Tournaments | Story | 5/27/2019

East Memorial Day: Day 3 Notes

Vincent Cervino         David Rawnsley         Tyler Russo        
Photo: Miguel Sosa (Perfect Game)

Power Baseball 2020’s Najer Victor (2020, Clermont, Calif.) is listed in the PG database as a primary outfielder/secondary pitcher, but that might be changing based on the strongly built 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete’s performance at this Memorial Day East tournament.  Victor made a short appearance on Friday, topping out at 94 mph, but that was just a prelude to his start in the quarterfinals Sunday afternoon against a strong Team Australia outfit.  Victor threw five shutout innings, allowing only two hits and one walk while striking out eight hitters. The Central Florida commit threw 67 percent strikes while topping out at 92 mph with a low to mid-70’s curveball.

Victor’s mechanics are somewhat unusual in that he has a compact catcher-like arm action that is extremely quick and a short stride out front that he really gets over early. He obviously holds it together well with his athleticism, although it does give him difficulties getting out front on his pitches and especially his curveball, which has a healthy spin rate but lacks ideal power.  But Victor’s mechanics have to be highly deceptive to the hitter and the Australian hitters weak at-bats certainly backed that up.

Elite Squad National righthander Ben Vespi (2020, Boynton Beach, Fla.) was only able to throw three innings in his start Sunday morning, as his Elite Squad teammates rolled to a 15-0 run rule win, but he was very impressive and looks poised for a big summer.  Vespi, who like Victor is a Central Florida commit, handled all nine outs himself in the abbreviated perfect game, getting the leadoff hitter in the first inning to ground back to him, then striking out the next eight hitters.  Vespi sat in the upper 80’s with lots of running and sinking life, topping out at 90 mph, and used three very solid secondary pitches in a changeup, curveball and slider, with the changeup being the most impressive.  At 6-foot-3, 175 pounds with a smooth arm and easy mechanics, Vespi is the model of projection in a 17-year old pitcher.

Elite Squad National’s shortstop Jordan Carrion (2020, Miami, Fla.) was the overall star Sunday, especially for his play in Elite Squad’s 6-5 quarterfinal win over the Elite Squad American team.  Carrion, who is ranked 72nd in the PG class rankings, went 3-3 with three RBI in National’s early morning win, then came back with a 2-3 performance with a pair of RBI in the quarterfinals.  Just as impressively, he picked up the win with three and a third innings of shutout relief, working in the 87-90 mph and throwing 73 percent strikes.  The most notable thing about Carrion’s overall performance in Fort Myers is that in the past he’s always been regarded as an elite level defensive shortstop whose bat lagged a grade or two behind his glove.  He’s driven the ball consistently and hard, including three doubles, this weekend and looks to have really improved his bat speed.

Carrion’s teammate, centerfielder Enrique A. Bradfield Jr. (2020, Hialeah, Fla.), whose plus/plus speed is the primary reason he’s ranked 52nd in the class, hasn’t had the chance to show his own hitting ability, but he has shown himself to be an incredibly effective leadoff hitter.  Bradford is 5-7 at the plate in five games but has drawn an eye opening nine walks to go with six stolen bases.  It will be interesting to follow whether Bradford shows that same on-base ability through the summer circuit against some of the best pitchers in the country.

– David Rawnsley

Genesis Baseball had some impressive velocity out of their arms in the morning, including righthander Joseph Tomonto (2022, Boca Raton, Fla.) who ran his fastball up to 88 mph over the course of a two inning appearance. The arm speed is notable on the young prospect with a short, catcher-like arm action and a higher arm slot while creating some cutting action on the fastball. His greenness on the mound showed though, as he worked 85-87 mph during the first inning and dipped down to the 80-84 mph range in the second. He only showed a few breaking balls, but they were tight in the mid-70s and he definitely shows promise on the mound in the future.

One of the hottest hitters in the 14u age group, Roman Anthony (2022, Wellington, Fla.) is batting .500 heading into Monday’s semifinal round and the lean, projectable outfielder has a lot of traits to like from a scouting perspective. He’s an uber-projectable lefthanded hitter with a very smooth stroke from the left side already showing bat speed, looseness, and loft to the swing plane. He’s done nothing but hit the ball extremely hard this weekend with lots of barrels both up the middle and to both gaps. Anthony was impressive at the 14u East showcase a month ago with his peripheral tools as well, throwing 87 mph from the outfield and running a sub 7.00 60-yard dash which makes him a very intriguing 2022 prospect.

The Florida Dodgers Scout Team had a couple of hard-throwing relievers during their games on Sunday as Ethan Dearen (2022, Jacksonville, Fla.) and Jordan Taylor (2022, Jacksonville, Fla.) both showed pretty impressive arm strength on the mound.

Dearen hit 89 mph a handful of times during his first inning on the mound after he came in relief of the starting pitcher after just two batters faced. He has a quick, short arm stroke and cuts his arm circle off early which causes some inefficiencies with the arm action. This causes him to cut his arm across and leave the fastball hittable at times in the middle of the zone. Dearen is a physical prospect and has a firm slider in the mid- to upper-70s with short shape to it. The slider worked up to 79 mph while the fastball sat mostly 85-87 mph with a handful of 88s and 89s on the radar gun.

Taylor, a Florida State commit, is an ultra-athletic two-way prospect for the 2022 class and he ran his fastball up to 88 mph while earning the win in the Dodgers Scout Team’s win in the quarterfinals of bracket play. Taylor is the picture of physical projection at a high waisted 6-foot-2, 175 pounds with lots of room to fill out and add strength. The arm strength plays from the outfield, his primary position, but he ran his fastball up to 88 mph during this relief appearance. He’ll be an interesting prospect to watch moving forward both because of the raw arm strength and to see how he progresses as a position player as well.

Known primarily for his defensive prowess, Justin Colon (2021, Carolina, Puerto Rico) had a big day at the plate, smacking the ball around the yard while everything was well struck. Colon, a Florida International commit, looks to be more physical from a year ago and was impacting the ball really well and consistently so. His hands whip nicely to the ball with excellent speed and closing distance while Colon drove through it to generate that strength through his wrists at the point of contact. Colon is already one of the top prospects for the 2021 class and he could be in for a big summer.

Manuel Souffrain (2021, Miami, Fla.) showed some things to like from an offensive standpoint as the 6-foot-2, 224-pound lefthanded hitter showed impressive bat speed and the approach to do damage in late counts. Souffrain has impressive raw bat speed, and likely impressive raw power, as he loads his hands back far while coiling with his hips and exploding at the point of contact. The swing itself isn’t overly lengthy and he does a fairly good job remaining on time even despite the aggressive shift in with his front foot. He put a charge into a couple of balls and showed too that he could shorten up with two strikes and use the whole field for singles.

The biggest crowd drawn during the quarterfinal round of bracket play belonged to southpaw Brandon Barriera (2022, Coconut Creek, Fla.) who showed some electric stuff in his first inning of work and beyond. Barriera, who just turned 15 a couple of months ago, is a lean and athletic lefthanded arm at 6-foot, 155 pounds with the athleticism, looseness, and requisite arm speed to project upon forever. There isn’t a lot of projecting he needs now, however, as during his first inning he worked 87-89 mph and topped out at 91 mph. There’s some head whack and intensity at release but the arm is loose, whippy, and it’s really not at all too hard to envision him throwing extremely hard extremely soon. Barriera showed four pitches including a short, tight slider in the upper-70s, a slower curveball in the low-70s, and what seemed to be his go-to offspeed pitch early in the changeup. He drops his slot on the changeup but that allows it to get a ton of running action away from righthanded hitters at 75-78 mph; one of the more impressive ones he dropped on the outside corner to a righthanded hitter for a strikeout in the first inning. Barriera has the look, and quite honestly the stuff, of a top-10 prospect and it’s only going to continue going up from here for the young southpaw.

Florida Burn ace Zachary Root (2022, Fort Myers, Fla.) did a terrific job at working through a long first inning to escape with no damage and showed impressive pitching chops in limiting the opposition to just one run over four strong. A Florida commit, Root is an eminently projectable 6-foot-1, 155 pounds with a lot of projection remaining on the very young frame. The arm is loose and he throws directly over the top, getting some arm side run and sinking action at times, with advanced body coordination and having no issues syncing up his timing between the upper and lower halves. The fastball worked up to 85 mph but lived mostly 80-84 mph, at least early on, with the changeup being his best secondary pitch on the day.

– Vinnie Cervino

As pool play began to wrap up early Sunday, many teams were looking to play their way into a playoff spot. Rays RBI’s Evan Mobley (2022, Tampa, Fla.) would make sure of that as he brought a perfect game into the seventh inning of his outing, only to lose it on an infield single. Although Mobley only sat at 75-77, topping out at 79 mph, his ability to keep his fastball in the lower part of the zone and create weak contact with his off-speed pitches gave the young righthander a great deal of success on his way to seven strikeouts and the lone hit.

One of the standout guys on the day in terms of the progress he has made of late was Gulf Stream Tide righthander Rodrigo Pirela (2021, Miami, Fla.). Pirela showed a great deal of command with his fastball, using a mix of a hard-running two-seamer at 85-88 mph and a cut-fastball at 84-86 mph that he worked to the outer half. His strong and athletic body allowed him to repeat a clean and efficient delivery that produced consistent downhill action on the fastball. Pirela also flashed a backup slider at 77 mph that produced one of his seven strikeouts in just over four innings of work.

An absolute monster at the plate in game four for Cannons Baseball Academy 2021 American was very physical right-handed hitter Miguel Sosa (2021, Pompano, Fla.). Sosa had himself a game at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a single and three, yes three, triples. He didn’t allow himself to get cheated a single time at the plate, making consistent hard and loud contact out of one of the cleanest and simplest swings this scout saw in the entire weekend. Sosa used strong wrists and plus control of the barrel to get the barrel to virtually any part of the zone to produce hard contact. He also showed a good deal of athleticism and great actions in the field as he moved around the infield playing both his primary shortstop and some first base.

Elite Squad 16u National’s Justin Webster (2021, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) had a very efficient outing in the first round of the playoffs as he let up only one hit in a game-shortened three innings of work, while striking out three on only 28 pitches. The Miami commit worked from a large, lanky body that produced hard downhill action on a lively fastball that sit at 84-87, topping out at 89 mph. Webster also flashed a changeup at 77 mph that showed as a good change of pace pitch with good tumble at the plate, to pair up with his big breaking curveball.

Michael Marrero (2020, Corozal, Puerto Rico), made quick work of his five innings in round one of the playoffs, allowing only a hit and one walk while striking out eight. Marrero is a large, strong righthander who works downhill with lots of life in the fastball that has now run up to 87 mph. He also flashed a good changeup at 77 mph that showed arm side tumble and the ability to miss bats in the middle of the count. His hard-biting slider at 72 mph was used rarely, but showed as a plus pitch that hitters struggled to get a barrel to.

Without a doubt the most projectable pitcher on the day to make its way out to the mound at Terry Park was righthander Alden Segui (2021, Tampa, Fla.). Segui is an absolute presence on the mound working out of a very large, projectable body that extends well to the plate allowing the fastball, up to 88 mph with hard cut, to jump on hitters with a ton of life. Segui’s violence in his follow through and life on the fastball had players, fans and scouts alike virtually running over to see him close out round one and send Hit Factory PRO into the second round of the playoffs.

A game that would head into extras and give us a couple hectic innings of our famous Texas Tiebreaker was highlighted by two standout arms from the Florida Rebels. Lucas Hartman (2021, Bradenton, Fla.) got the start on the mound and would bring his outing all the way into the eighth before pitch count restrictions would drive him out. Hartman worked consistently in the zone commanding a lively fastball to the outer half of the plate at 84-88, topping out at 90 mph. He also flashed a straight changeup that worked as a good change of pace pitch, while the hard-breaking curveball out of 11-to-5 shape would work as his swing-and-miss pitch throughout. His ability to fill the zone and create consistent weak contact, including a couple broken bats, led him to allow only a single run through his first seven non-tiebreaker innings of work.

Coming into close the game for the Rebels in extras was large, lanky righthander Karson Ligon (2021, Sarasota, Fla.). Ligon worked solely with his fastball, running it up to 89 mph and moving it around the zone effectively as the ball jumped out of his hand. In a perfect inning and two-thirds, Ligon threw only 13 pitches on his way to two huge strikeouts to send the Rebels to the second round of the playoffs on Monday morning.

Tyler Russo

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