Tournaments | Story | 7/20/2018

17u World Series Notes: Day 1

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Cody Freeman (Perfect Game)

17u Perfect Game World Series: Event Page | Daily Leaders

One of the joys of baseball is the potential to see something you've never seen before at any time. That happened during the first time slot Thursday, an attempted triple play that ended up losing the game for the defensive team. Ostingers Baseball Academy and AZ T-Rex were tied 0-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning and Ostingers had runners on first and second base with no outs. The Ostingers hitter lined a ball hard at the T-Rex second baseman, who cleanly short hopped the ball, tossed to second for out number one, with the shortstop's relay throw to first getting the second out. The Ostingers runner on second made a belated sprint to third base and would have been out as well, completing the triple play, if not for a wild throw by the first baseman. That runner scored, the only run in Ostingers 1-0 victory.
That unearned run marred an excellent outing by T-Rex starter, righthander Chandler Murphy (2019, Peoria, Ariz.).  Murphy has really refined his mechanics well over the last year and showed very good command of a fastball that sat in the upper-80s, topping out at 89 mph. Murphy's curveball was a solid second pitch in the mid-70s. The Arizona commit threw 88 pitches in six innings, with 73 percent of those being for strikes.
On a day at the Mariners quad when a mid to upper 80's fastball was the norm and low-90s was not uncommon, it was a pitcher from Colorado throwing 82-86 mph that impressed this scout as much as anyone. 6-foot-5, 180-pound righthander Nathan Mitchell (2019, Englewood, Colo.) from Slammers Cronican retired nine straight hitters in his appearance, striking out five and only needing 42 pitches.  Mitchell throws from a very easy high three-quarters arm slot with big downhill angle and his best pitch was a mid to upper 70's curveball that had serious tightness and 12-to-6 biting action.  Mitchell threw at the 2017 Rocky Mountain Showcase and topped out at 78 mph with a loose mid-60s breaking ball, so he's improved tremendously in the last 14 months and there is no reason he shouldn't keep improving with his body and mechanics.  He is uncommitted at present.
The most impressive all around performance, especially with the bat, was turned in by another uncommitted rising senior, third baseman-right handed pitcher Terrell Hudson (2019, Phoenix, Ariz.).  Hudson is a physically imposing 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete with outstanding raw bat speed and power from the right side.  He hit a two-run triple, showing good running speed for his size, in his first at-bat and crushed a three-run bomb that traveled well over 400 feet with the wind behind it to left-center field in his second at-bat.  He later reached base twice via walk and hit by pitch.  Hudson also picked up the win on the mound, going four innings and striking out eight hitters, working up to 91 mph with his fastball with a mid-70s curveball.  He is presently the 388th ranked player in the PG national rankings
Hudson's big day at the plate was matched by CCB Elite shortstop Andrew Kachel (2019, Gilroy, Calif.).  The lefthanded hitting Kachel, batting third in the CCB lineup, hit back to back triples to right-center field, the first a laser shot on a line off the base of the wall, accounting for five RBI. The Fresno State commit also singled later in the game, continuing to show a quick and deceptively strong swing.
The 17u PG World Series is a great event for college coaches to uncover uncommitted rising seniors and another, in addition to Mitchell and Hudson, who stood out was North East Baseball righthander Max Meier (2019, Belmont, Mass.). Meier is a solidly built 6-foot-3, 200-pound athlete with an especially strong lower half. He throws with a sound low effort delivery that generates a steady upper-80s fastball that topped out at 90 mph while throwing 68 percent strikes over four innings. Meier, who is an older rising senior with excellent academics, was only throwing in the mid-80s at this time last summer but looks to have made a big jump in his overall stuff.
Meier was bested this game by the St. Louis Pirates righthander Evan Gray (2019, Swansea, Ill.), who threw a six-inning shutout, scattering five hits and striking out seven. An Arkansas commit, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Gray worked steadily in the upper 80's the entire outing and got many of his outs on a bit breaking downer curveball from a high three-quarters arm slot.
Canes National righthander Tyler Nesbitt (2019, LaBelle, Fla.) has been solid all summer, including an appearance at the PG National Showcase, and the Florida Gulf Coast commit was sharp again on Thursday, going three and a third innings in the Canes 2-1 victory.  Nesbit only need 41 pitches to retire ten hitters, working in the 88-90 mph range with his fastball and showing a late-breaking low-80s slider that he worked glove side effectively.
Nesbitt's teammate, outfielder Tyler Kehoe (2019, Prospect Park, Penn.) is one of the most polished lefthanded hitters in the 2019 class and a South Carolina commit. A compactly build 5-foot-10, 182-pound athlete, who projects to left field at the next level, Kehoe uses his strength and short arms to really control the bat head well and square up the ball consistently. He has gap-to-gap power and had a double to right centerfield among his three hits over two games this day. 
Saddleback Cowboys center fielder Mac Bingham (2019, San Diego, Calif.) bats leadoff for the Cowboys and is a compactly built 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete with plenty of quick-twitch ability. He also showed surprising power at the plate, hitting a high home run to left field off an upper-80s fastball. Bingham is a Southern California commit.
Bingham's home run was the only run and only one of three hits allowed in a strong six inning performance by very projectable righthander Evan Vanek (2019, McKinney, Texas) in a 3-2 win by Vanek's USA Prime Elite over Saddleback.  The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Texas A&M commit sat in the upper-80s, touching 90 mph, for his entire 98 pitch outing in the Arizona heat, mixing in an effective mid-70's curveball and showing easy low effort mechanics that promise solid command in the future.
Premier Baseball righthander Josh Wolf (2019, Bellaire, Texas) impressed enough at the PG National Showcase to be ranked 126th overall currently in the 2019 class, good for 13th overall in the talent-rich state of Texas. After a slow start when he walked the first two hitters, Wolf settled down quickly and cruised through five and a third innings, striking out eight hitters while allowing only an unearned run. Wolf has a lightning quick right arm from an upright delivery that has some effort at release, but the stuff, including an 89-93 mph fastball and a curveball that reached 81 mph, is top drawer, with plenty of projection remaining on Wolf's slender 165-pound body. He is committed to Texas A&M.
Day one's co-top fastball velocity at the Mariners quad belonged to a very young graduated senior, righthander Hayden Juenger (2018, O'Fallon, Ill.) of the St. Louis Pirates.  The 6-foot righthander, who finished his high school career ranked 290th in the Perfect Game National rankings, went four innings for the Pirates, giving up two runs and topping out at 93 mph.  Juenger, who also throws a power curveball that will get into the low-80s, will be attending Missouri State next year.

– David Rawnsley

The 17u Perfect Game World Series got underway in a hurry on Thursday morning at the Seattle Mariners/San Diego Padres joint complex in Peoria, Ariz. GBG Marucci got off to a hot start via a 10-0 win to open their tourney play over Mountain West, but Mountain West did start one of the more intriguing arms of the day in Joseph Dixon (2020, South Jordan, Utah), an uncommitted righthander who had a bevy of college recruiters watching him as he took the mound. Dixon was pretty dominant for his first two innings before turning the loaded GBG lineup over got to be a bit of an issue in the third inning, but he still showed some extremely good stuff with high upside. 

He has good size with an athletic build, projecting well physically and looking like he’ll be capable of durability as a starter at the next level as he continues to increase his strength. He worked up to 93 mph with his fastball, sitting more in the 87-91 mph range, showing solid arm side life to the pitch at times as well. His lower half in his delivery had some inconsistency in terms of timing and direction, which did lead to some command troubles for Dixon, but it’s still an undeniably live right arm that projects for more. He worked in a breaking ball in the 73-76 mph range with 11-to-5 shape and good bite to it, showing the potential for an above average bat-misser there, and also showed a straighter changeup that he does a fair job of replicating his arm speed on. 

CBA Marucci moved to a quick 2-0 via a pair of victories on Thursday, including an 8-0 win over the Dallas Patriots and a 10-1 win over Power Baseball. Cody Freeman (2019, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), as he usually does, paced the CBA offensive attack from the leadoff spot. Freeman pretty much exemplifies the ideal leadoff hitter profile at this point, with an excellent approach, the ability to make firm contact all over the zone, good speed, and he’s developed nicely in terms of extra base power over the years as well.

Joseph Naranjo (2019, Chino, Calif.) adds a more physical element to the CBA lineup from the No. 3 spot, as the Perfect Game National Showcase veteran brings serious hit-ability from the left side along with some power there as well, doing a very good job of consistently finding the barrel with authority.

Kaden Hopson (2019, Redlands, Calif.) had one of the bigger hits of the day for CBA, muscling a two-run single through the right side in Game 2 to put CBA ahead 2-1 in the fourth inning, a lead they’d never relinquish. The CBA Marucci club is extremely balanced top-to-bottom and have to be considered one of the favorites to take home the title this week. 

Bryce Hubbart (2019, Windermere, Fla.) ended up taking the loss in the Power Baseball-CBA Marucci matchup but really pitched quite well, allowing a pair of runs (both on the aforementioned Hopson base hit), scattering three hits with no walks across four innings while picking up six strikeouts and throwing 72 percent strikes. Younger for the grade, Hubbart will not yet be 18 years old when the 2019 draft rolls around, and he’s got some projection remaining on his frame as well. Working up to 89 mph with his fastball from the left side, Hubbart sat consistently in the 85-88 mph range and showed the ability to generate angle to the plate while working the pitch to both sides. He also showed the ability to manipulate his curveball shape, thrown in the 70-73 mph range, ranging from a 1-to-7 shaped truer curveball that he could land for strikes to a sharper, more swing-and-miss offering on a 2-to-8 shape. Hubbart is committed to Florida State. 

Much like Hubbart, Davis Heller (2019, Gilbert, Ariz.) was the victim of a tough-luck loss on Thursday, as the veritable 6-foot-8 giant pitched quite well for Wilson Sandlot in their 3-0 loss to US Elite. Heller allowed one run over his four innings, racking up nine strikeouts though allowing five walks as well. As is true with 99 percent of pitchers with his length and overall height, Heller occasionally struggles to control his body enough through his movements to repeat his delivery, which can cause lapses in fastball command. He worked up to 90 mph early on with his fastball, throwing straight downhill from an elevated slot, creating as much or more plane to the plate than anyone else in the class, making the fastball impossible to lift when commanded to the bottom of the zone. He’ll yank across and cut the fastball at times as well, nothing overly problematic at this juncture but something to watch moving forward as well. His curveball was thrown mostly in the 70-73 mph range and while there are some inconsistencies, he does show the ability to generate spin and the pitch possesses solid average projection. 

One of the better games of the day took place between Baseball Northwest and the Sticks Baseball Academy, with the Sticks pulling out a 3-0 win late. Markevian Hence (2020, Pine Bluff, Ark.) was absolutely sensational in the win, throwing a complete game shutout with 12 strikeouts while allowing only 4 hits and a single walk. Hence is a bit undersized by righthanded pitching prospect standards but his athleticism on the mound as well as his arm speed both stand out, as he did a pretty solid job of holding velocity deep into the game. He worked up to 91 mph early on with the fastball, pounding the zone at 86-89 mph for most of the game, and he probably could have just dominated with his fastball given the command of the pitch as well as the life it features. He worked in quality changeup with good fade and arm speed replication, and also showed a curveball that, as he threw it harder and harder, got better and better. The best one this evaluator saw came at 75 mph with sharp, late bite; and it, along with the changeup, has a potentially above-average future as he continues to refine it. 

On the other side, Stuart Flesland (2019, Colbert, Wash.) pitched quite well before allowing the go-ahead runs in the final inning, and showed off impressive upside. In our first real look at Flesland in nearly three years since his performance at the 2015 Northwest Showcase, he’s added 18 miles per hour to his top fastball, as well as about eight inches and 40 pounds to his frame…amazing what puberty can do to a teenager. He worked up to 88 mph on at least one gun early on, settling into the 84-87 mph range for the majority of the outing, pounding the strike zone and walking no one while picking up eight strikeouts. The arm action is very clean and efficient and his body projects well moving forward, and he does a pretty solid job creating angles to the plate with his fastball when commanded down in the zone. He throws a bit of a frisbee slider that varies in both shape and effectiveness, but there is undoubtedly feel to spin the baseball there. He sort of exploded onto the draft scene in the past couple weeks as a solid follow in the Northwest area, and he’ll be monitored closely both at Area Codes next month as well as into the spring. 

– Brian Sakowski
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