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Tournaments | Story | 7/19/2019

14u PGWS: Day 1 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Vincent Cervino         Jered Goodwin        
Photo: Nazier Mule (Perfect Game)

Ryan Reich (2022, Selingsgrove, Pa.) came out of the bullpen for US Elite and showed quality potential on the bump, as well as a fastball that jumped out in the early morning slot. Up to 85 mph earlier in the summer, Reich worked comfortably in the 80-84 mph range in this look and the 6-foot, 170-pound righthander wasn’t messing around in a quick two inning look. Reich faced the minimum of six batters and managed to strike out five, attacking hitters with his fastball thanks to a short and quick arm stroke, allowing for him to repeat well while working over his front side. There’s more velocity in the tank as he continues to implement his lower half through his drive down the mound and sure up the timing of his strike foot, but it’s hard to deny the results as he continually worked on top of the ball and pounded the zone. Although he worked mostly off of the heater, with which he found obvious success, Reich also mixed in a sweeping curveball in the upper-60s sparingly.

There’s no doubt that the CBA Baseball club has a track record with producing quality shortstop prospects from Nick Allen to the Freeman’s, Tyler and Cody, and it appears that Austen Roellig (2023, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) could be next in line. Despite being held hitless in his team’s first game, Roellig showed sound fundamentals in the batter’s box, sinking his hips well into his swing while showing present bat speed and extension out front. He barreled up a ball well and shot the pitch back up the box which the shortstop snagged as the runner at first base was in motion, though he’ll fill the up scorecard sooner rather than later. His defensive actions stood out even more so than what he showed in the box, particularly on one charge play where he picked the ball with his bare hand and delivered a strike across the diamond, nearly getting the runner on a bang-bang play.

Speaking of defensive actions, shortstop Travis Sykora (2023, Round Rock, Texas) continued to show some of the smoother actions in the dirt for Performance Baseball and more than looks the part standing at a long 6-foot-1, 150-pounds. The ball found him twice in the opening frame of game one and both times showed balance to his footwork and an overall sense of fluidity to his actions. There’s softness to his hands and despite his age and size combination he showed solid coordination on the charge with the ability to drop slot with enough arm on his throws to complete the plate. He also showed the ability to pull his hands inside the ball and get the barrel to it, doubling down the pull side line for his first hit of the tournament.

It was a quick two inning look but strongly built righthander Jacob Hudson (2023, Scotts Valley, Calif.) did a nice job of attacking hitters with his fastball which peaked at 87 mph on the opening day and lived in the 82-85 mph range. Repeating a short and quick arm stroke through the back, Hudson showed a deliberate pace to his delivery before quickly driving towards the plate with some late effort which didn’t inhibit his ability to pump the strike zone nor induce weak ground ball contact. He worked mostly off of his fastball which showed shorter life through the zone and produced some late, uncomfortable swings with some whip to his arm stroke at release. He did flash a couple of breaking balls which he spun well up to 72 mph, pulling across his body a bit but showed maintained arm speed at release.

Aidan Teel (2023, Upper Saddle River, N.J.) resembles that of an athletic middle infielder on the mound and it’s that presumed athleticism from the eye test that helps the uncommitted righthander find success on the mound. With a super simple and minimalistic set of mechanics on the mound, the young New Jersey native was able to pump the strike zone throughout his 4.1 innings of work, a span in which he punched out six, scattered three hits and didn’t issue a single free pass. Up to 85 mph in a prior look, Teel worked predominately in the 79-82 mph range with his heater with a low effort release and consistent plane to the bottom of the zone. The velocity plays up a tick as he’s able to hide the ball and constantly mix three pitches with confidence, all of which come from a similar release point. His curveball featured downer shape to it with 12-6 in the upper-60s and his feel for landing a changeup with a mimicked release was just as noteworthy with the 74 mph offering, a pitch that read fastball out of his hand.

Pablo Torres (2022, St. Cloub, Fla.) is already ranked No. 219 in the class of 2022 and yesterday he was called out of the bullpen and into a critical situation in the opening game of pool play to extinguish a mini-rally from Team Elite. Bigger than his listed 5-foot-9, 148-pounds, Torres utilized his long levers and athleticism well on the bump where he ran his fastball up to 85 mph when he needed to and sat in the low-80s (82-84 mph) early on with a tight and compact arm stroke. There’s more velocity in the tank right now as well given Torres doesn’t utilize his lower half to his full potential, remaining upright through release without much drive though he did work on top of the ball consistently. Overall, the ball jumps out of his hand and the ease of his release stands out, mixing a curveball up to 74 mph throughout.

Righthander Drew Talavs (2023, West Linn, Ore.) made his Perfect Game debut Thursday afternoon with Baseball Northwest and the uncommitted 6-foot-2, 165-pound Oregon native certainly didn’t disappoint. Not only did Talavs twirl six innings of two-hit baseball in which he punched out nine and walked just one, he also showcased one of the more projectable arm actions and a complete three-pitch mix which kept hitters off balance all game.

With a simple delivery on the bump and a loose, extended arm action Talavs did a nice job of generating extension out front on his fastball which worked in the 80-83 mph range early on and settled a tick lower as the game progressed. Given the overall ease of his operation and the obvious physical projection it isn’t hard to envision the young righthander throwing a good bit harder in the near future, though the combination of present velocity, his ability to work around the zone, and the life he generates on the pitch all proved to be more than enough in this look.

The secondary pitched will continue to refine as he throws them and accrues innings on the mound, though he did show confidence in them to consistently mix and keep hitters off balance as a result. His breaking ball progressed throughout the outing and although it would still tend to morph between a curveball and slider given his release point, the pitch was best when thrown at its hardest, up to 71 mph, with slider like tilt and later downer action at the plate. He also brought out a changeup in his second inning of work, a pitch that will continue to develop although he does maintain his release point on the pitch, coming across at 74 mph.

Oscar Hernandez (2023, Kissimmee, Fla.) is one of the more physically impressive prospects in attendance this weekend standing at a strong and well-proportioned 6-foot-3, 200-pounds and he shows the ability to implement that strength into his overall game, though he hasn’t come close to reaching his ceiling yet. Hitting out of the middle of the order for the Florida Hurricanes, Hernandez picked up a couple of barreled knocks throughout his team’s double header including a crucial triple in the final inning of game one which plated the tying and go-ahead run. Despite his size, Hernandez employs a rather short and compact swing path through the zone with a very simple trigger, letting his hands do the majority of the work while driving the ball well to the opposite field. He’s direct to the ball and given the way the ball already jumps off the barrel, it’s easy to envision Hernandez hitting for some serious power as he begins to generate separation in his swing and develop leverage at the point of contact.

Edian Espinal (2022, Viera, Fla.) did a little bit of everything for the Florida Hurricanes on day one and will be a critical piece to however far his team ultimately progresses in the World Series. Finishing the day with a couple of hit, including a triple, there may not be a loud, standout type tool but he was very steady on both sides of the ball with quick hands at the plate where he hits atop the lineup from the left side. Listed at 5-foot-7, 155-pounds Espinal made all the plays at shortstop with balanced actions and athleticism to his movements, finishing them all with a strong arm across the diamond. He’ll be a player to monitor throughout the tournament and if the Hurricanes do in fact make a run, expect Espinal to be at the forefront.

The outstanding shortstop play continued all the way to the final game of the night as 5 Star National’s Nicolas Perez (2022, Isabella, Puerto Rico) and FTB Resmondo’s Ariel Antigua (2023, Lake Worth, Fla.) were both superb and stood out for different facets of their defensive game. Possessing one of the best arms across the infield in the tournament, Perez has been clocked at 91 mph at a PG showcase and while he’s extremely polished with advanced actions, his arm allows him to take his time on plays as it’s a true weapon across the diamond with ample carry and accuracy.

Antigua isn’t as tall as Perez but his actions in the dirt rival any that we saw day one as he continuously made big time plays in a pool play game that had a playoff-type atmosphere. The first play the uncommitted shortstop made may have been his most impressive as he slid to a knee going to his backhand, popped off the turf and fired a strike across the diamond. His next play was nearly as impressive as he showed very quick and fluid footwork on a chopped ground ball with which he scooped the ball on the charge, showed a fast transfer and release and again recorded a big out for his club. Similar to others mentioned above, he’s a young player we will continue to monitor as this week unfolds.

– Jheremy Brown

Arms always take center stage at premier events like the PG World Series, but the top arm of the day came in to close both of FTB Resmondo’s victories as Nazier Mule (2022, Patterson, N.J.) and his power right arm closed out both legs of their doubleheader to move to 2-0 after the first day.

Mule is an obvious physical specimen at a listed 6-foot-1, 180-pounds and tons of present strength and twitch muscle to his overall profile. The arm speed immediately stands out on the mound as the operation in its entirety can be a bit raw but the arm speed is more than enough to compensate for any present mechanical quirks. He throws with effort but from a lower arm slot he gets a good amount of hair onto the fastball that was consistently 88-91 mph in both looks. The fastball is paired nicely with the slider that works in the upper-70s and can be a bit hard to repeat the release point on at times, but the break is hard and late. Mule flashed a changeup to a lefthanded hitter and though it might not seem it, his primary position is actually a position player where his bat speed in the righthanded batter’s box stands out. Mule is an incredibly high upside prospect who’s still yet to turn fifteen and needs to be monitored closely over the next few years.

The Banditos are known for putting up runs in bunches and one of the standouts in that regard Thursday was catcher Conner Bennett (2023, Spring, Texas) as he hit the ball hard in nearly every at-bat, specifically in game two on the day where he went 3-for-3 with all three going for extra bases. Bennett really handles the barrel nicely with a fairly mechanically sound swing operating on a smooth, simple bat path through the hitting zone. His hands are quick and he gets the barrel head out consistently to work to the pull side comfortably in his at-bats. All three hits went deep to the pull side gap with all of them one-hopping the wall out in left-center field including the final double which bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. Bennett’s knack for finding the barrel makes him an unmistakable prospect at this juncture and his athleticism and feel behind the plate round out the profile nicely for a young prospect.

Team KC had two of the stronger pitching performances of the day as Tate McGuire (2023, Kansas City, Mo.) and Addison Smith (2023, Liberty, Mo.) combined for 10 2/3 innings pitched on the mound and both showed intriguing abilities on both sides of the ball.

McGuire fits the mold of a prototypical righthanded pitching prospect with a large, athletic 6-foot-2 and 160-pound frame with a simple operation and a very quick arm stroke. He throws exclusively from the stretch with a compact and clean arm stroke that allows him to be on time at foot strike on a consistent basis and command the fastball to whatever quadrant of the strike zone that he wanted. McGuire bumped 84 mph and sat mostly in the 80-83 mph range throughout and some late sinking action with flashes of downhill plane. The curveball was a high spin pitch that lived in the 67-70 mph range with good biting action and projects nicely; McGuire also mixed in some changeups that he cut across his body in the low- to mid-70s. McGuire’s operation combined with feel for pitching has stood out to this point in the summer and it won’t be surprising to see him continue to make strides as he matures from a physical standpoint.

Smith is a talented shortstop but turned in a stellar outing during game two for Team KC as he struck out nine hitters over 6 2/3 innings. Smith is a lot of limbs at this point in his physical development with a ton of weight to be added to the athletic 6-foot, 150-pound build. He hovered around the 79-81 mph range for the duration of the start, holding velocity nicely and showing the stamina to bump 82 or 83 mph when he needed it late in the game. He sinks the ball well and really pitched to contact nicely, getting a good amount of weak ground balls during the start on the mound. His best secondary pitch on the afternoon was a sinking changeup that was aided in deception by his ability to tunnel the pitch with his fastball from a near-identical arm slot. Smith is also a talented shortstop with quick feet and hands that work at shortstop presently. The stroke is quick from both sides and he checks a lot of boxes from evaluators at this point in the development process.

One of the youngest players in the event was Team KC backstop Bo Jonas (2024, Kansas City, Mo.) who absolutely stood out for his arm strength alone behind the dish in game two. Jonas gunned down two runners showing arm strength rarely seen from a 13-year old as he popped both 2.04 and 2.08 second times on a caught stealing and stolen base; he later gunned a runner down on a delayed steal. The arm strength is the notable tool at this point as there’s obvious feel behind the plate but still some overall rawness in terms of receiving and balance behind the dish. He gets rid of the ball quickly and he didn’t really get a chance to showcase his offensive tools as during his one at-bat on the day he struck out; Jonas walked on four pitches in his first at-bat and didn’t start game one.

There was another high-profile pitching matchup came during the second slot of the day as USA Prime’s Jack Frankel (2024, Plano, Texas) matched up against the Georgia Jackets’ Jake Lankie (2023, McDonough, Ga.).

Frankel, having just recently turned 14, stands out for his far advanced feel for pitching. The righthander’s velocity is obviously advanced for the age too, working in the low-80s consistently and topping out at 83 mph, but his feel for mixing speeds, hitting spots, and pitching backwards makes him an absolute weapon at the 14u age group. The delivery is simple and fluid with a full, loose, and clean arm path to the point of release. In the early going Frankel didn’t miss his spots with the fastball often, working in the lower third of the strike zone with consistency, intent, and feel. The breaking ball showed good shape in the low-70s with tight spin and the changeup was more than an effective third pitch, proving to be a solid weapon against lefthanded hitters. The young prospect will be monitored closely as he continues to develop but the advanced nature of his feel on the mound is remarkable and warrants further looks.

Lankie checks a lot of boxes when evaluators are looking at young pitching prospects: the uber-projectable 6-foot and 140-pound frame, arm speed and projection, and a present feel to spin. The arm stroke is longer through the back but it’s really loose and works through release nicely, getting some arm-side running life on the pitch that worked in the 80-82 mph early on in the performance. The late life allowed him to avoid barrels on both sides of the plate and he wasn’t afraid to run the fastball in on the hands to righthanded hitters. The slider is absolutely a difference maker for the young prospect as the pitch already shows some late biting action to it and breaks right off the plate in the low-70s. When on top and buried the pitch was dynamic and really mimicked the fastball path out of the hand. He missed a ton of bats in the early going and finished the abbreviated performance with five strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings as we’re likely to get eyes on Lankie again before the tournament concludes.

One of the more intriguing bats on the Baseball Northwest squad was third baseman Sebastian David (2023, Medina, Wash.) who already shows the makings of real bat speed with a projectable frame and arm strength that plays both at the hot corner and on the mound. David has a gangly build at 6-foot, 165-pounds with very long limbs and immense projection present on the frame. He has enough body control to get his hands in a proper loading position and show some real bat speed as the swing path is naturally lofted with leverage at the extension point of contact. The bat speed and extension allows him to work to the pull side nicely and he can already put a charge into the ball with some strength. David showed off the arm on the mound as he worked up to 81 mph with some whip and arm speed as well.

– Vinnie Cervino

USA Prime North has plenty of firepower in a loaded lineup. The energy seemed to start with two-hole hitter Tyrus Williams (2022 Oxford, Miss.) on Thursday morning. He got things going working deep into the count and making a nice hand adjustment mid-swing to hit a ball hard down the leftfield line for a standup double. Williams would later come around to score. He has a tightly built body that produces a powerful swing. The moment he starts to run around the bases it is explosive and aggressive. The twitch is abundant and he will only get better as he continues to get reps. The ceiling is very high on this righthanded hitting outfield prospect.

In a game that feature high power offenses Jake Kulikowski (2023 Trinity, Fla.) opened up the big inning that would be enough to hold on. The strongly built lefthanded hitter took an outer-half fastball and hit it hard to the opposite field gap for a triple. The hit scored a run and allowed him to score himself a few pitches later. Kulikowski uses good bat speed and a slightly uphill swing to create natural lift. Not just a power hitter, he has an all-fields approach and handles spin well. This was evident later in the game when he kept the hands back on a breaking ball and hit a sharp single into right field. As he develops one can easily see him as a middle of the order power bat at the next level.

At first look you might think Robert Ruais (2023 Celina, Texas) was a projectable lefthanded pitcher. The prospect is 6-foot-2 with a loose arm and feel for the strikes zone. His fastball was up to 82 with some late life and a lot more to come. Then he stepped in the batters box where he showed some of the best bat speed at the event on Thursday. The flick in his wrists made the barrel fly through the zone Thursday, as he notched three extra-base hits. The young two-way prospect was patient, identified spin and controlled the strike zone well. Ruais has a chance to be a very special player as he continues to gain strength over the next four years.

The fluidity that Travis Sykora (2023 Round Rock, Texas) showed at the shortstop position will make you stop and watch. His feet work very well with balanced and rhythmic action in all phases of his defensive work. In game one on Thursday he had to make a ton of different plays: moving to his glove side and throwing from a different angle, a double cut off and quick throw to third, ranging to the 6-hole and getting a close play at third on a quick catch-and-throw. The game is very slow defensively for him. Sykora also shows a loose swing with some whip that is sound mechanically. As he adds strength the intent and lift will come for this young righthanded hitter.

FTB Select rolls out an imposing middle of the order and maybe no one more that the lefthanded hitting Lucas Ramos (2023 Apopka, Fla.) who had a big day. The 6-foot-2 corner infielder showed hit power to all fields on Thursday. First, he drove a ball deep to the opposite field gap in left-center that got to the wall in a hurry. Later, he followed by keeping his hands inside the ball and drove another triple down the right field line. As Ramos continues to grow into his body the hit tool will continue to get better and one can see days like this being routine.

One of the higher upside arms that threw on Thursday was Cooper Strawn (2023 Farmersville, Texas) who is 6-foot-3 with long arms, and very athletic. The delivery was easy, and he stayed connected on his back-side as he drove down the mound. Using a full arm circle, he hid the ball behind his body creating deception. When on time, Strawn fired mid-80s fastball downhill and touched 87. The ball comes out of his hand easily with minimal effort. He gets good extension at times and when he learns to repeat that, he will make a natural jump. This will be a player that has to be monitored close over the coming years.

One of the smoothest shortstops of the day was Steven Milam (2023 Las Cruces, N.M.) who seemed to be all over the field. He has great start and stop ability with his feet that allow him to play himself into good hops consistently. The ability to round the ball and build momentum on the throw seems natural and instinctive. The switch hitter also shows great feel for the barrel and gets a lot out of his smaller frame. Hitting from the left side in the second game of the doubleheader, he turned on a low pitch and hit it hard for a standup double that drove in a run. Already showing an advanced feel for the strike zone, Milam worked two walks and scored two runs to help USA Prime North go 2-0 on the day.

During the last set of games on Thursday, Peter Liakakos (2023 Venice, Fla.) took the mound for Florida Burn 2023 Platinum. He has a classic power righthanded pitching build with wide shoulders, a slender waist and a lower half that can get very strong. Liakakos pounded the strike zone using a simple and repeatable delivery that allowed him to use the same release point for all three of his offerings. Facing a very good lineup, he mixed a low-80s fastball that touched 83 with a slider that shows good promise in the mid-70s. The third offering looks like a future plus pitch; an upper-70s changeup that had great hand speed and late sink. There is big upside as this hurler continues to develop.

– Jered Goodwin

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