Tournaments | Story | 5/27/2017

Memorial Day LP Days 1-2 Notes

Vincent Cervino         Perfect Game Staff        
Photo: Perfect Game
There was a ton of talent to kick off PG's first tournament of the summer season, and over the first two days at the WWBA Memorial Day at LP one thing stood out: the Georgia class of 2018 is going to be loaded with arms. There were numerous high ranked pitchers who threw, and although they did not throw very much, they showed exactly why they are so well-regarded by the scouting community. 

Lefthander Ben Harris (2018, Alpharetta, Ga.) had not pitched all spring, not due to an injury, so it was good to see Harris throw for the first time at a Perfect Game event since 2016. The frame remains ideal of a prep starting pitcher: lean with height, athletic, and room to fill out and add strength. The athleticism is worth mentioning again as Harris is a legitimate two-way player as he played the first six innings of the game in centerfield and will likely be hitting and pitching at Virginia. The delivery had a good rhythm to it and Harris worked very quickly with a very compact delivery with little moving parts. Harris throws from a higher three-quarter arm slot and releases the pitch at a good angle to the plate, which allows the mostly true fastball to be difficult to square up. He looked a bit rusty at times as he would occasionally miss up with the release point, but when on time Harris was able to pound the zone with fastballs and, often, throw the pitch by hitters. Harris' fastball worked 89-91 mph and he showed off his advanced feel to spin as the curveball had tight spin with good depth as well. Harris came into the game to close out the victory for 643 and pitched a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. The junior summer is ever important for high school prospects and Harris' starts will be some of the most attended.

Another Georgia lefthanded pitcher, the top-ranked lefty in the class, toed the rubber in what was another abbreviated outing as Luke Bartnicki (2018, Marietta Ga.) tossed an inning late on Friday night. The Georgia Tech commit has a penchant for making adjustments and improving upon every successive outing, which is part of the reason he is ranked no. 11 in the class. Bartnicki battled through command issues on Friday, but the stuff was as good as ever. Bartnicki started the inning out working 92-94 mph with his fastball and settled in around 88-94 for the entire inning. The arm action is long throughout the back and Bartnicki rotates his upper half at the top of the delivery to almost turn his back completely to the batter. This can lead to some timing issues but it adds deception, especially to batters of the same handedness. The delivery and effort levels are both remarkably easy with the velocity coming naturally and implying that there is a lot more in the tank. The slider was thrown hard with short break to it, but he mostly stuck with fastballs when pitching to opposing hitters. The lower half of the delivery is pretty in sync as Bartnicki generates excellent extension down the mound with and utilizes a stiff front leg as a landing point. Bartnicki's ceiling as a pitcher, and a 2018 draft prospect, make him a very interesting pitcher to keep an eye on as the summer progresses. 

Davis Sharpe (2018, Dacula, Ga.) and Will Shirah (2018, Blue Ridge, Ga.) also both saw limited time on the mound as they were both kept under certain pitch limits. 

After aiding Mill Creek HS (Ga.) travel deep into the playoffs, Sharpe has shown over the past calendar year or so that he is one of the top arms in the class. The Clemson commit has an extra-large frame with extremely long limbs and is still pretty athletic for his size. The delivery is very easy toward the plate and he showed off his traditional fastball-sider combination. The fastball was working 89-91 mph on Friday night, an appearance where he threw only six pitches to retire the side in his only inning, and the velocity was more 86-88 mph on Saturday. The pitch was located well and the late run to the arm side allowed for weak ground ball contact. Sharpe showed off his good slider that had good tilt and two-plane action. The pitch was 76-78 mph and it has shown plus in the past for Sharpe.

Shirah closed the game out for the East Cobb Colt .45s on Saturday and showed off a sound two-pitch combination. Shirah's velocity shot up last fall as he worked in the high-80s and touched 90 mph. Shirah worked from a higher three-quarter with a pretty loose arm action through the back. The release point of the arma ction allows Shirah to generate good plane on his fastball and showed some heaviness when down in the zone as well. The curveball was an inconsistent pitch, as he got around it a couple of times, but it showed good potential with tight spin and excellent depth. The pitch had 1/7 shape and was a very effective secondary. He mostly attacked hitters with the fastball and, although he walked one, he mostly pounded the zone with fastballs. The pitch worked 86-89 mph on Saturday and although he does throw with some effort the frame itself is very lean and projectable, which is very indicative of future velocity. The Georgia Tech commit has a quality arsenal and is one of the more polished pitchers of this class. 

Perhaps the most dominating performance of the tournament thus far belongs to the left arm of the Upstate Mavericks' Garrett McDaniels (2018, Nichols, S.C.). The Coastal Carolina commit absolutely dominated the opposition as he tossed a one-hit, complete game shutout with ten strikeouts in under 90 pitches. McDaniels is very tall, his listed 6-foot has to be a very old listing, and very athletic well and one of the most impressive things he does is repeat his delivery so well. Although the delivery utilizes very little lower half, it is very simple with a traditional sidle step into the leg lift and then down the mound. The arm itself was very clean as well and he threw from a three-quarter arm slot, maybe a tick higher, and landed online toward the plate. McDaniels' fastball worked consistently in the 87-91 mph range with the fastball being mostly 89-91 mph for the beginning of the game. The pitch had some heavy life to it when located low in the zone and he maintained a high level of velocity throughout the game as he hit 89-90 mph a couple of times in the seventh. McDaniels' curveball was a bit inconsistent on Saturday night but showed very good potential. The pitch would fluctuate between slider and curveball shape at times, he would get around it and it would break more like a slider, but when on top the pitch flashed tremendous depth with 1/7 shape.

McDaniels' teammate shortstop Oscar Santos (2018, Carolina, Puerto Rico) recently impressed at the Sunshine East Showcase and earned himself an invite to the PG National Showcase in June. The invite certainly seems warranted as Santos showed off an impressive collective skill set. Santos does have a bit of a shorter frame, listed at 5-foot-9, but he has a lot of twitchy athleticism, a 6.7 runner, and that plays well at shortstop. He ranges well to both sides and the hands work pretty well; he is surehanded over there and relishes the opportunity to show off his arm strength across the diamond. At the plate, Santos certainly does not get cheated. He takes powerful swings and shows off pretty good bat speed and should only get better at the plate as he continues to add size and strength to the build. He strides well through the point of contact and does a good job at shifting his weight through the swing. Santos has the makings of a high-impact player and as he continues to grow and refine his game, he has the potential to be a game-changing type of athlete at the next level. 

The Georgia Bombers routed HK 2019 by a 12-0 final score and outfielder Nadir Lewis (2018, Alpharetta, Ga.) hit the walk-off, run-rule inducing home run. The bomb to right field was struck 99 mph off the bat and traveled an estimated 366 feet per TrackMan. Lewis' calling card on the field is his impressive athleticism and speed; he ran a 6.59 60-yard dash at the 2016 Fall Academic Showcase. Lewis has good rhythm at the plate and upon delivery of the pitch, he hitches back into his load and swing through a lofted swing plane. Lewis got a hold of a mistake pitch up and showed impressive strength through the point of contact. The ball had good carry to it and even dented off a car parked behind the right field fence. He has impressive raw power and as long as the swing is on time with the weight transfer he should be able to tap into that strength more and more often.

One 2017 arm who impressed during the opening day of the event was Brandon Johnson (Cottondale, Ala.). He tossed a complete game, where he ran into a good lineup who got some clean looks but he also struck out six batters and showed interesting potential. The Alabama-Huntsville commit topped out at 90 mph and worked primarily in the 84-87 mph range for the entirety of the outing. There were times where Johnson would dial it back up to 88 mph or 89 mph when he needed a big pitch. The frame is a bit small, only 6-feet tall, but he is very athletic on the mound and showed the ability to repeat his mechanics. Johnson got downhill pretty consistently throughout the game and he attacked hitters with his fastball that was true in life. There is some deception in the delivery as well as he hides the ball well all the way up to the point of separation and release. Johnson mixed in a softer curveball that showed 12/6 shape and worked in the mid-70s in terms of velocity. 

Opposing Johnson for the 643 Cougars was catcher Tyler Tolve (2018, Marietta, Ga.) and he showed advanced defensive actions behind the dish. Tolve is a very athletic prospect, listed at 6-foot-1 and 185-pounds, and showed off that athleticism as he was able to move well laterally. He had very good instincts as well, reacting quickly to breaking balls in the dirt as well as knowing when and how often to throw over and try to get runners sleeping. Tolve has pretty solid arm strength and showed it off a few times in-game. The Kennesaw State commit showed good feel for handling the pitching staff as well with good receiving actions and the ability to handle velocity well, teammate Ben Harris was up to 91 mph. Tolve's framing is not too bad as he has quiet hands when presenting pitches that might be a bit off the plate. 

Two 2019 righthanders who showed good potential were Gage Vailes (2019, Marietta, Ga.) and Ryan Suppa (2019, Acworth, Ga.). Vailes, in particularly, is very fresh on the mind of PG as he recently impressed at the Sunshine Southeast Showcase and earned a bid to the PG Junior National Showcase.

Vailes is a combination of potential, size, and excellent arm talent. Vailes stands at a remarkably projectable 6-foot-2, 175-pounds with tons of room on the frame to add strength and size as he continues to develop physically. The first five pitches of the game for Vailes were 88, 89, 88, 89, and 88 and he showed off great arm speed to get that velocity in. The delivery does not incorporate much lower half at the moment, but the arm speed is truly the selling point of the profile. The arm action is short and compact and the length of the arm circle allows him to be on time more throughout the delivery. Vailes lands on a slightly crossfired front landing leg and that caused some issues in terms of command. It added more deception to the overall delivery, but he would cut himself off at times. Vailes has incredible potential and physical projection, it will be fun to watch him continue to grow and refine his game as he develops on the mound. 

Suppa is listed at 6-foot-1, 183-pounds and that frame and build is very athletic. He shows the ability to repeat his delivery well and his athleticism allows him to throw with intent. He lands online and threw from a long, if slightly hooked, arm action through the back of his delivery. Suppa lands online toward the plate and rotates with his upper half to deliver the baseball. This causes him to throw across his body at times which wasn't so much of a bad thing. When he would throw across his body the fastball would show outstanding cut and left hitters whiffing up at the plate. The straighter, four-seam fastball sat 87-89 mph throughout his appearance and he used the pitch to blow away hitters at the plate. The curveball was a bit inconsistent, but for the most part showed 11/5 shape with very good depth as well. The pitch was primarily used in two-strike counts as he used the fastball to attack hitters and fill up the strike zone. 

-Vincent Cervino

A lot of good baseball was played this weekend at the 18U and 16U level during the Memorial Day Weekend Classic at Lakepoint. Viper Baseball Academy defeated the 643 DP Cougars by a score of 11-3. Lundray Reeves (2018, Birmingham, Ala.)  went 2-4 with a double and two runs scored. Reeves is a University of Alabama commit, he has a strong, medium frame and hits with his hands high by his head with a small, quiet load and slightly open stance. Reeves showed excellent ability to stay back on breaking pitches, but sometimes will rely on his bat speed too much and load a tad late which caused him to foul off pitches he easily could hit off the fence. Zach Pearson (2018, Murfreesboro, Tenn.) went 2-2 with two singles and two runs. Pearson has a large, strong frame and hits with an open stance and leg kick for his load. He showed a great ability to hit the ball the other way and drive the ball up the middle. Pearson has great upper body strength, but needs to incorporate his lower half more with his swing, he is a Middle Tennessee State sign. Although his team lost, Trevor Austin (2017, Suwannee, Ga.) consistently hit the ball hard and went 1-2 for the Cougars. Austin is headed to Mercer University and showed excellent fielding actions and soft hands at short, as displayed well balanced and level swing and hit the ball deep twice to left field.

The 643 DP Jaguars defeated the Exposure 18U Prime by a score of 2-0. Austyn Wright and Cole Hamel both pitched well for a combined shut out. University of Tennessee Commit Brandon Trammell (2017, Knoxville, Tenn.) hit well for Exposure going 1-3 with a single. Trammell has a tall, medium and athletic frame and hits with his knees slightly bent and hands up high by his head. Displayed  a great ability to hit lefties well and uses his backside and top hand to produce a nice fluid, contact swing.

At the 16U level, Freshman and Sophomore pitchers Darryl Walker (2020, Brandon, Miss.) and Caleb Sterling (2019, Vicksburg, Miss.)) led the Deep South Elite to victory over the Game On Diamond Bears by a score of 10-2. Walker has a tall, lanky frame with a slow and balanced delivery. He throws over the top and throws very easily while producing a low 80s fastball that he likes to work on the outer half of the plate. He throws a nice, sharp curve that ran from 66-69. Walker has a tendency to throw across his body at times which led to small command issues, but it is an easy fix for a kid this young. Sterling has a nice online delivery and throws with a solid over the top motion with solid arm action. His Fb ran from 80-83 and he showed a nice 11-5 curve ball that he used as his out pitch to generate strikeouts. Sterling does a great job of using his lower half to push off the mound and also does a great job of finishing and following through with his pitches.

The Georgia Bombers 16U Gaines defeated Phenom Georgia by a score of 9-3. Dylan Matela (2019, Alpharetta, Ga.) threw 2 innings today and struck out five. Matela works quickly and efficiently with a nice online delivery and over the top arm angle. He uses his long lower half to push off his back side and tight arm action to produce a quality fastball that runs from 82-85. He effectively fills up the strike zone with his fastball, but has to work on his secondary pitches and throw them for strikes. 

-Brandon Lowe
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