Tournaments | Story | 7/24/2019

PG World Series Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Vincent Cervino         Jered Goodwin        
Photo: Jack O'Connor (Perfect Game)
2019 PG World Series: 14u Day 1 Notes | 14u Day 2 Notes | World Series Day 3 Notes | World Series Day 4 Notes | World Series Day 5 Notes

Jack O'Connor (2022, Arlington, Va.) immediately catches your eye as he walks out to the mound, standing at a long and strong 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, already proving to be an intimidating figure before firing a single pitch. That intimidation continues as he fires pitch after pitch as the Banditos found out in the opening round of 15u playoffs Tuesday morning as the young Virginia commit hurled 5 1/3 innings of three-hit baseball.

Despite the age and size combination O’Connor brings with him to the mound he’s able to keep his overall operation rather simple, utilizing a longer and loose arm action through the back with solid present arm strength. The heater was his go-to offering early on, sitting in the 86-89 mph range while bumping both 90 and 91 mph in the opening frame but even more impressive than the velocity was his ability to miss bats with a final tally in the double digits of empty swings. O’Connor’s fastball showed short life out of his hand with sinking action down in the zone though he also proved successful when challenging batters up.

It’s a complete arsenal for the No. 15 ranked prospect in the 2022 class with three secondaries, which includes a changeup and both a curveball and slider. The changeup is the best of the three and the one he went to most often, showing comfort in doubling up on the 78-80 mph pitch and despite lowering his slot a tick at release, he was still able to miss some bats. Of the two breaking balls O’Connor showed it’s his slider that proved best up to 82 mph and could continue into a solid third offering.

Colby Shelton (2022, Litha, Fla.) and Raymond Bermudez (2022, Hollywood, Fla.) have already established themselves as two of the purer hit tools out of Florida for their class and have drawn plenty of praise on a national scene. Shelton is currently uncommitted though the young lefthanded hitting shortstop has more than a few collegiate suitors for the next level thanks to his overall abilities at the plate. While he hasn’t filled up the box score this tournament, there’s no denying the overall looseness to his hands and flick of the wrists as he whips the barrel through the zone, showing a natural feel for the barrel and a balanced set at the plate.

Bermudez, a Miami commit, has continued to grow into his long 6-foot-1 frame while still showing the same fluid stroke he has for the last couple of summers. Another lefthanded bat, Bermudez put his team on the scoreboard in the second inning of the opening round of the playoffs, ultimately propelling his team to the next level. The approach and ability to execute are both simple thanks to his feel for the barrel and he showed it all on an outer half curveball that he managed to barrel down the left field line for a double, an ideal time for his first extra-base knock of the tournament.

It was a quick two-inning look at uncommitted lefthander Tristan Smith (2022, Chesnee, S.C.) but it was an impressive one nonetheless as the No. 18 ranked prospect was outstanding with a pair of pitches that have potential to be advanced offerings down the road. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds there’s still plenty of room for added strength but the arm speed Smith possesses and showed Tuesday ranks as some of the best and what he produced was simply electric.

With an online and rather simple set of mechanics, Smith shows a fast arm stroke out to an extended slot which created big angle on his heater. He proved capable of locating either side of the plate and sat in the 88-90 mph range, bumping a couple of 91s and a 92, and proved to be an especially uncomfortable at-bat for lefthanded hitters. The velocity comes extremely easy for Smith and while he attacked with the fastball he also mixed in an upper-70s slider that has potential to be a true weapon with hard, lateral break from one side of the plate to the other.

It was only a two-inning, 25-pitch look but it was a clean outing for Smith who continues to build on a strong summer and continues to establish himself as one of the best arms in the country.

Throwing against Smith in the final two innings of the weather interrupted playoff game, righthander Sai Campos (2021, Alice, Texas) ultimately took the loss, but if not for the uncommitted arm’s heroics in the first playoff game, the Banditos may not have made it where they did. Tied through the first seven innings against the Tri State Arsenal Scout Team, the game went to the bases loaded, one out tie breaker and after a quick strikeout followed by three balls, Campos was summoned out of the bullpen and brought into the win or go home situation staring down a 3-0 count. Utilizing a loose and whippy arm action, Campos rose to the occasion and pumped four straight strikes (including one foul ball) to escape the jam and propel his team into the next round, sitting in the 82-85 mph range with sinking life through the zone.

Already committed to the University of Miami, righthander Ryan Fry (2022, Tampa, Fla.) is an intriguing prospect on the bump who is far from reaching his full potential given the near endless projection on his 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame. The No. 187 ranked prospect in the 2022 class was fantastic for his five innings of work and despite ultimately taking the loss, the outing highlighted his overall pitchability as he was able to navigate an impressive Elite Squad lineup.

The delivery itself is a loose and easy one for Fry, as is his arm action, which he keeps compact through the backside, all of which led to plenty of strikes with his heater that sat in the 81-84 mph range throughout the game. Overall Fry punched out nine while walking just one and scattered three hits while inducing weak contact thanks to the sinking life he generates on the fastball. Fry’s feel for the curveball is a big part of what he brings to the mound as he shows confidence in the pitch, doubling up with the comfort and feel to land the upper-60s pitch for strikes. He tends to slow his arm at release but was able to generate steady depth on the offering, landing it for strikes while pitching up a few empty swings with it as well.

The Canes National 15u squad is loaded with high end prospect and while it seems to be a different player who rises to the occasion on any given day, both Xavier Isaac (2022, Kernersville, N.C.) and Adam (AJ) Shepard (2022, Manassas, Va.) showed some of the better power with timely hits throughout the day.

An Indiana commit, Shepard contributed to a big five-run inning in the bottom of the fourth as he barreled a hard ground-rule double down the opposite field line to plate two runs of an eventual one-run victory. Like his 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame, Shepard’s hands pack plenty of strength in them, staying short to the ball with loud impact at the point of contact. Isaac, an East Carolina commit, has done nothing but find the barrel and impact the baseball throughout my looks all summer, truly establishing himself as one of the top power bats in the class. Tuesday proved no different as he leaned on a ball and drove it to deep center field for a double, a ball that jumped hard off his barrel to open the inning before coming around to score the eventual game winning run.

Aeden Finateri (2021, Watertown, Conn.) had a weather-shortened outing but showed more than enough in his few frames to draw the attention of several recruiting coordinators who were looking on. Recently opening up his recruiting process, the broad and strongly built 6-foot, 205-pound Finateri came out pumping the strike zone with his fastball, employing an attack mode mentality which helped rack up seven punchouts on 45 pitches.

With some up-tempo-ness to his overall process on the mound, Finateri’s athleticism shows as he remained on time with his release point and consistently was out front with extension. The heater worked in the 87-90 mph range for the Connecticut native and while he can continue to incorporate additional lower half, he did a nice job of pounding the zone with short life to it while working at a quick pace. His fastball was definitely the go-to pitch as he worked ahead with it well though he did mix in a fair share of curveballs, none of which were better than the 78 mph one he threw to end an inning that featured late, biting depth from a similar higher release point as his heater.

Everett Cooper (2022, Owings Mills, Md.) is a player I’ve been able to follow for over a calendar year now and with my first viewing of the summer coming Tuesday evening, the added physicality he has added to his frame immediately stands out. An uncommitted, switch-hitting middle infielder, Cooper took all his reps from the left side in my look and certainly impressed with the overall looseness and quickness to both his hands and wrists in the batter’s box. The rhythm to his swing is clear even in his takes as he loads with balance and when he lets the barrel go the results are impressive, though he’s still just scratching the surface. His lone base hit of the game allowed him to show his overall feel for the barrel as he did a nice job of keeping his hands back and still getting enough barrel on the barrel to single through the right side. He wasn’t challenged defensively in this look but the overall abilities in the box will certainly draw the attention on college recruiters from all around.

Shortstop Deric Fabian (2021, Ocala, Fla.) has been on the national scene for a little bit now and even since the start of this summer circuit he has done a nice job of making adjustments to his swing. Ever growing and now listed at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, Fabian shows solid balance to his mechanics with a longer and fluid stroke through the zone, generating extension out front with feel for the barrel as he showed with his line drive double down the pull-side line. There’s present jump as he’s able to create some whip through the zone and projects for plenty of power with added strength. Committed to the University of Florida like his older brother Jud who just finished his freshman season, Deric is different in that he’s a shortstop and shows the fluidity and athleticism that should allow him to stay on the left side at the next level, along with a strong arm with plenty of carry across.

Rem Maxwell (2021, Winder, Ga.) is an uncommitted righthander arm out of Georgia, though given the slew of recruiting coordinators behind the backstop that designation shouldn’t last long. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds with long arms, Maxwell is able to generate excellent extension on his fastball which in turn produced some uncomfortable swings in the box.

Working out of the stretch exclusively, Maxwell offers a longer arm stroke through the back though there’s plenty of arm speed to his stroke as he ran his fastball up to 90 mph and comfortably worked in the 87-89 mph range. As mention above, the extension he’s able to generate on his fastball helped the velocity play up as he was able to induce some ugly swings from batters of both handedness while shattering a couple of bats by challenging hitters in. The pitch is mostly true in life but when he was working to his arm side, he did manage to generate some short running life. While his fastball is his go-to offering and rightfully so with the results he was seeing, Maxwell’s breaking ball continued to develop throughout the course of his complete game effort, showing short depth to the mid-70s offering when working on top of the ball.

-Jheremy Brown

Turning in a terrific start in what was ultimately a no decision, Xavier Perez (2022, Corpus Christi, Texas) tossed seven strong frames and helped his team remain tied heading into extra innings. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound righthander is a very polished and poised arm with lots of projection, athleticism and features one of the better sliders in the class at this point. The arm stroke is clean through the back with looseness and whip while getting through on time consistently. He gets some short sink on the fastball and worked mostly in the 83-86 mph range. The slider is a power weapon for Perez right now as it works in the 78-80 mph range and comes out of a similar tunnel as the fastball. The late, darting action on the pitch makes it very tough to square up and really induces some ugly swings. The ample projection coupled with the feel for a dynamic slider make Perez a very intriguing arm for this class and he turned in a dominant performance when his team needed it the most.

5 Star made it all the way to the second round of the 15u playoffs and lefthanded slugger Blaydon Plain (2022, Greenville, Fla.) had a good day at the dish, showing off some of the better bat speed for the age group. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound lefthanded hitter is a very athletic prospect and though his primary position is listed at first base, there’s little question he’s athletic enough to transition to another infield or outfield position at the next level. Regardless of where he plays defensively the bat is going to play in almost any lineup. The lefthanded swing has such bat speed and loft and his big stride into contact creates leverage and impact through extension. The barrel is very heavy and his impact to pull is notably impressive for this age and he hit some balls hard during the two games on Tuesday including a long triple to straight away center field.

One of the more intriguing uncommitted prospects this summer has been Canes second baseman David Mershon (2022, Taylors, S.C.) as the switch hitter fits a leadoff profile nicely with excellent quick twitch and barrel skills to work with. The switch-hitting shortstop prospect has a very quick and compact stroke from both sides of the plate that allows his quick hands to work to all fields with intent. He gets out of the box quickly and turns in quality run times, he was clocked at 4.3 seconds to first from the left side during Tuesday’s action. The glove and hands work very well throughout his defensive actions and he’s a high-level uncommitted prospect who is enjoying a good week at the PG World Series.

Renzo Gonzalez (2021, Tampa, Fla.) was dominant during his start in the playoffs as the former PG Select Festival participant was in complete control during his strong start. The Miami commit was in complete control from the first pitch, attacking hitters with significant angle, life, and using almost everything in his arsenal to avoid barrels. Gonzalez is a well-built 5-foot-10, 185-pound southpaw with a very clean and easy delivery. He generates great drive and extension through the lower half while the arm slot creates tough angle with a lot of natural life on the fastball that topped out at 88 mph. He lived in the mid-80s, locating the fastball to any quadrant of the strike zone with good sinking action. As he turned over the lineup multiple times he started to go to his tight breaking slider and changeup more often, both of which came out of a similar fastball tunnel. He generated a ton of weak contact while allowing only one hit over five strong frames.

The South Charlotte Panthers collected two strong victories during the game action and three-hole hitter Parker Byrd (2022, Laurinburg, N.C.) has had a very strong weekend at the dish. The East Carolina commit is hitting close to .500 over the course of the tournament and shows a pretty pure ability for the barrel with a very compact and clean approach from an offensive standpoint. Byrd isn’t an extremely physically imposing prospect but he’s very hitterish with a short, smooth stroke and very fast, loose hands. Byrd keeps the swing direct to the ball with a line drive plane and meets the ball nicely, creating well-struck liners to the pull side and the pull side gap. He has very good feel and pitch recognition in the box too and looks to get a fastball he can handle while being able to adapt and identify breaking balls. Byrd is a polished, professional hitter and that approach should serve him well both now and in the future.

Possibly the game of the afternoon slot saw Canes National’s Evan Siary (2022, Inman, S.C.) match up against the Banditos’ Murphy Brooks (2022, Cypress, Tex.) in what was one of the closer games of the event with a 1-0 Canes victory.

Siary has some loud tools on the mound, he’s a primary shortstop, as the righthander had a lot of college coaches in attendance very interested. The 6-foot-1, 160-pound prospect has very long arms with very good athleticism to continue his developmental trajectory from a physical standpoint. The arm stroke is very loose and whippy, though it’s a bit long in the back, but he separates nicely and fires on time with the fast arm stroke. The fastball worked up to 89 mph early with some life on the pitch and sat in the upper-80s for the majority of his performance. There was some natural arm side life to the fastball and the secondaries were both very good. The slider would be left up at times as he slowed on it, but when on time showed very good bite in the upper-70s while in the first inning he turned over a changeup at 82 mph with very late fading action for a whiff. The pitching tools are loud and he stands out as a top uncommitted arm at this juncture.

Fellow uncommitted righthander Brooks was just as impressive in terms of his statistical performance as Brooks kept the game tied at nothing through the first five frames. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound righthander is an extremely large and physical righthander with lots of well-proportioned strength throughout. He gets on top of the fastball and gets downhill very well, showing steep plane and some sink on the fastball that was up to 88 mph on the mound. He sat mostly in the mid-80s and worked off a fastball-curveball combination. There’s good power to the breaking ball but the pitch will continue to refine as he continues to really let the pitch rip and not slow on it. Brooks is a big-bodied righthander who already throws in the upper-80s while the projection and upside are both significant.

Big-slugging infielder Evan Smith (2021, Ashburn, Va.) notched the biggest hit of the tournament for the Molina Stars as his no-doubt shot deep to the pull side was the difference in the victory for the Stars on Tuesday afternoon. Smith is an extremely physical 6-foot-1, 210-pound lefthanded hitter and the West Virginia commit can certainly roll the pole with big power potential as well. Smith swings the bat hard and is looking to work to the pull side as he shoots his hips early in fastball counts and looks to hit balls extremely far. He got a mid-80s heater he could handle during this look and deposited it way out behind the right field wall and his big power is going to be fun to follow as he continues to progress.

-Vinnie Cervino

The battery for Texas Twelve Maroon 2021 was stellar this morning. Brad Rudis (2021, Madisonville, Texas) and Chanden Scamardo (2021, College Station, Texas) seemed very comfortable working together and were in sync the entire game.

Rudis is a sturdy 6-foot righthanded pitcher that is strong in the upper body, but has room to develop in the lower half. He is proportioned with his with young strength in his frame allowing his mechanics to repeat easily over his complete game performance. Using a full arm circle on the back side with no effort during his arm swing, his release point was so similar it was extremely hard to identify the incoming pitch. Showing a steady mid-80s fastball that touched multiple 87s, he mixed an 11/5 curveball that showed shape and promise as he threw it for strikes at will. Rudis, however, has a legitimate plus pitch in his upper-70s changeup. The hand speed and release point were almost identical to his fastball, with late run and sink, it was rarely even fouled off. It was a completely dominant 12 strikeout, one hit, one walk effort out of the uncommitted hurler.

Scamardo stood out for his receiving and throwing skills early on in the action, throwing a would-be base stealer out at second base. He continued to impress as the game went on as he showed leadership skills and pitch calling ability that should make this uncommitted backstop extremely attractive. Having noticeably strong forearms they help him whip his barrel through contact at an exceptional speed. He makes easy hand adjustments and the ball comes off very hard at impact. He showed this with a hard ground rule double to the pull side from the righthanded hitter. With the overall toolset, he should not be without a commitment for long.

Young lefthander Carsten Finnvold (2021, Boca Raton, Fla.) came in to start the fourth inning of the Elite Squad 16u National game on Tuesday. Using a low three-quarters arm slot, he sat in the low-80s with his fastball tunneling all three of his pitches. He used his fastball and changeup mostly to the arm side and was very effective getting soft contact out of it. On occasion he showed the ability to throw his curveball under barrels to righthanded hitters getting some swing and miss out of the pitch. At 6-foot and 150 pounds he has a lot of room to add weight and should make a natural jump as he fills out. His present ability to “pitch” should attract many to see the young southpaw.

Passing the eye test, Jac Caglianone (2021, Tampa, Fla.) has a power bat and power arm combo that is special for his class. Already pitching during the tournament and running his fastball to 88, on Tuesday he looked the part of a legit middle-of-the-order bat at the next level. He has long limbs that help get good extension through contact, showing pull side lift. His hips are loose and can separate easily helping create natural lag. His hand speed is excellent, and he has the ability to adjust mid pitch. As the 6-foot-4 first baseman fills out, his offensive production will only continue to improve though he is already putting up impressive production.

The top of the lineup for Hit Factory Pro 16u provide enough offensive to stay undefeated on Tuesday morning. Jonathan Vastine (2021, Bartow, Fla.) hitting from the leadoff spot and Cole Russo (2021, Tampa, Fla.) hitting from the three-hole position came up big heading into the last game of pool play.

Vastine is putting together one of the best summers of any player in the country. He has hit at every stop, is a rangy defender at shortstop, and he can jump on the mound with an upper-80s fastball and good secondary. The versatility he shows puts him in a unique category when evaluating prospects. On Tuesday morning he continued to help solidify his prospect status. Leading off the game he promptly hit a sharp single to center field. Using a short and compact swing with a very easy load and no wasted movement he produces very good bat speed. His eye hand coordination stands out most contorting his body at times to still find a barrel and get a hit. He did this on his third hit of the day, getting fooled by an off-speed pitch, Castin kept his hands back and through his barrel at the ball with enough force to still hit a hard single through the 4-hole.

Russo looks the part of a middle of the order bat at the next level. A strong lefthanded hitter that has plenty of whip and the ability to hit to all fields. He is intense and shows a fierce passion for winning baseball games. Late in the game, while the momentum was up for grabs, Russo finally got a pitch to drive and hit a double off the right field wall that knocked in two runs and put the game away. Russo has a lot of flexibility in his lower half that allows him to make subtle movements to get his barrel to balls all over the zone with good impact. As he learns to stay connected on his back side consistently the power will show up very consistently. Tons of upside with this young power bat.

An exceptionally twitchy athlete, Elgin Bennett (2022, Fayetteville, Ga.) has stunningly-quick bat speed, shows great intent while in the box, and is an explosive runner. A lefthanded hitter, he barreled balls in multiple at bats today. Starting with an outer half pitch that he drove deep to center field that took the center fielder back to the track on the run. Showing the ability to keep his hands back and let the pitch travel before putting his “A”’ swing on the pitch. Later, he would turn on an inner half fastball and hammer a line drive to right field. There is some obvious rawness to his game, but the tools are elite and he seems to play hard and truly love the game. This young outfield prospect has the chance to develop into a high-level player at the next level.

Bennett’s teammate on DRB Elite 15u is Jason Avila (2022, Riverdale, Ga.) who is a very rangy center field prospect. The lefthanded hitter has shown some polish this week to go along with his impressive tools set. He has a tightly wound body with a barrel chest and uses his strength to be able to turn quickly on pitches thrown in the zone. Displaying above average bat speed on Tuesday he hit the barrel on multiple occasions. Lining out twice after hitting a home run to lead off the game. Showing the ability to change games on the bases and in center field, the upside offensively is catching up in many ways as he also drew three walks on the double header day. As the pitch recognition continues to improve, Avila could make a lot of noise in the next year.

Taking the mound for Baseball Northwest 15u in relief was Joey Pearson (2022, Richland, Wash.) who promptly brought stability to the game and allowed BNW to take the game 7-6. At 6-foot-2, with a long and lean frame, showed looseness and plenty of arm speed to dream big on him. He loaded into his scapula well and it allowed him to stay back a long time so his hand got to full extension consistently. Using his height and length well he showed above average plane and was able to work both sides of the plate with his fastball up to 86. His breaking ball was in the low to mid-70s range and did a good job throwing it to his glove side. As he adds strength and his hand speed stays up, he will turn it into a true slider and swing through pitch. Though he got plenty of swing and miss during his 3+ inning and 5 strikeout performance.

The loudest day goes to Kaiden Ellis (2022, Cumming, Ga.) of the Georgia Bombers 15u. In a doubleheader day, the Bombers leftfielder went 7-for-7 with four doubles. There was nothing cheap about the stat line either, as he barreled balls past or over outfielders with ease. The 5-foot-8 prospect plays the game exceptionally hard and uses his above-average speed to cause havoc on the bases. He shows toughness in the batter’s box, willing to fight off pitches to get something he can drive. He has flick in his wrists and uses his upright stance to maintain a short and direct path to the ball. His lefthanded swing stays in the zone a long time giving him a big margin for error. This is a table setter that will help win games right away at the next level.

-Jered Goodwin

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