Tournaments | Story | 5/27/2019

South Championship Days 3 Notes

Jheremy Brown         Andrew Jenkins        
Photo: James Ellwanger (Perfect Game)

2019 PG South Championship: Days 1-2 Notes

Every so often you hear about a player at the younger levels with big arm strength and that’s a category that Andrew Daniels (2024, Forney, Texas) certainly falls into. Despite being in the 13u age group this weekend as a rising eighth grader, Daniels arm speed and velocity would stand out at a 15u level, let alone one amongst his peers.

Coming in from first base for the Spitfires Elite-Pizarro Daniels was limited to a tight pitch count in order to return later in the tournament. Over his 17 pitches the young righthander worked exclusively off of his fastball and sat comfortably within the 82-85 mph range, premium velocity for the age group. To generate that kind of velocity there’s obvious arm speed through the back working to a higher three-quarters arm slot from which he was able to create plane with sinking life. The velocity comes rather easy for a player his age and given what he’s already able to do, Daniels is a young prospect to follow moving forward.

James Ellwanger (2023, Magnolia, Texas) was handed the ball for the Mudcats and given the task of shutting down on to f the top 14u teams in the country in the Banditos Scout Team, a challenge he proved more than willing to accept and conquer. The projection is obvious for the righthander even at first glance as he stands at a high-waisted 6-foot-1, 147-pounds, a frame that will only fill out over the years with physical strength.

With pitchers his age and size it’s not uncommon for their coordination throughout their delivery to be inconsistent, though that wasn’t the case for Ellwanger, a testament to his overall athleticism. While there is some drop and drive through his lower half and a slight cross-fire element, he does an excellent job of using his length to generate extension down the mound while remaining short and compact with his arm action.

Ellwanger did a nice job of maintaining his velocity as well, living within the 79-81 mph range throughout and bumped an 82 early in the content, consistently working on top of the ball to create plane while showing subtle running life to the pitch. That life proved to be key as he lived down in the zone and induced weak contact coming off. The ease of operation and physical projection both point to additional velocity in the near future which will also make his tight 11-5 shaped low-70s curveball all the more effective.

Brandon Seidmeyer (2023, Magnolia, Texas) did the receiving of Ellwanger and made his presence felt, showing his tools on both sides of the ball. One of the stronger players in the Mudcat lineup, Seidmeyer is able to incorporate that physical strength into his offensive approach just as he did in pulling an outer half fastball into the left-center field gap for a double. He followed up that at-bat by showing his strength once again, turning on a fastball by the third baseman for a hard knocked single.

Don’t let Dillon Lester’s (2023, Baytown, Texas) listed measureables as he’s able to generate some of the better bat speed we’ve seen in the tournament with consistent life and jump coming off the barrel. Listed at 5-foot-8, 140-pounds Lester is full of wiry, quick-twitch muscle and it shows in his ability to impact the baseball.

He’s listed as a switch-hitter in the program but only took his reps from the right side regardless of what the matchup dictated, though we have seen his lefthanded swing in the past and it’s just as balanced of a stroke. The stat page won’t due Lester’s performance justice however, as he’s consistently found the barrel with hard, line drive contact right at the opposing defenders. There’s whip to the barrel and he showed no problem squaring up solid velocity while working to all parts of the field, including a deep fly out that would’ve been extra bases if not for an outstanding grab on the warning track.

In game one of the tournament Lester called the pitches from behind the plate, showing looseness to his actions and a solid arm on his throws down to second base with a quick release. And for as good as he looked there the young Texas native looked even more comfortable on the left side of the infield as he showed throughout Sunday. Getting the start at shortstop in game two he showed range and body control on a shallow flair into no-man’s land between center field and shortstop to make an over-the-shoulder type catch while also showing a quick first step on the charge on a slow roller.

Towards the end of their final pool play game the Banditos Scout Team brought in two of their top arms to make brief cameos in lefthander Keevyn Goss (2023, Corpus Christi, Texas) and righthander Alexander Solis (2023, Mercedes, Texas). Like other talented arms whose coaching staffs were hoping to make a run they were both on sub-20 pitch counts though both still managed to make an impression in such a short time.

Solis was the first to be called upon and quickly went to work, striking out the two of the three batters he faced while producing a fastball that lived in the 81-83 mph in part to a quick arm stroke through the back. It’s an up-tempo, high energy delivery for Solis though that didn’t inhibit his ability for pumping the strike zone and missing bats while working in pure attack mode on the mound. The look was a quick one at Solis and he’s an arm we’ll certainly track down again this summer.

Coming in after Solis was the lefthanded Goss, a physical and strongly built 5-foot-11, 160-pounds per the program though he looks bigger to the eye. Like Solis, Goss was given a quick look on the mound but it was more than enough to make an impression. He worked very comfortably in the 82-84 mph range, living there with some severe angle given his higher three-quarters arm slot while generate come running life to the pitch. The command wasn’t the sharpest but one can’t help but be intrigued given the low effort in which he generates the velocity and it’ll surprise nobody when the gun produces even bigger numbers in the future. Goss worked exclusively off of his fastball in live action but did show a sharp, late breaking curveball with 1-7 shape at 74 mph that could be a go-to offering in an extended outing.

Jeter Battles (2024, San Antonio, Texas) may not be the biggest on the diamond amongst his SA Dirtbags teammates but the 5-foot-5, 110-pound starting shortstop gets the most out of his frame and shows skill on the diamond. He hits atop the order for the Dirtbags where he employs a contact oriented approach, evidenced by his .556 average on the tournament, in part to the quickness of his hands at the dish. His lone extra-base hit of the tournament came against the 13u Banditos, a double to his pull side in which he showed off those quick hands and remained direct to the ball. His feel on defense was on display as well at shortstop as the Banditos attempted a double steal and while going to cover second Battles cut of the throw and without setting his feet delivered an accurate strike to home to cut down the runner and save a run.

Derrick Mitchell (2023, Tempe, Ariz.), like most everybody else in this tournament won’t enter high school until next year though that hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-3 switch-hitter out of Arizona from making a big splash on the national circuit already, playing up throughout last summer. Already looking the part of a college player physically last summer circuit, Mitchell continues to grow into his frame and while there will be additional growth spurts in which he’ll have to learn his body, the tools still stand out, particularly the bat speed. He got off to a slower start this tournament offensively, though has made noticeable strides to the fluidity of his path from the left side since my previous look last fall, before going 2-for-2 in his team’s final pool play with a couple hard ground balls up the middle.

The Performance Baseball club is looking to make a run in the 14u portion of the tournament and one of their biggest strength is their talent in the infield. The trio of Noah Paddie (2023, Marshall, Texas), Travis Sykora (2023, Round Rock, Texas), and Trenton Lape (2023, Bossier City, Texas) all play in the dirt for Performance and hit towards the top of the order, showing talent on both sides of the ball. Paddie is the smallest of the trio but he is the spark to the offense atop the order, showing a short and direct stroke to the ball with present quickness to his hands. He’s a heads up player who shows a feel for the game as he’ll read the defense and drop a bunt if the defense will allow it, showing off his speed down the line.

At a long and high waisted 6-foot-1, 150-pounds it’s easy to dream on Sykora at physical maturation though you don’t have to squint to see his present talent. In terms of actions and athleticism at shortstop you won’t find many better walking around Premier as he can adjust to the hop while on the charge and shows ample softness to his hands as well as a good internal clock, knowing how much time he has on any given time. He also jumped on the mound in relief where he ran his fastball up to 84 mph, showing a quick arm and though there’s some effort he did a nice job of filling the zone while generating solid sinking life to the pitch. Offensively his swing is similar to his defensive actions in that there’s smoothness and fluidity to it, showing a handle for the barrel and projects well with added strength.

Speaking of strength, that’s what Trenton Lape brings to the table hitting out of the middle of the order while manning the hot corner. He looks stronger at present than his listed 6-foot, 150-pound frame and can impact the ball at contact as he did during the first game in the tournament with a standup double to the left-center field gap. The launch to his swing is a short one as he stays rather direct to the ball, offering present strength to his hands while getting extended through the point of contact with life off the barrel. Over at third base Lape does a nice job of working low and behind the ball before showing off a strong arm (has been up to 83 mph on the mound) with a compact stroke and accuracy across the diamond.

Premier Baseball actually lost their final game of pool play to the Texas Assault who relied on the top of their order to make the difference in the final frame. Down 2-1 and down to their last out, Kai Langford (2023, Houston, Texas) came to the plate and turned on an 84 mph with a smooth stroke to his pull side gap to tie the game and spark the offense. With the next hitter reaching base, Caden Ferraro (2023, Pearland, Texas) delivered by slapping a ground ball through the six-hole to plate two and give his team the lead heading into the final frame.

Nehomar Ochoa (2023, Houston, Texas) opened the bottom of the inning for Texas Assault and stands at a stall, broad and intimidating stature on the mound. Both his stride and arm stroke are short and quick and despite his stride he’s able to work on top of the ball with some running life through the zone. The velocity will undoubtedly climb, especially as he continues to incorporate his lower half but at present day he worked 81-83 mph and lived exclusively off of his fastball.

While Ochoa didn’t finish the game, it did provide a very quick look at Diego Luzardo (2023, La Porte, Texas) who put a fast right arm on display to punch out the lone hitter he faced. Up to 82 mph in our previous look earlier this March, Luzardo came out and sat 84-86 mph with his fastball for the one batter, showing a longer and loose arm stroke while working to a higher release point. He worked exclusively out of the stretch and the ball jumps out of his hand while throwing with limited effort, leaving reason to believe there’s plenty more velocity left in the tank.

– Jheremy Brown

Listed as a position player, the lean framed Ellington Jefferson (2024, Dallas, Texas) was on the mound for American Freedom-Browne. His mechanics were raw but showed solid arm action with an extended release. His fastball was 77-79 mph, touching 80 mph while dropping in a loopy curveball from time to time though Jefferson primary lived off his fastball, which projects for more command as he matures.

Morgan Pearson (2023, Ardmore, Okla.) is a lean and projectable 6-foot-2 righthanded pitcher with room to fill. He had a high leg kick with long arm action in the back, staying tall through his delivery with good extension. Pearson sat 77-79 mph, touching 80 mph during his 1.1 innings of work and mixed a slider thatshowed potential at 68 mph with late break.

Controlling the game behind the dish for the talented Canes Southwest 14u Solomon, Braeden Best (2023, Round Rock, Texas) is an athletic catcher who shows the ability to handle a pitching staff. He did a nice job of getting underneath the ball with good presentation. Best showed a playable arm and above average footwork on throws and advanced blocking skills.

Listed as a primary catcher he also toed the rubber for the Canes Southwest 14u Solomon. His delivery is simple, getting downhill with a short arm circle. Best sat 72-75 mph with the fastball and controlled his off-speed for strikes, logging five innings in which he allowed zero runs, one hit and struck out nine.

Jaquae Stewart (2023, Sinton, Texas) continues to impress at the plate for Hooks National Baseball. His quick hands with present strength from the left side, making loud contact as he transferred his weight well and created leverage in his swing. Stewart, a primary first baseman, showed athleticism and the ability to pick it and shows a skillset that will develop more as he matures into his strong frame.

Jared White (2023, Southlake, Texas) started on the mound for USA Prime North 14U as they entered their second pool play game. White, whose fastball sat 78-82, was limited by a pitch count of 20 to come back quickly in the tournament, He was followed in relief by Steven Milam (2023, Las Cruces, N.M.) who pitched 2.1 innings of work, sitting 77-81 mph, touching 82 mph multiple times.

In game three of pool play for USA Prime North 14U, 6-foot-2 righthanded pitcher Tyler White (2023, Southlake, Texas) was impressive in his outing. He sat 76-78 mph with the fastball that showed arm side run and flashed an above average slider that was tunneled, sitting 70-72 mph.

Tyrus Williams (2022, Oxford, Miss.) was impressive on both sides of the ball for USA Prime North 14U. The young framed, athletic shortstop flashed the leather throughout the day showing good footwork with a quick first step, soft hands and the arm to make all the throws. At the plate, Williams has a short, fluid swing with quick hands and found the barrel a couple of times with hard jump coming off when squared.

Two-way player Gabriel Flores (2022, Longview, Texas) is an outfielder and righthanded pitcher for Performance Baseball Texas 14U. Offensively he shows a sound approach, quick hands, a level swing with barrel awareness. Flores had two hits on the day and created loud outs when he did not get on base. His speed and good first step allowed him to track down balls deep in the gap and above average arm strength with carry. He was also 77-80 mph off the mound with a short arm action, good angle and was able to control three pitches for strikes.

The young, athletic, projectable Alexander Petrovic (2023, Cypress, Texas) stands 6-foot-3 with long limbs. Listed as a primary corner infielder, he impressed at the plate and on the mound for Premier Baseball Futures. As a hitter, he utilizes his long limbs well to create lift in his swing with power to all parts of the field. On the mound he showed a short and quick arm stroke, running his fastball up to 80 mph with plane and running life out of his hand. His delivery with a simple once and though he tends to slow on his secondaries, he shows a feel for landing both for strikes.

– Andrew Jenkins

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