Tournaments | Story | 10/14/2018

Ways to Play Day 1 Scout Notes

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Corbin Carroll (Perfect Game)

2018 Ways to Play powered by MLB & PG: Daily Leaders

The Ways to Play powered by MLB and PG kicked off early Saturday morning as MLB and PG work together to experiment with different rules in an effort to use different pace-of-play rules in a tournament setting. For the full rules click here for the event info page.

Southern Miss commit and physical righthander Blake Wehunt (2019, Carnesville, Ga.) got us kicked off for day one of the Ways to Play and Wehunt showed a lot of ingredients that make him a prospect to monitor moving forward. Wehunt immediately stands out on the mound with a broad-shouldered 6-foot-6, 218-pound frame that projects well physically as he continues to mature. The arm stroke works well as Wehunt fires from an over the top arm slot on the fastball, which was up to 90 mph on the day and worked mostly 86-89 mph early on. This allows for significant plane when low in the strike zone, and he had good feel for his breaking ball on the day. There’s some effort and energy at the point of release, however the upside is tremendous as velocity gains are certainly in Wehunt’s future.

JD Brock (2019, Davidson, N.C.) opposed Wehunt on the mound and the Clemson commit was lights out for the majority of the contest. Starting at a 1-1 count really favors pitchers who can both command their fastball and work any and all of their secondary pitches in any count. That’s exactly the formula that Brock used to the tune of seven shutout innings on only two hits and nine punchouts. The arm stroke is short and quick through the circle and though he throws across his body at points, there’s some restriction to the front side upon landing, Brock can still work the fastball to either side with plenty of angle. The pitch worked in the 84-87 mph range for the majority of the contest and though he worked in a big breaking curveball, the arm slot perhaps favors the development of a slider. However, the standout secondary pitch was Brock’s changeup which had really late, tumbling life and induced a number of whiffs with “two” strikes. Brock was excellent during this look and appears to be a quality piece in a strong Clemson 2019 class.

The fireworks started early as Raymond Trey LaFleur (2019, Pensacola, Fla.) had no issues adjusting to be aggressive with this experimental format, and put barrel to ball often during the opening game. The Ole Miss commit has a pretty simple, smooth lefthanded stroke that implements a quick, direct path to the baseball and he showed off some pull side pop in the process. Lafleur’s first at-bat of the day resulted in a long, 90 mph exit velocity triple to the pull side alley, while his next at bat resulted in a big shot that left the ball park in a hurry with an exit velocity of 98 mph. There’s clear strength and power in the 6-fot-3, 185-pound frame and Lafleur’s present usage of his hips to separate and drive the ball with authority are both advanced and warrant further looks of the young prospect.

Two PG All-American catchers had strong days offensively with the East Coast Sox’s Hayden Dunhurst (2019, Carriere, Miss.) and Team GA National’s Logan Tanner (2019, Lucedale, Miss.).

Dunhurst certainly looks the part in the top of the lineup and he crushed a couple of baseballs during play on Saturday including a long home run in the middle of game two. What stands out about the Ole Miss commit’s approach is the consistency of which he generates hard contact and gets out in front. The power is notable as well as he has home run strength and distance from both sides of the plate. There are some holes in the offensive game, however the upside coupled with the present defensive skills make him a very attractive prospect for professional scouts.

Tanner had a solid day at the office as well, particularly in game two with three hits on the day including a smoked triple to straightaway centerfield that left the bat at 101 mph and broke a 3-3 tie. The Mississippi State commit has a very balanced offensive approach with a smooth swing plane that generates plenty of bat speed from the strength on his build. He looks the part of a physical backstop too with an athletic 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame that allows him to move well behind the dish with the, obvious, cannon for an arm as well. Tanner has yet to pitch during this event but his professional future likely lies as a position prospect, an area that he excelled at on Saturday.

Righthander Cj Neese Jr (2019, Greensboro, N.C.) followed in the footsteps of teammate JD Brock by turning in a stellar outing that propelled the South Charlotte Panthers to a 2-0 record and a spot in bracket play on Sunday morning. The North Carolina State commit’s velocity was a bit down on Saturday, however the feel and effectiveness of his secondary pitches were not down. Neese’s 6-foot-4, 183-pound frame and obvious athleticism ooze physical projection moving forward as does his loose, fast arm stroke that has produced velocities in the low-90s in the past. Neese’s delivery is a bit funky, there’s a short open stride that he utilizes and leaks his front side early, but his slot helps to generate life and sink low in the zone on the fastball that worked mostly 84-88 mph on Saturday. The stuff was anchored by his aforementioned reliance on offspeed pitches, all three of which showed some potential. The curveball and slider blended together at times but his hardest sliders, in the upper-70s, showed good potential and late bite to them on occasion while he also has a really good feel for throwing his changeup in the 80-81 mph range to lefthanded hitters. Neese will certainly warrant future looks, both in Jupiter and next spring, as he looks to potentially follow in the footsteps of a former highly athletic South Charlotte righthander in 2018 second rounder Owen White.

Proving to already be one of the biggest risers in draft stock throughout the fall, Michael Harris II (2019, Ellenwood, Ga.) was masterful again on Saturday to the tune of five no-hit innings with seven strikeouts and, perhaps most importantly, zero walks. Harris needed just 45 pitches to dispatch of the opponents as he pounded the zone to both sides of the plate even though he didn’t have the best command of his breaking ball. Just because he didn’t have his best command of the pitch doesn’t mean that it wasn’t effective, as he spun off a couple of sharp curveballs that he could land and induce whiffs on. Harris’ arm speed and athleticism project extremely well moving forward in terms of his stuff increasing in impact, though sitting 89-92 mph on the fastball with a mid- to upper 70s breaking ball already being extremely impactful. Harris also showed one changeup at 83 mph and he certainly looks the part of an extremely sought after draft prospect heading into Jupiter.

Harris’ teammate, and PG All-American, Sanson Faltine III (2019, Richmond, Texas) also turned in a tremendous performance in the second game of the day for MLB Breakthrough as he showed off his quality stuff on the mound that makes him such an appealing two-way prospect at the next level. The Texas commit showed off his usual arm speed and athleticism on the mound with a fluid, fast-paced delivery and an arm stroke that works very quickly through the point of release. He worked mostly in the 88-91 mph range during the performance, sitting 90-91 mph in the early portion of the game, with good life on the pitch and he showed off his typical tight-spinning breaking ball. The pitch worked in the mid-70s with good break and he landed the pitch almost at will. The delivery is a bit timing heavy as he drives toward the plate hard at the balance point, but when he’s able to pound the zone with the fastball and work in his breaking ball effectively, he can be a very dangerous pitcher.

The top draft prospect in attendance, and No. 8 prospect for the class, Corbin Carroll (2019, Seattle, Wash.) had himself an afternoon at the ballpark with two home runs over two games for the Canes National in a dominant effort by the team all the way around. The lefthanded hitter has made a name for himself throughout the summer, culminating with an MVP at the PG All-American game, and looks to be off to a torrid start for the fall season. Carroll’s quick twitch athleticism, plus run, and centerfield chops are already established but what stood out about his performance on Saturday was not just the power, but the authority to the opposite field and a preternatural feel to hit. There’s a bevy of plus tools to the profile at present, but when you start to add future plus bat into the equation his future as a potential first round pick really starts to clear in the focus. The UCLA made hard contact in over half of his plate appearances, with the two opposite field home runs included, and really continues to perform at a high level regardless of the stage.

The Canes scored a boatload of runs on Saturday and that included home runs from outfielders Chris Newell (2019, Newtown Square, Pa.) and Andrew Compton (2019, Berkeley Heights, N.J.) as well.

Newell, the No. 74 overall prospect for the class and a Virginia commit, certainly passes the eye test in his uniform with a very physical 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame and a power-oriented approach at the dish. Newell has a lot of balance offensively with a loose, leveraged swing plane that does well to get the ball into the air to all fields with authority and intent. The lefthanded slugger got very out in front of a pitch on Saturday but still had enough strength in his wrists and upper half to drive the ball into the opposite field gap for a home run. Newell’s hard stride forward doesn’t really throw off his balance, in fact it adds an element of explosion to the swing that works very well when he’s on time and creates a ton of backspin through contact; he’s certainly a name to watch in Jupiter next weekend as a high-end northeast draft prospect.

Compton, another northeast prospect for the upcoming draft, had the most textbook definition of a bomb as he got a hold of an elevated upper-80s fastball and crushed it deep to the pull side. The blast came off the bat at 98 mph and traveled way past the fence and over the storage tents in right field for a no-doubt blast. Compton, a Georgia Tech commit, has a very smooth, almost picturesque lefthanded stroke that creates a lot of jump and easy carry off the barrel. The swing is very loose and low effort, and though he will show a tendency to expand the zone on spin at times, there’s a lot of present juice to pull the ball with more than enough bat speed to impact the ball to all fields. His ability to hit from both sides of the plate, with power too, should be enticing for professional scouts for the upcoming draft.

Closing out the slot of games on Saturday night, Britt Fuller (2019, Charlotte, N.C.) showed the makings of a lefthanded power bat with lots of present strength and impact force to boot. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound lefthanded hitter has plenty of raw bat speed albeit with a bit of a funky hitch in the load, though when he’s on time he can square the ball up with immense authority. He notched two smoked hits during the night game, including a 98 mph frozen rope to the pull side gap that pushed across On Deck’s first run of the ball game. There’s lift in the swing and he has present power to pull and the Duke commit has all the makings of a potential impact power bat at the next level.

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