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Tournaments  | Story  | 9/16/2013

PG EvoShield Underclass Day 3

David Rawnsley     
Photo: Perfect Game

Over the next three days David Rawnsley and Jheremy Brown will be providing their observations from the first three (of four) days at the 2013 PG EvoShield Underclass National Championship. The event is being held at two prominent baseball complexes/spring training sites, Camelback Ranch (Dodgers and White Sox spring training) and Goodyear Ballpark (Reds and Indians).

Goodyear Ballpark

– David Rawnsley

Texas righthander Ryan Cole McKay started the Round of 16 game against the San Diego Show Blue. He has a prototype pitcher’s body at 6-foot-5, 205-pounds that really stands out. McKay’s fastball was pretty steady at 87-89 with big running life at times but he allowed a couple of runs in the first inning when he went with his fastball too often and hitters seemed to see it pretty well. Starting in the second inning he started mixing in his mid-70s curveball and upper-70s changeup more frequently and he cruised, finishing with seven strikeouts in four innings. McKay’s curveball is a big sweeper from his extended three-quarters release point, and his changeup was outstanding this outing, with ideal arm speed and big sinking action at the plate. Based on this look, which was much better than the last time I saw McKay, he is the type of pitcher who can ideally throw a 50/25/25-percent type mix with his fastball/curveball/changeup and be very successful with it.

Catcher Lucas Herbert is one of the best defensive catchers in the country, but he had one problem with McKay. McKay is very slow to the plate, in the 1.7 – 1.8 second area due to a big leg raise, and Herbert stood up very early to catch the ball on two stolen base attempts to rush his throws. There was no way he was going to get either runner, even with a perfect throw (and both of them were), but by standing up early he “stole” two potential strikes away from his pitcher. McKay will learn to quicken his delivery from the stretch, while Herbert will learn that getting the strike call is important as well.

Outfielder Kyle Dean is one of the better outfield prospects in the country and has a very strong 6-foot-2, 195-pound build. He didn’t square up the ball while I was watching to show off his power potential, but he did run 4.20 and 4.27 home-to-first times from the right side on my watch and also made good jumps and showed nice range in centerfield.

Second baseman Danny Casals impressed me with his bat, as he packs plenty of power into his 5-foot-11, 165-pound build. He had a couple of doubles up the gaps and even his outs were hit hard.

Righthander Jiovanni Orozco started the quarterfinals against GBG Marucci Navy and was equally effective as McKay after being given an early 7-0 lead, throwing 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball with five strikeouts. Jheremy Brown told me that the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Orozco struggled getting his fastball down in the strike zone during his first start on Thursday and I can see why that would be an occasional problem. Orozco has a very deep and long arm action in back but comes all the way back for a high three-quarters to over the top arm slot on release. His hand travels a long way with the ball and if his timing is off at all and he isn’t over the ball and out front on release, he’s going to be up in the zone. This outing he was very much in sync, spotting his fastball well in the 86-90 mph range. Like McKay, Orozco is a pitcher who has three quality pitches and he mixed them well, with his big downer low-70s curveball being especially effective.

SACSN’s game against the San Diego Show Blue gave me a chance for my first look at highly acclaimed 2016 outfielder Mickey Moniak. A college coach had told me the day before that Moniak was a potential five-tool player who might end up being the best hitter in the 2016 class. “Hitting looks so easy for him, it’s like he’s seeing the game in slow motion,” was his exact comment. Moniak singled against McKay in his first at bat, then struck out and drew a pair of walks, so I didn’t get to see much in the way of contact. He did play a very good centerfield on defense and showed his speed coming in on the ball and on the bases. The lefthanded hitter should be a fun one to watch develop.

GBG Marucci Navy catcher Ryan Fineman did lots of things well in his two games Sunday, especially with his receiving and throwing. Jheremy Brown and I have got him consistently under 2.0 seconds in both his game and between innings pop times this week. But maybe his most impressive moment came in his first at-bat against SACSN Sunday. He had just caught a 50-pitch first inning (in 105 degree heat) that saw his team fall behind 5-0. Leading off the second inning, he spanked a double off the left field fence when his body was probably telling him it would rather sit down in the shade in the dugout.

Third baseman Brendon Davis enjoyed an outstanding tournament, finishing 9-for-15 at the plate with a pair of walks and six runs scored in five games for GBG Marucci Navy. He has extremely good barrel skills and squares the ball up to all fields with more authority than his 6-foot-4, 160-pound frame indicates he should have. He also has very good one-spot athletic tools on defense with big arm strength and should be a plus defender at third base. The big challenge for Davis is going to be improving his speed, as he is a consistent 4.6 seconds from home to first from the right side. Hopefully that will come as he adds lower body strength to his slender build.

CBA Marucci 2016 righthander Isaak Gutierrez had himself an eventful and busy weekend. He was CBA’s starting pitcher Saturday morning, but when his team jumped out at a 10-0 lead after two innings, he was quickly pulled after throwing only 18 pitches. He came back to start again in the Round of 16 playoffs Sunday morning and threw 7 2/3 shutout innings in CBA’s 1-0 extra-inning win. Gutierrez only threw 88 pitches in that game, meaning he threw a total of 106 pitches to get 29 outs, which is awfully impressive at any level. Gutierrez threw only fastballs and changeups from a very efficient and simple delivery, topping out at 85 mph.

Camelback Ranch
– Jheremy Brown

Rather than checking out some of the playoff games happening at the Goodyear complex, I ventured over to Camelback to see some arm that were throwing in the consolation game between GBG Marucci Blue and the West Coast Mariners. GBG used seven different pitchers (three from the 2017 class, four from 2016) which was beneficial as I wasn't able to see them this weekend, and this strategy at least gave me a glimpse at their arms and position players. The West Coast Mariners brought back all their arms that threw the first day of the tournament on Friday night.

Among the pitchers that stood out in this group,
Jack Aldrich is a lefthanded pitcher from Oak Park, Calif. who pounds the zone with a mid- to upper-70s fastball and a 1-to-7 curveball at 68 mph. He employs a smooth, clean arm action and is able to generate some downhill plane.

Chad Plant
is a long-limbed righty from Upland High School, who projects well over the next few years, especially when he adds some strength to his 135-pound frame. His fastball topped out at 80 mph and he throws with a full arm circle from a three-quarters angle.

Dane Morrow
was the final 2017 arm to throw and he was impressive, sitting 80-83 mph with his fastball, and he also flashed a big breaking ball at 68 mph with late break and potential for the pitch to become very good. For a young player, he repeats his delivery very well, which is balanced and online with good use of his lower half. Without even playing a high school game, Morrow is a player to keep an eye on throughout the next four years.

The most impressive arm of the day wasn't even listed as a primary pitcher, and that's because he is a high level hitter and third basemen. Spencer Steer is a 2016 who bumped his fastball up to 89 mph and sat 86-88 mph on the pitch. He has a short arm action in the back and a very quick arm which helps generate his velocity. Steer showed feel for an 11-to-5 shaped curveball which was up to 70 mph. Right now he throws across his body a bit, but with simple refinements that can be corrected he should see his command get even better with a bump in velocity. Steer struck out the side and his velocity was up from when he threw at the Sunshine West Showcase (85 mph) earlier this summer.

Brandon Moore
came back to throw an inning, having thrown a couple innings the previous day, where he topped out at 88 mph. This outing he was 84-85 mph, topping 86 mph with occasional arm-side run. With a quick arm and good arm speed, Moore also flashed a 12-to-6 curveball, showing good depth on the pitch.

Not listed in the program was 2016 Ricky Rivera, a righthanded pitcher who stands 5-foot-10, 135-pounds. Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, Rivera peaked at 84 mph , sitting at 79-82, and despite his size, was able to get some downhill plane. He maintained his velocity from the stretch well and he also threw an upper-60s to low-70s curveball for strikes.

Defensively 2016 shortstop Will Proctor stands out both physically, with a strong 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame, and with his tool-set. He moves his feet well to get into an easy fielding position with fluid actions, soft hands, a quick transfer and a strong arm.

Behind the plate Brett Davis showed well with a quick transfer and a strong arm, which he like to show off, attempting a number back-picks both to first and second base. Davis routinely turns in good pop times in between innings that are only going to improve in time.

I've now seen the the West Coast Mariners each day of the tournament, mostly due to the fact that they rolled out a Division-I quality arm each and every day. Starting on the mound on Sunday was 2016 Kenyon Yovan, a righthanded pitcher who topped at 89 mph the other night. After playing third base in between pitching and swinging it out in the sun, it would be expected his velocity would dip a little, but it only dropped two mph, topping out at 87 on this day. With a strong, mature frame, Yovan throws shows a short arm action and a curveball at 69 mph which has sharp break.

Ian Oxnevad
threw for the second time this tournament and I was able to see him both times. With a lean, projectable 6-foot-3 frame, Oxnevad topped out at 85 mph, showing good downhill action with arm-side run on his fastball. Once again, he showed off his very good pick-off move, picking off two more baserunners.

Small things can sometimes go unnoticed in a baseball game, like a two-out bunt single by a three-hole hitter. That's exactly what Lucas Herbert (detailed above) did, laying down a bunt down the third base line, helping SACSN National start a five run first inning.