Tournaments : : Story
Thursday, July 12, 2018

16u WWBA Scout Notes: Day 6

Vincent Cervino         Greg Gerard         Brian Sakowski         Perfect Game Tournament Staff        
Photo: Koen Moreno (Perfect Game)

16u WWBA National Championship: Event Page | Daily Leaders
Scout Notes: 
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Dulin’s Dodgers 15u Prime closed out their tournament run with a win on Wednesday afternoon at Lake Point, beating Mizuno Baseball USA Ryan by a score of 4-3. Kyle Booker (2020, Southaven, Miss.), a lefthanded-hitting center fielder committed to Tennessee, helped to pace the offense from the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Booker is an athletically-built, twitchy prospect who projects extremely well to the next level both with the bat and in the field, where his plus speed plays in both ways. He’s lithely-built with good projection remaining, but there’s more pop to his present profile than his frame would indicate, thanks to the whippy bat speed he creates with his lightning-fast hands, and he shows the ability to drive the ball deep as well as slap the ball around, using his speed to get on base as well as wreak havoc on the base paths. He’s a seriously high-upside type of top-of-the-order bat with the potential to be a premium defender in center field.

Fellow Dodger Blaze Jordan (2021, Southaven, Miss.), the No. 1 player in the class of 2021, continues to show his extremely advanced hitting tools to go along with top-of-class power. It’s almost a surprise at this point when he doesn’t hit a ball extremely hard, and the fact that he’s done an excellent job working on his physicality and overall athleticism over the past couple years is also an extreme benefit to his already-lofty profile. The strength is evident in his swing, as even when he doesn’t barrel it up fully or hits it at a bit too high of a launch angle, the sound the ball makes off the bat is special, and he likely leads the nation in hang time on fly balls, if such a thing were consistently measured and tracked. He’s shown the ability to work counts to get himself in situations where he’ll get a pitch to hit, though teams do tend to stay away from him if at all possible (as they likely should); and he does an excellent job of moving the barrel around on pitches in different locations, battling until he can get something to drive. The bat speed is off the charts, as is the power, and he continues to look like a truly special hitter the more and more we see him play. 

Mizuno Baseball USA sent out several arms in this one, and Zachary Easterling (2020, Spring, Texas) really stood out for his projection and arm speed, even if the results weren’t ideal for him. Easterling has a long, lean frame with serious remaining projection, and while the delivery and arm action—and overall mechanical profile, in fairness—have some refinements needed in the future, the tools he has on the mound do stand out. He worked up to 87 mph with his fastball, having some trouble commanding the zone due to the combination of a lengthy deep arm stroke and a restricted lower half in his delivery, but when on time he showed the ability to generate excellent plane and extension through release, working his fastball to the bottom part of the strike zone. There’s also good feel to spin the baseball there, with a curveball reaching 75 mph, and the pitch will only improve as he finds more consistency in his mechanics and release point. Also an accomplished hitter, Easterling blasted a two-run bomb from the left side of the plate in this one, showing a nicely-lofted swing plane with hands that work well in the swing, giving him very intriguing two-way upside at the next level, especially once he adds more strength to his frame. 

Nick Bitsko (2021, Doylestown, Pa.) came on to close out the win for Dulin’s, and while he sprayed the ball around a bit in terms of command, the young righthander and Virginia commit continues to show off some of the highest pure upside in the class of 2021. He’s got outstanding size and seemingly limitless physical projection remaining on his frame to go along with presently-plus arm speed and big time present velocity. He worked up to 95 mph in this one, settling into the 90-93 mph range, with the fastball exploding out of his hand, creating excellent plane to the plate from a higher three quarters slot and showing the ability to work down in the zone with the pitch. He shows good feel to spin a breaking ball right around 80 mph that, when commanded, has late biting break that is tunneled well off of his fastball, and projects as a potentially plus pitch for him. The upside here is vast, and he’s realizing that potential much more quickly that previously anticipated when we first saw him. 

Speaking of tremendously-high upside right arms, Carson Montgomery (2020, Windermere, Fla.) got the start for Power Baseball in their opening-round playoff win on Wednesday evening, beating Team Elite Premier 6-5. Montgomery had some trouble throwing strikes in this one, but there’s absolutely no questioning the upside this very-young-for-grade 2020 righthander posseses. He worked up to 96 mph with his fastball early on, settling more into the 90-94 mph range over the course of his three innings, racking up eight strikeouts but also walking five. The arm speed is absolutely electric, as is his physical projection, and the subsequent potential velocity ceiling is absolutely tremendous. As he continues to develop on the mound, he will add some deception to his delivery as well as generate more extension, helping that velocity to play up in terms of how effective it is, because as it sits right now, hitters do get a pretty good look at it coming out of the hand. He spins a very hard, very tight slider in the 83-87 mph range, a pitch that, when released properly, tunnels off the fastball well and has extremely late, biting tilt—a pitch that easily projects as plus long term. 

The Duluth Noles moved to 7-1 in the tournament late on Wednesday night, beating the 643 DP Cougars-Sterling 4-0. Christian Davis (2020, Covington, Ga.) went the whole way, stymying hitters all night long and picking up the complete game shutout victory, scattering three hits with no walks and picking up six strikeouts. Davis, a medium-framed lefty with an athletic build and good projection, worked up to 85 mph with his fastball, extending well through release and generating excellent life to the fastball, showing both run and sink down in the zone and staying there all night, missing a ton of barrels in the process and generating weak contact. He creates good angles to the plate and makes the fastball play significantly up from the raw velocity numbers. He worked in a breaking ball anywhere from 67-73 mph, adding and subtracting from it at will and showing the ability to break it across the axis of the zone for a strike as well as run it away from the lefthanded hitters. The pitching performance he put on was masterful, to say the least. 

Caleb Ketchup (2020, Marietta, Ga.) paces the Noles offense from the leadoff spot, and the diminutive shortstop prospect was a pest for the Cougars all night long. He’s very bouncy and athletic in the middle infield with smooth, athletic actions and footwork, with range to both sides and enough arm for the position right now, anyways. Offensively, he’s a patient leadoff hitter, more than willing to work a walk, and he showed off his wheel by clocking a 3.90 to first base on a bunt later in the game. The speed plays well on the basepaths as well, where he’s always a threat to run, and does so frequently. 

On the other side, veritable giant Jackson Phipps (2020, Dallas, Ga.) took the mound for the Cougars, and was saddled with the loss in this one. Phipps, at 6-foot-5, 205-pounds, has tremendous size and is very strong already, but the broadness of his frame and leaness through the torso portend to excellent projection remaining on the build. The South Carolina commit creates all kinds of angle from a three quarters slot, working his fastball up to 92 mph early on and settling into the 86-90 mph range for the duration. His delivery is extremely restricted in the lower half and causes him to have bouts of wildness as well as overall lapses in command, and while he struck out nine in this one, he also walked seven and was responsible for several wild pitches as well. He spins a slider in the 78-81 mph range that, at times, is hellacious and an easily potential plus offering, and he also shows the ability to back off of the pitch and land it for strikes in the 73-75 mph range. His upside is limitless, and with certain refinements to his mechanical profile, has the makings of a potential first rounder in 2020. 

Late night at Lake Point saw an extremely exciting extra-innings affair between BPA and the Houston Athletics, a game that BPA won 1-0 in extra innings, made more exciting by the California tiebreaker rule being put into effect. With the bases load in the bottom of the 8th with one out, per the rule, Jared Jones (2020, Whittier, Calif.), a two-way star ranked No. 3 overall in the class, hit an absolute rocket down towards third base that snuck past a sprawling defender to score the winning run for BPA. Kemp Alderman (2020, Decatur, Miss.), an Ole Miss commit and two-way talent, got the win on the mound after tossing 3 scoreless frames, including a bow-out-his-chest performance in the top of the 8th. As the bases loaded up with one out, per the tiebreaker rule, Alderman went 3-1 on a hitter, one ball away from walking in the go-ahead run. Rather than cave, Alderman really bowed his neck and flexed his muscle, throwing two 87 mph fastballs right by the hitter for the second out, then got the third out on a quick, easy pop up. He was visibly fired up walking off the mound into the dugout, and with that swing in momentum, it was pretty much all over at that point. 

– Brian Sakowski

Leadoff man Justin Silverstein (2020, Newtown, Ohio) had a strong tournament for the playoff-bound Cincy Flames, especially considering that the shortstop is a yet uncommitted rising senior. Silverstein showed impressive tools on both sides of the plate with quick, athletic actions in the field and impressive raw hitting tools at the dish. Silverstein is listed at 5-foot-11, 160-pounds with some twitch athleticism that allows him to make plays to either side well. The glove work, primarily with the backhand, is impressive and he made a couple of really advanced plays look easy including one where he moved to his backhand well, gathered, set his feet, and fired a strike across the diamond to nail a runner. The offensive tools are highlighted by his hand quickness and ability to get the barrel head out in front of the plate. The raw bat speed is impressive and the whip he generates allows him to impact the ball hard, in his final pool play game the majority of his at-bats included exit velocities of 90+ mph off the bat. The tools are there for Silverstein and he shouldn’t remain uncommitted for much longer.

An intriguing uncommitted arm who made a strong start to propel the Louisiana Knights Black into the playoffs was 6-foot-5 righthander Cade Henry (2020, Florence, Ala.). Henry went five strong for the Knights while running his fastball up to 87 mph and striking out five batters. The frame is very physically projectable, with a lean build, long legs, and room for additional growth. The delivery is a bit stiff but he releases on time downhill from an over the top slot which creates some plane and sink on the fastball when leveraging low in the strike zone. The breaking ball was a softer, sweeping pitch but the changeup was a solid offspeed pitch for Henry on the afternoon. The changeup had lots of life out of the hand in the mid-70s with requisite sink and run on the pitch as well. Henry did walk five on the afternoon, but showed some impressive pitching tools and should be monitored closely.

One of the top uncommitted rising juniors in the country is Dante Girardi (2020, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), son of Yankees great Joe, and the middle infielder is a very strong prospect that should garner significant Division I interest. Girardi was a key cog for the state champion Calvary Christian Academy in the spring and thus far he is hitting a very impressive .412 on the tournament. The lean, athletic 5-foot-11, 165-pound frame is ripe with athleticism to his actions and the ability to show very smooth glove work. The run or the arm doesn’t jump off the page but he does have solid arm strength and can make almost any play over at shortstop. The swing is very good, with looseness and fluidity throughout, though there is a specific hand trigger in the swing. The easy of the hands and the way they work and loft the swing jump out and allow for a lot of hard hit contact and some barrel skills too. Girardi’s upside with the hit tool and ability to project up the middle make him a very intriguing prospect with a degree of polish too.

Starting, and finishing, a shutout in the first round of the playoffs was Koen Moreno (2020, Cary, N.C.) and the righthander showed off some quality stuff in the win for the Dirtbags. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound East Carolina commit has a very wiry, lanky build with room present for additional strength to add on the frame. That additional strength will allow for a bit increased velocity and the ability to hold it well going forward. The arm stroke is loose, albeit with a slight hook in the back, but he gets it through from an extended three-quarters arm slot which allows him to flash some sink on the fastball when working low. The pitch topped out at 91 mph on the evening, but settled in around the 84-88 mph range for the duration of the start. He was best when creating some angle and plane at the knees, he worked there often sometimes to a fault as he nibbled at times, but didn’t allow much of any hard contact. The breaking ball was a solid third pitch as the changeup was the better of the two offspeed pitches. The changeup showed lots of sink and fading action that hitters could do nothing but roll over into the ground on.

Securing the win for the Ditbags was Landon Ginn (2020, Goldsboro, N.C.) as the lefthanded hitter drove a pull side grand slam to secure the run rule victory. Ginn, an East Carolina commit and a primary righthanded pitcher who can run his fastball up to 90 mph, has some juice and leverage when looking to pull and exploded onto a middle-up fastball that he drove way out to win the game. The raw power is impressive and posits some intriguing two-way possibilities in the future as he is currently a middle of the lineup presence with some power.

Starting what became the final game of the evening in a win for FTB Tucci Cleveland was lefthander Matthew Gershkovich (2020, Port Saint Lucie, Fla.) and the starter dazzled in a very strong performance that culminated in six shutout innings while allowing only one hit and striking out twelve batters. The fastball command coupled with the confidence and ability in the breaking ball really stood out and makes him an intriguing uncommitted arm. The listing is at 5-foot-8, 165-pounds, though he looks to be more around 6-foot with some strength and present size on the frame. He worked primarily in the low-80s while topping out at 85 mph on the outing and the delivery is a bit deceptive and the arm stroke loose and clean. Gershkovich pounded the zone with the fastball but the breaking ball was a legit out pitch and a difference maker. With traditional 1/7 shape and good spin, the pitch showed lots of break and induced some ugly swings, especially when throwing it on the back foot of righthanded hitters.

The Minnesota Starters endured a tough opening round loss to the hands of the Tidewater Orioles, though shortstop Jack Steil (2020, Cold Spring, Minn.) showed some interesting tools for a physical, uncommitted shortstop. The righthanded hitter starts from an exaggerated, crouched stance with some balance as he strides into the swing uncoiling well through the point of contact. There’s advanced physicality and strength to the frame and he drove two balls very hard incuding a first inning triple to the pull side alley that was 90 mph off the barrel and another hard hit ball to the opposite field for a single. The swing stays on plane nicely with a flat barrel path and allows the barrel head to stay in the strike zone for a long time. There are tools to work with offensively and Steil offers intriguing upside with the bat.

The middle-of-the-order presence for the Florida Burn, Mac Guscette (2020, Nokomis, Fla.) had a very good day in the victory for the Burn showing off strong tools both with the bat and behind the plate. He is a well-build, physical backstop with plenty of righthanded bat speed and fluidity. There is significant impact strength and balance to both the start and the finish, and the way Guscette takes pitches is impressive too. He wasn’t facing top-end velocity, though he recognized pitches out of the hand and immediately knew if he was going to swing or take when he saw where it was going to come in. He smoked a single to the pull side that was 90+ mph off the bat and later drove a double down the opposite field line. Defensively, Guscette showed off the arm strength as he backpicked a runner who got too far off second base.

Kristian Campbell (2021, Marietta, Fla.) looks to be one of the more impressive 2021s in the class and the offense showed up for the Georgia Tech commit in East Cobb’s first round win against the Cincy Flames. Campbell has an excellent frame, listed at 6-foot-2 and 170-pounds, with immense physical projection remaining on the build. The athleticism stands out with good arm strength presently as he looks very fluid and smooth out at shortstop. The bat told the story of his performance during the first game. He notched a single early on followed up by a 92 mph double to the pull side that also boasted a turn time of 4.62 seconds to first. The ceiling is easy to dream on with Campbell and the tools, projection, and current profile all bode well for the future for the young shortstop.

Closing out the victory for the Scorps Founders club was lefthander CJ Kayfus (2020, Lake Worth, Fla.) and though he has tools to be successful as both an arm and a bat, the pitching was dominant as he struck out six batters in two perfect innings. The Miami commit has a very easy, simple delivery with presently good arm speed that allows for some velocity projection. The fastball worked up to 87 mph and in the mid-80s consistently. The breaking ball was a difference maker for Kayfus as it showed the ingredients to be a true swing-and-miss pitch. He hit the ball hard a number of times at the plate and shows off a loose, fast swing and can impact the ball with strength to all fields.

– Vincent Cervino

Philip Abner (2021, Charlotte, N.C.) offered a mightily intriguing look as he toed the rubber Wednesday morning. The sturdy southpaw didn’t stray from 85-87 mph with his fastball, which had plenty of movement to it. It actually had a bit of run to the glove side, in on righties and away from lefties, with some natural sink as well. He showed good feel for a 74-75 curveball as well, and was unafraid of throwing it in succession, in one instance dropping it in for three consecutive strikes. Abner stays online with a compact arm stroke and pitches with a high leg kick. The delivery, easy and repeatable, led to good control as he filled the zone with strikes and didn’t waste pitches when ahead. Ranked third among all players in the North Carolina class, the 2021 grad is uncommitted, and it is hard to imagine how good he could be with three more years of seasoning.

The Marucci Elite Texas-Thames squad boasts a wealth of talent that was on display even in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss, starting with Drake Varnado (2021, Sulphur, La.). The opposition was unable to retire him as he ended his day with a pair of singles and a walk, including a pivotal base knock in the bottom of the seventh as he tried to spark a comeback. The South Carolina commit has a great feel for the barrel, squaring up both of his hits, and is not afraid to ambush the first pitch, although he exhibited patience whenever he didn’t get the right pitch. He also showed some nice baserunning instincts, stealing second twice with great jumps. Varnado, who currently stands as the top overall player in the Louisiana class, primarily calls shortstop his home but got the nod in right field today. Should he outgrow middle infield, as he is already 6-foot-3 with plenty of room to grow, he showed the athleticism to play outfield comfortably.

Varnado’s teammate Cash McNicholas (2020, Spring, Texas), the fifth-ranked catcher in the Texas class and a Houston commit, made a relief appearance on the mound and was around 87-90 mph with the fastball, touching 91. It’s hard to imagine a three-inning stint being much more dominant than his, as he struck out eight against one hit and no walks. With quick arm action, he pounded the zone to the tune of 75 percent strikes and consistently located outside to both batters. His breaking ball was very sharp with occasional two-plane break and was thrown from a similar arm slot. The delivery is definitely high-effort and violent, as evidenced by a hat that spent as much time airborne as it did on his head. Despite this, his control was spotless, and the violence added deception to a delivery that already messed with hitters’ timings every once in while with a pause.

Mac Horvath (2020, Rochester, Minn.) relieved McNicholas for an inning, but the radar gun wouldn’t have noticed a change. The North Carolina commit also threw 87-90 mph and touched 91 at least once. He was effectively wild in a scoreless frame, throwing only 42 percent of his pitches for strikes and walking one, but still managed to dominate with a pair of punchouts. There is some projectability to his athletic frame and as a primary shortstop, he displays some two-way potential with this outing on the mound. Horvath currently ranks as the top shortstop and overall player in the Minnesota class.

Calin “Cal” Smith (2019, Peachtree City, Ga.) displayed some advanced plate skills, putting together quality at bats in each of his trips to the dish for Team GA Baseball Gold. The Mississippi State commit has a very nice looking swing, using his loose hands to generate bat speed, and the bat-to-ball skills are there as he made consistent hard contact resulting in a pair of singles on the day. Smith takes advantage of his strong and quick hands to track the ball a bit longer, heightening his ability to discern between different offerings. Ranked ninth among outfielders in the Georgia class, he also put his good baseball instincts and awareness on display in taking second base when an outfielder threw past his cutoff man.

Texas A&M commit Wyatt Tucker (2020, Douglass, Texas) showcased a filthy arsenal in a start for Performance Baseball Texas. The fastball was 85-89 mph and occasionally showed some arm-side run, but what really stood out was the breaking ball. With sharp bite, the 74-75 mph slurve-type secondary offering showed good vertical and horizontal movement and was seen registering over 2500 rpm as it generated numerous whiffs. The delivery and mechanics are a bit raw, and Tucker could occasionally be a bit wild, throwing a couple of fastballs to the backstop. However, Tucker, a strong and athletic looking mound presence, offers some potential as the stuff is clearly there. He is ranked 22nd among righthanders in the Texas class.

Worth noting is the seven-inning perfect game, against a good Richmond Braves National squad, thrown by Logan Scheu (2020, Trinity, Fla.). By no means does Scheu throw with flaming velocity, topping out at 80 mph on the day, but he was clearly able to spin a gem without it. His strike-throwing tendencies, ability to maintain effectiveness deep in games, and efficiency (71 pitches) are all positive qualities in a pitcher, and it will be interesting to see if he can gain some juice in the future. This shouldn’t be out of the question, given he is young for the class and has some projectability in his lean, 6-foot-2 frame.

– Cameron Hines

Getting an early look at one of the top hitters in the 2022 class Wednesday morning, Ryan Clifford (2022, Raleigh, N.C.) and his Canes American team earned a win at East Cobb. Clifford, an already ultra-physical lefthanded hitting outfielder, has outstanding bat speed for his age and it is noticeably impressive. The hands get the barrel through the zone with lots of quickness and the barrel whips through the zone creating loud contact when squared. Clifford had a strong day at the plate getting a view of multiple swings while barreling up a pair of baseballs. In Clifford’s first at-bat, he drove a ball to center field that he just missed under the baseball but still resulted in a sacrifice fly. His next at-bat went to a 3-0 count as he got to really showcase the bat speed and the swing as he took an aggressive hack just missing the pitch and fouling it back. He later walked in the at-bat. His lone hit of the day, although putting many nice swings on the baseball, resulted in a loud line drive double to the opposite field gap. His hand ability to hit the ball from gap-to-gap with force is well beyond his years as he will be a fun player to watch progress and mature moving forward.

Uncommitted righthander Zachary Murray (2020, Sugar Hill, Ga.) got the start on the mound for the East Cobb Astros and will likely continue to project for more velocity as well as size moving forward. Murray topped out at 89 mph with his fastball from the windup but did dip slightly from the stretch. His arm action is full and he hides the baseball well behind him. The fastball has lots of life to the arm side as well as some angle to it coming from an extended arm slot. He mixed in a changeup up to 75 mph and a curveball in the low-70s. The changeup showed lots of fade and was used best to lefties producing swings-and-misses. The curveball had late life as he showed lots of feel for the offering. Murray is a lean 6-foot, 170-pound righthander with things to like on the mound and more to project on as he continues to mature.

Ethan Stamps (2020, Madison, Ga.) is a righthanded hitter to follow closely as well for the East Cobb Astros. The rising junior from Morgan County High School is a primary catcher who shows good barrel control and plate coverage allowing him to get the barrel to the baseball repeatedly well. Manning the three-hole in the Astros lineup on this day, Stamps collected a pair of hits and put multiple good swings on the baseball. He ripped a single up the middle in his first at-bat after grinding out the plate appearance fouling off pitches before getting the barrel to the baseball and hitting the ball to where it was pitched. Stamps later put a strong swing on a ball that resulted in a double to right field showing his ability to spray the ball to all fields. Stamps shows a professional approach at the plate and one can assume a hit every time he steps in the righthanded batter’s box.

Brad Grenkoski (2020, Knoxville, Tenn.) made an appearance in relief for the East Cobb Astros and ran his fastball up to 91 mph in doing so. His first inning was electric pounding the zone with his fastball early in counts and getting them to swing through his 11-to-5 curveball. The uncommitted righthander throws with some effort with a long arm action and a deep straight-armed plunge in the back with that right arm. He worked the fastball at the knees early and especially so from the windup. His first inning of work he sat 87-90 mph with lots of strikes and a swing-and-miss curveball up to 77 mph. His second inning, which was also his final inning he maintained the velocity and bumped a lone 91 mph fastball as well. He commanded the strike zone from the windup but he ran into some command issues while in the stretch but did maintain his velocity well. Grenkoski has a high ceiling, and when commanding his pitches, he is dominant on the mound.

A top 100 ranked player made a relief appearance for the East Cobb Astros Wednesday as Treyton Rank (2021, Acworth, Ga.) pitched an inning of scoreless relief. Rank has pitched in multiple games in relief this tournament and has pitched in many previous PG events. The delivery is very clean with lots of tempo and balance. His arm is really loose as it works through the back. Rank sat 82-86 mph in his inning with a sweep curveball that topped out at 67 mph. The fastball was well located to either side of the plate but did get left over the middle of the plate a pair of times and found two bats in the five batters he faced. Rank still shows extremely projectable stuff on the mound from his 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame that appears taller than that as well.

Kendall Diggs (2021, Olathe, Kan.) put on a hitting display in the first round of playoff action Wednesday night spraying the baseball to all fields and showing his quick hands and plate coverage in doing so. Diggs has the ability to manipulate the barrel the way not many that his age can. The young uncommitted Diggs was a home run away from the cycle and all of his hits came on balls on the outer half of the plate. His triple was the most impressive as he turned around first with a 4.69 second home to first with the turn after barreling a pitch that was a borderline strike on the outside part of the plate. The lefthanded hitter let the baseball travel and drove the ball deep into the opposite field corner.

In this tournament the state of Wisconsin has shown a lot of talent on the mound and George Klassen (2020, Port Washington, Wis.) was no different on Wednesday night. In Hitters Baseball’s 8-2 win, Klassen was up to 91 mph on the mound and sat 89-91 mph in the first inning before settling in at 86-90 mph for he rest of his outing. Klassen has some deception to his delivery as he strides closed down the mound throwing across his body and making an at bat for a righthanded hitter uncomfortable. His arm is loose and really whips through the arm circle. In this outing Klassen lived down in the zone and created plenty of angle. He did use his curveball all that often, but when he did the pitch showed nice potential as he maintained the same arm speed leading to sharpness of the pitch. Klassen did have minor command issues at times but the overall stuff as well as the projection of the 6-foot-1, 155-pound frame are certainly intriguing to the height of his ceiling on the mound.

Hunter Haas (2020, Phoenix, Ariz.) swung the bat well for CBA Marucci and showed smooth actions at shortstop as well. The righthanded hitter sets up with his weight on his back-side before shifting his weight to the baseball with intent and present torque to his hips. The proper weight transfer leads to his hand being quick on top of the fact that they are direct to the baseball. His feel for the barrel is advanced and when squared up on time the baseball jumps. Late in the game Wednesday night, Haas connected on a double after fighting off multiple good pitches. Haas found a pitch over the middle of the plate that he jumped on for a pull side two-bagger. The actions at shortstop are smooth as well as he funnels the ball cleanly into his body with soft hands out in front.

Levi Wells (2020, Laporte, Texas) pitched the most masterful game of the tournament thus far as he went 5 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball with nine strikeouts before having to be pulled due to pitch count restrictions. Wells ran his fastball up to 90 mph while sitting mostly 84-87 mph but had the special ability to run his fastball up even higher when needed. The uncommitted righthander has an outstanding feel to spin with a remarkable spin rate of up to 2800 rpms on his curveball. The pitch is extremely tight as it showed varying shapes of both 12-to-6 and 11-to-5. Wells was untouchable with his two-pitch combination while the delivery is clean as well. His arm action is loose as he creates tempo and stays online throughout. The righthander creates plane from his projectable 6-foot-1 frame. Wells is an interesting pitcher on the mound who had a dominant performance on this day and is certainly a Texas pitcher worth monitoring as he continues to mature.

– Greg Gerard

As pool play finished up at the 16u WWBA National Championship on Wednesday, BPA received a pair of stand out performances to lead them to victory. Petey Halpin (2020, San Mateo, Calif.) was 2-for-3 with a pair of opposite field hits. Halpin has a smooth and easy swing, and he has the bat speed to generate great contact to the backside. Halpin is a physical 6-foot, 180-pounds, and he demands a lot of attention in the box. He has a knack for getting on base, and he really did a great job of grinding out at-bats at the top of the order on Wednesday. The UCLA commit is definitely a bat to keep an eye on over the next two years.

Jared Jones (2020, Whittier, Calif.) delivered one of the best swings of the day in the bottom of the third inning Wednesday. Jones drove a pitch deep over the wall in left field for a two-run home run. The ball left Jones’ bat at 98 mph and traveled 353 feet. Jones looks extremely comfortable in the box, and he is consistently looking for the best pitch to drive during at-bats. The Southern California commit has good speed on the base paths, and he also played a strong right field during the game. Jones has been up to 96 on the mound, but the swing leaves the door open to playing both ways at the next level.

In the game that followed on Field 11, Ryan Manikowski (2020, New Lenox, Ill.) turned in a solid start in the Top Tier Americans 16U win. Manikowski worked in the mid-80s with a good fastball that was up to 88 on Wednesday. Manikowski has a very repeatable delivery, and his fastball gets on hitters quick due to his extended three-quarters delivery. Manikowski has a quick and effortless arm stroke, and the 6-foot, 175-pound frame projects well to add velocity with strength. Manikowski’s best pitch might be a good slider. The slider has good shape and breaks late, and he has an ability to throw it in any count. Manikowski has swing-and-miss stuff, as he was able to strikeout five batters and allow just two hits on Wednesday. The uncommitted rising junior is an intriguing arm to follow.

In Wednesday’s playoff action, a pair of East Cobb Astros had strong outings to lead them to an opening round victory. On the mound, Bryce Hawkins (2020, Cumming, Ga.) turned in an impressive start. Hawkins tossed all seven innings, striking out four and allowing just five hits. Hawkins works from a submarine arm angle, and he was able to use his natural run to get a lot of ground balls throughout his outing. Hawkins worked in the low-80s and up to 85 with his fastball, and what was most impressive was Hawkins’ ability to repeat his delivery consistently. It is not easy for prep arms to repeat such a funky delivery, but his repeatable stuff and willingness to get under the hands of hitters makes him a can’t miss arm in the 2020 class.

At the plate, uncommitted two-way player Brandon Haston (2019, Douglasville, Ga.) went 2-for-3 with a pair of 90-plus mph exit velocities. Haston is a primary left handed pitcher, but the swing and speed displayed on Wednesday night is something to be excited about. Haston has quick hands at the plate, but a couple moving parts in the swing keep him from reaching his full potential in driving the baseball. Haston has incredible speed, recording a 4.25-second turn on a triple, and a 4.15 second home-to-first on a ground out. Haston’s speed made for an easy triple on Wednesday night, and the ball really jumps off his bat when he hits a barrel. Haston is an uncommitted member of the 2019 class, and it will be interesting to see how teams use Haston effectively at the next level.

In another exciting playoff matchup, Ironmen Prep and Scorpions Founders Club 2020 battled in what was a pitcher’s duel for most of the game. For Ironmen Prep, Kaleb Corbett (2020, Louisville, Ky.) worked up to 90 with a good fastball before settling in from 86-89 for a majority of the outing. Corbett is a physical 6-foot, 210-pound righty that does a great job of using his lower half to get the most of his delivery. The arm stroke is quick and repeatable. Corbett also showed an ability to throw three pitches for strikes on Wednesday. Corbett has a good changeup in the mid-70s he can throw for both strikes and a put away pitch, and his high-70s slider got better as the game went on. Corbett is a Louisville commit, and he put on a show for those in attendance with six strong innings where he struck out seven.

In the other dugout, Jackson Nezuh (2020, St. Cloud, Fla.) turned in just as impressive of a start in the Scorpions’ win. Nezuh tossed five shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 10 batters. Nezuh worked up to 90 with a good fastball before settling in at the upper-80s for a majority of his outing. Nezuh had great feel for a mid-70s curveball, and he was able to throw it in any count. Nezuh has a solid 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame that he uses well to get down the mound with intent. Nezuh has a quick arm stroke, and his arm is always in sync with a repeatable lower half. Nezuh, who is committed to UCF, is definitely an arm to keep an eye on in the 2020 class.

– Nate Schweers

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