Tournaments | Story | 10/23/2019

14u World Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Theodore Gillen (Perfect Game)

2019 WWBA 14u World Championship: Daily Leaders

Theodore Gillen (2024, Austin, Texas) made a name for himself this past summer, ultimately being selected for the inaugural 13u PG Select Festival, and he carried that momentum into the fall with a strong showing in West Palm Beach. Looking bigger and stronger than his listed 6-foot, 164-pounds in the program, Gillen helped set the pace and tempo of the Crawdads by Yeti Baseball Club’s offense throughout the weekend from the leadoff spot in the lineup, finding the barrel and getting on base consistently while earning co-MVP honors.

His approach and overall swing are simple from the left side, utilizing a subtle shift through his lower half before letting his hands and barrel go to work. Gillen’s hands are plenty loose and he showed the ability to handle the barrel, squaring it up with some real life and backspin during its flight. The hit tool has a chance to be a good one moving forward given the simplicity, but it’s also easy to envision the power becoming an impact tool as well at physical maturity. He’s more than just a bat and proved it consistently with his defense up the middle, showing a bounce to his step and a sense of fluidity to his actions throughout, from his hands to his release. There’s lateral range to either side at shortstop and the foot speed also plays on the bases, gliding well once underway.

Daniel Cuvet (2023, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) is a young two-way prospect who drew attention last weekend in West Palm during the WWBA Freshman World Championship, and with several looks throughout the weekend, it’s clear his talent needs to be monitored closely moving into next summer. Already physically advanced at 6-foot-3, 187-pounds but still carrying plenty of room to fill throughout, Cuvet proved to be a consistent presence in the batter’s box throughout the tournament.

From at-bat to at-bat, game to game, Cuvet’s swing remained direct in its path with plenty of strength both to his hands and coming off the barrel. Cuvet, who is currently uncommitted and younger for the grade, went the first twogames of pool play without recording an out in the box, finishing the day with a perfect 5-for-5 mark with each ball barreled just as hard as the previous. As mentioned, Cuvet does a very nice job of remaining short with his swing, allowing him to repeat mechanically while getting the barrel out front, consistently driving the ball to his pull side with plenty of carry coming off.

He proved to be much more than just a bat, however, as he was handed the ball for a pivotal pool play game and threw well, going 5 1/3 innings on the mound with eight strikeouts and two unearned runs. There’s no doubting the overall arm strength of Cuvet’s profile as he ran his fastball up to 85 mph and will continue to see that number climb as he implements his lower half into a gather and drive down the mound. That said, his athleticism allowed for a barrage of strikes from a lower three-quarters slot, generating nice running life on the pitch while maintaining the 82-84 mph velocity early on and ramping it up whenever he needed it. His slot caused an inconsistency in the release of his breaking ball but allowed his changeup to be a go-to secondary, working in the mid-70s with nice fading life and a tunneled release.

Splitting MVP honors with Gillen was Florida Hurricanes first baseman Gian De Castro (2024, Weston, Fla.), a physical lefthanded hitter in the middle of their order who was as consistent as they come at the 14u level. With plenty of strength throughout, De Castro looked to impact the ball in every trip to the plate and more often than not was able to do so as evidenced by his overall stat line. Employing a pull-oriented approach, there’s plenty of quickness to De Castro’s hands, and though he can get long with his path at times, he’s strong enough to whip the barrel through and impact the ball at the point of contact. Don’t let all the descriptors above paint a picture of a young hitter just trying to hit the ball as hard as he can to his pull side as the Florida native possesses a handle for the barrel and showed he can go the other way with authority or adjust to a breaking ball with two strikes to get the job done at the plate. He played all around the field and showed footwork and flexibility around the bag and also topped out at 80 mph to finish off the championship game.

Andy Perez (2024, Orange City, Fla.) and Austin Jacobs (2024, Geneva, Fla.) were two bats atop the Central Florida Select batting order who helped set the pace of the offense throughout the weekend and into Monday’s play.

Jacobs, a primary middle infielder, swung it well from the first game of the tournament as he went a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish, showing a short and quick stroke through the zone. He displayed natural feel for the barrel with enough quickness to his hands, turning on a double to his pull side in his first at-bat of the event, the first of nine hits on the weekend which resulted in a .643 batting average.

Perez got the start behind the plate for Central Florida and he moved well with plenty of athleticism like that of a middle infielder, which we saw later in the tournament when he took over the shortstop position. Playing up the middle allowed Perez to show off the overall fluidity of his actions with softness to his hands and plenty of arm strength across. There’s also fluidity and quickness to his swing, and despite there being some length to his overall stroke, he seemed to consistently put the ball in play, finding the barrel en route to a .467 average for the weekend. He may not be the biggest at a listed 5-foot-8, 135-pounds, but Perez has the tools to stand out at this level and will be a name to follow moving into next summer.

The only committed player in attendance, outfielder Christian Hamilton (2024, Lauderhill, Fla.) certainly has the toolset to stand out presently and also projects extremely well moving forward. Hamilton, a young Miami commit, is full of quick-twitch muscle with plenty of bounce to his step, a center point of his overall package as a prospect. He possesses both quickness and looseness to his hands which results in plenty of bat speed and hard life off the barrel when squared. During a look in the stadium Hamilton twice showed the ability to drive the outer half pitch, lining the ball hard into right field, showing real jump coming off when square. He’s more than just an opposite field hitter though as he can use all fields and finished the tournament with a .455 batting average, collecting at least one base hit in each of his four games while driving in four runs.

Orlando Jose Gonzalez, Jr (2023, Austin, Texas) looks longer and stronger than in previous looks from earlier this spring and he was a key component in helping his Crawdad team advance through pool play without a loss. A middle-of-the-order presence, Gonzalez Jr. has a longer path through the zone but also possesses the strength to get the barrel to the ball, whether on the inner or outer half of the plate. Early in the tournament he showed the ability to go with the outer half pitch as he shortened up and drove a line drive single into the right-center field gap before pulling his hands and barrel in on a double that cleared the left fielder’s head later in the day.

Gonzalez Jr. listed as a primary righthanded pitcher and was handed the ball during the opening round of the playoffs, delivering a complete game gem in which he allowed just one unearned run and punched out 11. Utilizing his size and showing the arm strength he put on display across the diamond from third base, Gonzalez Jr. sat very comfortably in the 81-84 mph range with his fastball early on, missing plenty of bats while showing riding life through the upper third of the strike zone from a high three-quarters slot. For as effective as the velocity proved to be, it was his breaking ball that he went to most often, showing big 12-to-6 shape on the pitch, clocking in as high as 71 mph with the ability to vary the shape, showing more slider-like action when he got on the side of the ball. He proved to be in complete control from the opening frame and possesses nice two-way ability to monitor moving forward.

Efrain Morales (2024, Miami, Fla.) did a majority of the pitch calling for Elite Squad 14u, and while he showed smoothness to his actions behind the plate and the ability to stick pitches, it was his performance with the bat that really stood out in West Palm. On a team full of physical players, Morales stands at 5-foot-7, 153-pounds but has exhibited one of the purer hit tools throughout the tournament, handling the barrel as well as any. His ability to remain compact through the zone and short to the ball aided him well in consistently squaring up the baseball, spraying it all around the yard, simply going with the pitch and doing so with comfort. And while his ability to work to all fields may suggest he just flicks the barrel, that’s not the case as he stays through the zone and shows jump coming off the barrel when squared up.

A quick glance at third baseman Andre Modugno (2024, Upper Saddle River, N.J.) and the physicality of his frame wouldn’t suggest he’s a recently turned 14-year old, and the fact he won’t enter high school for another year is a scary proposition for opposing pitchers. The young New Jersey native is already listed at 6-foot-3, 180-pounds, and while the strength stands out, his offensive profile is much more than just looking to impact the ball, though he can do that at a different level than most his age. During the first day of action we saw Modugno’s ability to go with the outer half pitch, staying direct to the ball but still showing the heaviness to his barrel to drive the ball hard into right field for what ultimately went down as an L9. The barrels continued to come for him throughout the weekend’s action, though it was one of his last at-bats in the playoffs that may have been his best. Finding himself in a 3-2 count, many young hitters may be looking fastball and get fooled out front by a curveball, which Modugno not only recognized and saw out of the pitcher’s hand, but remained balanced and barreled the pitch back up the middle for a line drive single.

The harder the opposing pitcher threw the better the swings shortstop Tanner Waldrop (2024, Auburn, Ala.) took as some of his best swings of the tournament came throughout day two’s action. Already sporting physical strength to his 5-foot-11 frame but also having plenty of room for additional growth, Waldrop’s lefthanded swing is a simple one as he starts tall and simply glides into contact, generating plenty of extension out front with his hands and ultimately the barrel. His swing and approach allow for him to use all parts of the field as he showed he can both throw the barrel on the outer half pitch but also drive the ball to all parts of the yard. One swing that stood out amongst the rest was a line drive double on an outer half fastball to the left-center field gap which jumped off his barrel with backspin, one of his two doubles on the day. Heading into the playoffs Waldrop has been one of the more consistent performers, hitting .625 out of the middle of the order with four RBI.

Heriberto Caraballo (2024, Estero, Fla.) lit up the radar guns with what proved to be the best fastball of the tournament and did so in the very first time slot of games. Listed as a primary shortstop, Caraballo currently dwarfs his measurables on his Perfect Game profile and his arm strength has clearly developed from his last PG event in 2018, jumping his top fastball from 72 mph to 86 mph. The velocity comes easy for Caraballo who maintained a tight arm action and release on the pitch, and though it was just a quick one-inning look, the arm strength certainly stands out. When Caraballo began working in the low-80s and settled in with his delivery he was able to work on top of the ball from his over-the-top slot, creating some plane to the pitch while showing noteworthy quickness to his arm.

Andrew Williamson (2023, Oldsmar, Fla.) and Cameron Mallo (2024, Tampa, Fla.) are two position prospects off of the Kangaroo Court who showed tools throughout the weekend, showing both present skill as well as future projection.

Williamson, who is much bigger and stronger than his listed measurables, got the start in center field throughout the weekend where he patrolled the position well, showing range to either side with lightness to his footwork. With present strength to his forearms, Williamson is able to whip the barrel through the zone with an overall looseness to his swing while creating torque with his lower half. He squared a couple balls up throughout the event and turned on one foul ball that drew an “ooh” or two from the crowd given the jump and distance off the barrel.

Mallo also manned an up-the-middle spot as he served as the Roos’ starting shortstop throughout the tournament. It was his defense at the premium position that consistently stood out, regularly showing range to his left with sound footwork around the bag, as well as a strong arm with plenty of carry on his throws across the diamond. Not as physical as his teammate Andrew Williamson, that doesn’t inhibit Mallo’s ability to get the barrel through the zone with some authority, generating hard jump off the barrel to either gap.

Garrett Lorfano (2024, Orlando, Fla.) connected for one of the louder barrels of pool play against Elite Squad 14u and the 5-foot-11, 185-pound backstop made sure to make it count. Already putting together a nice at-bat fouling off three pitches after quickly falling behind 0-2, Lorfano turned around an inner half 80 mph fastball and deposited it over the left field fence for a no-doubt blast the moment it left the bat.

Mason Arnold (2024, Grapevine, Texas) isn’t built like your typical 13-year-old, already standing at a strong 6-foot, 190-pounds with broad shoulders and his performance in the playoffs didn’t match his age either. With a six-inning effort in which he allowed just an unearned run and ultimately allowed him to take home MV-Pitcher honors, Arnold shows nice upside on the mound as well as some present stuff. He does a nice job of utilizing his physical strength in his delivery, gathering on his backside while showing rhythm throughout before getting to an over-the-top slot from which he was able to work on top of the ball and generate plane to the lower half of the strike zone. His fastball topped out at 80 mph early in the contest with slight cut action from his crossbody landing, but his shorter arm stroke allowed him to repeat well and consistently work on top of his curveball, showing 12-to-6 shape in the upper-60s.

Parker Brzustewicz (2024, Rochester Hills, Mich.) had himself a nice weekend for the USA Prime National team, showing well both on the mound and with the stick where he finished the weekend with a crisp .500 batting average. A primary third baseman, Brzustewicz offers intriguing upside on the mound given his long and projectable 6-foot, 150-pound frame and the overall ease of his operation the mound. Up to 78 mph with his heater, the young Michigan native shows a shorter arm stroke through the backside, generating short running life while filling the strike zone as evidenced by his 12 strikeouts and zero walks allowed. The bat was his loudest tool on the weekend however as he consistently found the barrel, generating nice jump off the bat with some strength at impact and the comfort to work to all parts of the field. Velocity or off-speed, outer half or the inside pitch, Brzustewicz showcased a natural feel for the barrel from the first game of the tournament and through the playoffs, consistently staying on time with his shift and barrel path.

Listed as a primary third baseman, keep an eye on Nicholas Rovitti (2024, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) as a righthanded pitcher moving forward as he was fantastic in his semifinal start against Central Florida Select. Rovitti took a no-hitter through his five innings on the mound and was in control from the opening frame, routinely working on top of the ball while showing comfort working to his glove side, something you don’t always find at the 14u level. His delivery is simplistic with a short gather on his backside, and while he’s able to create some extension out front, it’s the shortness and quickness of his arm stroke that make the operation work, running his fastball up to 84 mph while working along in the low-80s throughout. Still showing 82 mph with his fastball in his fifth inning of work, Rovitti pitched heavily off his fastball, though he did mix a curveball up to 70 mph, a two-pitch combo that helped him punch out 11 during his time on the mound.

Mateo Gray (2024, Weston, Fla.) did a little bit of everything throughout the weekend and did it all very well, meaning he’s a young prospect who needs to be followed closely as he continues to grow into his long 6-foot-1 frame. Getting the start on the mound for Weston Travel Ball’s first game of pool play, Gray was able to slow down a talented USA Prime National team for his five innings with a nice fastball-slider combo while filling the zone. Gray worked exclusively out of the stretch, keeping things simple given his age/size, and while he doesn’t employ a ton of lower half into his finish, he’s athletic enough to consistently work on top of his fastball, bumping 81 mph while living down in the zone. There’s obvious upside as he continues to develop physically and refine his overall mechanics, especially given his feel for a short and tight slider up to 72 mph with a similar release to that of his heater.

His performance with the bat was just as impressive throughout the weekend, seemingly finding the barrel in every at-bat, including in that first pool play game where he was the starting arm. Gray’s swing is a simple one with a short rock back load and go, getting the barrel out with some carry off the barrel on a pair of doubles, hooking one down his pull-side line before burning the center fielder later in the game.

Pavlos Piperakis (2023, Pembroke Pines, Fla.) came in out of the bullpen for the X Team 2024 and the young lefthander impressed, showing the ability to escape a bases loaded, no out jam in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the victory. A lean and projectable 5-foot-11, 140-pound lefthander, PIperakis ran his fastball up to 82 mph, and while he didn’t have his sharpest command early, he dug in and got the job done to strike out three consecutive batters. His delivery is plenty balanced, and though he isn’t the most physical, he’s able to produce solid arm speed through the backside while working to an extended release point. Piperakis also showed comfort throwing his slider with slurve-type bite in the 68-70 mph range, picking up swings-and-misses with the pitch over his two innings.

Litarris Murray (2023, DeSoto, Texas) was one of three 13u Select Festival members in attendance and the 6-foot-1, 165-pound uncommitted outfielder put together a nice performance on the weekend, hitting .364 for Enemy Baseball. The main component of Murray’s game is his speed and it was on full display, as he can quickly be on second base following a walk and managed to swipe eight bags on the tournament. It’s also a tool that puts pressure on the opposing defense as he his run times down the line are already above average, making infielders hurry through their actions. While he’ll continue to refine his overall swing mechanics and consistency, Murray already shows solid hand-eye coordination in getting the barrel to the ball while also creating hard jump off the barrel when squared up.

Adrian Santana (2023, Hialeah, Fla.) made one of the top defensive plays of the tournament in the very last game of the event, putting his lateral range and overall balance on display in the championship game. Getting the start at shortstop for the Florida Hurricanes, Santana showed a quick reactionary step on a ground ball that appeared destined for center field, but instead he fully extended his glove hand, picked the ball and spun all in one motion while delivering a strike on to first base, drawing several “wows” from the stands. He finished hitting .500 on the tournament, and while only listed at 5-foot-5, 120-pounds, Santana is able to generate some whip with the barrel head and proved to be a consistent run scorer with at least two in every game.

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