College | Recruiting | 12/8/2021

2023 Uncommitted Gems: Four Corners

Tyler Henninger     
Photo: Perfect Game
2023 Uncommitted Gems: Georgia | West Coast | Texahoma

Payton Pudenz (2023, Mesa, Ariz.) has advanced athleticism and a nasty two-pitch mix that makes the right-hander an extremely tough at-bat. His athleticism allows him to vary leg kicks and mess with the hitters' timing while maintaining the body control needed to still command pitches. The fastball sits 85-87 mph with heavy arm-side run. Quick arm speed allows the ball to jump out of the hand. Combined with the heavy arm-side movement, the offering generates a fair share of whiffs. It pairs nicely with a sharp, sweeping slider that sits in the mid-60s. It tunnels well off of the heater and has late bite that is tough to barrel. There is still plenty of projectability left within the right-hander’s slender, high-waisted frame. With a small jump in fastball velocity, Pudenz could easily become a lethal arm for any pitching staff.

Billy Bird (2023, Provo, Utah) showcased an advanced hit tool that performed well throughout the summer. The left-handed hitter features a balanced, level stroke that sprays line drives all over the yard. A sound approach and above-average bat-to-ball skills make Bird a tough out at the plate. The lean frame does possess some strength within that helps generate solid pull-side power. More power should come as more strength is added. Quality athleticism plays well at first base. Bird has shown some two-way ability on the mound. The left-hander possesses a mid-80s fastball with slight arm-side run. It pairs well with a slider at 68-71 mph with short tilt that can get whiffs. It is a solid two-pitch mix that can be thrown for strikes consistently and can generate a fair share of whiffs.

JT Shank (2023, Castle Pines, Colo.) possesses advanced strength and athleticism that make him an enticing prospect. The left-handed hitting first baseman features a strong build that can produce some noise in the box. The swing contains quick bat speed with plenty of leverage to drive the ball with authority. The hands are quick through the zone with quality extension after contact. Despite a bigger frame, Shank still is a solid runner that can move fairly well around the bases. The athleticism plays at first base where Shank displays soft hands and quality footwork that gets the body into a good fielding position. It’s a fairly well-rounded first base profile with a bat that has a chance to drive in runs.

Juan Carlos Kalemera (2023, Phoenix, Ariz.) features a mature frame with strength already present, especially in the lower half. Despite the bigger build, Kalemera moves well on both sides of the ball. The swing contains plenty of torque that helps generate easy power that plays to all fields. While it is a power-first profile, the hit tool still has some quality characteristics. Advanced hand-eye coordination leads to very few whiffs. As the approach continues to be refined, the hit tool should be at least average to above-average. The defensive ability is right there with the bat. Advanced athleticism allows for aggressive, yet under control actions, both as an infielder and outfielder. The arm strength is already present, having been clocked at 90 mph from the outfield. It is a profile that is hard not to get excited about the strength, athleticism, and flashy tools that can contribute on both sides of the ball.

Eathen Rush's (2023, Gilbert, Ariz.) athleticism and dynamic offensive profile make him a very intriguing player. The outfielder utilizes a short, compact swing that stays through the middle of the field well. There is some loft within the bat path that helps drive the ball in the air. The power plays more gap-to-gap for now, but has the potential for more as strength is added to the frame. Speed is a major element to Rush’s game, allowing him to beat out infield singles, take extra bases, and steal bags regularly. It also plays well on the defensive side, allowing him to cover ground well in both directions. It is well-rounded profile that can contribute on both sides of the ball.

Nolan Miller (2023, Salem, Utah) showcased the ability to miss bats frequently while on the bump. The right-hander uses a quick tempo delivery with a short, quick arm action that allows for the ball to jump on hitters. The fastball has topped out at 90 mph on a downhill plane due to the overhead arm slot. The arm slot and arm speed make it tough for hitters to pick it up out of the hand. The heater is paired with a sharp, low-70s curveball with 12-6 action. There is plenty of bite on the pitch, leading to frequent whiffs. It’s a dynamic two-pitch mix that should only get better as the frame continues to mature. Miller also shows some two-way ability in the box. A quick, level swing produces a fair number of barrels and solid pull-side power. While the future is likely on the mound, the bat is another intriguing piece to Miller’s profile.

Maddax Peck (2023, Riverton, Utah) utilizes a simple, low-effort operation that moves down the mound extremely well. The slight drop-and-drive delivery uses the lower half efficiently on an on-line plane to the plate. The delivery is repeated very well. A short, quick arm action hides the ball well before jumping out of the hand. The fastball has been clocked at 88 mph with plenty of ride through the zone. The offering can generate whiffs at the top of the zone frequently. It is paired with a high spin, low-70s curveball with sharp, downward action. The offering has enough bite and tilt to miss bats often. The right-hander has the ability to throw both pitches for strikes consistently. Peck’s lean build has plenty of room to add, making him a projectable arm that already as the ability to get outs with two pitches.

Hunter Gotschall (2023, Peyton, Colo.) possess a four-pitch mix that can misses bats regularly. The right-hander features a physical frame that moves well down the mound. A drop-and-drive delivery gets into the lower half well while maintaining body control throughout. The fastball tops out at 87 mph with ride through the zone. It has swing-and-miss ability when it gets above the hands. Strength within the frame allows for the velocity to be maintained deep into games. Gotschall pairs the fastball with a nasty, 12-6 curveball that sits in the upper-60s. The ability to tunnel it off the heater combines with sharp bite to generate whiffs frequently. The right-hander also has a sharp, tilting slider and a late fading changeup that both show quality traits when used. It is an impressive pitch mix to go along with advanced mechanics that has the makings of a stater profile at the next level.

Mack Mabrey (2023, Carlsbad, N.M.) shows plenty of current ability on the bump with more projection down the line. The left-hander features a lean frame at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with long, loose limbs. Advanced athleticism allows for Mabrey to move quickly and efficiently down the mound. A slight drop-and-drive delivery drives the lower half toward the plate. The fastball has reached 88 mph with cut action that makes it tough to barrel up. It is paired with a big, 12-6 curveball which sits in the mid-70s. The offering has enough movement and depth to generate whiffs frequently. The offering has the potential to be a plus offering. There is a lot to like from the left-hander already, and the pitch mix should only continue to get better.

Cade Nalder (2023, Riverton, Utah) has the ability to contribute on both sides of the ball. The backstop moves well behind the plate with the ability to block well in both directions. Soft hands allow Nalder to receive the ball cleanly and steal the occasional strike. In the box, Nalder utilizes a simple, linear swing with some bat speed through the zone. Quality rhythm and timing allow for advanced barrel accuracy. Strength within the frame helps produce for solid power that plays to the pull side. It is a quality offensive profile that combines with a sound glove at a premium position.

Justin Corless (2023, Chandler, Ariz.) utilizes a short, simple swing to produces barrels frequently. There is plenty of bat speed within the swing, as well as the natural loft needed to drive the ball in the air. A strong, mature frame helps produce advanced power that plays to all fields. The simplicity of the swing allows for the power to show up in games often. Corless has also shown solid two-way ability on the mound. The right-hander has a fastball tops out at 87 mph with heavy arm-side run. The movement and velocity allow it to miss bats in the zone often. It is paired with a sharp, mid-70s slider with sweeping action and an upper-60s curveball with 12-6 action. Both offerings flash swing-and-miss potential. While the power bat potential is enticing, the ability on the mound also has a chance to contribute at the next level.

Caleb Nieman (2023, Peoria, Ariz.) features a strong, XL frame that allows him to drive the ball with authority on a regular basis. The slugger features a simple stroke on a slight uppercut path that is made to lift the ball. It is a plus power profile with most of the juice playing to the pull side. There is some refining to do with the approach, but when contact is made it is usually loud. Despite the larger frame, there is still some room to add to the frame. If that happens and the approach further develops, Nieman could become a legit run producer at the next level with the ability to play a serviceable corner outfield spot.

Gene Trujillo (2023, Albuquerque, N.M.) features an impressive 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame with plenty of strength throughout. The left-handed hitting first baseman looks to do damage at plate, swinging with intent and aggression. The strong frame combines with an uppercut path and quality bat speed to drive the ball in the air with authority. The power plays to all fields and can be tapped into regularly during games. There is still some room to add to the already large frame. The power grades out as plus now, and there could be even more down the line. It is a legit run-producing bat.
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