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Tournaments | Story | 7/20/2019

14u PGWS: Day 2 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Vincent Cervino         Jered Goodwin        
Photo: Aidan Miller (Perfect Game)
2019 14U PG World Series: Day 1 Scout Notes

Checking a lot of boxes for evaluators was lefthanded hitting shortstop Rex Smith (2023, Sarasota, Fla.) as the 6-foot-3, 183-pound prospect certainly looks the part in the batter’s box. He has an excellent frame that’s ripe for physical projection, however he looks like he’s still growing into his body as the actions can be inconsistent at times over at shortstop. The swing is mostly smooth with loose hands in a balanced set up and he hit two doubles during game action to open up the early slots for Tri-State Arsenal. Smith went with an outer half fastball to drive a ball to the opposite field gap for a two-bagger and later in the game he dropped the barrel head on a fastball and pulled it down the line for another double. The swing path is smooth with looseness in his hands and he’ll be able to drive the ball with more consistency to the pull side as he continues to fill out his projectable frame.

Smith’s teammate Cole Eaton (2023, Elkhorn, Neb.) was a barrel-finder all day for Tri-State as he finished the day with a 4-for-6 line to his name. Eaton has a fairly compact stroke and did a good job at using the whole field on a line to show off the barrel skills. He only threw 11 pitches in the final game of the day but the arm talent is notable on the mound. Eaton has a very quick arm stroke and generates a good amount of downhill plane when on top of the ball with his fastball that worked in the 81-83 mph range. Eaton was gripping and ripping it on the bump and showed a 12/6 curveball in the low-70s that showed same potential too. The over-the-top arm slot allows him to get the true curveball shape on the pitch and the plane he generates can be very steep at times.

Two-way prospect Isaiah Myles (2022, Tampa, Fla.) has showed off the tools during the opening pool play of the PG World Series and Myles even turned in a strong start on the bump Friday morning. The 5-foot-8, 140-pound prospect is a tightly-wound and quick-twitch prospect and the athleticism is evident even from the defensive actions alone. Myles is very loose and confident with his movements over at shortstop while the hands work very well through the actions and he ranges to either side very well. On the mound he was up to 81 mph with a fairly quick arm and that arm strength allows him to make some tough plays moving to the backhand. The swing is simple enough with a small leg lift trigger to get the lower half moving with quickness to his hands too. Myles has had a hit in each of the first three games with a fairly simple swing and looks like a solid prospect at this point of his development.

5-Star National catcher Brady Neal (2023, Tallahassee, Fla.) turned in one of the more stellar single game performances on Friday morning as the lefthanded hitting catcher notched three hits in their first game of the day which included a double and a triple. Neal is a physically advanced backstop with a listed height and weight of 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds with already some physicality to the frame. This aids Neal in being able to be a force both offensively and defensively. The swing is simple enough and he shows good feel for leveraging the ball to pull and getting the barrel head out to pull. Neal gets some loft to the swing and can already impact a ball with strength and backspin the ball with carry to the pull side; both of his extra base hits he went up and got with the barrel and drove them deep to the pull side alley. From a defensive standpoint, Neal is one of the more advanced defenders from a tough position in the class. He receives it well and is very quiet and reserved behind the dish, moving comfortably to both sides and showing a very strong arm as well. Neal is a nicely rounded prospect and is a very interesting follow moving forward.

The Florida Hurricanes are a talented squad and primary third baseman Allen Hernandez (2023, Lodi, N.J.) showed off his two-way potential on Friday morning as the 6-foot-1, 205-pound prospect ran his fastball up to 83 mph and didn’t allow an earned run in five innings. Hernandez held his velocity well and is fairly mechanically sound with the delivery featuring a pretty loose arm stroke and getting some life on the fastball from a three-quarters arm slot. The physicality aids in the durability on the mound and Hernandez mixed in a pretty good breaking ball too. He added a double to his name later on in the game, going with an outside pitch down the right field line and into the corner for an extra base hit. Hernandez has very good bat speed for a young prospect and it’s not hard to imagine the impact off the barrel being there for Hernandez. There’s clear strength and upside for Hernandez who already has solid foundational elements of a young prospect.

The Pro Player Canes have had a tough start to the PG World Series but outfielders Brayden Bakes (2023, Algonquin, Ill.) and Ryan Bakes (2023, Algonquin, Ill.) stood out for tools on both sides of the ball on Friday morning.

Brayden is a lefthanded hitting outfielder with a strong arm and the swing path projects nicely. He drops and wraps his hands during the load but allows him to get on plane quickly and create the makings of young bat speed during the process. Brayden has a pretty smooth lefthanded swing off a primarily level swing plane and the length of the stroke within the hitting zone allows for some opposite field strength exemplified by the double he hit to the opposite field gap late in their opening game. Brayden showed off some advanced arm strength too, with a couple seeds in the middle innings: one on a throw that looked to have nailed the runner tagging to go to third base and another on a deep attempt at home. Ryan’s swing is a bit more compact and contact-oriented through the hitting zone as he’s looking to spray line drives and get on base. Ryan also showed off the arm strength later in the game, gunning down a runner at the plate trying to score from second base on a single.

Turning in a dominant performance on the final time slot of the day was Kangaroo Court lefthander Cristofer Walley (2023, Inverness, Fla.), as Walley threw a complete game shutout while striking out seven batters and allowing only two hits on the day. Walley isn’t extremely physically imposing on the mound at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, but there’s projection remaining to the frame. The delivery is pretty good with athleticism throughout and his lower and upper halves were very synced up with good timing and a clean release. The lower arm slot creates a good amount of angle on the fastball and he lived in the lower third of the strike zone, wearing out the knees of the opposition. The fastball worked in the 77-80 mph range on the afternoon and flashed some good arm-side life. Walley can also spin a pretty good breaking ball in the upper-70s that he can land and showed good spin, shape, and projection. Walley mixed speeds and got a ton of uncomfortable swings, locking knees on curveballs and locking hands inside with fastballs. He turned in a strong start and showed off pretty good stuff to back up the numbers during the process.

-Vinnie Cervino

For the most part, players in the class of 2023 are making their initial marks on the national circuit this summer, getting themselves on college coach’s radar for the first time though neither of those statements are true for outfielder/righthanded pitcher Aidan Miller (2023, Trinity, Fla.). He’s already an established presence for his graduating class as he played up last season and possesses some of the louder tools on both sides of the ball, all of which were on display Friday morning in a pivotal pool play against a tough USA Prime squad.

Already standing taller than his listed 6-foot, 170-pound listing, Miller simply looks the part of a high-level prospect with broader shoulders and a tapered waist, proving ample projection moving forward though his skillset already stands out. He got the start for Kangaroo Court and didn’t disappoint as he went five innings of two-hit baseball, picking up six strikeouts along the way while walking just two. The delivery is a rather simple one as he does a nice job of gathering over the rubber while before driving down the mound with extension out front and one of the faster arms we’ve seen this tournament, all yielding a fastball that lived in the 83-86 mph over the entirety of his start while touching 87 a few times along the way. His ability to generate the velocity stands out for his age, as does his comfort to locate the pitch to either side of the plate with intent, often cutting the pitch when getting to his glove side due to his release.

Miller’s fastball velocity certainly stands out, though his go-to pitch in the outing may have been his curveball, a pitch he could land for strikes but also showed the ability to bury down in the zone and elicit empty chase swings. With a similar release to that of his heater, Miller spun the pitch consistently in the 71-74 mph range and showed comfort with it, helping pick up more than a couple of those aforementioned six strikeouts.

Clicking on Miller’s profile shows he’s listed as a primary outfielder, and his abilities with the stick were clear over his team’s double header. While there’s a hand pump trigger at the start of his swing, his hands are plenty fast as he whips the barrel through the zone and displayed the ability to spray the ball to all parts of the field. Though he picked up just one hit on the day, Miller showed a feel for the barrel and took perhaps his best swing on a ball that resulted in a L-9 as he got his arms extended on an outer half pitch and drove it the other way with authority.

Toby Twist (2023, Bakersfield, Calif.) has been a staple in the middle of Tri County’s lineup over the first few games of the tournament and was able to jump on the mound for his team’s first of two games on the day. Another young arm who appears bigger than his listed measurables (6-foot, 170-pound) with a high waist and long limbs, Twist fought some command issues over his five innings of work but managed to keep a tough offense at bay while showing an overall package that needs to be followed closely moving forward.

Showing balance to his delivery, Twist’s misses were consistently to his arm side, though that shouldn’t be a tough correction given the overall arm speed and athleticism he brings to the mound. His fastball sat comfortably in the 81-84 mph range in the early going, bumping as high as 85 mph in the fourth inning which proves his ability to maintain over the course of a start. Lefthanded and up to 85 mph at the 14U level is more than impressive, though the spin on the fastball proved to be as effective as its velocity with the ball carrying well through the zone and giving it the “rising” look to hitters, resulting in some uncomfortable swings. His higher slot will eventually produce a curveball with big depth to it, though in the early going he has some trouble getting on top of the 72-74 mph pitch in game but did snap off a couple of good ones with tight spin, showing what the pitch could develop into.

A South Carolina native who took the mound for Baseball Northwest, righthander William Spang (2023, Ridgeway, S.C.) may not have showed the type of velocity others have who are mentioned in the recap, but it’s only a matter of time before he takes that jump on the radar gun. The physical projection is obvious with the long limbed 6-foot-1, 155-pound Spang, and despite his age and size combo, did a nice job of staying simplistic with his mechanics and filled the strike zone as his 10 strikeouts over six innings of shutout baseball suggest. Spang uses his length well in coming down the mound and generating extension out front on his fastball which sat in the 76-80 mph range throughout, consistently working on top of the ball with a quick arm stroke that helps aide the near endless projection. Along with the consistent strikes with his fastball, Spang showed the makings of a curveball with depth to the mid- to upper-60s, landing the pitch while getting some empty swings early on.

Riley Jackson (2023, Melbourne, Fla.) was detailed in a recap a couple weeks back during the 14U WWBA World Championships in Hoover, and despite that being at the beginning of this month, he looks to be showing more bat speed than in prior viewings. One of the more physical bats in a talented 5 Star National lineup at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds (appears bigger with the eye test), Jackson put his barrel whip on display as he picked up his first knock of the tournament, a double to the opposite field which he barreled with authority and drove to the gap. A primary catcher, Jackson got the reps in game two for 5 Star and moved well behind the dish, sticking pitches well with some overall flexibility and an accurate throwing arm down to second base with carry.

Wesley Mendes (2023, Tampa, Fla.) came in for relief of Aidan Miller for 1 1/3 innings of his own scoreless baseball, coming out due to pitch count, which means we’ll definitely see him again this tournament. Despite throwing just 20 pitches, Mendes was able to make an impression as he filled the strike zone with a fastball that sat within the 80-84 mph range and showed big angle thanks to his cross-body release. Nowhere near his physical maturation at a lean 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, Mendes already shows plenty of looseness to his arm stroke with present arm speed with a deliberate tempo to his delivery and an overall clean release, all components that suggest he’s merely scratching the surface of his potential. Of the 20 pitches Mendes threw, all were fastballs, with the exception of the lone breaking ball he flashed with short depth and tighter spin with 1-7 shape at 67 mph, though he could have just cruised off of his fastball angle and ability to pound the zone.

A rare prospect out of South Dakota, lefthander Matthew Ossenfort (2023, Sioux Falls, S.D.) has already made a name for himself on the national scene as a physical arm with a fastball already working comfortably in the low-80s. Ossenfort stands at an imposing and physical 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, and when everything is in sync with his delivery he’s able to pound the ball downhill with short running life, living in the 80-83 mph range while touching 84s throughout. He did spray the ball a bit and dealt with bouts of wildness, but early on he was able to move the ball to either side, maintaining the firmness of his heater while generating angle as he busted righthanded hitters on the inner half of the plate. Ossenfort is also a competitor on the mound as he was able to escape a bases loaded jam early in the contest, inducing some weak contact off the barrel while showing both a curveball (67-71 mph) and changeup, up to 77 mph, as part of his repertoire. The breaker showed some depth to it with a similar arm stroke through the backside while the changeup was the first time I had seen it in my couple of looks this summer, maintaining well on release.

Another talented lefthander who was limited due to a pitch count, Texas native Jakob Schulz (2023, Houston, Texas) went just 1 1/3 innings of work but showed one of the easier operations we saw throughout the day. Schulz, a physical presence on the mound, lived comfortably in the 81-84 mph range throughout his brief appearance in which he punched out three and scattered two hits all while looking as though he were playing a game of catch. Utilizing a higher slot, Schulz was able to generate downhill plane to his fastball with firm ride through the zone to either side of the plate. There’s undoubtedly more velocity in the tank too, as we’ve seen 87 mph in the past and as he continues to implement the strength in his lower half into his drive, expect the radar readings to come back much higher. We didn’t see either his slider or changeup Friday afternoon, but Schulz did show a big curveball in the upper-60s with depth, and more importantly the feel to land the pitch for strikes, keeping hitters from sitting just fastball.

Derrick Mitchell (2023, Tempe, Ariz.) has been well documented over the last year or so for his exploits both in the batter’s box as well as on the mound, though this recap mention is for his athleticism and defensive abilities he showed throughout his team’s first game while patrolling center field. Not looking like your typical 14-year-old at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Mitchell moves as though he were 6-foot with a loose and fluid actions with one of the better reads and first steps you’ll find. Thursday afternoon he showed his range by covering ample ground beyond the right-center field gap to make a diving catch, something he continued to show Friday with a couple of diving grabs and an overall sense of confidence with his actions and athleticism you don’t typically find at this level. Listed as a switch-hitter, Mitchell has taken his reps righthanded thus far in the tournament and though the stats may not reflect it, he has put some good swings on the ball and it’s only a matter of time before the hits start falling.

-Jheremy Brown

FTB Select rolled out Kaiden Perez (2023, Casselberry, Fla.) for their first game on Friday afternoon. This is a high-upside lefthanded pitcher that already shows advanced feel for his craft. Sporting well-above-average fastball command, he did a good job working it around the quadrants to keep hitters off balance. He seemed to mix a good two-seam fastball to his arm side that ran away from righthanded hitters and then would mix a four-seam to keep hitters off balance on the inner half. Perez has feel of a downer breaking ball in the upper-60s and a changeup with fade around 70 mph. He is a true three-pitch guy at a young age. His delivery is calm and repeatable with a whippy arm that will develop lots of arm speed as he gains strength. Already getting lots of soft contact, he also struck out four during his outing with the swing-and-miss coming more often as his stuff continues to tick up.

It’s easy to pick out Tracer Lopez (2023, Rose Bud, Texas) when you watch the Banditos Scout Team 14U play. He is high energy and always in the middle of things. His ability to move quickly around the infield at his shortstop position, breaking down quickly, then starting up again, is unique for his age. The quick transfer ability while still getting plenty of carry on the ball across the infield is very advanced. Ranging to his left on a ball hit sharply up the middle, in one motion he caught the ball and spun, then throwing a strike to the first baseman on a very close play. Later, Lopez moved to his backhand side and spun again, this time the opposite way, to catch a hard one hop and start a would-be double play. The lefthanded hitter has a short and compact swing that shows lots of pop off the bat. In multiple at-bats he showed great hand-eye coordination spraying the ball all over the park, including a hard double to the opposite gap in left-center field.

The Georgia Jackets shortstop Nicolas Senese (2022, Senoia, Ga.) passes the eye test easily. The 6-foot-2 wiry, athletic frame is quintessential to build upon. The young prospect shows excellent actions on the infield with functional athleticism, soft hands and arm strength. He has the ability to make all plays to his backhand and consistently rounds the ball putting himself in great position to throw. Offensively, he shows looseness and plenty of flick in his wrists. It’s easy to project big future power as he continues to add weight. Presently using a middle of the field approach, he consistently puts the barrel on the ball with great accuracy.

Showing a full box of tools Friday morning was Justice Haynes (2023, Alpharetta, Ga.) who also plays for the Georgia Jackets. Jumping on the mound to start the game, he fired fastballs in the low-80s and topped at 83 a number of times. Showing a very quick arm he got a good angle for his size and the ball jumped out of his hand. He mixed an upper-60s curveball that shows good shape and promise. The tightly wound athlete is explosive in all phases of the game. Playing a rangy center field, he can easily track down balls with good instinct and well-above-average speed. He showed a powerful lefthanded swing, with intent to all pitches. The swing stays tight to his body and turns quickly to get the barrel speed up quickly. He demolished an inner half pitch to the right-center field gap, that got to the fence in a hurry. Turning on his elite speed, he floated around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

One of the most naturally athletic players seen this weekend is Blake Grimmer (2023, Spring Lake, Mich.) of the Motor City hit Dogs. Sporting a great 6-foot-1 frame with long limbs that can easily carry extra weight. There is a fluidity with everything he does. He seems to take silent steps, with no effort, to gain a ton of ground. The rhythm and timing of his approach to groundballs at the shortstop position is exceptional for a young infielder. His swing is classic with lots of whip, and the barrel seemingly stays in the zone for an eternity. Friday afternoon he showed a great feel for the barrel and hit hard, line drive singles, on pitches to both sides of the plate. This looks like a player that will be talked about a lot over the next four years.

Hitting in the three and four positions in the CBA Bulldogs 14U line up, Brendan O'Connell (2023, Norco, Calif.) and Nicholas Peoples (2022, Duarte, Calif.) make a fierce duo to try and navigate through.

O’Connell has a short athletic build, but already shows strength and rare bat speed. The lefthanded swing is compact and direct with a long finish that is slightly uphill. Starting very quiet with his set up and load, he has the ability to start his violent barrel very quickly. The intent he shows to the ball is exciting, especially with such a young prospect. Showing very good bat-to-ball skills early in the tournament, he finally got a pitch he could drive and lofted a no-doubt home run over the right field wall.

Peoples is playing in his first Perfect Game event and generating a lot of buzz. Physically, he has a lanky 6-foot-5 frame with tons of room to grow. He is a long strider that covers ground quickly in center field, even showing a good first step for such a big prospect. A switch hitter, he was all lefthanded on Friday displayed length and barrel speed that makes you want to see more. Already hitting a long home run earlier in the tournament, found the barrel with consistency in the double headers today. He is not all power, however, showing a very patient approach and advanced feel for the strike zone. It could get very interesting when this young prospect starts to fill out.

Getting to see how Gavin Gallaher (2023, Apex, N.C.) goes about his business for Canes National 14U has been a treat. He is a “baseball player” in every sense of the expression. Always displaying sound footwork at his shortstop position, he broke in on a softly-hit ball and quickly got it in and out of his glove, throwing from a lowered slot to get an out. The subtlety of his expressions made it feel like this is a routine day at the yard. When he steps in the batter’s box, he never wavers from his plan. Always evaluating the situation and how to attack the defense. His short stroke and excellent barrel accuracy allow him to spray line drives from foul line to foul line. All of the tools that Gallaher seems to possess, his baseball IQ and toughness stand out just as much.

-Jered Goodwin

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