Tournaments | Story | 10/28/2019

California World Series Notes

Connor Spencer        
Photo: Demetrius Vizcarra (Perfect Game)
In what was the final event of the 2019 calendar year for many of the teams, the California World Series began under Friday night lights at the Great Park in Irvine, California.

Day one got underway with Trosky National 2020 earning a 3-0 win over Slammers Jenkins in the evening slot. Uncommitted righthander and teammate of Nick Yorke at Archbishop Mitty High School Matthew Halbach (2021, Los Gatos, Calif.) threw five shutout innings while fanning seven. Halbach has a physical medium frame with room to fill and a confident presence on the hill. He has a short arm action from a high three-quarters to over-the-top slot and shows tremendous balance throughout the entirety of his motion. Everything he throws moves as he pronates his fastball with authority every time he throws it. The fastball sits around 80-84 mph while touching 85 and possesses hard two-seam run and sink away from lefthanded bats. It’s clear he’s worked these actions into his game plan as he’s consistently able to bring it back on the outside corner for a strike to righthanded batters as well. He also throws an 11-to-5 shaped curveball that has a smaller shape with strong bite at times, but in its current state is not a premier swing and miss pitch. However, it does show promising lower 11-to-5 shape at times and could turn into an asset as a hard slider as his arm strength develops. Truly, the actions he possesses on everything he throws leaves the imagination to run wild on what he could become someday if his arm continues to strengthen. Add 5-6 more mph on his fastball and the pitch becomes something really special. A definite arm to watch heading into his junior year.

Another uncommitted righthander, Mick Kelley (2021, San Francisco, Calif.) led CCB to a game one win after an impressive five-inning outing that saw him give up no runs off four hits while striking out 11. Kelley has a larger frame with a short arm action that comes up to a high three-quarters arm slot. His 81-86 mph fastball has some surprising life to it, along with good downward angle thanks to his larger frame. Kelley also mixes in a 73 mph curveball that shows good depth and bite but truly he wants to pitch with his fastball, and he was able to establish it early in his outing. As he finishes, he has a tendency to fall off the mound hard towards his glove side. Kelley located to all four quadrants of the plate with ease throughout his five innings, and he’s another high follow arm this upcoming season.

MVP Hustle fell just short to JGB Prime 2020 but FIU commit Demetrius Vizcarra (2020, Compton, Calif.) looked strong for MVP and kept his team in the ball game late. He’s a sidestep rocker that uses a mid-leg lift, and his long whippy arm action shows some solid quickness up to his three-quarters to high three-quarters slot. His fastball possesses some arm-side run that can be effective when located in to righthanded bats. He sat in the high-80s on his night, although he’s been gunned at 91 mph in the past. Regardless, he still filled up the zone well and pitched with great tempo throughout his 5 2/3 innings pitched. Vizcarra also throws a changeup and an 11-to-5 shaped breaking ball that complement his fastball nicely. The description in his bio still applies, he’s a physical right-hander with raw ability and Florida International is sure to be excited to get him working on their mound.

Day two kicked off with Zachary Tallerman (2020, Berkeley, Calif.) going 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI in EJ Sports Warriors morning win over CBA Wave. Tallerman has a long and lengthy frame with long legs that profile well at third. He uses an upright stance with high hands that work down at launch. His stance is a bit stoic, and he could benefit from some fluidity at the plate, however, his hands work direct to the baseball and he has a good feel for his timing with his high leg kick trigger.

Air Force commit Paul Skenes (2020, Lake Forrest, Calif.) threw five scoreless innings for MVP Hustle while allowing just one hit and fanning seven. Skenes has a long and very projectable build that shows promise on both sides of the ball. He has a free and easy motion down the hill with a low leg lift that feels loose and effortless overall. His fastball sat in the high-80s on his day, topping out at 89 mph, but his arm has the ability to touch 91 mph and thanks to his tall frame, possesses some late life to the plate. Moreover, there is present natural arm-side run to his fastball, especially when locating to his arm side. He throws both a curveball and a slider, with the slider being more of the effective out pitch. Although his ability on the mound isn’t hard to see with the naked eye, he’s primarily listed as a position player, and shows plenty of talent and poise at the plate as well. Skenes uses a tall, upright and slightly open stance with a mid to high leg kick trigger. There’s plenty of strength in his hands to fire balls into either gap regardless if he’s on time or not. Last season he came out of the pen quite a bit for El Toro High School, however, he’s more than capable of eating some starter innings if they need him to heading into his senior year.

JGB Prime 2020 moved to 2-0 on the tournament after defeating CCB in the afternoon slot on day two. Uncommitted third baseman Zachary Hendrix (2020, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) got it done at the plate and in the field. Hendrix went 2-for-2 on his day with a double and an RBI as he looked composed and confident at the plate. His hands are good, and he does a nice job of working them inside the ball. His stance is quiet and simple, and that simplicity leads into his load which sees him use a low hanging leg lift trigger as well as a slight crouch into his backside. He then throws his hands through the zone with present bat speed, and his hand eye coordination makes up for an elevated barrel plane down through and into extension. At the hot corner, Hendrix anticipates well and has a strong arm across the diamond. In the fourth inning, he made a stellar full extension diving catch down the third base line and was then able to stand up and fire a strike to double up the runner at first base. A solid overall look for the inland empire third baseman.

Championship Sunday began with Slammers Givens getting their first win of the tournament after an offensive outpouring. Primary pitcher Dominic Lopez (2021, Parker, Colo.) started at first base and went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI on his day at the plate. Lopez was able to stay balanced at the plate with his front-loaded stance and he does a nice job of throwing his barrel to the inner half of the ball. The more he’s able to stay centered with his weight in his wide base, the better he’s able to stay on the ball and spray it across the diamond.

Freshman Nico Rijo-Berger (2023, Peoria, Ariz.) competed and showcased his high ceiling with a five-inning, three-hit, shutout performance for Team California. Rijo-Berger has a confident presence on the mound despite his age with an already mature and projectable 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame that creates some downward angle to his 74-76 mph fastball. Although his raw velocity doesn’t jump off the page, his size suggests that there’s a lot to be unlocked in his arm. His 11-to-5 shaped breaking ball showcases solid depth and also possesses potential as he matures on the mound. Rijo-Berger is a high follow moving forward, and someone that expects to make a big jump sooner rather than later.

Trosky National 2020 fought its way to a playoff spot by earning the wild card bid thanks to a huge late morning win over Juggernaut Group Baseball Academy. Uncommitted 2021 Griffin Allen (2021, San Jose, Calif.) was strong on the mound with a live fastball that sat around 83-85 mph while touching 86. He has a large, physical frame with a longer arm action that still feels quick up to his over-the-top slot. As he finishes hard down the mound, he falls off glove side as sometimes he really gets his slot up and over. Despite the high slot, there isn’t a ton of downward angle or side-to-side action on his fastball, however, there is some present late life that gets in on the hands of righthanded hitters. His breaking ball is a tight high 11-to-5 shaped curveball that he shows an ability to manipulate. Earlier in the count, he’ll throw it harder down and away with a lower shape to try and steal a strike. Then gets it over the plate as an out pitch with more of a 12-to-6 shape later in the count, and that sits around 69 mph.

Spencer Seid (2022, San Marino, Calif.) looked excellent for CBA Wave throwing five full hitless innings while fanning six. Seid has a shorter arm action from a three-quarters to high three-quarters arm slot. He swings his leg up to a high lift quickly and violently, then brings it down to shin height before sweeping down the hill. He has a high front side after separation that he then has to work to get down as his arm comes up to the window. Thanks to his short arm and high front side, he does create some deception for the hitter. His 82-85 mph fastball possesses some arm-side run when locating arm side, and he really does a nice job of filling up the zone. His breaking ball is a high 1-to-7 shaped slider that bites down hard at times and shows potential if he can manipulate it away from lefthanded bats more. The pitch should mature into more of a true slider, rather than the curveball actions it currently shows. He primarily pitched with his fastball in his outing but seemed to put more trust into his secondary stuff as his outing went on. Seid is only a sophomore, and he’ll be sure to get plenty of looks by college coaches throughout this season and into next summer.

Large framed righthander Emiliano Torres (2020, Indio, Calif.) got Trosky National 2020 to the championship game thanks to his complete game shutout performance on the hill. Torres gave up just two hits while fanning eight. He effectively moved his mid-80s fastball to all four quadrants and mixed in his 11-to-5 shaped breaking ball in random counts keeping hitters off balance. Trosky National 2020 fell to Team California in what was a hard-fought dog fight of a championship game, 3-2.

One of the most spectacular overall performances of the tournament came from NC Tides Baseball Club’s Owen Dargie (2021, Carlsbad, Calif.). The uncommitted outfielder was hitting .800 heading into the semi-final round with an OPS over 2.000. To say the kid was hot would be an understatement. Dargie uses a wide base, and upright stance with hands that stay close to his ear and that keep his barrel near vertical. As he loads, his hands quietly move straight back as he also gets a slight hand coil, and he gets a simple linear weight shift in the box. His front foot never leaves the ground to stride, he simply weight shifts from the position he starts in. He has quick hands that hunt the inner half of the baseball and a flat barrel plane creates consistent line drive hard contact. In the semi-final round, Dargie began to expand his zone a bit which led him into tougher counts to work with. However, when he’s able to stay disciplined, and when he looks to drive the ball early in counts, he has the capability of producing fantastic stretches at the plate like he did this weekend. In the outfield, Dargie has plenty of promise with quick feet and a good feel for the position. His 6.91 second 60-yard dash is plenty of quickness to cover the gaps and his glove plays well additionally. Dargie has a big season coming up this year at Carlsbad High School as he’s officially put himself on the radar after his performance.

-Connor Spencer

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