Tournaments | Story | 7/4/2019

14u WWBA Day 6 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Colton Olinger        
Photo: Noah Bentley (Perfect Game)

14u WWBA Scout Notes: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Lefthander Griffin Graves (2023, Jackson, Tenn.) came two outs away from finishing off a complete game shutout for the Dulin’s Dodgers Henson but was nonetheless impressive in what was ultimately a pitcher’s duel against the Yankees Baseball Club and fellow lefthander Jake Hembree. While Graves is listed at just 5-foot-10, 149-pounds, he did an excellent job of maintaining his velocity from the first pitch of the game until his last recorded out, living comfortably in the upper-70s and peaking as high as 81 mph. The key to Graves’ success was his ability to pound the strike zone with his heater, continuously working in attack mode and varying his slot from an extended to release to a more traditional three-quarters, keeping hitters off balance and uncomfortable. His fastball was mostly true in life, showing occasional sink when down, though he still managed to elicit a fair bit of swings-and-misses and when it was put in play it was of the weaker contact variety more often than not. Over the course of the week Graves worked 10 1/3 innings, a span in which he struck out 15 and more impressively allowed just three base hits.

Coming out of the opposing dugout was lefty Jake Hembree (2023, Hiram, Ga.), a young prospect who has been detailed in prior viewings this spring for his overall pitchability and feel on the mound. Wednesday’s outing proved to be no different for the uncommitted lefthander as he went 5 2/3 innings, and while he didn’t have his best command with four walks on the day, he did compete and showed a true three-pitch mix. There’s obvious projection for Hembree who stands at 5-foot-11, 145-pounds and showed some of the better balance overall to his delivery, projecting for more velocity with added strength and additional lower half implemented into his drive.

Hembree opened the game sitting in the low-80s with his fastball, bumping 82 mph early on with a short and quick arm action while working exclusively out of the stretch. Equipped with a longer stride and some extension out front, Hembree is able to generate some cut action to his heater though it was the feel for his curveball that truly stood out. The breaking ball working the mid- to upper-60s but showed solid depth with 12-to-6 shape to it and the comfort level of throwing the pitch was just as impressive as he missed with it on a 2-2 pitch and then proceeded to go right back to it on 3-2 to record one of his six strikeouts. He also mixed in a changeup for a complete three-pitch mix at 74 mph and though he’ll tend to drop his slot on the pitch he shows the ability to turn the pitch over well down in the zone.

Pablo Santos (2022, Jersey City, N.J.) made a name for himself last year, even at the 13u level, as he showed a quick, whip-like arm with a fastball that topped out in the low-80s, a mark he has since built off of as he topped out at 85 mph in the final day of pool play. Santos went the first four innings for Tri State and continuously worked in the low-80s, showing the same quick arm stroke with an up-tempo delivery while generating steady running life to his arm side from an extended slot. His overall command was a bit scattered as he was landing closed with his strike foot which, in this look, forced him to work across his body, missing low to his glove side, though there’s no mistaking how the ball jumps out of his right hand. Currently uncommitted, the rising sophomore mixed in a short breaking ball up to 70 mph and also swung the bat well (he is listed as a primary shortstop) as he put his team on the board early in the game with a hard line drive single into the opposite field.

Colt Emerson (2023, Cambridge, Ohio) and Easton Eibel (2023, Pleasant City, Ohio) are two players who are similarly built with loose and twitchy 5-foot-9 frames and both show nice potential with their swings from the left side.

Getting a couple of looks at Eibel throughout the weekend yielded the same result in that he found the barrel, spraying the ball all over the field with a loud double over the right fielder’s head earlier in the tournament, a well struck double to the opposite field gap day five and another barreled single over the shortstop’s head Wednesday morning, showing the same smooth stroke he has throughout the weekend, finishing the tournament with a .474 batting average.

Emerson was a late arrival to the Cincy Flames but quickly made his impact, both with his lefthanded swing and on the mound where he found himself Monday afternoon, throwing a complete game, 10-strikeout performance. It’s the swing however that will be certain to attract the attention of college coaches all across the country as it’s simply a fluid and pure stroke that’s only going to impact the ball with additional authority as he develops physically. The projection aspect of his game is important to note as Emerson is one of the youngest 2023 graduates in attendance as he has not yet turned 14, making the hit tool all the more impressive. He’s aggressive in the box and looks to do damage early in the count, going 1-for-3 Wednesday more with a line drive knock into the opposite field.

It was a quick look running from field to field, but third baseman Drew Lanphere (2022, Wendell, N.C.) took one of the more impressive swings in the morning slot of games as he dug in against lefthander Ethan McElvain and came out ahead. A lefthanded batter, Lanphere dug in and took an 80 mph fastball down and in to the opposite field gap for a triple, paving the way for a 2-for-3 day in which he plated a couple of runs, scored two of his own and also swiped two bases. He’s strongly built and a cog in the middle of the lineup for the Canes who look to make a run once again and defend their title at the 14u WWBA National Championship.

Matt Augustin (2023, Cherry Hill, N.J.) was handed the ball for MA Show 14u Select yesterday and the young righthander out of New Jersey didn’t disappoint in my first ever look at him. Checking in at a long and lean, ultra-projectable 6-foot-1, 150-pounds, the arm speed is the first thing to jump out as he was able to work in the 79-83 mph range with his fastball, topping out at 84 mph over his four innings of work against Team Louisiana. Augustin uses his length well to generate extension out front and work on top of the ball, generating short sink down in the zone. Along with the fastball he mixed in a short breaker in the mid- to upper-60s and the overall package checks a lot of boxes, even in a short look, as a young arm who will continue to light up the radar guns throughout his prep career.

Listed as a primary switch-hitting first baseman, Ethan McElvain (2023, Thompsons Station, Tenn.) got the start on the mound for Rawlings Southeast 14u and though he didn’t have his best command in this look, the operation and what he’s able to produce from the left side is more than intriguing moving forward. McElvain already stands 6-foot-1, 181-pounds and while he’s strong at present, there’s a chance for him to add significant strength moving forward which in turn will lead to a jump on the mound, though he already showed the ability to work comfortably in the 80-83 mph range.

With rhythm to his delivery, complete with a high leg lift and deeper gather on his backside, McElvain shows a quick arm through the back with present arm strength and though he’ll get misdirected coming down the mound, when he stays through the ball he was able to create solid angle when working to his glove side. Given his release, the fastball showed short running life through the zone while mixing in both a mid-70s changeup and a short breaking ball up to 69 mph that he showed the comfort to double up on early in the game. While he isn’t listed as a primary pitcher, the raw ingredients are more than enticing given the frame, athleticism, the fact he’s lefthanded and what he already brings to the table, all variables that will have college recruiters paying attention moving forward.

Joey Bogart (2022, Sicklerville, N.J.) may not be the biggest of players in stature as he’s listed at 5-foot-5, 135-pounds but he plays well beyond his listed measurables, performing well on both sides of the ball. Getting the start at shortstop for the Tri State Arsenal, Bogart quickly made his presence felt with a rangy play up the middle which looked like a single off the bat but instead resulted in an out as he picked the ball, maintained his balance through his pop-up slide and delivered an accurate throw across the diamond. As baseball seems to go, Bogart came to the plate in the bottom half of the inning in the two-hole and delivered an opposite field double that just kicked off the right fielder’s glove who was ranging back. There’s quickness to his hands offensively as he’s able to whip the barrel some and again went to the opposite field in his next trip with a deep fly out just shy of the warning track.

– Jheremy Brown

Colton Wemhoff (2023, Gladstone, Mo.) was dominant on the final day of pool play at the 14u WWBA National Championship. The long lean righthander was lights out on the mound running his fastball up to 80 mph while going five innings and allowing no hits. His curveball showed as a quality put away pitch sitting in the mid-60s with good depth. His quick arm and good extension give his ball good plane to the plate while staying online with his delivery. At the plate he continued to barrel up baseballs as he is hitting .438 on the tournament. His clean righthanded swing showed big pull-side power with a ground-rule double to the left-center. His toe tap stride and load create good separation before his strong lower half and quick hands help him drive the baseball creating backspin with his high finish. His 6-foot, 160-pound frame is projectable moving forward as he continues to grow and fill out adding to more power to his already present strength.

Ryker Edwards (2023, Smithville, Mo.) never takes a swing without the intent of doing damage. His aggressive hacks have paid off this tournament as he his hitting .455 through the first seven games. He starts with a balanced wide stance and high hands. His toe tap stride and strong load create good separation before he generates a lot of power from his lower half though his smooth lofty swing path. His speed plays on the bases allowing him to swipe bags and leg out infield hit when needed. In the field he displayed the ability to get good reads off the bat with good closing speed while running down balls in left field. His accurate arm allows him to get the ball in quickly and hold runners from advancing extra bases. His 6-foot, 155-pound frame leaves plenty of room to fill out and add more strength to his long athletic build which should only add to his power at the plate and in the field.

Rives Reynolds (2023, Flowood, Miss.) displayed his patient approach with the ability to wait for his pitch while working deep into counts. His righthanded swing starts with a narrow upright stance and high hands. His hands stay loose and free through the pre-pitch and load faze where he uses a toe tap trigger to create separation. His level bat path works short to the inside part of the ball creating a line drive type swing with gap-to-gap potential. His speed gives him the ability to put pressure on the defense out of the box and on the bases stealing bags. His speed translates to the field where he gets great jumps on fly balls with the ability to cover gap-to-gap playing center field. His quick-twitch athleticism plays a big role in his contribution to his team. With a 5-foot-9, 155-pound build, Reynolds has room to continue to add strength while filling out his frame as he mature.

Adding to the list of long, athletic outfielders at this year’s 14u WWBA National Championship is Justin Best (2023, Cornelius, N.C.). Team Elite National’s leadoff hitter started to heat up on the last day of pool play in Hoover going 2-for-3. His smooth lefthanded swing showed serious potential when he gets extension through the ball. His swing starts with a free and easy balanced stance with his loose hands. He uses a simple stride to trigger his fluid bat path while keeping his hands inside the ball allowing him to stay gap-to-gap with his approach. His high finish to the swing creates some loft in the bat path as he does a good job of keeping his front side in through the swing. His 6-foot-2 170 pound frame has plenty of projectability left in it.

Justin Smith (2022, Detroit, Mich.) has been on fire all summer hitting in the middle of the loaded Team Elite National 14u lineup and Wednesday was no exception. After going 2-for-3 on the day Smith’s now hitting .467 on the summer. His swing has serious pull-side pop with his ability to get extended through contact and his strong lower half working together to create barreled ball after barreled ball. Maybe the most impressive swing of the day was a long foul ball that Smith pulled just foul well beyond the field fence while keeping his hands and weight back on a breaking ball. He showed great mental poise getting back in the box and clearing his mind after that swing and followed it up with a rocket line drive to left-center.

Hollis Porter (2022, Hurley, Miss.) presents a big, strong, physical frame in the box. His lefthanded swing starts with a wide base, bend in the knees and high hands. His toe tap stride helps create separation before his long arms flow into a fluid bat path with some present loft. He creates good drive off his back-side working well behind the baseball and getting extended throw contact. His large 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame projects well with the ability to continue to add to already present strength.

In a tournament that has proved to be loaded with quality arms, Noah Bentley (2023, Celina, Texas) stuck his claim as part of that conversation throwing a gem in a winner-move-on game between Dallas Tigers-Autrey 2023 and Five Star National. His impressive outing consisted of six innings of one-run ball while allowing only two hits and striking out eight batters. He showed great command of his fastball that sat 81-83 mph and topped out at 85 mph by spotting it up to both sides of the plate. He backed that up with a slider that sat in the low-70s with good bite. His feel for the slider allowed him to use it in any count creating lots of swings and misses. His long lean build creates good plane to the plate form his high three-quarters arm slot with a deliberate delivery that he repeats well. Bentley will be a name to keep an eye on as he fills out his 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame.

No to be out done by his counterpart, Daniel Parris (2023, Knoxville, Tenn.) was equally as good for his Five Star National club pitching opposite Bentley. Parris twirled a gem of his own finishing with one run allowed over seven innings while striking out six and allowing just four hits. His live arm allowed him to run his fastball up to 83 mph from his high three-quarters arm slot. He backed his fastball with a steady mix of off-speed pitches. His second offering was a knuckleball that sat 63-67 mph with great life. His ability to land the knuckleball induced tons of soft contact and swings and misses.  His third offering a slider that sat 67-70 mph with some sweeping action to the break showed promise as well as he was able to pound with zone with it.

With a great defense behind him Daniel Parris didn’t have anything to worry about when it came to right field. With Andrew Dunford (2023, Centerville, Ga.) coming up with what looked to be a rally-stopping throw cutting down a potential baserunner trying to take second base with a throw on the money. His solid range and strong arm allowed him to cut the ball of going to the line a fire back in on a line to end the potential Tigers’ rally.

Caden Mitchell (2023, Celina, Texas), that battery mate of Noah Bentley, did a great job of helping out his pitcher with his quiet stance and soft hands helping present strikes on the corners. He made no bigger play then his tag at the plate to end the game. With a ground ball hit back up the middle and into center field, center fielder Harrison Rosar (2023, Prosper, Texas) got to it in a hurry and came up firing and threw an absolute dime to the plate to cut down the potential game-winning run. Mitchell received the throw and made the athletic play to apply the tag, helping secure Dallas Tigers-Autrey 2023 a spot in the playoffs.

– Colton Olinger

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