College | Story | 4/22/2021

Scouting Notebook: NC State

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Luca Tresh (NC State Athletics)
College Player Report Database

Previously Featured:
April 9: Reid Johnston
April 10: Evan JusticeSam Highfill

Players Covered: Luca Tresh, Jose Torres, Tyler McDonough, Terrell Tatum, Devonte Brown

What Happened: North Carolina State traveled up to Boston to take on the once-ranked Boston College Eagles, coming away with the series sweep while taking decisive victories in games 1 and 3. After opening up with a 20-5 win on Friday afternoon, the Pack offense continued to keep swinging it, doing just enough on Saturday to edge out a 5-4 win before finishing the sweep on getaway day with a 7-0 victory. The Pack entered the series with an 11-11 record and have since rattled off Ws in five of their last seven contests, hoping to right the ship while heading into the back half of the season and into the conference tournament. 

Carrying Tool: In this particular look, it was the offense that stood out as a constant force over the weekend from top to bottom, combining for 33 hits over the three-game set. Luca Tresh, Devonte Brown and Vojtech Mensik all provided some fireworks with long balls on the weekend while all but two starters had at least one multi-hit game on the weekend. Tyler McDonough is a quintessential top-of-the-order type table-setter while experienced bats like Austin Murr, Johnny Butler, Jose Torres and Terrell Tatum all found barrels throughout the course of the weekend. 

Concerns: Potential bullpen depth. During my look at State over the weekend in Boston, the coaching staff had both starting arms take the ball deep into the game, turning the ball over to a pair of freshmen Friday evening in a 20-5 blowout victory before handing the ball off to left-hander Evan Justice on Saturday, who has been a revelation since moving to the ‘pen. The bullpen wasn't needed on Sunday as starter Matt Willadsen went the distance with a complete-game shutout. Should Justice continue to throw the way he did, locking things down at the back end with a mid- to upper-90s fastball, it’ll be a big boost as the entire staff sports an ERA north of 5.00 with not a single bullpen arm logging double-digit innings nor appearances thus far.

Best Player on the Field: In terms of draft stock, you’d have to go with catcher Luca Tresh who has steadily gained traction up draft boards as a collegiate catcher with blossoming power and a swing geared to play for a long time. In terms of consistent impact on any given game, I’d personally go Tyler McDonough, the Pack’s rangy center fielder who does everything well and is a proven leader on both sides of the ball or shortstop Jose Torres, one of the top defenders in the entire ACC who put together some quality at-bats on the weekend. While they won’t come off the board as early as Tresh, McDonough and Torres have done nothing but produce since stepping foot on campus and are staples to this lineup.

Luca Tresh, C, 2021 Eligible

A native of Safety Harbor, Fla. who made all the stops on the national circuit as a prep and finished inside of PG’s top-200 prospects, Tresh has continued to refine his overall game and could be hitting his way into a potential first round selection in the upcoming MLB Draft. Tresh showed glimpses of his potential as a true freshman (of course he was playing behind first rounder Patrick Bailey) and upped the ante last year, albeit a smaller sample size, as he hit .405-3-9, setting the stage for his draft eligible year this spring. 

Tresh came away from the series at Boston College hitting .308, having multi-hit games both Friday and Sunday night while suiting up and calling the pitches throughout the three-game set. A strongly built 6-foot, 193-pound backstop, Tresh has a rather highly pronounced back elbow in his setup though it doesn’t detract from his ability to get the barrel on plane and generate leverage out front without selling out and getting uphill with his path. Part of the reason is the strength in his hands and ability to control the barrel through the zone, remaining fluid with his stroke through the point of contact. During the Friday afternoon game, Tresh delivered his best performance of the weekend, going 3-for-5 with a pair of singles and a no-doubt blast over the left field wall, his eighth home run of the spring.

After swinging over the top of a changeup in his first at-bat of the day, Tresh proved to be a difficult out, reaching in his next trip with a chopped ground ball off the turf that jumped over the head of the third baseman. The next time up, Tresh provided some foreshadowing of his following at-bat as he was able to get the barrel extended and backspin a deep fly ball that was ultimately caught on the track in left field, something he made sure not to repeat in his fourth at-bat with a no-doubter to left. You can see the home run in the embedded tweet and while impressive, Tresh’s best swing on the day may have come in his last at-bat which yielded a line drive single over the head of the shortstop which you can also see in the thread. Clearly looking fastball and ready to pounce, Tresh detects the spin of the breaking ball and thanks to just how short, yet powerful, his hand path is to the ball he was able to stop and restart his momentum while still getting the barrel out front and enough behind it to line the pitch into left field. 

Collegiate catchers with the chance of sticking behind the plate always seem to do well in the draft and while the offense is the reason for Tresh’s helium throughout the spring, rightfully so as he’s more than capable of changing the outcome of a game with a single swing, the defense was notable as well. He showed no deficiencies behind the dish, staying loose and flexible with his actions, sticking pitches on the corners when he needed to, and had no problem getting his thumb under 95-98 mph fastballs from left-hander Evan Justice, who works from a difficult and angled slot. Over the course of the first two games, Tresh’s arm was challenged just once and while the runner was safe, it was through no fault of his own as Tresh delivered a strike to second base with true carry, however a defensive breakdown left nobody at the bag to receive it. In between innings he delivered consistent pop times in the low 2.0s, all showing the same true carry through its flight to the bag. 

The offense is no doubt the carrying card but if teams think he could stick behind the dish, which I believe he can, then the Wolfpack could very well have back-to-back first round catchers with Tresh joining Patrick Bailey. 

Jose Torres, SS, 2021 Eligible

A draft-eligible Covid-freshman (sophomore eligible by age) who had some buzz towards the end of his senior year of high school in Maryland, Torres was expected to jump immediately into the State lineup, play shortstop every day, and produce; check, check, and check. Torres, who’s listed at 6-foot, 171 pounds, stepped on campus last spring as a true freshman and won the starting shortstop position and has quickly established himself as one of the tops in the entire ACC, if not the country, with an advanced defensive acumen and offensive potential that has taken a step forward since the shortened 2020 season.

Torres, a potential top-three round pick in the upcoming July draft, earns rave reviews for his defensive skill set which makes it easy to envision him staying at the premium position well into his pro career. Even after just a few ground balls in the pregame I/O you get the sense he’s a bit different as the footwork and overall actions are advanced, working through the ball with fluidity and grace. While he wasn’t often challenged in game, he made the routine plays look just that, routine, with a sound internal clock as he never had to rip a throw across the diamond, though the arm strength is there as he showed in a double play effort. With the speedy Sal Frelick at the plate in a tough left-left matchup, Frelick chopped a ball back up the middle in which Torres fielded, stepped on the bag, and without much base underneath him, still managed to get Frelick at first base who ran a 4.01 down the line on that particular play. 

As mentioned above, Torres has continued to make offensive strides not only from last year to this, but from even the start of the season until now, cutting down on the number of strikeouts by a good rate. Granted he hit .333 in the shortened 2020 season (60 at-bats), he also struck out 20 times, a number he has yet to approach in 79 at-bats this spring (numbers are through the Boston College series), punching out just 15 times, though it’s worth noting nine had come within the first three weeks. He doesn’t walk much, but that’s not to say he doesn’t generate competitive at-bats as he was consistently working the Eagle’s pitchers throughout the weekend, fouling off tough pitches without readily expanding the zone before getting something he was able to put in play. 

The swing itself is a simple one and it’s one with which he remains balanced, getting the barrel out front with a lower-effort stroke. Early in his BP rounds Torres worked on a more linear plane, spraying barrels around the yard before opening it up, showing more lift and easy juice off the barrel with a long bomb to his pull side, though that’s not necessarily a prevalent tool in his overall skill set. 

On Friday afternoon, Torres put a couple interesting swings on the ball, the first coming on a two-strike changeup from BC starter Mason Pelio in which he was geared up for a mid-90s fastball but recognized the pitch out of Pelio’s hand and managed to keep his hands back enough, barreling the pitch into left field for a single. Later in the game he was able to get his hands expanded on a fastball and drove the pitch to deep center field, cruising around the bases for a triple while showing off the speed component of his game as well. 

Tyler McDonough, OF, 2021 Eligible

McDonough has been a known commodity in the ACC baseball circles for a few years now, and rightfully so, as the athletic and versatile switch-hitter has seemingly found nothing but the barrel during his time in Raleigh. Not overly physical at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds but well-built with strength to his lower half, McDonough has spent time both in the infield as well as the outfield for the Pack throughout his career and more than looked the part in center field while facing off against Boston College, which is likely his defensive destination once in pro ball. 

The Ohio native entered the weekend with a .330 average, and though he came away from Boston with a .311 average (has since brought it up to .317 following the Notre Dame series), that doesn’t mean it was by any means a bad look as he put more than a couple impressive swings on the ball. A career .324 hitter who didn’t often chase bad pitches, McDonough may not have filled up the box score, but he found more than a couple of barrels (single up the middle and a jam shot to third base he beat out hitting left-handed), showing quickness to his hands from the left side with plenty of twitch in the run tool once underway. His overall athleticism, hand-eye coordination, and speed were all on display in a single at-bat late in the game Saturday afternoon. Ready to face a right-hander prior to the BC pitching change, McDonough simply dug into the right-handed batter’s box for the first time on the weekend and wasted little time as he turned around the first pitch he saw, scorching the left fielder for a standup double. 

The same speed that shows on the bases allows him to patrol center field with ease, moving around with balance while showing nice closing speed and a quick first step. On a well-struck sinking line drive off the bat of BC power bat Luke Gold, McDonough initially broke backwards on the ball before reading the spin and immediately reversed his course, making the athletic play to come in and rob a base hit from Gold. 

A consistent performer who has already eclipsed his home run total from 2019 and is on pace to more than double his career total, McDonough may not have one standout, plus tool but he has a collection of very solid-average tools that play in game, and given his overall athleticism and versatility, he should come of the boards in this July’s draft somewhere inside the top-five rounds. 

Terrell Tatum, OF, 2021 Eligible

Getting the starts as the club’s designated hitter during the series at Boston College, Tatum had himself quite the first two days, going 6-for-10 before picking up another knock in the final game. Slenderly built at 6-foot, 167 pounds, Tatum is full of quick-twitch athleticism and could very easily patrol the outfield if not for the Pack’s experience and depth roaming around out there, though his bat has helped spark the offense and he saw his average rise from .227 to .275 over the course of the weekend. 

Though he ran into a couple home runs in batting practice, including one to the pull side that cleared the 375’ mark with plenty of room to spare, his offensive approach and overall game is geared more towards working on a linear plane, utilizing the middle and pull-side parts of the field. There are timing components to his swing, including a deeper hand load, but there’s also plenty of intent and hand quickness which helped him show an innate ability for finding the barrel on the weekend. Early on in game one he lined a couple singles to the middle of the field off a pair of BC pitchers, as well as a bunt single, though his last knock of the game (which can be seen in the embedded tweet) yielded a triple to center field that not even Sal Frelick could chase down. Throughout the weekend, Tatum showed no hesitations in the box with handling velocity and though we didn’t get to see him in the field, his above average run tool was still on display with a 4.11 down the line. 

Devonte Brown, OF, 2021 Eligible

Brown will quickly capture your attention with his physically built 5-foot-11, 208-pound frame and it was his strength that was at the epicenter of what he showed throughout the weekend series in Boston. A primary shortstop as a prep in Georgia, Brown has spent some time in the dirt while on campus, though it looks as though he has slotted nicely into right field for the Wolfpack where his skill set should help project him to remain at the next level. 

Throughout his time on campus, Brown’s numbers have been on a steady rise, though so has his playing time, and while he was ready to truly breakout in 2020 with a blazing hot start, he has almost as impressive with his numbers in ’21. Like others on the club, Brown came out of the series at Boston College with a higher batting average than when he entered and it’s a trend he has upheld through this past weekend’s series at Notre Dame as he’s in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak. 

Twice on Friday afternoon Brown showed his strength as well as his willingness to go with the pitch as he barreled up a pair of outer-half fastballs to plate three of his four runs on the game. Facing off against the hard throwing Mason Pelio of BC in his first at-bat of the game, Brown found himself up 2-1 in the count and didn’t try to do too much with a 95 mph fastball, simply shooting it the other way through the three-hole. Later in the game it was more of the same, only this time in a 3-2 count and a 90 mph heater which he lined the other way for a double, showing his strength/bat speed combo to plate two runs. 

The word “strength” keeps coming up in regard to Brown and he showed it again on Saturday in two different ways. He wasted little time in making an impact as BC’s Cody Morissette sent a deep drive out his way in right field which he quickly corralled, spun and delivered a strike to second base to get Morissette in a bang-bang play, showing off impressive arm strength and carry on throw. Only fitting, Brown came up to the plate two innings later and made his presence felt with the bat, only this time he turned on an 0-1 hanging breaking ball for a no-doubt blast off of the bat, momentarily tying the game. 

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