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High School  | General  | 4/29/2019

High School Notebook: April 29

Vincent Cervino      Greg Gerard      Connor Spencer      Steve Fiorindo     
Photo: Yordis Valdes (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 vincent@perfectgame.org. Also feel free to share your video highlights on Twitter @vcervinopg.

High School Notebooks: March 1 | March 5 | March 15 | March 22 | April 5 | April 16 | April 19

Brennan Milone, SS, Woodstock HS (Ga.)
Georgia High School State Playoff action kicked off on Wednesday as Woodstock High School hosted the Camden County Wildcats. 2019 MLB Draft prospect and Woodstock shortstop Brennan Milone batted in the three hole and had a nice day offensively in game one. After getting hit by a pitch in his first at-bat, the South Carolina signee barreled a single up the middle and a double to the pull side gap hitting each ball with intent. MIlone swings hard and makes a lot contact with a nice feel for the barrel and high exit velocities when on time.

The actions at shortstop were impressive on this night as well as he made a pair of dazzling plays. The first being a diving stop to his right that resulted in a full extension and quick jump up to make a close play at first that seemed impossible given that his weight carried him into shallow left field. The final out of the game was made by Milone as well as he charged a slow roller and threw the ball on the run from a tough arm angle getting the runner in plenty of time and making the play look routine. 

The knock on Milone is going to be his size as he is listed at 6-foot-1 and stands more realistically around 5-foot-9, but the quick-twitch is certainly there. The hands at the plate are quick, the footwork in the infield is clean and his run time, although below-average for a Major League scouting scale, is still playable in game because his hit tool is so special. Milone has done nothing but hit throughout his high school career as well as at PG events. His swing is very quick as he whips the barrel through the hitting zone and keeps his barrel on a line drive swing plane. The hand-eye-coordination of Milone is a special talent as well as his vision is so good seeing pitches and being on time to the point of contact

– Greg Gerard

Sean McLain, MIF, Beckman HS (Calif.)
Beckman high school in Irvine California is blessed up the middle of the diamond with two unbelievably solid gloves and bats. The first of the duo, ASU commit Sean McLain, is smooth with his motions and his footwork at second base. He makes a great first step read on baseballs and has that intangible rhythm with the baseball that you love to see as a college coach or MLB scout. At the plate, McLain stands upright with a neutral hand position, and he does a sort of Arenado weight shift dance in the box. He possesses a mid to high leg kick with a longer stride towards the mound, however, his hands simply glide back into launch. He stays tall on his back side throughout the swing and does a nice job of working his hands down through the zone getting his barrel on plane quickly. At contact he creates a nice coil between his upper and lower half, and he really gets through the ball with his back side. With his in the box weight shift and high leg kick, he’ll have to be careful when facing pitchers that are sub 1.2 seconds to the plate or better at the next level, as he’ll have to simplify those motions to be on time. It should also be noted that McLain has plus speed on the basepaths, as he ran a 4.08 sec time to first base on Tuesday.   

Connor McGuire, SS, Beckman HS (Calif.)
At short, Beckman has UC Irvine commit Connor McGuire who just feels crazy projectable for the next level. With a large-athletic frame he moves well into the hole as well as up the middle, and he has an arm and a body type that almost screams third baseman. In Tuesday’s matchup between University High School, he made a fantastic play ranging into the hole that showcased how strong his arm really is, as he had no problem getting the ball across the diamond while fading towards the left field foul line. Moreover, McGuire has the ability to be accurate from all arm slots across the diamond. At the plate, he stands with his feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and he keeps his bat on his shoulder until he begins his load. Simultaneously his front foot moves back into a toe tap leg lift while his hands move back and slightly up. McGuire creates a large weight transfer in the box when he does this, however, he stays balanced and really does a solid job of staying back on baseballs despite of this. He possesses great hands with an inside out approach, and his barrel gets on plane quickly leaving him a large margin for error through the hitting zone. His leg lift after the toe tap is high, and like McLain, he’ll most likely have to modify how high that lift is at the next level, once pitchers speed up their times to the plate with a slide step. On all three balls McGuire put in play, he showed a consistent and clean bat path through the zone. UC Irvine may have found one heck of a replacement for Christian Koss if he leaves for the draft this summer.

Nathan Manning, OF, Capistrano Valley HS (Calif.)
South Coast League Champion Capistrano Valley took on Mission Viejo at the tail end of a back to back two game series for the two teams. Cal Berkeley signee Nathan Manning patrols centerfield for the Capo Valley Cougars. He settles into a low squat at the dish, keeps his upper half tall, and has a neutral hand position with a high back elbow. As he begins his load and leg kick, everything seems to move up, from his hands, to even slightly standing up on his back leg. He then comes down at the ball through launch, giving him a solid flat barrel path through the zone, and allowing him to backspin baseballs more times than not. Manning uses his hands well and has the ability to hit the ball wherever it’s pitched, however, he’s going to have tough time keeping his current stance at the next level. His eye plane moves as his whole body shifts up slightly into his launch, and it feels like there’s too many moving parts to the load once he starts seeing 90 mph plus on a daily basis. Moreover, there’s a large amount of power potential left unlocked in his game, as his lower half is almost non-existent in his swing, and this causes his hands to get tied up and not extend all the way through the zone with the force that they should. Manning is a solid athlete with raw potential waiting to be unlocked.

Jack Haley, SS, Capistrano Valley HS (Calif.)
At short, Capo Valley has recent Oregon commit Jack Haley. Haley has a medium-athletic build and shows great potential up the middle. Late in the game, he made a stellar full extension grab off a line drive into the six hole. He ranges into the hole and up the middle well, and possesses a good first step read on balls. His arm across the diamond is still developing, but the footwork and glovework are there. At the plate, Haley has somewhat of a conventional stance, upright, small sway, low hands. At times he does feel a bit stiff standing at the dish. He uses a small hitch leg lift load, as his hands barely travel at all in his load as he keeps them close to his launch point. Both elbows stay high throughout his load, however, his shoulders and back elbow have strong direction when he fires. His lower half is active in his swing, and he does a nice job extending his hands through the zone. He’s still understanding his timing at the plate and can at times get out over his front foot. When he’s able to keep his weight transfer balanced and use his hands to take the barrel to the inner half, his swing looks strong and polished.

Blake Klassen, 1B, JSerra Catholic HS (Calif.)
It was a beautiful stage at the University of San Diego for the final game of the Boras classic. South bracket winner JSerra took on North bracket winner Arhcbishop Mitty in what turned out to be a solid game showcasing top tier high school talent. The University of Arizona had to be licking their chops, because it was a game that was dominated by their recruits. The game had the makings of a close dogfight until Arizona commit Blake Klassen smoked a three-run homerun just short of the dormitories beyond the right field fence. After that, the game never had the same feeling to it.

Hunter Cranton, RHP, JSerra Catholic HS (Calif.)
On the bump for JSerra was another Arizona commit Hunter Cranton. Cranton stands tall on the mound, uses a high leg kick, and has a long arm paired with an over the top to high three-quarters arm slot. He stands on the middle of the rubber, and really reaches down and back with his throwing arm creating a large and long separation. Cranton works slow and methodically in the windup and the stretch, but he’ll need to speed up his time to the plate in the stretch at the next level, as it ranges from 1.4 to 1.6 seconds. He lands slightly closed down the mound, then falls off on his glove side in his follow through. His fastball sat 88-to-91 mph and has some sink to it. Cranton threw a ton of fastballs in this outing and unfortunately did not miss many bats. However, he was effective at pitching to his spots, and he produced a large amount of ground balls. In his pre-inning warmups, Cranton showed a curveball and a slider, but he really only used the slider on occasion in the game. It sits around 75 mph. He does use an off-speed, however, it’s very inconsistent as he doesn’t have a feel for the pitch yet. In his warmups, the pitch was solid and sat around 74, but in the game, it ranged anywhere from 77-to-83. Moreover, he consistently missed high with the pitch, which is the exact opposite thing you want to do with a changeup. Never the less, Cranton spotted up well, and at times showed glimpses of greatness through his four innings pitched. He still has some maturing as a pitcher to do, but the potential and arm strength are there to be great.

Nick Yorke, IF, Archbishop Mitty HS (Calif.)
The standout for Archbishop Mitty was yet another Arizona commit, Nick Yorke. What an unbelievable season it was for Yorke as he finishes the year hitting .475 with six homeruns. Yorke has a medium to large athletic frame that looks strong in the box. He has a wide stance that he crouches into, paired with a neutral hand position and high back elbow. Pre-pitch he finds rhythm by wagging his barrel back and forth over the top of his helmet. As he loads, his hands come down and back into launch, and uses a very simple tap and short stride towards the mound. Yorke is a handsy hitter and his hands are very quick at the plate. He does a great job of keeping his hands inside the baseball, and as his elbow gets into the slot the barrel stays behind his hands and unloads through the zone with a strong amount of whip. Yorke stays tall on his backside throughout his swing and engages his lower half nicely. The ball comes off his bat differently than anyone else on the Mitty lineup. In his third at bat, he scorched a ground ball at the third baseman that should have been a routine play, however, it was hit so hard that it was too hot to handle as it popped in and out of the third baseman’s mitt. Yorke is someone to follow closely this summer, and further as he develops into his senior year.

– Connor Spencer

John Pappas, C, Ayala HS (Calif.)
Cal Poly Pomona may have gotten a steal in Pappas who committed relatively early for a Division 2 school. Pappas is an athletic catcher that can excel in various facets of the game. Lean and athletic, he should fill out nicely over the next few years. He has some arm strength and moves around well behind the dish. Has flashed power for Ayala including hitting an home run in this game. 

Joseph Naranjo, OF/1B, Ayala HS (Calif.)
A tad undersized as a prototypical first baseman, Naranjo has been in the outfield often for Ayala. In this look he was on the bump, so didn’t get to see him in the outfield. Advanced feel at the plate with a knack for barreling balls, he barreled often in this look including a long home run to right field. Reports on his outfield defense have been promising. I’ve seen it in short looks and workouts, he just needs the reps. Arm would play better in left field. At first baseman he’s above average with good hands and smooth defensive actions. Naranjo also threw five shutout innings on the bump. 

Sam Hliboki, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Lean build with athletic frame, Hliboki profiles as an innings eater at the collegiate level and is committed to Vanderbilt. You don’t have to squint too hard to put on 15-20 pounds of good weight on Hliboki. Arm works well, long action in back. Gets good drive down the hill with stride almost directly towards plate. Fastball worked mostly 88-90 early, with a slight velocity dip as outing went on. Primary breaking ball is a slurvy number in the mid-70s, pitch will probably firm up in college and evolve in to more of a power pitch, a traditional slide piece. Dropped in a slow curveball with more downward action at 68-69. Showed some feel for a changeup at 81-82 mph with late downward movement.

Drew Bowser, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
One of top infield prospects for California’s 2020 class. Great frame at 6-foot-3, with easy actions up the middle and a strong arm. Made all the plays in this look with smooth athletic actions similar to Hunter Greene’s. Two knocks on the day showing line drive stroke with a line drive to left field and a double in the gap he drove on first pitch of at-bat. Time will tell if he has to move off shortstop, but no rush on that decision. Stanford commit.

Lucas Gordon, LHP, Notre Dame HS (Calif.)
On the smaller side, around 6-foot, the USC commit featured a three pitch mix relying heavily on his secondaries. Shows exceptional feel for the changeup with he threw very often, doubling and tripling up on occasion. Throws to both left and right handed hitters. Pitch shows very good downward action, almost dying as it approached the plate getting hitters out in front. Curveball has gotten more depth as his velocity has increased over past year or two. Curveball came in at 69-72, seemed harder for hitters to track at higher velocity. Moved the fastball around the zone, works 87-90, would have liked to seen him establish it more early in the game and using the changeup as the strikeout pitch.  

Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Looks the part of a high-motor and twitchy JD Drew. Toolsy and athletic, with high baseball IQ. Got things going for Harvard-Westlake right from the start with a single, stolen base, and run scored to set the tone in a high profile matchup vs Notre Dame. Does something in every look, either in the box, in the field or on the bases and has an elite overall skillset for the 2020 draft. 

– Steve Fiordino

Yordis Valdes, SS, McArthur HS (Fla.)
Miami-area shortstop Yordis Valdes has been one of the bigger risers on this year's draft circuit, providing a bevy of positive attributes that scouts and evaluators look for out of young prospects. He's extremely young for the grade and the shortstop possesses advanced defensive qualities, twitch, athleticism with a projectable swing that plays from both sides of the plate. 

The prep shortstop has a long, wiry frame with a high waist and still a lot of room to project added strength onto the frame. He's fairly quick-twitch and athletic already, with fast, bouncy movements over at shortstop. That athleticism doesn't necessarily translate to good run times yet, in fact, both of his recorded run times during this game were below-average but the athleticism is evident and its not hard to imagine him translating his raw speed into more efficient running at the next level; that end-line speed translated to a 3.30 second time from his lead to second on a stolen base that he stole right off the pitcher and Valdes added two stolen bases on the night. 

The glove work and arm strength is particularly impressive as both grade out to at least above average tools at the next level. The arm strength Valdes generates is fairly easy and it comes out of the hand clean while the arm projects to be a plus tool at the next level. He's a safe bet to stick at shortstop with tremendous hands and solid range to both sides. The glove work is very advanced with lightning-quick transfers to the throwing hand and that arm strength allows him to make plays from anywhere on the diamond. 

The bat is a bit light presently for Valdes, but the profile projects well especially if he can add on strength at the next level. The swing is a bit timing heavy with an inward toe tap and a late hand load in the back. The hands are loose and quick through the strike zone but he has present above average bat speed, which bodes well for his offensive future. The swing is similar from both sides of the plate but the right side looked a bit more intriguing as though the swing has a bit more length it gets on plane quicker and more consistently. In the game he added two hits, a soft flare to the pull side and a bunt single that saw him get to first in under four seconds, again the end line speed can be very good at times, but he doesn't really get enough opportunities from the right side in high school ball. 

The proverbial arrow is undoubtedly trending up for Valdes who has been generating a good amount of buzz as a pop up prospect in the late stages of the Florida high school season. Valdes offers an up the middle prospect with an above average skill set who is also young for the grade. Add in the fact that he is very athletic and the South Florida prospect has a good chance to go within the top five rounds in this year's draft. 

Dasan Brown, OF, Canadian JNT 
The Canadian Junior National Team has been working out in Florida for the past few weeks and for the last ten days or so they have been at West Palm Beach, working out of the Ballparks of the Palm Beaches, the Spring Training home of the Nationals and Astros. I was able to stop in and see some of the top Canadian draft prospects for this cycle as well as some very intriguing underclass lefthanded pitching prospects. 

Dasan Brown is one of the top Canadian draft prospects out of high school as the centerfielder is super athletic, with good speed and loud bat speed and overall hitting tools. The Texas A&M signee really impressed in centerfield, taking correct and efficient routes to the baseball even when he had to track down fly balls in the alleys. He reads the ball well right off the bat and has keen spatial awareness and speed to not only get to a lot of difficult batted balls, but potentially stick in centerfield at the next level. 

The offensive tools are there to be successful but the overall profile is a bit raw offensively. The bat path is a bit top hand heavy with his hands very close to his body but his twitchy, uber-fast hands are enough to consistently get the barrel of the bat out in front. There's good present bat speed for Brown and he turned in a solid performance in this look, smoking a hard hit ball through the four hole on the right side of the infield. The best run time recorded on Brown on this day was an average time when he slowed up so there's likely at least above-average run there when he's busting it down the line. As with the majority of the Canadian team, Brown will be young on the draft and his combination of centerfield traits and athleticism should entice at least heavy consideration for an early pick. 

Cesar Valero, SS, Canadian JNT 
Valero is another young-for-the-grade, up the middle and physically projectable type of prospect who only played about half of the game in this look. He struck out in both of his at-bats, looking a bit uncomfortable against professional players in Extended Spring for the Astros. The team faced some live arms but Valero has a pretty good swing overall, remaining balanced with a big leg lift and a clean, easy swing plane. He made a solid play at shortstop where he ranged up the middle to spin and grab a hard hit ball. There a lot of intriguing pieces for Valero as a prospect and it's not hard to imagine him being a significant name out of Oregon State, where he's signed to play baseball at. 

Owen Diodati, C/1B, Canadian JNT
Diodati is a big, physical lefthanded hitting catcher for the Canadian Junior National team who bats in the four hole. Diodati possesses above-average raw power and the swing is short, simple and direct to the baseball where he can impact it with significant strength. The Alabama signee is very balanced and confident in the box with a very quiet start and a small stride toward extension. The swing is compact and quick through the hitting zone with a path that is conducive to strength and fly balls. The barrel stays through the hitting zone a long time for Diodati with natural loft as well. Diodati has good plate discipline as well, reading tough pitches out of the hand and waiting patiently for a pitch to drive. This can backfire at times such as his final at-bat where he worked the count to 3-0, took two fastballs to get to 3-2, and then swung and miss through an elevated heater. It would be nice to see Diodati a bit more aggressive and let his power shine through. He leverages well to the pull side and though he didn't connect with any long fly balls in game, he showed the power during batting practice and he's had a bit of helium to his prospect status as we get closer to the draft. 

Jaden Brown, SS, Canadian JNT
A PG All-American, Brown is signed to play with Kentucky next spring and occupied the seven-hole for the Canadian team during this look. He's an athletic prospect with a chance to stick up the middle in some capacity at the next level. Brown was a bit passive and struggled with some of the high-level stuff that you'll see against professional pitchers. He keeps the swing short to the ball with his hands that are almost at the back armpit. This causes him to struggle to get the barrel head out at times. Brown is a talented prospect and finished the afternoon with two strikeouts and a walk in three plate appearances. 

Mitchell Bratt, LHP, Canadian JNT
Bratt was a pleasant surprise for the Canadian Junior National team as the sophomore lefthander is still fifteen years old and has never pitched in a Perfect Game event before. That might change before long as the lefthander showed a lot of desirable traits on the mound for a young prospect with a very projectable frame, clean delivery, and a three pitch mix that he used to toss two and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball against a professional team. 

Bratt has a young, projectable frame at 6-foot, 170-pounds with long limbs and a lot of room on the frame to add strength to as he develops physically. The delivery features a clean hand break at the leg lift with a longer arm stroke through the back but he is timed up very well with good present balance and body control. The southpaw worked up to 87 mph in the first inning and held his velocity well in the 83-86 mph range throughout. There's deception throughout his motion and the fastball has some late life on the pitch which can make it tough to square. The breaking ball is a solid pitch that projects nicely in the low- to mid-70s with 1-to-7 shape, good spin, and will be a good pitch for him in the future with additional power. There's good feel for a changeup at 78-80 mph as well and though he didn't miss a ton of bats, most of which came with high out of the zone fastballs, there's a solid three-pitch mix with projection and is a high-level Division I prospect. 

Justin Thorsteinson, LHP, Canadian JNT
Thorsteinson, an Oregon State commit as a junior, has the look and presence of a professional pitcher on the mound. The southpaw has a physical 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame with a fairly simple, easy, and efficient delivery when working towards the plate. The arm stroke is clean through the back and he has adept pitchability, using all three of his pitches at a fairly similar rate throughout. 

The fastball topped out at 87 mph and sat in the 85-87 mph range throughout his three innings on the mound. The fastball has some arm side wiggle at times and he did a terrific job at locating the ball on the corners of the black. The one fastball that Thorsteinson left over the plate went about three segments up on the netting beyond left-center field as professional hitters will feast on 86 mph mistakes over the plate. The changeup is his best secondary pitch in the mid- to upper-70s with good action on the pitch and flashed average on the afternoon. He threw his breaking ball sparingly but it showed some sharpness in the low-70s and projects nicely. Thorsteinson is a polished prospect with three pitches, a good delivery, and tons of projection on the body. He'll be a pocket follow for scouts for now as it wouldn't be surprising to see that velocity tick up during the summer and spring of his draft year.

– Vincent Cervino