Showcase | Story | 6/16/2013

PG National: Day 4 Recap

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

Jeff Dahn Day 4 features: Nick/Tom Gordon | Gareth Morgan
Matt Rodriguez Day 4 features: Rawlings Home Run Challenge | Trenton Kemp

MINNEAPOLIS – Burly right-handed fireballer Grant Holmes from Conway, S.C. kept scouts busy today, impressing with his stuff on the mound at the Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome.

From the first pitch, which registered 97 mph on some scouts’ radar guns, Holmes was the center of attention for the two innings he threw.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound pitcher sat at 94-96 mph with his fastball the first inning. In his second inning of work he sat at 92-94 mph with the heater. Holmes also mixed in a nasty slider that sat 80-84 mph and touched 85. His fastball velocity didn’t change from the stretch, either.

Holmes, who traveled alone to Minneapolis to pitch, enjoyed his short stint on the bump in the Minnesota Twins’ former ballpark. “It’s nice,” said Holmes. “It’s much different than just a regular old ballpark.”

Although Holmes isn’t used to throwing in Major League facilities, he is used to pitching against an elevated level of competition. Holmes plays travel ball with the EvoShield Canes whenever he gets the chance.

It’s kind of like this,” Holmes said about playing with EvoShield. “Everybody’s good. Everybody plays together. (There’s) a lot of good players; a bunch of competition.”

EvoShield coaches Sebastian Nazabal and Tom Willoughby are in attendance to support a plethora of Canes players here to display their skills.

Anytime you can see kids out here from your organization it’s a good feeling,” Nazabal said. “When (Holmes) comes out there and his first pitch is 96 you can hear everybody start talking it feels good to know that that’s representing your organization and he’s part of it.”

The national spotlight should serve well for Holmes after his performance today.

It’s a great opportunity of him,” Willoughby said. “It’s something that he’s been looking forward to and hopefully more opportunities become available for him. He needs to be seen a lot more and he’s gonna do that, hopefully.”

Holmes works hard to get better and it is evident to those he plays for and those who he plays with.

He gets after it. He works hard,” Nazabal said. “He works hard off the field to get ready to be on the field and it shows when he gets out there to play.

When he gets on the mound he’s all business and when he’s down in the zone, like he was today, he’s gonna be tough to hit.”

He’s just a bulldog. He’s a competitor,” Willoughby added.

Both coaches praised his work ethic and believe he has a very projectable pitching style with even better stuff.

(Holmes has) great velocity,” said Willoughby. “He’s got a lot of downward movement on his ball, but he throws a heavy ball so he’s gonna break a lot of bats through his career.”

Nazabal offered a similar scouting report to Willoughby’s. “He’s 92-93 (mph) down in the zone with some sink on it and he’s tough to hit that way.”

Both coaches tabbed Holmes a “bulldog” on the mound. He definitely showed scouts some of those bulldog qualities today.

Willoughby simply put it best. “He’s a guy that you wanna hand the ball to.”

Matt Rodriguez

Live Streaming

For the second straight year the Perfect Game National Showcase is available for everyone to watch online. The live stream to all of the workouts, batting practice sessions and games can be found on iHigh's dedicated Perfect Game page:


Day 4 Workouts

After taking batting practice toward the end of the Day 3 events, Vegas Gold and White teams finished the drills portion of the PG National by running the 60-yard dash and conducting their individual outfield, infield and catching drills prior to the four games that were played on Day 4. Detailed notes from the skills portions of the National Showcase, as well as additional notes on the games, are available in the
scout blogs:


National Impressions

After the drills, the Vegas Gold and White teams took to the field for the first of four games on the day. Taking the mound for both teams were several intriguing arms, a recurring theme throughout this event.

Left-hander Bennett Sousa was the first of these arms, showing easy arm strength while producing 88-91 mph heat with more expected in the future. He also threw a promising mid-70s breaking ball and did a nice job using his stature to throw on a downward plane.

Grant Holmes, as featured above, raised the bar after Sousa, working at 94-96, touching 97 and 93 from the stretch, with his heavy fastball, and using that pitch to cruise through a very quick and easy first inning of work. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-hander has a big, burly frame that should allow him to sustain that velocity through long innings at the next stage of his career.

Two big-bodied pitchers closed out the game for both teams. Right-hander Brady Feigl, at 6-foot-5, 200-pounds, and left-handed Michael Mediavilla, at 6-foot-4, 225-pounds, both have strong, workhorse frames that makes it easy to believe they'll be throwing harder, more consistently, from their current upper-80s sustained velocity.

Scott Hurst made a really nice play in center field, ranging back deep toward the warning track to make an over the shoulder catch.

With so much of the focus on pitching over the past several days (and the overall event), the second game of the day, Game 13 overall, offered several hard-hit balls.

Tristan Hildebrandt stood out at the plate with a pair of doubles drilled hard to the outfield, the first of which was smoke to the gap in right-center.

Trenton Kemp, as featured earlier today by Matt Rodriguez (link available above), ripped a ball down the left field line for a double of his own in this contest.

Miles Lewis also hit a double, his down the right field line in the seventh inning.

Kevin Bryant Jr. came feet short of the event's first home, driving a ball high and deep to left field that was caught at the warning track.

Jeren Kendall continues to make an extremely strong impression at the PG National, with his game highlighted by his game-changing speed. After running a 6.49 60 during the Day 2 workouts (and also threw 93 from the outfield), he nearly made it to first base on a routine grounder to the shortstop. The left-handed hitter has an incredibly quick step out of the batter's box.

The Royal team offered a trio of high-power arms, starting with Jake Jarvis, who started the game. With a shorter yet athletic frame, Jarvis has a very live arm with late movement on his 87-89 fastball. He also showed good command of a very sharp upper-70s breaking ball, and changed speeds between the two pitches and hit his spots well.

Put Ryan Avidano's name on the list among the plentiful projectable pitchers. At 6-foot-7, 215-pounds Avidano has broad shoulders and a high waist, with the ability to get good sink on his mid-80s fastball that should add velocity over the 2-3 years as he matures physically. He also throws a promising low-70s curveball.

Brigham Hill entered the game for the Royal squad after Avidano, with a much different overall profile as a 5-foot-11, 175-pound righty. He, like Jarvis, creates good arm speed that generated 91 mph fastballs up in the zone. Hill employed an aggressive approach going right after the opposing batters.

We saw several promising Virginia recruits on Day 4 of the National Showcase, including Sousa, Derek Casey and Sean Collins.

The Game 14 starter for the Red squad offered yet another Cavaliers commit, and the most promising of those that took the mound so far, in Tommy Doyle. Doyle, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound right-hander is yet another pitcher with an exciting combination of future projection and current stuff and pitchability. His fastball sat at 89-91 early, hitting the corners with his 91 fastball for strikeouts, while mixing in a promising power breaking ball in the upper-70s.

Michael Kopech, currently ranked ninth in the high school class of class of 2014, started opposite Doyle and showcased one of the more exciting power arms at the National. Built tall and strong with a still projectable frame, Kopech threw his first pitch at 92, his next at 94, and worked in the 89-94 range during his two innings of work. He also threw a sharp 74-76 mph breaking ball. In his first inning of work he recorded a pair of strikeouts on 91 fastballs thrown at the knees, and another on a 92 fastball up in the zone. Kopech added three more punchouts in his second inning of work, one on a wild pitch, as the only ball put in play against him was a weak grounder to the shortstop.

2012 Perfect Game All-American Mayky Perez, who will be eligible to sign as a free agent with the beginning of the July 2 International Free Agent period, followed Kopech to the mound for the Vegas Gold squad. Perez, who was the first player from the Dominican Republic selected to play in the Classic, has shown significant improvement since the last time we saw him at the WWBA World Championship last October. With great size, Perez creates create leverage on his fastball, which peaked at 92 mph and sat at 91 during his first inning of work, striking out the side in that frame. His velocity sat in the upper-80s during his second inning, and he continues to show improvement with his upper-70s slider.

Austin DeCarr, the last pitcher to take the mound for the Vegas Gold squad, also showed considerable promise. His first pitch recorded 91 on the radar, peking at 92 and making quick work of the opposing batters. He uses his tall, strong frame well, getting full extension on his delivery as the ball explodes in on batter's hands. He also threw a mid-70s curveball that look as though it could become a power offering with more experience throwing it.

Since base-runners go at will at an event like this, it makes it even more notable when a catcher guns them down. Ryan McCullers, younger brother of 2011 National participant Lance McCullers, threw out a would-be runner at second base in the second inning of this contest, showing a really strong arm and quick release.

Jared Walker, who showed a short, powerful stroke in batting practice during batting practice on Day 2, showed a nice approach at the plate going with a pitch and driving it deep the other way to left field for a double.

Zach Shannon also just missed a home run on Day 4, showing his incredible power potential by taking a pitch the other way down the right field line, hitting just inches from the top of the wall just feet away from the 327-foot mark for a double.

The next batter Bryce Carter, who participated in the Rawlings Home Run Challenge the night before, didn't miss, hitting a bomb off the right field baggy-less bleachers, thus ending the home run drought.

In the same inning, center fielder Steven Wells made a really nice play snaring a ball before it hit the turf by racing straight in to make a diving catch on a sinking line drive.

Projectable right-hander Jacob Nix took the mound to begin the fourth and final game of the day, Game 15 overall with three more to be played on Monday. Nix warmed up at 91-92 mph, and touched 93 during his first inning of work, showing a live, quick arm. His low- to mid-70s curveball looks to be a little new to him at this stage of his career, but it's a pitch that appears to be heading in the right direction once he becomes more comfortable with it.

The White team ran another impressive big-bodied right-hander after Nix in Turner Larkins. Larkins is built country strong with a 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, throwing on a pronounced downhill plane while pounding the lower half of the strike zone with 88-91 mph heat. He also threw a big overhand curve in the low- to mid-70s.

Hunter Alexander was yet another big righty for the White team, following Larkins in the pitching order, and also similar to Larkins, Alexander sat in the 87-91 range with his fastball.

• Josh Pennington was a pleasant surprise from the Steel team, a late addition who flew to Minneapolis from New Jersey earlier in the day to take part of the National.  With a lean, wiry-strong frame, his arm strength is obvious, peaking at 92 and sitting 90-91 in his first inning of work.  He also threw a potential power breaking ball at 77 mph that fooled a handful of batters, and also mixed in a low-80s changeup.  He also made a really nice defensive play on the mound, quickly pouncing on a ball hit to his right while firing to second base, and not first, to gun down the lead runner.

Michael Mediavilla, who pitched earlier in the day, smoked a double that short-hopped the wall in left field, showing his two-way talents.

• Similar to McCullers as noted above, both Aaron Rzucidlo and Tommy Pincin showed off their arm strength and releases by gunning down runners at second and third base respectively in the last game of the day.

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