Tournaments | Story | 10/22/2018

World Championship Day 4 Notes

Vincent Cervino         Greg Gerard        
Photo: Riley Greene (Perfect Game)

2018 WWBA World Championship: Daily Leaders | Day 1 Notes | Day 2 Notes | Day 3 Notes

Playoff day at the 2018 WWBA World Championship started off much in the same way the whole weekend has gone with excellent weather and excellent talent. 5 Star National and the Royals Scout Team locked into a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair that ended with 5 Star taking the victory, 10-8. Austin Pace (2019, Barco, N.C.) got the ball for the Royals and the North Carolina State commit was pretty solid in his four frames. Pace is a 6-foot-11 righthander who is still extremely skinny and projectable, as one would expect, and he does a pretty good job of repeating his delivery and controlling his body – something that is pretty uncommon for players of his age and length – and does a very good job throwing strikes as a result. He worked in the 85-89 mph range with his fastball, working downhill in the zone with good life to the arm side and showing the makings of a potentially very good fastball once he reaches physical maturity.

Robert Moore (2020, Leawood, Kans.) has been long-lauded for his defensive abilities in the middle infield, but, as has been written about before in this space, he’s really coming into his own as a table-setter type of hitter, and this weekend was a coming out party of sorts in that sense. He hit, and this isn’t a typo, .727 on the weekend to go along with some extra-base pop, to give him a weekend-long OPS of 1.874. Moore is obviously 20-ish months from his draft, but if he continues to develop offensively to the point where it matches his defensive prowess, he’s going to talked about very highly in the draft process.

5 Star needed a big pitching performance towards the end of the game to give them a chance to win and they certainly got it from Jackson Baumeister (2021, Jacksonville, Fla.), a two-way prospect committed to Florida State. Beaumeister was sterling over three frames, shutting down a potent Royals offense and allowing only an unearned run while striking out six. He worked up to 91 mph with his fastball and held the 87-90 mph range, also working in a good curveball with quality depth and snap to the finish.

USA Prime/Prospect National Team beat the Braves Scout Team/Team Elite club in their playoff matchup, and Mahki Backstrom (2019, Los Angeles, Calif.), a Perfect Game All-American this past summer, took one of the louder swings of the weekend for USA Prime. He hit a missile of a liner up the middle that ended up as a double and was recorded as leaving his barrel at 109 mph per TrackMan. Backstrom is an extremely physical lefthanded hitting first baseman and his raw power potential is among the top in the class. He’s younger for the grade, having just turned 17, and there is rawness to the profile, but the offensive upside he possesses is tantalizing to say the least.

The Giants Scout Team/FTB picked up a pair of playoff wins on Sunday morning to reach the quarterfinals on Sunday night and their first victory of the day came via an 11-5 win over Team Elite Prime. Bryce Hubbart (2019, Windermere, Fla.) got the start for FTB and was dominant over two innings before being pulled once FTB built a 7-0 lead. Hubbart is an athletically built, still-projectable lefthander committed to Florida State. Hubbart was in complete command in this one, working in the 88-91 mph range with his fastball, releasing from an extended three-quarters slot and creating excellent angle to the plate, working to both sides with ease. He mixed in a solid slider that works well out of his slot and turned over a quality changeup as well, throwing all three for strikes on command.

Benjamin Rozenblum (2019, Coral Springs, Fla.) had one of the louder individual performances in FTB’s win over Team Elite Prime, when the catcher and FIU commit went 3-for-3 with a homer and a triple along with three RBI and three runs scored. He has hit in the middle of this loaded lineup all weekend long and continued to show a solid collection of tools, both offensively and defensively, that will make him an excellent piece in the Florida International attack for years to come.

Team Elite Prime got down 7-0 early but wouldn’t go away, picking up four runs in the top of the third to make the score 7-4. Vince Smith (2020, Clearwater, Fla.), an LSU commit, had the big blow of the inning, launching a triple over Riley Greene’s head in center field, clearing the bases and certainly drawing the game closer. Smith is an athletic middle infield prospect who doesn’t get cheated when he swings and the bat speed he generates from a compact frame is exciting, with pretty solid raw power at present to go along with a fair amount of physical projection remaining. That gives him an enticing athleticism/power upside that will be exciting to follow at LSU for several years.

Riley Greene (2019, Oviedo, Fla.), the No. 2-ranked player in the class of 2019, hit leadoff all weekend for the Giants Scout Team/FTB and continued to show the advanced hit tool that has made him potentially the top prep bat in the country. He hit .429 over the course of this weekend with a cool .500 OBP to go along with his usual power, and it’s almost scary to think about how much power he’ll have at physical maturity. The bat speed is easily plus and he’s able to move the barrel around the zone with ease, doing an excellent job of getting the ball into the air with jump and carry. Perhaps the best example of just how hard he hits the ball happened on Sunday when he hit a liner that just got past an outstretched glove at second base and then proceeded to get all the way to the wall after landing maybe 10-15 feet into the outfield grass. He has been extremely fun to watch throughout his prep development as a hitter and in his final Perfect Game event he certainly left a lasting impression.

The East Coast Sox advanced to Monday’s semifinals after two separate bludgeonings on Sunday afternoon/evening, picking up 14-2 and 12-0 playoff wins. In those two games, Hayden Dunhurst (2019, Carriere, Miss.) picked up four hits, including a mammoth bomb in the second game, while continuing to show off the defensive abilities behind the plate that helped earn him a selection for the Perfect Game All-American Classic back in August. Dunhurst has always shown big-time defensive tools with a plus arm, good athleticism and quality receiving skills, and as his offensive game continues to progress – he’s always had good raw power – the allure of his profile come draft time will continue to grow.

Maybe one of the best games ever played in Jupiter took place on Sunday night in the quarterfinal matchup between the Canes National and CBA Marucci, two extremely prestigious, storied programs that have laundry lists of national tournament wins. Tyler Nesbitt (2019, Labelle, Fla.) joined a short list of players who have enjoyed coming out parties of sorts on the national stage at the WWBA World Championship, building on what he’s done all summer and culminating in his name skyrocketing up early draft boards. Nesbitt allowed a single run over five innings on two hits and no walks while striking out 10, throwing 74 pitches, 71 percent of which were thrown for strikes. He’s lean and projectable with plus arm speed, and while the arm stroke does get offline through the back with some wrap, it’s quick enough to where his timing is unaffected by it at this juncture. He worked in the 89-93 mph range all night, hammering the glove side corner with the fastball and even showing the ability to swing the pitch back over that edge of the plate. The breaking ball is what really stood out, thrown in the 80-84 mph range and flashing plus frequently with late, hammer snap that missed bats all night long. He showed the ability to both bury the pitch for whiffs as well as land it for strikes, manipulating the shape of it at will and establishing it as potentially one of the top breaking balls in the prep class. He also showed the ability to turn over an average changeup, giving him a full arsenal with physical projection and solid command, making him a no-doubt name when thinking about the MLB Draft, roughly seven-and-a-half months from now.

Offensively, both teams were essentially stymied all night long, but in the top of the seventh with CBA holding onto a 1-0 lead, Tucker Flint (2019, East Greenwich, R.I.) came to the plate with runners on second and third. He roped a liner to right field for a single, scoring the lead runner with ease, while the runner from second scored on a bang-bang play at the plate, giving the Canes a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish, sending the Canes National onto the semifinals.

– Brian Sakowski

Bolstered by strong pitching and steady defense, the Houston Astros Scout Team/Elite Squad battled their way through pool play and made a strong showing in the playoffs. Their gifted catcher Dominic Tamez (2019, San Antonio, Texas) was the steadying hand who helped guide the Astros staff throughout the tournament. The Arkansas commit is a standout catch-and-throw receiver. He has soft hands and an easy style behind the plate. His ability to frame pitches is an innate gift and a very projectable talent. He has quick feet and consistent transition ability that enables him to get the ball out of his glove and on the way to second base. His throws show carry and accuracy. He is especially good with a bat in his hands. The broad shouldered, righthanded hitter has a short and quick swing path and an advanced ability to consistently get his barrel to the ball.

Righthander Nathaniel LaRue (2019, Mobile, Ala.) started the Astros first playoff game and was outstanding. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Auburn commit is a strike thrower who works with a consistent pace and rhythm. His poised approach and smooth, repeatable mechanics allow the McGill-Toolen Catholic senior the ability to pound the strike zone with each pitch in his arsenal. He pitches off his lively 88-90 mph fastball that has plus ride up in the zone. He has great feel for his 79-81 mph slider that shows short and quick break at the plate. He uses a 74-77 mph, 12-to-6 breaking curveball as his changeup and has a plus ability to add and subtract velocity and break on that pitch.

Dallas Baptist commit Chandler Freeman (2019, Colleyville, Texas) led the offensive attack for the Houston Astros/Elite Squad. The Heritage HS senior is a well proportioned and solidly built 6-foot, 190-pounds righthanded hitter who has a slugger’s mentality and a great ability to consistently square the ball up. He can clear his hips and get to inside pitches and can extend his arms and drive the ball to the opposite field. His raw power will unquestionably play at the next level. What completes this Texan’s offensive make-up is his natural ability to run the bases. He is a power runner who chews up ground and will aggressively take the extra base.

Team GA National had a great run this weekend. This talented and fundamentally sound club was led by Mississippi State commit Hunter French (2019, Southaven, Miss.). The 5-foot-7, 145-pound French is a consummate leadoff hitter. He uses a very patient approach and a great understanding of the strike zone to consistently get the count in his favor. He is also unafraid to pull the trigger on pitches in the zone. His short, quick and compact stroke, and his ability to get his bat on plane through contact, gives the DeSoto Central senior a decided advantage at the plate. He is also a plus runner, which should project to a higher batting average and on-base percentage at the next level. His talent extends to the defensive side also as he is an instinctive center fielder who understands positioning and has a naturally quick first step. He has plus-average, very playable arm that is highly accurate.

The Canes National club played their way through pool play and into the quarterfinals with a tried and true formula: solid pitching, steady defense and timely hitting. Their list of standout players extends the length of the roster. They had a different hero seemingly every half inning. Pacing their efforts during early playoff action was righthanded pitcher, Nolan Crisp (2019, Locust Grove, Ga.). The 6-foot, 175-pound Florida commit was his usual dependable self as he pounded the strike zone with almost overwhelming stuff. His lively, riding four-seam fastball was consistently clocked in the 91-93 mph range. His wipe-out 11-to-5 breaking slider (80-81 mph) was a consistent swing-and-miss pitch to all hitters regardless of what side of the plate they stood on. Almost unfairly he completed his advanced and highly projectable repertoire with a changeup (80-82) that was effectively thrown with the same arm action as his plus fastball.

The Canes batting order is a deep and relentless lineup for any staff to try and navigate through. There aren’t too many outs to be had from top to bottom. Especially strong today were their two, three, and four-hole hitters. Hitting out of the No. 2 spot was Vanderbilt commit and PG All-American Anthony Volpe (2019, Watchung, N.J.). The Delbarton HS senior is a very patient hitter who has a keen understanding of the strike zone. He works counts like a veteran and never expands unnecessarily. He has a flat swing path and an advanced ability to quickly get his barrel on plane and through the zone. He can ably drive the ball from foul line to foul line. Once on the bases he is an active, instinctive and almost daring runner.

The Canes very talented three-hole hitter is UCLA commit Corbin Carroll (2019, Seattle, Wash.). Hitting from the left side, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound sweet swinger is always balanced and shows an outstanding ability to track the ball and get the barrel through contact with a slight lift. The Lakeside HS senior hits the ball with authority to the gaps and that plan was best evidenced by his inside-the-park grand slam hit to the deepest part of left-center field. By the time the left fielder got to the ball the advanced runner, with speed to burn, was touching third base. Defensively, Carroll uses his projectable running ability to patrol center field and can get to anything hit to either gap, which allows his corner outfield mates to play closer to the lines. He has a plus arm that is very accurate.

LSU commit Cade Doughty (2019, Denham Springs, La.) is the ultra-talented Canes third baseman and third PG All-American in the Canes National lineup. At 6-foot-1 and 195-pounds the Denham Springs HS senior can power the baseball. His strong righthanded approach at the dish is a great complement to the speedy and aggressive gap-to-gap hitters who set the table in front of him. Doughty can drive the ball with authority to all fields. His strength lies in his shoulders, hands and core as he produces plus torque with every swing. His barrel-to-ball ability is among the very best in the tournament. He is also rock solid at third base, and his ability at the hot corner begins with his fearless approach. The dirt on his uniform after a game helps tell the story as Doughty will go and get the baseball. He has a plus ability to move laterally, especially to his glove side. His best defensive tool lies in his ability to throw the baseball as he has a quick trigger and advanced arm strength and his throws show carry and plus accuracy.

– Jerry Miller

Cameron Bye (2020, Euless, Texas) showed impressive arm strength on Sunday afternoon in a one-inning stint for Stix Baseball 2019. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound righthander sat between 92-95 mph and lit up the radar gun with seven pitches at 95 mph while displaying the ability to pitch to both sides of the zone with consistency. Recording two strikeouts and also showing feel for an 11-to-5 shaped curveball with depth and late down action, Bye showed good use of his lower half and timing in his delivery. Working from a high three-quarters arm slot, he creates solid downhill plane with a clean and lower-effort delivery. This was a good jump for Bye, ranked 442nd in the class, who had previously worked comfortably in the 90-92 mph range.

Devin Bennett (2021, Burleson, Texas) hopped onto the radar on Sunday with a two-inning appearance for his first outing in Jupiter. Showing not only his arm strength but the ability to fill the zone with three pitches, the sophomore from Benbrook High School displayed some projectability. Working from a high three-quarters arm slot with low effort, Bennett sat 88-91 mph with solid command. His delivery is slightly raw, but he shows he has a solid feel for locating multiple pitches consistently. His slider, which is 11-to-5 in shape, is a swing-and-miss pitch with depth and tight spin at 76-78 mph. The 6-foot, and 150-pound Bennett also utilizes a fading, arm-side changeup effectively for a third pitch. With solid hand speed there is plenty of deception and he has the ability to tunnel it well with his fastball between 78-79 mph.

– Britt Smith

As playoffs got underway on Sunday there were a couple of big over on the Cardinals quad to begin the day. Teague Conrad (2019, Schaumbaurg, Ill.) came in on relief in one of those high-scoring affairs and effectively halted any offense that Team Indiana tried to muster as the Chicago Scouts Association held on to win their first victory.

Conrad, a UIC commit, was excellent over two-plus innings on the bump, sitting 86-89 mph from a very tough slot. He stands very tall, with big hair too, at a lean and projectable 6-foot-4, 185-pounds with lots of room to fill out for additional strength. The term “pitchability lefty” gets thrown around a lot but Conrad might fit that moniker for a righthanded pitcher, as he throws from a lower slot with lots of sink and run while also showing a good slider and changeup for a difficult three pitch mix. The slider has short bite to it in the upper-70s although the changeup was the superior pitch, working in the 81-83 mph range with some tumble. Conrad could also drop his slot lower to throw hitters off even more and ran through the lineup with five strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings pitched.

Chicago Scouts Association exploded for multiple games with a bunch of runs in the early playoff games and their offense is always ignited by exciting leadoff man Michael Bolton (2019, Chicago, Ill.). The Purdue commit is a dynamic sparkplug for the offense, packing a punch of quick-twitch athleticism, speed and contact skills that will translate nicely to a leadoff man at the next level. He uses the whole field well but works best when he pulls the barrel head through the zone to work either the 4-3 hole in the infield or down the right field line; Bolton put together a couple of singles and a big run-scoring triple to the right-center gap during the second playoff game of the day. The speed is pretty dynamic, combining both natural quickness along with burst and instincts. That speed hasn’t quite showed up on the box score, normally posting above-average times in the 4.1 range, but it did over the summer at the 17u WWBA National Championship where he swiped 10 bags in seven games.

Holding a very talented CBA offense at bay during his time on the mound Will Johnston (2019, Roanoka, Texas) carved up hitters during a two-inning stint. The Texas A&M commit diced hitters up showing three pitchers but highlighted by his strong fastball/slider mix that baffled hitters, especially lefthanded ones. Johnston is an athletic prospect, a primary outfielder who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 190-pounds, but he looked like an arm that could get outs right away at College Station. The delivery was simple and athletic, with a clean arm stroke that allowed him to repeat his delivery and to show command of the fastball from east to west. The pitch worked in the 85-87 mph range for most of the start with some arm side run and topped out at 88 mph once or twice. The slider was tunneled really nicely with the fastball, coming from a similar arm slot with late bite to the pitch as well in the mid- to upper-70s. He also showed a changeup and a curveball, but the fastball/slider mix plays right away and he struck out five batters in two shutout innings.

Christian Ruebeck (2019, Denison, Texas) didn’t have the greatest outing on the mound but certainly showed some pitching tools despite dropping the game to CBA Marucci. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound righthander looks the part on the mound with an athletic delivery and a lively fastball that topped out at 94 mph in this short look. The arm stroke is short through the back for the Oklahoma commit, and the arm slot is kind of funky from an extended, low slot upon release. This creates some short sink on the fastball, that worked primarily in the 90-93 mph range, but would flatten out when thrown above the knees. This is, unfortunately for Ruebeck, what happened throughout most of the game, but the sheer arm strength alone and feel for secondaries makes him an intriguing follow for next spring in the North Texas area.

CBA Marucci advanced to the quarterfinals on the strength of their team quality as a whole, but one of the particular standouts over the entire year has been three-hole hitter Joseph Naranjo (2019, Chino, Calif.). The Fullerton commit hit above .300 for the weekend and that included twice the amount of extra base hits than singles. Naranjo has become one of the most polished pure hitters in the class, with a smooth and well-controlled stroke that can play to all fields. A good example of this came in the Round of 16 when Naranjo notched two doubles, one to each gap. The 90-plus exit velocities and excellent barrel control are what makes him an enticing draft follow as a hitter, but there are also solid pitching chops as he pitched excellently in the quarterfinal loss. Naranjo worked mostly 84-86 mph with good feel to command to either side going along with a strong three-pitch mix and a very good weekend for his draft stock.

Another CBA pitcher who shoved during the playoffs was righthander Christian Bodlovich (2019, San Pedro, Calif.) and the Arizona State commit was in control of the game from the first pitch to the last. Bodlovich threw a complete game on 95 pitches as he pounded the zone, limited hard contact, and only allowed one unearned run. The righthander has some strength to the 6-foot frame, with a solid delivery that shows good direction, low effort components, and good feel for the strike zone. The fastball operated primarily in the 84-87 mph range for the duration of the contest but he sunk the fastball hard, with some late life and got a lot of roll over ground ball outs. The go-to secondary pitch on the afternoon was his changeup, and it was a good one. The pitch worked in the upper-70s with late fading action that got a lot of whiffs against some power lefthanded Texas bats. Bodlovich also had some feel for a breaking ball in the low- to mid-70s and looks the part of a prospect to make an immediate impact should he get to Arizona State.

One of the top position prospects for the class, Joshua Rivera (2019, Avon Park, Fla.), has had a scorching hot weekend and is hitting .500 as he led his team to the semifinals on Monday. Rivera, a Florida commit, is an exciting position prospect with one of the better feels to hit in the class and he handled tough pitching all weekend thus far.

Rivera looks more physical than he did during the summer, and that is allowing him to impact the ball with significant force as he did during playoff action on Sunday where he launched a home run that left his bat at 96 mph. The swing was about a perfect example as you’d find in how to drive the baseball using your entire body as Rivera’s hip-shoulder separation there was explosive. The strength and impact of his lower half and hips give him significant raw power from a corner infield spot, and he isn’t just a basher as he can go the other way with authority and seems to always find the barrel of the baseball. The Florida commit’s arm strength is strong, up to 92 mph across the diamond at PG National, and Rivera looks to be a prospect on the rise following a strong Jupiter performance.

Speaking of home runs, Matt McCormick (2019, Orland Park, Ill.) hit one of the furthest home runs of the day and was the proverbial knock that brought the floodgates out in their Round of 16 victory. McCormick took a 90 mph fastball at about the shins and golfed the ball out of the park on a batted ball that seemed to continue to rise as it left the ballpark. The West Virginia commit is known for his power lefthanded stick and he showed that during the game with the home run and added a hard hit single to the pull side later in the affair. McCormick’s swing is naturally leveraged and geared toward elevating hard hit contact to pull and he does have a good amount of raw power. Should McCormick be able to stick behind the plate at the next level he could be a hot commodity in the draft as he’d offer a power lefthanded bat too.

GBG Marucci advanced to the semifinals and for the most part the California-based squad has been led by their 2020s, in particular Kevin Parada (2020, Pasadena, Calif.) and Daylen Reyes (2020, Northridge, Calif.).

Parada has been the story of the weekend as he’s hitting .526 with six extra-base hits, two home runs, and 13 RBI heading into the final day of the weekend. The Georgia Tech commit’s tools matchup with the numbers as he is one of the top juniors in the country and Jupiter has served as his coming out party. The 6-foot, 200-pound prospect is extremely physical and the ball just absolutely flies off the barrel. During the quarterfinal matchup, his first swing would’ve probably been out of the park on a normal day, but got knocked down by the wind. In his second at-bat he rocketed an opposite field double that left the barrel at 95 mph. Parada’s feel for the barrel is solid and the ability to drive the ball out to any part of the field is extraordinary. Behind the plate he is pretty athletic and flexible too. He hasn’t had a problem handling the GBG pitching staff at all this weekend and showed off a hand cannon for an arm as well, posting a 1.90 pop time on an in-game throw down during the quarterfinals. Parada has had a tremendous weekend and looks the part as one of the top juniors in the country at this juncture.

Reyes, another dynamic junior, is hitting .625 in limited plate appearances this weekend but showed up in a big way in the win during the quarterfinals with a big two-run triple to the pull side gap. The UCLA commit stayed back on a big curveball and roped the ball to the pull side gap. Reyes, who was DH-ing this game and didn’t get much of a chance to show off the athleticism and defensive skills, has very good contact skills with a whippy barrel head to knock the ball to all parts of the field with authority. He’s not only a touted underclassman with GBG that will be expected to contribute big next summer, but a key cog for Notre Dame High School, a SoCal program with some of the top juniors in the country.

– Vinnie Cervino

The East Coast Sox offense was hitting on all cylinders during the final two playoff rounds on Sunday as their potent line up, which features PG All-Americans hitting in the first three slots in the order, run-ruled their opponents 14-2 and 12-0 in the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals, respectively.

Those three standouts, shortstop Bobby Witt Jr (2019, Colleyville, Texas), catcher Hayden Dunhurst (2019, Carriere, Miss.) and third baseman Rece Hinds (2019, Niceville, Fla.) combined to go 9-for-16 in the two games with four extra-base hits and 11 runs scored.

The big hitter in the quarterfinal win, though, was designated hitter/catcher Jake Holland (2019, Clermont, Fla.), the 82nd-ranked player in the PG 2019 class rankings. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound righthanded hitter has long been known to have big raw power but that power hasn't always shown itself in game situations, especially over the past summer and fall. It was in full sight Sunday night, as the Georgia Tech commit went 3-for-4 with five RBI, including a grand slam to left field.

The Sox offensive explosion covered up a pair of very solid pitching performances by juniors. Righthander Jackson Fristoe (2020, Paducah, Ky.) was especially impressive in the quarterfinal game, throwing six shutout innings and allowing only two hits and two walks while throwing 70 pitches. The very athletic 6-foot-4, 195-pound Kentucky commit worked steadily in the 90-92 mph range from a high leg raise, fast-paced delivery that provides some deception for the hitters. He relied primarily on his heater and only occasionally dropped in a mid-70s curveball while pitching to contact and only striking out four hitters. Fristoe hasn't had an offensive role on the deep Sox team but is a two-way prospect who should be able to contribute on both sides of the ball should he reach the Wildcats.

Lefthander Ryan Bruno (2020, Jacksonville, Fla.) didn't have Fristoe's command in the Round of 16, throwing 75 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, but only allowed one hit while striking out five. Bruno has a long and very loose build and arm action and regularly reaches 90-92 himself with a low effort release. The Stanford commit has improved by leaps and bounds over the past six months and it wouldn't be surprising to see him take another step forward over the next year.

The DBacks Langley Blaze was the team that was steamrolled by East Coast in the quarterfinals, but the largely Canadian team put on an outstanding performance overall. Blaze center fielder Shane Sasaki (2019, Mililani, Hawaii) further established himself as a potential draft prospect for next June, hitting .421 (8-for-19) for the championship with four extra-base hits and four stolen bases. Just as notably, he walked six times and scored 11 runs in the Blaze's six games. The Cal Poly commit is a very similar athlete to Hawaiian outfielder Micah Bello, who the Brewers took in the second round last year, with plus speed and defensive tools and lots of projectable righthanded bat speed.

Lefthander Cooper Benson (2019, San Luis Obispo, Calif.) has been pitching in Perfect Game events since January, 2015 and this was the 15th such event in which he has made an appearance on the mound. It might also have been his best. The Arizona State commit threw a complete game two-hitter with nine strikeouts in BPA's 3-0 win in the first round of the playoffs. Benson has not gained any velocity in the past three years but has continually refined his secondary pitches, his mechanics and his durability. He worked in the 86-89 mph range over his 91-pitch outing with lots of arm-side running life that he used to successfully expand the strike zone. Benson has good feel for his breaking ball between 68-73 mph and also throws a changeup that mimics his fastball in both arm speed and running life.

BPA center fielder and leadoff hitter Petey Halpin (2020, San Mateo, Calif.) is one of the most dynamic athletes in the 2020 class and has a standout combination of running speed, bat speed and hitting ability. Halpin keyed BPA's offense in Benson's shutout, going 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored. The lefthanded hitter and UCLA commit also walked three times in BPA's narrow 6-5 Round of 16 loss to the Langley Blaze.

MLB Breakthrough Series catcher Darius Perry (2019, LaMirada, Calif.), a PG All-American and the 45th-ranked player in the 2019 class, was very impressive through MLB's run to the Round of 16, especially with his righthanded bat. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Perry is exceptionally strong and the ball comes off his barrel hard and loud. He hit .538 (7-for-13) at his first WWBA World Championship, including a 406-foot home run during pool play, but just as impressive were the two broken bat singles that this scout saw, where Perry simply overpowered the ball despite the broken wood and got the ball into left field. Perry's plus throwing arm was also on display a number of times on defense.

– David Rawnsley

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