Showcase | Story | 5/21/2019

Florida Pre-Draft Scout Notes

Jerry Miller        
Photo: Leon Paulino (Perfect Game)

On a warm yet pleasant Monday morning in Fort Myers, 28 hopeful professional prospects participated in the Perfect Game Florida Pre-Draft Showcase at JetBlue Park. The talent that took the field flashed consistently projectable skills as the many professional scouts on hand came away with additional notes to add to their amateur scouting reports. Pitching helped set the tone for the day as three top-flight arms truly impressed.

Six-foot-3, 190-pound righthander Marc Davis (2018, Lilburn, Ga.), who just completed his freshman campaign at Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers, was outstanding in his 30-pitch outing. His heavy two-seam fastball showed consistent arm-side run and sink and sat in the 88-91 mph range. His deceptive 81 mph changeup showed depth and tumble at the dish and was especially effective against lefthanded hitters. His true out-pitch was his tight-spinning, 12-to-6 hammer of a curveball that he ably added and subtracted velocity on. That curve, thrown between 74-78 mph, had tight spin and plus depth at the plate.

Also having a solid day on the bump was Austen Kessler (2019, Bradenton, Fla.). The State College of Florida commit used his solid 6-foot-4, 235-pound mature build to pitch off his well-commanded 90-93 mph power fastball. He matched his impressive heater with a tight-spinning 12-to-6, 71-74 mph curveball. His projectable ability is highlighted by his smooth, easy mechanics and powerful lower half.

Probably the most impressive outing was turned in by Orion Kerkering (2019, Nokomis, Fla.). The 6-foot-2, 190-pound South Florida commit showed sound projectable ability in his 30-pitch outing.  He uses a short takeaway, whippy arm action and extended finish to miss a lot of bats with his quality, three-pitch mix. His very effective and active fastball was thrown with purpose between 89-91 mph. His heater showed advanced arm-side run and sink and was a tough get for righthanded hitters. He complemented his fastball with two plus secondary pitches. His 84-mph change showed late tumble and depth at the plate and was his out-pitch to lefthanded hitters. His wipeout slider, that he sometimes drops his slot to low three-quarters on, showed plus late bite and was a swing and miss out pitch to all hitters. His poise, easy actions and plus stuff make Kerkering a true prospect.

Outfielder Drake Dobyanski (2018, Naples, Fla.) just completed his first season at the college level and showed MLB-ready speed in the 60-yard dash and then on the field during position workouts and the simulated game portion of the showcase. The athletic and twitchy 5-foot-8, 160-pound speedster showed fundamentally sound outfield defensive ability and a plus average arm that was very accurate. He is a switch hitter whose style would fit as a top-of-the-order type. He uses a flatter path to spray balls to the gaps and then uses his No. 1 tool (speed) to pressure the defense.

Army commit Mike LaRocca (2019, Vero Beach, Fla.) was truly impressive around the first base bag and showed a consistent ability to get his barrel to the ball and hit line drives to the gaps with advanced pop and consistent carry while at the plate. Make no mistake, however, his glove is what makes this prospect so interesting. His defensive timing and rhythm are advanced tools and he seemingly makes the most difficult plays look very routine.

Florida International commit, Leon Paulino (2019, Hollywood, Fla.) put on a hitting display that was equaled by no one in attendance. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound physically mature switch hitter powered balls to all parts of Fenway South and hit numerous baseballs completely out of the Stadium. The impressively athletic outfielder chose not to field and throw on Monday due to an impending, invitation only, Fenway Park workout for the Boston Red Sox.

Victor Florentino (2017, Tampa, Fla.) just completed his second year at Florida Southwestern and was very impressive defensively and at the plate. The 6-foot, 200-pound outfielder is steady to field and shows off a very strong arm with each throw. All his throws from right field showed plus carry and were on the bag. He is a buggy-whipper at the plate, showing plus bat quickness and an ability to get his barrel to the ball and drive it to the deepest parts of the park with authority.

Athletically gifted William Oliver Kelley (2019, Newnan, Ga.) is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound outfielder who will continue his playing career at Florence-Darlington Technical College. The impressively built, strong and twitchy athlete shows plus ability in the outfield. He is aggressive to field and shows a strong, plus-average arm that is highly accurate. He is even more projectable with a bat in his hand. His swing is not too complicated. He stands tall at the ready and has a simple load. He has a quick, short path to the ball with a slight lift at contact. He shows impressive, easy raw power as evidenced by the many balls he hit off the Green Monster and the few that he hit out of the park.

Hillsborough College commit Jose Fulgencio (2019, Orlando, Fla.) impressed with advanced defensive actions, flashing quick footwork, a smooth, easy glove and a plus average, highly accurate arm. The 6-foot, 172-pound twitchy athlete also shows ability in the outfield and looks like a prime candidate to fill a utility type role at the next level. He has a short, quick stroke at the plate and uses a flat path and a consistent ability to get his barrel to the ball.

Rising Mariner High School senior Alex Freeland (2020, Cape Coral, Fla.) continued his ascension up the ranks of next year’s projectable high school MLB ready players with another solid PG showcase. The long, lean and gifted athlete is a natural smooth fielding middle infielder who possesses a very strong throwing arm that is routinely accurate. He can make all the plays in either direction. Freeland can also make throws from any platform. His switch-hitting ability – using a flatter path with a slight lift at contact – is very projectable right now and should continue to improve over the course of the next year. The UCF commit promises to be on the MLB draft radar over the course of the next 12 months.

Florida Southwestern freshman Warnner Rincones (2018, Englewood, Fla.) is a toolsy prospect who flashed multiple skills that are sound and steady. Defensively he is a skilled, steady and smooth infielder who shows quick feet to field and a short, quick arm stroke that gets his plus average throws on target consistently. At the plate, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Rincones has sound bat-to-ball skills and gets his barrel on plane and through contact with lightning quick hands. His shows consistent pop and occasional raw power that certainly projects.

Five-foot-11, 185-pound, University of the Cumberlands rising junior Candido Encarnacion (2017, Canovanas, Puerto Rico) is a sure fielding, strong-armed middle infielder who possesses quick feet and a natural feel for defense. At the plate the twitchy and strong righthanded swinger shows a great ability to drive the ball to the gaps with consistency. He flashed raw power that should continue to develop.

Barron Collier HS grad, Johnny Long III (2019, Naples, Fla.) had a good day all-around. His sure and steady ability as a catcher was highlighted by his smooth and easy movements to receive and throw the baseball. The FGCU commit possesses a short, quick arm stroke and a consistently strong and true throwing arm. At the plate, the strongly built 5-foot-11, 195-pound Long uses a direct swing path and solid lower half to drive the ball to all parts of the park. He has impressive raw power to each gap.

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