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Tournaments  | Story  | 1/22/2020

East MLK Scout Notes

Vincent Cervino     
Photo: Jace Jones (Perfect Game)
Vanderbilt commit Jonathan Vastine (2021, Bartow, Fla.) had another very strong weekend for Hit Factory PRO as the twitchy, athletic shortstop hit over .400 on the weekend and even hopped on the mound to show off the two-way talent during the playoffs. Vastine isn’t just athletic but he has wiry strength which allows him to impact the ball nicely to the pull side. His set up in the box is fairly simple and he has plenty of lefthanded bat speed, along with strong wrists, to work the ball to either gap and allow his legs to make the extra base potential truly dangerous. On the bump, Vastine was 85-88 mph early on in the game and showed a very good curveball that he could both land and manipulate effectively. Vastine is a top 100 player in the 2021 class heading into the spring season and it looks like he’ll be getting his high school season off on the right foot after the weekend.

Batting behind Vastine in the lineup is big masher Cole Russo (2021, Tampa, Fla.) and the lefthanded slugger also had a good weekend, hitting .500 with more extra base hits than singles including a long bomb. What stands out about Russo’s swing is both his combination of plate discipline and ability to take big hacks without sacrificing his ability to control the barrel. The swing path is elongated which allows him to get that natural loft to the bat plane and allow him to create leverage and impact to the pull side. The UCF commit has been one of the more productive players at PG events and his propensity for hitting is certainly a big reason that Tampa Jesuit will be looking for back-to-back state titles this season.

The No. 2 prospect in the class, Aidan Miller (2023, Trinity, Fla.) had a strong reason on both sides of the ball and cemented his status as one of the top prospects in the 2023 class. He got the tournament started off scorching with two home runs in his first game, including one that went over the batter’s eye over at South Fort Myers High School. He checks almost every box that you look for out of a young prospect when considering the present size, arm strength, power potential, and offensive upside. He shows exemplary bat speed and plate discipline, with the ability to lay off close pitches and having a patient approach and uses the whole field to his advantage. On the mound there are a lot of positives too, with a simple delivery, quick and clean arm stroke, and a fastball that topped out at 88 mph. Miller has good bite to his curveball and the projection in all facets of his game make him one of the best players in the country.

A fellow PG Select Fest alum, Steven Milam (2023, Las Cruces, N.M.) batted right in front of Miller for the Top Tier Roos this weekend and Milam had a terrific tournament. Milam has such an advanced swing for the age, with a smooth, simple, yet efficient stroke from either side of the plate while having a reputation for being a standout defender in the middle infield. He’s got very impressive bat speed along with a very clean lower half and hip drive to get extended and create pop to the pull side. Milam is a bit undersized but the offensive tools shouldn’t be understated as he has one of the best pure swings in the class and can work the ball to almost any part of the field with effectiveness. Milam has great hands in the middle infield and the arm strength plays from anywhere on the diamond; it’ll be fun to track his progress as 2020 continues on.

Wesley Mendes (2023, Tampa, Fla.) is one of the better two-way prospects in the country for his grad year and his hitting prowess earned him MVP honors this weekend with a final batting average of .611. Mendes is super athletic and projectable with a lean 6-foot, 155-pound frame and the swing is pretty good from the right side of the plate. There’s looseness and whip to the stroke and he works to the pull side with comfort. On the mound, he checks a lot of bozes you look for out of a lefthanded pitching prospect. The delivery is smooth and easy while creating significant angle on the fastball. The pitch was up to 86 mph and he showed a very good curveball too. The arm works very well and the ease of the delivery leaves a lot in the tank as there’s a good chance Mendes is throwing very hard, very easily in a short time.

An uncommitted junior, Damien Whitfield (2021, Atlanta, Ga.) turned in a very good start in his first start of the weekend. The lefthanded pitcher The 6-foot-1, 190-pound pitcher is athletic and projectable on the mound as he creates good deception in hiding the ball and the pitch jumps on hitters from an over the top arm slot. Whitfield works mostly in the low- to mid-80s with the fastball, he was up to 88 mph during his three one-hit innings on Saturday, and gets some good lefty life on the fastball. He’ll mix in both a curveball and a changeup to limit opposing handed hitters but shows some good pitchability. Whitfield battled through some strike throwing issues in the championship but it’s clear that Whitfield has a live arm and there’s some upside too for the uncommitted prospect.

One of the top catching prospects in the country, Satchell Norman (2021, Sarasota, Fla.) had a very good weekend despite only playing through Sunday. Norman, currently ranked 79th in the country and committed to Florida State, has some loud overall tools highlighted by his plus bat speed and plus arm strength from behind the dish. Norman sets up very balanced and relaxed in the box, showing good rhythm in his hips as he drives forward and generates significant impact. The bat speed and strength are loud at present as he has a smooth barrel plane that allows him to loft balls with backspin to the pull side. Norman’s arm strength also plays on the mound where he was up to 90 mph with very good arm speed. He’s a high-level two-way prospect at this juncture and Norman will be a high 2021 follow for the next year.

Righthanded slugger Tommy Ramos (2021, Hialeah, Fla.) had a very good weekend with a .400 batting average including a long bomb over at City of Palms. Ramos is a super physical prospect at a listed 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and uses every ounce of that weight to generate tremendous impact on the baseball. He’s a true power hitter with massive pull side raw power while the swing itself is violent and allows him to create significant bat speed. He pulls the ball with intent, he did during the quarterfinal round as well when he launched a double off the base of the left field wall. Ramos’ propensity to generate loud contact on a consistent basis allows him to be a very valuable middle of the order bat and he shouldn’t be uncommitted for much longer.

Showing a lot of interesting tools on the bump was FIU commit Ervis Solis (2023, Hialeah, Fla.) as the lanky lefthander has a lot to like, especially from a freshman in high school. Solis is far taller than the listed height and weight, offering a slender and athletic frame that is eminently projectable. The arm stroke and delivery are inconsistent at times but the arm speed is no joke, and he ran his fastball up to 89 mph. Solis sat in the 84-87 mph range for the most part, generating significant angle with the heater and offering it from a tough arm slot. The breaking ball showed some power and there’s an innate feel to spin, though the consistency of the pitch was a bit of a mixed bag. The ceiling is undoubtedly high and there’s a lot of room and time to improve as Solis has potential to be a physical monster at maturity.

The leading hitter for the 14u tournament, Jarren Purify (2023, Detroit, Mich.) collected a mark of .765 for the weekend and was a threat every time he stepped into the batter’s box. He’s supremely athletic and projectable, with very good hands over at third base where he slotted for most of the week, while he has the potential to be an asset over at the hot corner long term. The swing is loose and easy to go along with natural lift in the stroke while the hand speed stands out. Purify is obviously still developing from a physical standpoint but he still showed a knack to generate impact to the pull side. The strength and power will continue to improve but his barrel ability and athleticism are standout tools for his age.

Purify’s battery mate over on the left side of the infield was Jose Perdomo (2025, Orlando, Fla.) and despite just turning thirteen he’s got skills and abilities far beyond his age. Perdomo has great size for a young prospect at a listed 5-foot-11, 145-pounds to go along with obvious athleticism and projection. Perdomo has very solid hands in the middle infield along with a very smooth and simple stroke from the right side. He can handle pitches up in the zone and using wood was even able to work line drives to all parts of the field. There’s obvious athleticism and upside to the profile and Perdomo will absolutely be one prospect to keep an eye on.

Turning in a stellar performance for Hit Factory PRO in the quarterfinals was Dominic Castellano (2021, Tampa, Fla.) as the junior lefthander was outstanding during his start. The UCF commit allowed just one hit over four shutout innings while striking out five batters. He’s a good athlete on the mound with an up-tempo delivery and the ability to work corner to corner with his fastball. The pitch worked in the 84-88 mph while topping out at 89 mph on the afternoon. The arm speed is notable and leaves to posit that the velocity ceiling is not fully achieved yet. Castellano features a curveball in the low-70s that he can land for strikes but his superior secondary pitch is a changeup in the upper-70s that gets very good action and he sells it nicely while maintaining arm speed. Castellano is a projectable, athletic, and competitive southpaw on the bump and his tenacity on the mound coupled with the stuff makes him a very intriguing follow for next year’s draft class.

The pitching performance of the tournament came off the right arm of Jace Jones (2021, Fort Myers, Fla.) as the MV-Pitcher struck out 10 while allowing only two hits and one run on the afternoon en route to the championship round. Jones, an FGCU commit, is an uber-projectable and athletic righthanded pitcher as there are a lot of positive components from the size, the stuff, the athleticism, and the overall upside. Jones has very good arm speed already, with a very low effort delivery and allows him to run his fastball up to 91 mph with a good amount of life. The heater mostly lived in the upper-80s but Jones filled up the strike zone nicely to the tune of 65 percent strikes during his outing. The delivery is simple and easy while the athleticism oozes upon release and he already has feel for two secondary pitches. The changeup gets some very good sinking action, diving right under barrels nicely while the curveball has good shape in low-70s and he can land the pitch for strikes. Jones looks to be an impressive pitching prospect for the 2021 class and this summer could be a big one for the Fort Myers native.

A young arm who impressed on the final day of the tournament was Rhett Roeser (2024, New Baltimore, Mich.) as the physical righthander worked his fastball up to 85 mph. The stout righty has a pretty solid delivery for a young prospect, with a clean lower half and extension toward the target along with an over the top arm slot and release point. The arm path gets inconsistent and he’ll cut it across toward first base at times but he’s able to generate good plane and sink on the fastball when he gets on top. Roeser also has feel to spin a breaking ball, and a good looking one at that. Roeser is certainly a young arm to follow heading into summer as a physical righthander with a present fastball.

Parker Picot (2023, Rochester, Mich.) was Roeser’s teammate on a very strong Motor City Hit Dogs team as Picot was a 13u Select Festival participant a year prior. Picot has a great frame at an athletic 6-foot-2, 165 pounds to go along with good athleticism on both sides of the baseball. The hands certainly standout in the middle infield as no matter how hard the ball is hit he finds a way to corral the baseball and fire it over to first base. The arm strength stood out on the mound in the mid-80s while the offensive tools are certainly impressive. The swing is very simple and Picot remains balanced and under control throughout the stroke. The lower half needs a bit of cleaning up but Picot certainly has an abundance of things to like for a very young prospect.

Maddix Simpson (2024, Lehigh Acres, Fla.) is a good-looking prospect in the middle of the Hurricanes lineup and Simpson had a very good tournament where he batted .500 and took home MVP honors. The lanky and projectable Simpson batted near the top of the lineup for the Hurricanes over at the hot corner. Simpson generates really good bat speed and impact for a young prospect and the power is already to show flashes as he can drive the ball over the head of opposing outfielders. He gets around the base paths well and shows some good speed in the process, and Simpson shows a lot of burgeoning tools to count upon.

Hitting in the heart of the order for the Hurricanes is Gian De Castro (2024, Weston, Fla.), the Hurricanes first baseman is a big, physical switch hitter with plenty of juice. At a listed 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, De Castro is able to whip the barrel hard from either side of the plate and generate advanced impact from the age. The swing path is elongated, and the consistency of the path varies at times but the raw bat speed and impact ability more than warrant a follow at this young age.

Freddy Noel Beruvides Jr. (2023, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) turned in a very impressive start for Resmondo Baseball in the semifinal round of the Freshman championship. Beruvides struck out five hitters over four scoreless innings and topped out at 88 mph with his fastball on the day. The lefty has a deceptive delivery and hides the ball nicely as he generates really good sinking life out of the hand with the heater. The feel to spin the ball is also very good as he can bury his breaking ball on the back foot of righthanded hitters with relative ease. There’s a good mix of pitches present while the pitchability has always been standout for Beruvides as he’ll be followed closely heading into the summer.

Starting the championship game for Resmondo was 13u Select Festival participant Brandon Olivera (2023, Hialeah, Fla.) and the Miami commit was electric early on. Oliveira has a slender, projectable frame with excellent present arm speed and was able to run his fastball up to 93 mph during the early goings of the ball game. Oliveira didn’t finish fully early on before settling in and pounding the lower third of the strike zone with the fastball. The changeup is his go-to secondary with excellent fading life down and to the arm side. When he’s on with the changeup Oliveira is absolutely filthy and lefties have very little hope of squaring the pitch up. His breaking ball showed good shape and action with 11/5 life and he could land the pitch for strike, but Oliveira certainly looks like one of the best pitching prospects in the country at this juncture.

Thomas Allman (2021, Farmington Hills, Mich.) looks to be the next in line of Division I commitments to come out of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep, a perennial powerhouse in the Metro Detroit area. A two-way player who can swing it as well, Allman stood out in the MLK East tourney, striking out 12 across two separate appearances for the Florida Pokers Underclass, walking only one in those 6 2/3 innings. An athletically-built righthander, Allman ran his fastball up to 89 mph in this event, sitting in the 84-88 mph range for the most part with his fastball, doing a good job of riding the ball through the zone with good life to the arm side and challenging hitters on the inner third of the plate to either side. The slider has come a long way for him, thrown now in the upper-70s with good tunnel out of the hand and some late, sharp tilt on the end of it. He’s going to be extremely interesting to follow this spring and into the summer, as he’s uncommitted at the time of this writing but it surely attracting a lot of attention from schools across the country.

-Vinnie Cervino