Tournaments : : Story
Friday, October 28, 2011

Impact Players from Underclass WC

Todd Gold        
Photo: Perfect Game
149 of the top travel teams in the nation descended upon Ft. Myers, Florida to battle it out for the 2011 WWBA Underclass World Championship. The prospect laiden Marucci Elite took home the hardware for the second straight year, but many more players left strong impressions on college recruiters from around the country.

Below is a handful of the players who made strong impressions on PG scouts during the Underclass World Championship, and likely on the throngs of college recruiters who scoured the deep and impressive collection of talent to find recruits who will someday help bring wins to their campus.

Rising Stars

This group of players have shown rapid improvement throughout the season and are beginning to show signs of high level prospect tools. Keep an eye on these players closely going forward.

AJ Puk (2013 LHP/1B, Canes Baseball)-
The tall projectable southpaw from Iowa has exploded in 2011. Puk was routinely pitching in the 80-82 mph range in the PG Iowa Spring League and was 6' 2" tall. Fast forward to October and the now 6' 5" power arm has worked comfortably in the 86-88 mph range, frequently touching 89, with his fastball and showed significant improvement with his curveball which is now above average. Most impressively his command has shown a leap similar to his velocity and he now locates his fastball in the bottom half of the strike zone consistently. Puk's rapid rise on the mound this year and remaining physical projection suggest that we are seeing the emergence of a big time pitching prospect. Puk can also swing the bat really well and has the potential to be a high level hitter in college, though there will likely be plenty of MLB organizations interested in seeing him forgo college ball to begin a promising career as a LHP in their system early.

Ian McKinney (2013 LHP, FTB Mizuno Royal)- Like Puk, McKinney is another fast rising 2013 LHP. McKinney topped out at 83 mph at the National Underclass Main Event in late December 2010. At the 16u Memorial Day Classic he was up to 87, before climbing up to 90 late this fall. McKinney has also seen his command improve, which is all the more impressive considering how good it was a year ago. In his playoff start at the Underclass World Championship McKinney showed pinpoint command, throwing 51 of his 62 pitches for strikes (82.3%) in a 12 strikeout shutout. He showed an ability to not only hit spots with his fastball, but also locate his quality secondary stuff as well and has an advanced feel for pitching. McKinney has become one of the best present ability pitchers in the country, if he can continue to improve the quality of his stuff he could develop into a high level prospect.

Corey Ray (2013 OF, Hitters Baseball)- The Chicago product made his PG debut at the 2010 WWBA Underclass World Championship as a 5' 9" 145 pound OF, showing good athleticism and quickness and was a solid leadoffman for Hitters Baseball. He returned in 2011 three inches taller and 20 pounds stronger and the results were impressive. No longer just a slap and run hitter, Ray now drives the ball with authority and has occasional present home power and remains a premium athlete who can cover good ground in center field. This year Ray hit .467/.500/.733 with 7 Runs, 5 RBIs and 7 SB. The left handed center fielder has an impressive blend of speed and strength and is quickly becoming a very exciting prospect.

Adrian Chacon (2013 C, Marucci Elite)- Coming into his sophomore season at Tampa Jesuit HS Chacon was somewhat known among scouts and recruiters along the west coast of Florida, having made a solid impression with his catch and throw ability behind the plate at the 2010 16u WWBA National Championship. After his long and successful 2011 campaign Chacon has become a well known prospect on the national scene. Chacon has gone from being known as a solid defensive Catcher with some versatility, to earning a reputation as a high level Catching prospect who can hit for power. According to the scouting notes Chacon's swing path has become noticeably more direct to the baseball throughout the course of the year and as a result his contact rate has improved and he is driving the ball with authority on a more consistent basis. His rising stock is a result of his hard work to improve and his exposure at high level national events. 

Kirvin Moesquit (2014 MIF, South Florida Prospects)- The tightly wound MIF prospect has already begun to show quality prospect tools at a young age. Moesquit had a solid debut at least year's Underclass World Championship with the South Florida Huskies. Moesquit went 1-for-3 in each of the Huskies four games and stole a pair of bases, while he didn't dominate the competition most scouts noted his potential. This year the sophomore was an offensive force, leading his team with a 1.390 OPS, ripping a pair of triples, swiping 3 bags and hitting a walk-off Home Run from the left side of the plate. Also a quick athlete, Moesquit posted a 4.27 home to first time from the right side, showed good defensive actions and even struck out two of the three hitters he faced in a scoreless inning of relief (fastball up to 82). He's still a young player but is already beginning to show the makings of an interesting prospect.

Big Stage, Big Debut
This is a group of players who made a statement at the WWBA Underclass World Championship in their first taste of competition at an elite level event.

Yogey Perez (2013 OF, South Florida Bandits Seminoles)- In his PG debut Perez was the victim of several well hit balls that were turned into outs and had just one hit as a result. That one hit however was a deep blast that easily cleared the wall in center field at the Twins Spring Training Complex in the Bandits tournament opener. The reports on Perez from PG scouts were glowing, with one scout noting that Perez "makes the game look easy," praising his good bat speed and high upside. The result of ten at bats are not nearly enough to judge a players ability. But it is enough time to get a feel for their physical tools, and the tools Perez possesses are impressive. He will be one to watch closely going forward.

Matt Pidich (2013 RHP, NJ 9ers)- Pidich had a highly successful debut at the the Underclass World Championship, his first elite level event after a good showing in the Northeast Qualifier #2 in September. In his start against the natinally ranked South Florida Prospects, Pidich held a formidable lineup to one run on 3 hits over 6 innings, striking out 10 and walking just one to earn the Win. Pidich sat 84-87 touching 88 with his fastball and threw it for a strike 71.2% of the time. He combined it with a quality slider (up to 81 mph) with hard break and a solid changeup. The strong 6' 3" right hander from the northeast was an interesting find and will be worth keeping an eye on as he progresses.

Ryder Ryan (2014 C/RHP, Showcase Panthers 2014)- This summer the young Catcher quietly made his debut in the SBA Canes' second game of the 16u WWBA National Championship (after sitting out their first game at the East Cobb Complex), going 1-for-4 at the plate and allowing 4 runs on 6 hits over 6 1/3 innings at Sprayberry High School. Ryan took the loss in that game, topping out at 88. At the Underclass World Championship Ryan would hit cleanup in the playoffs for the Show Case Panthers 2014 and threw 4 1/3 shutout innings, topping out at 90 mph while showing good power at the plate with a double, triple and a Home Run in 12 ABs.

Braxton Davidson (2014 OF/1B, Dirtbags)- The big powerful left handed hitting Davidson was a member of the Dirtbags Gold at the 16u WWBA National Championship this summer, where he played sparingly and was generally pitched around (3 BB, 1 HBP in 10 PA) for a team that went 0-5. While the scouts that did see him turned in positive reviews he was a player who was still under the radar this summer. Still showing impressive on-base skills (5 BB, 2 HBP in 13 PA), Davidson finally got a chance to show off his power, unloading on a fastball, driving it off the fence in right field for a triple in his first game on the big stage. Davidson finished the tournament 3-for-6 with 4.9 pitches per plate appearance, but most importantly he showed an ability to generate good bat speed with an easy fluid stroke. 

Jonathan India (2015 SS, SoCal NTT)- This was India's second PG event, after showing well at the 15u BCS this summer India returned with SoCal National Travel Team and showed that he wasn't least bit intimidated by facing high level competition from much older players. The small athletic young infielder showed the makings of a very good ballplayer, with quick actions defensively and a short compact swing with emerging bat speed, India showed the ability to drive the ball to the gaps well. Keep an eye on the freshman's progress going forward.

The Usual Suspects
This group of highly ranked players justified their lofty ranking, proving that they belong amongst the elite players in their class by continuing to show elite level tools and turned in big performances at the WWBA Underclass World Championship.

Spencer Trayner (2013 MIF/RHP, Marucci Elite)- Already ranked in the top 50 of his class and with a North Carolina commitment in his back pocket, Trayner showed up in Fort Myers with opposing coaches already well aware of just how dangerous a player he is. With that target on his back Trayner hit .333 (7-for-21) with three walks while alternating between the leadoff spot in the order and the two-hole for the Champions Marucci Elite. Trayner scored a team high 5 Runs, stole 2 bases and drove in 3 RBIs. Trayner also played his usual stellar up the middle defense, converting all 22 defensive chances at 2B and SS. But possibly the most important contribution he made to his team's title run was on the mound in the semifinals against his former team, FTB Mizuno, when he retired all nine batters he faced in order to bring a classic back-and-forth slugfest to a screeching halt, preserving Marucci's one run lead.

Zack Collins (2013 C, South Florida Elite Underclass)- It is becoming routine for Collins to show up at a tournament and dominate with his bat. Collins won the 16u WWBA National Championship MVP, for an encore he hit .636 (7-for-11) with 4 singles, a double, a triple and a Home Run. He also posted a ridiculous 67% line drive rate, showing the ability to not only pull the ball with authority but to also consistently drive the ball to the opposite gap in left center. While it is still a bit early, Collins looks to be one of the very best hitters in the class of 2013.

Matt Vogel (2013 RHP/SS, South Florida Bandits Seminoles)- The New York product is certainly no secret, having burst onto the scene a year ago when he topped out at 88 mph as a sophomore at last year's Underclass World Championship. This year Vogel was even better, lighting up the radar gun at 91 mph, sharpening his curveball and adding a quality slider to his arsenal. Vogel also showed good athleticism at shortstop and can hit but as one of the top pitching prospects in the class, his future is clearly on the mound.

Nicholas Gordon (2014 MIF/RHP, Chet Lemon's Juice)- The younger brother of Dodgers SS Dee Gordon looks, and more importantly, plays just like his big bro. A long lanky loose athlete, Gordon is a burner on the bases and shows very good range in the middle infield. The son of longtime Major League pitcher Tom Gordon, Nick also showed a lot of potential on the mound, topping out at 85 with a quick loose arm and good command, striking out 15 and walking just one over 7 innings and throwing 69.7% of his pitches for strikes. Though he played 2B for Chet Lemon's Juice in their run to the finals, Gordon clearly posses the arm strength to project as a future shortstop.

Daz Cameron (2015 OF, East Cobb Astros Texas Orange)- A few months into his high school career Cameron has already made a name for himself in the scouting community. The star Centerfielder of the East Cobb Astros 14u this summer put up big time numbers at four high level tournaments and was named the top 2015 prospect at the Southeast Underclass Showcase. Certainly an impressive summer debut, but Cameron wasn't done, going 6-for-15 (.400) with a pair of triples out of the leadoff spot and stealing two bases against elite level class of 2013 competition at the Underclass World Championship. 
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