Tournaments | Story | 10/13/2019

Freshman World Day 1-2 Notes

Jheremy Brown         Greg Gerard         Nate Schweers         Drew Wesolowski         Tyler Russo         Andrew Jenkins        
Photo: Nolan Stevens (Perfect Game)

2019 WWBA Freshman World Championship: Event Page | Daily Leaders

A 2019 PG Select Festival member and already a Mississippi State commit, Jackson McKenzie (2023, Pace, Fla.) got the start for the USA Prime National club and was fantastic for his brief two-inning stint, punching out four of his six outs. McKenzie already stands at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, and for as much as his arm strength stands out, it was the command and overall pitchability that once again stood out for the young lefthander. He opened up and maintained a fastball that lived in the 81-83 mph range, bumping upwards of 84-85 mph on a couple, from a compact arm action that he hides well through the backside aiding in some deception. McKenzie worked on top of the ball well, generating plane from his higher release and short running life while employing an absolute attack-mode mentality on the mound. The fastball was his go-to pitch and he rarely strayed from it in his two-inning stint but he did manage to show a 12-to-6 curveball with downer shape in the upper-60s that has proven to be a swing-and-miss pitch in prior viewings.

Kade Anderson (2023, Madisonville, La.) followed McKenzie for USA Prime and continued to up the ante of lefthanded arms, continually pounding the strike zone with a three-pitch mix that project extremely well moving forward. As projectable as his arsenal is, Anderson’s long 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame look even better moving forward given his room to fill though his ability to mix and attack already stand out. The future LSU Tiger faced the minimum over his two frames and punched out all six while showing a fastball that topped out at 85 mph, living comfortably in the 82-84 mph range. The plethora of strikes shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given how compact, quick, and repeatable his arm action is and the angle he’s able to generate on his fastball helped miss barrels, jumping out of his hand with riding life through the zone and consistent plane. He seldom went away from his heater, though he possesses a pair of impressive secondaries including a changeup that he showed an advanced feel for in turning over at 78 mph with a mimicked release and late diving life.

After an impressive performance last weekend at the WWBA Underclass, lefthander Miller Green (2023, Nashville, Tenn.) drew quite the slew of college recruiters Friday night under the lights. At 6-foot-4, 170-pounds Green certainly looks the part just walking to the mound with a high waist and long limbs, all assets that point to plenty more in the tank at physical maturation. Similar to Kade Anderson, Green stays very compact with his arm stroke through the backside before working to an over-the-top slot with plenty of arm speed to generate a fastball velocity that peaked at 84 mph and lived in the 80-83 mph range. In his first inning Green did nothing but pound the strike zone, generating steady plane with heavy running life to his arm side at times and ultimately struck out five over his three innings of work. Along with the physical projection, Green will continue to add velocity as he incorporates additional lower half into his drive with finish over his front side. Green didn’t land his curveball early in the game, a 65-68 mph pitch, but it did show tight rotation with depth and 1-to-7 shape, providing all the makings of an excellent secondary offering.

Luca Reyes (2023, Teaneck, N.J.) and Esteban Garcia (2023, Woodhaven, N.Y.) are a pair of lefthanded bats who helped make the BL 101 Real Ballers offense click in their first game of the day from the leadoff and three-hole spots of the lineup. The 6-foot, 160-pound Reyes picked up a couple knocks on the day, showing looseness to his swing with a linear path through the zone with present bat speed and some whip to the barrel. He drifted a bit through his lower half and onto his front side early, but he found his rhythm and managed to impress college recruiters for his overall instincts on the field and long-term projection. Garcia finished the day with just one base knock but it was a loud one that drove in a pivotal run in a game that ultimately ended in a tie as he turned on a mid-80s fastball for a hard line drive triple to his pull-side gap, showing some whip to the barrel and jump coming off.

Campbell Smithwick (2023, Conway, S.C) is making his first appearance at a Perfect Game event since hitting .625 at the 14u WWBA National Championships and over a one-game look it appears he hasn’t stopped hitting in between tournaments. A leadoff hitter for the Canes National team who stands 6-foot, 165-pounds, Smithwick went 2-for-3 in their second game and his overall presence in the box exudes looseness and athleticism, both on his takes and when letting the barrel fly. He’s younger for the 2023 class, meaning he can play at the 14u level again next summer, which could pose problematic for opposing pitchers as his hands are already plenty quick and he does a nice job of creating separation in his swing while whipping the barrel through the point of contact.

Playing alongside fellow PG Select Festival member Steven Milam up the middle, Austen Roellig (2023, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) made the trip out from California and he’s a player college coaches have been certain to bare down on each of the first two games. A loose and athletic defender, Roellig isn’t overly physical yet at 5-foot-11, 165-pounds, and while the defense has been at the forefront of his skillset, the bat appears to be catching up very quickly as he leveraged a couple of balls Saturday afternoon hitting out of the two-hole. It didn’t take the uncommitted Roellig long to make an impression during USA Prime’s second pool play game as he was able to drive a fastball deep to center field for a standup double, showing more lift and extension to his swing than he has shown previously, as well as jump off the barrel. There’s balance to his swing and he has shown a handle for the barrel throughout the summer and the strength component just adds another layer to his prospect status.

It wasn’t a long look but it was an impressive one nonetheless as righthander James (Jake) Griffin (2023, Kingston, Pa.) came out of the bullpen for the MVP Beast and worked 1 2/3 innings and lived entirely in attack mode for each of the six batters he faced, striking out five of them. Griffin, a talented player with legitimate two-way potential to grow into, certainly passes the eye test and appears bigger than his listed 6-foot, 192-pound stature, already exuding strength throughout. Similar to what he showed at the 14u National Showcase, the young Pennsylvanian employs a longer arm path up to an over-the-top slot and his athleticism allows for working on top of the ball consistently while living in the 85-88 mph range, bumping an 89 against the first batter. There’s some late energy to his finish, and while his fastball is fairly true in terms of shape, it does take off out of his hands as he was consistently able to beat talented bats up in the zone, speaking to the spin of the ball through the zone. Prior to this outing Griffin’s top fastball checked in at 84 mph, a mark he rarely touched Saturday afternoon while leaving onlookers to believe he isn’t done climbing just yet.

Currently ranked No. 136 in the class of 2023, first baseman and lefthanded pitcher Nolan Stevens (2023, Elk Grove, Calif.) has put his two-way prowess on display thus far throughout the tournament and has impressed in both facets. Stevens is listed as a primary first baseman, and given the way he has swung the bat it’s easy to see why as he looks to hurt the baseball with every swing and has already found his fair share of barrels. His swing is a rather simple one, showing fast hands and flick in his wrists through the point of contact, allowing him to turn on balls with ease which he has done regularly, driving both a loud and barreled single through the three-hole in game one before tripling in his first at-bat of game two down the right field line.

We didn’t get to see the entire arsenal from Stevens on the mound as he worked just one inning and pitched exclusively off of his fastball, but the abbreviated stint means he’ll likely throw again should NCTB Alpha Dogs continue to advance. Running his fastball up to 86 mph a couple of times, Stevens works to an extended three-quarters release and he did a fairly nice job of uncoiling with his front side as he comes down the mound, though he would get mistimed occasionally which was the reason for his bouts of wildness. He lived in the 82-85 mph range and once he found a consistent release point he was able to miss plenty of bats, striking out he side while creating some angle with a relatively low effort release.

Suiting up for the younger NCTB team, NCTB Prime, 13u PG Select Festival alum and outfielder Derek Curiel (2024, West Covina, Calif.) helped set the pace of the offense for the club’s first game and wasted little time making noise. On the third pitch of the game the lefthanded hitting Curiel got a pitch he could turn on and he did just that, connecting for a triple down the right field line before adding another single later in the game. While he starts his swing with a deeper hand load Curiel has continuously shown the ability to get the barrel out front with some whip through the ball and looseness to his hands, all components of his swing that’ll only continue to improve as he fills out his 5-foot-11, 145-pound frame.

Hideki Prather (2023, Oakland, Calif.) is a young backstop for NCTB Prime and he did the pitch calling over his team’s first two game while showing defensive actions that stood out amongst his peers over the course of Saturday’s action. He sets up well behind the dish, showing flexibility to his actions while receiving the ball very well, getting his thumb under balls while sticking pitches and presenting them well out front. It was his defense that stood out Saturday and rightfully so given his polish, but he also went 2-for-2 in their second game, showing a short and quick stroke with some barrel feel, lining a single through the six-hole for his second knock of the game.

Matthew Davis (2023, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) has seemingly done nothing but find the barrel at every Perfect Game event and the WWBA Freshman World Championship has proven to be just another event for the uncommitted righthanded bat. Getting the start at first base in this look, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Davis finished the day with three doubles, two in game one and another in the afternoon matchup, and given the consistency of the offensive output, it isn’t hard to imagine that college coaches haven’t locked in. The last of the three two-base knocks on the day for Davis was an impressive one as he showed both the barrel awareness and strength he possesses after finding himself in the hole 0-2 after back-to-back foul balls. Starting tight with his hands, there’s plenty of extension and fluidity through the ball, all of which he showed in going down to get a pitch while still getting enough barrel on the ball to drive it to the pull-side gap.

TayShaun Walton (2023, Emporia, Va.) and Braden Holcomb (2023, Orlando, Fla.) play on different teams and were playing on adjacent fields in the 8 a.m. slot Saturday morning, but the similarities between them both stand out. Both physically advanced, middle-of-the-order type bats, Walton and Holcomb possess some of the best raw power in the 2023 class. They both were on Team Sturtze at the 2019 14u PG Select Festival, are ranked within the top 10 players nationally and connected for a loud extra-base hits to their pull side.

Walton has already committed to the University of Miami and fills out the uniform like a current Canes player as he stands at a physical 6-foot-2, 205-pounds. His approach at the plate is a simple one with limited moving parts, but don’t think that inhibits any ability to impacting the baseball. Picking up a couple of singles in the game, Walton remained short to the ball with his swing as he barreled a line drive triple to his pull side, showing heaviness to his barrel with loud carry off of his barrel. The present combination of athleticism, strength and continued success in finding the barrel all help justify his lofty ranking of No. 5 in the country in Perfect Game’s initial class of 2023 rankings.

Currently ranked No. 9 in the class of 2023, Holcomb checks in at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds, and while it’s easy to project him as a power hitting third baseman, there isn’t much looking into the future to appreciate what the uncommitted bat can do. He finished the day with a hit in each of his first two games, each a double, and equally impressive as one another as he was able to put his overall strength on display. In his first game of the day Holcomb found himself out on his front foot a bit and despite not having all his weight behind the ball he was able to still get extended on the pitch and drive the ball over the center fielder’s head with loft and backspin. The second double may have been more impressive as the young Florida native leveraged another double to the warning track, this time to the opposite field gap, truly demonstrating the juice in his hands while providing a glimpse of what he could very well develop into.

– Jheremy Brown

In a quick one-inning stint, Dylan Loy (2023, Sevierville, Tenn.) was able to impress in front of a handful of college coaches. The low arm angle lefthander is able to create lots of life on his fastball up to 81 mph with feel for a sweeping curveball. The starter for 5 Star National 2023 Dobbs was the starter tossing just one inning in a rain delayed contest. Loy has plenty to project on moving forward with a wiry 6-foot frame and plenty of arm strength. There is deception to his delivery on top of that that allows him to create uncomfortable at-bats for opposing hitters. Loy lives primarily to the arm side of the plate with his fastball coming from a crossfire delivery. Loy tossed an efficient inning on a 25-pitch limit, striking out a batter and allowing no runs.

The fourth pitcher in the game for USA Prime on Friday night after rain delayed the start of the contest, Chris Smith (2023, Bartlett, Tenn.) came into the game to finish off the last two innings of a no-hitter; the uncommitted righthander did just that striking out five. Smith sat 84-88 mph with his fastball showing the ability to command it to the lower third effectively as well. His arm action has a shorter stroke through the back while getting out in front with his release point and creating good velocity with his fastball. Although just 15-years old, Smith has a strong arm and creates advanced velocity because of it. Already able to touch 89 mph, Smith also has a pair of secondaries that he showed some feel for helping him mix speeds and getting an impressive amount of swings-and-misses. The overall long-term projection of Smith is certainly intriguing for the righty from west Tennessee as he already shows top-of-the-class velocity on the bump among early looks at the class of 2023.

Steven Milam (2023, Las Cruces, N.M.) is a special talent who hails from the state of New Mexico. Milam is the leadoff man for a loaded USA Prime roster and with the rain delaying the start of his team’s game on Friday night, that did not stop him from opening up the game with a solid single up the middle from the left side. Milam is a switch-hitting, slick-fielding middle infielder who is not going to blow anyone away with physicality, but the overall skillset is certainly impressive. Milam added a pair of knocks on Saturday afternoon as well helping lead his team to an 11-0 run-rule victory. Milam has a real hit tool from both sides of the plate and is a legitimate switch-hitter with a contact-oriented approach from the left and right side. The lefthanded swing, having been the only side seen on this day, is a loose and easy swing that he gets through the hitting zone well. He does have advanced strength given his size and age and he will only continue to get stronger with maturity.

Colton Wombles (2023, Salem, Ala.) has lots of bat speed to his path at the plate and he connected on a long double out of the leadoff spot in the Top Tier lineup. Wombles is a primary catcher with plenty of athleticism and speed to play the outfield as he did in the first of his team’s two games Saturday. The leadoff hitting Wombles has plenty of fast-twitch to his game, especially for a stocky player of his stature. The righthanded swing projects well for power as he continues to develop. He did a nice job on his double of meeting the baseball out front while driving it with leverage and strength over the left fielder’s head. Wombles, the top-ranked player in the 2023 class from the state of Alabama, is certainly a player to follow for college recruiters in the southeast as both a catcher and outfielder.

Isaiah Mamea (2023, Middleburg, Fla.) of the Florida Dodgers Scout Team has intriguing two-way potential as both a hitter and a righthanded pitcher. With a wiry 6-foot-2 frame, Mamea has long limbs on the mound and a fastball up to 82 mph with leverage to his path at the plate. The righthanded hitting outfielder has projectable juice to his swing as he continues to add strength. On top of that the young prospect from Florida has plenty of upside on the mound. The delivery is a bit closed off at landing and he has feel for both his fastball and a straight low-70s changeup.

Liam Taylor (2023, Coweta, Okla.) put together a truly outstanding performance on Saturday morning as he fired a complete game two-hitter with 12 strikeouts and only one walk. The wiry righthander stands at 5-foot-7 with lots of room to fill and plenty of time to do so. The arm really works with efficiency through the back producing a fastball that topped out at 81 mph early in the outing. Taylor has an overhead windup that he repeats extremely well which helps in producing such advanced command of his pitches. The fastball is complemented by a breaking ball that has 11-to-5 shape while showing feel for the pitch down in the strike zone. Taylor is going to continue to improve and unlock more velocity out of his arm with continued strength as the righthander projects well physically.

Andre Modugno (2024, Upper Saddle River, N.J.) had a big day in a doubleheader. He was able to showcase a pair of tools in the second game of the day including his raw power and arm strength from the outfield. Modugno connected on an elevated fastball and drove it out of spacious FITTeam Ballpark. The righthanded hitting outfielder has tremendously advanced juice in his bat with intent as well as loft to his swing path. Standing at a physical and athletic 6-foot-3, 180-pounds, Modugno is certainly not a typical 14-year old who just had a birthday recently. Batting in the middle of the BL101 Real Ballers lineup, Modugno was a member of the inaugural 13u PG Select Festival and has shown well at WWBA Freshman World Championship thus far.

Landon Yates (2023, Statesboro, Ga.) is a young graduate in the 2023 class who was able to pitch in relief for BL101 Real Ballers on Saturday. Yates is a stocky righthander with a strong lower half that he uses well getting down the mound. Yates has a loose arm action with arm strength that generates fastballs up to 85 mph and flashed a sharp slider as well up to 73. Yates has exceptional sinking action to his fastball that he locates well down in the zone. The righthander had to work hard in his inning stint of relief having to battle through adversity from his defense as well as nibbling around the edges of the strike zone, but the overall youthfulness of Yates, as well as the velocity and promise of his arm, are certainly noteworthy.

Starting for Tri-State Arsenal Scout Team was uncommitted righthander Edward Copper (2023, Ivyland, Pa.) who got the opportunity to pitch in front of several collegiate coaches. Copper has a relatively clean delivery using a full arm action with an immediate plunge at take back and hides the ball well behind his backside. Copper releases the ball cleanly from his delivery and topped out at 85 mph early in the contest. He stays online creating some later life to the fastball while working north and south with the pitch. The fastball is the primary pitch and he did not have to go to his secondaries often, but he has a curveball with developing spin at his disposal.

The top velocity of the day belonged to Arkansas commit Kyler Spencer (2023, Conway, Ark.) of the Rawlings National Scout Team/Sticks Baseball Academy. Spencer fits the mold already of a physical starting pitcher standing at a strong 6-foot-5, 225-pounds with broad shoulders and already outstanding physicality. At the 14u National Showcase in early August, the righthanded Spencer topped out at 87 mph with his fastball before firing an overpowering start for his club in West Palm Beach. The velocity is certainly noteworthy although the control of his pitches was developing in this look. Spencer noticeably has more control when sitting deeper onto his backside and letting his back leg work to the plate, and he gets more drive off the backside as well. He offered up a pair of different breaking balls in a curveball that sat in the low-70s with softer spin and a sharper slider up to 77 mph. The upside of Spencer is really impressive as he looks every bit of the part of a big-time arm in years to come.

– Greg Gerard

Before the rain came in on Friday Ben Schild (2023 Lincroft, N.J.) took the mound for the Diamond Jacks. He has a large frame with an already strong build and broad shoulders. Schild went on to fill it up with an easy arm action as he showed repeatable mechanics. Even though he worked with a slight crossfire action, he tunneled his three-pitch mix well as he went three innings striking out seven batters and not allowing a hit or walk. His fastball sat in the 80-83 mph range while running it up to 85 mph early in his outing. His off-speed arsenal consisted of a big 12-to-6 curveball that showed depth and a changeup in the low-70s that looked like his fastball out of hand before dropping off the table. Keep an eye on him to add physical strength and make a jump as he has the tools already at hand.

Ryder Helfrick (2023 Discovery Bay, Calif.) made his Perfect Game event debut and was quick to turn heads. He showed signs of fast-twitch play in his long, lean projectable frame. The righthanded hitter proved he could create separation as he went on to show plus bat speed as well. His speed and instincts on the basepaths also proved to a step ahead for his age. Helfrick is currently hitting .600 and has three stolen bases in just two games played. As of now, he looks to be one of the determining factors in pushing his NCTB Alpha Dogs into bracket play. He will be a name to follow during the playoffs here in West Palm Beach and down the road as well.

Zaid Diaz (2023 Miramar, Fla.) stole the show for FTB Resmondo Saturday morning as he got it done both at the plate and on the mound. He got the start and the lefthanded pitcher got it going right away by showing a whippy arm action as he pounded the strike zone. The crafty lefty went four innings while striking out seven hitters, giving up just three hits. His fastball sat in the upper-70s topping out at 79 mph showing arm-side run as he hit his spots pitch after pitch. He also flashed a 1-to-7 curveball keeping hitters off balance getting swings and misses. While he was dealing on the mound he also went 3-for-3 at the plate. The lefthanded hitter took an outer half fastball and drove it to left field, driving in two runs and opening up the scoring for his squad. He would later add another single and he also showed some power as he tripled down the right field line, scoring three more. He ended the day with six RBI.

Spencer Butt (2023 Davie, Fla.), who is the 75th-ranked prospect in his 2023 class, flashed very mature hand-eye coordination both at the plate and at shortstop. Even with a smaller, lean build he proved to have fast-twitch tendencies. At the dish, the lefthanded hitter proved to have total barrel control as he showed he could pull the baseball for power or throw hands at the baseball and drive it the other way. He was very confident in the leadoff spot and projects well there at the next level. His shortstop play was stellar as well as he flashed great first-step quickness and range both ways. His arm strength proved to be a premium as well. Butt will be someone to follow as he gains size and subsequent strength.

Killan Oneill (2023 Coconut Creek, Fla.) proved to be one of the more physical prospects in attendance as he has a stocky build with physical maturity in the lower half. The righthanded hitter proved to have patience at the plate as he got behind early in the count during an at-bat and fought his way back. He took a curveball over the plate and drove it into the right-center gap as he rounded the bases for an RBI triple. He also drove a single to right in a later at-bat as the opposing team tried to pitch him away throughout the day. Oneill flashed great instincts on the basepaths as he stole a base and scored a run.

BPA flashed a loaded roster with Jacob Campagna (2023 San Diego, Calif.) leading the way. The righthanded hitter broke open the scoring as he battled deep into a count before pulling an inside pitch down the left field line for a double, knocking in two runs. He is currently batting .500 for the event. Behind the plate defensively Campagna displayed soft hands with a good feel for the corners. He will be an interesting follow moving forward.

2019 14u PG Select Festival standout Cade Kurland (2023 Tampa, Fla.) showed in a big way taking the field for the Top Tier Roos. The No. 13 overall prospect from the 2023 class showcased quiet hands with a simple approach at the plate. He proved to have total barrel control as the righthanded hitter drove a single to the right side. In his next at-bat he went deep into the count before turning on an inside fastball driving it off the left field wall. When he gets extended the power becomes more obvious. His defensive skills proved to be advanced as well with great feet underneath him and feel for the middle infield. Look for him to continue to make big strides and continue to be a dominate force both on defense and at the plate.

Bailey Thorne (2024 Phenix City, Ala.), a teammate of Kurland’s on the Top Tier Roos, entered the game out of the bullpen and quickly lit up the radar guns. The young prospect flashed an over-the-top arm action as he filled up the strike zone working off of his fastball. The heater was up to 88 mph early in his outing and then he settled into a heavy 84-86 mph the rest of the way. He also showed a nasty, tight-spinning 10-to-5 curveball with tight spin and depth. Thorne tunneled both of his pitches well proving to have high pitchability. Keep a very close watch on this young arm.

With pool play coming to an end, Brady Neal (2023 Tallahassee, Fla.) made the most of it as he continued his reign as one of top hitting prospects in his class, ranked 27th overall. The sweet swinging lefthanded hitter took an outer-half pitch and hammered it into the opposite field gap as he knocked in three runs with a standup triple. He later hit a high fly ball to center field that was caught but was another loud at-bat to his credit. The Louisiana State commit and 14u PG Select Festival participant is hitting .400 and he looks to continue that hot streak as 5 Star National make a run at it in bracket play starting Sunday.

– Drew Wesolowski

Ryan Reckley (2023, Nassau, Bahamas) is middle infielder for Elite Squad 2023’s. This young prospect has plenty of time to grow and fill out his 5-foot-8 medium frame. He possesses very quick hands in the box with the ability to hit to all parts of the field and has slight lift at contact out front. He is a rotational type hitter who has a good feel for the barrel along with great awareness of the strike zone. As he fills out and matures he should add more strength that could make him a possible middle-of-the-order type of hitter. In his second at-bat, he mashed a fastball to the opposite field gap that was smoked for an RBI double. The future is bright for Reckley and he should be a prospect for scouts to watch immediately.

Jake McGhee (2024, Fenton, Mo.) is a small framed lefthanded pitcher that still has many years to grow and add more strength to his stature. He threw from a high three-quarters arm slot and flashed a two-pitch mix. He had a smooth arm stroke with a longer circle in the back, used a high leg kick gather and stayed online during his delivery that had small funk. McGhee showed the ability to locate the fastball to both sides of the dish with arm-side run that he really worked in to lefthanded hitters. He would also alter his delivery slightly to lefties, stepping more closed off and releasing the ball behind the opposing hitter causing some deception. This young prospect should continue to add more arm strength increasing his value as a starting pitcher down the road.

Oklahoma commit Dillon Lester (2023, Baytown, Texas) was impressive and showed why he is ranked No. 11 overall in the 2023 class for the state of Texas. In his first at-bat he smashed an RBI double into left-center field gap. He swings with some intent and creates lift in his swing at contact. He does a good job of creating tension by taking his hands back during his load, uses his lower half well and meets the ball out front often. Behind the dish he does nice job working underneath the ball while staying low and stealing pitches on the corners. His arm is playable and he has above average footwork with online and accurate throws. This young prospect will only get better over time and looks to be a good out-of-state grab for the Sooners.

Miles Harper Jr (2023, Bartlett, Tenn.) is a young righthanded pitcher for Team Elite Prime. Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, he showed confidence in two pitches with the fastball that was 80-82 mph topping 83 mph and curveball that was in the low-60s. When Harper Jr repeated his delivery he threw a lot of strikes with both pitches, and by doing so was able to punch out five hitters in two innings of work. When his command comes around as he matures, Harper Jr could turn into a prospect college coaches will want to follow over the years at Bartlett High School.

Andrew Wiggins (2023, Indianapolis, Ind.) is a quick-twitch, two-way player for the Indiana Bulls Fall 2023 squad. This young prospect possesses a very fast bat at the plate, gets the barrel in the zone quickly and keeps a smooth, level swing path upon contact. In his third plate appearance, Wiggins drove a ball deep over the right fielder’s head for an easy standup double. Defensively, he has a good first step on reads with above average footwork and is able to make tough plays look routine in the gap. Wiggins would later come in to pitch; on the mound he has a smooth delivery with slight effort and creates downhill plane from an over-the-top arm slot while staying tall throughout. Mainly using his upper body, he could benefit by utilizing his lower half more, which may cause a jump to his fastball velocity that already tops out at 86 mph. For now, Wiggins can be considered a two-way player for colleges to continue to follow of the next four years at Heritage Christian High School.

Kyle Connelly (2023, Oakley, Calif.) is a medium framed righthanded pitcher with room to fill out given his 5-foot-11, 165-pound body. Connelly came out of the bullpen for NCTB Alpha Dogs and was electric during his outing. His fastball sat 84-87 mph and topped out at 89 mph with sink and occasional cut. He had some slight effort in his delivery but stayed online and down through the baseball creating very good downhill plane. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with clean actions throughout. He flashed a three-pitch mix that included a slider at 75 mph and a fading changeup at 72 mph. The future is bright for Connelly as we will soon be on the list of many college recruiters around the country.

Austin Vargas (2023, Fulshear, Texas) is a tall, lean lefthanded pitcher for Adidas National Team 2023. The 6-foot-5, 173-pounder has plenty of room to fill out his projectable frame. He starts his delivery rotating closed with some funk, hides the ball well with a short arm circle and throws from a three-quarters arm slot. Vargas throws a lot of strikes with his two-pitch mix but mainly relied on his fastball to mow down opposing hitters. Held to a pitch count to return later in the tournament, Vargas lasted 2 2/3 innings and struck out five batters while throwing 68 percent strikes. As Vargas matures into his body, more life to the fastball – which topped out at 81 mph – should come. He has all the makings of a starting pitcher down the road and is a young prospect to keep an eye on out of the state of Texas.

Following Vargasout of the bullpen was righthanded pitcher Trenton Barnes (2023, Missouri City, Texas). The medium framed righthander threw from a high three-quarters slot that had some looseness with a longer arm circle in the back and he repeated well and filled up the zone with his fastball that was 80 mph. He flashed an above average curveball that had good, late break at 66 mph. Barnes worked 4 1/3 innings, allowed one run and punched out six.

The 6-foot, 150-pound No.1 ranked overall 2023 lefthanded pitcher from New Jersey, AJ Gracia (2023, Monroe, N.J.), was on the bump for Tri-State Arsenal Scout Team 2023. He has a quick arm and stayed online during his delivery with a good follow through and downhill action. He was able to work both sides of the plate with his fastball that topped out at 84 mph. Gracia has a developing feel for his secondary arsenal that will continue to create weak contact and keep hitters off balance. The Duke commit has plenty of room to fill out his lean frame and projects to add more velocity over the next four years at Ranney High School.

The No. 6 overall player from Virginia in the 2023 class, Jake Moore (2021, Dry Fork, Virg.) is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound lefthanded hitting outfielder for Dirtbags Platinum 2023. He put his bat speed on display Saturday by lasering balls to all parts of the field. The bat works well as he has a very good feel for the barrel with a short, compact swing. As Moore continues to grow into his body as he matures he has a real good chance of being a middle-of-the-order type hitter at the next level.

– Andrew Jenkins

Aidan Miller (2023, Trinity, Fla.) continued to show why he is ranked as the best position player in the 2023 class as he launched an inner-half fastball for a pull-side home run in game two of the day. There is much to love out of the uncommitted two-way prospect, standing at 6-foot-1, 175-pounds with seemingly endless projection on both sides of the ball. Miller generates easy bat speed with tons of strength at contact and natural loft to the swing. The ball comes off the barrel extremely well to both gaps as he uses strong hands to carry the barrel through the zone. Defensively, he showed great range to both sides and advanced feel for throwing on the move as he stays balanced coming through the ball and lowers the arm slot well to throw online.

Paris Johnson (2023, Nassau, Bahamas) has had quite a sound start to his time here in Florida as he’s picked up three hits in four at-bats as well as a pair of walks. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound outfielder has a very physical frame at present with plenty of remaining projection on both sides of the ball. The swing can get long at times, but the bat speed plays at a high level and the ball comes off well when he can get extended and find the barrel. There is the ability there to shorten up and flick the wrists as he did in-game with a single to the backside after just a missing a home run deep to the pull side. There is definite room to add athleticism, but Johnson should be an intriguing watch moving forward.

Arjun Nimmala (2023, Valrico, Fla.) had a strong game one here in West Palm and showed plenty of tools that look to project well to the next level. Nimmala put forth a 3-for-4 performance consisting of a pair of singles and rising line drive double that got over the head of the center fielder. The swing is very balanced with looseness throughout as he adjusts the hands and finds the barrel nicely. He moves well on the bases and shows more athleticism on the field at a premier position with range to both sides and actions advanced well beyond his current age.

Stone Russell (2023, Bradenton, Fla.), a Florida commit, continued to hit the baseball well across both looks of a rain-delayed game one, picking up a pair of hits in as many at-bats. The first hit came in the form a missile line drive back through the middle, showing an exit velocity of 97 mph from a mid-60s breaking ball. A day later, Russell got a hold of an inner-half fastball and drove it through the pull-side gap for another hard-hit single. The strength is there at present and projects very well to the next level, to add to the already present athleticism and arm strength to hold at a position on the left side of the infield.

Kaleb Johnson (2023, Newington, Ga.) made a very brief appearance on the mound before a rain-filled day one, but showed some intrigue in the ease and smoothness of the operation. Listed as a primary shortstop, Johnson took the mound and worked an effortless 82-83 mph with late run and sink to the arm side. He has great arm speed for his age with some whippiness to the release, working well to both halves of the plate. Given that the look was only an inning (eight pitches) he didn’t show any off-speed pitches, but it is something to watch moving forward, especially if he can get another opportunity to jump on the mound here in West Palm.

Two young, talented lefthanders took the mound for the Elite Squad 2023’s in the Stadium nightcap of day one, combining to throw a mercy-shortened no-hit shutout, racking up 10 strikeouts across four innings pitched.

Jacob Gomberg (2023, Coral Springs, Fla.) got the start, tossing three of the no-hit innings, racking up eight strikeouts in the process. This lefthander has a young, lean frame, but works a very clean and athletic operation that he repeats well working down the mound. Running the fastball up to 84 mph, Gomberg worked in and out well with sink to the fastball creating enough swing-and-miss to not have to toss an off-speed pitch throughout the entire look. He flashed feel for it between innings, showing good shape and depth, but didn’t show it in game action.

David Davila (2023, Opa-Locka, Fla.) worked the last inning of the outing, racking up a pair of strikeouts to finish off the shutout. Also a lefthander, Davila worked up to 84 mph in this outing, having previously been seen at 88 mph over the summer circuit, with running life to the fastball from a short, quick arm action. He showed some feel to spin a loose breaking ball, but only showed it once in-game and wasn’t able to land it for a strike in this look.

Jacob Zibin (2023, Langley, British Columbia) showed plenty of intrigue on the mound as he put in just under five innings of work, allowing just two hits and a single earned run while striking out nine. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound righthander worked a solid three-pitch mix, running the fastball up to 83 mph with occasional sink to the arm side, complemented by a tight curveball showing 11-to-5 shape and a solid changeup with similar action out of the hand to the fastball and late arm-side tumble. There is easy projection from the frame and actions here, as well as some deception to the operation as he works from a far slot creating occasional crossbody action. Zibin is an interesting international follow as he begins to add athleticism to the delivery and tap into some of the strength projection.

– Tyler Russo

Christian Rodriguez (2023, Coral Springs, Fla.) put together a strong performance at the plate on Saturday going 1-for-1 with a hard-hit single while also drawing a walk. Rodriguez has present athleticism in the 5-foot-9, 172-pound frame and the 2019 13u PG Select Festival participant showcased his simple and strong swing in the pool play victory.

Sometimes a player can impress with instincts and overall feel for the game, and Rodriguez did exactly that on Saturday. After ripping his single into left field, Rodriquez made a hard, 4.81-second turn around first base before taking second on a high throw to the plate. Defensively, Rodriguez also showed the ability to cover plenty of ground in right field. The all-around skillset projects for loud tools in the future and the Florida native should become a force as he continues to mature physically.

While the Top Tier Roos American 2023 raced to a 2-0 start at the 2019 WWBA Freshman World Championship, Kodi Deskins (2023, Oldsmar, Fla.) was a bright spot in a lineup full of firepower. A primary catcher and 2019 14u PG Select Festival participant, Deskins finished the pool play round 2-for-4, highlighted by long, grind-it-out at-bat that resulted in a single the opposite way. Deskins has some present strength in the lower half, using his legs well to generate power in the swing. The Florida native has a short and direct path to contact with an impressive, mature approach and ability to make two-strike adjustments. Between the advanced actions defensively and the strike zone discipline with the bat, Deskins is one of the more polished catchers in the 2023 class.

Before Friday’s action was halted due to rain, Zaine Toneske (2023, Jackson, N.J.) turned heads with a loud double to the left field corner. Toneske has a physical frame at 6-foot-1, 195-pounds and showed strong hands through contact and some pull-side juice at the plate. Toneske finished the resumed game with an impressive line, going 4-for-4 with the double, a triple and four RBIs. While Toneske still has some developing bat speed, he does an excellent job of committing to the swing and firing his hands through the point of contact when deciding to go. As the freshman continues to add strength to the already impressive frame, the sky is the limit in terms of this young man’s power potential.

Darnell W. Parker Jr. (2023, Carrollton, Va.) and Matthew Correa (2023, Port Saint Lucie, Fla.) were a pair of shortstops that impressed with their defensive talent in pool play. For Parker Jr. he made the play of the night on Friday, diving to stop a sure base hit and flipping it to his second baseman in part of what was an outstanding double play. While Parker Jr. has a young frame at just 5-foot-6, 134-pounds, he does an excellent job of playing through the ball with clean glove actions before making true throws with present arm strength across the diamond.

For Correa, he showed a solid glove and provided a spark at the top of the order for the Florida Hurricanes 15u Platinum. While Correa was quiet in the hit column on Saturday, he was able to reach base three times out of the leadoff spot and really helped to make things go. Like Parker Jr., Correa has a young frame, listed at 5-foot-4, 105-pounds. However, Correa plays big at the shortstop position and shows excellent range as well as good arm strength both with the feet set and on the run. With arm strength already on its way, Correa could turn into quite the defender as he continues to grow and add strength.

Cam Collier (2023, Austell, Ga.) came through in the clutch for MLB Breakthrough Series 2023 on Saturday, delivering a towering three-run home run late in the game. Collier shows good barrel control from the left side of the plate and his pure strength allows him to power balls to and through the pull-side gap. The Louisville commit caught the attention of everyone in attendance with the one swing on Saturday and he will only project for more power as he continues to mature through his high school career. A 2019 PG 14u Select Festival participant, Collier is ranked as the No.4 player in the 2023 class.

Zion Rose (2023, Chicago, Ill.) continues to do a plethora of things at a high-level on the baseball field, showing versatility on defense and consistently driving balls at the plate. Rose’s best swing of the day came Saturday afternoon when the Louisville commit shot a line drive back through the box for a run-scoring single. Ranked as the No. 18 player in the 2023 class, Rose has a simple approach at the plate, using his present strength and a direct path contact to drive the ball with authority to all fields. A good runner as well, Rose is quickly showing the potential to be a multi-tool star by the time he finishes his high school career. Time will tell, but the 2019 PG 13u Select Festival participant is certainly a name to follow closely from here on out.

While numerous hitters impressed on Saturday, Jacob Ruiz (2023, Jersey City, N.J.) was one of the arms to really grab attention. Ruiz ran his fastball up to 82 mph on Saturday, pitching at 80-82 and showing some feel to spin a slider with big shape in the low-70s. Ruiz has a clean and repeatable delivery, working exclusively from the stretch and coming from an over-the-top slot. While Ruiz was electric in his first inning of work, he ran into trouble at times when falling to the glove side and cutting fastballs out of the zone. While the natural cut was enough to keep hitters off balance at times, cleaning up the lower half through extension will be a key to long-term success for the righthander.

Somewhat unknown from New Jersey, Diamond Jacks Super 15 had a pair of hitters that put together strong days at the plate. Ryan Jaros (2023, Cranford, N.J.) was 2-for-3 with a double and a triple on Saturday, collecting three RBI in the process. Jaros has a physical frame at 6-foot-3, 205-pounds and the 14u National Showcase participant shows excellent strength through the zone, as well as an advanced ability to lift the ball to the pull side. While the bat speed is still developing, Jaros does an excellent job of getting the hands extended and letting his raw strength do most of the work. With so much present jump off the barrel, it only seems like a matter of time before Jaros is driving balls to and through both gaps with authority.

Jake Dally (2023, Bethlehem, Pa.) was another Diamond Jacks hitter to find a loud barrel on Saturday, turning heads in his second at-bat with a double that rattled up against the left field wall. Similar to Jaros, Dally does an excellent job of identifying the inside pitch and getting his hands extended to drive the baseball. At just 5-foot-9, 150-pounds, Dally relies on present bat speed and a naturally lifted barrel plane to lift the ball to and through the pull-side gap. With some excellent pieces to the swing already there, it will be interesting to see how the power numbers rise as his frame continues to mature physically.

Jack Kirchner (2023, Moorestown, N.J.) was outstanding over two innings of work on Friday morning, allowing no baserunners and striking out three. Kirchner impressed with his ability to locate the fastball to both sides of the plate, running it up to 80 mph with some late life to the arm side. Kirchner has a clean arm path from a high three-quarters slot and the righthander has more velocity in the tank as he cleans up the lower half and becomes more explosive down the mound. While the fastball was the dominant pitch on Friday, Kirchner showed excellent feel to spin a tight slider at 68-72 mph, keeping hitters guessing and off balance. As Kirchner adds strength to the frame and cleans up the mechanics he should develop into a really solid pitcher in New Jersey’s 2023 class.

– Nate Schweers

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