Tournaments | Story | 5/25/2019

East Memorial Day: Day 1 Notes

David Rawnsley         Tyler Russo        
Photo: Coby Mayo (Perfect Game)

Elite Squad 16U American got off to a hot start on Day 1 of the East Memorial Day Classic down in Fort Myers, FL behind the hitting of the heart of its lineup. Tulane commit Grant Siegel (2021, Plantation, Fla.) led the Squad on both sides of the baseball, showcasing a mature, sound swing and approach at the plate while flashing a very smooth glove with arm strength that allowed for Siegel to throw with accuracy and carry on the move.

Hitting right behind Siegel in the order was Ephraim Bravo (2021, Hialeah, Fla.), who put together a similar approach at the plate to the mature middle-of-the-order shortstop. In his three plate appearances he reached twice, once via a disciplined walk and the other via a hard line drive single to left center using a clean, line drive swing path and being able to pull his hands inside the ball well.

Chad Rucker, Jr. 
(2021, Lake Worth, Fla.), a big bodied, yet athletic catcher for Elite Squad, stood out both size and strength-wise in game one on Friday. Rucker cleared the bases on a hard ground ball single in his first AB to extend the Squad’s lead in the first. Rucker showed that he has present strength in his swing, using his strong lower half on a loud fly-out to center late in the game. Behind the plate, Rucker controlled the game while also showcasing his firm wrist in his ability to frame and steal strikes often in his time behind the dish.

A lesser known name that should quickly jump on the scouting scene is strong flamethrower Luis Guerrero (2020, Miami, Fla.). Guerrero lit up the radar gun early and often, sitting 91-93 mph with the fastball in the first while also mixing in great feel for a 76-78 mph curveball. His fastball showed a great deal of life commanding it to both halves of the plate with a great deal of arm-side run, being able to keep it off the plate and back it up to the outside corner on right-handed hitters. The curveball, with slow 12-to-6 break, showed as a plus pitch when used in unison with the hard-running fastball. Guerrero used his strong, stable lower half to change up deliveries and leg lifts to effectively throw off hitter’s timing on his way to four strikeouts in two and two-thirds innings pitched.

A standout at the plate for the US Elite International Scout Team was the youngest name on the roster, 6-foot-3, 190-pound outfielder Luis Gonzalez (2021, Doral, Fla). Gonzalez put on a clinic at the plate going 3-for-4 with two doubles and four runs batted in. He showed a mature control of the barrel creating consistent hard contact to both the pull and back side, putting a lower-half fastball off the fence in right field in the first and a hard line double to the pull side gap in his second at-bat. His pitch recognition ability allowed him to hunt fastballs and lay off pitches outside of where he could make loud contact.

In relief for the US Elite team was lefthander Roberto Mayorca (2020, Miami Lakes, Fla.), who cruised his way through an inning and two-thirds, only allowing a weak ground ball single and striking out two. Mayorca worked from a clean and efficient delivery where he was able to repeat his mechanics and tunnel his arm action very well on his fastball and changeup. From his quick arm, Mayorca was able to create a great deal of run on his fastball, commanding it to both halves of the plate consistently at 84-86 mph. The changeup was a great change of pace pitch with good, late tumble at the plate, creating consistent weak contact and missing bats.

The nightcap over at Terry Park Stadium was a good one as the Elite Squad 17U National ball club, littered with Power Five commitments put on quite a show. FIU commit Matthew Fernandez (2020, Miami, Fla.) breezed through four innings of work, only allowing an infield single and one walk while striking out five. Fernandez is a large, mature right-hander who works out of a very clean and simple delivery. His over-the-top arm slot allows him to work downhill and low in the zone, consistently missing barrels and creating weak contact. His fastball, topping out at 87 mph, showed a mix of cut on the outer half and run on the inner half that kept hitters struggling to get the barrel to the ball. Fernandez also flashed a very good duo of curveball and changeup that allowed him to dominate hitters deep in the count. He consistently backed up hitters with the 74 mph 12-to-6 curveball and showed significant arm-side tumble on the 78 mph changeup. With his command and pitchability, he made quick work late Friday night.

Among the loaded Elite Squad 17U National roster was standout third baseman Coby Mayo (2020, Coral Springs, Fla.). The Florida commit put together a sound night, going 2-for-3 with two hard hit doubles, driving in three and scoring twice himself. The large, strong right-handed hitter made consistent hard contact both to the pull and back side, lacing a double on the left-field line in his first at-bat, producing a loud fly-out in his second at-bat, and then going the other way for a hard line double to the backside gap in his third at-bat. Mayo has natural instincts on the bases, showing an ability to swipe a bag to put himself in a better position to be driven in.

– Tyler Russo

NEB National got off to a hot start in the 18U Division of the Memorial Day East Championship, picking up a pair wins by the scores of 14-0 and 5-1.  They looked like a team that could easily be playing on Monday both offensively and on the mound.

This scout has seen William Bartlett (2019, Portola Valley, Calif.) play frequently this spring as part of the prospect-stacked IMG Academy team, and aside from a dramatically different haircut, it was the same Bartlett hitting for NEB.  The extremely strong 6-foot-3, 220-pound catcher/third baseman crushed the ball in almost every at-bat, picking up four hits on the day, including a monster double into the wind to left centerfield at the Stadium Field at Terry Park that would have been out of many parks under different conditions.  Two of Bartlett’s hits simply undressed the shortstops they were hit so hard.  Bartlett is a Arizona signee who will be joining another slugging catcher/corner infielder in that offense-rich environment in Tucson, 2017 PG All-American Austen Wells, and that duo should be interesting in the middle of the Wildcat lineup the next two years at least.

Lefthanded hitting catcher Parker Haskin (2019, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) had himself a similarly strong day at the plate, picking up a single, double and triple and flying out deep to left centerfield in another at-bat.  Haskin is a strong and compact athlete with an especially strong lower half and he puts his entire body into his swing and attacks the ball aggressively early in counts.  Ironically for a catcher, Haskin did some of his best work on the bases.  Aside from showing obvious enjoyment in running out the triple, Haskin forced a balk after his single, then stole third base without a throw and scored on a wild pitch.  Haskin is signed with Tulane.

Hidden in open view among all the big accomplished seniors on the NEB roster is their second baseman, James Agabedis (2021, Sudbury, Mass.).  The 5-foot-8, 155-pound left handed hitter picked up a couple of walks that turned into runs in the first game, then singled twice and picked up another walk in the second game.  He was most impressive in the field, making several solid plays on the move with sure hands and a quick release.  Agabedis plays the game confidently and with plenty of skill and still has plenty of time to get stronger.

NEB got a perfect performance, literally, from left hander Maurice Goolsby (2019, Dunnellon, Fla.) in their 14-0 win, as Goolsby spun a four-inning perfect game, retiring 12 straight hitters on only 51 pitches.  Goolsby is a 6-foot-5, 190-pound athlete with as long of arms as you will ever see on an athlete that height, and if Goolsby was measured by NBA standards, he would probably have a 7-foot-1 wingspan.  He worked in the 80-84 mph range from an extremely loose and whippy mid-3/4’s arm slot, except that Goolsby’s fastball was really a cutter and even took on slider depth at times, as he’s consistently on the side of the ball.  He sat on the outside corner to right handed hitters with the cutter the entire outing, occasionally taking off the pitch for a bigger 72-74 mph curveball, and showed a willingness and ability to bust the ball in on the other side of the plate.  Goolsby is signed with Florida State to play football, where he is listed as a four-star wide receiver on one recruiting site, but told a Perfect Game social media representative that he hoped to walk on for the Seminole’s baseball team next spring.

Avery Love 
(2019, Callahan, Fla.) started the second game for NEB and threw three no-hit innings himself.  Love is a 6-foot-3, 170-pound right hander with a very loose arm stroke and plenty of physical projection remaining.  A Jacksonville signee, Love worked in the 84-86 mph range with his fastball, getting big two-seam sinking action at times and increasingly pitched off his upper 70’s slider and mid-70’s change up as the game progressed, as both pitches mimicked his fastball well and he seemed to have better feel for locating them.  It’s easy to see Love getting stronger and making a couple of delivery adjustments and becoming a valuable starting pitcher for Jacksonville during his college career.

Love was followed by big righthander Austen Kessler (2019, Bradenton, Fla.), who duplicated his raw stuff from the PG Florida Pre-Draft Showcase earlier this week, working in the 90-93 mph range with his fastball and flashing a mid-70s curveball that gets tight spin and comes out of his hand easily.  Kessler is a physically imposing 6-foot-4, 235-pound rock on the mound, with an especially strong lower half, yet his arm action is very long and loose, probably too long at this point as he comes to an extended high 3/4’s release point.  That release point creates big downhill angle on Kessler’s fastball when his arm is on time but it’s going to be very difficult moving forward to get that arm consistently in the right spot at the right time.  Kessler threw only 46 percent strikes in two and a third innings, with most of the balls missing high well out of the strike zone.  When Kessler was in the zone, there weren’t very many strong swings, however.

– David Rawnsley

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