Tournaments : : Story
Monday, January 20, 2014

PG MLK Scouting Recap Day 3

Todd Gold        
Photo: Perfect Game

This is part three of a three-part series highlighting some of the players who stood out from a scouting standpoint at the 2014 PG MLK Championship at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. It is by no means comprehensive, but rather the observations and opinions of one scout.

With one day of games remaining, the scouting highlight of the 2014 PG MLK Championship belongs to 2015 catcher Michael Hickman (Katy, Texas), who made the biggest splash of the weekend by crushing a no doubt home run that landed in the pond well beyond the right field fence on field six of the White Sox spring training complex. Hickman is one of the premier power bat in the 2015 class and this jaw dropping shot reaffirms that status. He also had a single and a triple in a 3-for-3 game with four RBI.

After working out with several other highly sought after 2014 MLB Draft prospects at a nearby Spring Training complex this morning, outfielders Marcus Wilson and Denz'l Chapman rushed over to the Camelback Ranch complex to join their Team Citius Inner City Elite teammates in the second inning. The duo of speedy outfielders who are also high school teammates, each put their wheels to use. After walking his first time up Wilson legged out an infield single by getting down the line in 4.25 seconds before taking second on a ball in the dirt and stealing third with a huge jump. The impressive home to first time was a bit slower than his usual times, partly as a result of having just worked out earlier in the morning and partly as a result of a late start getting out of the box on a check swing. Chapman's highlight of the game was a well struck foul ball to the pullside while hitting lefty, and he also ran down a ball in the left center gap.

Wilson is a high ceiling prospect who enters the spring as a top two round candidate and will be crosschecked heavily between now and June, while Chapman will draw plenty of interest as well.

After taking the mound earlier in the tournament, 2014 righthander Dakody Clemmer (Vancouver, Wash.) was called upon to keep a close game close for Showtime Baseball. The funky right hander's funkiness was matched by his effectiveness. He throws from a sidearm slot with a short arm action with an angle to the plate from the third base side. He located his mid-upper 80s fastball on both corners, finishing off the inning with a tailing 88 mph fastball on the glove side corner for a called third strike. The fastball tails back hard to the arm side as a result of his cross-fire delivery that has some resemblance to that of big leaguer Pat Neshek. He also showed a deep sweeping mid 70s slider that played well off of his fastball. Clemmer struck out two of the three hitters he faced and threw 10 of his 13 pitches for strikes.

2014 outfielder Alec Chaney (Vancouver, Wash.) stood out in his first at-bat for turning on the ball and driving it hard to the pullside for a hard hit out. While the balls he put into play were all to the pullside, the foul ball that he crushed the opposite way was the hardest hit ball of the game and was a positive development, even if it doesn't show up in his spray chart. He also showed good closing speed and direct routes in center field. While he lacks the ideal height for an outfield prospect at 6-foot and 180 pounds, he showed good tools on both sides and is a player who made a good first impression, in spite of an 0-for-4 day.

The instincts and actions of 2014 shortstop Tyler Friis (Auburn, Wash.) were sneaky good. His best play of the game came on a ground ball that he fielded behind the second base bag and then immediately glove flipped the ball to the second baseman in one motion for an inning ending force out. He made several other smooth plays that you wouldn't expect from a 5-foot-9 shortstop with no flashiness to his game. He also showed a very compact swing with good balance and timing, hitting the ball back up the middle consistently.

He's been highlighted in this space already this weekend, but his performance demands repeat mention, so here is an update on 2015 infielder John Cresto (San Diego, Calif.): He went 2-for-2 with a walk today, including a laser shot that left the bat at 100 mph, to move him to 5-for-7 on the tournament. He'll enter the playoffs among a group of MVP candidates.

2015 outfielder Chris Botsoe (Hinsdale, Ill.) went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot for the Indiana Landsharks, showed quick hand acceleration with an easy swing, and hit one ball that came off the bat at 91 mph. He also runs well and is a good all around athlete with solid range in center field.

2014 shortstop Ryan Day (Rancho Cuccamunga, Calif.) had a two hit game at the plate and is a very well rounded prospect with solid tools across the board already. His hands at shortstop and release time are the highlight of his game, though his arm strength doesn't lag far behind and he can even touch 90 mph when he takes the mound as a secondary pitcher. While he's a bit immature physically, he shows surprising bat speed for a player whose stature at 6-foot and 165 pounds would suggest that he's a light hitting middle infielder, but he makes up for his lack of present strength with bat speed. If he makes it on campus at Duke, where he is committed, the Blue Devils will have themselves a very good asset who has a chance to develop into a very good prospect.

Camelback Buzz
Since it's impossible to watch every game with up to 15 fields in use at one time, it is impossible to cover every game. But there were several performances that created a buzz around the Camelback Ranch complex, the spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.

2016 outfielder Blake Rutherford (Simi Valley, Calif.) continued to show off his power development again today, hitting a grand slam that was described as a "moon shot."

2014 shortstop and righthanded pitcher Travis Sanders (Lake Oswego, Oregon) ran his fastball up to 88 mph and paired it with a mid 70s breaking ball with good spin. He struck out seven over four innings of work.

2016 righthanded pitcher Trevor Franklin (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) struck out 17 in a complete game four hit shutout of the Arizona Pilots, throwing 62.2 percent of his pitches for strikes.

2015 shortstop and righthanded pitcher Zack Kesterson (New Hartford, N.Y.)  impressed yet again and after playing three games his name has been mentioned prominently by the scout covering that field following each game. He tripled to the left field corner in the game on a very well struck ball.

2015 lefthanded pitcher Tyler Watson (Gilbert, Ariz.) topped out at 85 mph on the mound and went 2-for-2 with a long home run and a walk at the plate.
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