Tournaments | Story | 5/29/2018

West Memorial Notes: Days 3-4

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Josiah Chavez (Perfect Game)

Joseph Acosta (Murrieta, Calif.) may be listed as a primary third baseman per his Perfect Game profile but he showed big upside on the mound Sunday morning, despite not having his sharpest command. Having just completed his freshman season at Murrieta Valley, Acosta worked 3 1/3 innings for Dykstra Baseball and showed components to his game that make him an intriguing arm to follow moving forward.

Overall his delivery with a balanced one with a simple leg raise working to a full, on line arm action and while there aren’t many moving parts to his delivery he’d get mistimed with his release, leading to four walks on the day. That said, he lived down in the zone for the most part with a fastball that lived in the 82-85 mph range, bumping 86 a time or two while showing the ability to work in on the hands which resulted in two broke bats. The velocity came easy for Acosta and he maintained well both out of the stretch and through his outing and he was able to generate solid plane when working on top of the ball.

He worked exclusively off of his fastball in live action but flashed both a curveball, with 11-to-5 shape, and a changeup in between innings and down in the bullpen pregame. There’s definite upside to Acosta on the mound given his frame and ease of operation on the mound and the fact his fastball has jumped seven mph since this past September.

Another former PG Select Fest All-American, shortstop Parker Welch (Riverside, Calif.) continues to add strength to his frame and appears stronger than his listed 5-foot-11, 155-pounds. A lefthanded hitter who’s already committed to UC Santa Barbara, Welch showed smooth, balanced stroke during game action on day three, handling the barrel while showing the ability to work on all fields. He also showed instincts and a feel for the overall game on a popup he skied straight up to the middle of the infield. With all four infielders converging the and the ball ultimately dropping between them, Welch was off to the race and took both second and third in what ultimately became a footrace in beating the defender back to the ball. That same foot quickness was put on display at shortstop as he moved well laterally and made a nice play ranging back on a soft flair to make a tough play look rather routine.

Another uncommitted rising sophomore from the Dykstra Baseball program, lefthanded hitting catcher Josiah Chavez (Santa Paula, Calif.) impressed with the stick as he went 3-for-3, collecting three singles throughout the contest. His swing is a simple one, beginning with an upright stance while shifting his weight well into contact and using loose hands to get the barrel through the zone. Chavez is already strongly built at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds and rather than just trying to overpower the baseball he showed a handle for the barrel as well as the ability to work the opposite field. Both of those characteristics were put on display when he got caught out front on a curveball which he simply flicked into left field for his second of three knocks.

Already ranked No. 225 in the class of 2020 rankings, Colt Keith (Goodyear, Ariz.) is the type of player who makes it easy to project big physicality moving forward as he already stands 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, though the broadness of his shoulders help envision plenty of strength en route. Keith has already made his commitment to the nearby Sun Devils of Arizona State and it’s easy to see what the coaching staff saw in the young lefthanded hitter as he stays short to the ball with quickness to his hands and also showed sound defensive actions up the middle. Playing up at the 18u level, we’ll be able to see Keith play against peers his own age in a couple weeks at the PG Junior National Showcase at Lake Point.

Helping lead his Lights Out team to an opening round victory in the playoffs was 2021 shortstop Hunter Katschke (Basic, Nev.) who continued to have an impressive performance and is now hitting .556 on the tournament. He’s listed at a strong and still projectable 6-foot-2, 175-pounds and incorporates his strength well into his righthanded stroke, staying short and direct to the ball. He reached base in all three at-bats, bookending a walk with a pair of doubles, both of which came to his pull side. With looseness to his hands Katschke barreled a ball to his pull side gap in his first at-bat before showcasing the ability to wait back on a curveball and though somewhat elevated still found the barrel and drove the ball down the left field line for his second two-bagger of the day. He moves well defensively with footwork up the middle and shows sound arm strength across the diamond, something he showcased on the mound earlier with a top fastball of 83 mph earlier this tournament.

A young prospect out of Spanish Fort, Utah, Zac Dart started the Utah Horns’ playoff game at third base where he certainly looks the part with a wide shouldered, 6-foot, 155-pound (appears stronger) build. While picking up a deep double to his pull side from the left side of the plate, Dart impressed again on the mound after running his fastball up to 83 mph at the start of the tournament. While he didn’t show quite that with the heater in his second outing, Dart still worked in the 79-81 mph range with a short and quick arm stroke through the back. Working exclusively out of the stretch, Dart shows an on line delivery down the mound and pitched off his fastball, an offering that offered short sink down in the zone and helped collect three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings.

Jacob Galloway (Camarillo, Calif.), a 2022 catcher, has shown some of the more polished defensive actions throughout the tournament and they are skills that’ll continue to improve and stand out as he develops physically. He’s light with his actions and does a nice job of sticking pitches out front while also showing a quick transfer and a clean release with true throws down to second base. Offensively, he’s a lefthanded stick and bats in the two-hole for PBA and has shown a consistent feel for the barrel, picking up another two hits in the playoffs. While there isn’t much strength to his profile, yet, he shows looseness to his swing and comfort working all parts of the field with extension out front.

Mentioned in an earlier recap for both his bat and abilities on the mound, 2022 third baseman and righthanded pitcher Jordan Kang (Porter Ranch, Calif.) once again put his righthanded bat speed on display and it’s proving to be some of the best in the 14u division of the tournament. Kang is now hitting .500 after a two-hit performance in PBA’s win in the opening round of the playoffs, one of which was an opposite field triple. Getting his hands and barrel extended on an outer half pitch, Kang drove the ball into the right-center field gap with authority (not something you’ll often see at the 14u level) and while he was ultimately thrown out trying to stretch it into an inside-the-park home run it was an impressive piece of hitting, nonetheless. He continued to swing a hot stick during PBA’s run to the championship, barreling another deep double while running his fastball back up to 83 mph during the semifinals.

Connor Culp (2019; Sparks, Nev.), a primary shortstop who has a middle infielder’s build at 6-foot-1, 160-pounds, took the mound for the final inning of Stars N’ Spikes’ victory over AZ Pro to advance to the playoffs in the 18u portion of the tournament. Working with an up-tempo delivery and high leg lift which helps creates some deception, Culp ran his fastball up to 85 mph and lived within the 82-85 mph range throughout the inning while showing some cut action through the zone. The slider proved to be a go-to offering for the uncommitted Culp, even in this one inning look, and it’s an offering he tunneled well with his release with tight rotation and late tilting life in the 73-75 mph range.

Earlier in the tournament, uncommitted 2020 third baseman Joel Rubin (Scottsdale, Ariz.) connected for one of the louder home runs of the tournament though it was his abilities in the playoffs that stood out on day four. Rubin, who’s physically built at 6-foot-3, 170-pounds, worked with an up-tempo delivery on the mound and showed impressive arm strength as he ran his fastball up to 88 mph early in the contest, settling into the mid-80s, while showing late sinking life down in the zone. Working four scoreless innings, Rubin attacked hitters with his fastball and punched out five though he also mixed in a 12-to-6 breaking ball up to 76 mph that he can continue to incorporate into his sequencing more often.

It wasn’t the longest of looks at 2019 righthander Jack Folkins (Seattle, Wash.) as he worked just 2 2/3 innings before coming out, but it proved to be enough to make an impression about his present arsenal and long-term projection. At 6-foot-3, 185-pounds Folkins stands out on the mound with a loose frame and a short, repeatable arm stroke, two elements that helped produce a fastball that sat comfortably in the 84-87 mph range though there’s plenty more left in the tank. Already committed to Portland, the velocity comes easy for Folkins and as he continues to implement additional lower half into his drive watch for the gun to produce even higher readings. Along with the velocity the Washington native showed three pitches, mixing in a mid-70s slider – which he’ll continue to refine the release on – and a changeup which offered fading life in the 76-78 mph range.

Ultimately taking home the MVP honors for the 18u Memorial Day Classic, Sean Rimmer (Mesa, Ariz.) impressed again in the championship, this time on the mound though he did find the barrel in three of his at-bats with loud contact. Working into the seventh inning before hitting his pitch count limit, the physically impressive 6-foot-4, 215-pound Rimmer ran his fastball up to 87 mph early in the championship, inducing some weak contact while also striking out seven along the way.

Working to a three-quarters slot with a tight release, Rimmer did a nice job of working within the zone and varied his tempos and looks throughout, giving a pause at the top of his delivery from time to time. A middle of the order bat and everyday player for AZ T-Rex, Rimmer worked more in the 82-85 mph range later in the content and understandably so given his work load, but he also was able to land his 12-to-6 shaped curveball in the 69-72 mph range for strikes.

Opposing Rimmer in the championship game was righthander Tyler Whitaker (Las Vegas, Nev.), who was detailed earlier in the tournament for his talents on the mound. It was more of the same for the future Arizona Wildcat as he showed three pitches, though his velocity was up from what we saw earlier in the tournament, sitting in the 84-87 mph range while bumping as high as 88 mph. What stood out even more than his pitching was his righthanded bat, a tool that produced two solid base hits to his pull side in a double and a single, both coming off curveballs. While Whitaker has tremendous upside on the mound with a projectable build and quick arm, there’s certainly two-way potential for the Las Vegas native.

Speaking of young talent, outfielder Derrick Mitchell (Tempe, Ariz.) just completed his seventh grade season, though looking at him in a uniform you wouldn’t guess he’s just 13. Standing at a long and high waisted 6-foot-2, Mitchell employed an aggressive approach from both sides of the plate in each of his first two at-bats, jumping on fastballs early in the count while displaying a loose swing from either side. And while he isn’t listed as a primary outfielder, Mitchell got the start in center field where he showed a short arm action that produced solid carry on his throws. It’s obviously early in the process for Mitchell but there are components to both sides of his game that need to be monitored moving forward.

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