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Tournaments | Story | 7/14/2019

14u, 16u West Scout Notes

Andrew Jenkins         Connor Spencer        
Photo: Ozzie Pratt (Perfect Game)
The 14U and 16U WWBA West National Championships continued to build on the rigorous desert schedule many of the top high school ball players across the country have to face each summer. Day 1 and 2 saw scorching heats on the thermometer as well as on the radar gun as many young power arms emerged for multiple teams.

In the 16U division on Day 1, Texas Trappers 16U Black started the tournament with righthander John Gonzales (2021, Houston, Texas) who impressed with his quick actions down the hill. Gonzales starts upright with his hands high, and he keeps his hands in the same high position until separation. He stays tall throughout his motion with linear drop and drive actions, and his quick arm action pairs with a three-quarters to high three-quarters arm slot. His quickness is deceptive at times and he shows the ability to get his 83-86 mph fastball in on hitters. Moreover, it looked like he threw a two-seam fastball with intent finding solid run especially when locating arm side. His best secondary pitch is his changeup and periodically he flashed plus ability with it. It sits around 69 mph and has strong sink when thrown with conviction down in the zone. Gonzales also throws a slider that sinks more than it bites with side to side action. Its high 11-to-5 shape does not miss many bats but keeps hitters on their toes with his changeup. He has a gritty feel about his pitching style on the mound and competed hard through his 3 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed only two hits while fanning five.

Gonzales’ opposing pitcher in the same game, Jeremy Tilby (2023, Draper, Utah) also threw a gem throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings for Mountain West. Tilby has a long and lengthy frame but doesn’t use it all as leverage down the bump. He kind of slings the ball to the plate from a three-quarters arm slot, yet his arm is still strong enough to sit 80-84 mph. There’s raw potential with his arm speed, and there’s still much to be unlocked in his low leg lift delivery. His slider is a good pitch sitting around 73 mph with a 10-to-4 shape and late sharp bite down. The pitch shows promise as he looked comfortable with it throughout his outing. His short arm action also has some deception to it, and as his arm matures that deception will only get better.

Despite getting roughed up late in his outing, Will Glatch (2021, Frisco, Texas) showed potential with his strong arm, topping out at 85 mph. Glatch has a large build and a long arm with an over the top arm slot that is Iron Mike-like. At times there’s some pronation to his release as the arm slot is that over-the-top. There’s some violence late to his drop-and-drive actions and he does get some downward angle thanks to his slot and size. His 12-to-6 curveball sits around 71 mph and can be an out pitch when located down in the zone.

BYU commit Ozzie Pratt (2021, Oxford, Miss.) showed off in front of his future coaches going 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI. Pratt has an upright conventional stance at the plate and his swing stays simple throughout. He’s not a guy that’s really going to get into a ball, but his approach feels naturally handsy and that will always play at the next level. Moreover, the simplicity in his load, stride, and launch cannot be understated. He’s quiet with his hands and there’s a small linear weight shift in the box. He has a strong understanding of what he’s trying to do at the plate every time he walks up, and he possesses some above-average speed on the basepaths and in the infield.

In what was the most hard-fought pitching duel of Day 1, which ultimately ended in a 0-0 tie, Michael Kasik (2021, Chandler, Ariz.) continued to build upon his strong PG resume going seven full innings, striking out 11 and only allowing three hits. Kasik’s large frame is really starting to flourish as he topped out at 85 mph, which is a PG personal best for the southpaw. His delivery is violent down the hill and his three-quarter arm slot paired with his size gives lefthanded hitters nightmares. For scouts and coaches, watching Kasik progress as the summer rolls on is extremely promising and shows that he works hard on his craft.

For MBA Utah 2021 Westin Corless (2021, Salem, Utah) threw five innings of scoreless baseball against Kasik, helping force the 0-0 tie. Corless uses a short and quick arm action from a high three-quarters arm slot. He spots up well and his quickness tends to get in on hitters. He has a mid-high leg lift with a low front side that shoves hard down the mound. Corless shows an above-average ability to locate his 80-82 mph fastball, and he complements it nicely with his 70-71 mph breaking ball.

On Day 2 in the 16U division USA Prime Colorado 2021 had a tough game against CBA Nevada 2021 but center fielder Connor Camden (2021, Highlands Ranch, Colo.) continued to hit for USA Prime, going 2-for-2 with a triple while driving in the teams’ only run of the game. Camden has a lengthy athletic frame that feels projectable in the outfield and he looks strong in the box. He uses a crouched, slightly open stance with a quiet load and great hands. He stays tall on the backside throughout and he gets great extension through the zone. A definite must follow athlete.

Top ranked 2021 outfielder in the state of Arizona Jake King (2021, Buckeye, Ariz.) didn’t have the biggest day at the plate, but impressed with his awareness in the outfield and middle-away approach. King has solid speed that helps him adjust on initial reads in the outfield, however, his routes to the baseball feel polished and his overall feel for the game in left field is excellent. In the third inning he took what should have been a double down the left field line and cut it off quickly, then made a hard and accurate one-hop throw to second base, holding the runner to a single. At the plate, King has a solid middle to middle-away approach with good hands that consistently work in to out. He’s still working on his timing and rhythm with the pitcher and at times it felt like he was guessing with his leg kick trigger. When he’s on time and balanced his swing looks fluid and flat through the hitting zone.

William "Dub" Gleed (2021, Ladera Ranch, Calif.) came in to close for the West Coast Braves-Rawlings 2021 and blew hitters away with his strong fastball. Through his quick outing he sat around 86-88 and comfortably elevated his fastball with intent. His longer arm action from a high three-quarters slot looked extremely free and easy down the mound. Truthfully, it looks like Gleed is simply throwing BP at times, and yet, he lived in the high-80s throughout the entirety of his outing. He uses simple drop-and-drive actions and works straight down the mound. His 11-to-5 shaped curveball was lethal down in the zone when paired with his elevated fastball. His strong, maturing arm along with his keen understanding of how to pitch to his strengths suggests that Gleed could get a chance not only in the field but also on the bump at the next level.

The late morning slots on Day 2 continued on with more power arms showcasing their abilities. Levi Tucker (2021, Commerce City, Colo.) touched 87 mph with a loose and free delivery paired with a quick arm action from a three-quarters arm slot. His strong arm leaves scouts and coaches intrigued about his ability on the mound, however, he has a tendency to close himself off down the mound and frequently misses arm side. Although he struggled with command throughout his outing, he flashed glimpses of pitchability.

Connor Dougal (2021, Surprise, Ariz.) had his day cut short due to an injury in the second but showcased his quick and efficient drop and drive motions through his 1 1/3 innings of work. He has a high leg lift paired with a high glove arm that slings down the mound. He has a longer arm that works quickly with an over-the-top to high three-quarters arm slot. His fastball sat around 82-85 and he touched 86 mph. His quick motion down the mound finishes hard towards the first base line. As he continues to develop, his fastball needs to gain action as it’s currently pretty flat and straight from his over the top slot. However, he showed maturity on the mound and is a step away from being a serious prospect consideration.

Facing Dougal was Stanford Cardinal commit Jake Sapien (2021, Atwater, Calif.) who also had a short day on the mound going just 1 2/3 inning while fanning two. He has a longer arm that works quickly, and he reaches far behind his back into separation then brings his arm across into a three-quarters arm slot. He’s a primary infielder who definitely has a lot of feel on the mound, however, he picks and chooses when he wants to unload his arm as he would sit 81-83 on occasion, then shove out 88 mph out of nowhere. His straight change sat around 79-80 mph and has the ability to be a plus pitch. It’s a straight change that floats across the strike zone and is especially deadly when he sells his arm action. His high 10-to-4 shaped slider is also a good pitch that can miss bats. Sapien feels raw on the bump and is still working on command of his arsenal, but when he masters it, he’s going to have scary potential. At the plate, he has an upright stance with a heavy over-the-head bat wag and a ton of moving parts into his load. He creates a massive amount of whip with his barrel thanks to his heavy hand coil. Moreover, his large stride towards the mound from a simple leg lift trigger creates a heavy linear weight shift in the box and he consistently works his hands down through the hitting zone.

-Connor Spencer

Righthanded pitcher Brandon Swanson (2023, Las Vegas, Nev.) took the mound for LVR, allowing two hits and zero walks, striking out five batters in five innings of work. Swanson worked consistently in the 72-75 mph range with his fastball and complemented that with a 60-62 mph curveball. He has a simple, online delivery with a high-three quarters arm slot. Swanson worked both sides of the plate at the knees and with added velocity could be someone to watch down the road.

Standing at 6-foot-4, Duce Robinson (2023, Phoenix, Ariz.) has room to fill out his 210-pound athletic frame. Starting with a slightly open, upright stance, the young prospect employs a leg kick trigger, gains ground with a linear swing path and clears his backside well upon his finish. Robinson does a good job of meeting the ball out front while making hard and consistent contact to his pull side. Through three games, he has driven in six in eight at-bats. With present bat speed, he should add more power as he matures into his already projectable frame making him a possible true middle-of-the-order hitter. In the outfield, he takes proper routes and can track down balls in the gap with help from his long strides. He has good arm strength and currently profiles as a right fielder in the future. There is a lot to like about Robinson, and this well-rounded athlete should soon be catching the eyes of many colleges around the country.

Leighton Mercurius (2023, Las Vegas, Nev.) is a very talented 6-foot-2, two-way player for LVR. Mercurius has showcased his skills on both sides of the ball throughout the first two days at the WWBA 14U West National Championship. Offensively, he has gap-to-gap pop and can execute bunts with good placement when needed. Through three games, Mercurius is hitting .500 with two triples and four runs scored. At the plate, he begins with a lower hand set that he takes back into his load creating good tension and separation.  He showed his pull-side pop with a deep triple into the left-center field gap along with his second triple that was a laser down the third base line. Mercurius started in center field and displayed his good speed, proper footwork and athletic ability to stay there in the future.

On the mound, Mercurius has pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, has a loose arm action and creates good angle. Living mainly off his fastball that is 77-80 mph, he works well to his arm side with some late life and was consistently in the strike zone. At this moment, Mercurius currently projects as a two-way player at the next level and will be an interesting follow over the next few years with development.

Anthony Marnell, IV (2023, Las Vegas, Nev.) has had an impressive two days to open tournament play. Marnell is hitting .375 with one double, three RBI with three stolen bases and two walks. He is a switch-hitting primary catcher that was successful from both sides of the plate. Marnell creates some lift in his swing, has a sound approach and can drive to ball deep into the gap. He starts with a high hand set and a semi-high back elbow, transfers his weight through his swing and makes solid contact out front. In one of his most impressive at-bats, he hit a rocket to the right-center field gap that jumped off his bat with a high exit velocity. Behind the dish, Marnell has raw footwork, a serviceable arm with online throws. He has a chance to continue to get better over the next four years and should develop nicely.

Dante Nori (2024, Northville, Mich.) has been the hottest hitter of the tournament thus far. Through 10 plate appearances and seven at-bats, Nori is slashing .857/.900/1.000 with four RBI and a stolen base, along with two walks.  Nori starts with a wide base, a low hand set and a simple, line drive swing plane. Hitting from the left side, he beat out multiple infield singles with good speed down the first base line along with line drive singles over the infield. He has good control of the barrel, makes contact often with a leadoff hitter approach and can hit to all parts of the field. Nori will be entering his eight-grade year and has plenty of years to keep developing and to become a complete baseball player.

Tyler Ridley (2023, Springdale, Ark.) pitched for 3n2 Warriors striking out 3 batters in 2 2/3 innings. Ridley worked consistently in the 78-80 mph range that had some slight run and sink and a curveball and slider mix that was 70 mph that he was able to tunnel. Ridley had a high leg kick, controlled his front-side well and with a long, quick arm action that was from a high-three quarters arm slot. Ridley has a good feel on the mound and projects for more velocity over the next four years and should turn an interesting prospect to follow.

Austin Haley (2023, Sherman, Texas) is young, two-way player for Texas Oilers-Hamblin/Hancock. Listed as a primary third baseman and righthanded pitcher, Haley started at the hot corner to start the tournament and showed good arm strength, above-average footwork and the ability to pick it. The righthanded hitter has a smooth, compact swing and stays inside the ball well. He can hit to all parts of the field, has a quick bat and creates some leverage in his swing. He barrels up the baseball with ease and should add more strength to his frame that will allow for more power in his swing. On the mound, he throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball, has a developing feel for a tight slider and shows signs of a potential out pitch with his changeup. Haley is a very athletic prospect and has a chance to be a very good player with continued growth at Howe High School over the next four years.

Seth Lyons (2023, Las Vegas, Nev.) is a lefthanded pitcher that came in to relief for LVR in game three action. Lyons allowed two hits and two walks, striking out four batters in 2 1/3 innings. He threw from an over-the-top arm slot, had a max effort delivery and got downhill with good extension. He pitched effectively up in the zone and kept his 12-to-6 curveball low, changing eyes level well against opposing hitters. Lyons also has four hits and four RBI and three runs at the plate.

-Andrew Jenkins
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