Tournaments | Story | 7/1/2018

17u WWBA Scout Notes: Day 2

Vincent Cervino         Greg Gerard         Perfect Game Tournament Staff        
Photo: Jack Kochanwicz (Perfect Game)

17u WWBA National Championship: Event Page | Daily Leaders | Day 1 Scout Notes

Maxwell Carlson (2020, Savage, Minn.) is one of the top righthanded arms in the 2020 class and he showed why on Saturday morning. Offering up a fastball in the 87-91 mph range, Carlson throws with intent while still projecting for more. Listed at 6-foot-1 and likely taller than that, Carlson has a very loose arm and it really whips through his release. His fastball is mostly straight but he generates a heavy amount of plane when down in the zone and does a nice job of keeping the ball down there. His frame has room to fill and will likely get stronger as he continues to mature.

Carlson featured three pitches and threw all of them for strikes at any time he needed to. His fastball was well located to either corner down in the zone and he showed the ability to elevate as well. His curveball has plenty of shape and sat in the mid-70s and was a good wipeout pitch especially to righthanded hitters. The future North Carolina Tar Heel also offered an occasional changeup with well maintained arm speed and straight movement with late diving action. Carlson finished off his day with 10 strikeouts in just four innings of action on the bump.

Gavin Baker (2019, Lakeville, Minn.) launched a home run to help give Carlson some added run support. Baker put a pair of good looking swings on balls in the game. His swing is quick and compact as he gets the barrel through the hitting zone quickly while also keeping the barrel in the hitting zone for an extended amount of time. Baker also has fluid actions in the infield that play well at third base, where he get the start on Saturday. Baker made a fluid play on a ball hit to his left and fired a strike to first while transferring it cleanly and releasing it extremely quickly.

Jack Kochanowicz (2019, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.) put on a simply masterful performance on the mound both from a scouting and performance standpoint and has solidified himself among the top of the prep class for righthanded pitchers. Standing at a projectable 6-foot-6, 210-pounds with even more room to fill moving forward, Kochanowicz already has the size that scouts love to look for in a pitching prospect. His fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range and did so consistently throughout his outing. He features a power breaking ball that has a solid amount of depth and very tight spin reaching a peak of 2700 RPMs per TrackMan. Not to mention his command is well beyond his years pounding the strike zone in this outing for six strikeouts and no walks in 3 1/3 innings pitched. All of these listed reasons give a good recipe of why Kochanowicz is going to be a special arm in this class.

He throws so effortlessly it seems he is just playing a casual game of toss with the catcher while the arm speed is outstanding. He has a lightning quick arm that works extremely well through the arm stroke from a full arm action and a high three-quarters slot. His arm stays online throughout and he gets excellent extension on top of that. The Virginia commit creates lots of angle on his fastball that is repeatedly located in the lower half of the zone. From a scouting perspective, Kochanowicz’s ceiling is limitless at this point and would not be surprised if he even gets more ticks on his fastball in the future.

Kochanowicz’s battery-mate on this day was Drew Romo (2020, The Woodlands, Texas) and he impressed in his own way as well. One of the few base runners that did reach in Kochanowic’s outing Romo quickly threw out trying to steal popping an eye opening 1.98 second time to second base to nab a quick runner. Romo is one of the most elite catchers in the 2020 class and he showed those backstop tools off in his Banditos Scout Team’s win. Showing big-time numbers at Junior National where he popped a 1.82 second best time, Romo did so in warmups as well popping sub-2.00s consistently in warmups and showing off throwing from his knees at a 2.22 second mark as well. The LSU commit has such a clean transfer and gets it out of his hand quickly with incredible arm strength giving way to elite catch and throw potential.

William Rigney (2019, Woodway, Texas) showed well at PG National two weeks ago and was as impressive on the mound Saturday as well. While he did not quite touch 94 like he did at the National showcase, he did sit 90-93 mph in his first inning of work. It is worth noting that after a long drawn out offensive outburst by his team in the bottom half of the Rigney did not throw for an extended amount of time between his first and second inning and could be reason for his slight dip in velocity from 90-93 mph to 87-90 mph. Either way, it is still impressive velocity nonetheless. Rigney also offers up to hitters a short-breaking slider with two-plane shape in the 80-83 mph range. The pitch is tight but is not quite consistently released on the same axis, but did flash above average potential at times.

Rigney did not struggle at all in this viewing and seemed extremely comfortable on the mound with such a relaxed demeanor. He pitches from an overhead windup with a rear step to start his windup. His arm is very loose and works as well. The Baylor commit stays online and when releasing out in front can create plane and locate both of his offerings down in the zone. His fastball is mostly straight, but he limits the barreled contact by living on the corners as he did so truly well in this viewing.

Justin Campbell (2019, Simi Valley, Calif.) had an intriguing look on the mound as the uncommitted righthander is starting to work his way back after a shoulder injury sidelined him for an extended period of time. Campbell is a big framed righthander with plenty of projection still to fill out into his 6-foot-7 frame. The rising senior from California pitches with low effort and is an easy guy for scouts to dream on as he matures. He throws with so little effort that there is no reason to believe that there is not still plenty more in the tank moving forward. Campbell’s fastball worked mostly 88-90 mph in this outing while pounding the zone in doing so. He mixed in a 73-75 mph curveball with 11-to-5 shape as well.

Campbell pitches from an effortless delivery and gets downhill with plenty of angle to his pitches. It is a deeper stab through the back with his right arm but the arm works cleanly and fully through the arm stroke. Campbell stays online to the plate, but does have an small tendency to open up early with his front side while that did not limit the amount of strikes that he was able to throw. Campbell has some upside and there is no reason to think that the uncommitted label will last too long on him.

Andrew Devine (2019, Simi Valley, Calif.) is a quick-twitch two-way player that is committed to play for the Red Raiders at Texas Tech. Attending the same high school as Justin Campbell, Devine came into the game in relief at Cartersville High School for the North East Baseball Rays. Devine stands at 5-foot-8, 155-pounds and his arm is extremely quick. His fastball sits in the low-90s while topping out at 93 and was maintained for the duration of his 2 1/3 innings of relief work. His arm, as mentioned, is very quick while being very loose as well. Devine has an up tempo delivery as well and attacks with the fastball while getting ahead in counts and throwing a curveball that flashed above average when thrown with the same arm speed as his fastball. Devine may have a small frame but the fastball and curveball combination he possesses is successful in getting batters out at a high rate.

– Greg Gerard

Cutter Clawson (2019, Laguna Beach, Calif.), who has a fantastic baseball name, was mightily impressive Saturday afternoon when he toed the rubber for BPA. He dialed the heater up to 89 mph from the left side, showing clean and repeatable mechanics as he pounded the zone with strikes. Clawson, a BYU commit, also showed good feel for the curveball, which he used in at least one instance to record a swinging strikeout. This offering was most effective when thrown in the zone rather than buried in the dirt. The high leg kick that he pitches with, which he balances on very well, allows him to easily throw over to first if a runner leaves too early, giving him good control of the run game, and he fields his position athletically. The fourth-ranked California lefty in his class also profiles as a two-way player at first base, and he hit for himself in this one, crushing a double to the gap and showing good extension. Clawson impressed recently at the PG National Showcase and continued to show progress in his development so far at the 17u WWBA National Championship.

Continuing a trend on the day of strong pitching was Hayden Minton (2019, Collinsville, Okla.). The righthander has plenty of physical projection in his 6-foot-3 frame and sat around 88-89 mph for most of his outing, although he was able to reach 91 at times. Minton, who is currently uncommitted, throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and torques the lower half back in the delivery, helping him generate some extra velocity and create a bit of deception. He repeats these mechanics extremely well, however, there is occasionally a difference in the delivery when he throws the curveball. It was nonetheless an effective secondary pitch, leading to swinging strikeouts more than once. The seventh-ranked righty in his Oklahoma class, Minton shows very nice potential on the mound.

Cj Czerwinski (2019, Red Lion, Pa.) flashed a nice repertoire on the mound Saturday morning. Making a relief appearance, he was up to 89 mph with the fastball, which showed very nice movement to the arm side as he was able to start it off the plate to righties and let it catch the corner late multiple times for called strikes. His slider lived in the high-70s and was very sharp with great horizontal movement, a great wipeout pitch for him with two strikes. The curve, while not as tight as the slider, still functioned as a nice off-speed offering in the low-70s to give hitters three speeds to think about. Czerwinski pounds the zone with a quick arm stroke, staying online and utilizing his lower half well. While he is not the most projectable at 5-foot-11, the 27th-ranked Pennsylvania righty in his class has plenty of arm strength and could gain some extra velocity as he fills his frame a bit.

Standing tall on the mound with a projectable 6-foot-6 frame was Kevin Padilla (2019, Orlando, Fla.) for the Tri State Arsenal CFL squad. The southpaw was registering up to 87 on the radar gun with occasional good tail, using very minimal effort to do so. His breaking ball had decent bite to it, and he had some success using it as a back-door pitch, showing deception as he threw it with the same arm speed and from a similar arm slot. Padilla was above average in controlling the running game, as he picked off two runners while nearly missing a third. While a little wild in the first frame, Padilla settled in thereafter and was more consistently throwing strikes with a blowout lead in hand.

Padilla’s teammate Adrian Lucre (2019, Orlando, Fla.) provided him with plenty of run scoring, first getting the team on the board with a well-hit RBI single to the pull side. Lucre, who hits with an even stance, is very balanced at the plate and transfers his weight forward well. The middle-of-the-order bat later shot a two-run double right down the first base line that could have been a triple had he not been caught stretching. Nonetheless, the knock put his good barrel control and bat speed on display as he extended his team’s lead. The compactly-built, athletic-looking first baseman may be flying under the radar a bit, but definitely helped his cause Saturday with his solid plate skills.

– Cameron Hines

Those in attendance at North Cobb High School got another chance to see Hunter Cope (2019, Newport Beach, Calif.) Saturday morning. Cope is a big 6-foot-11, 240-pound righty, and has a ton of athleticism for his size. While most 6-foot-11 kids struggle with controlling their body, Cope has a smooth and repeatable delivery. The tall frame allows Cope to work downhill with a fastball that was 87-90 on Saturday, and the long and loose arm action makes him extremely projectable. Cope was also able to flash a tight breaking ball that has swing-and-miss potential. While Cope struggled with command on Saturday, he has shown an ability to fill up the zone at a consistent clip in events past. When he is in the zone, Cope generates a lot of soft contact. He is an Arizona commit.

In the afternoon, three standout performers came from Blackhawks National. On the mound, Wesley Scott (2019, Riverside, Calif.) was dominant during four hitless innings of work. Scott featured a fastball that sat anywhere from 89-91, with his hardest pitch coming in at 93. Scott was able to mix that with a tight slider in the high-70s, and je flashed a changeup at 78 twice in four innings.

Scott has a lean and athletic build that he uses to his advantage. He has one of the quicker arm strokes of any pitcher in attendance at the tournament, and he has a lower half that looked more and more repeatable as the day went on. After a shaky first inning, Scott was able to work his fastball to both sides of the plate, generating nothing but soft contact. When Scott struggles, he loses some control of his front side, flying open and becoming susceptible to missing up and to the arm side. Scott will continue to get better as he polishes things up, and he is a good get for Vanderbilt’s top-ranked recruiting class.

At the plate, Trejyn Fletcher (2020, Portland, Maine) was 3-for-3 and finished just a home run short of the cycle. Fletcher is a physical 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete and looks extremely comfortable in the box. His quick hands and plus bat speed allowed him to get an inside fastball out front for a double, and his triple to center field left the bat at 95 mph. Fletcher looked comfortable as a defender all day, and showed an ability to run with a 4.46 turn on the stand-up double. Fletcher is also planning to play his college baseball at Vanderbilt.

Those in attendance saw exciting room for improvement with Spencer Jones (2019, Encinitas, Calif.). Jones was up to 94 with his fastball on Saturday, and he was also able to spin a sharp 12-to-6 curveball over for a strikeout pitch early on. Jones struggled with command on Saturday, but has an extremely projectable 6-foot-7, 205-pound frame from the left side, and will add velocity as he learns to use his lower half. When he was in the zone Saturday, Jones was unhittable. Command will be something to focus on as his career progresses, as well as learning to get the most out of his frame. Adding strength will be a key, and if he can do that he has a chance to be really successful.

Ty Collins (2020, Los Angeles, Calif.) was electric in his outing Saturday night. Collins worked exclusively with a lively fastball that was up 91 on the evening, and sat in the mid-80s for most of the outing. Collins has a still-growing 6-foot-3, 160-pound body that he uses well to get down the mound. Though he comes across, his head stays quiet. Collins had one of the faster arms seen all day, and the ball really jumped out of his hand and got on hitters quick. With a second quality pitch and some added strength, Collins could develop into a high-level arm very quickly as he’s definitely an arm to keep an eye on in the 2020 class.

– Nate Schweers

Austin Pace (2019, Barco, N.C.) looks every bit the 6-foot-11, 210-pounds that he is listed as. Throughout his three innings of work his fastball sat in the 87-90 mph range and even touched a few 91s. He seemed to have thrown two different sliders. The first one was a harder 75-76 mph pitch with short, cutting action. The second one was a slower two-plane slider at 73-74 mph. As the game went on he developed more feel and depth for the big breaking ball and it became his primary weapon. He also frequented a 79-82 mph changeup. He does have a tendency to slow his arm down during his off-speed stuff, however, for his size he is very coordinated and was able to keep the ball down in the zone early in his outing. Later on as he tired the ball was elevated and he lost some of his command. With reps as he continues to pitch, his command, no doubt, will become more consistent, and overall Pace has a tremendous ceiling.

The lefthanded Conner Prielipp (2019, Tomah, Wis.) came out, much to the surprise of the scouts in attendance, sitting 88-90 commanding both sides of the plate in the first inning of his outing on Saturday. That inning he also threw an extremely hard 76-79 mph 12-to-6 overhand curveball, and with a curveball that hard and that good, it is very easy to dream upon his future. The raw arm strength on the curveball gives one good reason to think that he could get as high as 93 or 94 mph with his fastball in the future. Prielipp has simple easy mechanics and turns his back to the hitter during his leg lift. He then comes at hitters with a three-quarters arm slot that gets plenty of run on the ball. He does have a limited finish so at times his command is off with the ball being up and away from right handed hitters. Prielipp settled into the game sitting at 86-88 mph, showing a few bouts of wildness in the second and third. However, he bore down to finish his last two frames strong, inducing frequent soft contact.

Zachary Maxwell (2019, Acworth, Ga.) is a 6-foot-6, 240-pound righthanded pitcher committed to Georgia Tech. In the first inning, his fastball sat 90-92 mph with an easy, clean arm action. By the third, he was 88-89 mph with his fastball. His big size allows him to get downhill and pound the zone when he gets on top of the ball. When he does not finish his pitches, he does have a tendency to get the ball up in the zone. He has a hard 80-81 mph slider that is presently an average offering. He pitched well and after giving up a three-spot in the middle of the game, rebounded well to finish his outing strong.

Jeff Figueroa (2019, Odessa, Fla.) was possibly the surprise of the morning. A strong two-way player, Figeuroa showed a quick, short and direct path to the ball and he had no problem hitting a double off the wall on a 90 mph fastball. In his next at-bat he kept his hands back on a good off-speed pitch and went the other way for a line drive single over the second baseman’s head. He has a big leg kick and shows great balance on his swing despite the kick. He has a strong arm and good hands at shortstop and definitely projects to stay there at the next level. Also a pitcher, he sat at 87-88 mph throughout his outing while displaying a very quick arm. His slider is a work in progress at 74 mph but shows some promise.

The tooled-up Teddy Burton (2019, Huntington Beach, Calif.) plays third base for the CBA Marucci Nationals. He has very good bat speed with an excellent bat plane, and because of this he should hit a lot of home runs once he learns how to backspin the ball. A good athlete with a lean body, Burton will have no problem staying at third with plenty of arm strength for the position. To add to all these great attributes, Burton is a 4.2 runner and has a chance to steal plenty of bases for the Michigan Wolverines at the next level.

– Matt Arvin

The son of former MLB hurler Jarrod, Jack Washburn (2019, Webster, Wis.) is a strong prospect in his own right and turned in a stellar performance over at Georgia Gwinnett College. The Oregon State scommit struck out eight batters over four shutout innings while allowing just one hit during the entire start. There are a lot of ingredients already in place that are indicative of future success starting from his projectable frame of 6-foot-2, 195-pounds. The delivery is fairly low effort with requisite athleticism and balance as well. The arm works well with a clean take back and comes through well, though he has a tendency to throw across his body at times, which causes his fastball to live primarily to the glove side. Washburn showed three pitch and has a feel for all three going to the fastball first and foremost then working from there. Washburn’s breaking ball was a solid pitch, with good shape and consistency to the breaker and has the makings of at least an average pitch in the future. The offering is a pitch that he shows advanced command of as he leveraged to the lower third often with it. The fastball worked in the 84-87 mph range and topped out at 88 mph during this look and given the athleticism and projection, he profiles nicely with a command profile and more velocity in the tank.

Washburn’s battery-mate Nathan Stevens (2019, Waunakee, Wis.) had a very good day batting in the three-hole and receiving well behind the plate for the majority of the game. The Arkansas commit showed out well during PG National, and Stevens is a highly-athletic, high-offensive upside kind of catcher. The tools offensive are loud, with explosive hand speed and the ability to control the barrel excellently throughout the path. This normally spells doom for the opposing pitcher as Stevens can fight off pitch after pitch until the pitcher has to make a mistake that Stevens can take advantage of. This happened multiple times throughout the game, as Stevens fought for a seven-pitch at-bat in the first inning to drive an opposite field single and later on when he kept his hands back nicely on a two-strike curveball for a pull side single. Stevens’ athleticism and offensive tools will keep him in nearly any lineup and the skills behind the plate are advanced with room to grow thanks to the twitch, flexibility, and arm strength.

It seems cliché to say at times, but if you were crafting an amateur pitching prospect in a lab Michael Prosecky (2019, Westchester, Ill.) looks something like what the finished result would appear. The polish exudes off the projectable and durable 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame and the Louisville commit has a precise, efficient, and repeatable delivery. Prosecky’s arm stroke is clean and low effort and creates hip/shoulder separation to deliver the ball cleanly and without undue stress onto the arm. The fastball is more of a straight pitch, with some natural lefthanded life, though he benefits immensely when attacking with angle, particularly to the glove side and low. This results in numerous tied up swings from righthanded hitters where the best they can do is beat the fastball into the ground. Prosecky’s heater worked consistently in the 87-90 mph range while bumping 91 mph early in the contest. He attacked primarily with the pitch, mixing in a low-80s slider that showed potential and a firm changeup in the 84-85 mph range. Prosecky certainly is at a very good spot for most amateur prospects, as he seems to have the hard part figured out with a clean delivery, lots of strikes, and a solid mix. The result is far from a finished product, as there’s still room for added velocity and refinement of the secondary pitches.

Physical backstop Eric Grintz (2019, Glenmoore, Penn.) had a strong performance for Tri-State as he showed tools both behind and at the dish that made him a coveted target for the North Carolina Tar Heels. Grintz is extremely physical, and the 6-foot, 195-pound frame exudes strength throughout. This plays very well offensively for Grintz as though the path gets long at times, there’s lots of loft to the swing plane and he impacts the ball with immense velocity through extension. Grintz roped two hard hit singles during the game, one that almost decapitated the third baseman and another just past the reach of the shortstop. There’s significant power to the frame and swing and Grintz has the swing, approach, and build that is reminiscent of prototypical sluggers. Some of the nuances behind the plate are still a bit raw but the arm strength is a big tool as it is a legitimate weapon to keep the running game in check.

Kellan Tulio (2019, Emmaus, Pa.) got the ball, throwing to Grintz today, and gave a glimpse of the potential that he brings to the table. The lefthander struggled a bit in the second inning but still showed off a pretty impressive fastball in the 88-91 mph range, averaging around 89 mph for the start, that he could work to both sides of the plate. The arm stroke is wrapped around the backside which causes him to show the ball a bit early, but the delivery itself is closed off toward the end which allows the fastball to play up a bit. The breaking ball wasn’t used often but flashed good shape and some power to it, and as a result of the aforementioned closed delivery, made it nearly impossible to square up on lefty-lefty matchups. Tulio also flashed a changeup at 80 mph and the Louisville commit’s ceiling is very high, even if he didn’t have his best stuff on Saturday afternoon.

FTB/Giants Scout Team needed a rally toward the later innings to secure the win on Sunday, but lefthander Hunter Patteson (2019, Vero Beach, Fla.) showed off some intriguing tools, most of which would allow him to make an immediate impact at UCF should he get there. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame with lanky, long limbs practically scream projection and the low effort delivery is yet another indicator that there is a good chance Patteson’s velocity could tick up next spring. The southpaw’s arm stroke is loose, and he repeats the simple delivery well to deliver pitches to either side of the plate and mix speeds effectively. All three of his pitches looked similar out of the hand, with his secondaries being highlighted by an impressive changeup that is thrown with nearly identical arm speed. The velocity was around the mid-80s for most of the contest, but his lower arm slot did a fairly effective job at creating some angle and sink on the pitch. The breaking ball was a pitch that Patteson could land for strikes but the changeup showed the makings of at least a future average offering. The pitchability and present physical projection are all extremely enticing factors to consider when looking at the overall profile and Patteson has a strong one.

When nearly every arm in the game is throwing around 90 mph, there won’t be a significant amount of offense, however, Tate Ballestero (2019, Morristown, N.J.) did his best to try to provide a spark with a number of quality at-bats and a big, run-scoring double later on in the game. The Virginia commit got the day off behind the plate in favor of first base as the bat needs to be in the middle of the lineup every game. Ballestero’s 6-foot-3 frame is taller than you would expect for a primary catcher, but the length of the frame allows for some natural leverage and smoothness to the barrel plane from the left side. There is a big hand load during the swing but the hands are fast enough to compensate and it seems that it is used primarily as a timing mechanism for Ballestero. He roped a 90 mph bolt low in the zone to the pull-side gap for a run-scoring double while alos lacing the ball hard later on off a 93 mph fastball. Switch-hitting catchers are always in demand and with an offensive profile like Ballestero’s, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him get some hard looks this spring.

Premier ended up defeating 9ers Baseball Club and the pitching appears to be directly correlated to that end result. Starter Josh Wolf (2019, Bellaire, Tex.) and today’s defacto closer Connor Phillips (2019, Magnolia, Tex.) were both very impressive with each showing desirable pro traits.

Wolf is a lean, projectable, and athletic righthanded pitcher with an up tempo, fluid delivery that allows him to drive off his backside well and retain balance throughout. The quickness of the arm stroke allws for easy velocity in the 88-90 mph range while touching 92 mph early on. The Texas A&M commit creates plane from an over the top arm slot but the late acceleration of the lower half can throw his timing off and caused him to miss low during the later innings. Wolf’s offspeed pitches were solid too, flashing a changeup and utilizing his breaking ball, which could vary in shape, as an out pitch. The breakier had good spin to it and he could land it for strikes, though it was at its best when he maintained arm speed and really let it rip to get some late, sharp break.

Phillips, Sunday's probable starter, came in during a one-run game and was asked to save the game while remaining under 30 pitches, which he did with room to spar. The Louisiana State commit struck out four batters in two quick innings and pretty much operated under a “grip-it-and-rip-it” approach. Phillips’ plus arm speed with present velocity was simply too much for the opposition as 26 of his 27 pitches were fastballs, while one was a 78 mph breaker. The fastball lived in the 92-93 mph range throughout and topped at 95 mph during his first inning of work. This wa an abbreviated look, but a productive one as Phillips got to showcase the present velocity, arm speed, and what makes him one of the top prep prospects in the area for the 2019 draft.

– Vincent Cervino

One of the stars of 2017’s 16u WWBA National Championship was righthander Michael Doolin (2019, Schererville, Ind.), and following an excellent spring, he’s one of the pitchers we were most excited to follow up on in this event. Doolin was outstanding as the Indiana Bulls Black moved to 2-0 in pool play, allowing a scant one hit and no walks over 5 1/3 shutout innings, striking out 12 in the process. 

Doolin is a well-built, projectable righthanded pitcher with good size and potentially the best delivery in the 2019 class. It’s a very easy, very repeatable delivery that already equates to above-average fastball command, and he’s done nothing but pound the strike zone every time we’ve seen him, including in this start when he threw 70 percent strikes. His fastball peaked at 90 mph early on, settling comfortably into the 85-89 mph range, featuring good late life to the arm side with some sink as well. He’s able to put the fastball essentially wherever he wants it, and that in it of itself stands out tremendously at this age. His curveball was thrown anywhere from 71-76 mph, and the pitch has improved significantly over the course of the last year, now pretty consistently in the average range on the MLB scouting scale. It’s got significant depth and spin with 11-to-5 shape, and as he continues to refine it and throw it harder, it has plus upside. His mechanical profile and command are somewhat reminiscent of Mike Vasil, a 2018 first round talent who will be suiting up for Virginia in the fall. 

The South Charlotte Panthers also moved to 2-0 in pool play on Saturday by winning a thriller vs. the Cincy Flames 1-0. Clemson lefthander commit JD Brock (2019, Davidson, N.C.) got the start and was very good to start before running into some command issues in the later goings of his outing, but still throwing 3 2/3 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and two walks while striking out eight. He has some funk and deception to his delivery along with some effort through release, but shows the ability to get consistently over his front side on time and pound the zone. He threw 58 percent strikes but that number is skewed a bit by his final inning where he lost it a bit, as he was extremely efficient and dominant over his first three frames. He peaked at 89 mph early on but settled into more of the 83-86 mph range, creating plane to the plate and showing good ability to move the fastball in and out vs. hitters of either handedness. The curveball is a 1-to-7 shaped downer with good depth and spin, with the ability to land it for strikes as well as bury it as a chase pitch, and he also worked in a good changeup with some fading life. He projects well physically as well, so it’s very likely that he’ll end up throwing harder more consistently once he gets into the strength and conditioning program at Clemson. 

Sam Highfill (2019, Apex, N.C.) ended up doing his best to win the game by himself, collecting the only RBI on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning as well as throwing 3 2/3 shutout innings in relief of Brock. He worked up to 89 mph on his fastball but was consistently in the mid-80s, pounding the zone to all four quadrants and going right after hitters, collecting seven strikeouts and no walks in the process. Offensively, he’s got a lot to like with the swing, with loose hands through the zone generating solid bat speed, and there is a fair bit of power there as well. He drove a line drive double off the opposite field wall, a ball that was hit really quite hard, and then showed very good overall barrel control later in the game to get barrel on a pitch down and in and loft it to left field for ultimately the game-winning RBI. 

Leading both Brock and Highfill behind the plate was Jacob Cozart (2021, High Point, N.C.), who really stood out defensively. He’s an athletically-built rising sophomore who did an exemplary job of leading two seniors on the mound, showing advanced abilities across all manner of catching necessities. He’s athletic, moving well to both sides to block balls and is fundamentally sound enough to deaden bounced pitches right in front of him regardless of how far laterally he has to move, and does a very good job receiving as well, though his head does move quite a bit when sticking pitches, but that’s something that’ll easily be refined as he continues to develop. He wasn’t challenged in the game as far as baserunners go, but in between innings he shows good explosive hop out of his crouch and a solid arm, giving him all of the tools one could want to see in a premium backstop at this age. 

Cj Neese Jr (2019, Greensboro, N.C.) stood out at PG National a couple weeks ago both as a position player and as a pitcher, and while he didn’t throw in this game despite being listed on the schedule as a probable pitcher, he still showed some things to like on the position player side. He’s a very long, lean shortstop prospect who reminds this evaluator of former Vanderbilt shortstop Connor Kaiser in some ways, as they both have that smooth athleticism with rangy instincts in the middle infield, to go along with strong arms. Neese controls his body very well and shows clean hands when fielding, and has more range than one would think given the length of his build. We’re excited to check up on him on the mound this week, as well.

– Brian Sakowski


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