Tournaments | Story | 7/19/2017

15u WWBA Day 5 Scout Notes

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

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In the first inning of yesterday’s game, there didn’t appear to be anything Aaron Nixon (2020, Mission, Texas) couldn’t do on the baseball field. A true two-way talent with the ability to do both at the next level, Nixon is already a highly regarded prospect as his No. 30 national ranking suggests.

In a quick two-inning stint on the mound in preparations of the playoffs, the University of Texas commit came out attacking the strike zone with a fastball that sat in the 88-91 mph range, bumping 92 early on, and was locked in during the opening frame. Though listed at 6-feet tall, Nixon did a nice job of working on top of the baseball to generate plane with a quick right arm and showed his best life when down at the knees. When everything is on time and he’s living down in the zone and working both sides Nixon is able to induce ground ball contact and should only continue to develop moving forward. His slider has true swing-and-miss potential in the 77-79 mph range showing late bite down in the zone with maintained arm speed.

In case bumping 92 mph in the first inning wasn’t enough for a rising sophomore, Nixon made sure to show out with the bat and did so in a loud way in his first at-bat. Listed as a primary shortstop, Nixon shows sound balance to his swing and put his strength on display with a long two-run home run to left field, registering 90 mph off the barrel with plenty of backspin coming off.

He may not light up the radar guns just yet, but it’s only a matter of time before Patrick Holloman (2020, McDonough, Ga.) is doing so which won’t bode well for opposing bats. The lefthanded Holloman already shows some of the better command, pitchability, and overall feel in the 2020 class and already misses a bunch of bats working in the 82-84 mph range so that next jump will only make him that much more effective.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, the physical projection is there for Holloman, who’s currently ranked 78th in the country, and he does an excellent job of repeating his mechanics pitch-to-pitch which in turn allows for plenty of strikes. The fastball comes out clean for Holloman and he shows plenty of quickness through the back side while locating to either side of the plate with short running life. While watching behind the backstop a couple of players who have faced Holloman in the past said something to the effect of “it’s weird, I just couldn’t see the fastball” and over my two looks of Holloman it appears to hold true as he misses plenty of bats with his fastball.

The curveball is Holloman’s go-to pitch and it’s an offering he can land for strikes at will. With 1-to-7 shape in the low-70s, the uncommitted lefthander shows no hesitation in doubling up on the pitch and at one point yesterday went to it five straight times against lefthanded hitters, inducing two weak ground ball outs. While he can cruise through an outing on just his fastball-curveball combo, Holloman also flashed a feel for a mid-70s changeup, a pitch he would cut at times but still throw for strikes.

Another former PG Select Baseball Festival All-American on the Roadrunners, outfielder Dalton Pearson (2020, Suwanee, Ga.) continues to show an uptick to his game with additional physical strength. Currently the No. 60 player in the class of 2020 rankings, Pearson is listed at 5-foot-11, 160-pounds and continues to show an increase in bat speed with virtually every look. He shows a handle for the barrel through the zone with a short path and picked up a line drive single to his pull side in his first at-bat before later adding a double for part of a 2-for-3 afternoon.

If you haven’t already heard Blaze Jordan’s (2021, Southaven, Miss.) name it’s only a matter of time before you do. A physically advanced righthanded hitter who’s already committed to Mississippi State, Jordan continues to excel this summer and has performed at all age levels, including at the 17u WWBA where he hit a home run to the opposite field. He didn’t go deep in our most recent look but he did go 2-for-4 with a couple of singles through the 6-hole (registering 96 and 98 mph apiece) and is currently hitting .600 on the tournament. His ability to generate standout bat speed is second nature for the Mississippi native and he showed some versatility on defense by manning the hot corner yesterday afternoon. He had more than a couple of balls hit his way which allowed him to show his abilities whether it was on the charge, starting a double play, or simply putting his arm strength on display with routine throw across the diamond.

Lefthander Josh Castleman (2021, Sellersburg, Ind.) turned in a complete game shutout for the Dulins Dodgers, proving seven quality innings over a talented Team All American Prospects squad. Not overly physical at 5-foot-10, 155-pounds, Castleman sat very comfortably in the 78-81 mph range, bumping 82, but more impressive than carrying his velocity was his ability to fill up the strike zone, work ahead in the count, and throw just 67 pitches in a complete game effort. With a shorter, compact arm action Castleman hides the ball and also mixed in a 1-to-7 shaped curveball with regularity, coming across in the low-70s with a consistent feel.

The FTB Tucci Select squad features plenty of familiar names from last fall’s WWBA Freshman Championship, all of whom appear to have developed physically and continue to take their games to the next level.  Both Anthony Shaver (2020, Clermont, Fla.) and Connor Morgan (2020, Brooksville, Fla.) are powerfully built, middle-of-the-order hitters who show impressive bat speed and strength off the barrel which Morgan demonstrated on a triple to deep center field, registering 89 mph off the barrel.

Shortstop Jacob Starling (2020, Orlando, Fla.) shows loose, bouncy actions up the middle and moves well on his feet while also showing a feel for the barrel, staying short to the ball and possesses the ability to go with the outer half pitch to the opposite field. Bennett Lee (2020, Tampa, Fla.) also handled the barrel well and swings with plenty of intent, generating solid bat speed while going 2-for-3 with three RBI, including singles both to his pull side and up the middle.

Though he ultimately took the loss, righthander Brandt Pancer (2020, Suwanee, Ga.) intrigued last night both his with present stuff and future potential on the mound. With a square-shouldered and plenty projectable 6-foot, 170-pound frame, Pancer ran his fastball up to 87 mph (did so in the fourth inning) and sat anywhere between 81 and 85-86 mph, depending on the count and how many outs there were. The uncommitted righthander utilizes a short and compact arm action through the back and his ability to throttle his velocity with intent is noted as he lived down in the zone with short running life. When on top of the ball, Pancer was able to generate 11-to-5 shape on his curveball, a 70-72 mph offering, though he went mostly fastball and given his quick right arm and the refinements he can make to his lower half delivery, Pancer isn’t done in terms of gaining velocity.

Ryan Clifford (2022, Raleigh, N.C.) was mentioned in an earlier recap but his overall performance this tournament, as one of the few 2022 graduates in attendance, stands out as he’s now hitting .615 with two home runs and three additional extra-base hits. His lone hit in this contest can be seen I the video, a ground ball single through the pull side hole which register 100 mph off the barrel. The swing and overall fluidity are advanced at the plate, as are his takes and ability to recognize spin, rarely ever expanding the strike zone and never flustered when down in the count. Clifford is an outfielder long term where he moves well on his feet to cover ground but he also jumped on the mound and though he was scattered in terms of command, he did run his fastball up to 82 mph from the left side.

Tyler Wiederstein (2020, Greensburg, Pa.) didn’t have his command like we’ve seen in the past but he still managed to no surrender a run in his 2 2/3 innings of work and again showed noteworthy velocity. With a lean and projectable 6-foot, 160-pound frame Wiederstein shows a quick right arm through the backside and ran his fastball up to 88 mph early in the contest with short running life and still projects for more as he continues to incorporate additional lower half in his drive towards the plate. Working primarily off his fastball both from the windup and stretch, Wiederstein did show a nice feel for this curveball, landing the pitch for strikes and providing hitters with a different look.

– Jheremy Brown

Touted righthander Luke Daniel (2020, Muscle Shoals, Ala.) got the start for the East Coast Sox Tuesday morning and turned in a lights out performance over at Woodland High School. The Alabama native held the opposition at bay to the tune of five shutout innings with eleven strikeouts and only allowing two hits the entire way.

Daniel has a very large and physical frame, listed at 6-foot-3 and 205-pounds, with a durable build throughout. The effort level was pretty low throughout the entire delivery and release although there was slight recoil near the finish. The delivery is simple with a rocker step and a lift to the belt and he delivers toward the plate with a quick and compact arm action.

The stuff was very good as he went through the game. Daniel touched 88 mph in the first inning and worked in the 83-86 mph range throughout the early portion of the game and the ball came out of his hand very clean. The pitch was mostly true in life but he got over his front side okay and could work the pitch to both sides. The curveball was a bit inconsistent but flashed very good potential. When he would bury the pitch low in the zone it was devastating, particularly to batters of the same handedness. Daniel had a very low-intensity outing as he needed under 80 pitches to cruise through his shutout.

Daniel’s teammate T.J. McCants (2020, Cantonment, Fla.) had recently impressed at the Sunshine East Showcase and he has taken that momentum with him to the 15u WWBA National Championship. He is currently hitting around .400 for the tournament and the leadoff man for the East Coast Sox has a very short stroke at the plate. The hands are incredibly quick to the ball and travel quickly through the overall hand path into contact. The swing itself shows natural loft to it and he is able to create hard line drives to all fields. He got the offense started in the bottom of the first inning when he kept his hands inside and pulled a double down the right field line. Over the course of the tournament thus far he has shown good plate coverage too and can go the other way if needed. McCants has a very intriguing skill set at the plate and should be highly coveted by college coaches with up the middle tools and good skills at the plate.

The summer circuit can be a long one for high school players but Corey Collins (2020, Suwanee, Ga.) has been one who has thrived throughout the 2017 summer through this point. He hasn’t hit below .300 in a tournament yet and is batting .600 thus far through the 15u WWBA National Championship. He added two more hard hits on Tuesday with a 95 mph single in the first followed by a deep RBI triple later on in the game. Collins has very good awareness with the barrel and this raw bat speed allows the ball to jump off the bat. Collins displays a low effort swing with looseness to his hands and has shown to be one of the top hitters in the class thus far.

Something this scout hasn’t seen before was Collins on the mound and the No. 52 player in the country showed intriguing potential. He reached as high as 88 mph with very impressive raw arm talent. The arm stroke itself was full through the path and he used almost exclusively a fastball. The pitch sat in the 84-87 mph range for the majority of the game and the life on the fastball was true. The delivery and overall mechanics are a bit raw, however there is absolute talent on the mound and could really develop as he continues to refine his stuff.

Righthander Cooper Nelson (2020, Palm Harbor, Fla.) got the nod on Monday afternoon for the Tampa Terror and showed some solid foundational tools from the mound. The Florida native is a bit short, listed only at 6-foot, however he mitigates the absence of plane with a lower three-quarters arm slot to help create deception and life to his fastball. The big crossfire element to his landing leg also helps to aid in deception but Nelson also does a good job at remaining on time and working to both sides of the plate. There is a stab in the back of the arm action but he repeats it through a compact path to release. Nelson mixed in a soft slider too that was used to front-door righthanded hitters and was an effective two-strike pitch. Nelson showed very good pitchability and was able to quiet the opposing offense with seven innings without allowing an earned run and racked up ten strikeouts on the afternoon.

During the final time slot, a hotly contested game between the Dirtbags and Banditos was going on and righthander Jared Kelley (2020, Refugio, Tex.) came in to earn the victory and keep the game tied during the final two innings. Kelley kept the Dirtbags from scoring and the Banditos came back to win on an eventual walk-off in the bottom of the seventh.

The velocity comes very easy for Kelley who has a very deliberate and slow-paced delivery that still sees him touch the low-90s with the fastball. The arm travels loosely through the path and creates some whip as he releases toward the plate.

Kelley has recently impressed at the PG Junior National Showcase where he reached as high as 93 mph. The TCU commit did not quite get that high but still showed off an explosive fastball. He used the fastball exclusively and the pitch worked in the 88-91 mph range for his abbreviated outing. The pitch had tremendous dive and sink to it as opposing batters had no shot against the pitch. Kelley only came in to close the game and will be an absolute must-see should he start later on in the event.

– Vinnie Cervino

Already apparent in this tournament is Robert Hassell’s (2020, Franklin, Tenn.) ability to pitch, but what he did on Tuesday afternoon showed that he has the ability to really swing the bat as well. Hassell has done nothing but hit the ball all over the field since his game on the mound, batting .526 over that stretch and adding two more hits on Tuesday. Hassell beat out a single up the middle showing a 4.35-second home-to-first time and immediately stole second without a play. In his final at-bat, Hassell let an outside fastball get deep and ripped in to the opposite field gap. The Vanderbilt commit really showed off his quick hands and good bat speed with a triple and showed that he can run pretty well in the process. The athletic and lean lefthander has all the tools to be a big-time five-tool player and potential two-way player at the next level.

GBG Marucci had a strong showing in their sixth pool play game on Tuesday. Two players specifically really stood out in their 5-0 shutout. Carter Graham (2020, Calabasas, Calif.) stands out from a physicality viewpoint prior to him even stepping into the batter’s box. His 6-foot-2 200-pound frame really projects well with even more room to fill throughout the profile. At the plate, Graham really showed that he can put the barrel of the bat on the ball well and consistently by hitting a hard lineout to left field that left his barrel at 88 mph and a squared up single to center field. The uncommitted third baseman made loud contact in all three of his at-bats Tuesday.

The other GBG Marucci slugger that showed tools at the plate was Devan Ornelas (2020, Chatsworth, Calif.). Ornelas’s first plate appearance resulted in a ground ball to right center. Showing great instincts and excellent speed, Ornelas took second base and turned a single into a double. Ornelas has lots of athleticism and quick-twitch muscles throughout his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame and the speed is really impressive. After a walk in his second plate appearance, Ornelas immediately stole second without a throw displaying his speed, quick first step and baserunning abilities. Ornelas, like Graham, is uncommitted with a high ceiling.

Catcher Mac Guscette (2020, Nokomis, Fla.) is a really good framer behind the plate. The University of Florida commit showed on multiple occasions that he can steal strikes for his pitchers sticking pitches that are on the corners. He later showed off his quick transfer and arm when he picked off a runner at first base. Guscette did not earn a hit in the contest, but on his swings I could tell that there is solid bat speed and power potential in the projectable 6-foot 175-pound frame.

The opposing catcher to Guscette was Joe Mack (2021, Williamsville, N.Y.) who showed lots of potential for a 2021 graduate playing up in the 15u tournament. Mack showed both at the plate and behind it that he is going to be a big-time player. Mack blocks well with good lateral agility and framed well throughout the game. Swinging the bat, Mack showed power potential and the ability to make hard contact specifically to pull side. Mack has an athletic 5-foot-11, 182-pound frame with present strength and good bat speed that will only get better as he matures and gets even stronger.

– Gregory Gerard

The Dirtbags 15’s Daly took their pool play record to 6-0 on Tuesday evening at LakePoint via a 3-1 hard-fought victory over Bergen Express. Cameron Clonch (2020, Mooresville, N.C.) got the start for the Dirtbags and turned in five shutout innings allowing no hits and only a pair of walks while striking out eight.

The East Carolina commit has a lean, highly projectable frame with long limbs and an excellent amount of room remaining to fill out. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with some spinal tilt to get his arm up creating significant plane to the plate when commanded down in the zone. His fastball worked up to 84 mph settling into the 80-83 mph range and flashing some arm-side life at times as well. He’s got a full arsenal of pitches at his disposal pitching mostly with his fastball but also showing a curveball and changeup. His curveball is thrown in the upper-60s to low-70s with 1-to-7 shape, ideally suited for his arm slot, showing quality depth at times. The changeup showed potential as well turned over out front and flashing fading life towards the arm side.

Clonch was in control for his entire 60-pitch outing and then with a 3-0 lead, the Dirtbags went to Nolan McClean (2020, Willow Springs, N.C.) to close out the victory. McClean had a little trouble with command, walking one and then struggling a bit to stay away from the middle of the plate but still showed some overpowering stuff in his one-inning stint. He’s very much of the “rear back and fire” mold coiling back over his rear hip and hiding the ball well before exploding out and throwing from a lower three-quarters arm slot. He sacrifices plane for this release, but he does cause the ball to really jump at the hitter at times and really generates arm side life at times. His fastball peaked at 92 mph settling in more at 87-90 mph for better command, and for the most part was within the zone.

He’s also an excellent offensive prospect with big time bat speed and strength from the right side of the plate barreling up a single at 91 mph off the bat in the first inning up the middle. There’s definitely looseness to his hands in his swing really bringing the barrel around with authority and showing the ability to make loud contact with consistency.

Another team ran their record to 6-0 on Tuesday night this time it was Team Elite 15u Prime, who secured a 10-3 victory to remain undefeated.

They have shown a very balanced offensive attack throughout the tournament with high level hitters up and down their lineup. Austin Hendrick (2020, Oakdale, Pa.) is the third-ranked player in the class of 2020 and for very good reason as the center fielder has some of the highest-level hitting tools in the class. A lefthanded hitter, Hendrick has outstanding bat speed with the beginnings of legitimate physicality to his body, giving him both the bat speed and strength necessary to be a big time power threat whenever he steps to the plate. He laced a triple down the right field line that left his bat at 99 mph something that really isn’t all that uncommon for the young prospect, which highlights just how talented he is. He’s got tools that project to the highest level, and it’s going to be extremely fun watching him develop over the next few years.

A pair of Team Elite 15u Prime relievers really shut the door to close out the victory and they did so with a combination of extreme efficiency and dominance.

Luke A. Wagner (2020, New Cumberland, Pa.) came on in the fifth inning with two outs though Top Notch had pushed a few runs across and were still threatening. Over the next 1 1/3 innings Wagner struck out all four hitters he faced, on a total of 17 pitches. From a tough three-quarters slot the lefthander pounded his fastball down to both sides of the plate with excellent late arm side life working up to 88 mph and really just dominating within the zone. He really arches his back elbow up through the back of his arm stroke but the arm is extremely quick and the slot he throws from is very deceptive. He also has advanced feel for his Frisbee slider landing it for strikes and front-dooring righthanded hitters with it. He’s uncommitted as of yet but the interest in him as lefthanded pitcher is likely extremely high.

To close out the win in the seventh inning Team Elite brought on Gavin Collyer (2019, Buford, Ga.) an extremely lean and young 2019 prospect who really impressed in his one inning of work. As mentioned, he’s very lean yet, with good projection remaining on his build and a loose, whippy arm action without much in the way of mechanical red flags, aside from some head violence at release.

He creates good angles to the plate from an extended three-quarters arm slot generating big extension to the plate and allowing his raw fastball velocity to play up a bit as a result. His fastball peaked at 89 mph, showing solid arm side life, sitting 87-89 mph for the 14 pitches he needed to dispatch of three opposing hitters. He pounded the strike zone, getting swings-and-misses within the zone with relative ease. He’s got very good feel for his slider at present as well, thrown firmly in the upper-70s with sharp, late tilt looking like a fastball out of his hand before taking an abrupt right turn (from the perspective of the catcher). He demonstrated the ability to land it for strikes as well as bury it as a chase pitch, giving him a significant amount of high-level components to work with. When one pairs those components with his overall body projection it gives him extreme upside.

– Brian Sakowski

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