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High School | General | 4/5/2019

High School Notebook: April 5

Vincent Cervino         Steve Fiorindo         Perfect Game Staff        
Photo: Drew Dalquist (Perfect Game)

The high school notebook is designed to share notes and video on players that stand out during the high school season and new features will be released regularly. This will include in-game looks, reports, analysis and video from Perfect Game's scouting staff. If you have news on a player in your area that is performing at a high level that we should have eyes on please reach out to Vinnie Cervino at Also feel free to share your video highlights on Twitter @vcervinopg.

High School Notebooks: March 1 | March 5 | March 15 | March 22

Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake HS (Calif.)
There have been few, if any, risers this draft cycle who have climbed boards faster than Cavaco, a third baseman from the San Diego area. Cavaco is listed at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds and looks very good physically, with strength throughout very broad shoulders and lots of projection remaining on the frame. Throw in the tools he’s been showing along with his age on draft, just turning 18, and you have a prospect who hits all the checkmarks for draft risers.

The tools standout even when watching Cavaco take hacks in the cage before games as he whips the barrel hard, showing off his plus bat speed and really likes to get his hands extended out in front of the plate. There’s impressive raw power there and when looking at the projection on the frame too there’s a lot of raw power that has yet to have been unlocked.

Defensively, the San Diego State signee looks like a safe bet to stick at third base at the next level showing off excellent hands with good fluidity and range to either side. The quickness of the first step really allows him to get to those screamers on either side of him and the arm strength is currently average but profiles well long term at third base.

He didn’t get to show off the power in game during this look, going 1-for-3 on the afternoon with a hard hit single through the 6-hole. He faced up against a fellow draft prospect in the area in righthander Octavio Corona and he battled him for a ten-pitch strikeout in the first inning. Following Corona’s departure, he popped out in his second at-bat and in his final at-bat laced the single to the pull side.

What he showed off in those at-bats, however, was a keen awareness of the strike zone and an ability to lay off tough pitches or simply foul them off. Cavaco knows he has power and will still be prone to chase some high fastballs, but his feel to recognize breaking balls and spit on those in the dirt stands out and will likely lead to him being fairly efficient with his power production at the next level.

Cavaco is certainly impressive prospect when you look at the summation of the tools and even better when you talk to some of the scouts who have seen most of his games this season. With the draft less than two months away, Cavaco has placed himself firmly in discussion to be the first prep player from the SoCal-San Diego area to be selected.

Octavio Corona, RHP, Otay Ranch HS (Calif.)
Corona didn’t turn in his best start of his career during this look, not making it out of  a long first inning, but he still showed some tools on the mound in what will likely have scouts going back to see him in further starts. The St. Mary’s signee first jumped onto our radars with a couple of strong outings last fall at the WWBA National Qualifier and at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter.

The stuff was a little bit down early in the start but he still showed what makes him very intriguing. Corona is a slender prospect with a 6-foot, 165-pound frame and lots of room to add strength at physical maturity. The operation showed a bit more effort during this look but the arm stroke is still loose and quick and he projects for future velocity.

He worked mostly in the 89-91 mph range during this look, but he was holding 90-92 mph last fall on the circuit. The fastball worked mostly in the upper part of the zone as Corona struggled to really finish through the baseball and hit his spots while the breaking ball had good shape and projects nicely in the mid-70s. The changeup has potential too in the upper-70s and Corona’s draft status is a classic projection case who will undoubtedly be better in future looks than he was in a tough outing against a tough Eastlake team.

Andrew Dalquist, RHP, Redondo Union HS (Calif.)
Another big riser in Southern California in terms of his draft status has been Redondo righthander Drew Dalquist, who was pegged by some scouts as a pick to click last summer as he showed very clean and simple mechanics which he still possesses though the stuff has ticked up considerably. The Arizona signee worked up to 95 mph multiple times while holding 91-93 mph through six innings with very good life too.

Dalquist is a classic example of a pitching prospect who makes a jump in terms of stuff during the spring of his draft year. The fastball velocity is most notable, as Dalquist was pitching mostly in the upper-80s last summer and during his last start only had two fastballs that registered below 90 mph. The arm side and riding life on the fastball is very good and runs in hard on righthanded hitters.

The breaking ball has good present shape but isn’t very firm yet. He throws it mostly in the mid-70s but he slows his arm on the pitch and mostly drops it in the strike zone and he only racked up one whiff on the pitch. Dalquist could likely benefit from throwing the pitch harder as that would allow for sharper break and likely more swings-and-misses.

The righthander’s delivery is almost picturesque with fluidity, little wasted movement, and very good direction toward the plate. He gets good extension toward the plate with plus arm speed from a very clean and online arm stroke that he whips through the arm circle very efficiently. The result has been already and increase in velocity without sacrificing much control and a fastball that will only continue to improve as he’s still a very projectable prospect.

Dalquist showed one changeup that he cut down and in to a lefthanded batter at 83 mph and is a pitch that he might not feel too comfortable throwing yet but definitely has potential. He’ll need to work on refining his secondary pitches but that could always come later as almost every other indicator has Dalquist’s arrow trending upwards in what could be an early Day 2 selection, if not higher due to the dearth of slam dunk prospects in the area.

Dalquist finished his outing with double digit swings-and-misses with the fastball and seven strikeouts in six strong frames. He earned the victory and was really unhittable for the early portion of the outing and if he can maintain this new level of stuff throughout the rest of the spring he could see himself going very high when it’s all said and done.

Milan Tolentino, SS, Santa Margarita HS (Calif.)
Tolentino is a consensus top prospect for the 2020 draft and the UCLA commit showed off nearly all of his tools during a doubleheader victory for his Santa Margarita HS. Tolentino is a twitchy, athletic shortstop with a fairly polished hit tool and already has a couple of Major League average-or-better tools to his name and, though this may be unfair, he brings to mind 2017 first-round pick Brice Turang as the profiles are similar in nature.

The lefthanded hitting shortstop has good present size at 6-foot-1, 175-pounds with plenty of athleticism and room for additional strength. That athleticism plays well on both sides of the ball as he moves very well over at shortstop with advanced actions and he gets out of the box very well to show off the speed, that grades out at at least above-average if not plus with a 4.25 turn time on a double.

The arm strength is currently average on the Major League scale and he showed it off a couple of times throughout his two games. The one most notable example is when he received a throw from the pitcher fielding a sacrifice bunt and got it out of his hand so quickly and with enough zip to double up the baserunner, an impressive feat. He made a number of strong throws for double plays and a couple of very athletic plays to his left and in as his release is very quick and efficient through the arm path.

His arm strength also plays well off the mound where he delivered two shutout innings and the victory in game one. He utilizes a drop and drive lower half approach with a fastball that worked 87-90 mph. He showed one changeup and a power slurve in the 76-79 mph range. There’s no question that at this point Tolentino is a position player prospect first but he showed the versatility and arm strength with his ability on the mound.

The swing is very simple, balanced, and efficient and his hands really stand out throughout the swing. The hands are loose and powerful through extension as he really shows a feel to drive the ball to both sides and not just slash the ball to the opposite field. Tolentino knows what pitches to lay off but he is selectively aggressive, as he’ll turn on a fastball or drive it hard to the opposite field gap when he knows it’s his pitch to hit.The power isn’t quite there yet but he can show it to the pull side of the field. During the doubleheader in game one he drove a couple of balls deep to right field, one that went for a catch and the other over the head of the right fielder for a double. The power will continue to grow and he already shows some feel to leverage the ball to pull and backspin it.

Tolentino’s overall package is very enticing for a young prospect and scouts are likely to be driving in hoards to see him next summer as he could be next in a long line of talented Southern California shortstops to make some noise for himself during the 2020 draft cycle.

Cutter Clawson, LHP, Laguna Beach HS (Calif.)
Clawson was terrific in his outing against Yorba Linda where he worked up to 90 mph a few times in the first inning and generally kept the opposition off balance with a victory that saw him go six innings with only one unearned run and seven strikeouts. The BYU signee has done nothing but perform in PG events in the past so it's no surprise to see him maintain his hot streak this spring as the de facto ace for Laguna Beach. 

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound southpaw has a mature, physical frame with lots of strength present through the lower half. His delivery is high energy and drops and drives off his back leg well with a higher arm slot toward the plate. Clawson worked up to 90 mph and sat mostly 86-89 mph throughout the duration of the start. He started out by giving up a run in the first inning before hitting cruise control and working through the lineup a second and third time well. There's some effort at release and he fought through some initial command issues to turn in a solid outing. 

Clawson flashed some very good life on the fastball to the arm side and worked early on to attack with fastballs in early counts. The pitch was best when the ball was low or when he would run it inside on lefthanded hitters. He showed some changeups in the upper-70s that need some refinement and went to his curveball often. The breaker fluctuated in terms of shape between more slider-like but mostly looked like a 1/7 shaped curve. The pitch flashed sharp break and worked best when he buried it low to generate chases. 

Following the first inning, his command looked sharp as per usual, hitting spots well to both sides of the plate and both dropping in the curve for strikes and getting a couple of whiffs in the dirt. The changeup still needs some development to give him a true third pitch but there's still impressive starting traits moving forward for Clawson. Whether he heads to professional baseball or BYU is still to be determined but Clawson's command coupled with his present stuff and feel on the mound makes him an impressive pitching prospect. 

Mahki Backstrom, 1B, Junipero Serra HS (Calif.)
Perfect Game All-American Mahki Backstrom, a Fresno State signee, has some of the most impressive raw power in the draft class and when he gets into a baseball he can send it a long way. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound slugger has very enticing raw tools from the left side of the plate and he certainly showed that during this look offensively. 

Backstrom has immense physicality and the present size and strength of a power-hitting slugger. This somewhat puts his defensive home into question, as scouts would likely want to see him in a corner outfield spot but he probably projects best at first base. He looks more natural at first base both in terms of range, footwork, and fluidity as he has good general feel for the position while also being able to read hops in the dirt well to bail out infielder. 

The offense is the big selling point on Backstrom's profile with immense bat speed, strength, and a lot of power, especially to the pull side of the plate. His first swing of the game during this look was on a breaking ball that he deposited deep to the pull side. The swing itself works fairly efficiently, with a balanced base at set up and though the swing is longer there's natural leverage and loft to the pull side. He jumped all over the pitch and knew it was gone as soon as he hit it, immediately hitting his home run trot around the bases. 

There's some rawness to Backstrom's overall profile, in terms of ultimate position home and some occasional swing and miss, but he has big power and that is a significant selling point in terms of his draft status. No matter where he ends up, one thing is for sure that whenever he barrels a baseball he has a chance to send it a long way. 

Damone Hale, OF, Junipero Serra HS (Calif.)
Backstrom's teammate and fellow PG All-American Damone Hale also had a fairly effective day at the plate, knocking in a run early and showing off his overall skill set. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Michigan signee looks the part immediately when you see him on a baseball field, with plenty of quick twitch athleticism, raw strength, and a highly projectable, physical frame. 

He plays centerfield for Junipero Serra where he patrols the outfield grass well with long, confident strides and often makes correct reads on fly balls. He wasn't tested much during this look but he has shown defensive prowess in the past to go along with a very good throwing arm that was recorded up to 90 mph last summer at PG National with plenty of carry and accuracy as well. 

Hale stands confidently in the box and employs a very aggressive style of hitting. He has his hands up very high above his shoulders and utilizes a leg kick well to get his back hip engaged and really drive through the baseball. He's looking to do damage in early counts and has plenty of bat speed to back that up as he shifts through contact to create immense strength off the barrel. He scorched a line drive past the third baseman to bring home a run in the first inning right before Backstrom's big fly. Hale looks like a player who isn't even close to reaching his ceiling and though he shows his rawness at times there's significant projection remaining both physically and on the diamond that could make him a very dangerous player at the next level. 

– Vincent Cervino

Ethan Hoopingarner, RHP, Aliso Niguel HS (Calif.)
Hoopingarner is a righthanded pitcher with a medium-athletic frame and over the top to high three-quarter arm slot. He stands on the mid-left side of the rubber, then closes his front shoulder when coming set. Hoopingarner has a mid-high leg kick, and he keeps his glove close to his mid-section until separation. In separation, he keeps his front glove elbow high as he shoves down the mound, none the less, this does not deem effective in hiding the baseball. Hoopingarner has a strong fastball, as he started his day sitting in the low-90s, and even touched 94 in the first inning. However, his velocity dipped greatly later in the game, and he was sitting in the 87-to-89 range by the fifth inning. His fastball unfortunately does not possess much action, therefore, Hoopingarner mixes in a cutter alongside his four-seam. The cutter does show late life, but the pitch comes rough out of the hand and does not possess the same velocity as the four-seam fastball. His curveball has an 11-to-5 shape to it and is a good pitch with bite when thrown down in the zone. When left up, the shape of the curveball is loose, and can be seen out of the hand with his over the top release. He does use a changeup, but is not confident enough with the pitch to mix it in consistently yet. Hoopingarner has all the tools to be dangerous and as he develops at the next level, expect his fastball to gain action.

Michael Davinni, 3B, Aliso Niguel HS (Calif.)
Davinni has a large frame and just looks like a corner infielder when you look at him. When he steps in the box, he has a wide stance which he crouches down into paired with a slight hunch over the plate. His high back elbow makes it difficult for him to get to the slot in time, moreover, it feels as though he’s searching for rhythm at the plate rather than being on time with the pitcher. Davinni has a simple load, and looks very athletic in the box, and has the potential to drive balls to all fields.

Nicholas Pinto, LHP, Irvine HS (Calif.)
A UC Irvine Commit has a very conventional delivery with a mid-waist leg kick and a low front elbow into separation. Pinto does a nice job working down the mound with his over the top arm slot. His arm feels lengthy at times, as he really reaches back with his arm in the stretch. As he finishes, his back leg takes a long time to fire through and land (he almost balances on his front leg in his finish) and unfortunately this causes him to be slow off the mound during drag bunt situations. Moreover, he still has not fully tapped into his full fastball potential, as his backside almost never fully fires at full speed down the hill. His fastball sits in the mid-to-high-80s and has some two-seam action at times. Pinto’s bread and butter is his curveball, which has a 12-to-6 shape along with strong bite down in the zone. He loves to almost work off of his curveball, and it feels as though he uses his curveball to set up his other pitches. Early in the count, Pinto uses his curveball as a get-me-over pitch, while later in the count throwing it with more conviction as an out pitch.

Emanuel Dean, OF, Servite HS (Calif.)
Dean has a large-athletic frame that projects to only get stronger. His athletic build and athleticism on the field cannot be understated as he looks like an NFL wide receiver in right field. At the plate, Dean has an open stance that he slightly crouches down into. He wags his bat and hands up and down and then stops them into his load. He uses a simple load; however, a large amount of his weight shifts to his backside in his load which causes his launch to fire late at times. Dean has plenty of power to drive the ball to all fields, but he still needs work driving the inner half of the baseball as his hands tend to stray from his body. Moreover, he has an upward plane in his swing as his backside collapses after shifting his weight away from it after launch. These are all somewhat simple fixes however, and the potential ceiling for this UCLA commit is very high.  

Isaac Kim, 1B, Hart HS (Calif.)
Kim felt as though he towered over the umpire. Listed as a 6-foot-4 230-pound first baseman, Kim has no lack of power at the plate. He has an upright stance and very simple swing. He has a very rhythmic sway at that plate that leads into a simple launch. His hands don’t have to travel a great distance in his load, and he does a great job of staying tall on his back side which really gives him a flat swing path. His bottom half leads his hands, and I was disappointed that I didn’t see him truly get into a ball.  Obviously, Kim is not going to blaze on the base paths, however, there is serious potential at the plate with his size and good hands. Kim is still learning his swing, and developing his approach, but he displayed solid plate discipline after walking to load the bases.

Matthew McClure, RHP, Santa Margarita HS (Calif.)

In game two of a doubleheader between Hart and Santa Margarita, McClure was crafty and solid throughout his start. McClure is not going to blow hitters away with his fastball, but his 82-to-86 mph four-seam becomes extremely effective paired with his bugs bunny change-up. McClure’s off-speed sits in the low-70s and he heavily turns the pitch over making it that much tougher for lefthanded hitters. It was honestly surprising how many bats he missed and how much soft contact he created with the pitch. Overall, McClure is long, lengthy, and uses a high sweeping leg kick down the mound. He has a high three-quarter arm slot, but his slot seems to lower slightly when he throws his off-speed and breaking ball. His breaking ball has a 10-to-4 shape and is not nearly as effective as the off-speed. McClure may not garner much high-profile attention because his arm doesn’t light up a radar gun, however, he has the potential to be successful at the next level purely off of his changeup, and if his arm continues to get stronger, he has the potential to become a serious prospect.    

– Connor Spencer

Michael Carpentier, C, Yucaipa HS (Calif.)
Carpentier has established himself as a prep name to know in this year's draft class from Southern California and the lefthanded slugger looks stronger and more physical than he did over the course of last summer. Carpentier has an excellent approach at the dish with plenty of plate discipline, awareness, and is more than willing to use the opposite field but not to dump balls off but instead to drive them to the opposite alley. He fouls off pitcher's pitches and really works the count until he gets a pitch to drive that he likes. He has power to the pull side that shows itself in some long home runs and tallied three hits in this look, including two with two strikes and one of them to the opposite field. The Arizona State signee doesn't get tested a lot in the running game as he has a strong defensive reputation and that applies to more than the running game. He calls his own games and handles the pitching staff well and looks like a solid, well-rounded prospect at this point. 

Andrew Herbert, RHP, San Clemente HS (Calif.)
Herbert provided a good look at a young, uncommitted righthander for the class of 2019 that might just be beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. The righthander has a very long, lean, and projectable frame with a quick arm that worked up to 88 mph and lived in the upper-80s. Herbert showed a four pitch mix that included a curveball, slider, and changeup that he showed some feel for. There's upside here for Herbert and he shouldn't remain uncommitted for next season for too much longer. 

Luke Mistone, RHP, Bonita HS (Calif.)
Mistone, only a freshman, has a strong look on the mound with an advanced approach and demeanor to work hitters. Mistone looks the part on the bump and attacked hitters head on with his three pitch mix. The fastball worked in the low-80s with a slider in the low-70s that could develop into a true out pitch at maturation. He works the fastball in and out effectively as well as the breaking ball which he back-doored to lefthanded hitters often. Mistone also showed very good feel for a changeup in the low-70s that he could work to both lefthanded and righthanded hitters. He has the makings of a very good three pitch mix with good mound presence that will be an interesting follow over the next few years. 

– Steve Fiordino

Blake Walston, LHP, New Hanover HS (N.C.)
While in North Carolina for USA Baseball’s NHSI tournament, I had the opportunity to take a trip down to Wilmington to check in on Blake Walston (2019, Wilmington, NC), one of the more notable helium prospects in this draft cycle at this stage. He’s the picture of projection, checking in at a long, lean 6-foot-4/180 pounds. A record-setting high school quarterback, Walston is signed with North Carolina State to strictly play baseball, but the overall athleticism certainly shines through when he’s on the bump and he’s at least a plus athlete.

The mechanical operation is raw, not necessarily bad in any respect but there’s a certain level of the profile being unrefined at this juncture, which is obviously pretty common with high school pitchers. He’s a little crossfire over his front side and he doesn’t get into his back hip entirely, but his athleticism allows him operate freely and easily on the mound, and he’s very adept at throwing strikes and repeating his mechanics. He creates significant angle from an extended three quarters slot, and the projection, athleticism, and arm speed all speak to a potentially sky-high velocity future as well.

The fastball sat in the 87-90 mph range throughout the start, bumping the occasional 91 in the process. The pitch features substantial, often plus arm side life that allows him to dominate up in the zone, and he shows the ability to work the pitch to both sides of the plate. The combination of velocity, life, angle, and ease out of the hand make the pitch play up beyond what the raw velocity grade would be, and it has the makings of being a plus pitch for him long term. He spins a pretty good breaking ball in the low-mid 70’s as well, and while the feel for his release point on the curveball was a bit inconsistent on this night, when he’s on top it has power shape and depth, flashing a handful of 55’s and many 50’s. It’s got the makings of a second plus pitch for him long term with refinement.

Walston is also younger for the grade, as he won’t turn 18 until just after the draft this June, and his upside is just as significant as his draft helium right now. He reminds this evaluator a great deal of what 2018 first rounder Matthew Liberatore looked like when he was a high school junior, and obviously Liberatore’s developmental trajectory took off over the course of his senior year. Walston is more athletic but less refined than Liberatore, and in fairness, I’m comparing a high school senior with the high school junior version of Liberatore, so that needs to be taken into account here as well. Walston is flying up draft boards, with some scouts I’ve spoken with mentioning as high as the 3-4 round range at this point. He’s going to be right in that range when we update the draft board in the next couple weeks, and his name should be circled in red ink when looking at helium guys as we make our way towards the draft in just a couple months.

– Brian Sakowski

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