Tournaments | Story | 10/15/2017

Sophomore World Days 2-3 Notes

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game

2017 WWBA Sophomore World Championship: Event Page | Daily Leaders | Stats | Day 1 Notes

Up to 84 mph earlier this summer, physical righthander Brayden Sanders (2021, Olive Branch, Miss.) took the mound in relief for Dulins Dodgers-Booker and impressed for his 5 2/3 innings of work. Listed at 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, though appearing much stronger when out on the rubber with broad shoulders and physical strength, Sanders went to work and didn’t let off the gas throughout.

Sanders stays short through the back with his arm action and he’s able to generate his velocity rather easily, bumping 86 mph early in his outing while sitting in the 80-84 mph range with more in the tank. As the young righthander begins to implement his lower half into his drive down the mound he’ll begin to see an uptick on his heater, though he can already generate lane with some sinking life down in the zone. He worked mostly off his fastball in this look but did flash a feel for his changeup in the low- to mid-70s with proper rotation out of the hand and some fading life through the zone.

Lane Forsythe (2020, Humboldt, Tenn.) put together a strong performance on both sides of the ball as the uncommitted shortstop went 1-for-2 on the day while playing an impressive defense as well. He wasn’t cheated on his base knock however, getting a pitch he could handle up in the zone which he drove to his pull side for a loud stand up triple. His actions up the middle were even more impressive though showing balance to whatever he did while working behind the ball with sound body control. Whether it was making the nice charge play like he did early on or the sliding play up the middle where he picked the ball and slapped the second base bag for the force out, Forsythe showed his athleticism.

There’s no doubt that Tyler Joseph (2020, Bloomsbury, N.J.) is seeing the baseball in the form of a beach ball throughout the weekend and a quick look at his stats from the tournament confirm as he’s connected for three hits in two games and two in the other, resulting in a .667 average thus far. Currently uncommitted, the strongly built 5-foot-11, 200-pound Joseph – and the 180th-ranked player in the class – connected for one of his more impressive knocks late last night against the Scorpions. Facing Jackson Nezuh (detailed below), Joseph showed little trouble finding the barrel on an 85 mph fastball located middle-in with plenty of looseness to his hands, turning the barrel for a loud double to the left-center field gap. There are certainly components to his swing to like and college coaches have taken notice.

In the at-bats I’ve seen from Kevin Keister (2020, Smyrna, Del.) over the part of two games this tournament, the uncommitted shortstop has certainly shown things to like with his swing, as well as with his abilities up the middle. Though not overly physical at 5-foot-8 in terms of height, Keister packs strength onto his frame as he’s currently listed at 180-pounds and incorporates it into his offensive approach. He does a nice job of remaining balanced at the plate, whether it’s on takes in the box or while swinging, showing a quick path through the zone with present bat speed. His lone hit in Saturday's competition came in the form of an opposite field double in which he barreled up and dropped over the right fielder’s head. Keister also possesses sound actions up the middle with a compact arm action and plenty of strength on his throws as evidenced by his top fastball of 86 mph on his Perfect Game profile from earlier this summer.

Lucas Costello (2020, Miami, Fla.), Giuseppe Ferraro (2020, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Joel Perez, Jr. (2020, Miramar, Fla.) were all PG Select Festival participants over the event’s first two years with Costello playing in last year’s game while both Ferraro and Perez Jr. (the game’s MVP) were featured this September. Coincidentally enough, all three were in the starting infield for Elite Squad last night with Costello at shortstop, Ferraro at second base, and Perez Jr. at third.

Ferraro is the lone player committed at this moment and the physically built Miami commit certainly looks the part at 6-foot-3, 187-pounds, though don’t let that detract any notion from him being a third base only type prospect. Last night Ferraro showed his athleticism with a diving play up the middle behind the bag, go to his feet to tag second then fired along to first to complete the double play. There’s both fluidity and bat speed to his swing and as he continues to turn on the ball he’s undoubtedly going to unlock some big power.

Costello and Perez, Jr. manned the left side of the infield and both impressed with their gloves and picked up a hit apiece on the night. Costello made the first nice play of the game as he came charging and made a throw across his body with ease and accuracy before showing strength to his hands with a direct path on a double to the pull side gap. Perez has some of the softest hands you’ll find in this tournament and the versatility to play anywhere in the infield with more than enough arm strength and he too picked up a base knock to his pull side which plated two runs.

It’s no secret that uncommitted outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. (2020, Hialeah, Fla.) has elite, game-changing speed as it’s something we witnessed throughout the summer and again on opening night with his infield single in which we beat it out with a 4.03 down the line. We got to see that speed once again on a line drive that got by the right fielder last night, allowing Bradfield to turn up another gear going first-to-third and it’s truly something to see. The speed makes it easy to profile Bradfield in center field at the next level and we were able to see another element of overall tool package last night with his arm as he came up throwing and delivered a one-hop strike to second base to nail the runner who was trying to stretch and single into a double.

Anthony Shaver (2020, Clermont, Fla.) and Connor Morgan (2020, Brooksville, Fla.) are one of the more physical duos you’ll find in a sophomore setting with Shaver listed 6-foot-1, 192-pounds and Morgan at 6-foot-1, 213-pounds and both are more than just physical builds. Between them they went 5-foot-8 on Saturday and it’s only a matter of time before these two bats comes off the board.

Shaver wasted listed time in the box as he went down and got a changeup in his first at-bat, showing both his barrel skills and strength as he golfed the ball down the left field line for an impressive double. A good athlete for his size, Shaver moves well down the line and generates solid present bat speed, an element to his game he showed once again on a line drive single back up the middle.

The middle of the field is where Morgan lived for the most part, barreling the ball in all four at-bats and came away with three bats hits. Two of those hits were rockets back up the middle, incorporating his strength and a fuller swing path to impact the ball out front. In his third at-bat he didn’t stay as linear to the ball as he had in his other swings, showing more leverage at the point of contact which helped generate back spin on a long double to the left field fence.

Both Shaver and Morgan have a long track record of success with the bat at Perfect Game tournaments and it’s only a matter of time before both come off the board.

Despite being one of the youngest on the roster, Jayden Melendez (2021, Palmetto Bay, Fla.) found himself hitting in the three-hole Saturday afternoon between Shaver and Morgan. He’s not as physically built as those two but does an excellent job getting the most out of each swing. Early in the count he’ll employ a high leg lift trigger with which he looks to do damage, though as we saw on Saturday that he will shorten up with two strikes, eliminate the leg lift, and go for a more put-the-ball-in-play approach which he successfully did with a line drive single to the opposite field as part of a two-hit day. Already committed to play at Florida International, Melendez is just as advanced behind the plate with his receiving skills and instincts, sticking pitches out front while showing nice arm strength down to second base on throws.

Another young player already committed to Florida International, shortstop Bryan Muniz (2020, Orange Park, Fla.) put defensive actions on display on Saturday and they just might be some of the best in the tournament. Listed at 6-foot, 165-pounds, Muniz remains soft of his feet and with advanced instincts was able to get to every ball hit his way including one to the six-hole in which he slid onto a knee, picked the ball, got to his feet, and delivered a one-hop strike to first base. He showed well throughout the game with just how easy playing shortstop comes to him though he also can swing the bat some from the right side. He picked up two single on the day but his best piece of contact may have come on his F8 in which he remained direct to the ball with balance in his swing and connected for a loud barrel.

Calvin Hewett (2020, Greenland, N.H.) is a New Hampshire resident playing for FTB-Tucci Cleveland club and he’s certain to establish his name on college coach’s radar given his current tool set and future projection. Noted as a switch-hitter in the program though he took all his reps righthanded, Hewett has the type of speed to impact a game and it’s a component to his game he showed more than one last night. At 6-foot-3, 180-pounds the physical projection is clear though he’s already a plus runner down the line, twice beating out infield singles, the second with a 4.10 from the right side. He’s not just speed, which does help his center field profile, as there’s also present bat-to-ball skill and bat speed through the zone.

While the final line may not have been what shortstop/righthander Jordan Peyton (2020, Colonial Beach, Va.) wanted it to have been, the young Radford commit still showed interesting intangibles on the mound which includes a quick right arm. Listed at a loose and lean 5-foot-8, 135-pounds, Peyton took the mound for the Richmond Braves and ran his fastball upwards of 86 mph while working in attack mode. Peyton featured an up-tempo delivery in which he lands closed with his front side though that also allowed him to generate consistent running life to his fastball with solid sinking life down in the zone. On top of the heater, Peyton also flashed a breaking ball in the mid-70s with sweeping finish and a changeup up to 76 mph, two pitches that’ll continue to develop as he refines his mechanics.

Jackson Nezuh (2020, St. Cloud, Fla.) is an arm I saw last week at the WWBA World Underclass for the first time and just like he did then, the uncommitted righthander put together a sound performance in his four innings of work. With a long, projectable build and a quick right arm Nezuh ran his fastball up to 88 mph and worked comfortably in the mid-80s throughout while generating consistent cut action to his heater. He can work the pitch to either side of the plate and did so while generating plane and some whip with his arm action at release. His slider proved to be a quality secondary with short, later tilt up to 78 mph with solid spin which helped him punch out six in his four innings of work.

Opposing Nezuh from the Diamond Jacks was 6-foot-3, 170-pound righthander Drew Conover (2020, Pittstown, Pa.) who put together an even better stat line and picked up the victory for his club. With plenty of physical projection and a long, whip-like arm action Conover was able to run his fastball up to 85 mph and did so throughout his 5 1/3 innings of work. While there were times where he’d get under the ball with his release, Conover showed nice life to his fastball when on top and working down in the zone. His release on the curveball also developed throughout his time on the mound showing at its best in the fifth inning with 11-to-5 shape and depth up to 74 mph.

Karson Ligon (2021, Sarasota, Fla.) is currently ranked No. 69 in the expanded class of 2021 rankings and he got the start in a pool-deciding game early Sunday morning for the Rebels. As most players his age, Ligon is plenty projectable at 6-foot, 145-pounds and though he allowed four earned runs in four innings of work, he was sharp early and still managed to punch out six. Touching as high as 86 mph early in the first inning, Ligon pitched mostly in the 80-84 mph range with a quick right arm that will only produce additional velocity with refinement to his lower half mechanics. When on top of the ball his heater would show short running life down in the zone and he exhibited a steady feel for his curveball with 12-to-6 shape up to 70 mph.

Uncommitted lefthander Joseph Grassi (2020, Hollidaysburg, Pa.) made his Perfect Game debut earlier this weekend with an inning on the bump and took it once again for US Elite Sunday morning. A strong built lefthander, Grassi pitches with some emotion and personality, as well as with a strong left arm that helped bump 87 mph with his top fastball in the first inning. Working from a higher three-quarters release point, Grassi is able to generate plenty of arm speed with an up-tempo delivery and solid angle on his fastball which lived in the 82-84 mph range for the most part. As he continued to settle in, Grassi showed he could challenge hitters on the inner half with his fastball and miss bats entirely with his slider. A mid-70s pitch, Grassi’s slider was a consistent pitch for him with late tilting life and bite from the same high three-quarters slot, giving him a strong 1-2 combo while also flashing a softer 12-to-6 curveball in the upper-60s.

– Jheremy Brown

Around midday on Saturday, Evoshield Florida 2020 Black took down the Schutt Sacramento Speed Elite by a score of 1-0 in what was a very well pitched game by both teams.

Nick Gorby (2020, Port St. Lucie, Fla.) got the start for Evoshield and was quite dominant in his three innings, striking out four and allowing only a single hit. Gorby is a physically developed lefthander with broadness and strength to his lower half and he does a very good job of repeating his delivery and maintaining balance throughout. In fact, it’s a relatively simplistic delivery for the most part, with some crossfire due to a closed-off landing, but as stated he does a very good job repeating it. His arm stroke is a bit unorthodox due to a higher take back, but he spirals his elbow well and is on time consistently coming through, generating very good angle and extension through his release.

He worked up to 89 mph with his fastball, consistently firing it to the bottom of the zone to both sides, and really didn’t miss more than one or two spots in total in his first couple innings. The fastball is a dominant pitch at this age level both down and up in the zone due to the deception he throws with in addition to the command of the pitch. He’s also got very good feel for his breaking ball, thrown in the mid-70s with sharpness to the break and good depth, consistently getting swings and misses over the top of it when located well.

Gorby’s teammate and center fielder D’Ante Starks (2020, Ocala, Fla.) paced the Evoshield offense, collecting two of their three hits and picking up the lone RBI. Starks is a lean, twitchy-athletic outfield prospect with good speed that he shows off in the outfield, though the defensive instincts as well as the baserunning instincts are raw. He’s got a chance to be an impactful offensive player as well, with very fast hands creating excellent, angry bat speed on a line drive plane, showing the type of raw tools that look really good to evaluators at this age.

In what ended up being a super-competitive game, FTB Rockets 2020 took down Hitters Baseball, 5-4, having to hold off the Hitters after jumping out to a 5-0 lead after two.
Jude Bakst (2020, Wellington, Fla.) was very good in his two inning start, scattering two hits while walking none and picking up two strikeouts. He’s got some physicality to his build and while the delivery is full of effort along with some head violence, he does a good job throwing strikes. He worked up to 84 mph with his fastball with big-time sinking life, showing the ability to elicit weak groundballs consistently while also landing a big-bending curveball for strikes.

Christopher Mills (2020, Wellington, Fla.) came in to put out the ever-growing fire in the third inning and ended up going the distance, striking out six over five innings while scattering two runs and earning the save. Mills has a longer, looser arm stroke to a very extended three-quarters slot, creating significant angle to the plate, working 81-84 mph with his fastball, generating very good arm-side life. The arm speed here portends to significant velocity increases as he continues to fill out, and he has advanced feel to spin the baseball at present as well with a sharp-breaking, two-plane curveball as a weapon for him.

Of no surprise to anyone, A.J. Vukovich (2020, Mukwonago, Wis.) was again and impact player, picking up two more hits, including a triple. Vukovich looks to be the rare combination of size and athleticism, and the Louisville commit shows off that athleticism all over the field. He already has significant righthanded raw power, and while there is some swing-and-miss to his game at present, he looks like one of the more impactful bats in the class. He also got on the mound later on in the game and showed off big time arm speed, ramping his fastball up to 87 mph with big-time arm-side life to the pitch.

Late night at Terry Park, Elite Squad took down the CF Outlaws 11-0 in what was a total-team hitting clinic. Four Elite Squad hitters had multiple hits, including Jordan Carrion (2020, Miami, Fla.), who picked up two laser singles to the opposite field. Carrion is still a lithely-built middle infield prospect with impact defensive skills, but he has consistently shown a developing hit tool that will only get better and better as he continues to fill out his frame. The hands work quite well in his swing though they’ll get inside-out at times, but he has the bat speed and barrel skills needed to consistently find barrel to all fields.

Lucas Nido (2020, Palmetto Bay, Fla.) went the complete game five innings for Elite Squad, allowing only a single hit and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts. He has serious whip to his arm action and arm speed, hooking rather deep through the back but spiraling out of it well and on time. He extends well through release and allows his velocity to play up as a result, working up to 85 mph with his fastball and showing good sink at times down in the zone. He’s very projectable long term and looks like he’ll have a very good breaking ball and changeup as well.

Early Sunday morning, FTB Tucci-Berryhill ended pool play at 3-0 with a 7-1 victory over the Banditos Scout Team. Per usual with this FTB club, Jayden Melendez (2021, Palmetto Bay, Fla.), Anthony Shaver (2020, Clermont, Fla.) and Jamer Fairweather (2020, Homestead, Fla.) were all key contributors in the win. Shaver delivered a big triple and scored a run, Melendez was his usual on-base self with excellent defense behind the plate, and Fairweather showed off a very good approach at the plate, reaching base three times via a hit and two walks.

Though he didn’t have his best command, Victor Mederos (2020, Miami, Fla.) came on in relief to show off his big arm. The No. 3 player in the 2020 class worked up to 94 mph with his fastball, dominating with the pitch when in the zone, and simply overpowering hitters with pure velocity when he was able to harness it. There’s definitely some ease-of-operation to his profile, and with room remaining on his frame it’s scary to imagine just how hard he’ll be throwing at full maturity.

– Brian Sakowski

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