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Tournaments | Story | 5/30/2019

PG 16u European Classic: Day 1

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Ukraine United (Perfect Game)

BRNO, CZE – The KMC Ambassadors got the PG 16u European Classic underway with a convincing 13-2 win over the Ukraine United Team 16u on a breezy Thursday morning at the City Baseball Stadium, home of the perennial Czech Republic champions Draci Baseball Club Brno.

KMC second baseman Miles Murphy (2022, Ramstein, APO, AE), who participated in the first European Showcase on Wednesday, stood out on both offense and defense. Batting in the No. 2 hole, Murphy went 3-for-4 at the plate, including a double down the left field line and a hard line drive single to the right-center field gap. He also picked up three RBI on the day. Defensively, Murphy showed smooth actions, especially moving to his right up the middle and making accurate throws with a quick release. It’s obvious that Murphy has played lots of baseball for a freshman.

KMC catcher Ronin Sherman (2021, Kaiserlautern, APO, AE) also showed tools on both sides of the ball. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound sophomore has some present strength and good physical projection and received the ball well behind the plate while showing a strong arm in aggressively throwing behind runners. Sherman takes a very aggressive righthanded swing at the plate and creates some present bat speed. He went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI for the game hitting out of the cleanup spot in the order.

KMC left fielder Makani Stenger (2021, APO, AE) showed nice righthanded bat speed with plenty of extension and lift out front that gave him pull power. He hit what was probably the hardest ball of the day in his first at-bat, driving a ball into the wind well over the left fielder’s head for a double, then came back in his second at-bat and lifted a fly ball down the left field line for another double.

KMC ran into a pair of hard throwing pitchers from Czech Baseball Academy Red in their second game that shut down their offense.

Lefthander Tomas Hrbek (2020, Brno, CZE) has a very nice build that eyeballs around 6-foot-1, 175-pounds and a very loose left arm that while it gets offline in back is clean and tension free coming through to a crossfire three-quarters arm slot. Hrbek topped out at 82 mph while pretty much sitting at 79 mph for three innings and working in an occasional low-70s slider with good shape. The 16-year old struck out five hitters in three innings to set the pace for the game.

Righthanded pitcher and first baseman Petr Vojta (2021, Ceske Budejovice, CZE) has a big and strong 6-foot-2, 190-build, and in addition to a strong right arm also has power potential at the plate. He struck out three hitters in an inning of work, topping out at 84 mph. We’re looking forward to seeing Vojta stretched out more later in the tournament.

KMC righthander Ethan Smith (2021, Ramstein, APO, AE) got the second game start and the 15-year old showed tons of projection. He’s 6-foot-3, 180-pounds and looks even younger in the face and body. Smith worked in the upper-70s for three innings and showed good shape and feel for a 70 mph slider. His arm action was long and smooth in back and there is no question that he’s going to be throwing in low- to mid-80s in the relatively near future.

Smith also has a younger brother, Koen Smith (2023, Ramstein, APO, AE), who threw in the first game with an almost duplicate delivery and arm action. Only 13-years old, the younger Smith threw in the upper-60s and looks to be able to follow the same talent curve as his older brother.

The Ukraine United 16u team drove 13 hours by bus on Wednesdsay to get to Brno for the event and didn’t show any ill effects in their opening 15-2 win. Right fielder Pavlo Vodolozhskyi (2021, Kiev, UKR) hit in the third hole for the Ukraine and showed lots of lefthanded bat speed and an easy and athletic running stride, especially for a 14-year old, while going 2-for-4 with a double. He is definitely a player we would like to see more of the next few days.

Righthander Vladyslav Portuhalskyi (2019, Kiev, UKR) has a very young 6-foot-3, 160-pound build and the recently turned 17-year old has an equally loose and easy arm. He topped out at 78 mph while filling up the strike zone and striking out four hitters in 1 2/3 innings. Because of his long arms and easy delivery, Portuhalskyi looked like he was throwing low-80s and the hitters certainly reacted accordingly.

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