Tournaments : : Story
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Showdown Academies Day 3 notes

Vincent Cervino         Brian Sakowski        
Photo: Perfect Game

2017 PG HS Showdown-Academies Event Page | Day 1 Scout Notes | Day 2 Scout NotesDaily Leaders

Kicking off the first time slot of day three from the 2017 PG High School Showdown-Acadmies was Central Pointe Christian Academy and starting righthander Calvin Olavarria (2018, Kissimmee, Fla.). Olavarria has some athleticism on the mound with a medium build at 6-foot-1, 190-pounds. He showed solid arm speed with a shorter, tight arm action throughout the delivery. Olavarria doesn’t have the most refined mechanics but he has raw arm talent and that showed as he was able to work well with his two-pitch combination. He does throw with effort and the release of pitches from a higher three-quarters arm slot makes his changeup very effective. The pitch was about 10 mph slower than the fastball, on average, and flashed tilt down in the zone. He used the pitch often on two strikes and it played well off the fastball. The fastball sat from 85-87 early and was pretty straight in terms of life and movement.

First baseman Joe Bramanti (2017, North Andover, Mass.) put together a strong tournament for the Cheshire Academy Cats that included a show of raw power and a number of hard hit balls. Bramanti has a very large frame with a present physical build at 6-foot-4, 225-pounds. There is leverage in his swing with a small toe tap into his stride. There is not much separation in his swing but he has enough present strength to be able to drive the ball with authority to all fields. The swing will stiffen at times but he has a clear approach at the plate and is often able to execute it. Bramanti is looking to drive the ball into the air with carry and he had a number of deep fly balls including a clutch RBI triple in the 10th inning of the Cats’ game against CPCA.

In a game that had pool-winner implications, lefthander Michael Perez (2017, Orlando, Fla.) got off to a tremendous start for Conrad Baseball Academy that included bringing a no-hitter into the fourth inning. Perez has tremendous size with physicality throughout at a listed 6-foot-4, 230-pounds. The arm was loose and easy with some effort in the delivery and his lower three-quarters slot created a tough angle upon delivery. The delivery has moving parts but he showed good feel in repeating. The leg lift is up past the belt and there is some deception there; he filled up the strike zone all afternoon and worked well to both sides with the fastball. The pitch had late life and was consistently in the lower third of the strike zone with command to the corners as well. He mixed in multiple offspeed pitches, the best of which on Saturday afternoon was a curveball with good break to it. The Florida International commit would tighten his grip on the pitch with shorter break and tighter spin.

Perez’ teammate and first baseman Cesar Alvarez (2017, Orlando, Fla.) has shown impressive strength and overall hitting tools throughout the weekend. The lefthanded hitter has impressive physicality with a strong lower half and strength throughout his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame. Despite his large size, Alvarez is athletic both in the box and at first base. He makes clean plays at first with solid footwork around the base. The offensive tools were what stood out most and he made consistent loud contact. Alvarez showed in-game power to the pull side and the opposite field as well as the ability to create backspin off the barrel of the bat. He handles the barrel well and although the swing was a bit long he was able to be on time for the majority of the event. Alvarez rocks into his hand load and gets good hip torque upon contact with the ball throughout his aggressive swings that he takes.

During the semifinal game between the TNXL Ducks and CBC Elite, Michael Martinez (2017, Tampa, Fla.) pitched again for CBC and showed he still had some velocity in the tank. Martinez struggled with control at times but he battled in at-bats and had his fastball consistently in the 86-89 mph range. The best pitches thrown were when he was able to get consistently downhill and bury the fastball in the lower third of the strike zone. The velocity was effective at overpowering hitters at times and allowed him to settle in as he continued into the game. The slider was more consistent and looked to be better than the showing on Thursday night. The pitch flashed the ability to be thrown for strikes and a couple of them were very effective low in the zone.

– Vincent Cervino

Perhaps the biggest draw of the entire event in terms of professional scouts (including a couple of high-level crosscheckers), 2017 righthander Jack Leftwich (Fla.) took the mound for TNXL Academy in their semifinal game on Saturday afternoon. Currently ranked No. 47 in the class of 2017, Leftwich put together a very strong 2016 across the Showcase circuit and has generated a good amount of high-follow draft buzz this spring. 

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 210-pounds, Leftwich looks a bit leaner than he did at this point last year; and the body is athletic with good projection along with quality present strength/build. He threw a shutout to send TNXL to the Championship game, scattering three hits and one walk to go along with 10 strikeouts. He consistently worked to both sides of the plate with his fastball, which sat 90-93 mph throughout his start with the ability to reach back for 94-95 mph when he wanted it. The slider, which lagged behind his fastball and changeup last summer, has taken several strides forward into this spring. It’s still inconsistent and the shape will vary, but at its best it will show as a 55 pitch (on the 20-80 scouting scale), whereas last summer it maxed out more in the 40-45 range. The changeup is firm and straight but has an average future with continued repetitions, as he throws it with conviction and fastball arm speed, displaying quality feel for it. 

His arm speed is above average to plus as well, potentially projecting even more velocity as he continues to physically mature, and while the arm action itself features a relatively deep hook through the back the back elbow doesn’t get too high and he’s able to accelerate out of the hook cleanly and on time. His delivery is of the crossfire variety but he shows the torso flexibility and strength necessary to get over his front side consistently, and does a solid job repeating the delivery overall. 

Brady Smith (2017, Fla.) continued his tremendous tournament by doubling and hitting a home run, accounting for four of the five total runs that TNXL scored. As written before, he’s a strong prospect with quality bat-to-ball skills who has begun adding legitimate power to his game. The swing is compact and short with average lift, more so geared for gap-to-gap shots as opposed to home run power, but he is capable, as we’ve seen, of driving the ball out of the ballpark. Perhaps most impressive on this day, however, was the 1.86 pop time he showed when nailing an attempted stealer at second base. His feet are quick out of the crouch as is his transfer, and the arm strength is legitimate. He’ll need to be more consistent with his receiving skills at the next level, but there are very good raw catching tools in play in his profile. 

Earlier in the day, Avon Old Farms lost to CBC Elite in a playoff matchup by a score of 4-1. Thomas Girard (2017, Conn.) got the start for Avon and the Duke commit kept his team in the game and really battled. Working 82-85 mph for the majority of his four innings and touching 86 a few times, Girard did a good job throwing strikes and limiting damage, though he was responsible for eight baserunners via seven hits and a walk. He struck out five CBC hitters and showed a developing breaking ball that he was able to throw for strikes. 

On the other side of the field righthanded pitcher Casey Todd (2017, Fla.) was very impressive for CBC, essentially shutting down Avon Old Farms for five innings, though he did struggle a bit with command. Working up to 88 mph with his fastball from a very projectable 6-foot-5 frame, Todd did a good job extending and generating downhill plane on the pitch, making it very tough to square up even when located down the middle. His delivery is very crossfire, often making it tough to spin his breaking ball correctly, but he did flash some 11-to-5 shape with depth on the pitch. He allowed only a single run across his five innings to go along with six strikeouts. 

In the championship game, won by TNXL by a score of 7-1 over Next Level Academy, some usual suspects were big contributors. A few days after winning a pool play game, Ryan Dease (2017, Fla.) started the game and allowed a single run early then slammed the door for five total innings with 10 punchouts en route to the victory. Dease was his usual solid self, with good command of his fastball in the zone, working in the high-80s for the most part and getting several swings-and-misses on that fastball, particularly up in the strike zone. 

Elijah Cabell (2018, Fla.) ended up winning the tournament MVP award by hitting to the tune of a 1.572 OPS over his 24 plate appearances, and not only was he statistically impressive but in terms of evaluation he continues to show the type of high-level tools, especially offensively, that warrant his lofty ranking in the class of 2018. 

– Brian Sakowski

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