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Tournaments | Story | 7/13/2019

17u BCS: Day 6 Scout Notes

Vincent Cervino         Tyler Russo         Parker Fronk        
Photo: Nelson Berkwich (Perfect Game)

17u BCS Scout Notes:
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4-5




Lefthander Nelson Berkwich (2020, Boca Raton, Fla.) got the start during the resumed set over at 5-Plex on Friday morning, and though he did not factor into the decision, the Vanderbilt commit showed why he has some of the best pitchability in the class.

Berkwich isn’t a physically imposing and doesn’t possess top-of-the-scale levels of pure stuff, but what he lacks in those departments he makes up in deception, pitchability, and most importantly, command. The delivery is simple enough with some moving parts as he hides the arm stroke and he absolutely pounded the lower third of the strike zone with the fastball all game. There’s good angle and life on the fastball that sat mostly 84-86 mph, though he had 87-88 mph in his back pocket whenever he needed it. Berkwich was unafraid to run the pitch to either corner while keeping it at the knees and made hitters adjust to what he wanted to do. The breaking ball was his primary off-speed pitch and the offering showed sharpness, bite, and he manipulated it well to command it in tough-to-hit locations. Berkwich is extremely polished and his ability to mix three pitches while pounding the strike zone stand out impressively.

Opposing Berkwich in the continuation start was Team Elite southpaw Wesley Hancock (2020, Griffin, Ga.) and the Oklahoma State commit held a very good offense to very limited offensive production. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound southpaw is a large and physical prospect and he worked with some serious angle and deception created from a hip turn at the top of the delivery to make the fastball tough to pick up out of the hand. The heater worked mostly 83-85 mph while touching 87 mph once and he wasn’t afraid to bear the pitch in on the hands of righthanded hitters. The curveball was inconsistent but showed out well when he was on top of it to create depth. There’s a strong two pitch mix and though he fought through some command issues Hancock is a talented lefthanded pitcher.



Tennessee commit Blade Tidwell (2020, Loretto, Tenn.) was equal parts electric and efficient in a complete game effort to send the East Cobb Astros Navy to the quarterfinals. The righthander has pretty good stuff coupled with his ability to pound the strike zone which allowed him to total 12 strikeouts in seven frames on only 89 pitches.

Tidwell has an ideal frame for that of a starting pitching prospect with very broad shoulders and tons of room left to project upon his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. The delivery is simple with a very fast arm that he got on top of at release consistently to leverage with plane into the lower third. Tidwell’s fastball topped out at 90 mph on the afternoon and sat fairly consistently in the 86-88 mph range. His best advantage during this start was that he was able to repeat his delivery and get ahead in counts early and often. The breaking ball is sharp and his changeup shows potential as a third pitch while Tidwell has continued to solidify himself as a top righthanded pitching prospect this summer.



Newly minted PG All-American Alex Freeland (2020, Cape Coral, Fla.) was showing just why that was the case as he went big fly the day after being named one of the top high school prospects in the country. Freeland checks a lot of boxes for pro evaluators as the athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame has a lot of space to retain strength and he’s sound in nearly every aspect on a baseball diamond. What was most impressive about his performance on Friday was his comfort level in the batter’s box as he controlled the strike zone, stayed disciplined, and didn’t miss his pitch. His first at-bat the UCF commit saw about ten pitches before being called out on a 3-2 pitch; Freeland followed that at-bat up with a no-doubt shot to the pull side and a deep fly out to the warning track in right field in his third at-bat. Freeland is certainly up there as potentially one of the better pure hitters in the class and his ability to switch hit and play every position on the field only add to his value.



Freeland’s teammate Kellum Clark (2020, Brandon, Miss.) is no stranger to performing at a high level at PG events and he added to his ledger with a 3-for-3 afternoon that upper his OPS this week to a gaudy 1.500-plus. Clark is an uber-physical lefthanded hitter reminiscent of disciplined, powerful lefthanded hitters that have paved the way before him; think Votto-esque in how he controls the zone and is willing to work to all fields with intent. Clark has an easy trigger with tremendous balance in the box and the bat speed and loft allow him to backspin balls to every part of the park. In his three at-bats he pulled a single through the right side, beat out a single on a ground ball to first, and hit about a ~380 foot double to straight away centerfield. His advanced approach coupled with his prodigious raw power to pull make him a danger no matter how a pitcher chooses to handle Clark and he’s shown why in a big way this week as if he’s given a mistake he can hit it 400 feet out of the park.

Starting the round of 16 game and earning the win for the Team Elite Scout Team was righthander Logan Jones (2020, Milton, Ga.), who is committed to Samford. Jones went the distance during the victory, allowing only one mistake on an unearned home run, and showed off a strong fastball-curveball mix on the bump. The frame is ripe for additional strength as he has a long ways to go to fill out his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. Jones’ delivery is fairly sound with a whippy arm stroke and a fastball that sat 87-90 mph for most of the start. His straight over the top slot can cause him to drift to the glove side a bit heavily but the fastball comes in with some late life and complements his power curveball nicely. The breaker worked in the mid-70s with good shape and bite and his two pitches are a big reason why Jones was able to punch out nine hitters in five innings.

Team Elite American combined to shutout Canes American en route to the quarterfinals thanks to the efforts of Cole Stasio (2020, Davie, Fla.) and Ethan Wilder (2020, Lake Worth, Fla.) on the mound.

Stasio is the picture of projection at a listed 6-foot-4, 205-pounds with an angular build and lots of room to add strength. The ball comes out of Stasio’s hand very easily with a super clean release as he gets on top consistently to create downhill plane too. The righthander worked in the 82-84 mph range for the better part of his start while mixing in a curveball. Given the frame, athleticism, projection, and comfort throwing strikes it’s easy to project Stasio as a starter at the next level. Wilder came in to show off the funk in a two inning stint at the end of the game as he needed just 21 pitches to retire six straight hitters, three via the strikeout. He comes right at you from a sidearm slot with a long and loose arm stroke. There’s some good arm speed as he ran his fastball in the 84-87 mph range with some serious angle. There’s good feel to spin a slider too and he makes for a very uncomfortable at-bat, especially against righthanded hitters. Both prospects are solid uncommitted pitchers who definitely have the talent and pitchability to throw at the next level.

– Vinnie Cervino


Virginia Tech commit Grant Umberger (2020, Chester Springs, Pa.) started on the mound for Canes American 17u on Friday. Umberger threw six innings of shutout baseball while only allowing one hit and striking out five. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound lefthanded pitcher looked sharp throwing all of his pitchers for strikes. He had his fastball up to 88 mph while sitting around 86 and he kept his velocity up his entire outing. He also has a changeup that he likes to throw a lot at 71-74 mph that keeps hitters off balance. His curveball with 1-to-7 break was at 73 mph and he was able to throw in any count. Umberger has a very big frame with long arms and is fun to watch dominate on the mound.



The starting pitcher on the mound for IBAHS Knights Prime 2020 was Kevin Matos (2020, San Juan, Puerto Rico). Matos ran his fastball up to 89 mph multiple times and looked sharp all day. Matos, who is uncommitted, threw 5 2/3 innings allowing only three hits and zero runs while striking out six. He has a slider at 77 mph and a curveball at 71 mph that he was able to throw both for strikes. Matos is 5-foot-11 and has a very athletic frame. While on the mound he has a very slow windup and then explodes down with a very quick arm. He pitches with a lot of energy on the mound and he also has a lot of confidence while throwing.



Uncommitted lefthanded pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (2020, Chappell Hill, Texas) shined on Friday. Aschenbeck ran his fastball up to 89 mph a couple times while sitting 85-87. He has an effortless delivery and his fastball really gets on hitters and it also has some arm-side run. He also has a good breaking ball at 74 mph that he had good command of. Aschenbeck stands on the mound at 6-foot-2, 205-pounds with an athletic build and broad shoulders. He threw six innings while striking out seven during his outing.



Collin Bosley-Smith (2020, Washington, D.C.) started on the mound for Gatorball 17u on Friday. Bosley-Smith ran his fastball up to 90 mph and was sitting at 87-88. He has a curveball with 11-to-5 break at 69-71 mph and he also has a tight slider at 77 mph. His slider was his best pitch of the day as he was able to locate it very well and get a lot of swings and misses with it. He is 6-foot-4 and he has a very athletic frame with room to get stronger. Bosley-Smith, who is committed to Duke, has a very bright future ahead of himself and is very fun to watch.

D'Mani Scarbriel  (2020, Hollywood, Fla.) had a solid day both offensively and defensively for Elite Squad 17u Prospects. He went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI while playing good defense at shortstop. Scarbriel stands at 5-foot-11, 165-pounds and has a good build with broad shoulders. Scarbriel plays the game the right way hustling out of the box, overall playing really hard. He stretched a single into a double when he hit a line drive up the middle and caught the center fielder sleeping to take the extra base. Scarbriel has a calm stance in the box and has a good eye at the plate looking for pitches that he can drive.

Jhan Ledezma (2020, Parkland, Fla.) did it all for Beast Mode Prime 17u on Friday. He started at shortstop, moved to center field and then closed the game out on the mound. Ledezma looked very comfortable at every position and looked good at the plate too. He had his fastball up to 86 mph and he struck out two during his one inning of work. Ledezma really showed off his speed as he stole home in the last inning and ran balls down in the gaps. Ledezma, who is uncommitted, is a very good all around player and is fun to watch wherever he is on the field.

– Parker Fronk

One of the top remaining uncommitted prospects of the class is Elite Squad National’s Matthew Ruiz (2020, Hialeah, Fla.) as he picked up a pair of doubles in as many at-bats in this look. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound outfielder has a lot to offer, specifically at the plate as he continues to make hard, loud contact to all parts of the field, hitting a double to both gaps in this look. Ruiz will finish the week 9-for-21, including four doubles and three home runs, while driving in 13 and scoring 10 times himself. The line drive swing path that he deploys creates a ton of carry on contact as the bat speed allows him to get the barrel out front consistently. There is a ton of current strength in the frame and in the swing, but he projects to even more given the room there is to fill. There is some athleticism in the long strides, but he profiles more to a corner-outfield position. The arm wasn’t shown in this look, but it is known to be strong as he has been up to 93 mph from the outfield in showcase.

Vanderbilt commit Devin Futrell (2021, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) was excellent once again as he tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen without allowing a hit. The lefthander has projectability to dream on at only 175 pounds on a long, high-waisted 6-foot-4 frame. He showed a good ability to change tempo and hold his delivery effectively to make 82-85 mph work with the fastball as he dotted to both halves of the plate. The breaking ball showed the makings of a swing-and-miss pitch to be, but the changeup was the pitch that stood out as he landed it regularly creating a great deal of weak contact. Futrell has little limit to what he projects to and it will be exciting to watch him continue to climb the velocity ladder.

The third game of the day at Terry Park Stadium brought those in attendance one of the best games of the week as the high-level rosters from Elite Squad National and Florida Burn Platinum looked to punch their ticket to the quarterfinal round Saturday morning.



Uncommitted Gavin Smith (2020, Cooper City, Fla.) made his first Perfect Game appearance of the summer a good one as he tossed five scoreless innings, allowing only a single hit and a walk, while striking out six. Smith is a long, athletic righthander with a high ceiling and bright future on the mound as he worked at 88-90 mph with the fastball early on before settling into 86-88 mph deeper into the outing. He showed consistent running life to the fastball as he commanded it to both halves of the plate throughout the outing. He showed great feel for a hard-biting breaking ball that proved as a consistent swing-and-miss pitch while also flashing some feel for a late-tumbling changeup that created weak contact and ground balls. The arm shows some whip through a high three-quarters slot that he tunnels well across all three pitches. There is a lot to like out of the uncommitted righthander as the upside is high and the lean, athletic body projects to more velocity sooner rather than later.

Taking the mound from the other dugout was another uncommitted righthander in Tyler Zylstra (2020, Port Charlotte, Fla.). He would need only a single run of support to pick up the win as he tossed seven shutout innings against a very talented Elite Squad National lineup, allowing just two hits and serving two walks, while striking out five. Zylstra used a fastball consistently at 83-86 mph with heavy life mixed with a hard breaking ball to create a great deal of weak contact. The pitchability was on display as he moved both pitches around the zone, landing the breaking ball to both halves consistently to keep hitters struggling to get on time or make solid contact.

Just 24 hours after being named to the Perfect Game All-American Classic East roster, Mac Guscette (2020, Nokomis, Fla.) showed why he was deserving of a selection as he picked up one of the only two hits his team would need to advance to day seven. That hit would come in the first inning as he landed a double just short of the wall out in left-center. The hit tool continues to play in-game as he begins to tap into his power potential with natural lift to the swing. Behind the plate, Guscette is one of the best in the class as he controls the game at an extreme level both with his talent and leadership. The athleticism is high for a backstop as he jumped out to make a miraculous play on a bunt down the third-base line, using a strong arm to throw out a good runner. There is no doubt talent on both sides of the ball and he will only continue to improve as he deploys power potential with the pure ability to hit.



Recently uncommitted Chase Centala (2020, Tampa, Fla.) has the makings of being a talented starter at the next level as he was outstanding once again tossing seven innings, allowing a single unearned run while striking out seven. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound physical righthander holds a firm lower half that allows him to stay balanced through release and repeat his mechanics well deep into the outing to hold command throughout. The fastball showed consistent running life as he worked at 86-88, topping out at 90 mph. He flashed feel for a hard-biting curveball out of 11-to-5 shape that came as a product of the three-quarters slot delivery. The changeup worked as an effective change-of-pace pitch creating just enough timing change to generate weak contact. He’s up there with the best of the remaining uncommitted prospects for the class and it shouldn’t be much longer until he finds a home at the next level.

Uncommitted backstop Alan Espinal (2020, Viera, Fla.) is another one of the premier uncommitted talents in the class as he has the pure tools to be a high-level catcher at the next level. He put his significant catch-and-throw skills on display throwing out multiple would-be base stealers in this look. Popping a 1.88 at the National Showcase, he has shown that the arm strength is toward the top of the class, but it is the pure quick twitch transfer that allows him to be so successful. The feet are extremely quick and his athleticism allows him to move his body extremely well to adjust to pitches all around the zone and control the game. At the plate, the hit tool is quite good for a catcher’s profile and Espinal is starting to tap into some of the power he generates from the quick hands and present bat speed. There is more power in the tank as he fills out the 5-foot-11, 165-pound frame and if he continues to tap into that developing power, he should become one of the next level’s elite catchers to watch.

-Tyler Russo
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