Tournaments | Story | 5/26/2019

East Memorial Day: Day 2 Notes

Vincent Cervino         David Rawnsley         Tyler Russo        
Photo: Alex Ulloa (Perfect Game)

No one had a hotter start to their summer than Elite Squad National shortstop Alex Ulloa (2021, Cutler Bay, Fla.) who finished game one with a mark of 3-for-3 with three doubles, two to the opposite field and another rocket to the pull side gap. The uber-athletic Miami commit has been a big name for the 2021 class for a while now, he is currently the 40th-ranked prospect in the class, and has a really visually pleasing swing from the right side. He gets his hands loaded well in a good position to launch and then explodes onto the baseball with excellent torque through his lower half and whip through his fast hands. Ulloa has above average bat speed presently and really has advanced barrel control and hitterish tendencies for a young prospect. With the first double, which he knocked over the head of the right fielder, he went up and got a fastball at his eyes, while the final double he was way out in front on and still rocketed it into the pull side gap. He’s a tremendously advanced hitter with excellent athleticism, 4.5 second turn times on two doubles, with flashy actions at shortstop as well which all culminated in a very exciting prospect.

After shining last weekend at the Sunshine East Showcase and earning an invite to the Junior National Showcase, Connor Manning (2021, Coral Springs, Fla.) showed out again in Elite Squad’s first game of the tournament, tossing 3 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball while punching out six batters. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and is an eminently projectable righthander with a loose arm and really generates excellent life on his fastball. He can sink or cut the heater, which worked consistently in the 84-87 mph range. The uncommitted rising junior pounded the strike zone and threw exclusively fastballs during this look. The delivery is a bit unorthodox with a big stride toward the plate, but he remained balanced and on time at foot strike which allowed him to generate whiffs within the strike zone. This looked to be a quick tune up start for Manning who is a prospect to keep an eye on this summer as he surely won’t remain uncommitted for long.

Bryan Loriga (2021, Hialeah, Fla.) has earned consistent high marks across the board for his hit tool and he really fills out the batter’s box from the right side. Standing at 6-foot, 195 pounds, Loriga is a very physical prospect, generating easy bat speed from a balanced initial stance. He turns the barrel extremely effectively, as the Florida International commit can generate loud exit velocities with big power to the pull side. He collected a couple of hits during game action, including a double, and the barrel control and awareness of the strike zone both stand out for the offense-first prospect.

Turning in a tremendous start over at Buckingham Park was Elite Squad National righthander Nick Vieira (2020, Margate, Fla.) as the uncommitted righthander was lights out for four innings. Standing at every bit of his listed 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Vieira is an extremely high ceiling prospect with a very easy operation and a clean arm stroke that he repeats well and maintains timing with. The operation and physical projection alone make him a candidate to throw very hard. He lived in the 85-87 mph range throughout his four hitless innings on the mound, sinking the fastball well and commanding it to either side of the plate while he touched 88 mph a handful of times and only touched lower than 85 once. The command to translate as a starter to the next level works hand-in-hand with his feel for secondaries, both of which flashed good potential. His curveball worked in the 72-75 mph range, showing out better when he threw it harder garnering late tilting action and inducing wayward barrels. The changeup was a straight change that he threw to lefthanded hitters and he landed it a few times locating it well to the arm side. The arsenal, command, and projection all bode well for Vieira as he’s a definite arrow-up prospect heading into the summer.

Completing the last leg of the combined no-hitter was Bethune-Cookman commit Carlos Nolasco (2020, Miami, Fla.) as he finished off the last three no-hit innings. Nolasco was wheeling and dealing as he needed just 36 pitches to toss three scoreless and rack up six strikeouts. The fastball generates good sinking and running life in the 83-86 mph range, but what stood out the most was his feel for spin. He could drop in tight breaking curveballs in the low- to mid-70s while also pulling out the 78-80 mph slider with late bite to put hitters away. There was greater depth to the curveball, but the slider was vicious when thrown firmly and with intent. It’s clear that he has the pitchability and IQ on the mound to be successful at the next level and he should be offering MEAC hitters a healthy dose of breaking balls with nothing straight coming out of the hand.

The big offensive contributor for Elite Squad’s victory was designated hitter Giuseppe Ferraro (2020, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), a former PG Select Festival participant in 2017. Ferraro, committed to Miami, is an extremely physical prospect listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. Strength is the all-encompassing moniker for the profile as Ferraro is a super strong kid with loud righthanded bat speed that creates significant impact off the bat. He got a hanging breaking ball that he deposited over the right centerfield fence for a laser three-run home run. Ferraro has such easy power that the ball jumps off the bat to all parts of the field and he’s certainly in store for some hard hit balls as the rest of the summer progresses.

Turning in a stellar performance over a two game stretch was HitFactory Pro three-hole hitter Aaron Saltsman (2021, Rockledge, Fla.) who collected five hits on the day, including a 4-for-4 outing in his first game. Saltsman is a gamer who does a little bit of everything well and has a very mechanically-clean swing. The swing is short and to the ball with good present bat speed and a very good feel for the barrel of the bat. He collected a couple of hard hits, a bunt single, and a double in the first game really utilizing the whole field and hitting whatever the pitcher gave him. Saltsman is athletic too and can run well, covering good ground out in centerfield for HitFactory. He’s a culmination of a bunch of really solid tools that make him an extremely well-rounded prospect, especially as an uncommitted outfielder.

Jonathan Vastine (2021, Bartow, Fla.) has turned into one of the premier uncommitted prospects in the state for his class and though he didn’t have a very loud day, he still showed off the tools. Vastine is an uber-athletic, twitchy shortstop with great speed and overall athleticism on a baseball diamond. He has the arm strength to play shortstop, he was recorded up to 88 mph off the mound in a relief stint during the games on Saturday, but if he can’t stick in the middle infield, he’ll absolutely have a future in the next level in centerfield. The swing is smooth and simple from the left side with plenty of bat speed. He collected a roped single to the right side and walked three times in the first game, proving to be a terror on the bases. He’s a bit reminiscent of 2019 Georgia prep Tres Gonzalez in that his speed, athleticism, and barrel control all make him a fantastic prospect, especially an uncommitted one.

Turning in a very strong start for HitFactory in game two was athletic righthander Ryan Skelly (2021, Tampa, Fla.), who held the opposition scoreless for three innings while striking out four hitters. The fastball was the calling card for Skelly, who ran his heater into the upper-80s during the first inning before settling in the 84-88 mph range for the rest of his outing. The delivery is fairly simple and though there’s a short stab in the back of the arm action it’s loose and quick through the arm circle. He flashed some arm side life and wasn’t afraid to run the pitch up at the top of the strike zone to induce chases. The breaking ball needs a little work as he slows up on the pitch and it more gradually breaks throughout the zone in the upper-60s, but he can land the pitch for strikes, and overall the athletic profile is more than enticing.

Topping out at a career high mark of 87 mph, Chandler Marsh (2021, Wellington, Fla.) showed some impressive stuff on the mound, highlighted by a super athletic delivery and a loose arm that projects for much more. There’s some effort at release but he really uses his body well and carries momentum toward the plate, creating separation and whip through release to generate a high octane fastball. He’s long limbed and has a very young face, indicating that the frame is ripe for physical projection as he matures. The fastball worked mostly 82-86 mph early in the start and the arm is a bit longer in the back, though it came out clean when on top of the ball. The breaking ball flashed sharpness but was mostly a softer offering in the upper-60s and could tighten up with further development. Marsh is a 2021 to keep an eye on, as his summer is just getting started.

John Schroeder (2021, Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) had a big game offensively in the night cap, which included two hits and a double off the right field wall. The swing from the left side of the plate (he’s a switch hitter) is short and quick to the ball with some bat speed and loft. Schroeder’s frame looks like it can hold much more strength at maturity with broad shoulders and he can already impact the ball with some strength through contact. The loft makes for an intriguing power future for the young switch hitter and he had a big day from an offensive standpoint.

Another arm who impressed last weekend at the Sunshine East showcase was southpaw Tristan Moore (2020, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands) who was literally unhittable today, tossing four no-hit innings while racking up 10 strikeouts in the process. Moore has a fairly simple delivery and the frame oozes physical projection with a loose, quick arm and a fastball that topped out at 87 mph. He operated more regularly around the 80-84 mph range but creates a good amount of angle on the fastball. The breaking ball was an okay pitch for Moore, but his superior secondary on the afternoon was a firm, sinking changeup in the mid- to upper-70s. Moore’s ability to generate velocity, miss bats, and projection make him an intriguing uncommitted arm out of the Virgin Islands.

Tommy Groom (2020, Orlando, Fla.) is another uncommitted 2020 with a quick arm and a very physically projectable frame. Standing at a broad 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Groom has a fairly simple delivery, with a short turn and gets downhill as he releases from a higher arm slot. The arm is short and quick from a tight slot and he worked his fastball in the 83-85 mph range for the majority of his start. There’s obvious projection given the athleticism of the frame and simplicity of motion, and Groom also mixed in a short slider with tight break that will be a better offering as he gets on top of the pitch more consistently.

– Vinnie Cervino

Team 305 lefthanded pitcher and outfielder Ervis Solis (2023, Hialeah, Fla.) has been named to four All-Tournament teams already in his young Perfect Game career, including both as a pitcher and a hitter, but he’s taken a big step recently.  He has been previously listed at 5-foot-9, 139 pounds, but eyeballing him at Terry Park on Saturday, Solis looked at least 6-foot, 160 pounds. More significantly, where Solis’ fastball had previously topped out at 82 mph at PG events, he was humming in the 85-87 mph range during a tense seventh inning in what ended up being a 2-2 tie.  Solis’ “new” body obviously stands out for a 14-year old, as he has a very athletic and still extremely projectable look to him.  He has a big drift out over his front side which results in him throwing uphill at times, but his arm is loose and as quick as one will see on a pitcher who has yet to attend high school.  Solis also showed a present ability to spin the ball, snapping off a few sharp 72 mph breaking balls despite not appearing to really get on top of the ball due to his mechanics.  This is clearly a high ceiling athlete and it’s going to be fun to see more of him as he continues to improve.

It seems like half the 14u Kangeroo Court Roos American roster attended the 14U Sunshine East Showcase last weekend in Fort Myers and made up a majority of the Top Prospect List, so it was enjoyable to see those young standouts in action in tournament games on Saturday.

Middle infielder Cade Kurland (2023, Tampa, Fla.) is a standout defensively and made nice plays both at second base and at shortstop on Saturday, making them going in both directions to highlight his versatility and athleticism.  A right-handed hitter, Kurland has more strength than most 14-year-old batters and can get the ball to jump with an up-the-middle line drive approach, and did so a couple of times while picking up three hits in the Roos American’s two Saturday games.  Most of all, Kurland already has the ability at a young age to slow the game down, something it takes many players a long time, if ever, to learn.

Catcher/right-handed pitcher Kodi Deskins (2013, Gibsonton, Fla.) has had a very good tournament thus far on both sides of ball.  He struck out four hitters in three innings Friday night while topping out at 82 mph in the Roos American’s hard fought 4-3 win and has picked up three RBI and three runs in the three overall games. Deskins has the athleticism and arm strength to be a high-level catcher and will be able to stay at that position.

Shortstop/righthanded pitcher Walter Ford (2023, Pace, Fla.) is a very projectable athlete at 6-foot-1, 165-pounds and has plenty of tools.  He was up to 87 mph on the mound at the 14U Sunshine East Showcase and has been up to 83 mph with a very tight 71 mph slider this weekend.  A right-handed hitter, Ford has also picked up four RBI.

Elite Squad 15u National lefthander Blake Gollott (2022, Saucier, Miss.) threw a masterful game on Saturday in a five-inning run rule victory, spinning a 64-pitch no-hitter while striking out nine hitters.  Gollett is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound southpaw with a young body that should continue to grow and fill out nicely.  His arm is very loose and tension-free from a high three-quarters arm slot.  Gollett worked in the 80-83 mph range with big tailing life on his fastball and got in a groove with the pitch, working very quickly and consistently dotting up the arm side corner and showing the ability to get opposing right handed hitters to expand the zone reaching on their outside half.  Gollett threw some upper 60’s breaking balls that showed good shape but pretty much relied on his fastball command and movement in his no-hit effort.

– David Rawnsley

Although they would split their two games on the day, Florida Burn 2020 Beisner had the bats going on Day Two of the East Memorial Day Classic. Leadoff hitter Jake Griffith (2020, Fort Myers, Fla.) was on fire on the day, reaching in all seven of his plate appearances with three doubles in game one and four walks in game two, scoring four times across the two games. Griffith has a great ability to handle the barrel, as he made consistent loud contact to all parts of the field and showed natural instincts on the bases that allowed him to take the extra base when he could to put himself and his team in a better position to be driven in.

Hitting right behind him in the order was fellow outfielder Julien Brown (2020, Sarasota, Fla.) who also showed the ability to hit the baseball hard. Although he didn’t reach base seven times on the day, he did also show a great ability to handle the barrel to different parts of the zone through a mature approach that allowed him to crush a homerun over left field of PDC Field 2 that made quite the impression on the scouts on hand.

One of the more interesting prospects on the day was lefthander Anthony Figueroa (2020, North Miami, Fla.). Standing at only 5-foot-9, 130 pounds, Figueroa was able to generate enough power in his small body to sit 86-88, topping at 89 mph, with the fastball almost effortlessly, while also flashing a very hard-biting curveball that proved almost impossible to hit when commanded. Figueroa allowed only two hits in just over two innings of work and will improve drastically on the recruiting scene as the command of the fastball improves.

One of the youngest prospects to be playing in the 18U division on the day was Warstic National right-hander Hector Montilla (2022, Tampa, Fla.). On day two, he worked 5 1/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit baseball, while striking out six. Montilla worked out of a very clean and efficient delivery that allowed him to repeat his mechanics and tunnel his arm slot on his different pitches well. He worked in both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, sitting 81-84 and topping out at 86 mph, that showed run to the inner half and cut to the outer half respectively.

One of the most efficient outings on the day came from the right arm of Andres Gonzalez (2019, Temple Terrace, Fla.), as he threw 6 2/3 innings of one-run baseball, while striking out 10. Gonzalez threw a heavy dose of strikes, filling the zone early and often with the fastball, sitting 81-84, topping out at 86 mph. His ability to keep hitters off balanced and move the fastball around the zone was the biggest key to his success on the mound in day two.

Alexander Ayala (2020, Doral, Fla.) was as good as ever in his extended relief outing for US Elite as he dominated hitters for 4 1/3 innings, only allowing one hit and striking out 10. Ayala effortlessly commanded the zone with the fastball, running it up to 91 mph more than a few times, while also dropping in a devastating, hard-biting curveball at 77 mph that kept hitters struggling to find their timing and make good contact.

The one hit Ayala did allow in his outing was a very loud double, one of three on the day for the strong bodied Jett Lauster (2019, St, Augustine, Fla.). Lauster is a listed as an uncommitted graduated senior, but is a late recruit to grab if that is the case. He made a lot of loud contact on the day, crushing three top spin doubles to the pull side in his two games at PDC, while also showing athleticism out of a big body as he made multiple plays at third base using a soft glove and good actions with a strong arm.

Warstic National’s Kyle Cole (2019, Loxahatchee, Fla.) also made quite the impact in his game, going 3-for-4 with consistent hard contact, including what looked like an off-timed mishit fly ball to left field that carried its way to the track and bounced over for a ground-rule double. The Keiser commit showed present strength to all fields from a strong lower half and the ability to get the barrel to different parts of the zone and make good contact consistently.

Mitchell Leroy (2019, Tampa, Fla.), a Hillsborough CC commit, made quick work of his four innings on the mound, allowing only two hits and striking out five. Leroy, a large lanky right-hander, works out of a very simply and smooth delivery that allows him to repeat his mechanics well and work in and around the zone with good command. His fastball, sitting 84-87 and topping out at 88 mph, showed good downhill action with hard arm side run, while the curveball showed good depth out of 11/5 shape and worked as a plus change of pace pitch.

Standing out maturity-wise in his mechanics and command of the zone was young 15-year-old right-hander Ivan Van Beverhoudt (2020, Orlando, Fla.). Ivan attacked hitters early and often, commanding the zone with all three of his pitches and showing the ability to work backwards and make his 83 mph fastball look much harder at times. His curveball, dropping in at 68 mph, had consistent hard bite and high rotation with great depth out of an 11/5 shape. He also flashed a cutter that got hitters just off time at 78 mph, creating weak contact on his way to only two hits allowed in his four innings of work.

Tyler Russo

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