Tournaments | Story | 1/19/2019

West MLK Scout Notes: Day 1

Greg Gerard         Taylor Weber         Ben Milks        
Photo: Mason Auer (Perfect Game)

A much-anticipated bullpen call was what a lot of heat was waiting around for in the final game on White Sox-Field 4 as Mason Auer (2019, Springfield, Mo.) was set to pitch an inning for the Sticks Upperclass team. Auer has shown tremendous arm strength at previous Perfect Game events before topping out at 98 mph from the outfield at the 2018 PG National Indoor Showcase and 97 mph at the 2018 PG National Showcase at Tropicana Field. Auer has also pitched previously at PG events topping out at 90 mph, but not quite what he did on Friday afternoon as he did not throw a fastball under 92 mph in a closer-like role. Auer sat mostly 93-94 mph with his fastball topping out at 95 mph with heavy downhill plane when down in the zone. He worked off of his fastball with a curveball that has slurvy shape and tight spin.

Auer’s mechanics are very simple starting with a quick overhead windup and an ultra-fast take back of his right arm. That arm bolts to his release point that allows the baseball to come from a high three-quarters arm slot. He locates best when staying online to the plate and getting his arm through to his release point on time. The Missouri State signee uses his lower half ideally getting outstanding drive from the rubber. Combining that lower half involvement with his exceptional arm strength, it is no wonder Auer has made a significant jump in velocity on the mound.

A pair of innings for Ronan Kopp (2020, Phoenix, Ariz.) was more than enough to see what the potential of his left arm can be in the future. His fastball ranged from 87-92 mph while also touching 93 once as well. Kopp did run into some early command trouble on the mound early before dialing in and pitching to and retiring six batters in a row. His command was best when under control and throwing with low effort down the mound. His 6-foot-5 frame creates a steep plane for the fastball to take to the plate and when each of his breaking balls were on, no one was making contact. The Arizona State commit has a lot of potential given that he is still a junior in high school and has a projectable 6-foot-5 frame, but his arm strength combined with the heaviness in which his fastball rides to the plate makes low-90s look considerably harder. The Sun Devils must be excited about their commitment in local product Ronan Kopp.

The infield actions of the day goes to Anthony Garrett (2019, Sherwood, Ore.) of GBG NW Marucci whose glove at shortstop is advanced beyond his years. The hands play so softly attacking the baseball and his to throw from multiple arm angles is outstanding. Garrett prevented a big inning early for GBG with the bases loaded attacking a slow ground ball that was a tough play for any shortstop to make. Garrett fielded the baseball so smoothly and made a tough play look very easy flicking the ball over to first base for an accurate in-time throw.

The farthest ball hit on Friday came off of the bat of Devin Keen (2019, Griffin, Ga.). Looking at Keen who stands at 6-foot-5, 235-pounds, it is obvious that there should be power coming off of his bat and there indeed is when you see him swing the bat. The righthanded hitting primary first baseman did not miss a middle-third fastball in his second at-bat of the day depositing the ball into the parking lot over the right field fence on Dodgers-Field 6. Keen’s swing oozes strength and when the baseball is lifted, the sheer strength and launch angle in which the baseball leaves his bat will carry it a long way.

Wyatt Nelson (2020, Chesapeake City, Md.) is one of the more intriguing uncommitted underclassman in attendance at West MLK. Not only because his fastball can reach as high as 87 mph, but he is as physical as they come on the mound while he is a big-time football player as well. Nelson’s arm strength on the mound is enticing and for his size, he controls his delivery very well working down the mound with intent and staying in good direction to the plate. The righthander from Maryland has outstanding feel for the strike zone and a full repertoire of pitches at his disposal that he was ready to throw in any count. His fastball sat in the mid-80s with riding life to armside. His two secondaries are his curveball and changeup that each ca be thrown for strikes as well. The changeup primarily being the pitch to retire lefthanded hitters and the curveball shows sharpness that can freeze a hitter whether ahead in the count or early in a count for a get-me-over strike call. Nelson helped pitch the Sticks Underclass to a big run-rule win in their first game of pool play.

Kurtis Byrne (2019, Chesterfield, Mo.) already looks like a professional catcher behind the plate, at the plate and physically. His lower half is filled with present muscle that he uses to move laterally behind the plate with and create torque from his hips while swinging the bat. Byrne showed all day long that is a natural receiver with the ability to steal strikes for his battery-mate. On top of that he shows some of the best pure pop and loud hitting tools of any catcher in the 2019 class. The TCU commit showed he was not going to get cheated at the plate jumping on the first pitch in both of his at-bats on the day. His first at-bat and the first pitch he saw in the tournament in particular was a belt high fastball that he did not miss. Although it did tail foul, the ball hit off of the left field wall and left his barrel at a very high rate. He then fought off several well-located pitches before serving another well-located pitch into center field for a single. It is an aggressive and yet controlled approach at the plate for Byrne and his all-around skill-set is definitely intriguing for this year’s prep catchers.

A teammate of Byrne who excelled at the plate was 6-foot-1, 207-pound outfielder Evan Sleight (2019, Framingham, Mass.). The lefthanded hitter struck a pair of balls in the game deep to his pull side while one split the right-center field gap for a triple and the other was robbed by an outstanding catch at the wall. Sleights power is obvious at the plate with natural leverage and a lift in his swing. The ball jumps off of his bat and the barrel feel was certainly zoned in in this game. Sleight is committed to Virginia and the Cavaliers are surely excited for what he can bring to the plate each day.

Zane Ryne Neves (2019, Bono, Ark.) was as efficient as anyone on Friday going an inning on the bump and striking out a pair on just 11 pitches. The Arkansas commit’s fastball ranged from 87-90 mph releasing with lots of extension out in front. Neves throws with intent and fires a fastball and slider combination to hitters. Ten of his 11 pitches were fastballs while the lone slider did show sharp downward tilt even though it feel just out of the strike zone for a two-strike ball. Neves’ arm works coming from a mostly compact arm action and a high three-quarters arm slot. With the low pitch total in Friday’s contest, it is easy to expect Neves to return to the hill over the weekend for a loaded Sticks roster.

Heading over to La Joya High School for the 5:30 slotted game, a pair of Stanford Cardinal commits made a nice showing and plenty of tools to project on. Garrett Cutting (2021, Las Vegas, Nev.) of LVR was the reliever on the hill during the closing of the 3:00 pm game and the lean 5-foot-11 righty topped out at 88 mph with an extremely quick arm. Cutting’s delivery is up-tempo and creates lots of angle. The arm stroke is quick and loose staying online to the plate along with his lower half. He did flash a slider as well to accompany the mid- to upper-80s heat.

Eddie Park (2020, San Jose, Calif.) did it all for Trosky National Team in the nightcap at La Joya pitching six no-hit innings and collecting a pair of hits. Park is a primary outfielder and his bat excels with gap to gap ability. He is an interesting follow on the mound as well while the command is well-advanced for a secondary lefthanded pitcher. Park went the other way for an opposite field gap double in his second at-bat right after striking out the side on 80-83 mph fastballs and a sharp low-70s breaking ball in the half inning prior.

– Greg Gerard

Dykstra Baseball 2021 got the 2019 PG West MLK Underclass Championship tournament going with a big 2-0 win in their early game on Friday. On the bump for Dykstra was 6-foot-5, 190-pound righthanded pitcher Carson Hamro (Vista, Calif.). Hamro has a big and tall frame with long levers and a projectable build. He utilizes a smooth and easily repeatable delivery to the plate while creating extension through release. He works through a compact arm action in the back into a three-quarters release with present arm speed. Hamro is able to work in and out well with the fastball up to 88 mph while creating slight plane to the plate. He mixes in a sharp 11-to-5 curveball with depth to the pitch, and able to land it for quality strikes in the bottom half of the zone.

The University of San Diego commit finished the day with a strong stat line for Dykstra. He tossed three innings allowing just three hits and striking out five batters. Hamro would go on to take the win. He also performed well at the plate going 2-for-3 with a double and a triple as well as an RBI.

Playing extremely tough defense behind Hamro for Dykstra Baseball was shortstop Isaac Rodriguez (Murrieta, Calif.). Throughout the game Rodriguez consistently put on display his top-end defensive ability up the middle of the field. He showed solid range working to both sides and made numerous solid plays. His arm strength plays well across the diamond ensuring that he should be able to stick on the left side of the field.

It was a tough day offensively for the MN Millers – 17u facing off against Dykstra and suffering the 2-0 defeat. The 6-foot, 190-pound four-hole hitter in Parker Hagebock (Apple Valley, Minn.) was able to provide most of the offense, finishing the day at a 2-for-3 clip including a long double. Hagebock has present strength in his build and utilizes well with a rotational shift into contact. He’s able to turn on pitches with relative ease and drive the ball into the pull side gaps. He kept his hands tight and got around a fastball to drive it down the left field line for his extra base hit.

Logan Frady (Sharpsburg, Ga.) took the mound for North East Baseball National and was near untouchable through his four innings of work. At 5-foot-10, 180-pounds, the righty has a stock build with broad shoulders and has present arm strength to the plate. He worked his fastball up to 85 mph and comfortably sat around 83 mph. He mixed in a sharp sweeping curveball and created a lot of swing and miss with his pitches. Through his four innings, Frady was able to strike out 10 batters. He mixes well and did well at keeping hitters off balance.

The younger Dykstra Baseball 2022 team also grabbed a win in their first game in the Freshman portion of the West MLK Championship with a 4-2 victory. Showing a strong two-way potential was 6-foot, 165-pound righty Garrett Ferguson (Blue Springs , Mo.). Ferguson started on the bump and ran his fastball up to 80 mph, locating well and filling the zone with good strikes. He tossed the first two innings for Dykstra allowing just one earned run.

Ferguson also performed well at the plate. He’s got a fluid swing and stays in the zone through a line drive plane. He shows some feel for the barrel going 1-for-1 with a long double into the gap as well as taking a couple of walks.

Trosky National Team 2022 should be one of the favorites heading into the Freshman Championship and they showed it with a strong offensive performance up and down the lineup. Bryson Hoier (Paso Robles, Calif.), the three-hole hitter, drove in one of the three runs on the day. He’s got strong drive in his bat and is advanced at the plate for his age. He was consistently able to square up the ball and created some lift throughout the game. He drove a loud double that cleared the defender’s head in left field.

Ricky Rodenberg (Temecula, Calif.) provided a similar spark from a lower spot in the order as the No. 6 hitter. Rodenberg is a similar 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame with present strength and broad shoulders. He uses the lower half well when elevating his swing to get the ball in the air with good back spin off the bat. He is another player to follow with a good chance as a power bat in lineups for years to come. In game Rodenberg went 1-for-3 with a RBI on a long drive into the pull side gap for an easy double.

Batting second for Trosky National and going 1-for-2 with a single was righthander Tate Shimao (Honolulu, Hawaii). Shimao split his time between third base and shortstop defensively and excelled at both spots. He’s got the arm strength to get the ball across the diamond from third as well as the range and smoothness in his hands to remain up the middle. Shimao was a key cog in Trosky’s victory, making the routine plays with extreme consistency.

On the mound for Trosky was righthanded pitcher Victor Heredia Jr(Santa Ynez, Calif.). Heredia, at just 5-foot-10, 120-pound, is an athletic righty with good arm speed that enables him to ride his fastball up to 81 mph. Though his stuff isn’t the best in the class, he’s able to get results by being a consistent pitcher who mixes well. His fastball was mostly straight with good location to the outside half of the plate. He tosses a sharp curveball with an 11-to-5 shape and late break. He works through a clean arm action in the back into a three-quarter release. Heredia projects well for some uptick in his velocity as he continues to mature and fill out physically. If he continues to progress he may display an ability to work out a pen in the future.

Though he only went one inning, Kyler Stancato (Glendale, Ariz.) proved why he is among the top 2020 pitchers throughout the nation. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder pitching for GBG NW Marucci got three quick outs and called it a day. Up to 86 mph from the left side, Stancato projects for more as he utilizes a clean release with a smooth arm stroke through his release. He was able to mix in a couple of hammer curveballs through his quick inning and sat down the three hitters he faced.

The leadoff hitter for GBG had just one hit on the day but it was a long triple for Jordan Donahue (Mililani, Hawaii). He flashed excellent barrel skills at the plate and displayed the ability to put the ball in play with hard, line drive contact. His hit came in the bottom of the fourth inning, where GBG put the game away plating seven runs. The Oregon State commit has the ability to turn the barrel well and drove a fastball down the pull side line and really showed off his speed around the bases.

Capping the seven run inning for GBG was power lefty Carson Lydon (Eugene, Ore.). He put on a show in the game, going 2-for-2 with a run scored and two RBI. His big hit was a towering, no-doubt homerun to straight away left field. Lydon prides himself off his strength at the plate. He creates hard leverage through the lower half and creates easy jump off the barrel when getting to the ball out in front of the plate. The 2021 uncommitted first baseman shouldn’t have much trouble finding a next level club to take a change on his raw power potential at the plate.

– Taylor Weber

Coy Sarsfield (2021, Marion, Iowa) made the trip from Iowa to Phoenix to play with Tri-State Arsenal. A leadoff hitter with plus speed backed up his reputation with a couple impressive catches deep in the gaps and heads up baserunning plays. The Iowa commit also showed he is more than capable with the bat going 1-for-3 with an RBI in the first game of the tournament.

Jonah Giblin (2020, Silverdale, Wash.) showed impressive velocity in the first game of the tournament topping out at 90 mph while sitting at 87-89. He flashed the ability to keep hitters off balance as well with a 84 mph changeup with good downward action. Giblin fanned three batters in his 1 1/3 innings of work.

Tyson Dewall (2022, Folsom, Calif.), a projectable 2022 grad, topped out at 84 mph while sitting comfortably at 82-83 throughout his two innings of work. Dewall flashed good feel for off-speed with a sharp slider. Dewall is still developing his feel for pitching but has a live arm and the ability to throw the ball by hitters up in the zone. He fanned four while walking zero hitters in two innings of work. It will be fun to watch his development as a pitcher.

Chase Marshall (2022, Surrey British Columbia) made the long trip from Canada and his the ground running by going 3-for-4 in his first game. Throughout the game Marshall showed the ability to create impressive bat speed with his strong athletic build. He flashed plus power with a loud double complemented by two solid singles. Marshall also helped his team on the mound sitting 80-83 mph with one strike out in two-thirds of an inning.

Josh Pearson (2022, West Monroe, La.) proved why he is committed to LSU with an impressive, loud day at the plate. Pearson flashed bat speed and raw strength with a opposite field laser double to the left-center field gap. He showed plus speed on the basepaths as well with a stolen base to go with his RBI double.

Cooper Dossett (2022, Fayetteville, Ark.) impressed early at Camelback Ranch to open the tournament on Friday. He showed a high leg kick with a very smooth delivery. Dossett flashed impressive, consistent velocity as well topping out at 88 mph while sitting 86-87 while also throwing a sharp curveball at 73 mph, keeping hitters off balance. Watching him pitch you can tell he is raw on the mound and has a lot of room for development.

Nathan Haberthier (2020, Liberty Township, Ohio), an Ohio State commit, was dominant in his three innings of work, collecting five strikeouts while only allowing one walk. He flashed a fastball with good movement topping out at 88 mph complemented by a 70 mph curveball. Haberthier possesses a strong build to go along with his smooth delivery with a back turn that really creates deception for the hitter. Haberthier ollected five strikeouts while only allowing one walk and no hits in his three innings of work.

Mason Ashcraft (2020, Albuquerque N.M.) is physically imposing and he showed good feel for pitching, mixing a good changeup with downward action at 80 mph along with a sharp breaking ball at 76 mph, all thrown off of his 86 mph fastball while keeping hitters off balance consistently through his 2 2/3 innings of work. The New Mexico commit collected four strikeouts while only allowing two walks.

Dalton Rushing (2019, Brighton Tenn.) is a well-established top catcher in the 2019 class that took on extra hitter duty for North East Baseball National in their first game of the tournament and did not disappoint. The Louisville commit collected two hits including a loud double over the right fielder’s head showing his raw strength and bat speed.

Jackson Haga (2019, Bowling Green, Ky.) showed the ability to pitch early in his two innings of work. The Kentucky native showed a high effort delivery with a big leg kick. Haga dominated from the moment he stepped on the mound striking out five and giving up two hits behind the ability to mix his 91 mph fastball and wipeout slider at 79 mph. The Liberty commit also showed the ability to blow his fastball by hitters creating a massive amount of swing and misses in his outing.

Jay Luikart (2019, Ashland, Ohio), a lefty from Ohio, followed suit with the other two pitchers in the game for North East Baseball National with an dominant two innings of work. In his two innings the Wright State commit collected six strikeouts while only facing seven hitters. Luikart showed the ability to consistently blow his fastball by hitters toping out at 88 mph with a lot of movement creating a lot of looking strikes. The lefty also showed a impressive curveball at 79 mph.

– Ben Milks

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