Tournaments | Story | 10/2/2017

National Qualifier Scout Notes

Greg Gerard        
Photo: Perfect Game

2017 WWBA National Qualifier: Daily Leaders

The Triton Rays had a pair of righthanded arms that helped lead them to a playoff no hitter in the Round of 32. Jacob Gilliland (2018, Ocean Springs, Miss.) started the game and struggled to find the strike zone early on in the contest, but as he settled in and the game wore on, he was unhittable. Sitting at 89-90 mph in the first inning, he was missing to all sides of the zone. As he settled in to the game in the 86-88 mph range his location was much better and the ball consistently missed barrels. Gilliland works from a long arm action with effort, but not too much effort to believe there is not more velocity in the tank. His size is intriguing at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds with lots of fillable room and projects well with his athletic build. Gilliland does, however, struggle to repeat his mechanics as he frequently falls off to the first base side when landing on top of mixing in multiple delivery speeds into his repertoire to throw off hitters’ timing. Gilliland is an uncommitted 2018 graduate with some upside.

Andrew Baker (2018, Montgomery, Ala.) was the reliever for Gilliland who came in to throw one really impressive inning. Baker showed off a two-pitch mix that included a fastball that sat in the 88-90 mph range and a curveball that sat in the mid- to upper-70s with good bite. Baker made two really quick outs before having to work through two hard fought at-bats and consistently hitting 90 mph on the radar gun and helped the Triton Rays finish off their combined no-hitter. The fastball showed occasional arm-side life from a high three-quarters arm slot. Baker stands at an athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pounds with plenty of room to fill. The delivery does not have too much effort to it, which makes it believable that there is more velocity in the tank. The Chipola commit has upside similar to Gilliland and will be interesting to follow going into his senior season.

Ethan Bowdoin (2019, Alpharetta, Ga.) had an impressive start on the mound for Team Elite Prime. Bowdoin works quickly with a really fluid delivery that projects for more. Bowdoin’s fastball sat 86-88 touching 89 mph early and dropped slightly as the game wore on, but the armside life on his fastball showed throughout. His arm action is clean and the ball comes out of his hand at a three-quarters arm slot from a crossfire delivery making it tough on hitters to pick up. Bowdoin has impressive arm speed as well and maintain it when throwing his 2-to-7 curveball in the low-70s. Bowdoin throws lots of strikes and keeps getting better and better. There is a lot to like in the uncommitted southpaw.

Cole Garrett (2018, Marietta, Ga.) is a 6-foot, 175-pound righthanded pitcher who had an outstanding outing to help send Nelson Baseball School to the Round of 16. Garrett tossed seven innings allowing one unearned run due to multiple unfortunate events. Garrett’s fastball was maintained for two innings in the 87-90 mph range touching 91 once. The velocity did decrease after the first two innings settling in the 84-88 mph range and reaching back for a couple of 90 mph marks late in the game when needed. Garrett throws with lots of energy and uses a good bit of effort in his delivery, but that does not hold him back from throwing lots of strikes. In his seven innings the uncommitted righthander struck out eight and filled up the zone with minimal three ball counts. His arm action is quick and is consistent with his quick tempo delivery. Garrett also mixed speeds with a curveball that was his strikeout pitch. The breaking ball showed low-70s velocity and potential to be a wipeout pitch with maintained arm speed.

Ethan Smith (2018, Mount Juliet, Tenn.) has the most unique delivery of any pitcher in the 2018 class. From the windup, he repeatedly kicks his leg twice before delivering the pitch. The unique double leg kick is a hitter’s timing nightmare. Smith will, on rare occasion, even mix in a single leg kick to really catch hitters off guard. The Vanderbilt commit’s velocity sat in the 87-90 mph range for the duration of his three innings. His arm action is very quick and clean. The upper half of his body during his delivery has many moving parts but time after time the arm is continually on time through the circle and showing occasional cutting action. Smith likes to pitch inside and showed the ability to do so especially to the lower inside corner of the strike zone. Smith showed good feel for a straight changeup in the low-80s and flashed a low-70s curveball with hard downward bite. Smith has a really high ceiling as he goes into his senior year at Mount Juliet High School.

Cooper Stinson (2018, Peachtree Corners, Ga.) is a special arm in the loaded 2018 pitching class. The tall righthander helped lead the way for the East Cobb Astros as they made their way into the quarterfinals. Stinson went five strong innings with seven strikeouts and earned the win. Saturday, Stinson’s arm was live and the velocity showed that. Consistently sitting in the 90-92 mph range touching 93 mph as well. His arm strength is outstanding because his arm speed is not overly fast and the delivery is very easy. The velocity comes from an effortless arm action that really projects for more with some developed arm speed. At 6-foot-6 225-pounds, Stinson’s extension is not overly impressive either but the fastball missed many bats on this day. Another part of Stinson’s arsenal that missed a lot of bats was his swing-and-miss slider that is a plus pitch. The slider has a 2500 rpm spin rate and with really hard downward biting action. The secondary pitch sits at 83-84 mph and, as well as his fastball velocity range, was maintained well. Stinson is committed to Navy, but the Norcross High School senior has a high ceiling for the 2018 MLB Draft.

Ashby Smith (2018, Gaffney, S.C.) showed off the loud pop in his bat when he connected on a home run in Saturday’s Round of 16 win. Smith’s home run helped lead Canes Prospects 18u to a 4-2 win and a quarterfinal appearance. The home run left his bat at 95 mph and traveled a distance of 351 feet. Smith is a Presbyterian commit who shows the ability to swing the bat for power.

Nate Lamb (2018, Chesnee, S.C.) is a big lefthanded pitcher with good stuff. Physically, his build is immensely projectable. Pitching wise, he throws so easily that it makes the velocity deceptive to hitters. Lamb throws with a crossfire delivery that is tough on hitters specifically lefties. Lamb tossed four dominant innings and was almost unhittable. Lamb’s fastball sat 88-91 mph with riding life to his arm side. He also featured a potentially devastating curveball. The pitch sat in the upper-70s with hard late bite. The Clemson commit has the ability on the mound to be a dominant force for the Tigers as well as the body that professional scouts love. It will be interesting to follow Lamb as he moves into his senior year and continue to grow into his 6-foot-5, 196-pound frame.

Michael Gilliland (2018, Boaz, Ala.) turned in a quality start against a talented Upstate Mavericks squad going five innings and punching out five. Gilliland is very effective in that his delivery is quite deceptive as he uses a short pause towards the end of his delivery that helps to throw off the timing of a hitter. He gets excellent back leg drive from this slight pause although it can become hard to repeat. The lefthander’s velocity sat in the 85-88 mph range with an upper-70s changeup with good fade and a developing low-70s curveball. The three-pitch mix helped the Jacksonville State commit strike out five batters in his start.

Noah Ledford (2018, Buford, Ga.) has always been intriguing as a hitter. The big switch hitter shows equally big power in his swing, especially from the left side. That power and high quality hit tool was on display all weekend as the primary first baseman finished off the tournament going 6-for-9 with two doubles. One of the doubles he hit was hit on the nose with an exit velocity of 97 mph. The ball was ripped to right field, where, from the lefthanded side, seemed to be where most of the hit ability is shown to go in his swing. The leverage in his swing is pretty pull-side happy with noticeable strength in the frame and hands. The Georgia Southern commit is a threat each time he comes to the plate with a big-time power potential.

Reese Olson (2018, Lula, Ga.) has a noticeably quick arm. In his first inning, the velocity kept climbing with wonders of if it was ever going to peak. The velocity ranged from 87 mph to eventually a maximum velocity of 93 mph. The delivery shows effort with each pitch having intent behind it. From a mechanical standpoint, the arm action is clean, the delivery is online and he gets solid extension for his size. Olson is skinny standing at 6-foot-1, 155-pounds and maintained his velocity well for his build. He also fills up the strike zone with the fastball that gives him the ability to use his sharp curveball that shows hard bite out of his hand.  The fastball also showed signs of occasional arm-side run. The Gardner-Webb struck out a batter per inning in his three-inning start and showed really good potential as a righthanded pitcher.

The wait for the Saturday nightcap game was well worth it to watch Vince Smith (2020, Charleston, S.C.). The young primary shortstop made the start in center field and made an impact to the game immediately. In the top of the first inning with Team Elite 16u Prime being in the field first, Smith traveled easily 95-plus feet to track down a ball and make an all-out, full extension catch. The closing speed Smith displayed was noticeable even before he caught the ball and when he came down with the ball it was pretty incredible. The LSU commit also shows the ability to swing for power in his small build. Generating lots of bat speed from a big leg-kick trigger that repeatedly seemed to get down in time. At the plate, Smith showed the ability to make hard contact as he ripped a single past the shortstop and into left-center field. With Smith being a 2020 graduate he has plenty of time to fill out into his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame that projects for lots of added strength. Smith is a high energy and big-time talent that will be fun to follow.

Logan Cerny (2018, Lawrenceville, Ga.) showed all weekend long that he is not going to get cheated at the plate. His ability to make consistent contact is impressive as well. The Troy University commit generates lots of bat speed in his swing with power potential throughout. The contact that he makes is loud and hard to all fields. Cerny is an accomplished all-around hitter with the ability to drive the ball or grind out an at-bat if needed. There is a lot to like in the Parkview High School product.

The semifinals matchup between Team Elite 17u Prime and the Upstate Mavericks ST had a pair of big well-known lefthanded arms in Justin Wroblewski (2018, Canton, Ga.) and Garrett Wade (2018, Hartselle, Ala.). Both southpaws would throw shutouts for the duration of their appearances, with Wroblewski going five innings and Wade going 3 2/3.

Wroblewski’s fastball reached 91 mph on one occasion and sat in the 87-90 mph range for the duration of the five innings. The Clemson commit has a lean 6-foot-2, 182-pound frame with squared off shoulders. He threw lots of strikes in the semifinals contest, striking out five batters. He works quickly with a slider that shows short downward break in the low-80s. Wroblewski repeatedly created soft contact and numerous swings-and-misses.

Wade worked in the 88-90 mph range for the 3 2/3 innings he was in the game. Wade works from a three-quarters slot and crossfire delivery that is tough on hitters. He has a changeup that is his go-to secondary pitch, primarily to righthanded hitters. The pitch shows good fade and deception with well-maintained arm speed. The changeup sits in the low-80s and is an excellent compliment to his upper-80s fastball. His slider is short breaking and shows potential to be a solid third pitch in Wade’s repertoire. The three-pitch mix helped Wade tally eight strikeouts in his 3 2/3 innings.

The East Cobb Yankees called a pair of righthanded arms out of the bullpen who showed good velocity. Jack Friedman (2018, Decatur, Ga.) tossed a pair of innings with three strikeouts including one on a knee-buckling curveball. Friedman’s curveball may be the best pitch in his arsenal as it shows true 12-to-6 bite with depth. The fastball sits in the 88-90 mph range from a short arm action that comes from an over-the-top arm slot. Friedman did show a dip in velocity from the stretch, however, but the fastball did seem to have added life when thrown from the stretch. His curveball sat in the low-70s with the same shape from both deliveries. Friedman is an interesting prospect at 6-foot-1, 205-pounds and is committed to Georgia Tech.

The other righthander for the Yankees was Perfect Game All-American Kendall Logan Simmons (2018, Perry, Ga.). Simmons is already well known for his infield arm strength and hitting tools, and on the mound Simmons displayed the outstanding arm strength he possesses. Simmons tossed a perfect inning in relief sitting 88-91 mph touching 92 mph once. The Georgia Tech commit also flashed a low-70s curveball that helped him earn a strikeout as well. Simmons pitches exclusively from the stretch with a really easy delivery that generates lots of arm speed. He throws with very slow tempo that can lull hitters down before firing upper-80s to low-90s fastballs Although Simmons is a primary infielder, he is a legitimate five-tool player with the ability to pitch as well.

Blake Evans (2018, Acworth, Ga.) is an outstanding defensive shortstop who seems to make every play look routine. His hands are incredibly soft with very quick glove-to-hand transfer skills. His exchange is so quick and effortless and his arm strength is playable as well with online carry from multiple arm angles. In the semifinals Evans also showed his quickness on a dirt ball read at third base, scampering home on a high instinct play that barely even got away from the catcher. Evans can swing the bat well too. His lefthanded swing is short and compact with lots of fluidity. The hands stay in a low set position prior to load before getting into a good hitting position then going straight to where the pitch is located with the ability to hit the ball to all fields.

Team Elite Prime 18u sent to the mound two familiar arms over the weekend in Alex Havlicek (2018, Oakland, N.J) and Chance Huff (2018, Niceville, Fla.).

Havlicek is a big, tall righthander standing at 6-foot-4, 210-pounds. On Saturday he was dominant in his five inning start tossing five one-hit innings with five strikeouts. The Virginia Tech commit ran his fastball up to 93 mph and sat at 89-92 for most of the day. Havlicek has a longer arm action and throws with intent. His fastball is mostly straight, but he creates plane downhill. His delivery is deliberate before the glove-hand separation, then the arm circle is very fast and the velocity follows. Havlicek’s off-speed pitch of choice was his sharp curveball in the upper-70s that helped put hitters away when used late in counts.

Huff is a Vanderbilt commit who stands at an althetic 6-foot-4, 205-pounds. The righthander came in a relief role in Sunday’s quarterfinals game and struck out two in his two innings. Huff showed a fastball in the 89-91 mph range and he gets downhill really well with good extension and plane. The ball comes from an over-the-top slot and the delivery is pretty effortless. Huff also featured a cutting changeup in the low-80s and a curveball in the upper-70s.

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