Tournaments | Story | 9/29/2019

Sophomore World Day 3 Notes

Vincent Cervino         Greg Gerard         Jered Goodwin         Tyler Russo        
Photo: Dixon Williams (Perfect Game)

WWBA Sophomore World Championship: Daily Leaders | Day 1 Scout Notes | Day 2 Scout Notes

Showing off his high-profile defensive skillset on the afternoon was Resmondo FTB shortstop Ariel Antigua (2023, Lake Worth, Fla.) as the 2019 14u PG Select Festival infielder was basically a vacuum on the left side of the infield all day long. The shortstop shows excellent feel with very soft hands, and what he lacks in frontline speed he more than makes up with the consistency of his glove work. Antigua is a polished defender and his biggest present tool is his arm strength – he was recorded up to 90 mph from the infield at the 14u PG National. He has a hand cannon and that allows him to turn and fire to any base if runners get too aggressive while also being an asset when baserunners try to score from second base. As a hitter the swing is short and simple, but what impressed on Sunday was his plate discipline and ability to control the strike zone. He took some of the most impressive at-bats of the day, even if they didn’t result in hits, as he really knows how to work pitchers and lay off borderline pitches.

Batting in the three-hole for Top Tier this tournament is 5-foot-8, 155-pound Matthew Rose (2022, Clearwater, Fla.), and while Rose may have a smaller build, it certainly doesn’t hinder his ability to barrel balls with authority. The righthanded hitter, who just turned 15, has a balanced, confident setup in the box with a whippy barrel head throughout the hitting zone. He’s able to generate good bat speed while consistently getting out in front and using that to hammer baseballs to both halves of the field. He does a lot of hitterish things in the batter’s box from his confidence, consistency of contact and his performance from the weekend with a .667 batting average during the event with good extra-base pop too.

5 Star Jones 2022 had a bye entering bracket play and one of the sparkplugs for their offense this weekend was middle infielder Jose Ayala (2023, Bradenton, Fla.) as the athletic, wiry prospect does a lot of things well on the field. The high-waisted infielder stands at an eminently projectable 5-foot-10, 150-pounds with tons of room to add strength and fill out. The athleticism shows out well as he’s a good runner and shows good foot speed and range on the defensive side of the ball. The swing projects nicely with some strength but he shows feel for getting the barrel head out and spraying contact. He does a very good job in the leadoff role and should only continue to improve.

Closing out a tight Round of 16 matchup for the Tri State Arsenal 2022 Scout Team was Duke commit and righthander Jaxon Pastore (2022, Highland Beach, Fla.) as he struck out three over the final 1 2/3 innings on the hill. Pastore has a lot of things to like with good size, athleticism, and present stuff. Standing at 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, Pastore has a very fast arm with a compact stroke but the athleticism is evident in the delivery and his size portends velocity gains as he continues his development. He throws from an over-the-top slot and sat in the 84-87 mph range for the duration of his performance, getting a good amount of empty hacks in the process. The quality of the fastball was good and he only showed a handful of breaking balls, a pitch that showed late tilt and biting action with good shape and projection in the low-70s. Pastore used the breaking ball to lock up and freeze hitters for two of his strikeouts.

One of the top-ranked prospects in the class is righthander Jack O'Connor (2022, Arlington, Va.) and the touted pitching prospect checks a lot of boxes when evaluating young prospects. Standing at an uber-projectable 6-foot-5, 217-pounds, O’Connor has the potential to be a physical monster at maturity while the delivery is clean and repeatable with a longer arm stroke through the back. The length of the arm stroke has never really caused timing issues for the Virginia commit in the past and he was around the strike zone again on Sunday, walking only three on around 100 pitches. The fastball has very good life, topping at 91 mph and sitting mostly 85-88 mph and he would touch a tick higher or two in big situations. The ability to add and subtract bodes well for O’Connor who was able to maintain his stuff late into the game. He got some ugly swings on the breaking ball in the low-70s that shows some slurve, but has good depth, while the changeup was another solid pitch in the 78-80 mph range. With three pitches for strikes, the size and stuff it’s easy to see why O’Connor is highly touted.

Two physical prospects who have been important cogs for their Elite 8 teams have been Resmondo FTB’s Eduardo Balboa (2023, Weslaco, Texas) and .9ers’ Jack Frankovic (2022, Little Silver, N.J.).

Balboa, one of the higher-ranked prospects in the 2023 class, is a physically advanced prospect with a 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame and excellent strength. The swing is smooth with a heavy barrel as he drives through contact nicely to impact the ball with strength. Balboa is a prototypical middle-of-the-lineup presence that has some power at present to the pull side that should only expand as he continues to develop. Balboa showed off the arm strength during the quarterfinal game by topping out at 85 mph on the mound.

Frankovic used both gaps very well this weekend, hammering baseballs during his time in the batter’s box. The 6-foot, 175-pound righthanded hitter has strong wrists with a wiry-strong and projectable build. He creates some barrel lag by whipping the bat violently through the hitting zone and torqueing through his lower half. The performance was impressive this weekend as he finished hitting .375 with two doubles to his credit.

– Vinnie Cervino

Tall righthander Cameron Padgett (2022, Salisbury, N.C.) was masterful on Sunday morning in route to pitching the South Charlotte Panthers into the quarterfinals. Padgett is not going to overpower hitters with his velocity, topping out at 82 mph on Sunday and 84 mph earlier in the summer, but the strike-throwing ability that Padgett has is well beyond his years. The frame projects so well and the delivery is very easy and repeatable on top of the righty having three pitches that he can throw in any count for strikes. Padgett threw 75 percent of his 85 pitches in this contest for strikes pitching to contact and varying speeds. The fastball sits in the low-80s, the changeup has tumble out of his hand and he is able to locate to the bottom of the strike zone with a low-70s curveball. Padgett is going to continue to throw harder as he fills out physically and the uncommitted righthander from North Carolina is going to be a fun player to follow throughout the rest of his prep career.

Opposing Padgett in what turned into the game of the day at Terry Park was Virginia commit Donovan Zsak (2022, Scotch Plains, N.J.). The lefthander is working back to form from an injury that has sidelined him for the past few weeks, but it was hard to tell that anything was hindering the southpaw in this contest. Zsak sat 84-87 mph throughout his three innings of works pitching primarily off of the fastball and flashing a developing breaking ball as well. The delivery and frame both project so well with plenty of arm speed, tempo and a working lower half. He stands at a listed 6-foot-1 and appears even taller than that on the mound. The arm works so well staying online with projectable arm speed before coming out cleanly out of his hand. Zsak competes on the mound as well with a confident demeanor and attacking hitters with his heater. The Virginia commit has a tremendous ceiling that has several years to ultimately reach as he is still just 16-years old.

From one Virginia pitching commit to another in the 2022 class, this time in the righthander from Florida, Evan Dobias (2022, Sunrise, Fla.). Dobias pitched consecutive days for Cannons Baseball Academy 2022 American and was extremely dominant on day two. In relief Dobias threw three innings punching out six opposing hitters with no walks and two hits allowed. The two-pitch combination that Dobias has at his disposal was pretty electric in this look as the fastball sat 84-87 mph with one of the best breaking balls in the event as well. The pitch is very sharp with late bite and advanced feel for his age. The curveball has 73-75 mph velocity with swing-and-miss downward action that helped the future Cavalier tally his six strikeouts.

In a consolation game at Terry Park in the afternoon time slot the shortstop from Florida Burn 2023 Platinum, Sammy Mummau (2023, Palm Harbor, Fla.), stood out for his defensive actions as well as with his quick righthanded swing. Hitting at the top of the Burn lineup, Mummau walked and was hit by a pitch in this look but the middle infielder did get the chance to swing the bat fouling off pitches while displaying a confident and patient approach. The swing is mostly compact with quickness to his hands and a level barrel plane. Mummau has plenty of quick-twitch to his actions in the middle infield, standing out on a slow roller play that he made look very smooth charging the ball and releasing from a low arm slot with arm strength across the diamond. Mummau has a young frame with plenty of room to continue to fill out on his listed 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame.

Recent Vanderbilt commit Matthew Wolfe (2022, Westerville, Ohio) is a player that has an ideal frame along with the athleticism to play shortstop for years to come. The starting shortstop and two-hole hitter for the semifinalists of Tri-State Arsenal 2022 Scout Team, Wolfe had a nice day at the plate including a double that sailed over the left fielder’s head to his pull side. Wolfe creates some lift to his swing path with a two-handed finish and extension through contact. The Vanderbilt commit’s swing projects for plenty of power as he continues to fill out physically. Wolfe stands at 6-foot-1, 165-pounds with lots of room to continue to fill out along with a projectable skillset to dream on. Up the middle his footwork is impressive and his arm is very loose with plenty of zip across the infield. He was able to showcase that arm on multiple double plays turned up the middle during his team’s doubleheader.

Nathan Chrismon (2022, China Grove, N.C.) is a quick-twitch infielder who was impressive throughout the day for the South Charlotte Panthers, especially with his already above average speed. Chrismon beat out an infield single with a 4.19 second home-to-first time after hitting a ground ball to third base. Chrismon immediately took second base for a stolen base as well with no chance at throwing him out because of his impressive foot speed. Chrismon has a quick bat as well with a downhill path to contact. The righthanded hitter has a contact approach at the plate and is a versatile defender with the ability to play both the infield and outfield as well as pitch, where he tossed four efficient innings of relief in the quarterfinals of the 2019 WWBA Sophomore World Championship.

– Greg Gerard

Team All American 2022 made a nice run during the tournament. The TAA lineup was versatile and nicely put together. The centerpiece was Thomas Nicely (2022 Delmont, Pa.), who hit in the three-hole. He is a physical righthanded hitter who may have been one of the strongest players in Fort Myers this weekend. The uncommitted prospect has a compact and powerful swing that he used to barrel balls from line to line. He had four hits on the day, including three in the first round of the playoffs. The backstop has the ability to impact the ball to the opposite field with authority as he showed during game play on Sunday. Behind the plate he has strong wrists that allow him to stick pitches on 50/50 calls to help his battery mate. His transfer is clean and showed accuracy on throws.

TayShaun Walton (2023 Emporia, Va.) and Alvin Keels (2022 Portsmouth, Va.) are part of a very athletic Richmond Braves 16u National lineup that is relentless in its attack. The two young bats showed the ability to impact the game in multiple ways.

Walton is a physical righthanded hitter with lots of explosiveness in his game. He is not a raw athlete, however, as he displayed the ability to recognize spin, control the zone and use a whole-field approach. The Miami commit saw pitches deep and stuck with his approach taking what the pitcher gave him. He drove two pitches to the opposite field, one of them landing for a hit. The outfielder, playing left field Sunday, also got a good jump on a ball that he ranged in making the catch on the run. He immediately threw the ball to second base to complete a double play to end an inning. He showed good burst on the play and nice instincts to double up the runner that thought the ball was falling for a hit.

Keels is a smooth athlete that plays the game hard. Late in the game he turned on a pitch and drove it to left-center field for a double. He followed it by stealing third base and scored on an errant throw. His ability to get up to speed in a hurry can change the game and put tons of pressure on the opposing defense. Playing the shortstop position, he shows plenty of range and has solid carry on his throws. He has confidence in his game and will continue to make big jumps with added reps.

Canes American always make deep runs at Perfect Game events. There was no difference in Fort Myers as they showcased a lineup built for the deep run that would ensue. Offensively, Dixon Williams (2022 Grimesland, N.C.), Caleb Crain (2022 Forest City, N.C.) and Cameron Burgess (2022 Southport, N.C.) helped the Canes make a run to the quarter finals.

Williams continued his strong tournament in the first round of bracket play. He shows a mature approach, working counts and showing good recognition skills. He did get a pitch he could drive and hammered it for a two-run double that would put the game away for the Canes. The 6-foot-2 lefthanded hitter has plenty of room for growth and lots of length through contact. He played shortstop and demonstrated the ability to move well laterally and throw from multiple arm angles.

Crain crashed on the scene in a big way this weekend. A strongly built 6-foot-2 lefthanded hitter with the ability to get his barrel speed up with a quick flick, he consistently impacted balls to the middle of the field. He is heavy handed and the ball flies off his bat. The uncommitted prospect has very good strike zone recognition and spotted spin early as well. There is immense upside as a middle-of-the-order hitter, and one could dream of him producing at the next level early. He is a solid athlete and runs well for his size. He also jumped on the mound and hit 84 mph from the left side to show some arm strength. Crain should not be uncommitted for long.

Burgess tried to will his team to the final four. His stats are loud with five hits, including a couple doubles, on the day. There was nothing cheap about any of them as he fired his barrel with accuracy, slaughtering baseballs seemingly every time he stepped into the box. He has a simple process and used a low effort swing to drive balls deep to the alleys. The loft power potential as the righthanded hitter’s body matures is massive. Burgess is another uncommitted prospect that should garner attention throughout the fall.

A recent 14u PG Select Festival participant, Riley Jackson (2023 Melbourne, Fla.)had a great day for 5 Star Dobbs 2023, a team that made a run to the Round of 16. The young backstop’s body projects big, with length to his frame and plenty of room to add solid weight. He has an extra quick bat and shows real intent when unloading on a pitch. The righthanded hitter blasted two line drives on Sunday for hits. The three-hole hitter has extreme confidence at the plate and does not get cheated. The power will come with physical maturity and learning to create space out front. His offensive potential at the catching position is unique. He also toed the rubber, touching 80 mph during his outing.

– Jered Goodwin

North Carolina State commit Jackson Ferris (2022, Mount Airy, N.C.) was outstanding on the mound for round one of the playoffs as he tossed six shutout innings, allowing just four hits and no walks while striking out 12. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound lefthander works an athletic, high-tempo delivery with plenty of physical projection. There is some deception to the angle and release as he hides the ball well in the back. He worked 80-84 mph on the fastball throughout the outing with a strong feel to spin and land a low-70s curveball. The pitchability and ability to repeat mechanically give Ferris plenty of success now and project to more success moving forward.

Austin Williamson (2022, Denver, N.C.) also got a start in the first round of the playoffs as he tossed five innings, allowing a pair of earned runs and picking up five strikeouts in the process. The extra-large 6-foot-3, 200-pound righthander is very physically advanced with high projection to the amount of strength the frame looks to hold. Working 80-83 mph on the fastball in this look, Williamson has some whippiness to the arm and stays clean and online in the back to work downhill well with good extension to the plate. There is some feel to land a loose curveball in the upper-60s mph with plenty of development to come on it.

University of Florida commit Blaydon Plain (2022, Greenville, Fla.) was impressive once again with a bat in his hands, although not loading up the stat sheet in this look. The lefthanded hitting corner infielder gets on plane really early with the approach and creates solid line drive contact even when off time or off balanced. The bat speed is very good and the strong wrists allow Plain to flick line drives to both gaps with relative ease. The athleticism continues to improve with every tournament and it will be exciting to watch just how talented this skillset can get.

LSU commit Brady Neal (2023, Tallahassee, Fla.) picked up his first pair of hits on the weekend in the form of a single and a loud triple as he showcased the hit tool that is at or near the top of the class. The feel for getting the barrel out front and creating power at contact is undoubted with a short, compact stroke with tons of bat speed. Neal is an elite and advanced backstop with some of the best defensive tools behind the plate in the class, projecting overall to a very high level with a very bright future on both sides of the ball.

Kaden Varela Payne (2022, Wake Forest, N.C.) made two appearances on playoff Sunday and showed promising stuff from a low three-quarters arm slot in both outings. The 6-foot-1, 155-pound righthander has easy projection in the young, lean frame with long limbs. The delivery is very twitchy with plenty of athleticism at present, creating some deception with some of the movements. He worked 83-86 mph with the fastball, creating some running life from the arm slot and whippiness. There is some feel to spin a good low-70s breaking ball, but he is a bit raw with the feel to land it at present.

Drew Lanphere (2022, Wendell, N.C.) hits up near the top of the talented Canes American lineup and showed why as he continued his stellar performance at the plate picking up three more hits on the day to keep his average up over .400 for the tournament. The lefthanded hitting corner infielder has a simple, controlled operation at the plate with a mature approach to spray line drives to both gaps. The hands stay short to the ball with tons of bat speed to pull the barrel through. The athleticism and speed greatly enhance the overall game and the tools should help Lanphere develop into a very talented prospect as he continues to mature physically.

Teammates Rafael Betancourt Jr(2022, Deltona, Fla.) and Stewart Puckett (2022, Deleon Springs, Fla.) continued their strong performances for the FTB Tucci 2022 team as they picked up a combined six hits in their first two playoff games.

Betancourt Jr. picked up four of those hits as he laced a single and a triple in game one from the left side of the plate before barreling up a double and a triple in game two from the right side of the plate. There is bat speed generated on both sides of the plate with strength at contact and the ability to lift the ball to all fields. The switch-hitting shortstop has plenty of tools paired with an athletic projection to make up a talented uncommitted prospect.

Puckett contributed a pair of hits of his own in the form of a single in game one and a double in game two, picking up a pair of walks along the way. The double in game two came as he took an inner half fastball and launched it to deep right-center resulting in a ground-rule double. There is definite bat speed with strength at contact hitting from the left side and the athleticism throughout the frame stands out as he adjusts well to hitting pitches around the zone.

Tanner Zellem (2022, Fleming Island, Fla.) continued to show the strides he has made at the plate as he worked an 11-pitch at-bat resulting in a barreled double into the pull-side gap, driving in a pair. He has great barrel awareness with strong wrists and tons of bat speed to get the barrel out front and create solid line drive contact to both gaps. There is still some occasional rawness to the operation, but as he continues to clean up some of the swing-and-miss, Zellem will continue to climb the ranks toward the top end of the class.

– Tyler Russo

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