Tournaments | Story | 7/3/2019

14u WWBA Day 5 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Taylor Weber         Colton Olinger        
Photo: Tommy Roldan (Perfect Game)

14u WWBA Scout Notes: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

It’s been a good week for East Cobb Tigers shortstop Tyler Neises (2023, Rocky Face, Ga.), who has played third base in both of my looks, as he’s hitting .429 on the tournament and ran his fastball up to 85 mph earlier in the week as well. At 6-foot-2, 180-pounds Neises’s physicality certainly stands out before he even takes the field with present strength to his lower half and ample room to still fill moving forward. One common occurrence over my two looks at Neises was his ability to find the barrel, getting extended out front while working to the middle and pull side parts of the field with line drive contact. He gets spread and occasionally mistimed with his lower half and can shorten up his approach moving forward, though he did show the ability to turn on a hanging curveball in a left-on-left matchup for another line drive single into right field.

Drew Burress (2023, Perry, Ga.) and Carlos Elian Martinez (2022, Coamo, Puerto Rico) make up two-thirds of the 5 Star National outfield and both show high-end potential with the stick moving forward.

Elian Martinez impressed earlier this spring at the 14u Florida Showcase and continued to stand out with a balanced and fluid stroke from the left side of the plate. At 5-foot-11, 165-pound there’s plenty of room to fill throughout and he shows a handle for the barrel as he lined a single up the middle and quickly turned it into a double with a stolen base within a couple of pitches. Later in the game he jumped on the mound and ran his fastball up to 84 mph in his lone inning of work and should be on the mound later this tournament should 5 Star continue their run.

Burress was detailed in an earlier recap and his performance Wednesday afternoon is worthy of another writeup as he went 3-for-3 and continues to show some of the best barrel control in the tournament. In his first at-bat of the game and quickly down in the count with two strikes on him, Burress showed the ability to adjust to off-speed just as he did on a softer breaker, keeping his hands and barrel back despite getting onto his front foot to still connect and drive the ball to his pull side. While he could have simply jogged to first base and picked up another single, Burress went hard out of the box with a 4.57 on the turn to stretch the singled into a double. This set the tone for the rest of his game, picking up two more singles to raise his average to .471 leading into the final day of pool play.

Similar to how big bat speed sticks out in a 14u setting, so does a catcher’s defensive actions behind the plate, something Brady Neal (2023, Tallahassee, Fla.) quickly showed during his couple of innings behind the plate. Strongly built at 5-foot-10, 160-pounds with physical strength proportioned well throughout, Neal’s abilities behind the plate are arguably the best in attendance from his receiving to his catch and throw skills to his overall flexibility behind the plate. With strong wrists Neal was able to stick pitches with authority, consistently getting his thumb underneath pitches down in the zone to present it to the umpire, stealing multiple strikes for his pitcher. As good as his receiving skills are, Neal’s arm strength stands out in between in with true carry on his throws down to second base, popping a 2.00 in between innings. He also shows bat speed from the left side, and though he had a quiet day at the plate he has all the intangibles to stand out to college recruiters alike.

David Ray De Hoyos (2023, San Antonio, Texas) and Seve Martinez (2023, San Antonio, Texas) both made the trip from San Antonio to Hoover with the Banditos and show similarities to each other in the box in regards to their mechanics and overall results.

De Hoyos, who hits in the heart of the lineup, shows a pretty simple stroke in the box as he stays short to the ball and quickly announced his presence as he’s hitting .800 over his first two games in the tournament. After picking up an opposite field double Tuesday morning, De Hoyos quickly picked up another extra-base knock with a triple to his pull-side gap before picking up a single off his hands that fell in behind second base.

Like De Hoyos, Martinez picked up a triple of his own, driving the pitch down the opposite field line with a shorter, compact stroke with solid present bat speed through the zone.

After a couple of pitches, the similarities between righthander Connor Crisp (2023, Locust Grove, Ga.) and his older brother Nolan, now at the University of Florida, become pretty clear from the long limbed, lean middle infield build, to the arm speed, up-tempo delivery and ability to generate solid velocity through the zone. The youngest Crisp got the start for 5 Star National on Day 5 and strung together six innings one run baseball (unearned) while scattering a couple of base hits and striking out five. Listed at 5-foot-10, 160-pounds, Crisp gets everything out of his frame as he topped out at 84 mph in this look, but more impressively was able to generate plane on the fastball while creating solid extension down the mound with his lower half. He mixed in a short breaking ball for strikes in the low-70s and will only continue to see his velocity climb just as Nolan did as he develops physically moving forward.

Atop the Knights Platinum lineup are a few of the more physical players in the tournament, two of whom are Stone Lawless (2023, Owens Cross Roads, Ala.) and Thomas Cooper (2022, Brentwood, Tenn.) who showed things to like in a quick look Tuesday afternoon.

Lawless, a primary catcher, showed some skill behind the plate in regard to this receiving, though it was his arm strength that truly stood out, particularly on a ball that bounced off his chest, recovered and delivered a strike down to second base with big carry and plane from a compact arm stroke. At 6-foot-3, 195-pounds Lawless shows a powerful stroke at the plate, generating some of the better bat speed on the club while looking to lift with his path at the point of contact.

Speaking of strength and bat speed, Cooper showed off his pop in his righthanded bat with a well struck double over the third baseman’s head for a double, one of his two hits on the day, to raise his average of the tournament up to a robust .467. 

– Jheremy Brown

As we get closer to entering the playoffs at the 14u WWBA National Championship in Hoover, Ala., US Elite 14u National threw a couple of their top arms with a 35-pitch max as a quick tune-up moving forward.

Starting the game was righthanded pitcher Gavin Van Kempen (2022, Castleton, N.Y.). Van Kempen is a slender 6-foot-3, 180-pound build with a high waist and long arms that works well with his delivery. His frame supports room to continue to add physically moving forward. He works from a controlled and balanced delivery with a higher effort into his release. He works around the zone well with a running fastball that was touching 84 mph and sitting around 80 for the entire outing. There is some tightness in his breaking ball showing feel for the pitch, able to land the slider in the zone. After allowing a couple of early walks, Van Kempen was able to battle out of the inning allowing just a single unearned run, which would be all he allowed in his 1 2/3 innings.

Coming in after Van Kempen for US Elite was projectable lefty Tommy Roldan (Poolesville, Md.). He was featured in a previous recap for his work at the plate but on Tuesday there were a lot of things to like when Roldan took the mound. He’s smooth to the plate with a fluid arm action in the back and into a lower and extended slot. He lands closed off down the mound and really creates some deception from left side with his crossfire actions to the plate. He’s able to work in and out of the zone with the fastball up to 83 mph. He also flashed a solid option in his sweeping 2-to-8 breaking ball. It showed tight spin and was able to land it in the zone with ease. Roldan was also on a 35-pitch max as he went just an 1 1/3 innings allowing a single run.

The MVP Terps National 14u team grabbed their fifth win with an easy 7-0 victory led by their starting pitcher Jerome Benjamin (Jb) Manarchuck (2022, Burke, Va.). Manarchuck needed just 81 pitches to work the entire seven-inning game, showing how effective his outing actually was, especially in the early goings, needing just 12 pitches to get through the first two innings. Manarchuck has excellent feel for pitching in the zone with both his fastball and curveball. He works in the upper-70s topping out at 79 mph with a fastball that flashed some downward angle to the plate. He was very effective working up in the zone with the fastball as well creating weak pop fly contact. His breaking was sharp at times and showed some potential to be a strong out pitch moving forward. Manarchuck allowed just three hits in his complete game shutout while allowing just a single free pass.

In the final game of the day at Oak Park High School the Louisiana Knights Lafayette took care of business with an 11-1 victory. It was a game filled with solid pitching all around, despite the high scoring affair. In the game for the Knights was righthander Bryce Leonard (2023, Pierre Part, La.) who pitched an outstanding 3 2/3 innings, not surrendering a hit until the fourth. He has a strong and athletic build with some projection to him. He’s poised on the mound and really knows how to pitch to his strengths. He pitches away from contact well mixing his fastball at 81 mph and a god curveball to keep hitters off balance. He worked to weak contact and allowed his defense to help behind him. The only blemish on his line was an unearned run surrendered in his final inning of work.

Opposing Leonard and unfortunately not getting the results he wanted was another righthander in Norbeto Leal (2022, Pharr, Texas). Leal was in the game for two innings, and though it wasn’t his game he was still able to show off some things that really looked good from a scouting perspective on the mound. At 84 mph his fastball was heavy through the zone and came out of the hand easily. He displays a quick and live arm action that should support even further velocity in the near future.

– Taylor Weber

Addison Smith (2023, Liberty, Mo.) is a long quick-twitch middle infielder with tones of athletic upside. In the field he does a good job of working around the ball and fielding it out front with good glove presentation. His footwork carries him through the fielding process where his quick transfer allows him to get off a strong accurate throw. That footwork and quick transfer also help him while working around the bag on double plays. At the plate he starts with a narrow, upright lefthanded stance and a high hand position. His hands stay loose through his timing and high leg kick before working to the inside part of the ball as he does a good job allowing the ball to travel and hit it where it is pitched. His ability to drive the ball to all fields with authority comes from his great barrel-to-ball skills. His 6-foot, 150-pound frame leaves him room to continue to fill out as he grow and matures.

Ashton Larson (2023, Overland Park, Kan.) showed great barrel-to-ball skills with the ability to drive the ball from line to line. He starts with a narrow balanced stance and hands set at the shoulder level. His high leg kick gets his weight shifted to his back side before his hands stay connected with his lower body as his compact swing path works to the inside part of the ball. His quick hands and strong use of his lower half paired with his high finish create some loft in the bat path projecting well for more power down the line as he continues to fill out and mature. In the field his athleticism and good route taking allow him to cut off balls in the gaps holding runners to singles on what other wise would be extra base hits as he showed not only the ability to get to the ball in a hurry but also get it back in with a strong, accurate arm. His 5-foot-11, 150-pound frame leaves room to fill out as he continues to grow.

Tate McGuire (2023, Kansas City, Mo.), a lengthy righthanded pitcher, does a great job of getting extension while working with good direction to the plate pitching exclusively from the stretch. His high three-quarters arm slot and quick arm produce a low-80s fastball that he ran up to 84 mph a handful of times and topped out at 85 mph. He backed up the fastball with a mix of three off-speed pitches. His slider sat 71-72 mph with good bite. The curveball had 11-to-5 shape while sitting at 65-67 mph and he showed the ability to land it for strikes in high leverage counts. He maintains good arm action on his changeup while sitting at 70-72 mph, creating some deception off of the fastball. His 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame leaves plenty of room to project moving forward as he fills out.

Austin Francis (2022, Troy, N.Y.) comes in on the young side of the 2022 class, although watching him play one would never suspect. His strength and athleticism speak for themselves in the field, at the plate and on the bases. While playing shortstop he does a good job of getting himself in position to work through the ball towards his throwing target. His quick transfer and release play well around the bag as well as he is turning the double play. At the plate he starts with an open, upright stance and high hands. Through his swing he does a good job of using his strong lower half while hitting into a stiff front side. He showed the potential for some gap-to-gap power with the ability to get more extension at the point of contact. On the bases his speed and good feel for the game allow him to take advantage of defensive miscues by taking the extra base when given the opportunity. His 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame leaves room for more added power.

Jake Sparks (2023, Hoosick Falls, N.Y.) presents a physical frame with some solid tools offensively and defensively. At the plate his lefthanded swing starts with an open, upright stance and high hands. His level bat path stays through the ball long after contact creating good extension and hard hit line drives form line to line. He showed the ability to see the ball deep and take it the other way with his simple stroke when he stays on the ball with his front side. While playing third base he showed good first-step quickness getting around balls hit to his left or right and squaring up before setting his feet and getting off strong accurate throws across the diamond. His 5-foot-11, 170-pound frame projects well for added strength that should translate both at the plate and in the field.

Kameron Douglas (2022, Woodstock, Ga.) displayed a repeatable delivery and live arm in his three innings of work while striking out six. His fastball sat mostly 80-82 mph while topping out at 84 mph from a high three-quarters arm slot. His curveball sat 65-68 mph with some 11-to-5 break on it. His solid command of the breaking ball allowed him to land it for strikes early in counts before attacking hitters on the corners with the fastball for the punchout. He does a good job of using his back side to drive down the mound while keeping good direction to the plate and getting good extension at the point of release. His lean 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame leaves room for added strength moving forward with projectable velocity increases.

– Colton Olinger

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