Tournaments | Story | 7/14/2017

16u WWBA Day 7 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Vincent Cervino         Travis Clark         Perfect Game Tournament Staff        
Photo: Perfect Game

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As mentioned earlier in a tournament recap, lefthander Yordani Carmona (2019, Hialeah, Fla.) has already established himself as one of the best “pitchers” in this class and he proved it once again in the Elite Eight, helping to send the Banditos into the quarterfinals. Physically built at 6-foot-2, 195-pounds and suited for the rigors of starting at the next level, Carmona fired a no-hitter last night against a very loaded Orlando Scorpions squad, though more impressive was the fact he worked almost exclusively off his fastball.

Carmona’s delivery is simple in that there are limited moving parts and his shorter, on line arm stroke allows him to repeat the mechanics well and in turn pound the strike zone. That’s exactly what he did for all five innings and sat comfortably in the 86-89 mph range, touching 90 early on, while moving the ball throughout the zone. The Miami commit worked heavily to his arm side against a righthanded heavy lineup, which when coupled with the late running life he generates to his arm side, led to a fair share of swings-and-misses and contact away from the barrel. And though he walked three, Carmona also managed to strikeout seven while flashing both a changeup and curveball sporadically throughout the start.

It was a quick look (two batters to be exact) for Hayden Muecke (2019, Oxford, Fla.) out of the Scorpions bullpen but what he showed merits this write up. Currently uncommitted, the righthanded Muecke came out attacking hitters with an up-tempo and deceptive delivery on top of quick arm that helped produce two fastballs in this outing, registering at 85 and 87 mph apiece. The difference maker for Muecke is his curveball and it’s one that’ll rival any in the tournament. Thrown from the same higher release point as his fastball, Muecke generates very hard, tight spin on the 75-77 mph pitch which in turn leads to late, sharp depth and plays up due to his overall feel for the pitch and ability to land it for strikes at will.

Brandon Walker (2019, Tallahasse, Fla.) is a prominent name on the prospect scene and has been covered in detail both in the past and earlier this tournament, but the fact he was able to twirl a no-hitter in the playoffs after teammate Tyler Owens twirled a perfect game is pretty amazing. A high-end athlete who has quick-twitch oozing through his 6-foot, 180-pound frame, Walker is able to produce a steady low-90s fastball (peaked 92 mph) with relative ease as his right arm acts like a whip through the back side and generates solid plane when on top and extended out front. Though he’s been up to 94 mph earlier this summer, there’s plenty of reason to believe additional velocity is still on its way which will make him even more difficult to square up given his ability to already spin a hard curveball up to 76 mph with late biting action.

We’re still a year away from obtaining a full feel for the class of 2019 but righthander Joseph Charles (2019, Celebration, Fla.) has already established himself as one of the top arms in the class and continues to improve virtually each time we see him. His latest outing came in the playoffs for the Scorpions Prime where he threw a complete game and helped propel his team on to the Elite 8.

Well built at 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, Charles looks more than looks the part with long limbs and present strength, though his looseness and long-term projectability are just as enticing. With steady tempo to his delivery and a hidden, on line arm action, the North Carolina commit sat rather comfortably in the 90-92 mph range early on, generating plane with short sinking life down in the zone. The velocity itself comes easy for Charles and he was able to maintain well both out of the stretch and windup, just part of the reason why the Florida native is ranked No. 4 in the country.

Another reason for the lofty ranking is his ability to spin a hard, sharp curveball which he once again showed yesterday and proved to be a valuable pitch when on top of the ball. Charles generates solid hand speed on the pitch with tight rotation, giving him a quality 1-2 punch.

When watching C.J. Rodriguez (2019, Newport Beach, Calif.) you’ll almost know what you’re going to get as the young Vanderbilt commit has already established himself as one of the more consistent players on the national scene at this age level. Already ranked No 49 in the class, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound backstop truly knows how to handle his pitchers and almost as important is his ability to shut down the opponents running game, throwing out another base runner in the first of four games for BPA. He handles the barrel well too, never trying to do too much and shows comfort utilizing all fields. It’s a simple approach for Rodriguez as he picked up a couple of line drive singles, finishing the game 2-for-3 and is now hitting .300 on the tournament.

There are a lot of components to like on the mound when it comes to Dutch Landis (2019, Henderson, Nev.) and it begins with his frame, though he appears taller, longer, and stronger than his listed 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame on the rubber. Already committed to the University of Arizona and currently ranked 55th in the class of 2019, Landis helped lead BPA to one of their four victories on the day in a complete game effort.

Landis came out sitting in the 89-91 mph range, topping 92, and though he didn’t have his release point immediately, he quickly found it and begin to deal. With a balance delivery and a quick right arm, Landis proved capable of generating plane down to his glove side from a higher three-quarters release while showing balanced tempo throughout his delivery. The velocity isn’t done ticking up for Landis either given his projectable frame and the fact that he currently sports a shorter stride down the mound and can still incorporate additional lower half.

The fastball was the key pitch for Landis on the afternoon though he mixed in both a curveball and slider, the first of which appeared more in the outing.  A 70-73 mph pitch, the curveball offers depth to the bottom of the zone while his slider is a tighter, shorter pitch up to 76 mph, giving him three viable pitches for strikes.

Anthony Volpe (2019, Watchung, NJ), like fellow Vanderbilt commit C.J. Rodriguez, defines the term baseball players and understands the little things on the baseball to help his team win. Now listed at 5-foot-10, 168-pounds, Volpe is starting to heat up for the Banditos as they head into the quarterfinals, collecting four base hits in his six most recent at-bats. One of those hits came in the form of a single which he put back up the middle and quickly turned into a triple with a pair of stolen bases, showing his instincts, before putting a 90 mph up on his hands into the opposite field for a single later in the night. Defensively, Volpe looks the part out at shortstop and has the skill to match with balance and clean actions, smooth footwork, and a solid internal clock in regards to how long he has to make the play in comparison to what type of runner is moving down the line. Volpe has a very nice collection of tools on both sides off the ball and is many talented players in Vanderbilt’s 2019 class.

There are more than a couple of things to like in regards to William Osmond’s (2019, Tulsa, Okla.) potential and it begins with the fact that he’s listed as a primary shortstop, potentially eluding to the fact he hasn’t truly focused his attention solely on the mound. At 6-foot-3, 173-pounds, Osmond looks the part on the mound and has the long and loose arm action to match. With a clean, balanced delivery and extension out front, the Oklahoma State commit ran his fastball up to 91 mph with consistent plane to the bottom of the zone and flashed running life to his arm side. His curveball is a potential difference maker as he shows quality depth and tight rotation to the 76-78 mph pitch and has the makings of a swing-and-miss type offering.

Always having been a hard thrower on the mound as evidenced by hitting 89 mph in tournaments prior to entering high school, Aaron Nixon (2020, Mission, Texas) continues to make strides on the mound and showed his best stuff yet in a complete game effort against MSI National in the playoffs. Strongly built at 5-foot-10, 190-pounds, Nixon came out attacking with his fastball and though there’s some effort for velocity, it didn’t inhibit his ability to throw strikes or show the big velocity from one pitch to the next.

Nixon shows an up-tempo delivery which he repeated well and opened the game sitting in the 90-92 mph range, flashing a couple of 93s in the first inning and showed more 92s than 90s. On the night Nixon punched out five and scattered just three bats hits while showing a pair of breaking balls, both of which he throws for strikes. His slider which worked into the low-80s showed tighter rotation than his curveball and he did a nice job of staying on top of the ball and finished the pitch in the bottom of the zone.

Already mentioned earlier in the tournament for his abilities and power arm on the mound, Mississippi State commit Landon Sims (2019, Cumming, Ga.) continued to swing a hot bat and shows tools as a legitimate two-way at the next level. Sims finished the tournament with a .300 average and two home runs, the second of which is the main reason for the write up as he helped Team Elite walk-off as winners and advance to the next round. On an inner half fastball, Simms showed no hesitation about spinning on the ball and deposited the 87 mph over the left field fence for a solo home run in the bottom of the inning and registered 94 mph off the barrel.

Though he didn’t come out and work 91-93 mph like we saw last week in the 17u WWBA, lefthander Hunter Barco (2019, Jacksonville, Fla.) still put together and impressive performance on the mound to start what happened to be the first of four wins for the East Cobb Astros. Knowing that that type of velocity is in there for Barco makes yesterday’s performance all the more impressive as he punched out nine in five innings and showed an aptitude for pitching a feel to throw thee pitches for strikes.

After a first inning in which he sat 88-90 mph and bumped a 91, Barco settled comfortably into the upper-80s and appeared to cruise, still creating difficult angle with his release point while showing a quick arm stroke from the first to last pitch of the game. Despite being listed at 6-foot-4, 200-pounds, the University of Virginia commit showed the ability to move the fastball around the plate early on, hitting his locations and consistently hit the target away to his arm side.

Both the changeup and slider (each worked upwards of 80-81 mph) induced swings-and-misses throughout the game and the changeup might be the better of the two at present. With a replicated arm action and release point, as well as maintained arm speed, Barco generates fading downward life to the pitch and can locate it like the fastball. Like the changeup, Barco maintains his release point well on the slider too, showing tilting action to the pitch with sweeping finish down in the zone and was up to 81 mph.

– Jheremy Brown

Cooper Benson (2019, San Luis Obispo, Calif.) threw five strong innings to help advance the BPA 16u team to the next round of the playoffs in their late morning contest. Benson allowed one run on four hits and showed good command while allowing zero walks and striking out six. Benson has a strong lower body that he utilizes well to good push off the mound with good extension to home plate. The velocity on his fastball can be deceptive as he throws with an over-the-top delivery with a long arm action. The ball explodes out of his hand once he reaches his release point and has good life and runs from 87-91 mph. He likes to run the ball to both sides of the plate, showing the ability to effectively attack the inside part of the strike zone. He seldomly threw his off-speed pitches, as his curveball needs more consistency with fast 12-to-6 break but little depth. Benson did flash an above average changeup that he can work on incorporating more in his repertoire , as it showed excellent fade and he maintained the same arm action as his fastball with the pitch. Benson is committed to Arizona State.

Riley Greene (2019, Oviedo, Fla.) is a talented outfielder for the FTB Tucci Sindone 16u team, with a long, athletic frame and he possesses a very fluid stroke from the left side of the plate. Greene moves very well in center field and also has great arm strength, and showcased it in his afternoon playoff game by doubling up a runner at first on a fly ball. He also has good pop at the plate as he belted a hard-hit fly ball double to the fence in the third inning. Greene has a nice, quick and loose swing that glides through the strike zone easily and produces consistent pop at the point of contact. Greene is committed to the 2017 NCAA National Champions, University of Florida Gators.

Jerrion Ealy (2019, Carthage, Miss.) is a strong, athletic outfielder for the Team GA Gold 16u team and possesses a solid frame with great athleticism on the baseball field. Ealy is a good hitter and a tough opponent to strike out with two strikes. He does a great job of recognizing breaking pitches and showed a great ability to square them up. Ealy demonstrated this with his clutch RBI double to center field that helped tie the game at one in the third inning of Team GA’s afternoon game. He has a very strong and quick swing with great bat speed. Ealy is still currently uncommitted.

– Brandon Lowe

Spencer Schwellenbach (2018, Saginaw, Mich.) took the mound for his second appearance of the tournament and delivered the Motor City Hit Dogs to the round of 32 with a one-run performance over three innings with four strikeouts. Schwellenbach was much the same as he was when previously profiled in these recaps consistently pounding the zone with strikes downhill with plane on his fastball, showing consistent feel to find the bottom of the zone. His fastball worked up to 93 mph, settling in more 88-91 mph for the duration to go along with a sharp slider and quality overall feel for his changeup.

A no-doubt collegiate two-way prospect Schwellenbach can also really swing the bat and defend at a premium position (shortstop). There’s legitimate strength and bat speed in his righthanded swing and the arm strength he displays on the mound also plays extremely well from shortstop where it grades out well above average. He’s got a serious chance to be a legitimate five-tool type of player at the collegiate level, where he’s committed to Nebraska.

The Top Tier Roos 16u made a serious bid to come back from an 8-1 deficit in their playoff game with KBC, before falling just shy in the final inning and losing 8-7. Hunter Mink (2019, Palm Harbor, Fla.) did a fine job coming in to put out the flames for the Roos and showed some serious stuff along the way. Mink worked up to 90 mph with his fastball flashing the ability to work north/south with the pitch and showcasing huge arm side life when thrown up the zone to get swings-and-misses. He also showed a slider with some tilting life, tunneling it well out of the hand and showing the potential to be a swing-and-miss pitch for him with continued refinement and repetitions.

The Canes 16u won a few playoff games on Thursday afternoon at LakePoint before falling in the Round of 16 but that club showing well at PG events is nothing new (after all, their 17u club won the 17u National Championship just last week). Matthew Allan (2019, Sanford, Fla.) got the start in the Canes Round of 32 matchup and showed why he’s the No. 13 overall ranked player in the class of 2019.

Allan is very physical and definitely looks the part of a high-end starting pitcher, with good strength throughout and plus arm speed to go along with it. He worked up to 93 mph with his fastball releasing from a high three-quarters arm slot and creating significant plane to the plate as a result, especially when the pitch is commanded to the bottom of the zone. He throws a curveball that flashes above average right now thrown in the upper-70s with sharp tilt at times, a bat-misser now that should only improve for him giving him legitimate upside in the class of 2019.

Blaze Jordan (2021, Southaven, Miss.) has been committed to Mississippi State for quite awhile now especially when considering that he committed at the age of 13. He’s an extremely physical, extremely strong righthanded hitting first baseman who possesses the best bat speed and raw pop of the entire class as we sit here nearly four years away from the 2021 draft. It’s not just raw strength to his profile however, as he shows advanced hittability with an approach beyond his years to go along with big time bat speed. He’s done nothing but hit since he came onto the scene and has continued that in this event, including a long home run on a hanging slider off of Matthew Allan.

Team GA Gold 16u made their way through the bracket before losing in the Round of 16 but to get there they got a sterling performance from Logan Tanner (2019, Lucedale, Miss.) in their round of 32 victory. Tanner went the full five innings scattering four hits and a single run while striking out two, doing a fantastic job of getting weak groundball contact with a heavy sinking fastball.

Tanner is a primary catcher and you can see that right away when he’s on the bump, as he has a very simplistic delivery and super-short arm stroke that looks like…how a catcher throws down from behind the plate. The delivery and arm action are both efficient and aid in his deception, as he hides the ball well from the hitter before releasing seemingly from his ear. His fastball worked up to 90 mph and settled into more of the 85-88 mph range, thrown with excellent heaviness and sinking life, consistently thrown to the bottom of the strike zone to get contact beaten into the ground. He flashed a solid slider as well more horizontal and cutter-like than a true tilting slider, but with good action that was effective in slicing off of barrels at the last second and working to, again, elicit weak contact.

5 Star National got a huge win late on Thursday night at LakePoint moving their record to 10-0 and securing them a spot in the Final Four on Friday morning. Isaiah Bennett (2019, Fayetteville, N.C.) went the distance in the win throwing a five inning complete game while allowing four hits, three walks, and one run to go along with his nine strikeouts.

Bennett is an extremely impressive athlete who can also really hit and play center field but his athleticism, projection, and overall upside on the mound are simply too much to ignore. He worked up to 92 mph early on with his fastball, showing plus arm speed to a high three quarters slot release, creating angle to his fastball and really adding to the effectiveness of the raw velocity in conjunction with the above average extension he creates. The delivery works quite well, getting inline with his hips and powering downhill, and showing the ability to be on time with his arm coming through at foot strike. There’s tremendous upside here, and he’s only really starting to tap into it at the moment.

At this age group, as evaluators we’re “looking for loud” and no one in this entire event has done more “loud” things this week than Rece Hinds (2019, Niceville, Fla.) the No. 2 overall ranked player in the class. Hinds put 5 Star ahead for good on Thursday night, launching a no-doubt two-run bomb way out to left-center field at Field 9 at Lake Point. The ball left his bat at 104.9 miles per hour and traveled 409.5 feet, according to TrackMan and was an absolute missile of a shot. He’s done nothing but hit balls extremely hard all week, and has done a fantastic job of cementing himself amongst the top of the 2019 class.

– Brian Sakowski

Cameron Meeks (2019, Shreveport, La.) is a tall and lanky built righthanded pitcher with some potential to play big-time collegiate baseball. Prior to the 16u WWBA, Meeks had never thrown in a Perfect Game event before and he made the most of it. In his combined three outings Meeks threw 10 innings and did not allow an earned run and struck out seven. The uncommitted prospect showed velocity up to 88 mph from the windup, but did lose velocity from the stretch sitting in the 82-86 range. The fastball showed signs of life to armside with good extension. Meeks has long limbs, but short arm action from a high three-quarters slot. The Louisiana native also mixed an 11-to-5 curveball that showed some sharpness in the mid-70s. 

Kiethron Moss (2019, Nassau, NW) showed really clean defensive actions at shortstop throughout the week. The transfer from glove to hand is really fast and his arm strength is impressive. On a slow roller, the 5-foot-9, 145-pound rising junior from the Bahamas showed that he can throw from any arm angle with accuracy and carry. The bat stood out as well from the lefthanded side with speed down the line to go with it. One hit, specifically, really stood out as Moss turned on the first pitch of the at-bat and roped a single to right. Moss’s speed was on display as he ran a 4.37-second home-to-first time with a slight turn. Moss has all the tools to be a nice player at the next level.

Austin Pace (2019, Barco, N.C.) has to be the tallest player in the 16u WWBA National Championship. Standing at 6-foot-10, 175-pounds, Pace has a live arm to go along with his extra large frame. Pace’s fastball sat in the 87-88 mph range in his outing in the first round of bracket play. His arm works well and consistently gets downhill with plane repeating his delivery for having such a large, young frame. The uncommitted righthander also mixed a low-80s changeup that showed fade. Pace’s ceiling is high as he was up to 90 mph previously in the event.

Ryan Cabarcas (2019, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) had a very impressive outing in Elite Squad’s first round win Thursday morning. The young lefthander threw a five-inning complete game earning a win, allowing just one hard hit ball, and most impressively maintaining his velocity. Cabarcas sat 84-87 mph for the duration of his start that you usually do not see from young pitchers with his size. He also touched 88 mph once in his second inning. At 5-foot-10, 155-pounds, and probably slightly shorter than that, Cabarcas is a very crafty lefthanded pitcher. The University of Florida commit repeats his mechanics well with outstanding command to both sides of the plate. Cabarcas also gets good extension making his effective velocity two mph greater than the actual speed of the pitch making it get on hitters quicker. The future Gator also mixed a sharp 11-to-5 curveball in the mid-70s. His arm works well from a good arm action and clean delivery.

Chase Wilkerson (2018, Headland, Ala.) is a 2018 graduate and future Florida State Seminole. Wilkerson has an explosive delivery sitting in the 90-92 mph early then settling in the upper-80s after his first inning of work. The life on Wilkerson’s fastball is impressive. Every fastball he threw has hard two-seam action to his arm side. Wilkerson worked all parts of the strike zone with a good arm action. He was effectively wild at times, but did show the ability to have swing-and-miss stuff as he struck out the side in the second inning. He mixed in two other pitches to go along with his lively fastball. His changeup showed slight cut in the low-80s and he flashed a 12-to-6 breaking curveball that showed depth in the mid-70s. Wilkerson is a Florida State commit with some upside moving forward.

Jonathan Cannon (2019. Alpharetta, Ga.) came out of the bullpen for the Georgia Jackets and set a new personal best at a Perfect Game event for himself touching 91 mph. His fastball sat in the 86-90 mph range. Cannon has hit as high as high as 88 when I have seen him in the past and showed that he has more back leg drive and his arm seems to be a little quicker than in previous viewings. The uncommitted righthander has a 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame with long limbs and lots of room to fill with strength. His delivery is twitchy with a long arm action and the aforementioned quick arm. Cannon also mixed a low-70s breaking ball that showed potential.

Sanson Faltine III (2019, Richmond, Texas) pitched his team’s way into the quarterfinals with an outstanding one-hit performance on the mound. Faltine III is an interesting two-way prospect, as I liked the way he swung the bat earlier in the week, but on the mound he was lights out Thursday. His fastball has life to both sides of the plate, sometimes being to his arm side and sometimes cutting to the glove side. The arm works with long arm action and good hip turn that is on time. Sitting 88-90 mph for most of his outing, Faltine also mixed a biting curveball that had hitters flinching when thrown to the inner third of the plate. He showed the ability to throw both pitches to both sides of the plate with excellent command. His arm action is pretty loose and throws with little effort, which tells me there is more in the tank for the University of Texas commit.

– Gregory Gerard

Gabe Briones (2019, Riverside, Calif.) is a young man who has a mature approach to a number of facets of the game. He stood out initially with his fundamental ability behind the plate calling an excellent game, receiving the ball well, and showed a quick arm. He has a solid frame, strong lower half that he utilizes both on the field and at the plate. Hitting he has an easy swing, quick hands, and a solid approach. The University of Southern California commit finds the barrel consistently and does so to all fields.

A very interesting pitcher whom casted the attention of many was Sam Highfill (2019, Apex, N.C.) due to his numerous arsenal of deception. The North Carolina State commit stands tall with a projectable, athletic frame and pitches mostly from a three-quarters slot. His fastball from this angle is heavy and sat 85-87 mph on the radar, with an 11-to-5 curveball that showed some shape and depth to it. Highfill became deceptive as he shifted arm slots to a sidearm delivery a number of times, maintaining velocity and getting more arm side run on his fastball and a 9-to-4 shape on his breaking ball with good late bite. His success came from his ability to throw all pitches for strikes, and successfully in the lower part of the zone. Overall, Highfill had an immensely successful tenure at the 16u Championship, pitching a total of 8 1/3 innings, allowing only three hits and striking out 10 in that frame.

Andrew Compton (2019, Mountainside, N.J.) is a 6-foot-2, athletic framed 190-pound Georgia Tech commit with an impressive swing, even in the brief amount of time allowed to see him. He stands upright with a slight open stance at the plate, hands in a good spot to hit, closes the front half with his stride and generates explosiveness with the hips and through the lower half. Showing the ability to hit to all fields, the video shows a hard hit double the other way; preceding this, a hard hit grand slam that was abuzz throughout the quad for a while after. In this brief sighting, he showed a quick bat, the ability to find the barrel, and a frame that will continue to build – all components of an athlete that has the tools to produce at the next level.

Showcasing his ability to play at an elite level utilizing all tools, Josiah Miller (2019, Tallahassee, Fla.) was a sight to see throughout the tournament. The Florida State commit stands 6-foot, with an athletic frame that will continue to grow with strength and maturity. A patient approach at the plate, he looks for a pitch to drive and does so with consistency to all fields. When he does reach base – which is very often, 68 percent of the time so far this tournament – his speed and instincts take over as he swipes bags and scores runs with seeming ease. At the plate, he shows a quick bat that has gap pop, and is poised to be a homerun threat as his career progresses. While his team is in the final four, through ten games he is batting .591 with five extra-base hits and seven stolen bases. His defense and arm strong aspects of his game as well, this kid could be playing the game for quite a while.

Nolan Crisp (2019, McDonough, Ga.) took to the mound again Thursday afternoon and lit up the radar gun. His fastball sitting 89-92 mph, mixing in a changeup and slider, he struggled at times with some location of his pitches but flashed ability to hit quality spots and mix pitches well. Pitching from a three-quarters arm slot, he has effort at delivery and gets very good extension, logged up to eight feet. His frame is such that he can continue to develop as he gets stronger and continues to mature.

In the most pressure filled of situations, lefthanded pitcher Paul Labriola (2019, Bradenton, Fla.) was slated to take the rubber to lead his team to the Elite 8. As it turns out, he did even more than asked, catapulting 5-Star National Burress without allowing merely a hit to his opponent. Labriola stands tall at 6-foot-5 and a slender 180-pounds, projectable and plenty of room for continued strength. He pitches from a three-quarters slot, with a long arm action around back. He showed a fastball slung at 82-86 mph with arm side run, worked off a changeup deceptively pitched today at the same arm angle and no obvious drop in arm speed. The Clemson commit worked in a developing curveball that showed a 1-to-7 shape, ultimately mixing all pitches with purpose and effectiveness to record an excellent outing.

Jack Kochanowicz (2019, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.) was one of the weapons called upon by the Banditos Black team when they needed to shut down opponents in a hurry. The Virginia commit commands attention immediately, before throwing a single pitch from the mound. He hosts an extra large frame, standing all of 6-foot-6 and clocking in at a listed 200 pounds. Showcasing a long, strong lower half, his extension makes it feel like he is about to step on opposing hitters. He couples his presence with a fastball that sat in the 87-91 mph range that had run on it, as well as a raw curveball that flashed the ability to be a plus pitch. In 3 1/3 innings pitched yesterday, he struck out six and allowed only one hit.

Much like Kochanowicz, Christopher Willis (2018, Ruston, La.) is a 6-foot-4, projectable and very athletic framed player whose primary utilization is for coming in the game during high-pressure situations. The long limbed 17-year old came in pounding the zone in the final inning, registering at 89-92 mph. His fastball showed some plane to it, and resulted in a number of swing and misses in his brief display. With an explosive arm, Willis, a PG All-American usually written more for his prowess as a position player, was very impressive in a brief outing.

Zachary Murray (2020, Sugar Hill, Ga.) was called upon in what was the most important game of the tournament for the East Cobb Astros, a matchup that featured two elite programs and the prize was a spot in the final four. All tournament, the rising sophomore drew attention from college coaches for his advanced velocity, movement, clean arm, and overall approach to his craft. The uncommitted athlete came in sitting 85-88 mph early, and touched 89 mph once. His best pitch of the day was his changeup, which died and sunk at the plate, garnering a number of weak swings. He worked both glove side and arm side with purpose and effectiveness, and showed a competitive side to himself that can only be seen in a setting he thrived in.

– Travis Clark

The East Coast Sox Select made it to the quarterfinals of the 16u WWBA National Championship and had a lot of strong performances throughout the day, including that of game one starter Kaleb Hill (2018, Pine Bluff, Ark.). The Ole Miss commit has an excellent frame in terms of physical projection being listed at 6-foot-4, 205-pounds with extremely long limbs and plenty of room to add strength to the frame. Hill does a good job at creating deception throughout the delivery with a shorter arm path and action to deliver the ball to the plate. He worked primarily to the arm side of the plate and the pitch had short run to it as well. One of the more impressive aspects of the overall performance was Hill’s ability to repeat his delivery efficiently while also manipulating the life on the fastball. It is easy to see why Hill is so highly ranked, No. 363 for the class, and the projection of the arm and frame leads to a very high ceiling.

Two of the bats for the Sox who made strong impressions on playoff day were Perfect Game All-American Christopher Willis (2018, Ruston, La.) and catcher Hayden Dunhurst (2019, Carriere, Miss.).

Willis, detailed above as a pitcher, is the top uncommitted player remaining in the 2018 class and the bat is a very loud carrying tool for him. The overall swing is very easy but very dependent on timing to be on as he steps into the stance as the pitch is entering the zone. That said, there is legitimate bat speed and power behind the bat and he hit very well down the stretch in the playoffs. Willis occupied the middle of the order and scorched a couple of baseballs during Thursday’s action, which included multiple hits with 90-plus exit velocities. Willis is one of the most exciting players in the class with one of the most exciting offensive potentials as well; he will be at Petco Park in August for the PG All-American Classic.

Dunhurst has been in the bottom half of the lineup but his offensive profile is still very exciting with a loose, fluid swing that allows him to generate hard contact with the ball to whichever field. The Mississippi commit has a very strong frame that is conducive to being a power hitter with that sort of approach at a listed 5-foot-11 and 210-pounds. The looseness in his hands allow him to cover the plate well and adjust his swing given off-speed pitches or movement. The requisite bat speed and strength throughout the swing and frame have made Dunhurst one of the top power hitters for the class and he showed why on Thursday. He launched a 93 mph, 335-foot home run that was crushed and a no-doubter. Dunhurst is one of the most interesting players in the class but the power will always be attractive on that profile.

Strong performances on the mound were a common theme during the playoffs and a faceoff in the first round between the South Texas Sliders’ Travis Sthele (2020, San Antonio, Tex.) and Scorpions Prime’s Tyler Owens (2019, Ocala, Fla.) absolutely stood out.

Sthele is young for the event, having only completed his freshman year of high school, but has shown good potential on the mound during Thursday’s game. The frame is only 6-foot, however the build is lean and athletic with plenty of room to fill out. Sthele’s arm action is compact through the back and there is slight recoil in the delivery however, for the most part is is pretty easy and comes out of the hand clean. He pounded the zone with his fastball that worked 87-90 mph for the afternoon and showed late, heavy life when down in the zone. The pitch worked well to either side but was best when located to the glove side, which helped his slider play up. The slider was more of a cutter in terms of life with biting-horizontal break to it. The pitch was short but the late movement helped to garner swings and misses. Sthele also mixed In a softer curveball and, overall, he had a pretty strong performance that in most cases would be good enough to claim victory.

The Scorpions went on to win as Owens outpitched Sthele, and nearly every other pitcher who went that day, by tossing a perfect game. The Florida State commit has been detailed in previous recaps this week but he managed to up the ante in the Scorpions’ first playoff game. The power righthander used his traditionally strong fastball, worked 88-92 mph for the most part, and mixed in his effective slider as a secondary pitch. Owens was in control the whole way through as he never had to leave the windup. Owens has had a very strong tournament overall and the perfect game was just the icing on top.

Owens’ teammate Judson Fabian (2019, Ocala, Fla.) had a pretty remarkable day at the plate, seemingly lacing balls to any part of the field with carry and jump off the bat. The Florida commit batted out of the leadoff spot for the Scorps and is very athletic as well. Fabian has shown excellent bat speed and consistent short, lofted swings throughout the event and the results showed on Thursday. One game that stands out was the Round of 16 game where Fabian hit two home runs in back-to-back at-bats. The first was a true moonshot that left the bat at 96 mph and traveled an estimated 364 feet to deep left centerfield. The second was almost more impressive as he laced it 91 mph to the opposite field. Fabian is one of the top ranked players in the class, No. 14 overall, and it is easy to see why, the outfielder has an extraordinarily high ceiling and the power plays right now.

Power Baseball’s William Sullivan (2019, Orlando, Fla.) was another top hitter for the day as his smooth lefthanded swing helped spray line drives all over the field. Sullivan was a big part of Power Baseball’s deep run to the playoffs and the 6-foot-3, 195-pound slugger has good present strength with still room to add to the frame and increase the power output. There is good bat speed throughout the swing and he does a good job at creating leverage through the swing in order to help generate more pop to the pull side. Sullivan’s power is going to be scary-good as he continues to develop but he already has the makings and it showed on Thursday. The hit that stood out was a ball that was crushed to dead center field and one-hopped the batter’s eye. The ball left the bat at 100 mph and had good carry and backspin off the bat. Sullivan’s ceiling as a hitter is extremely high and could be one of the premier lefthanded power bats for the class.

North Carolina State commit Logan Whitaker (2018, Winston Salem, N.C.) got the start for WM9 and showed off sound tools and arm that projects extremely well. The frame is very lean, at 6-foot-5 and 175-pounds, with tons of room left for physical projection and extremely long limbs. His arm action is longer through the back but he gets it through the path pretty consistently. The righthander gets excellent extension down the mound and worked his fastball in the upper-80s on Thursday. The pitch had occasional life to it and was very effective when low in the zone. Whitaker showed a pretty good feel for his breaking ball too. The pitch had curveball shape and movement to it and had tight rotation; Whitaker threw the pitch for strikes mostly but could bury the pitch for chases as well. Whitaker’s ceiling is very high and he projects well for a prospect who could see big velocity jumps in the future.

Whitaker’s teammate Noah Soles (2019, Thomasville, N.C.) has had a strong tournament and showed a good speed and contact combination out of the leadoff spot. Soles is a twitchy athlete with a compact build at a listed 6-foot-1, 180-pounds. The North Carolina State commit is also a good runner and has consistent good bursts out of the batter’s box upon contact. He was timed at 4.22 seconds to first base on a bunt earlier in the event and has shown consistent run times near that mark throughout the tournament. Soles has strong barrel skills as well which showed on Thursday’s playoff game when he got ahold of a middle-middle fastball and crushed it to the right centerfield gap that left the bat at 96 mph. Soles has a strong profile right now and will be one to monitor from North Carolina as he continues to progress.

– Vinnie Cervino

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