left side at the next level. Offensively, he started with a quicker leg lift timing mechanism into his swing and a shorter, compact hand path to the ball. He has very quick hand speed (and subsequent bat speed) and flicked a double to the left-center field wall, just beyond the reach of the outstretched glove of the centerfielder. The UCLA commit showed highly athletic overall actions throughout the late evening’s game.

The starting pitcher for Kendall’s GBG squad was a bit of an unknown commodity in Gabriel Ponce (2017, San Luis, Ariz.). Ponce looked the part on the mound with broad shoulders and present physicality in his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame. He worked from a three-quarters arm slot and varied his leg drive consistently. He kept hitters off balance with a fastball that worked in the mid-80s early on in innings and slowly ticking up to a 89-92 mph range by the end of the first three innings. Ponce used a full arm action through the back with a soft hook and landed open on the mound – which was a concern – but did fill up the zone. His fastball showed good arm-side life and was very aggressive with it up in the zone challenging hitters to chase the pitch, and they obliged. He showed a sharp slider with good 11-to-5 shape on the mound up to 81 mph. He replicated his arm speed for the pitch with hard downer life. He also mixed in a changeup at 82 mph, but both the change and the slider were used sparingly. He worked almost exclusively off of his fastball and did so effectively firing four no-hit innings with seven strikeouts.

– Matt Czechanski

The WWBA World Championship started with some exhibition matches to get the juices flowing and catcher Josh Spiegel (2018, Jeannette, Pa.) of US Elite showed some promise behind the plate. Spiegel has a solid build at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds with a very physical frame. He was recorded at a 2.08 second pop time behind the plate during warmups and showed athletic actions. The Oklahoma State commit blocked well and had quick reactions as well. Offensively he had a longer swing path with some bat speed and a fly ball approach. There is power in his swing and with his slight weight transfer he is able to drive forward into his swing. He didn’t square up many (fair) balls in the morning but he showed solid tools and had a 6.0-second hang time on a fly ball.

Tri-State Arsenal Prime kicked off the first time slot of pool play and sent up two 90-plus righthanders in Noah Skirrow (2017, Stoney Creek, Ontario) and Sam Fuller (2017, Smyrna, Ga.). Skirrow has a larger frame with some height at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds. The Liberty commit has a longer arm circle that was pretty rigid throughout the delivery. From the three-quarters slot he has a slight crossfire element to his landing and flashed some command on the arm side of the pate. Skirrow attacked with his fastball that sat in the upper-80s, topped out at 91 mph, early on. He missed with the pitch at times when he would overthrow and pull it off to the glove side, but used the pitch to get ahead and to get out of jams. Skirrow showed a curveball in the mid-70s with some depth and showed a feel to spin it. The curveball had a traditional 12-to-6 shape but he was able to spin it tighter at times for a more slider-like break with two strikes.

Fuller has a bit of a smaller build for a pitcher, at 6-foot and 175-pounds, but was still able to get his velocity up in the upper-80s. The West Virginia commit had quick arm action with some fast arm speed. He throws with intent resulting in a head wag at his release and has a small leg lift with a crossfire landing. Fuller was able to get downhill and his fastball showed some arm-side wiggle throughout his afternoon. The pitch sat from 87-89 mph and consistently was 90-91 mph in his first inning of work. The velocity dropped consistently as he wore on, and even did when he first got to the stretch, and if he adds size to his frame he should be able to maintain his velocity more consistently. Fuller showed a tight slider in the low-80s that had some late, sharp break to it. He worked well on the glove side but was missing up as there were times when his arm was not in sync with his lower half.

One of the top ranked players of the 2018 class is catcher Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ontario) and he continued to impress in the opening games at Jupiter. Naylor is a very physical player, listed at 6-foot and 180-pounds, and his athleticism helps his style of play. The recent Texas A&M commit has strong defensive traits behind the plate. Naylor is a very good receiver and is able to receive the ball cleanly without an overt shift in position. He was clocked at an impressive 2.15 pop time in-game where he threw out a runner at second base by a couple of feet. Naylor’s strong arm was on display throughout the afternoon as he became a neutralizing force to the running game. He blocked extremely well and was able to react to breaking pitches in the dirt well. Naylor stands with a slightly open stance with a high hand set and high back elbow. He has a strong power profile thanks to his raw strength and hip drive in his swing. Naylor’s bat speed completes the package and Naylor continued to show off a strong skill-set at Perfect Game events.

Lefthander Justin Wrobleski (2018, Canton, Ga.) continues to impress at Perfect Game events and his 2016 trip to Jupiter would prove to be no exception. The southpaw was extremely impressive during his outing and was almost unhittable as he was in peak form. Wrobleski is listed at 6-foot-2 and 172-pounds with a very lean and slender frame leaving scouts envisioning a bright future once he matures physically. The Clemson commit has a long, slightly looser arm action that was full through the back and threw from a three-quarters arm slot. He commanded his fastball extremely well on both sides of the plate and filled the lower third of the strike zone. The pitch sat from 89-91 mph early on with late arm-side run. Wrobleski was rolling early on and induced a lot of groundouts and strikeouts to keep hitters at bay. He mixed in a breaking pitch in the upper-70s that he was able to throw for strikes and get swings and misses with. Wrobleski’s impressive outings have become par for the course and Thursday’s start was yet another achievement on an already strong resume.

Wrobleski was relieved by his teammate, righthander Ethan Smith (2018, Mount Juliet, Tenn.), and the Vanderbilt commit came out of the bullpen firing bullets. Standing at a tall 6-foot-3 and having a very lean frame, Smith projects very well and could be throwing in the mid-90s before long. Smith has a fuller arm action that extends through the back and his delivery has some violence to it. His windup can mess with hitters’ timing as his leg lift is a bit exaggerated and there is a slight pause before he fires toward the plate. Smith had a bit of imbalance to his delivery as his back shoulder would drop down with his body causing him to be a bit inconsistent in getting downhill. However, when he would get downhill his fastball would be tough to hit as it has some tail down and towards the arm side. The fastball sat from 88-90 mph on the afternoon and topped out at 92. He used the pitch to get out of most tough situations and would attack hitters with it in any count. Smith didn’t show a curveball often but the one or two he threw came in the low-70s.

The Indians Scout team had a pair of relievers who came into the game in the low-90s. Righthander Matthew Samuel Peguero Ortega (2018, Santiago, Domican Republic and lefthander Dustin Saenz (2017, Corpus Christi, Texas) both came into the game late and were able to bump up the velocity. Ortega has a very large and physical frame, listed at 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, and he has a strong presence on the mound. He breaks from his set with both arms extended and fires down into the strike zone. Ortega’s arm is very quick, but somewhat raw and unpolished. He gets some extension but Ortega’s biggest problem lies with his inconsistent release. His lower and upper halves aren’t in sync and at times Ortega’s arm will fall behind and his command will be disrupted. He struggled with his command on Thursday afternoon as he had a few walks and got himself into trouble. That said Ortega was able to get out of those jams with his fastball. The pitch had some explosiveness to it and sat from 87-89 mph on the day touching 90 a few times. If he can find some consistency he has the arm speed to be a power pitcher.

Saenz has a bit of a smaller frame for a pitcher, especially compared to the physically matured Ortega, but he uses the most of his frame to get his velocity up. The Texas A&M commit throws from a higher three-quarters arm slot with a quick arm action. He has a longer arm action that has some looseness to it and his release borders on being over the top. When he is able to bear down on hitters and get on top of his fastball the pitch can be devastating. The pitch didn’t show much movement but its angle of entry into the strike zone was able to generate weak contact. He would throw the fastball early in counts and set up his curveball in the mid- to upper-70s. The pitch was a strong two-strike pitch and had 12-to-6 shape with some depth to it.

One of the top-ranked arms in the 2018 class is righthander Ethan Hankins (Cumming, Ga.) and he showed again on Thursday afternoon why he is ranked No. 9 overall in the class. Hankins is a super projectable 6-foot-6 and 200-pounds and is a pitching coach’s dream of a prospect. His delivery is remarkable, simple and easily repeatable. Accompanied by a turn and leg swing, Hankins fires home with a very smooth arm action with plus arm speed. The Vanderbilt commit is very fun to watch and his delivery is so easy that it almost makes you feel like he is holding something back. Hankins’ fastball sat at 90-92 mph with some heaviness, topping out at 93 mph, and practically lived in the lower third of the strike zone. Hankins flashed plus with his other two pitches, an 81 mph changeup with fade and a 73 mph breaking ball with 10-to-4 shape and sweeping action. Hankins continues to improve every time out with how he mixes his pitches and which pitches he decides to attack hitters with.

Hankins’ teammate and Perfect Game All-American Steven Williams (2017, Albany, Ga.) launched a home run to deep right field during the same game. Williams continues to be an offensive powerhouse from the left side with a quick bat and power profile. The Auburn commit is very good at driving baseballs whether it means roping a liner into the opposite field gap with backspin or crushing a home run to the pull side. He started in right field on Thursday and his strong arm profiles well at the position.

An intriguing two-way talent to star in Thursday’s action was righthander Angel Tiburcio (2018, Wellington, Fla.) The Florida International commit has an intense physical presence on the mound at 6-foot-3 and 220-pounds, and the radar guns back up his presence. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot with a shorter arm action and compact arm circle. Tiburcio has an intense delivery with a quick leg lift and generally lands online. He struggled with command issues with his fastball early on in the game but was able to settle into a nice groove in the middle innings. Tiburcio’s fastball sat at 87-89 mph on the day and topped out at 91. The pitch had some arm-side life to it but he was inconsistent in commanding it during his outing. At the plate Tiburcio projects as a middle-of-the-order bat. With his strong physical frame and quick bat he is able to generate lift and power in his swing. Tiburcio looks to be a valuable contributor both at the plate and on the mound in the years to come.

The late slot on Thursday was headed by a deadlocked 0-0 tie between Miami PG Columbia Blue and the Mets Scout Team. Both teams had some talented players, and although no one scored, the game was heavily contested throughout.

Starting on the mound for the Mets Scout Team was righthander Bryar Johnson (2017, Myrtle Beach, S.C.). Johnson has a prototypical pitcher’s build at 6-foot-3 and 200-pounds with some athleticism to the frame. He has a compact arm action with an easy release and swinging leg lift. Johnson showed an advanced feel for pitching and was able to mix up his strategy to get outs. For example, after a five-pitch walk to a batter (all fastballs) Johnson showed the awareness to get away from the pitch he was struggling with. The next three pitches were filthy 12-to-6 curveballs that buckled the batter and sent him down on strikes. The fastball was consistently 90-plus mph in the first and showed some occasional cutting life. The aforementioned curveball was clocked in the mid-70s with some depth to it as well. He showed a feel to spin the curveball and was able to change up the grip on the pitch to give it slider-like movement as well. The Coastal Carolina commit showed strong stuff and good pitchabiity and polish during his outing.

Coming into the game late for Miami PG Columbia Blue was righthander Chauncey Nunez (2017, Miami, Fla.). Nunez had a very young look to him with a smaller frame of 5-foot-10, 185-pounds, although he looked to be skinnier than his listed weight. The Miami product had a very quick arm action from a high three-quarters slot with some good arm speed. Nunez had a heavy, explosive fastball that came in at 90-92 mph, and the curveball came in at 80-82 mph some decent break. Nunez gets the most out of his frame with some solid lower half drive and decent extension as well. He ran into some trouble on Thursday night as he struggled to command his fastball within the strike zone and struggled to find a consistent release point. When he would miss it wouldn’t be horizontally but he would miss either up or down. Although he struggled with some control issues, Nunez showed the ability to persevere and remain confident in his pitches. In a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the sixth, Nunez was able to buckle down and strike out the next two batters and force a weak groundout to preserve the tie. Nunez has a raw arm with a smaller frame, but showed an innate ability to pitch and his stuff looked downright filthy at times.

Nunez’ teammate, shortstop Lency Delgado (2018, Miami, Fla.), showed some good skills both offensively and defensively during the game. Delgado has an advanced frame for his age at 6-foot-3 and 180-pounds. The Alabama State commit is a great athlete and made a number of smooth plays in the infield. He has good footwork at shortstop and made a number of rangy plays including a nice play in the 5-6 hole to preserve the scoreless tie. Delgado was able to throw out runners with his strong arm and it looked relatively easy while doing so. At the plate he has a line drive swing plane with a high hand set and high back elbow.

– Vincent Cervino

This scout wrote earlier in the week that AZ T-Rex Rawlings should be considered one of the favorites for the 2016 WWBA World Championship title. They did nothing on Thursday to discourage that line of thought, thumping the Reds Midwest Scout Team 10-1 and impressing in all areas of the game.

T-Rex has proven time and time again this summer and fall that they are going to swing the bats up and down their lineup. Shortstop Andrew Swift (2017, Chandler, Ariz.), hitting in the nine hole, went 3-for-3 with four RBI and took advantage of a healthy wind blowing out to right field to chase the Reds outfielders with a double and a triple. Swift, an Arizona State commit, has a well defined inside hand path that emphasizes opposite field contact but obviously showed bat speed and the ability to drive the ball hard in that direction.

Third baseman Jacob Gonzalez (2017, Scottsdale, Ariz.), who hasn't stopped hitting since July it seems, also had a double and triple, the triple being a cloud-scraping 400-foot shot to straightaway center field.  Outfielder Blake Paugh went 3-for-3 with three RBI as well.

Swift also highlighted the defensive effort, making an extremely smooth backhand play in the hole and feed to second base for a force out.  Catcher Austin Wells (2018, Henderson, Nev.) hosed a runner at second base from his knees with a perfect throw that seemed to surprise everyone, especially the runner.

Righthander Boyd Vander Kooi (2017, Mesa, Ariz.) had easily the best outing of the perhaps dozen times this scout has seen him over the past three years.  The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Oregon commit threw three easy innings, working between 88 and 92 on his fastball with outstanding late sinking action at times.  He only threw 43 pitches and should be in good shape to throw should T-Rex reach the playoffs.

– David Rawnsley