Tournaments | Story | 6/29/2019

14u WWBA Day 1 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Taylor Weber         Colton Olinger        
Photo: Matthew Matthijs (Perfect Game)

Getting the start in Allstar Baseball Academy’s opener of pool play was uncommitted 2022 Michael Kennedy (Troy, New York), a 6-foot, 180-pound lefthanded arm who made a quick 3 1/3-inning cameo, meaning we’ll likely see him another time or two this event. Friday marked Kennedy’s second appearance of the summer at a Perfect Game event and he has already left his mark on the national scene with a couple of high-level coaches watching on.

Though it wasn’t the longest of looks Kennedy left an impact on the game, both on the mound and with the stick as he doubled down the pull side in his first at-bat, showing quickness to his hands before coming around to score the first run of the game.

On the mound is where his future is brightest though thanks to an athletic and repeatable delivery with which he shows a loose arm stroke through the back, working to an extended three-quarters release. While not overly physical there’s still projection to him with his frame as well as on the radar gun thanks to a lower effort release, though he did sit comfortably within the 82-85 mph range throughout and the ball seemed to jump out of his hand. Given his release, Kennedy is able to generate short and late running life through the zone, eliciting steady and weak ground ball contact around the infield.

Throughout is time his feel for the curveball continued to sharpen and by the end of his outing the pitch was showing at its best. With a similar release point and maintained arm speed Kennedy showed comfort with the pitch, generating sharp depth and 1-to-7 shape through the zone with tight rotation. It’s the more advanced of his two secondary pitches as he didn’t even show his changeup in game but did work on it in between innings, though he’ll raise his slot a good bit higher at release.

The velocity will continue to come for Kennedy and most likely it’ll be sooner rather than later, meaning he’ll be on arm college coaches will keep a close watch on throughout the summer.

It’s not often players who have yet to begin their high school careers enter a tournament with buzz surrounding his name, though that’s the case with Michigan product Blake Grimmer (2023, Spring Lake, Mich.) after loud performances at Perfect Game events this spring. His 6-foot-1, 160-pound build is a frame you can dream on physically moving forward, though he already shows the ability to drive the ball well while swinging wood. The fluidity and rhythm to his load stand out, and after a ground out and a walk early in the game, Grimmer put his stroke on display in his final trip to the plate. Staying short and direct to the ball the young lefthanded hitter did a nice job of getting the barrel out on a fastball and drove it deep to the opposite field for a triple, showing intriguing jump off the barrel that will only continue to progress with added physical strength.

Speaking of physical strength on the Motor City Hit Dogs, Hudson Davenport (2022, Richmond, Mich.) hits behind Grimmer from the four-hole and wasted little time to make an impact in the game. With a broad shouldered, 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, Davenport is a physical presence in the box and showed his strength with a triple to the opposite field in his first at-bat of the game. He begins his swing with an aggressive load looking to do damage with every swing he takes, some he managed to do once again in his second trip with another loud barreled single to his pull side. He finished the day with a walk, reaching base all three at-bats, plating three runs and also scored three of his own.

It didn’t take long for Termarr Johnson (2022, Atlanta, Ga.), one of the top-ranked players in the 2022 class, to leave his mark on the game atop the MGBA lineup. Full of quick-twitch and athleticism, those are two traits he brings with him to the lefthanded batter’s box where he shows an innate ability for finding the barrel, regardless the level of competition he’s playing against. Not only is his swing fast through the zone despite his listed 5-foot-9, 145-pound frame, his loose wrists allow him to whip the barrel through the zone just as he did in his first at-bat of the tournament as he smoked a line drive back up the middle. That aforementioned quick-twitch muscle was put on display as he flipped a switch around first base and took second base on the outfielder’s slower approach before advancing to third base on a hard single from Cam Collier (2023, Austell, Ga.) before scoring on a wild pitch.

It wasn’t the longest of outings for lefthander Jakob Schulz (2023, Houston, Texas) of Twelve Black as he lasted just 1 2/3 innings of work, due to pitch count and his coaches wanting to bring him back, but he showed more than enough to intrigue the recruiting coordinators on hand. He immediately stands out for his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame and shows one of the simpler deliveries I saw opening day with limited moving parts and the ability to repeat well pitch-to-pitch.

In this look the fastball topped out at 87 mph for the uncommitted southpaw, living comfortably within the 82-85 mph range while looking as though he was simply playing a game of catch with a very low effort release. He worked around the zone well and was able to elicit weaker contact off the barrel thanks to the short sinking life he was able to generate through the zone. And in case lefties who show bigger velocity for the 14u level isn’t enough, Schulz also featured both a slider and curveball, with distinct shape to each and the slider being the more advanced of the two up to 74 mph, as well as a changeup with a mimicked release at 74-76 mph which he landed regardless the handedness of the opposing batter.

Squaring off against Twelve and Schulz was shortstop/righthanded pitcher Brett Denby (2023, Cincinnati, Ohio) of the Cincinnati Spikes who was more than efficient in helping his team make a statement in their opening game of pool play with a 13-0, run-rule shortened game. Not as physical as his counterpart Schulz with a 5-foot-9, 146-pound build, Denby showed off his athleticism with a repeatable delivery and a quick, compact arm action that led to a plethora of strikeout of his hand.

Over his 2 2/3 innings of work Denby sat comfortably in the 80-83 mph range with his heater, hiding the ball well through the back-side, which in turn helped him pick up five strikeouts on the day. He worked primarily off of his heater and worked on top of the ball well to create consistently plane, but almost mixed in a curveball which peaked at 71 mph with a replicated release and tight spin.

Matthew Matthijs (2022, Greenville, N.C.) was on the circuit last summer with the Canes National club that ultimately won the 14u WWBA Championship and he looks to lead his team to another celebration on the final day of the tournament. Up to 82 mph last summer, Matthijs came out on the opening day of pool play and sat exclusively at 86-87 mph with his fastball in the first inning, creating big deception in his delivery with a deep gather and spine tilt at the top. And while his mechanics aren’t of the traditional variety, he’s able to show his athleticism in repeating them and consistently working on top of the ball from an over-the-top release point to generate steep plane on his heater.

Like other pitchers detailed in this recap, it was a quick two inning look at Matthijs due to pitch count and the Canes jumping out to a big lead early on which means we’ll be certain to catch him again later this tournament. The velocity is noteworthy for a 14u tournament and though there isn’t much life to the pitch, the deception of his delivery and the ability to pound the ball downhill really helped the pitch jump on hitters, inducing weaker contact off the barrel, most of which was on the ground. As you may imagine with a pitcher who throws from an over-the-top slot, the future North Carolina Tar Heel has a big 12-to-6 curveball with tight rotation and late depth, a pitch he seldom threw though it shows big potential as a swing-and-miss offering.

In an opening day full of big arms, Stars Baseball’s Bryce Eldridge (2023, Vienna, Va.) may have stood out the most, both literally and in terms of present stuff and future projection. Listed at a long and ultra-projectable 6-foot-6, 184-pounds, you don’t have to dream on Eldridge too much as his present arsenal already stands out and is highlight by a fastball that repeatedly hit 88 mph over his 2 2/3 innings of work.

Having seen the young Virginia native throw last year, he has made notable adjustments to his delivery though that isn’t much of a shock as he continues to grow into his body and the coordination to his mechanics speak towards his overall athleticism. Still working exclusively out of the stretch, Eldridge shows a quick and loose arm stroke through the back with a shorter, cut-off stride which he uses to help generate hard sinking and running life to his fastball. The life on the fastball is noteworthy as it would stand out if he were in Atlanta at the 17u WWBA this week, collecting multiple ground balls and breaking a bat or two along the way.

Despite living in the 85-88 mph range rather comfortably throughout, Eldridge struck out just two batters though he did live around the zone and maintained that big life to either side of the plate which is equally as impressive. He’ll continue to refine his overall feel for his secondaries as he showed both a curveball and changeup sporadically, slowing on his curveball in the upper-60s while maintaining his release on a mid- to upper-70s changeup that will pair nicely off his fastball moving forward. The frame and the overall stuff stand out for Eldridge and he’s an arm that college recruiters will be certain to see multiple times by summer’s end.

Another player on the Stars who showed his potential is strongly built, 6-foot-2 outfielder Bobby Fleming (2022, Great Falls, Va.), their four-hole hitter who picked up a couple of barreled knocks over his first two at-bats of the tournament. Staying short and quick to the ball, Fleming showed off his hand speed by turning around an inner half 80 mph fastball for a double down the pull-side line before inside-outing a single through the 3-hole in his next at-bat. He also jumped on the mound where he sat 82-84 mph with his heater, showing a balanced delivery with a quick arm stroke while mixing in a curveball with some 12-to-6 shape up to 70 mph.

– Jheremy Brown

The 14u WWBA National Championship kicked off with a bang for the Canes National 14u team as they downed their first opponent of the tournament in just four innings by a score of 14-2. Leading the way for the Canes was three-hole hitter and first baseman Chace Chaplin (2023, Apex, N.C.). Chaplin has strength throughout his build standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing 195 pounds. He utilizes his stocky stature well at the plate with a simple swing looking to create lift off the barrel to the pull side. He came up in a couple of key situations and was able to deliver going 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and a run scored.

The Georgia Jackets 14u National team is one of the favorites to make a run into the playoffs and they started out on the right foot with a 9-2 victory. They got some help from their starter, 6-foot righty Lleyton Jones (2023, Duluth, Ga) who went 4 2/3 innings allowing just a single unearned run while striking out six hitters. Jones supplies a fluid delivery with easy repeatability. He creates sharp running life on the fastball with the ability to change slots and remain accurate around the edges of the plate. His secondary option was a sharp sweeping curveball with late movement that generated a high amount of swing and miss. He was able to throw it in the zone as well as bury the pitch when he chose. Jones is a solid option on the mound and he should continue to be as he moves forward.

The middle of the order for the Jackets was a key factor in the game as their Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters combined for a 3-for-6, scoring five of the nine runs and driving in three. The three-hole belonged to David Luigs (2022, Marietta, Ga.). Luigs fits in well at the top of the order as he employs a mix between a high contact rate with the ability to drive the ball from gap-to-gap. His 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame matches well with a bit of a longer swing generating some barrel whip through the zone.

Batting behind Luigs was Carson Burgamy (2022, Woodstock, Ga.). Burgamy is just as developed with the bat in his hands as his counterparts, though he stands at just 5-foot-8. What he lacks in strength he makes up for the ability to manipulate the barrel and drive hard, line drive contact to all parts of the field. As he continues to develop physically, Burgamy should continue to grow with the bat in his hands as well.

Last but not least was Lawrence Jordan II (2022, Hampton, Ga.). Jordan affected the game in multiple ways and he’s very athletic in everything he does. He swings the bat with a fluid, slightly lifted path and can impact the ball when squared. He was effective on the basepaths as well, scoring a couple of runs and stealing a couple of bases. Jordan ended the day 1-for-2 with a triple to the opposite field gap, driving in three runs total.

– Taylor Weber

Nicolas Perez (2022, Isabel, Puerto Rico), the No. 1-ranked player in Puerto Rico for the 2022 class, came to play on day one of the 14u WWBA National Championship. His athleticism was on full display both defensively and offensively. At shortstop he showed great range working to his left to field a ball behind the second base bag. While fielding the ball his glove works well out front allowing him to push through the ball while gaining ground into his throw where his strong arm stands out. At the plate his loud contact in each of his at bats stood out. He starts with an open stance, wide base and high hands. His toe-tap trigger provides a timing component as well as allowing his weight to get transferred to his back-side. His uses of his weight transfer through his swing gets his lower half involved and helps provide some of the serious power potential he possesses. With a level bat path and quick hands Perez produces hard hit line drives all over the field with the ability to split either gap. His 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame projects well to add more strength and power as he continues to grow and mature.

– Colton Olinger

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