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Tournaments | Story | 7/21/2019

17U Elite: Day 3 Scout Notes

David Rawnsley         Brian Sakowski         Colton Olinger        
Photo: Jackson Fristoe (Perfect Game)
2019 WWBA 17U Elite Championship: Day 1 Notes | Day 2 Notes

There is a different type of intensity when the playoffs start, and Saturday in Hoover was no exception. At one point four straight games went down to the final out, including two extra-inning games. And that was just the quarterfinals in the Gold Division.

No game could be more intense than the FTB Tucci-Berryhill versus Team Elite 17U Scout Team game, which was 0-0 going into the bottom of the sixth and that Team Elite eventually won 3-2. Both team’s starting pitchers were at the top of their games under the pressure.

Lefthander Wyatt Crowell (2020, Cumming, Ga.) threw five shutout innings for Team Elite and threw better than this scout has seen him previously. The Florida State commit worked at 88-90 mph for most of his start, a tick up from his normal cruising velocity, and had great running life on the pitch that shattered a couple of left handed hitter’s bats. Crowell also has advanced feel for a low-80s changeup with similar life and a sharp slider that he can manipulate the shape of with intent. Crowell struck out eight hitters while allowing only two hits and will win lots of games at Florida State in his career there with the exact same stuff and command as he showed Saturday.

FTB righthander Nate Blasick (2020, Halifax, Pa.) is actually a primary corner infielder but has had a strong summer on the mound, including touching 91 mph at the WWBA 17U National Championship. He matched Crowell’s zeros until tiring in the bottom of the sixth, showing very good feel for a fastball that we would work in between 84-89 depending on the situation along with a full array of offspeed pitches and a deceptive delivery. Blasick, who is ranked No. 249 in the PG Class Rankings, looks like he’s going to be a high-quality two-way player at West Virginia.

Perfect Game All-American third baseman Jordan Walker (2020, Stone Mountain, Ga.) had a very productive day while showing off his big physical tools. The Duke commit went two for three at the plate, including a rocket double up the left-center field gap that showed his outstanding extension through the ball and his huge power potential. Walker also picked up the win in relief while topping out at 92 mph.

Outfielder Tre Hondras (2020, South Holland, Ill.) has been FTB’s hottest hitter this weekend from his leadoff spot. The speedy live-bodied athlete is 8-for-17 at the plate with three extra-base hits and six RBI. He had two hits in this game, including a sharp line drive single up with two outs in the seventh inning that plated both FTB runs. Hondras came back in a later consolation game and showed he hadn’t lost his competitive urge with the tough loss, blasting a home run on the second pitch he saw leading off the first inning. Hondras is committed to Michigan.

The quarterfinal matchup between the Georgia Bombers 17U and Knights Baseball 17U Platinum was a 2-2 pitcher’s duel after seven innings before turning into an epic 12-10 11-inning win for the Bombers. The final score covers up the fact that both starting pitchers were outstanding while showing next level tools.

Bombers lefthander Anthony DiMola (2020, Cumming, Ga.) needed only 76 pitches to work through six innings, allowing only two hits while striking out six. Unfortunately for DiMola, one of those two hits was a monster two-run home run off the bat of Knights first baseman Derrick "D.J." Jackson (2020, Meridianville, Ala.) or the game would have likely ended an hour sooner with a 2-0 final score. DiMola worked in the mid-80s for the entire game, topped out at 88 mph, and consistently hitting his spots down in the strike zone. He showed similar feel and command for a 70 mph breaking ball that had big 1/7 depth and that kept the Knights hitters off balance all game. DiMola is committed to Georgia Southern.

6-foot-7, 185-pound righthander Hollis Fanning (2020, Tullahoma, Tenn.) got off to a slow start, allowing two runs before getting an out, but settled down very quickly and dominated after that through five innings. Fanning works downhill very well from his tall frame and his 84-87 mph fastball plays up in velocity due to his extension through release. His feel for his curveball steadily increased as he used it more and some flashed sharp biting acting at 72 mph. Fanning struck out eight hitters while not walking a hitter and while he obviously needs to add more physical strength, showed exactly why he is a Tennessee commit.

Bombers shortstop Andrew Estes (2020, Gainesville, Ga.) will likely be making his 14th Perfect Game All-Tournament team after this weekend, where he has hit .429 (6-for-14) with three walks out of his leadoff spot. Along with having long established himself as a consistent performer and gamer, Estes also made what might be the top defensive play of championship early in this contest. A hard line drive up the middle deflected off DiMola’s glove and bounced slowly towards shortstop and Estes, who is a Furman commit, swooped in at full speed and made a barehanded pick up and snap throw to first base in one motion while throwing a perfect strike to get the out.

DRB Elite 17U righthander Brandt Pancer (2020, Suwanee, Ga.) has been outstanding in his last two WWBA events and also has a recent commitment to Stanford. He threw five shutout innings on Saturday in a run-rule shortened 8-0 victory, needing only 61 pitches while throwing 73 percent strikes. Pancer hides the ball well in his compact delivery and hitters didn’t see his 86-88 mph fastball very well and especially didn’t recognize his mid-70s breaking ball that he regularly dropped into the zone at any count. Pancer was up to 92 mph at the WWBA 17U National Championships in early July while striking out 13 hitters in eight innings.

Pancer’s DRB teammate, outfielder Josh Shuler (2020, Suwanee, Ga.) is one of the most physically talented players in the country and is ranked No. 93 overall in the PG Class Rankings. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound lefthanded hitter has been generally quiet this event and really hasn’t consistently aggressively pitches in the strike zone. He did Saturday, hitting an absolute missile up the right-center field alley that just missed some angle at contact from targeting this scout’s car in the parking lot.

-David Rawnsley

Playoff day at the 17U Elite Championship proved to be action-packed per usual, with several excellent games and tons of high-end talent. Canes National picked up two wins and earned themselves a berth in the semifinals to be played Sunday morning, with their first playoff win coming over Team Georgia National, 4-1. Levi Wells (2020, LaPorte, Texas) got the start for the Canes and picked up the win, scattering two hits and two walks over four shutout innings, racking up six strikeouts. Wells impressed a few weeks ago at the WWBA 17U National Championship and now finds himself a featured arm on one of the premier travel clubs in the country.

Wells is a physical righthander whose profile is centered around his feel to spin the baseball, as his breaking ball is often plus in the upper-70s with hammer 12/6 shape and bite. He can also land a much slower breaking ball in the 68-71 mph range for strikes, though obviously the swing-and-miss pitch is the aforementioned firmer pitch. He worked up to 93 mph with his fastball, sitting more 88-91 mph, generating good plane when down in the zone from a high slot. There’s a fair bit of effort to his delivery with a pronounced head whack at release, though given the feel to spin the ball as well as the arm strength, there is the making of two plus pitches there, potentially.

Jason Savacool (2020, Baldwinsville, N.Y.) relieved Wells and was dominant as well over his three innings, allowing a single run on one hit and one walk while punching out six. Savacool, a Maryland commit, has high-level pitchability to go along with good stuff, working in the 90-93 mph range with his fastball, throwing it to both sides of the plate with ease and command, while mixing in a slider that has excellent, late-diving bite that he generated a fair bit of swings-and-misses with.

On the other side, Cade Smith (2020, Southaven, Miss.) got the start for Team Georgia National, and while he ended up taking the loss, the Mississippi State commit was very solid and showed quality stuff. He’s an athletically-built righthander who isn’t overly physical but has projection remaining on his frame, which should only add to the present stuff. He ran his fastball up to 92 mph early on, settling more 88-91 mph throughout the game, doing a nice job of creating angle when he went glove side and generating some sink to the arm side. The slider showed solid-average at times in the upper-70s with quality bite, and he’s got the makings of high-end SEC starter upside given the present stuff, feel, and projection.

Dominic Johnson (2020, Edmond, Okla.) had a really nice day at the plate across both Canes’ playoff wins, picking up three hits and a walk over the course of the day. He’s come on with the bat in a big way this summer following an explosive PG National, with an OPS of 1.072 in 32 plate appearances during the 17U WWBA National Championship a few weeks ago in Georgia, and sitting at a 1.525 OPS this weekend entering the semifinals Sunday morning. He’s an explosive, twitchy athlete with plus-plus speed who profiles well in center field long term (he’s committed to Oklahoma State), and with the bat coming along well, should be a high-follow in the North Texas/Oklahoma area in regards to the MLB Draft next June. He launched a triple up the right-center field gap in this one, really driving the ball on a line with good backspin and carry, making the turn around first base in 4.43 seconds and cruising into third base with ease, coming around to score a couple batters later. The hands and bat speed are both plus in terms of his offensive profile, and as he’s gotten better at pitch identification and strike zone discipline, we’ve seen his offensive profile increase exponentially.

The East Coast Sox Select picked up a playoff win in the Hoover MET Stadium on Saturday afternoon over Chet Lemon’s Juice, with Jackson Fristoe (2020, Paducah, Ky.) on the hill for the start. Fristoe, a Kentucky commit, showed very good stuff at PG National last month in Phoenix and continued that in this game, though he does still battle his command a bit. A long, lean righthander with excellent physical projection, Fristoe ran his fastball up to 93 mph early on and settled into the 88-92 mph range for the majority of his start, showing the ability to work the fastball to both sides of the plate and pitch up in the zone as well. He lands firmly and spins off pretty severely over his plant leg, something that could result in those aforementioned command lapses, but there’s no arguing with the athleticism or the quality of the stuff, and he’s got excellent upside as a result. The slider flashed 55 (on the 20-80 scale) in the low-80s, topping at 82 mph, with very good bite to the glove side along with some two-plane to the shape. His changeup likewise was a solid pitch, thrown in the same velocity band as the slider and having good fade and arm speed replication. The curveball is the fourth pitch but he does show the ability to land it for a strike at times.

TJ McCants (2020, Cantonment, Fla.) has long been lauded for his hitting ability and general bat-to-ball skills, and the Ole Miss commit has done a nice job developing strength through his prep career to the point where he’s now driving baseballs better than he has at any point to date. He picked up a long double the opposite way over the left fielder’s head, followed by a triple that was launched into the pull-side gap in a later at-bat. The hands are excellent and he’s always shown a propensity for using the entire field when hitting, spraying contact all around the yard, and now with that increased strength he has the ability to do more and more damage with that contact skill, continuing to elevate his offensive profile as we work our way towards next June’s MLB Draft.

Maxwell Carlson (2020, Savage, Minn.) got the start for the Canes in the quarterfinals versus the East Coast Sox later on Saturday evening and was, in a word, electric. Carlson, the younger brother of 2017 second rounder Sam, struck out 10 over five frames, allowing just two hits and two walks. Carlson is slenderly-built with plenty of projection remaining, and his arm speed, which is easily plus, stands out first and foremost. He ran his fastball up to 91 mph with excellent arm side life and heavy sink at times, sitting comfortably in the 87-90 mph range throughout his outing. The slider and changeup, both thrown mostly in the 77-80 mph range, were both in the solid-average range, and the curveball, which is below-average, was able to steal strikes early in the count. He was effective at pitching backwards, often starting hitters off with offspeed pitches including right-on-right changeups before dusting them with sliders down and away or fastballs up in the zone. The feel to pitch is excellent, and given the physical projection remaining, it’s easy to dream on what Carlson will look like in terms of stuff once he reaches physical maturity. He’s committed to North Carolina, though he’s going to be one of the top follows in the upper Midwest in regard to the draft next spring.

-Brian Sakowski

Luke Baker (2020, Gainesville, Fla.) had a solid day on the mound, leaving the game after 5 1/3 innings while allowing only one earned run to a very talented East Cobb Astros 17U Navy lineup. Baker’s fastball topped out at 88 mph while sitting 85-87 mph for the majority of his start. His three-quarters arm slot produces natural arm-side run on that fastball as he was able to spot it up well to his arm side starting it on the plate and letting it run away from righthanded hitters. His curveball ranged from 70-74 mph with varying shapes as he showed the ability to throw it with more of a 12-6 shape as well as more of a sweeping break, still with some depth. The ability to change up the break allowed him to miss barrels and create weaker contact throughout his outing. His length 6-foot-6, 205-pound frame is very projectable moving forward with his easy arm action as the ball comes out of the hand cleanly.

Blade Tidwell (2020, Loretto, Tenn.) got the ball opposite of Baker for East Cobb 17U Navy as he also had a solid outing going 7 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts. The Tennessee commit sat 87-89 mph while topping out at 91 mph early in his start with some arm-side run from his high arm slot. He showed some feel for his two breaking balls, one a curveball that sat in the low-70s with depth to its 11-5 shape, the other being a slider that he threw at 75-78 mph with more of a sweeping action to its break. He mixed all three pitches nicely and showed the capability to miss barrels with all three pitches. His quick whippy arm action is projectable moving forward as he continues to fill out his lean 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame with added strength and maturity.

Jackson Phipps (2020, Dallas, Ga.) does a nice job of creating angle on his fastball as his three-quarters arm slot and long arms create deception from his cross body delivery making it tough for lefties to pick up as well as a tough angle to barrel up for righties as he showed his ability to locate the fastball underneath their hands. The fastball sat 87-90 mph and topping out at 91 mph. His 82-84 mph changeup had some fading action late that moved enough to stay out of the heart of the plate and induce weaker contact. The South Carolina commit also mixed in a short, sharp-biting slider that sat in the upper-70s and low-80s. The large lefthander has room to continue to fill out on his 6-foot-6, 210-pound frame with more maturity which should only help his velocities when paired with his easy smooth arm action.

Andrew Steinhubel (2020, Waltham, Mass.) did a great job when called upon to come in in relief in the second inning after an unfortunate injury to the starting pitcher of the New England Ruffnecks. His ability to pound the zone with his mid-80s fastball and use his natural arm side run to bring the ball back over the plate for strikes allowed him to tie up hitters and create weak contact. He also mixed in a mid-70s changeup as a good change of pace off the fastball. The curveball sat 70-72 mph with some depth form his over the top arm slot. His high arm slot paired with his 6-foot-7 height allows him to throw downhill with good plane. His long lean frame is very projectable as the ball comes out of the hand clean with low effort on the arm action. The uncommitted right hander finished with a solid line of five innings and no earned runs on just two hits.

Ethan Bates (2020, Hot Springs, Ark.) helped lead his Rawlings Arkansas Prospects-Menard team to the semifinals on the bump and at the plate as he went. The Arkansas commit went seven innings on the mound allowing no runs on just three hits and striking out eight. The primary shortstop’s fastball topped out at 88 mph as he filled up the zone with it sitting 84-87 mph. He mixed in a low-80s changeup with some fade and a nice slider with some sweeping bite at 76-78 mph. The slider was his primary offspeed pitch as he used it effectively to put away hitters late in counts. At the plate, Bates continued to barrel up baseballs going 2-for-3 with two line drive singles and an RBI. His level bat path stays through the zone allowing him to drive the balls to all fields. His great barrel-to-ball skills has allowed him to go 7-for-14 on the tournament with a semifinal game looming on Sunday.

-Colton Olinger

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