Tournaments | Story | 7/25/2019

15u, 17u West: Day 5-6 Notes

Connor Spencer         Andrew Jenkins        

2019 WWBA 15u, 17u West National Championships: Day 1 Notes | Day 2 Notes | Day 3 Notes | Day 4 Notes

Day 5 of the WWBA West National Championship saw the final hard-fought day for playoff spots when suddenly the weather turned as a desert monsoon rolled in later that night. That pushed the first round of playoff games into the afternoon on Day 6.

The middle infielder with an incredible baseball name, Kenji Suzuki (2020, Seattle, Wash.), has done nothing but produce extra-base hits for GBG NW Marucci, smashing two doubles and a triple through four games. On Wednesday he was 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. Suzuki is a scrappy player with fantastic hands that work the inside of the baseball and he looks to put the ball in play with every at-bat. He has a conventional, upright stance with a mature middle-of-the-field approach and he looks to have a plan that is aggressive early in the count when he steps up to the plate. Suzuki also has a slight bat wag hitch pre-pitch that serves as a timing mechanism to start his load. Overall Suzuki has a great feel for the game and can get important jobs done when a coach needs him to.

UC Santa Barbara is getting another quality middle infielder in Andrew Neil (2020, Oakley, Calif.) who really got into a ball to dead right field on Day 5, sending it sailing beyond the wall towards the street for a three-run dinger. Neil’s pop is surprising for his developing frame at 5-foot-11, 160-pounds. He’s able to generate a strong amount of tension between his upper and lower halves that helps him to explode his barrel through the zone when he releases that coil. Throughout his swing he stays tall on his back-side and his flat bat plane helps to create some pretty consistent backspin. His hands are very good and look to hit for contact, yet, he can still really get into a ball if he wants to. In the field he has soft hands that look comfortable in saving him on bad reads, and he has a solid arm with accuracy across the diamond.

Then on Day 6, Neil helped seal a first-round playoff victory for Show Cali 17u throwing 5 1/3 quality innings, allowing no runs off three hits. On the bump he has a short arm action from a three-quarters arm slot and his hands and leg lift work fluidly together through his motion. He was doing a great job of spotting up his 83-85 mph fastball, then was complementing it with a pretty solid 11-to-5 shaped curve. The curve has a larger shape to it and he does a nice job of keeping it away from either hitter. Neil has a lot of room left to grow and that has to leave the Gauchos excited about his future.

NorCal Baseball Prime received yet another quality start, this time by power righthander Kade Morris (2020, Turlock, Calif.) who was freely sitting 85-88 while touching 90 mph. Morris has a conventional motion with length and a short arm action from an over-the-top slot. He gets good action on his fastball as it sometimes cuts when thrown to the left side of the plate. Moreover, he may be intentionally throwing a sinker that has solid subtle diving action and it can sit in the 84-85 mph range. Morris primarily pitches with the fastball, but also mixes in a high 11-to-5 curveball that doesn’t have a kill-pitch spin rate but keeps hitters on their toes and complements the fastball as it has a larger shape to the plate and sits around 78 mph. His actions on the fastball are strong enough, and his command is consistent enough, that he gives himself a chance to get outs with every outing he makes. He went five full shutout innings while fanning eight.

Army commit Joel Rubin (2020, Scottsdale, Ariz.) looked solid through his three shutout innings while striking out five.  Rubin has a large athletic frame that works quickly down the mound with some linear drop-and-drive actions. He has a short sweeping arm action into separation with a high three-quarters to over-the-top slot. In his outing Wednesday Rubin was sitting 85-87 while touching 88 mph and his quickness down the hill forces his fastball in onto the hands of hitters. He’s consistently sub 1.20-seconds to the plate when using a slide step. His 11-to-5 shaped curveball did miss some bats in his outing, but it possesses average depth and has a slight hump in it to the plate. Moreover, he missed arm side with the breaking ball quite a bit, throwing behind a righthanded batter at one point. Nevertheless, he understands the importance of mixing up a hitters’ timing and his short and quick actions will serve him well at the next level.

On Day 6, New Level Prep received some late-game heroics from Rafeal Mbuja (2020, Lakewood, Wash.) and Rogelio Paulino (2020, Fife, Wash.). New Level Prep was down two heading into the sixth when their offense exploded for a four-run inning, thus ending the game due to time limit. Mbuja hit in the tying and go-ahead runs with a sweet little stroke to left-center. He possesses quick, simple hands and you could tell he had a plan at the plate.

Paulino came in and closed the game out against GBG NW Marucci but it’s been his bat that propelled his team to a playoff run. Coming into Day 6, Paulino was batting .500 on the tournament thanks to his simple setup and hands that work in to out. He still needs to work on activating his lower half more in his swing, but that will come with time and adjustment.

Later in the afternoon on Wednesday CBA Marucci National got a dominating win as their bats stayed hot, and Nevada commit Cameron Walty (2020, Elk Grove, Calif.) threw six shutout innings with seven strikeouts. Walty’s fastball was sitting 86-88 mph while touching 89 on the day. He was doing a really nice job of locating it and was mixing in what looked like two different breaking balls. The harder 10-to-4 shaped slider sits around 81 mph and the larger shaped 11-to-5 curveball sits around 74 mph. Throughout his outing he pitched with confidence and he has a strong competitive makeup on the mound.

– Connor Spencer

In the 17u division, a trio of players had multiple hit days at the plate for Team California USA collecting six of the teams 10 hits. Kaleb Lemos (2019, Eastvale, Calif.) went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Lemos stands at 6-foot-2, 210-pounds and is listed as utility player. He gets in hands in the zone quickly, stays through the ball after contact and has some power in his swing. He was behind the plate and showed he had a playable arm, with raw footwork and average catch and release.

The No.10-ranked first baseman in California, Jaelen Williams (2020, Fontana, Calif.), also went 2-for-4. Williams has a large frame with room to add more strength to his 6-foot-2, 220-pound build. He showed good recognition of the zone, waited on his pitch and made the necessary adjustments when needed with two strikes. He made hard contact out front in all four of his at-bats with quick hands and barrel control.

Ely Resendiz (2020, Pasadena, Calif.) contributed going 2-for-3 with an RBI as well. Rezendizhas a projectable frame standing 6-foot-3, 195-pounds. He has strong, quick hands with some juice to his pull side and made loud contact with a rotational-type swing.

Ryan Kim (2022, Highlands Ranch, Colo) is listed as a primary third baseman for Slammers Baseball 15u Bitzer. Kim started on the bump in Day 5 action and had a smooth first inning, working his fastball from 78-82 mph that was mainly flat, but a pitch that he could still control to both sides of the plate. He throws from an over-the-top arm slot, rotates closed into his delivery and leads with his hip downhill. The young righthander posted two scoreless innings before running in to small trouble in the third. He was able to limit the damage and get out of the inning only allowing two runs. His slider had 11-to-5 break at 71 mph that he could keep it low in the zone and in the dirt for swings-and-misses.

Owen Dueck (2022, Aptos, Calif.) started on the mound for CCB in the afternoon slot. The young lefthanded pitcher carved his way through the Mountain West 2022 lineup by throwing five shutout innings, allowing two hits and fanning four. He showed some toughness by working out of two jams during his outing, one being in the third inning with a runner at third and the other in the fifth inning with runners at first and third. He threw from a high three-quarters slot, using a long stride to home while getting downhill. He was able to locate his fastball inside and used a two-seam to run it away on the outer half to righthander hitters. His fastball topped out at 79 mph and maintained his arm speed on his curveball that was 68 mph with 11-to-5 break.

Nick Arias (2022, Tucson, Ariz) came in relief for Tucson Champs and was impressive out of the bullpen. He pitched four innings and struck out five with zero earned runs. Arias is a two-way righthander with a quick arm that stays online during his delivery with a good follow-through. He was able to work both sides of the plate with his fastball that topped out at 84 mph and at times would miss wide to the outer half due to pulling a bit to his glove side. At the plate, he was 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI. He made solid contact out front and was able to drive the ball the other way when needed. Arias is the No.1-ranked second baseman in the Arizona class of 2022.

– Andrew Jenkins

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