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Tournaments | Story | 10/21/2018

Freshman World Day 2 Notes

Jheremy Brown         Greg Gerard         Taylor Weber        
Photo: Cole Young (Perfect Game)

2018 WWBA Freshman World Championship: Daily Leaders | Day 1 Notes

Hayden Murphy (2022, Chula, Ga.) showed some of the best infield actions of the day at shortstop and topped that off displaying the ability to hit the baseball with barreled contact as well. Murphy is a recent commit to Auburn University and is a legitimate two-way talent both as a position player and on the mound. While not throwing in this game, Murphy was still able to showcase that arm strength that he takes to the mound on a play up the middle using his clean hands to field a tough hop and firing a strike to first. Murphy’s arm plays very well at shortstop with plenty of carry. Murphy’s bat certainly stood out in the game as he got the barrel to the baseball using his good bat speed and stroking a single to left field.

Nathan Fink (2022, Charlottesville, Va.) found barrel after barrel for the Canes National team in the early morning time slot on the Houston Astros quad. Fink struck the first pitch of the bottom of the first right back where it came from for a single up the middle getting his quick hands to the baseball directly. He later drove a ball deep to center field that he just missed lifting the ball over the center fielder’s head for an extra base hit giving a look at the potential pop in his bat. The Virginia commit finished his day with another barreled baseball for a single to his pull side, again on the first pitch. Fink has an aggressive approach and looks for a pitch out over the plate early in the count looking to hit the ball hard to any part of the field.

Joey Tuttoilmondo (2022, Monmouth Junction, N.J.) featured a fastball that topped out at 83 mph from a compact arm action with plenty of arm strength behind it. The ball really jumps out of his hand and there is plenty of twitch to Tuttoilmondo’s actions on the bump. He lived primarily in the upper-70s after his first inning but he did live in the low-80s early in his outing. The righthander from New Jersey has a shorter stride to the plate landing slightly closed while still allowing himself to get extended out in front and throw strikes on a consistent basis. Tuttoilmondo can work to either side of the plate with his fastball as well as he did in this outing mixing in a low-70s fading changeup for strikes as well. The righthander was dominant in his three innings of work striking out seven in three innings and not issuing a walk.

Not many had a more offensive day than Sal Stewart (2022, Miami, Fla.) for US Elite 15u National. The third baseman was a home run short of the cycle in his team’s first game of the day, including a long double to the power alley in left-center field that looked like a homer off of the bat. Stewart was a participant in this year’s 14u PG Select Festival and his bat is among the top in the 2022 class. The physical righthanded hitter has plenty of jump off of his bat and he is able to work from gap to gap as he did in this game in particular. His first at-bat included a single through the 5-6 hole to his pull side that was hit as hard as any of his three hits in the game. His next was a nice piece of hitting sitting back and driving a 1-2 fastball into the opposite field gap. His final at-bat was the double that appeared to might leave the park at the point of contact. Stewart is a top prospect at the hot corner as well with a clean glove, solid arm strength and the bat that has plenty of juice.

Cole Young (2022, Wexford, Pa.) was a standout on the field both offensively and defensively making an incredible diving play up the middle at shortstop and spraying the ball to all fields at the plate. From the lefthanded batter’s box Young has a line drive, contact-oriented approach with the ability to execute that approach to all fields. Working a pair of singles the opposite way in the game and hitting the ball very hard to his pull side in another at-bat, Young can manipulate the barrel from his fluid lefthanded stroke. The shortstop is also an excellent defender especially given his young age. The play up the middle was spectacular in this game as he ranged to his left, dove with full extension to gather the baseball cleanly before firing a strike to first to get the runner by a step and a half. Young’s hands are so clean and sure on even the most routine plays and his footwork is pure carry his weight to his target gaining momentum into his throws.

US Elite rolled out plenty of players that are projectable in their own way including the first reliever of the contest in lefthander Jesus Gonzalez (2022, Hialeah, Fla.). The southpaw featured a fastball that reached as high as 85 mph while sitting anywhere from 80-85 mph consistently. Gonzalez was completely dominant in his time on the mound filling up the strike zone and overpowering hitters with his fastball. He was able to consistently work the fastball to the lower third of the plate and primarily to his arm side. The delivery is a bit unique with some deception present, drop and drive actions and a full arm action. He gets downhill creating a short plane to his fastball that he threw for the most part. He did flash a curveball for a swing a miss late in his outing that was 67 mph with developing spin.

Third baseman Ben Bullard (2022, Mount Pleasant, S.C.) for Canes American had a really nice day at the plate that included three doubles. The first two pitches Bullard saw he jumped on them and drove them deep to center field and left field respectively for a double to the pull-side gap followed by a ground-rule double to straightaway left field. The swing is very strong as well as the 6-foot, 175-pound frame. His third double also came to his pull side, this time going down the third base line on an inside fastball that he got the bat head out in front on well. Bullard can impact the baseball well and has an aggressive approach at the plate that plays well when trying to drive the baseball early in counts.

One of the more fluid lefthanded swings in the entire event belongs to shortstop Logan Wagner (2022, Aurora, Ill.) of Chicago Scouts Association. Wagner has extremely quick hand speed that gets to the baseball fluidly and allows him to spray the baseball to all parts of the field including either gap for extra base hits. He only hit from the lefthanded side in this look, but the switch-hitter is every bit of a legitimate threat each time he comes to the plate in the heart of the Chicago batting order. Wagner has an ideal frame as well standing at a lean 6-foot-1, 180-pounds with plenty of room to fill with added strength.

Tri State has thrown multiple big-time and noteworthy arms on the mound over the past two days and Luke Barlow (2022, Woodbine, Ga.) was no different. Already running his fastball up to 85 mph, Barlow throws with intent and properly uses his lower half to produce such advanced velocity for his age group. A South Georgia native, Barlow has an online arm that works and has more velocity likely left in the tank. The righthander also featured one of the better breaking balls of the weekend as well. His curveball is sharp with good shape and late break to it. The pitch sits in the low-70s while able to land the pitch for strikes low in the zone or down and out of the zone causing hitters to chase for swings and misses.

One of the top catching prospects of the day was Tri State Arsenal Scout Team backstop Grayson Taylor (2022, Acworth, Ga.). Taylor is a lefthanded hitting catcher with a long swing plane and natural loft to his stroke. Behind the plate Taylor excels with lots of flexibility and agile movements. On a wild pitch during Saturday’s game that bounced several feet to his right, Taylor dropped to a blocking position, picked the ball cleanly and transferred the ball to his hand extremely quickly given the toughness of the hop and threw a strike to second base on a line. Taylor may have not thrown out the runner, but the play in itself was impressive enough. The catcher has nice receiving skills as well able to steal strikes for his pitchers even with velocity as high as 85 mph in this contest.

Zac Dart (2022, Spanish Fort, Utah) pitched the entire game for BPA reaching his pitch limit while working in the upper-70s to low-80s consistently with his fastball. He topped out at 81 mph with his fastball and is likely going to continue to throw much harder with additional strength and maturity to his frame as he grows. The righthander from Utah has a clean delivery that stays online and loose throughout. He repeats his mechanics well with a full and online arm action allowing his fastball to be located to either side of the plate. Dart’s lower half is well used in his delivery with a clean hip turn on time and repeatedly on time release point out in front. His fastball was complemented with a curveball that was in the upper-60s and helped him secure six strikeouts in his seven inning complete game.

It was a short look but still a very good one at 14u National Showcase participant Trey Duffield (2022, Houston, Texas). Duffield’s fastball ranged from 80-82 mph in an inning of work with plane and plenty of angle. The fastball comes from one of the more projection-filled deliveries of the class as it is a matter of time before the righthander from the Lonestar State makes a positive velocity jump. Duffield has a working arm that stays clean as it comes through the arm circle and he uses his lower half properly as well. The righthander also has an extremely projectable frame for a pitcher on the mound standing at an ideal 6-foot-3, 180-pounds with present strength in his lower half.

– Greg Gerard

Royer Stanley Moreno-Cedeno (Englewood, N.J.)  got the nod for the Bronx Bombers inside the stadium for their second game of pool play and the physically advanced lefthander showed off intriguing arm strength over his 5.2 innings on the mound. While he ultimately took the loss and allowed four earned runs, it’s worth noting that three of the runs came in his final inning of work as his pitch count approached 100 on the day. Listed at 5-foot-10, 180-pounds, Cedeno Moreno opened the game sitting in the 82-85 mph range and continued to live in the low-80s all the way through until his final pitch of the outing, showing the same quick arm and extended three-quarters release. He shows rhythm and balance to his delivery though he’ll occasionally get under his fastball and while he can still continue to refine his lower half finish it’s important to remember he still hasn’t turned 15 years old and still has plenty of velocity left in the tank as the ball jumps out of his hand. The fastball was the go-to pitch for the young lefthander, though he did mix in both a changeup in the low-70s and a mid-60s curveball to keep hitters honest in the box.

David Mershon (Taylors, S.C.) may not be the most physical player in the Canes National lineup as he’s listed at 5-foot-7, 145-pounds, but he still hits out of their four-hole and had one of the best single game performances throughout the first two days of the tournament. Listed as a switch-hitter, Mershon took all three of his at-bats from the left side and though he only saw six pitches on the day he came away with a pair of triples and a double. His swing remained the same during all three of his hits too, staying simple and loose with his hands while getting the barrel extended early in the count on a pitch he could drive. Mershon’s first triple showed off his strength as he cleared the right fielder’s head on the first pitch of the at-bat before going the other way for a double in at-bat No. 2 before finishing his day with another three base hit to the pull side gap. While he’s currently uncommitted, Mershon should have his collection of schools to choose from given his ability to find the barrel and his overall sense and feel for the game.

A member of Team Gordon in this past Labor Day’s PG Select Festival, catcher Lamar King (Rosedale, Mary.) already appears to have made some strides with his swing mechanics since we last saw him which isn’t a good thing for opposing pitchers. Going 1-for-3 on day, King is already physically built at 6-foot-3, 190-pounds and appears to be learning how to incorporate that strength into his swing while also getting his hands extended and the barrel out front, something he didn’t do as often this summer. In King’s first at-bat he turned on a fastball and hit a hard ground ball through the 6-hole for a single before just missing two balls in each of his next two trips, flying out to center and left field, though the extension remained the same while generating lift out front. There’s a reason he’s ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the class currently and these adjustments are only going to help lead to additional power in his swing.

Kevin Jaxel (Congers, N.Y.) showed no problem missing bats over his 4.2 innings of work for Grit Black, punching out 10 while picking up the win in the process. Young for the grade having just turned 14 a couple months back, Jaxel already stands at 6-foot-3, 170-pounds and while he has plenty of time to iron out his mechanics, his arm stroke is loose and he’s already generating solid velocity as he ran his fastball. Up to 84 mph in this look, Jaxel lived in the low-80s throughout his outing, still touching 82-83 mph late in the contest while creating the same angle to his glove side when on top of the ball. The breaking ball showed slurve shape given his release in the 68-71 mph range, a pitch he mixed throughout along with his low-70s changeup, giving him three pitches he could land in the strike zone to miss bats with.

It was a quick one inning look at Michigan native Nolan Schubart (Durand, Mich.) on the mound, but over the course of the first two days he has shown very interesting potential as a two-way prospect. Closing out the game for the Louisiana Knights, Schubart ran his fastball up to 85 mph and while that velocity is impressive in a Freshman tournament, the ease of which the ball comes out of his hand is even more alluring. Listed a 6-foot-4, 185-pounds, Schubart works with a slight cross-fire element to his delivery, generating cut action on his fastball which lived in the 82-85 mph range and jumped out of his hand with limited effort. While it wasn’t a clean 1-2-3 inning he continued to pound the strike zone and flashed a curveball in the 66-68 mph and will see his fastball continue to tick up with added strength.

And as that strength comes of Schubart, his lefthanded swing is only going to become a more dangerous one, too. With a slight load of his hands as he rocks his weight back, Schubart does a nice job of staying rather compact and direct to the ball given his length and shows lift to his path out front with the ability to drive the ball at present.

Deundre Jones (Manvel, Texas), who is already committed to Houston, goes to the plate looking to do one thing with every swing of the bat and that’s drive the ball with authority somewhere between the white lines. That’s just what he did last night as he utilizes the strength in his hands which help generate the whip in his barrel to connect for a hard line drive double over the left fielder’s head for a double, raising his average to .667 on the tournament. The strength for Jones is real and it’s a weapon as he not only can drive the baseball, but as his batting average indicates, can put the ball in play and pick up base knocks without selling out solely for his power. He’s currently ranked No. 64 in the class and after his performance this weekend you can see why the Houston coaching staff locked up this in-state talent early on.

Jose Vargas (League City, Texas) is one of many talented players on the Mizuno Baseball USA roster and while he’s the team’s starting shortstop, he’s also their leadoff hitter and put an impressive swing on a ball during his second trip to the plate. A long and projectable 6-foot-2, 160-pound lefthanded hitter, Vargas shows looseness to his swing and sound present bat speed through the zone as he pulled the barrel in on an inner half fastball and shot a triple down the pull side line, eventually coming around to score the team’s first run of the game. The tools are there offensively to continue to develop, especially given his long and projectable build which has plenty of room to handle added strength.

Gilbert Saunders III (Gilbertsville, Pa.) doesn’t look like your typical rising freshman at a strong and broad shouldered 6-foot-3, 205-pounds nor does he throw like one. Continuing to add velocity to his fastball, Saunders topped out at 86 mph early in this look, showing a quick and compact arm stroke through the back side while mixing in both a curveball and changeup over his 2 1/3 innings of relief. The velocity is impressive and while he showed his best fastballs early sitting in the 83-86 mph range, it was the heavy life to his arm side that was even more noteworthy. There’s some drop and drive for Saunders through his backside which takes away some of his leverage coming down the mound, but with the ease of which the ball comes out of his hand and having just turned 15, it’s easy to envision another few jumps coming for the young Pennsylvania native.

Logan Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.) was a key component in helping his SWFL team capture their pool last night as he provided key relief out of the bullpen and also drove in what proved to be the game-winning run in the top of the seventh. Smith, who appears a couple inches taller than his listed 5-foot-11, came out sitting in the 80-84 mph range with his fastball, showing a long and loose arm stroke with whip-like action which helped generate running life in on the hands of righthanded batters. It was fastballs only for Smith, who came into the game with the go-ahead run on third base and one out but went strikeout-fly ball to escape the jam and swing the momentum. With the scripts flipped, Smith came to the plate with a runner on third base and two outs in the top of the seventh and barreled a ground ball past the third baseman before coming around to score later in the inning with an important insurance run.

To keep things simple, outfielder Michael Gupton (Raleigh, N.C.) runs the bases in fast-forward mode, showing game changing speed which puts pressure on the opposing defense from the moment he takes one step out of the box until he comes around to score. It didn’t take the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Gupton (who sports plenty of physical strength to his frame) to put that speed on display as he showed his bat-to-ball skills and solid bat speed in ripping a ground ball past the third baseman into the corner for an easy three-base hit, showing plus speed on the turn without ever breaking stride until reaching third base. Batting leadoff, Gupton also proved the speed can manufacture runs on its own as he drew a walk and promptly stole both second and third while drawing an errant throw from the catcher to come in and score. On the tournament Gupton hit .571, proving his game is more than just speed, though it’s a tool that also helps him patrol center field and cover ground with ease.

Drew Lafferty (South Park, Pa.) was one of three arms to take the mound for Tri-State Scout Team to touch at least 85 mph on the mound and appears to have plenty more in the tank as he continues to grow into his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame. Running his fastball up to 87 mph and sitting in the 84-87 mph range early on, the first thing that stands out about Lafferty’s delivery is the extension he’s able to consistently generate on each pitch while staying on line down the mound. There’s obvious arm quickness and strength in generating the velocity with the relative low effort release that he does and while the final line wasn’t the cleanest, he’s definitely an arm college coaches will have circled in their programs moving forward.

Ranked No. 39 in the class and already committed to Oklahoma, righthander Bauer Brittain (Shawnee, Okla.) threw a quick inning out of the bullpen and ran his fastball up to 88 mph twice while working mostly in the mid-80s. Brittain is an arm we first at the 14u South showcase earlier this year where he was touching 84 mph and while the velocity has continued to climb, he’s also continued to refine his overall delivery while showing the same quick right arm. The young Sooner commit his showing better balance with his lower half and is working on top of the ball better which helps generate more consistent plane while generating angle to his glove side.

The starting shortstop for the South Charlotte Panthers, Matt Heavner (Lincolnton, S.C.) is an athletic and quick-twitch defender who has opened the eyes of college coaches throughout the weekend with his play on both sides of the ball. Hitting out of the middle of the order, Heavner projects as a top of the order table setter type given his natural feel for the barrel and ability to whip it through the zone. Similar to Gupton above, Heavner made the offense go and did so quickly, finding the barrel for a flair single up the middle before stealing second, then advanced to third before scoring on a double steal, putting up a run in the matter of minutes. On top of the offense, Heavner shows fluidity to his actions up the middle with soft hands and a quick internal clock.

Both starting pitchers in the South Charlotte/Tri-State game showed intriguing stuff and the collection of college recruiters behind the backstop took notice. Righthander Eli Jerzembeck (Charlotte, N.C.) offers a long and projectable build and ran his fastball up to 84 mph from a high three-quarters release, showing quickness through the backside and short sinking life down in the zone. Along with the fastball, Jerzembeck featured depth to his breaking ball with 11-5 shape, landing the pitch for strikes and will only see an uptick in velocity as he continues to incorporate additional lower half.

Opposing Jerzembeck was Tri-State's Andrew Dutkanych, a 6-foot-1, 176-pound righthander out of Indiana who offers a lot of ingredients on the mound which college recruiters have already taken notice of. Up to 85 mph with a short and compact arm action, Dutkanych saw his fastball steadily climb throughout his opening frame on the bump and all the while was able to create late cutting action away from righthanded hitters, breaking a couple bats in the process. There's going to be another jump or two in velocity in the near future for the uncommitted righthander given his frame and how the ball jumps out of his hand, making him a target or college programs in future tournaments as well.

– Jheremy Brown 

Day 2 kicked off with a big win from Team Elite Nation 15u, 8-3 over Dirtbags 2022 Camo. The Dirtbags had a tough time getting much offense going as they scored three runs in the first and would be shut out the rest of the game, collecting just four total hits. The leadoff hitter, Austin Hawke (2022 Oak Island, N.C.), was the biggest contributor for the Dirtbags’ offense, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. He hasn’t reached his potential yet and he already shows high skill with the bat in his hands. He has a smooth and quick barrel with a strong shift into contact on a compact plane. He worked well to the pull side in the game with a line drive just inside the line for his first single and a sharp line drive to left field for his second. His only out in the game was probably his hardest hit ball, a shot that was caught by the third baseman.

Driving in Hawke in the first inning was three-hole hitter Tucker Toman (2022 Columbia, S.C.). Toman is a pure athlete on the field as well as in the box. He moves around unlike most at his age and can handle the bat just as well. He works the ball to the whole field and makes key adjustments in the box when necessary. One of Toman’s biggest assets as a player is his mental game. He looks to attack early in the count and did so on the second pitch he saw, driving a well struck line drive for an RBI single, plating the first run of the game. Toman, the 26th-ranked player in the 2022 class, is committed to play baseball at Oregon.

The Nos. 2-5 hitters for Team Elite Nation 15u were on fire in this game going a combined 8-for-10 and they were the reason for the 8-3 victory. Hitting in the fourth spot in the order was 6-foot, 185-pound righty Dawson Coe (2022 Covington, Ga.). Coe is an athletic 6-foot, 185-pound primary pitcher, but in this game he shined with the bat. Dawson finished the game with a 2-for-3 day, scoring two runs and driving in three. He swings the bat with a bit of intent on a line drive path and is able to work the ball to all fields with ease. Coe both doubled and singled in the game and showed off a bit of jump off his bat when he’s able to barrel it up, which he did with consistency in this game.

Batting behind Coe was righthanded hitting first baseman Wesley Miller (2022 Anniston, Ala.). Miller is a bulky player with strength in his lower half standing at 6-foot, 220-pounds and he’s able to utilize it well. He has strong separation in his swing and creates a high amount of torque from his hips in the swing. He pairs this with nice feel for his barrel able to get to a high percentage of pitches. He comes to the plate with a gap-to-gap approach and was able to do damage in the alleyways. He doubled in the gap, driving in a run, and would later single on a ball to the gap that drove in his third RBI of the game.

Mason Howell (2022 King, N.C.) took the ball for the Dirtbags 2022 Black team, and although he would suffer the loss he threw a solid game. Tossing from the left side, Howell has sharp sinking action on his 83 mph fastball. He releases from a high three-quarters slot after utilizing a long and loose arm action in the back. He mixes in a sharp 1-to-7 curveball with late depth to it. Howell creates some extension out front with a lot of drive down the mound off the back leg. He’s able to work his pitches to all quadrants of the zone, and though he was a bit wild in his first inning, he settled in nicely and finished with five innings, five hits, five strikeouts and just a single earned run allowed.

5 Star Carolina was able to take care of business with a 9-5 win. The bottom of the order for 5 Star provided some much needed offense as Lane Essary (2022 Hickory, N.C.) finished the game 2-for-2 with a double and two runs scored. He utilizes a slightly elevated path to the ball but can consistently hit line drives all over the field. He has speed in his hands and is able to cover the whole plate and get the barrel to pitches on the outer half. Essary squared up the ball well in the game, especially on his line drive single down the left field line.

Cj Richard (2023 Hamilton, Ohio) also hit well in the lower parts of the order for 5 Star. He’s one of the younger players in the tournament but he’s definitely an advanced athlete. He stands at just 5-foot-4, 125-pounds, but what he lacks in stature he makes up for in pure fast-twitch movements. He’s a blur down the line and really makes his presence known on the basepaths. Richard drove in two runs on an infield single up the middle, which really showed off his speed down the line.

Providing some of the offense for the Scorpions 2022 Founders Club, who faced off against 5 Star, was leadoff man Bryce Swindle (2022 Deland, Fla.). Swindle is a high contact oriented hitter with a bit of a longer swing path to contact. However, he displayed some high-end hand speed to the ball and was really able to work around pitches and drive them to the pull side of the field. The righthanded hitter scored two runs and had one of the four hits in the game for the Scorpions, a well struck line drive into left that drove in a run.

The 100th-ranked 2022 player in the nation took the mound for Sandlot Scout Team 2022 in lefthanded pitcher Kyndon Lovell (2022 Fort Cobb, Okla.). He gave his team four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out four batters while allowing four free passes. Lovell is still a young pitcher and his command issues should sort themselves out as he matures. He has a fast arm from the left side and hides the ball well, creating a bit of deception. His fastball has nice life through the zone and he was able to blow it by hitters hitting 83 mph consistently. His 12-to-6 curveball is a solid out-pitch and he shows nice feel for it at the bottom of the zone.

Bryson Evans (2022 Duncan, Okla.), the Sandlot No. 2 hitter, finished the game as the only mulit-hit player for both sides going 2-for-3. He’s not an overly strong player but what he doesn’t have in size he has in athleticism. He has a smooth swing path through the zone and likes to swing the bat with intent, being aggressive early in counts. However, he hardly ever chases bad pitching and is more than willing to use a good eye at the plate and work the count to his favor.

Knights Baseball suffered a tough lough to Genesis Baseball by a score of 4-3, with Genesis grabbing a couple of late runs to take the lead. On the mound for the Knights, however, was righthander pitcher Aaron Walton (2022 Brentwood, Tenn.). He allowed two runs in just two innings of work but he displayed a lot of things to like on the mound. He has good size already at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds and can run the fastball up to 83 mph and projects for more. He has a clean arm action in the back and can locate his pitches well on the corners of the zone. He struck out three batters with a nice 11-to-5 breaking ball that seems to have the makings of a strong put-away pitch in the future.

– Taylor Weber

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