Tournaments | Story | 7/3/2018

17u WWBA Scout Notes: Day 4

Vincent Cervino         Greg Gerard         Perfect Game Tournament Staff        
Photo: Sanson Faltine III (Perfect Game)

17u WWBA National Championship: Event Page | Daily Leaders
Scout Notes: 
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

The Canes National team continues to roll here at the 17u WWBA National Championship and touted righthander Matthew Thompson (2019, Cypress, Texas) got the nod in their first game on Monday morning. The electric Texas A&M commit showed off his impressive stuff in a brief, efficient two-inning stint that required only nineteen pitches on the afternoon.

Thompson is a fairly well-known prospect at this point, as he has established himself up to this point as one of the premier names to know as far as pitching prospects go for the 2019 draft. The righthander has a remarkably athletic delivery with plus arm speed and has cleaned up the delivery somewhat from last year to be more efficient, online, and direct toward the plate, especially with the arm stroke as well.

The future Aggie creates significant plane when working down, which he does often as his timing was extraordinary and he got downhill very effectively. Through nineteen pitches Thompson sat 92-95 with his fastball averaging 94 mph on the bump. The fastball doesn’t have much life besides the steep plane and was effective enough to blow by hitters, especially so when located. The breaking ball was a good pitch and showed average future potential (on the Major League scouting scale) at 80-81 mph. This was a very strong look for Thompson who reminded the scouts in attendance just how impressive of a prospect he is.

Jared Jones (2020, Whittier, Calif.) got the start for BPA and worked up to 94 mph in his lone inning of work. The Southern California commit battled through some command issues but showed off a sharp slider in a short look.

Colton McIntosh (2019, Phoenix, Ariz.) relieved Jones on the mound and showed fairly impressive arm speed and repeatability, especially for a secondary pitcher. McIntosh touched 94 mph and struck out five batters over three quick, efficient innings. There is some effort to the delivery, and the velocity eventually settled in the 88-92 mph range, and generates some angle on the fastball upon entry to the strike zone. The breaking ball is more of a frisbee slider that flashes sharp tilting life and can be thrown for strikes effectively. McIntosh has a lot of impressive tools on the mound and certainly showed the potential for his future at the next level to be primarily on the mound.

Chicago White Sox Ace didn’t get the victory on Monday morning against McIntosh and Co. , however they showed some position prospects with serious tools such as leadoff man Michael Bolton (2019, Chicago, Ill.) and right fielder Kendall Pettis (2019, Chicago, Ill.).

Bolton is a twitchy center fielder, with a good run tool and tons of present athleticism to the frame. The size isn’t imposing, but he’s well-built and the Purdue commit has impact, game-changing speed defensively and out of the leadoff spot. Bolton motored down the first base line to beat out a hit and also slapped an opposite field single. The swing itself is fairly direct and straight to the ball and the bat-to-ball skills stand out, though the swing will get slappy at times as he puts the ball in play to allow his speed to beat out hits. He already has four stolen bases on the week and the impact speed is certainly an alluring trait to professional scouts.

Pettis is a big, strong, and physical right fielder who is committed to Oklahoma, and he showed some raw hitting tools along with good arm strength from right field. Pettis stands at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds with a long, lofted swing plane and operates under a pull-side power-oriented approach. He has quickness to his hands and turned the barrel over on 92 mph on the inside part of the plate to smoke a double down the pull side line. He added another hit later in the game and this was a strong look for Pettis against quality pitching and velocity on the mound as the power will be a big selling card for the profile.

Talented southpaw Drew Gilbert (2019, Lake Elmo, Minn.) was an integral part of leading his Stillwater HS team to a state championship in the spring, and the Oregon State commit has an impressive set of tools both on the mound and at the dish. There are legitimate things to like as a two-way player in Corvallis should he get there and the package itself is intriguing.

Gilbert isn’t a tall prospect, listed at 5-foot-10 and 165-pounds, but is packed with present physicality and quick-twitch athleticism. Gilbert normally bats out of the leadoff spot for the Minnesota Blizzard, he was dropped down to sixth so he had enough time to warm up, and has lightning fast hands with a quick swing that pulls off with a one-handed finish. There’s impressive extra base pop too, and there are a lot of things to like out of an impact-offensive table-setter with some power too.

On the mound, Gilbert sat mostly 88-91 mph with the fastball and has an easy, athletic delivery with a loose arm stroke. There’s quickness to the stroke and he fires the ball to both sides while attacking with the fastball. There is some deception to the delivery as he hides the ball okay, but the fastball offering is primarily straight and as a result he worked mostly off weak contact. The breaking ball showed promise too with good shape and he could land for strikes.

After perhaps turning in the most impressive outing a couple of weeks ago at TOS, Avery Short (2019, Indianapolis, Ind.) got the nod for the Indiana Bulls and there are a lot of components and positive elements to his profile on the mound. With a well-built, mature frame of 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, Short is able to maintain his 87-90 mph velocity well throughout games, though he did dip into the 84-87 mph range out of the stretch. The fastball topped at 91 mph on the day with a fairly simple delivery and deception as he hid the ball and tunneled his slider effectively with the fastball.

The slider was the most impressive pitch in his arsenal, it worked in the 78-80 mph range with significant spin and bite to the offering. The Indiana commit’s slider looks like a fastball out of the hand for about 40 feet before diving downward with two-plane snap and he turned off a couple on the back foot of righthanded hitters for ugly swings. There is tight rotation to his slider, spin rates around 2500-2700 rpm, and that gives him a true swing-and-miss offering at the next level. The command wasn’t what it was a few weeks ago but the potential and tools are certainly there to be an impact player.

Opposing Gilbert on the mound was rising junior Dylan Ray (2020, New Market, Ala.) and the righthander committed to Alabama showed some increased velocity since the last time we saw him out on the mound. Ray touched 94 mph and 93 mph with his fastball early on and the 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame is ideal for that of a frontline starting pitching prospect. The build is presently physical with very broad shoulders and still room for additional strength.

The delivery is very simple and fairly clean with good momentum generated as he drives downhill and attacks the strike zone with the fastball. The pitch sat mostly in the 88-92 mph range throughout and there’s looseness to the arm stroke with some plane generated on the fastball too. The arm slot is more over the top and the breaking ball was a solid pitch for Ray, working in the mid-70s with 11-to-5 shape and some two-plane snap. He slows slightly on the pitch but it has the makings and ingredients of a swing-and-miss weapon as he continues to refine the stuff.

Ray was very good over four innings in the win for Viper Baseball Academy against a talented Minnesota Blizzard team that had heavy pool winner implications. Viper ended up winning the game as Ray went four strong while striking out four batters and allowing just one hit on the game.

Rawlings Southeast National battled the Indiana Bulls Black to a 0-0 draw as all pitchers in the game were very impressive, inclusing the aforementioned Short. Adam Macko (2019, Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada) and Will Childers (2019, Evans, Ga.) combined to complete the shutout on Rawlings’ end of things and both pitchers were very impressive.

Macko has done nothing but carve hitters up at PG events, including during this event last year when he tossed a no-hitter in pool play, and he did more of the same on Monday afternoon. The lefthander worked up to 89 mph with his fastball and lived in the 85-88 mph range while working to both sides of the plate with short sink. Everything works well through the simple delivery, with looseness to the motion and arm stroke as he delivery fastballs consistently in the lower third of the zone for strikes. Macko generated lots of weak contact on the day with weakly struck ground balls and also showed a nice curveball in the 68-70 mph range with feel and shape. The Purdue commit has a degree of polish and should only gain in terms of velocity with his projectable frame.

Childers came in to close the game out and showed some pretty impressive stuff for only a nine pitch outing. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound arm is very athletic with super long limbs and tons of ceiling as a righthanded pitcher. The Georgia commit fired mostly fastballs in the 93-94 mph range with steep plane when he got on top of pitches. The lone slider he tossed came in at 82 mph for a strike with very good shape and was one of the better breaking balls observed by this scout that Childers has thrown during this summer. The ceiling and potential are very high for Childers as the righthander is one of the names to know from this area for next year’s draft.

Auburn commit Mason Barnett (2019, White, Ga.) got the nod for Team Elite Prime during their first game on Monday evening and he was electric early on. After impressing at PG National, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound righthander was dominant in 3.2 shutout innings and got a lot of swing-and-miss on the stuff. Barnett allowed only two hits and no runs while striking out six batters and racking up the whiffs on the afternoon.

The delivery is a good one, with fluidity to motion and extends well down the mound with good direction toward the plate as well. The arm stroke has looseness and whip as he worked his fastball in the 90-93 mph range to start the game. He eventually settled into the 88-91 mph range but the first inning saw him miss seven bats while striking out three batters. The breaking ball has the makings of a good pitch, with very good feel for manipulating the pitch and consistent shape and break. The velocity is a bit low on it, mostly 70-72 mph but he can land it effectively. Though he only showed it once at 81 mph, the changeup has been a good pitch for Barnett in the past and the righthander is a fairly impressive pitching prospect.

Barnett’s teammates Brennan Milone (2019, Woodstock, Ga.) and Nasim Nunez (2019, Lawrenceville, Ga.) both had big days at the plate in the second, and first games, respectively and both show intriguing tools.

Milone is a polished hitter with a good swing at the plate, as the South Carolina has intriguing hitting tools. He launched a home run during game two on the day that left the yard in a hurry and brought across three runs to score. There’s some bat speed and definite hittability for Milone, as he was an integral part of a very good season for Woodstock HS, who was ranked in the National Top 50 during the course of the season.

Nunez is an extremely exciting and twitchy prospect, with true SS tools and some feel to hit for both sides. He put everything on display during the first game when he went 4-for-4 out of the leadoff spot including a double to start the game off and showed off his plus run tool, posted a blazing 6.28 second 60-yard dash time at PG National, with four stolen bases over the two games. The swing has present bat-to-ball skills with a high-contact, low-variance approach as Nunez has a definite feel for the barrel of the bat. The Clemson commit was an absolute terror on the base paths, stealing bases left and right all on the pitcher as they rarely had a chance toc catch him. Nunez put the speed on display late in the batter’s box with a beautifully executed bunt single. The shortstop tools are very loud, with a potential plus arm across the diamond and very soft, sure hands defensively that profile well as a shortstop at the next level. There are some kinks to work out for sure, but if he continues to swing a hot bat the potential is limitless for Nunez.

Physical third baseman Tyler Locklear (2019, Abingdon, Md.) showed off some tools during the game for the Richmond Braves, as the VCU commit has an intriguing profile as a corner infielder with some bat speed and pop at the dish. There is some rawness and swing-and-miss to the approach, however the swing is fast through the zone and he definitely drives through the ball with his strong lower half. The driftiness of the load into the swing will cause him to get into some trouble if he is too far onto his front side, however the loft to the plane and a hard hit single late show that when he squares it up the impact velocity is significant.

Closing out the last time slot on the day was righthander Chase Centala (2020, Tampa, Fla.), and the uncommitted righthander showed a lot of desirable traits with significant stuff as well. The righthander has a strong, projectable lower half and overall frame with a fairly clean delivery as he loads properly and drives down the mound while creating separation and arm speed to run his fastball up to 90 mph on the evening. The arm stroke is a bit lengthy, and this can create some timing issues, however he has an extended release which creates some sink and run on his fastball, which lived mostly 87-90 mph on the day. The breaking ball was a solid pitch, with short, tight shape and the ability to throw it for strikes in the upper-70s. This was a very strong look for a rising junior who shouldn’t remain uncommitted for much longer.

– Vincent Cervino

Quite a crowd gathered on Monday morning to watch righthander Brennan Malone (2019, Matthews, N.C.) take the mound for the On Deck O’s. Malone didn’t have his best command on this day, walking four over his six innings, but was dominant in terms of stuff and mechanics, looking every bit like a potential high first-rounder next summer. He’s got outstanding physicality and size, with a plus-plus body highlighted by a strong lower half and broad, projectable upper half. The delivery works quite well, engaging his back hip well and getting mostly online through his stride downhill with a clean arm action. When the mechanics are timed up, he pounds downhill and can work the fastball to either side. 

He came out firing pellets, working up to 96 mph with the fastball and settling into the 91-94 mph range. The velocity is incredibly easy and the ball explodes out of his hand, and there is seemingly limitless projection ceiling here. His feel for spin gets a bit inconsistent but he shows the ability to spin both a curveball and a slider, and both showed solid average or better potential. His curveball works on a 12-to-6 shape with good depth in the mid- to upper-70s and he also showed a sharper, shorter slider in the low-80s. 

Later on Monday morning, lefthander Hunter Barco (2019, Jacksonville, Fla.) took the mound for the East Cobb Astros at LakePoint. He ended up walking five in his outing, never really finding his command, but still battled to keep his team in the game and give some innings. 

Barco is a long, lean lefty with plenty of physical projection and solid athleticism. He throws from a very low slot, near sidearm, and creates very tough angles to the plate as a result. The command struggles in this outing are well documented, but when he’s timed up through his delivery and over his front side more consistently, the stuff is good. He worked up to 94 mph early on, settling into more of the 89-92 mph range as the game wore on. He flashed the ability to spin a slider with late bite, deceptive out of the hand from his lower slot, and though he couldn’t quite find the split-change feel, it’s a pitch we’ve seen be plus in the past. He’s unorthodox as a very low slot lefty, but there’s no questioning the stuff when he’s on. 

Over at Osborne High School, TCU commit and righthander Riley Cornelio (2019, Monument, Colo.) was absolutely dominant in the Slammers’ 2-0 win over the Richmond Braves. Cornelio went the distance, punching out eight and allowing only two walks and one hit in his complete game shutout that only took 89 pitches to complete. A long, lean, projectable righthander, Cornelio’s developmental trajectory has been pointed skywards since we first laid eyes on him years ago and he continues to get better and better. His delivery has good direction and while there is some plunge to the arm action that will get a bit offline, his arm speed and timing are both very good, allowing him to consistently get over his front side and wear out the strike zone to both sides at the knees. He worked up to 94 mph several times with his fastball, settling into the 90-93 mph range in my viewing, consistently challenging hitters with the fastball and dominating with it. He’s a very high-level follow for the 2019 MLB Draft at this juncture. 

Matthew Allan
(2019, Sanford, Fla.) got the start and went a dominant two innings then came out, as the Canes plan to bring him back in the playoffs in a few days. Allan is a well-built, physical righthander who looks the part of a future innings-eating starter, and was very good in this brief appearance. He ran his fastball up to 95 mph and settled into the 91-94 mph range with lots of 93-94 along the way, pounding the strike zone at a 76 percent strike rate. There’s significant arm speed there to go along with a loose, whippy arm stroke, getting out over his front side and extending well downhill, and he looks like he should have no problem being an accomplished strike-thrower long term. The slider, thrown right around 80 mph, was inconsistent in terms of shape but he did show the ability to let a few rip with sharp tilt, though he was more content to fatten the pitch up and land it for a strike, which was indeed effective for him nonetheless.

There was no shortage of offensive highlights in the 16-run onslaught, and Cade Doughty (2019, Denham Springs, La.) was a big part of that, as he often is. Doughty has long been viewed as one of the top pure bats in the class of 2019 and has done nothing to dissuade those lofty thoughts, drilling a double off the right field wall, an oppo short for the righthanded hitting Doughty, showing off the hands, bat speed, and barrel control that has long endeared him to evaluators. He’s got a solid collection of overall tools but the hit tool is what separates him, and it’ll be especially fascinating to see where he’ll end up on draft boards in 11 months. 

The Motor City Hit Dogs bounced back from a loss in their first game on Monday to earn a victory over Dulins Dodgers and move to 5-1 in their pool. Logan Wood (2020, Macomb, Mich.) got the start and earned the complete game victory. Wood is a solid-average athlete with the beginnings of strength to his lithe build, with good projection remaining on the frame. He works quickly and repeats his delivery well, showing the ability to generate plane to the plate with a quick, efficient arm stroke. He worked up to 87 mph with his fastball and held 83-85 mph into the final frame, mixing and matching his offspeed stuff with great success. He’s got good feel for both his slider and curveball, comfortable throwing either pitch in any count to any hitter. The curveball is 1-to-7 shaped with good depth and spin, more of a strike-stealer than a bat-misser but still with good bite, while the slider projects as a plus pitch with extremely sharp, late-breaking tilt in the mid- to upper-70s.

Jase Bowen (2019, Northwood, Ohio) has always been known as an absolute impact athlete, and he’s committed to Michigan State to play both wide receiever and center field for the Spartans. He has extreme quick-twitch athleticism with at least plus speed, and his defensive instincts in center field rival those of anyone in the class. He made a Willie Mays-esque basket catch with his back turned to the infield in this game, feet from the center field wall.

Hit Dog catcher and designated hitter Robert Cavin (2019, Livonia, Mich.) has split time behind the plate this week but has been a constant presence in the lineup and, as he often does, delivered a big hit when it was needed. With good strength in his frame and hands that work in the swing, Cavin has always had a knack for moving the barrel around the zone and showing the ability to leverage the ball into the air out front. There are good barrel skills there with some pop, and as the saying goes, if you can hit, you won’t sit. He’s uncommitted at this juncture but there is always a place for guy who can hit, and Cavin has proven he can do that.

– Brian Sakowski

Sanson Faltine III (2019, Richmond, Texas) has a significant spin rate on both his fastball and his slider and it is worth describing in detail. Faltine’s fastball may very well spin at a higher rate than anyone in the 2019 prep class as it reached numbers as high as 2700 RPMs. He was pretty dominant in this viewing, both with his stuff and his performance. His fastball topped out at 92 mph once while consistently sitting at 89-91 mph. The fastball is straight, but while spinning the pitch at such a high rate, it is very hard for hittters to square the pitch up and it showed in this contest. Faltine really sits on his back leg getting excellent drive the mound and usage of his lower half. His high spin rate shows up in his slider as well that is very sharp up to 2600 RPMs. Faltine also flashed a straight changeup as well in this viewing. His mechanics are mostly clean and with some effort but his velocity is maintained well. The arm works through the arm stroke cleanly and quick with a slight curl of the wrist at take back. Faltine is a Texas commit who is exceptionally athletic.

Matt Willadsen (2019, Holly Springs, N.C.) had a very nice showing on Monday morning at 10:30 at LakePoint. The NC State commit did a nice job of filling up the zone with upper-80s fastballs while projecting for more with added strength to his wiry frame moving forward. Listed at a believable 6-foot-2, Willadsen is able to stay online with both his lower half and arm allowing for good command of his three pitches. His go-to seemed to be his changeup that had some fade in the 76-77 mph range early.  He served the changeup first and later mixed in a breaking ball with true 12-to-6 shape and could be a potential big-time out-pitch in the future. His frame is the most intriguing aspect at present of Willadsen as he has plenty of growing still to do. When he fills out and pitches with the low effort that he throws with now, the final product could be special making Willadsen’s ceiling tremendously high.

Kale Davis (2019, Oklahoma City, Okla.) came into close the door on the mound for Sticks Baseball Academy and was able to showcase on of the top breaking balls in the 2019 prep class as well as a fastball up to 91 mph. Davis is a physical presence on the mound and the big righthander committed to Oklahoma State was lights out during the two inning save. His fastball comes very easy from his big frame and is able to locate the pitch well and get ahead in counts with it. The pitch is mostly straight, but he creates plane while getting good extension out in front. His curveball was the pitch he was able to get hitters to swing through at a frequent rate. Davis can spin the baseball at a high rate and has a good feel to do so. Reaching a peak spin rate of 2500 RPMs and true 12-to-6 spin, Davis has a swing-and-miss pitch in his repertoire that he can locate at the knees or bury to get hitters to chase.

Chris Villaman (2019, High Point, N.C.) had a lot of heat packing the stands behind home plate at Lassiter High School to see the southpaw pitch. Villaman pitched a rather quiet dominant performance going six innings with four strikeouts. The swing-and-miss aspect to his game was not overly tremendous, but the lefthander committed to NC State did get plenty of soft contact with all three of his pitches. The fastball sat in the 89-91 mph range mostly and peaked at 92, flashing life to his arm side as well. Villaman does a nice job of messing with hitters timing mixing in multiple delivery speeds and is athletic enough to do so without letting his command or velocity suffer. His arm works through the back fully and on time. He did have a tendency at times to be a bit late with his arm causing it to drag and the fastball miss up to his arm side. His two secondary pitches were a short slider at 78 mph and a changeup at 75 with plenty of deception. Although there is a large velocity difference between his fastball and his changeup, the change is an interesting pitch and could be very effective moving forward.

Jacob Denner (2019, Closter, N.J.) held his own against a talented Dirtbags lineup and the Michigan commit varied speeds nicely and projects for more velocity moving forward. Denner topped out at 86 mph with his fastball from the left side while the velocity did dip after a pair of innings. His fastball comes from a full arm stroke and the timing is on time repeatedly while he hides the ball through the back as well. A good explanation of Denner is a projectable and crafty lefty. Denner mixed in a good curveball that complemented his fastball very well. The pitch has true 12-to-6 shape and he was able to locate the pitch at the knees for strikes. Denner has a low front lever that allows the arm to come through smoothly and on time. The Michigan commit has an interesting arm on the mound and pitched very well in Monday’s afternoon contest.

Christian Rodriguez (2020, Corona, Calif.) flew cross-country and immediately was sent to the mound for Blackhawks National on Monday evening and gave a nice glimpse of an ultra-projectable righthanded pitcher. Rodriguez is a 6-foot-6, 185-pound righty from Orange Lutheran High School, the home of 2018 first rounder Cole Winn. The Miami commit has an effortless delivery that helps generate easy velocity while topping out at 90 mph on this day. Rodriguez gets outstanding extension out in front as it is expected with his lengthy built. The fastball is mostly straight but does have heavy plane when down in the zone. The arm works cleanly through the back and gets out in front to the point of release quickly. He mixed in a curveball that flashed big-time potential, but is still inconsistent along with his command. Rodriguez does a smooth job of repeating his mechanics, but does tend to cut off his extension short at times causing him to leave the baseball up in the zone. When all is on time and the arm gets through quickly, Rodriguez is a special talent and will only continue to improve as he matures and fills out.

Nate Wohlgemuth (2019, Owasso, Okla.) pitched the performance of the tournament so far as he was absolutely electric from start to finish. The righthander topped out at 95 mph early and sat 91-94 mph consistently getting lots and lots of swings and misses. The top uncommitted pitcher in the 2020 class dialed up six consecutive strikeouts to begin the game and tallied a total of 14 altogether. The fastball comes out of his hand cleanly and rather heavy as well. The one obvious aspect of Wohlgemuth’s pitching is the outstanding amount of arm strength he possesses. It is simple to determine arm strength by looking at the radar gun, but Wohlgemuth, in his first inning threw more 94 mph pitches that 91 mph pitches which is saying something in itself about the strength of his right arm.

The uncommitted righthander is physical although not overly tall standing at a listed 5-foot-11. He really uses every bit of his size to get the most out of his build. The fastball is the power pitch here as he is able to locate it well showing the ability to spot each corner in this viewing. He did flash a curveball, however. When landed for strikes, the pitch is a good secondary offering. The pitch was inconsistent at times, but was best when landing for strikes at the knees diving away from righthanded bats. The pitch showed 11-to-5 shape and plenty of depth when at its full potential.

– Greg Gerard

It is never a small task to come on in relief of a teammate pumping 95 mph heat, but Jason Diaz (2019, Franklin Square, N.Y.) was up to the task as he seamlessly continued the string of dominant pitching for the Canes National squad. The Miami commit lived around 91-92 mph with the fastball, touching 94 at times as he pitched with a quick and clean arm stroke that mostly stayed online. Diaz has a very strong lower half that he utilizes well, pitching effortlessly as the ball jumps nicely out of his hand. While he didn’t throw his power curveball very frequently in a brief 1 1/3 inning appearance, it showed nice potential to become part of a lethal 1-2 punch. He did struggle a bit with command near the end of his outing but had previously located well. Diaz, the top New York player overall in the 2019 class, appears to have sky-high potential as a power arm.

Further putting on display the Canes’ enviable embarrassment of pitching riches was big righty Thomas Schultz (2019, Mount Carmel, Pa.). At an imposing 6-foot-6, the Vanderbilt commit was pumping the radar gun up to 91 mph, and like teammate Jason Diaz, used fairly low effort to do so. Schultz was summoned for a two-inning save opportunity and protected the one-run lead in dominant fashion, retiring six hitters in order with two strikeouts. The fastball, spotted extremely well on the corners and garnering late swings and misses, was all he needed, as he did not offer a glimpse at any secondary offerings. Schultz is ranked third among Pennsylvania righties, and 10th overall, in the 2019 class and is yet another exciting arm from the talented Canes team.

Wade Elliott (2019, Edmond, Okla.) looks like a big-time power bat for the Sticks Baseball Academy team. He started his day by crushing an RBI double straight off of the left-center wall, showing a very short and direct swing path as got the barrel to the ball quickly. He has a bit of natural loft to his swing, seen again as he knocked a pitch to an almost identical spot, only to be robbed of a hit this time. Both of his batted balls were hit very hard, and his stocky, muscular frame backs up the power he displayed. Manning the hot corner, the Missouri commit showed quick reflexes as he snared a hard liner, nearly doubling up a runner at third on the play as he dove to the bag. He looked good charging one slow roller and throwing from the side on the run but was late throwing out a runner in a separate, similar instance, and it looks like his arm strength at third may be a point of focus for improvement. Nevertheless, Elliott, the top Oklahoma third baseman in his class, shows a very high ceiling at the dish.

Arizona commit Zachary Martinez (2019, Glendale, Ariz.) was around 88-92 mph with the fastball in a start for Blackhawks National. The righty was just the latest in an abundance of top talent seen at LakePoint Monday and surely did not disappoint. Martinez showed athleticism on the mound and pitched with good arm speed that was maintained as he threw his slider, which he liked to use as a front-door pitch on righthanded hitters. While there is an element of violence in the somewhat high-effort delivery, he still showed good command and proved difficult for hitters to get a good read on. He unraveled a bit at the end, but Martinez, the third-ranked Arizona player overall in his class, possesses a great mound presence and shows a knack for punchouts as he sat down some impressive bats for DRB Elite.

Opposing Martinez for DRB Elite was southpaw Zander Sechrist (2020, Buford, Ga.), who is playing up an age level. While his fastball isn’t yet lighting up radar guns at 82-84 mph, he shows good feel for a curveball that he was comfortable throwing for first-pitch strikes. In addition, his changeup, which he threw around 74 mph and disguised well, was highly impressive and was used effectively as a strikeout pitch. The command of the two secondaries allowed his fastball to succeed despite the velocity not quite being there yet. However, with two years left of high school, the fifth-ranked Georgia lefty in the 2020 class has plenty of time to add velocity and pair it with his existing command and good pitch mix. He ultimately out-dueled  Martinez for the win.

Fabian Escalante (2019, Oviedo, Fla.) offered an impressive presence at the plate Monday morning. Hitting with a low hand-set and a crouched stance while using his lower half well, the left fielder broke open the scoring in a big way with a bases-clearing triple pulled down the first base line. Escalante utilizes a front-foot trigger as a timing mechanism and has a swing built for line drive pop. The strong and well-proportioned lefthanded batter also shows a good two-strike approach, working a 1-2 count back in his favor in one instance to draw a walk. Escalante is ranked ninth among Florida outfielders in his class and looks to be a hitter who will consistently give his team strong at-bats.

A Louisiana-Lafayette commit, Justin Barnes (2019, Spring, Texas) was up to 91 mph in a relief appearance for Hunter Pence Baseball. Pitching with a quick arm action, the 6-foot-1 righty had nice running life to the fastball that made him tough to barrel up. His arm path is mostly clean and efficient, although a bit offline, and he repeats his delivery well. While he did run into some control issues, walking three and hitting one while throwing just 50 percent of his pitches for strikes, Barnes was able to work out of jams for the most part as not much was hit with authority off of him when he found the zone. Ranked 20th among Texas righthanders in the 2019 class, the hard-throwing Barnes shows good potential with his stuff that can be truly unlocked with improvements in command.

Mason Barnett (2019, Cartersville, Ga.), yet another highly-touted pitcher, shined on Monday as well. Pitching close to home, he went after hitters and consistently got ahead with a fastball that lingered around 89-90 mph. Barnett was given a 6-0 lead and ran with it as he filled the zone nicely. The Auburn commit pitches over the top and the downward plane generated was effective at inducing groundballs, a skill that he paired with his excellent strikeout ability. His curveball showed 12-to-6 shape and was difficult to pick up. Ranked fifth among Georgia righties in the class, and 15th overall, Barnett definitely looks like he will be a force for Auburn at the next level.

– Cameron Hines

Allan Hernandez (2019, Miami, Fla.) got the day started with a bang for FTB-Tucci 55. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound righty had a lively fastball working on Monday morning, running it up to 93 before settling in at 89-93. Hernandez also flashed a tight slider that was right around 80 all morning. Hernandez is a physical player and uses his powerful legs to get the most out of his delivery. He has a very quick arm action and was able to stay smooth and fluid throughout. Hernandez’s ability to command the zone on Monday was his most impressive attribute, as he only walked one batter in his three innings of work. If he continues to work at the knees and get soft contact, this uncommitted arm will have no trouble having success as his career goes on.

In Monday’s next time slot, Grant Leader (2019, La Grange Park, Ill.) was up to 91 on the mound, sitting anywhere from 86-90. Leader turned in five shutout innings for Top Tier Americans, striking out seven batters. Leader is another smaller-framed player that gets the most out of his body. At 5-foot-9, 155-pounds, Leader uses his lower half well to drive down the mound, and the quick arm action is definitely something to be impressed with. Leader was able to show a feel for spin on Monday with a tight breaking ball in the high-70s, and his delivery was consistently on time and in the zone with his entire arsenal. Leader is committed to Illinois.

On what was a day full of standout arms, the next pitcher to impress was East Cobb Astros starter Tucker Talbott (2019, Atlantic Beach, Fla.). Talbott turned in a dominant performance, allowing just two hits and striking out six in his six innings of work. Talbott has quick arm action, and though his low three-quarters arm slot was funky, he was able to repeat it throughout the day. Talbott was all over the zone and his motion created some deception for hitters. Talbott is still an uncommitted member of the 2019 class and should continue to get outs at the next level.

Over on Field 9, William Morris (2019, Austin, Ark.) was impressive in his short outing in relief. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound lefty was up to 90, sitting in the upper-80s after that. Morris uses his frame well, and he was very smooth and repeatable with his mechanics. There is definitely arm strength there and the entire delivery was in sync. Morris struggled with command at times Monday, but made big pitches when he needed to. The Arkansas commit will more than likely get another chance to throw in this tournament when observers should expect to see more of the same velocity as a very intriguing arm to follow in the 2019 class.

In what was an exciting matchup throughout, Aren Alvarez (2019, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) dominated in a complete game effort on the mound for CBA Marucci American.  Alvarez went the full seven innings allowing just six hits and striking out five. Alvarez has a very quick arm stroke, and was able to command the zone consistently throughout his outing. Alvarez has a clean and repeatable lower half, and was able to throw three pitches for strikes. The slider was in the mid-70s with tight spin and he also generated swings and misses on a mid- to high-70s changeup. This three-pitch mix can be uncommon for prep arms, and it is definitely an impressive arsenal to have for Alvarez. Outside of the three-pitch mix, another very impressive piece for Alvarez was the plane he created with his extension at release and he was able to get a lot of swing and misses with fastballs that were below the zone.

In the opposing dugout, CJ Abrams (2019, Alpharetta, Ga.) was as good as advertised. For someone seeing Abrams for the first time, I was incredibly impressed by the way he played shortstop. Abrams has very good hands up the middle and he made quite a few exceptional plays, including a full extension diving catch to steal a base hit. At the plate, Abrams had his plus bat speed on display in his third at-bat. He was able to rope a double over the head of the first baseman, and he used his speed to turn what would be a routine single for most into a hustle double. Abrams is a clear leader in the infield and it will be interesting to see how he continues to improve over the next year.

– Nate Schweers

Despite his young age Reece Holbrook (2021, Columbia, S.C.) is a centerpiece in the Diamond Devils 17u Black team’s lineup. Just an incoming sophomore, Holbrook has all the tools to be an elite prospect moving forward. He has a good swing and hits to all fields, hitting a nice opposite field single on Monday off of 85 mph heat in the game. As he develops his pitch recognition he should be able to go with the pitch and will be able to hit to all fields, and as he matures physically he should be able to add muscle mass to his frame giving him more power potential. Holbrook, the son of College of Charleston head coach Chad Holbrook, has good speed and should be able to take additional bases and he has a good arm too. His speed plays well on the field as he has plus range in center field as the North Carolina commit is definitely a name to watch during the next couple of years.

Blake Buckle (2019, Milton, Ontario) is currently one of the best amateur players in Canada, and his sweet lefthanded swing has good balance, lift and strength in it. He put those attributes to use in game action Monday morning when he hit a long triple to his pull side. With a strong build, he profiles as a power corner outfield, and his arm, for the time being, will play at any of the three outfield positions. Heady and instinctual, the uncommitted outfielder is an outstanding option for any college program in the country.

Tate Ballestero (2019, Morristown, N.J.) is a catcher for the 9ers baseball program. He has an incredibly strong arm and had no problem mowing down runners as they tried to steal on him Monday. The size of the long and lean catcher is no problem as he has very quick transfers to go with his raw arm strength. Defensively, he showed soft hands and stayed low in his crouch and he blocks well, especially fastballs in the dirt. His swing has bat speed in it with leverage with a fair amount of over-the-fence pop.

Michael Limoncelli (2019, Elmira, N.Y.) is a long and lanky pitcher with plenty of room to add to his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame. Limoncelli came out of the gate sitting at 90 mph and touched 91. He shows the ability to spin a baseball when throwing his 74 mph curveball, as well as drop it in for strikes, and at its best, it has a huge 12-inch bend. In the second inning, he threw a lot of changeups in the 83-84 mph range. While he has a limited finish, he has a very fast arm. In his short stint of two innings on Monday, Limoncelli made a good impression on the contingency of scouts in attendance. He is very projectable and Coastal Carolina will be thrilled to have him come to their campus in 2019.

Jack Scanlon (2019, Sloatsburg, NY) is an exciting two-way player committed to Texas Tech University. He started out the game catching where he keeps his large frame under control while blocking and framing pitches very well. During the game, he had the most impressive swing of the day at the East Cobb complex when he hit a towering home run over the right field wall.  At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Scaanlon’s body is built for power, but, what was more impressive was the fact that that he had the hands to keep the ball from hooking.  He also came in to pitch the final two innings to close out the game. In the first frame, he was effective with his fastball sitting at 88-89 mph. However, he lost some steam in the second inning of work, sitting at 85-86 mph with a softer 66-69 mph curveball.  He was a bit wild because his mechanics became out of sink, but at his best he flashes good glove-side run that induces soft groundouts.  

Brandon Fields (2020, Orlando, Fla.), also a star football player, looks every bit the part of the two-way player that he is. However, Fields is not just a raw athlete that fills out a uniform, he really knows how to play the game. Fields does everything well, as he is an average runner and looks good in center field where he projects to stay for the long haul. His arm is a weapon, and when he fully gets behind his throws it grades out as plus and is accurate. Fields also has plus raw strength in his swing, hitting a huge double to the center field wall as well as a pop fly that had a hang time of 5.96-seconds. The sky is the limit for this young man, and when it is time for him to concentrate on baseball full-time, his skills and acumen should grow quickly.

– Matt Arvin

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