Tournaments : : Story
Thursday, November 04, 2010

Jupiter Impact Players, Vol. 2

David Rawnsley        

There has been a very enthusiastic reaction to our first list of 30 “Impact” players from the recent WWBA World Championships.  As there is no shortage of deserving players to mention, we thought we would do a list of 30 additional athletes whose performance in Jupiter, Fla., impacted their standing with the professional scouts and college coaches.


If you didn’t read the initial list it can be found at


Here are the 30 additional athletes in this article (listed in alphabetical order):


SS Justin Atkinson (Team British Columbia): Last year the big sensation on the Team British Columbia squad was C KellinDeglan and we all know how that turned out (Rangers 1st round pick, 22nd overall).  The previously unheralded TBC player who stood out this year was Atkinson, a very athletic 6-3, 200 lb right-handed hitter with an impressive bat.


RHP Cheyne Bickel (2013/Dulins Dodgers):  The 6-0 Bickel is only a sophomore but has already pitched in 13 WWBA or BCS events, although he has yet to make his PG showcase debut.  He threw consistently in the upper 80’s in Jupiter and has an advanced feel for pitching for his age.  Since he goes to neighboring Dwyer High School (less than a mile away from the Roger Dean Complex in Jupiter), we expect to see plenty more of this talented youngster over the next couple of years.


RHP/1B Rookie Davis (Marucci Elite):  The physically imposing Davis (6-4, 235) is making himself into one of the top 2-way talents in the 2011 class.  He threw very well in Jupiter, pitching in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball along with a mid 70’s curveball and improved command and feel. Maybe more impressively, Davis absolutely crushed the ball; in one game consecutive line drives off his bat measured 98 and 99 mph.  If he continues to keep improving at this rate, he’ll be a 2-way force at East Carolina if he makes it to college (he’s a 4.3 student as well).


CF Josh Delph (Chet Lemon’s Juice): I saw Delph play over the summer and the best thing the 6-2, 180 lb left-handed hitter did was square up the ball consistently.  That was the same thing Delph did in this event, square it up consistently, only he appears stronger than he was a few months ago and the ball was coming off his bat harder.  Give Delph a couple of years and proportionately more strength and he’s going to be an outstanding hitting prospect.


LHP Travis Evans (St. Louis Pirates): The 6-1 Evans pitched in the 79-82 mph range at the 2009 16U WWBA National Championships, then missed a big chunk of time earlier this year with elbow tendonitis.  The Texas native was pitching “out of area” for the St. Louis Pirates in Jupiter but that didn’t seem to matter, as Evans touched 91 mph with very good running life and solid spin on a 73 mph curveball.


3B Joey Gallo (2012/Ohio Warhawks): Gallo has always been a highly regarded power hitting third base prospect but he’s gaining more and more notice for his arm strength as a pitcher, having reportedly been bumping 95-96 mph late this summer and fall.  The Warhawks’ pitching rotation had Gallo throwing a couple of innings of relief in their last pool play game, but the dual occurrence of the Warhawks not advancing to the playoffs and winning their last game in 5 innings left the Las Vegas native without a trip to the mound.  Gallo made up for that by throwing an impromptu bullpen for the eager scouts after the last game, pitching at 91-92 mph with an easy, loose arm action.


C Grayson Greiner (Diamond Devils): Greiner is one of the bigger catchers you’ll see anywhere, listed at 6-5, 215 lbs.  Of course, catching seems to draw a broader swath of sizes than any other non-pitching position (think Joe Mauer, Benji Molina, Jason Kendall, Pudge Rodriguez, etc.).  That being said, Greiner has a very advanced ability to keep his defensive actions short and quick for his size.  His swing looks long at first glance, but Greiner has consistently shown he can get his hands through on high velocity pitches and make barrel adjustments to square up on pitches.


LF/3B Travis Harrison (ABD Bulldogs): The following could be listed for any number of players but it seems most appropriate for Harrison, whose entry in the Perfect Game Database has 32 (!) different lines for events dating back to 2005.


To Players and Parents from the Class of 2012 and Beyond:  It seems fairly common for some agents/advisors and college coaches to tell players that they don’t need to go to events such as Jupiter, “that they have already done enough” to impress the scouts and they “don’t want to risk hurting their stock.”


This type of “advice” is both absurd and selfish.  These individuals are solely looking to protect their own self-interests and do not have the interests of the players in mind.  Baseball players get better by playing often and playing against the best competition possible.  If a player can’t compete at a particular event due to injury or conflicts with academic work/another sport or because of family financial issues, we can all respect that.  But no self-respecting baseball person will give anything but disdain to an individual who either advises or participates in not competing at the highest level simply to avoid the perception of potential harm.


Getting back to Travis Harrison:  Harrison has probably been seen by more scouts more often than any player in the 2011 class.  But he’s a ballplayer, that’s what his self-identity is and what his future is. Playing on a back field after his ABD Bulldogs had surprisingly been eliminated from playoff contention, Harrison hit what might have been the longest home run in WWBA history according to witnesses in his first at bat, then tripled off the wall in his second at bat. There was no “I don’t need to do this” in his makeup, even after 32 events and hundreds of at-bats and nothing on the line to play for.  There was a chance to play ball and get better and help his teammates and Harrison took it.  Just like he always has.


C Ronnie Healey (2013/Palm Beach Select): Healey has plenty of time to show scouts how his defensive tools develop.  But his present hitting tools, especially his power, stand out now.  There are some very nice 2013 prospects on the Florida East Coast already developing.


LHP/OF Peter Hendel (Dirtbags): There are a ton of pitching prospects from North Carolina  in the 2011 class but one North Carolina-based scout admitted to me that he had never heard of Hendel, who actually is/was a primary outfielder.  As Hendel was topping out at 82 mph this summer at the WWBA 17U National Championships, that’s understandable.  During the playoffs he was 84-87 with 3 solid secondary pitches while shutting out the Orlando Scorpions and striking out 13 hitters.


RHP Jake Jarvis (2014/Houston Banditos):There are very few freshmen who get a chance to play in the WWBA World Championships. But Jarvis, a freshman at Tomball High School, is one of those few and he looked good, throwing 86-87 in his one trip to the mound and adding a 2-run single in the same game as a bonus.


CF Dominic Jose (FTB Mizuno):  Jose is yet another player who was hampered by an injury during the summer (hamstring), but who really showed his skills and tools in Jupiter. The son of former ML outfielder Felix Jose has a commitment to Stanford, which is still perhaps the hardest school for pro baseball to sway a player away from.  Should Jose end up at school, look for him to be high on the list of potential 2014 first round picks.


SS Travis Maezes (2012/Central Florida, PG Royal): Maezes was impressive at the Southeast Underclass Showcase in August and even more impressive in a team environment.  He is deceptively strong for 5-11, 175 lbs and he makes consistent hard contact from the left side.  Maezes showed his 6.8 speed on an inside the park home run in Jupiter and also added a couple of other extra base hits.  The Michigan native is a 2012 to follow closely.


SS Richie Martin (2012/Chet Lemon’s Juice): Martin was the Most Valuable Player at theWWBA Florida Qualifier in late September and stood out both offensively and defensively for the co-champion Juice.  What impresses the most about Martin isn’t any flashy plus tool but how easily he plays the game and how mature his skills are for his age.   He’s best evaluated over the course of many competitive games.


LHP Kevin Matthews (Midland Redskins): The 5-10 Matthews dominated hitters at WWBA events in the past when he was throwing 86-88 mph. Now he’s throwing 90-92 with an 83 mph slider with depth.  Remember, height/size is far less a factor with pro scouts for a southpaw than it is a right hander.


RHP/SS Lance McCullers (2012/Midland Redskins): You know a prospect has arrived when he throws up to 97 mph as a junior at the biggest scouting event in the baseball world and it’s mentioned almost as an afterthought.  McCullers’ start did draw one of the biggest crowds of scouts of any game at the championship, but his mid-90’s performance and shutout baseball was pretty much par for the course … McCullers’ course, that is.


RHP Ryan Meyer (Orlando Scorpions): Meyer’s stuff is so consistent that it’s easy to forget how good he is and how well he projects. The 6-5, 195 lb right hander topped out at 92 mph for the first time at a PG/WWBA event and his 80 mph slider continues to be a very good second pitch.  It’s hard to imagine that Meyer isn’t going to keep getting better.


RHP Garrett Nuss (Orlando Scorpions): On the other hand Nuss, Meyer’s present teammate on the Scorpions and potential future teammate at Central Florida, doesn’t have that type of consistency yet.  I’ve seen Nuss flash 3 plus pitches before but rarely more than one at a time.  He came close to that in Jupiter, pitching at 90-91 for 4 solid innings with good feel and command of his curveball and changeup.


OF Cullen O’Dwyer (2012/Texas Scout Team):  New Mexico has been pretty fruitful the past few years in terms of baseball prospects (Max Walla, Blake Swihart) and the 6-2, 175 lb switch-hitting O’Dwyer looks to be the next in the succession.  O’Dwyer hit a long clutch home run to put Texas Scout Team in the playoffs and has prospect level run-and-throw tools as well.


LHP Henry Owens (FTB Mizuno): The 2009 Most Valuable Pitcher turned in another outstanding performance over 2 games, but the most impressive was his first outing.  Coming in for injured starter Hudson Boyd after only 2 pitches in the first inning, Owens threw 3 2/3 shutout innings, striking out 8 hitters.  In a long series of appearances over the past few years we can never remember Owens being hit hard and that certainly didn’t change.


OF Michael Papi (Baseball U.): Papi has been at all the biggest events during the last 6 months; the PG National, East Coast Pro, the Area Code Games, the WWBA 17U National Championships, Jupiter.  He’s been stunningly consistent at all those events, showing a powerful left handed swing, right field arm strength and good speed for a 6-3, 190 lb athlete.   When I think of profiles like that, I think of another player from the Northeast, former Yankee great Paul O’Neill.


RHP Cody Poteet (2012/San Gabriel Valley): We’d heard that Poteet’s velocity was moving up from the 88-91 mph range from this summer and that proved true, as the young Californian was a consistent 93-94 mph during his first outing.  Poteet’s best pitch despite the velo jump is still a nasty hard curveball that topped out at 80 mph.  Scouts will be left to talk about Poteet’s small right hander’s build and high energy delivery because little discussion is needed about his present stuff.


CF Dereck Rodriguez (Houston Heat): Rodriguez is already a high level defensive outfielder so it’s just been a matter with evaluators to keep a handle on how much stronger Pudge’s son is getting with the bat. Rodriguez had 8 hits in the Heat’s first 3 games, strongly addressing that issue.


LHP Corey Stump (Chet Lemon’s Juice): I’ve seen Stump pitch frequently over the last year and am very impressed by how he has consistently improved, moving from pitching at 86 with a somewhat awkward delivery to touching 91 with some power to his curveball.  Stump is a very good athlete for someone 6-6, 190 lbs and his hitting ability had a definite impact on getting the Juice to the championship game. Another part of Stump’s story is the strong resemblance in his present package and background to White Sox rookie (and 2010 1st round pick) Chris Sale.                           


LF/2B Josh Tobias (Canes Baseball): Tobias recovered from a dreadful first game (0-3, 3 K’s in a Canes loss) to pick his head and his team up, going 7-15 over the next 5 games with 5 runs, 5 RBI’s and 5 stolen bases. Although Tobias has the power to impact a game (he did, after all, win the Rawlings Home Run Derby at the PG National), he seems to play the best when he’s in leadoff/speed mode and not trying to overpower the ball.


RHP Spenser Turnbull (Marucci Elite):   Turnbull had never attended a PG/WWBA event before, nor had we scouted him at any other event, so he was understandably not ranked prior to Jupiter.  That will change, as the 6-3, 195 lb Mississippi native was up to 94 mph from a low effort delivery and showed very good running/sinking life on an 88-91 mph 2-seamer.


LHP Kyle Twomey (ABD Bulldogs): The 6-3, 160 lbTwomey doesn’t throw 90 yet but he’s been virtually untouchable at high level events all fall, including 2 appearances in Jupiter.  He is very advanced for location and movement and hitters just don’t seem to see his pitches.  When he adds strength, the velocity will move from 86-89 up to the low 90’s.


RHP Richard White (FTB Mizuno): White is a loose 6-2, 175 lb right hander with a fastball that was up to 91 mph.  The interesting thing about him is that he’s from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.  With 2010 Aflac All-American Deshorn Lake also a Virgin Islands native, it’s worth wondering how much more talent is there to be discovered.  I’m sure that’s a trip that most scouts wouldn’t mind taking.


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