Tournaments | Story | 9/16/2019

South Qualifier Day 3 Notes

Nate Schweers         Andrew Jenkins        
Photo: Wyatt Tucker (Perfect Game)

2019 WWBA South Qualifier: Daily Leaders | Day 1-2 Scout Notes

Day three of the 2019 WWBA South Qualifier featured long home runs, playoff excitement and dominant pitching performances. Here are some of the highlights from an action-packed day in Tomball.

Noah Smith (2020, Houston, Texas) turned in a solid outing for Premier Baseball – Mathis on Sunday morning, allowing just one unearned run over 4 2/3 innings. Smith was able to work around four hits, striking out an eye-popping 10 batters. Smith has a projectable frame from the left side, with plenty of room to fill out and add strength at the next level. The southpaw ran the fastball up to 87 mph on Sunday, pitching at 84-86 with some heavy run to the arm side. Most impressive in the arsenal was Smith’s feel for a late-fading changeup at 72-74 mph. The Southeastern Louisiana commit relied heavily on the changeup to get outs, but also showed feel to spin a tight breaking ball with 11-to-5 shape and late depth in the low-70s. Smith is currently ranked as a Top 500 player in the 2020 class.

Over on Field 4, Trent Gregson (2020, Longview, Texas) turned in an impressive outing of his own for Performance Baseball Texas 18u. Gregson allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings, striking out four and not allowing a walk. Gregson has a smaller frame from the right side and does a really good job of attacking hitters in the zone. With a 70 percent strike percentage, Gregson commanded the strike zone with both a mid-80s fastball up to 87 mph, and a mid-70s curveball he could land for strikes with 11-to-5 shape. The senior is committed to play his college baseball at The University of Central Arkansas.

On the offensive side of the ball Kevin Bazzell (2021, Forney, Texas) turned in one of the more impressive hitting performances for the Dallas Patriots 17u Stout. Bazzell was an extra-base hit machine on Sunday, highlighted by a 2-for-4, four RBI performance in a quarterfinal victory. Earlier in the day, Bazzell put a very impressive swing on the ball, seeing it deep and driving it to the opposite gap in right field for a triple. A Dallas Baptist commit, Bazzell continues to show present power to all fields, as well as an impressive ability to defend on the other side of the ball. The primary shortstop is currently ranked as a Top 500 player in the 2021 class.

While there were plenty of runs scored by the Banditos Scout Team on Sunday, Brandon Burckel (2021, Lindale, Texas) stood out as one of the more impressive performers in what is an outstanding lineup. In the first game of the day, Burckel drove a ball deep over the wall in left field, showing an advanced to ability to get the hands extended with impressive bat speed and direct path to contact. Burckel has excellent barrel feel and control, and the Houston commit continues to find a way to make hard contact at a consistent rate. A Top 500 player in the 2021 class, Burckel’s power tool will only continue to improve with added size and strength.

Conner Bennett (2023, Spring, Texas) was outstanding just earlier this month at the 14u PG Select Festival and has stood out as a name to keep an eye here in Tomball. A primary catcher, Bennett has a high-contact approach at the plate, showcasing excellent bat-to-ball skills and a disciplined eye for the strike zone. Bennett shows the ability to hit the ball to all fields, but what is more impressive is his advanced defensive skills behind the plate. Bennett receives well with soft hands, as well an accurate arm on throw-downs in game action. With plenty of room to fill out and plenty of time to do so, expect big strides from Bennett, who is the No. 32 player in the 2023 class.

Dylan Kerbow (2021, The Woodlands, Texas) impressed during a short, two-inning start on Sunday, striking out three and scattering three hits in what was a big win for Hunter Pence Baseball 2021 Rachal. Kerbow has an athletic frame with present strength in the lower half and features a fast arm and clean path from an over-the-top slot. The righthander attacked hitters with a heavy dose of the fastball at 86-88 mph and flashed feel to spin a mid-70s slider as well. Though the fastball tends to straighten out at times, Kerbow does an excellent job of locating to both sides of the plate and can pitch off the heater effectively. Kerbow, who is currently uncommitted, is a Top 500 player in the 2021 class.

Nathan Becker (2020, Jersey Village, Texas) has built off what was an impressive showing at the 17u South National Championship in June with more loud contact here in Tomball this weekend. A primary first baseman, Becker turned heads Sunday afternoon with a loud double to the wall in right field. The Rice commit has present bat speed from the left side of the plate and has some pull-side power when on time and squared. With a strong and athletic frame, Becker has all the making of a constant threat in the middle of any order.

Performance Baseball Texas 18u ran out a pair of powerful righthanders in their Sunday afternoon contest with Texas commit Reid Taylor (2020, Woden, Texas) getting the start on the bump. Taylor has a physical frame with present strength and creates good linear direction down the mound before delivering from a high three-quarters slot. Taylor attacked hitters to both sides of the plate with a heavy fastball that topped at 90 mph on Sunday and showed feel to spin a curveball with 11-to-5 shape at 79-80 mph. Taylor creates good downward plane to the fastball, forcing early contact on the ground by working at the knees. Though command of the zone was spotty at times on Sunday, Taylor is certainly a name to keep an eye on leading up to next June’s MLB Draft.

Wyatt Tucker (2020, Douglass, Texas) followed Taylor’s performance with an impressive outing of his own. A Texas A&M commit, Tucker has a strong and athletic frame that has present strength in the lower half. Tucker has a fast arm from an over-the-top slot, creating good linear direction down the mound and getting good extension over the front side. Tucker was able to attack hitters with a fastball that has the same steep plane and some arm-side life at 87-91 mph, and was able to keep hitters off balance with a changeup that has late sink in the low- to mid-80s. Like Taylor before him, Tucker has some room for improvement in regards to his command and repeatability, but the. No. 239 player in the 2020 class is certainly a name to follow over the next year.

Alan Benhardt (2021, McKinney, Texas) continues to put together quality at-bats near the top of the Dallas Patriots 17u Stout order. The lefthanded hitter had a strong quarterfinal game, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a triple. More impressive than his excellent bat-to-ball skills and disciplined approach is his ability to change the game on defense. Benhardt has exceptional range in center field, consistently stealing hits away from the opponent. With good speed and a sure glove, Benhardt’s combination of offensive and defensive impact will certainly play at the next level. Uncommitted in the 2021 class, Benhardt currently ranks as a Top 1000 player in the 2021 class.

As the action-packed day at the ballpark started to wind down Sunday night, Cash McNicholas (2020, Spring, Texas) turned heads with an outstanding inning of relief. McNicholas challenged hitters with a lively fastball at 88-89 mph and generated some natural cut at 86 as well. The uncommitted senior creates some steep, downward plane to the heater, working at the knees with the few misses being down below the zone. Complementing the fastball well was a curveball with 11-to-5 shape at 73 mph. McNicholas, who also had an impressive tournament at the plate, could develop into a legitimate two-way player at the next level.

– Nate Schweers

Baylor commit and righthanded pitcher Cody Howard (2021, Conroe, Texas) started on the mound for Banditos Scout Team. He threw from a high three-quarters slot and had a longer circle in the back with a very quick arm. He created good, hard downhill angle with an extended release out front. His fastball had arm-side run with some sink. Howard employed a four-pitch mix and tunneled his slider, curveball and changeup well for strikes below the belt. He allowed one hit and two walks and struck out 12 batters in six innings. Howard will be a very nice addition once begins play at Baylor Ballpark in Waco.

Uncommitted lefthanded pitcher Bryson Walker (2020, Houston, Texas) earned the win for Adidas National Team - Ina while allowing only one hit and one walk, striking out nine batters in seven innings of work. He stayed online and repeated his delivery well. His fastball has some arm-side run with control to both sides of the plate. Walker used his three-pitch arsenal to be very dominate in his outing. He worked consistently in the 85-88 mph range with a 2-to-8, 71-74 mph curveball that showed good action and he mixed in a changeup that had slight fade.

Houston commit Josh Hill (2020, Cypress, Texas) led the way for the Premier Baseball Scout Team offense going 2-for-2 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. The righthanded hitter had linear movements towards the baseball, stayed in the zone for a good bit and got the barrel out front with loud contact. He showcased good size and strength with quick hands with an aggressive upper half and proper usage of his hips during his at-bats. He is hitting .500 through three games and projects for more power once he arrivals on campus for the Cougars.

Connor Lee (2021, Manvel, Texas) is a righthanded pitcher that was effectively wild and tossed a no-hitter for Hunter Pence Baseball 2021 Rachal. He walked five while fanning six in five innings of work. Lee ran his fastball in the 82-85 mph range and complemented his fastball with a 70-72 mph curveball. He has a simple, online delivery with a high-three quarters arm slot. Lee was able to get downhill and worked low in the zoneto both sides when he repeated his delivery. With added velocity and work on his mechanics he could be someone to watch down the road.

Baylor commit and the No. 3 lefthander in the Texas 2020 class, Luke Thompson (2020, Cypress, Texas) was on the bump for Hunter Pence Baseball 2020 Calhoun to start off playoff action. Thompson has a very smooth delivery and hides the ball well upon release with slight effort. He has rhythm with a prominent mound present that showed immediately while showcasing pitchability. He worked below the belt and to both sides with two pitches which included his fastball that was 85-89 mph with arm-side run and a curveball that had good depth at 70-72 mph. Thompson allowed three hits, walked two and struck out nine batters in six innings.

Righthanded pitcher Coltin Atkinson (2020, Porter, Texas) is a 6-foot-1 Sam Houston State commit. He has a very quick arm and a simple delivery with good extension out front. He threw from a high three-quarters, stayed closed and cruised easily through five innings. Atkinson allowed only three hits during his impressive outing while punching seven batters out along the way. He worked consistently in the 85-89 mph range and accompanied his fastball with a 70-72 mph curveball. The future is bright for Atkinson and he should continue to develop nicely once he arrives at Sam Houston State.

The No. 6 overall righthanded pitcher in the 2020 class of Texas, Gabriel Pacheco (2020, Spring, Texas), was on the hill for Adidas National Team - Ina and showed why he is one of the better hurlers in the state. Standing at 6-foot, 185-pounds, throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot with a long arm circle in the back, he created plenty of deception by hiding the ball well throughout his delivery. Pacheco commanded his fastball very well to all parts of the plate and got a fair amount of swings-and-misses with his fastball that was 87-89 mph and topped out at 90 mph with riding life. He is very confident on the mound, knows how to pitch and threw 69 percent strikes. The future is bright for Pacheco and he should not stay uncommitted for very long after his performance in playoff action.

– Andrew Jenkins

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