Tournaments | Story | 9/14/2019

Fall Champs: Day 1 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Brian Sakowski         Connor Spencer         Colton Olinger        
Photo: Devan Ornelas (Perfect Game)

PG Fall National Championship: Freshman Daily Leaders | Upperclass Daily Leaders

The 2019 PG Fall National Championship Protected by G-Form kicked off on Friday afternoon in the greater Phoenix area, with summer-hot temperatures in mid-September. GBG Marucci Navy 2020 got off to a very good start with a 3-1 win to start their pool play with a win. Devan Ornelas (2020, Chatsworth, Calif.) has enjoyed an excellent career in Perfect Game events to date and started off this event with a good performance, going 1-for-3 with a couple barrels. An athletic, lefthanded hitting middle-of-the-diamond player, Ornelas stands out for his speed, athleticism, defensive abilities/versatility and bat-to-ball skills. With a loose, whippy lefthanded swing, Ornelas is able to control the barrel well and make contact all over the zone, spraying liners in a whole-field approach. He hits leadoff for GBG and fits the mold of a top-of-the-order talent at the collegiate level as well, where he’s committed to TCU.

Jacob Wilson (2020, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) pitched three shutout innings of relief for GBG, wholly dominating in this look. A primary infielder committed to Grand Canyon, Wilson looked good on the mound and certainly has some two-way upside. Slenderly-built with good athleticism and lots of physical projection, Wilson ran his fastball up to 88 mph and settled into the mid-80s, creating good angle to the plate from an extended three-quarters slot and consistently pounding the zone with the pitch. He mixed in a shorter, slurvier slider for strikes as well, tunneled well out of that slot and playing really well moving glove side as compared to his fastball, which has good arm-side movement on it.

GBG Northwest and Wildfire Baseball locked into a good game that went back-and-forth throughout, before a three-run top of the seventh inning propelled Wildfire to the 7-6 win. Logan Mercado (2020, Pasco, Wash.) got the start for GBG and was dominant in his three frames, punching out five and not allowing a baserunner on just 34 pitches. A high-end, two-way talent, Mercado is committed to Oregon to play both ways and certainly looks like he’ll be highly successful in that venture. He ran his fastball up to 92 mph early on and consistently pounded the zone in the 87-91 mph range, mixing in a breaking ball in the 72-74 mph range that he could throw for strikes. He also picked up two knocks in the game including a double, and the athleticism/arm strength combination he possesses should serve him well on the left side of the infield as well.

The floodgates opened quickly for Wildfire in the top of the seventh, starting off with a Nick Gore (2020, Scottsdale, Ariz.) double to lead off the frame, with Wildfire down by a pair of runs. Timmy Kelley (2021, Mesa, Ariz.) tripled him home to cut the GBG lead down to one, then came home on a single from Marshall Williams (2021, Peoria, Ariz.), tying the game at six-all. After Williams advanced to second on a walk, Hayden Lewis (2022, Scottsdale, Ariz.) singled to score him, putting Wildfire ahead 7-6, a score that would hold through the bottom of the seventh and give Wildfire a huge opening day victory.

CBA Marucci, much like they always do, picked up an opening-round win on Friday night to move to 1-0 in pool play and set themselves up nicely for the playoffs, should they continue to win on Friday morning. Cameron Walty (2020, Elk Grove, Calif.) got the start for CBA and was solid in a brief look, running his fastball up to 89 mph with good life to the arm side and mixing in a firmer slurvy breaking ball in the mid- to upper-70s that has plenty of spin and some bite to it. Walty only threw two innings, presumably for the sake of potentially lining him up in a playoff game in a few days. He’s committed to Nevada.

Landon Wallace (2020, Roseville, Calif.) had a loud day at the plate for CBA, picking up three hits in three trips to the plate. An athletic, highly projectable catching prospect who can play other spots as well, Wallace has a direct stroke with loose wrists and plenty of bat speed, getting the barrel on plane early and driving the ball on a line. He can impact the ball firmly now and does so with high frequency, and his physicality projects in a way that allows for evaluators to really buy into Wallace having significant power at physical maturity as well, giving him prodigious upside as an athletic catcher with potentially above average power.

Several CBA hitters had loud days at the plate, including the aforementioned Wallace. Fisher Pyatt (2020, San Diego, Calif.) had a pair of hits including a home run and three RBI, while Jag Burden (2020, Huntington Beach, Calif.) had a pair of knocks in a double and a triple. The CBA offense looks prolific, scoring runs in bunches and getting quality at-bats up and down the lineup, making them one of the handful of potential favorites to win the whole event this weekend.

– Brian Sakowski

In the Upperclass division of the PG Fall National Championship, the action began in Goodyear with Slammers Quintana heating up their bats early against Boys of Summer Tribe. Uncommitted righthander Chase Prestwich (2021, Frederick, Col.) didn’t require all the run support he received throwing four full shutout innings while allowing just one hit. Prestwich has a free and easy motion that generates a mid-80s fastball from a high three-quarters slot. He topped out at 87 mph on his day and had solid control of his arsenal. Moreover, the fastball shows occasional arm-side run, especially when locating to his arm side. Prestwich uses two different breaking balls, the first being a 10-to-4 shaped slider and the second being a 12-to-6 curveball. The slider sits around 74 mph and has far more side-to-side action than downward bite. The curveball is a better pitch with large shape that he’s able to consistently drop in for strikes. Prestwich isn’t afraid to pitch backwards and use his secondary stuff to set up his fastball as a kill pitch. There’s plenty of potential in his arm as he continues to develop.

TCU commit Brayden Taylor (2020, West Jordan, Utah.) was impressive for MountainWest in their opening game of the tournament. Taylor has present athleticism and projectable length that plays up the middle of the diamond. He has strong footwork with a good feel for the ball off the barrel. At the plate, he uses an upright stance with a higher handset that stays close to his helmet until his load. Taylor’s hands travel a great distance back into his load and he uses a high leg kick as his trigger, yet, he has a good feel overall for his timing. Occasionally, he can get out over his front side as his high leg kick forces a heavy linear weight shift. However, Taylor possesses an intangible maturity and presence at the plate that suggests a high ceiling as he continues on to the next level. Taylor has the potential to be an elite all-around ballplayer as his frame fills out. He ended his day going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a double and two RBIs.

Sam Hayen (2020, Aurora, Col.) shut the door for Slammers Jenkins as they defeated MVP Black 6-1. Hayen has a very projectable 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame that creates good downward angle from an over-the-top slot. He has a longer arm action with a mid-to-high leg lift that he turns in and hunches down into slightly at the apex of his lift. His fastball sits 84-86 and he touched 88 mph in his outing. The fastball possesses occasional cutting action as his window feels low and out in front especially for his size. Unfortunately, this window causes his fastball to flatten out significantly when located up in the zone. His breaking ball is a large-shaped 12-to-6 curveball that flashes plus ability with solid depth and downward bite. He froze a batter for strike three to end the ballgame with it. Hayen has the ability to locate the pitch over the plate for a strike or force it down in the zone as an out-pitch. He finished going three full innings while fanning four.

In the late afternoon eXposure West Fall started their tournament off right behind a dominant start by Darius Garcia (2020, Albuquerque, N.M.) who threw a complete game shutout with 10 strikeouts and only three hits allowed. Garcia has a lengthy, slender frame with plenty of room to fill out in the future. His 83-85 mph fastball that touched 86 stands to improve as his frame progresses. He has a short and quick arm action that hides the ball well as he reaches back along his body line then fires it into a three-quarters arm slot. His true three-quarters slot is tough on lefthanders as his fastball carries occasional arm-side run, especially when locating to his arm side. From the windup, his leg lift kicks out then sweeps down the mound. From the stretch he stays taller and more linear down the hill. Garcia loves his fastball and it felt as though he threw 90 percent of the time or more. At one point he threw his fastball 11 times in a row with runners in scoring position. He also mixes in a changeup that sits around 74 mph. What’s encouraging about Garcia is that he maintained his velocity from his first inning of work to his last, finishing his outing still touching at least 85 mph.

Team Dinger’s bats exploded for 12 runs and Aiden Beamon (2020, Phoenix, Ariz.) had a nice day at the plate going 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Beamon has a conventional, upright stance with a slight vertical bat wag pre-pitch. He possesses a fluid rhythm with the pitcher with a quiet load and strong hands. His bat speed through the zone and discipline at the plate are still developing, but he generates solid pop when he finds barrel. Moreover, there’s some slight hook to his barrel at times, which became more prevalent towards the end of the ball game. If he’s able to force his hands inside the baseball, his flat barrel path will give him a chance to find a barrel every time. He’s an interesting bat to follow going forward.

– Connor Spencer

Isaac Chavira (2020, Glendale, Ariz.) was dominant on the mound for his Crew squad in their 1-0 win to kick off pool play at the 2019 PG Fall National Championship. Chavira went six shutout innings with a fastball that sat 82-84 mph and topped out at 86 mph while striking out 10.  From his high three-quarters arm slot his fastball showed good carry helping get swings-and-misses up in the zone, He backed his fastball with a low- to mid-70s slider that had he showed the ability to miss bats with and sweeping breaking action. His long lean build and quick arm project well as he continues to fill out and mature.

Tag Bross (2020, Scottsdale, Ariz.) was able to get the AZ T-Rex Easton offense rolling in the bottom of the first with a line drive, opposite field double. His patient approach allowed him to reach base again later in the game with a walk. His simple, quiet set up allows him to see the ball deep, where his quick compact level bat path creates a line drive swing. His strong lower half stays involved throughout the swing helping create drive off his back side. His physical build still has room to fill out as he projects well for gap-to-gap pop.

Vinnie Bachelier (2020, Sacramento, Calif.), a University of Nevada commit, got off to a hot start with two extra-base hits on day one as his day at the plate included a double and a home run. His simple, quiet approach starts with a small leg kick and good separation of the hands through his load. His bat works through the zone with some present loft in his high finish. He does a good job of generating power from the ground up with good drive off his back-side. His 6-foot-1, 175 pound frame leaves room to continue to fill out and add even more power as he matures.

Bryce Warrecker (2020, Santa Barbra, Calif.) naturally draws lot of attention as his 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame is hard to miss. On the mound he uses that large frame to his advantage creating good plane on his mid-80s fastball that showed some natural heavy sink while creating swings-and-misses as it topped out at 87 mph. His ability to land the fastball for strikes kept him ahead in the count during his outing. He complemented the fastball with a slider that showed good bite while sitting in the mid-70s. At the plate his simple stance and stride allow him to get his bat head out front with his smooth, lofty lefthanded swing. His large frame and clean swing mechanics project well for more power.

Kolby Kmetko (2020, Phoenix, Ariz.) displayed some serious pull-side power with a long home run to left field. The strong, lean shortstop starts with a tall, slightly open stance with good rhythm in his pre-load stance. His bat path moves with a direct, compact action towards the ball with good extension through contact. His lower half helps create power as he stays on the ball driving off his back-side.

Kai Taylor (2020, Chandler, Ariz.) dominated his two innings of relief with a fastball that sat in the mid-80s and topped out at 89 mph. Working from the stretch the whole time, his simple delivery is very repeatable allowing him to fill up the zone. His fastball showed good carry as he was able to create swings-and-misses up in the zone. He showed the ability to mix in a slider that sat 73-74 mph with some sweeping bite. With his ability to throw both pitches for strikes he was able to work ahead in the count throughout his outing.

– Colton Olinger

Players in the Freshman Fall Championships are just beginning their high school careers, meaning they’ll have four years to figure out where they will ultimately play, positionally, at the next level. Zane Kelly (2023, Las Vegas, Nev.) is listed as a primary lefthanded pitcher though after the way he swung it Friday afternoon there’s a good chance he’ll continue to develop as a two-way prospect and he’s one that college recruiters have already started to take notice of.

Checking in at No. 127 in the first batch of the class of 2023 national rankings, Kelly is strongly built at a listed 6-foot, 160-pounds, offering additional room to fill which makes his overall profile even more enticing. Kelly, a lefthanded hitter, twice found the barrel in a loud manner and both times the result ended with him standing on third base. After opening his tournament with a hard line drive triple into right field, Kelly again found the barrel and showed looseness to his hands with another loud and barreled triple to center field, showing his strength and also his speed as he moved well going from first to third.

As mentioned, Kelly is listed as a primary pitcher and he made a brief cameo in this game out of the bullpen. Though he didn’t have his best stuff in terms of command, the uncommitted Las Vegas native did show a quick left arm which helped run his fastball up to 82 mph with consistent running life down in the zone. There’s obviously more velocity in the tank, especially as he continues to incorporate and refine his lower half mechanics, but the overall ease and looseness of his arm are certainly noteworthy.

With the opening day of the Freshman Fall Championships taking place at the Peoria complex, you could easily put a Mariners or Padres jersey onto Duce Robinson (2023, Phoenix, Ariz.) and nobody would think twice that he belongs on the backfields in terms of his physicality. Recently tabbed as the No. 39 player in the nation in the initial class of 2023 rankings, Robinson already stands at 6-foot-5, 215-pounds and drew plenty of “he’s 14?!” throughout his first handful of at-bats in the tournament.

Aside from being physically gifted, Robinson knows how to incorporate that strength into his offensive approach as he twice found the barrel for hard triples and picked up another single to go 3-for-4 on the day. Despite the length to his frame, Robinson stays relatively short to the ball, and though he’ll get to his front side early at times, there’s no mistaking the strength to his hands as he’s able to control the barrel and remain on time with his hands. The first of his two triples may have been the most impressive as he didn’t even fully barrel the pitch but still managed to drive the ball to the left field warning track, a true testament to his strength. He moves well for his size – also receiving big attention as a wide receiver – and accelerates nicely around the bases as he showed with his second triple, a line shot that got over the center fielder’s head on a hanging curveball that jumped off his barrel.

William Sullivan (2023, Las Vegas, Nev.) may not have shown the biggest fastball of the day, but he consistently lived in the upper-70s during his 3 2/3 innings of hitless baseball, a time in which he punched out five and showed to be in complete control. Standing at 6-foot, 175-pounds with broadness to his shoulders, the young lefthander creates deception with moving parts to his delivery and does a nice job of hiding the ball through the back-side before working to an over-the-top slot, making for an overall uncomfortable experience for the opposing batter. Sullivan topped out at 79 mph in this look with his fastball and did a nice job of generating steady plane to his heater, though it was his ability to mix both a curveball and slider for strikes that proved to be a difference maker. His curveball provided more 12-to-6 shape given his release point with big depth in the low-60s while his slider played off his fastball better, working in the 70-73 mph range with tighter rotation and short, late break, giving him three true pitches with which he could miss bats.

Chris Newstrom (2024, Scottsdale, Ariz.) won’t enter high school for another year, and despite his age, he has already made a name for himself nationally as he performed well at the inaugural 13u PG Select Festival in Oklahoma and continued to swing it well on opening day in Arizona. The 6-foot, 165-pound Newstrom enjoyed a 2-for-3 day at the plate and immediately made a loud impression in his first at-bat of the tournament. Utilizing his strength and length, Newstrom was able to to backspin a ball to his pull gap that nearly got out, going for a triple instead, but also showed the type of strength he has and will grow into given the carry off a wood bat at just 14-years old. He continued to exhibit a feel for the barrel, singling to the middle of the field in a later at-bat to pick up an RBI before jumping on the mound to close things out where he ran his fastball up to 82 mph and punched out a pair in his lone inning of work.

Aldolfo Sanchez (2023, Phoenix, Ariz.) was handed the ball for the opening game of pool play for AZ Athletics 2023 Founders Club and the young lefthander didn’t disappoint, proving to be in complete control over the first few frames, striking out six in 3 2/3 innings of work. Sanchez isn’t as physical as some of the other players mentioned, standing at 5-foot-9, 135-pounds, but that didn’t stop him from living in the 77-79 mph range which his fastball, spotting to either side of the plate with a loose and clean arm stroke. He does a nice job of remaining online down the mound, allowing himself to repeat his delivery and attack the zone while showing nice life to his fastball when down in the zone. The difference maker, aside from his ability to fill the zone, was his overall feel for three pitches, maintaining his release on both a low-70s changeup and a curveball up to 69 mph with tight rotation and short, sweeping finish.

Michael Harrison (2023, Fontana, Calif.) is a prospect I was first able to see at the 14u West Fall Showcase last November in California and in almost a year’s time he has made strides both physically and to his game, particularly in the batter’s box. Now standing 6-foot-1, 187-pounds, Harrison put that added strength on display right away in with a 2-for-2 performance in Top Tier Americans’ opening game win hitting from atop the order. Harrison utilizes a very simple “see the ball, hit the ball” approach in that there’s very little movement pre-pitch with just a quick, subtle load before unleashing the barrel to the ball, and it’s a gameplan that proved to work on day one. His hands are loose and the swing overall is an easy one for Harrison, twice picking up singles to the opposite field in each of his first two at-bats, and given his physical strength, as he continues to incorporate additional lower half into his swing there’ll be plenty more pop coming off his barrel.

Another young player who won’t enter high school for another year, lefthander Mason Brassfield (2024, Bakersfield, Calif.), came out of the bullpen for the Top Tier Americans and provided a quick 1 1/3-inning look before coming out after 20 pitches to come back later this weekend. A primary outfielder per his profile, the 6-foot, 155-pound Brassfield offers plenty of intrigue on the mound moving forward as he continues to log experience and physically develop. That said, Brassfield ran his fastball up to 80 mph, and despite working across his body some, he was able to keep things simple when working out of the stretch as he was able to limit the moving parts of his delivery and quickly filled the zone. He worked mostly from an extended three-quarters slot, occasionally bumping up to a higher three-quarters release, all the while showing firmness to his fastball through the zone with some plane to the lower quadrants. He worked predominately off of his fastball, showing just a lone curveball at 70 mph which he maintained his arm speed on nicely, and will be a name to follow throughout the circuit over the next few years.

– Jheremy Brown

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