Tournaments | Story | 6/11/2021

Battle of the Southeast Scout Notes: Day 1

Drew Wesolowski         Jason Phillips         Kyler Peterson        
Photo: Antonio Anderson (Perfect Game)

Luke McNeillie (2023, Milton, Ga.) got the start in the first game of pool play for the Georgia Bombers & had the park buzzing, mainly because we finally had college coaches back on site for the first time in what has felt like an eternity. Don’t let that over-shadow the performance McNeillie had today, though. The slender right-hander was electric. We saw him start the outing sitting in the upper-80s with a fastball showing arm side run before ramping it up and sitting around 90 mph. He then went on to bump a 93 mph later in his outing, which we had on multiple guns on site. The off-speed arsenal is flashing signs of elite for the age as the metric numbers don’t lie. We saw him spin a sharp breaking ball with 11-to-5 movements in the mid-70’s that kept hitters off-balance. He also mixed in a nasty fading changeup that had a spin rate difference of 1,000 or so RPMs from the fastball, again, elite type metrics especially for a young prep arm. The upside here is immense. He is still very slender in the frame and has plenty of room to fill out physically. I don’t see McNeillie being uncommitted for much longer as his performance this weekend should bring some of the bigger school offers he has been searching for. In 3 innings pitched, he struck out five and didn’t give up a single hit, while giving out just one free pass. 

-Drew Wesolowski

Nic Smith (2022, Jamestown, TN) led Diamond Baseball 17U to a 2-0 victory over the East Cobb 
Braves Thursday as he tallied three strikeouts on 3.0 innings of one-hit baseball. On top of his work on the mound Smith also turned in a two-hit day at the plate including one of his team’s two RBI. The Missouri commit stood out immediately due to his large frame at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds. Smith was living 85-88 mph in his first inning of work and was blowing his fastball by batters up in the zone, tallying four swings and misses in just the first inning. While using the fastball heavily, Smith flashed a good changeup to right-handed hitters, as well as, showing promise on the breaking ball, including getting a batter to strikeout on one in his last inning of work. With a good changeup and an upper-80s fastball that should only add velo as he fills out, Smith is an exciting get for Missouri. 

Offensively, a duo up the middle for Team Elite 16U Select, Shortstop Harrison Pafford (2023, Leesburg, Ga.) and second baseman Ayden Farrow (2023, Locust Grove, Ga.), stood out Thursday. Pafford had an extremely smooth swing and amazing bat speed, staying back a long time and firing his back hip well. While Pafford hit two hard line outs, he also flashed some pull-side pop on his double to the left-center gap. His middle-infield counterpart would get in on the action as well as he sealed the victory with a two-run bomb in the seventh inning. Farrow has a compact swing with a gap-to-gap approach but got his barrel out on a hanging breaking ball and pulled it over the left-field wall. Farrow also turned in a stellar game defensively, highlighted by a diving catch. 

Keoni Painter (2022, Wailuku, HI) dominated in his start for Hawaii Elite 2G 17U Thursday, going 4.0 innings of two-hit baseball while tallying six strikeouts. Painter used his lower half very efficiently had had a very mechanically sound delivery to accompany his short arm action. Painter lived in the 81-83 mph range but hit a few 85s including one in his fourth inning of work. While Painter’s fastball was effective, what really stood out was Painter’s usage of his secondary pitches and his ability to throw them in any count. Painter had a curveball that he would go to in two strike situations that had late break and induced swings and misses, as well as a get me over curveball he flashed. Painter played his fastball and changeup off of each other a lot and kept hitters off balance all day. Painter would blow a fastball by a guy in the top of the zone and then tunnel the changeup right off that to get a strikeout. Still uncommitted, this lefty with a true three-pitch mix should fit nicely into a pitching staff, wherever that may be.

-Josh Horton

Te'Relle George-Mills (2021, Dothan, Ala.) had a nice start to the Battle of the Southeast tournament on Thursday. George-Mills got extended on a fastball that he drove out to right field, then came around to score. The Lawson State Community College commit looks to prefer getting his arms extended on pitches to drive with authority. The right-hander has a quiet stance at the plate with a neutral load that he uses to turn the barrel over nicely. The swing is a little upper body heavy, but if the 6-foot, 170-pounder can get into his legs more then his power will amplify. Keep tabs on this incoming freshman as he transitions to college in the fall. 

David Bishop (2021, Marietta, Ga.) had a two RBI day that helped his team to victory in the no-hit shutout. The TCU commit was only 1-2 in the game but was making loud contact all day. His first at-bat was a line out to center, which resulted in his first RBI. Bishop showed his compact swing in his second at-bat as he took a pitch that was up-and-in and lined it to centerfield, tallying his second RBI. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound, shortstop creates good separation with his hands on his load. Once this middle-infielder grows into his frame he will be even more fun to watch.

Blake Dean (2023, Acworth, Ga.) came in and shut the door for the Southeast Sox on Thursday. Dean was consistently 84-87 mph with his fastball in his two innings. His best pitch is a hard breaking slider, at 76 mph, that he can throw to the back knee of left-handed hitters. The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder's final line was two innings pitched, no hits, no walks and no runs allowed. Dean is an uncommitted arm to keep an eye out for this summer as he continues to mature and gain velocity. 

Jackson Brocket (2021, Buford, Ga.) pounded the zone for the East Cobb Astros 18U in their victory on Thursday. The left-handed pitcher was sitting in the mid-80s with his fastball and touched 87 mph. The Nebraska commit mixes his three pitches well and keeps hitters uncomfortable at the plate. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound incoming college freshman gets down the mound really well, getting good extension with his legs. His delivery is effortless and as he gets stronger and more efficient with his pitches his velocity should come easy. 

-Hayden House

Bowen Mitchell (2021, Kennesaw, Ga.) the lanky pitcher out of Harrison High School pitched 5 full innings allowing no hits, no runs, eight strikeouts, and two walks. Mitchell throws from a low three-quarters arm slot which creates great arm side run on his 86 mph fastball. He starts from the stretch, causing him to hide the ball well, and when he attacks hitters and tries not to do too much, he can hang with the best hitters. His two-seam fastball works more like a sinker, with good downward movement. As the 6-foot, 180-pounder matures and tightens up his mechanics, it’s easy to think he will make that jump into the low-90s.

Kyle Henley (2023, Cumming, Ga.) is the combination of speed and power, everything you want in a leadoff hitter. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder led off the game with a ripped double down the left field line. Then followed that up with a stealing both third and even stole home against a left-handed pitcher. He is no longer a 6.4 second sixty yard dash runner; he is a low-to-mid 6.3 runner. Henley is comparable to Melvin “BJ” Upton Jr. with his slender frame and mannerisms, gliding around the base paths, he has killer instincts and is very aggressive. He has the arm that will play at any position. Expect him to climb up the rankings as the summer progresses.
-Xavier Jefferson

Logan Bryson (2023, Woodstock, Ga.) is an uncommitted arm that commanded the strike zone the entire day. The right-hander’s fastball sat in the low-80s, reaching 85 mph numerous times with a good amount of sink. Bryson hid the ball well during his delivery which allowed the fastball to get on the hands of the hitters very quickly. He flashed the ability to throw a curveball well in early and deep counts. The curveball tunneled well off the fastball and had very good depth. He pounded the zone through his 3 innings of work with 80% of pitches thrown being called strikes. He stepped up for the talented East Cobb Prime 16u team only giving up one hit, averaging one strikeout per inning. As his projectable frame fills out, the velocity will increase and the true swing-and-miss stuff should come with it. 

Noah Darden (2022, Cumming, Ga.) is a quick-twitch athlete that gets to top end speed very quickly. The 5-foot-10 outfielder showed his fast hands at the plate turning fastballs around and shooting them right back up the middle. The quickness of his hands allow him to see the ball deep into the strike zone and make consistently hard contact. He is a disciplined hitter however isn’t afraid to swing early if it is a good pitch to hit. The ability to hunt the fastball is there as he recognizes off-speed pitches well. His top-end speed plays well in the outfield as he covers a lot of ground very quickly. He has an average arm in the outfield but the ground he covers, along with the ability to get good jumps on fly balls make him an above average fielder. Darden is a very good prospect with a good ceiling as he makes some strides with the gap-to-gap power in his bat as his frame fills out. 

Dimitri Angelakos (2024, Woodstock, Ga.) is a shortstop by trade, but started at third base for the extremely talented East Cobb Astros 16u team. He has very soft hands over at third and a very strong arm with the ability to throw from different arm angles with good velocity. He has a simple approach at the plate and will hit the ball wherever it is pitched. He creates solid contact very consistently which he showed going 2-for-2 on the day. Has a level swing that has very little swing-and-miss in his swing and the barrel stays in the zone for a while. The 15-year-old will have the ability to hit for more gap-to-gap power over the coming years as he fills out his projectable 6-foot-2 frame. Angelakos has an extremely bright future ahead of him whether it be at third base or shortstop as every tool he has plays well for both positions. 

Braden Sperry (2023, Marietta, Ga.) absolutely dominated the entire day for the East Cobb Astros 16u. He had a good mix of fastballs and curveballs that he could use in any count. The fastball came out of the hand well and sat in the high-70’s, peaking at 79 mph. The curveball had tight spin and was tunneled off the fastball well. Sperry pounded the zone with more than 55% of pitches being thrown being called strikes. The 6-foot-2 right-hander consistently missed barrels with both pitches, and kept hitters completely off balance through his four innings pitched. He finished the day throwing an impressive no-hitter while, only allowing one walk, and striking out five batters on only 63 pitches. 

Riley Cruce (2022, Loganville, Ga.) showed true swing-and-miss stuff throughout his three innings on the mound on Thursday. The left-hander had a very smooth, and quick arm action with the fastball coming out of the hand very well. The arm-side sink on the mid-80s fastball caused very weak contact when the ball was put in play. He threw a good curveball with tight spin in the low-70s which came out of the same arm-slot as the fastball. A changeup was mixed in, more to right-handers, that sat in the mid-70s with good arm-side fade. All three pitches were mixed very well and kept hitters guessing the whole day. His mechanics were clean and repeatable which made command very good on the day. Very impressive arm on the mound that completely dominated the day going three innings, only allowing one hit, and striking out seven. 
-Cameron McElwaney

Andrew Yu (2021, Nashville, Tenn.) showcased his all-around skill set for East Cobb Astros 18u on Thursday. The Duke commit went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI while displaying smooth actions behind the dish. A right-handed batter, Yu employs a sound approach and has solid power with a steady pre-load. He drove a high fastball the other way his second at-bat and showed the ability to follow the ball through contact. Defensively, Yu moves well for his athletic 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame. He stayed quick on his feet and had a solid pop time on opposing base stealers. Yu showed out with the bat and the glove, and he will be a solid addition for the Blue Devils this spring. 

Caleb Ellard (2021, Rome, Ga.) joined Yu in the offensive attack for East Cobb 18u, going 2-for-3 with a double, homer and three RBI. The Mercer College commit has a pretty right-handed swing that could hit for average at the next level. His upper and lower half stay intact to produce loud pull-side pop. Ellard’s back foot stays grounded while his front leg lifts and extends to create solid carry in his pre-load. His hips and upper body stay compact through contact with good amounts of pull-side power. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Ellard has the strength to pull the ball with authority. He swings in one fluid motion with little hiccups in his setup and showed a good feel for the bat. When he squares up a ball in the zone, the results are promising. Ellard put his offensive tools on display, keep a close eye on the Mercer commit for the 2021 class.  

Kenskey Thomas (2022, Canton Ga.) launched a two-run blast for East Cobb Astros 17u Orange. Thomas’ quick hands jumped on an inside fastball and pulled the ball to the top of the left field wall. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Thomas has a strong frame that packs good amounts of raw power from the right side. He utilizes his stout lower half with a heavy left leg kick to create leverage and carry. His hands stay back and locked in as he looks to inflict damage each time up. Thomas has enticing raw power in his bat, and it’s starting to develop in tournament play. Some swing-and-miss needs to be ironed out in his game, but Thomas showcased what can happen when it all comes together at the plate. He’s an intriguing uncommitted product for the 2022 class. 

William Joyner (2022, Lake Park, Ga.) pitched four scoreless innings with five strikeouts and three walks. The Mercer commit primarily stuck with a fastball-curveball combination. His fastball sat 83-84 mph and topped out at 86 mph with late glove-side movement. The curveball sat in the 70-71 mph range with 11-5 shape and break. Joyner has a projectile 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame with sound mechanics. He throws from a high three-quarter delivery and long arm slot. There's a bit of deception in his delivery as his arm extends all the way back towards his head, which helps him tunnel his off-speed at times. The arm action may be a little out of the ordinary, but Joyner threw with conviction and challenged hitters at all four quadrants. There's more velocity in the tank as he adds more size, but already touching the mid-to-high 80s is promising. Joyner is another enticing right-hander for the 2022 class as he gets more reps on the mound. 

-Isaiah Burrows

Luke Boykin (2022, Jesup, Ga.) is a 6-foot-1, 188-pound outfielder who showed his plus athletic skills across the board out of the leadoff spot for the Game On Vipers 2022 squad. Boykin put together good at bats in the box and hustle out of the box with a quick first step. He smoked a two-strike curveball down the left field line and easily strode into second with a stand up double for his lone hit of the night. He smoked another ball deep to right field in his last at bat, showing his ability to stay through the ball and use the whole field. Defensively, he got a bad read on a line drive hit over his head, but then showed plus arm strength from the wall in center with a two-hop throw all the way to third. The uncommitted Boykin has a future at the top of any lineup with skills on both sides of the ball. 

Antonio Anderson (2023, Atlanta, Ga.), a 6-foot-3, 200-pound Georgia Tech commit, showed why he is the #1 ranked shortstop in the Georgia class. He displayed smooth actions on defensive with soft hands and the ability to throw from all angles across the diamond. His arm strength is also apparent as he has been up to 90 mph on the bump. In the box, he has a spread-out stance and small stride with a quiet load that he uses to impact the baseball at contact. The big switch-hitting shortstop finished the day with two walks and a loud sac-fly to center to drive in a run from the left-side of the plate.  

Caden Spivey (2022, Soperton, Ga.) is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound Notre Dame commit who showed he can do more than just toe the rubber. Spivey played a flawless shortstop with good hands and accurate throws across the diamond. In the box, his spread-out stance and bat to ball skills were on display with two hits in three at bats, including a long drive off the left field wall for a stand-up double. The #7 ranked right-handed pitcher in the Georgia class showed his multiple talents on both sides of the ball and hasn’t even stepped on the bump yet. Spivey is a name to watch as the PG 17U Battle of the Southeast continues.   

-Jason Phillips

Evan O’Neill (2023, Alpharetta, Ga.) tossed two scoreless innings of relief to capture the win in Thursday’s pool play game. The right-hander struck out three as he pounded the strike zone with 75% strikes. O’Neill’s fastball sat 86-89 with heavy run when thrown arm side. He paired the heater with a 12-6 curveball in the 72-74 range. The pitch had consistent shape and good depth. The Georgia native has a clean, simple, and low effort delivery, releasing from a high-3/4 slot. Standing at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds, the uncommitted righty has much more to come.

Standing at 6-foot-6, 220-pounds, Todd Hudson (2022, Lexington, Sc.) is an obvious physical presence at the plate. The lefthanded hitter collected two hits in Thursday evening’s affair to lead Game on Vipers 2022 to a victory. The only time he was retired was on a line out missile to the first basemen. Hudson starts tall in the box before initiating a quiet, strong swing, getting extended at the point of contact. The South Carolina native found barrels and possesses big power potential.

Leighton Finley (2022, Richmond Hill, Ga.), a Georgia commit, was dominant on the mound Thursday, throwing four scoreless, one-hit innings while striking out seven. The right-hander filed the strike zone as he sat 88-90 mph and touch 91 with his heater. Finley throws from a short arm action and has heavy downhill plane on his fastball. His secondary of choice was his slider that lived in the 73-75 range and is more of a true curveball. The pitch had medium depth with some lateness in break that generated swing-and-miss. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound righty has a classic tall and strong pitcher’s build and held his velocity well through the four innings.

-Kyler Peterson
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