Tournaments : : Story
Friday, April 04, 2014

PG HS Showdown Day 1 Recap

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game

It seems to have become a trend over the last month or two where a pitcher in the 2014 class takes his game to the next level without much forewarning. And with the Northeast teams beginning their season with trips to Florida, Salisbury Prep righthander Austin DeCarr (2014, Foxboro, Mass.) is doing his part to continue the rise.

Prior to two weeks ago, before the word of DeCarr hitting 93-95 mph spread, Perfect Game perhaps saw a glimpse of things to come at the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer where DeCarr worked at 90-93 with his fastball, a slight improvement from the velocity he showed throughout the summer.

On the opening day of the Perfect Game High School Showdown, in front of a large contingent of scouts, cross-checkers, and scouting directors, DeCarr made all the right numbers pop on radar guns that everybody was looking for. In the first inning the Clemson recruit came out working his fastball in the 92-95 mph range from a three-quarters arm slot and much easier arm action than last summer.

Although he was missing high on occasion with the higher velocity, he began to pitch to his spots and work both inside and out very effectively. After showing the big velocity in the first, DeCarr sat 89-92 with his fastball over course of the next five innings with two pitches that stood out. The first was the fastball DeCarr threw to end the fifth inning, in a 3-2 count he came inside to a righthanded hitter, freezing him with a 93 mph fastball called third strike. The second was merely a testament to his off-season training and adding muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame as DeCarr popped a 94 mph fastball in his final inning of work, especially impressive for a Northeast pitcher still getting warmed up.

As good as the fastball was for DeCarr, his curveball was equally effective, and when he stayed on top of the pitch it showed true plus potential. When thrown in the upper-70s the curveball shows hard, late 11-to-5 break with nice depth to it. He got under the pitch at times causing it to lose its shape, but for the majority of the outing DeCarr showed two well above average pitches. He also mixed in a two-seam fastball with life to his arm side in the 88-90 range and flashed a changeup in warm ups which showed fading life at 85 mph.

Coach John Toffey has a few interesting bats in his lineup, led by his younger brother and Vanderbilt commit Will Toffey (2014, Barnstable, Mass.). A lefthanded hitter, Toffey – like most of the Salisbury lineup – was shifting his weight to his front side early with the velocity they were facing and were hitting off their front foot a little bit. Toffey was still able to show his strength to all fields, flying out deep to the left-center field gap and hitting a ground rule double in his last at-bat to right-center field.

Underclassmen George Hewitt (2015, Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Ryan January (2016, Swampscott, Mass.) are both players who are intriguing and will draw attention over the next two years. January shows quick hands and a fast bat from the left side while Hewitt has the athletic frame scouts can dream on as he continues to add strength.

Gareth Morgan
(2014, Toronto, Ontario) may not have filled up the box score or hit the long ball like some were hoping, but positive things did come out of the Ontario Blue Jays first game for the North Carolina State commit. Last week when Perfect Game saw the All-American in Arizona he was taking himself out of at-bats early in the count by swinging at first pitch curveballs in the dirt, giving all the leverage to the pitcher the rest of the way. Morgan took some healthy cuts yesterday but they were on his own terms as he laid off several close pitches and ended up drawing three walks in his four at-bats.

Righthander Zachary Pop (2014, Brampton, Ontario) also delivered a stronger performance than when we saw him last week in Arizona, where he was still fine by all means. But in the Florida weather with a later start in the afternoon, Pop came out firing, topping 93 mph with his fastball once early on, and consistently worked his fastball 90-91 with a handful of 92's popping up regularly. His arm action is very loose, and despite throwing from a lower arm slot, Pop is able to command both sides of the plate extremely well. I saw one changeup – although I was bouncing from field to field at the time – at 80 mph low in the zone and didn’t see a slider, although he threw the pitch in the 78-80 mph range in Arizona.

R.J. Freure
(2015, Burlington, Ontario) came on to close the game for the Ontario Blue Jays and did just that, retiring three straight batters to seal the victory. Freure sat at 88 mph with his fastball, once dropping to 87 and once climbing up to 90. He has a strong and mature 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame with a short arm action in the back. Freure creates nice angles while working downhill with slight run to his arm side. The last pitch he threw to end the game was his first off-speed pitch, a slider at 77 mph that showed some 10-to-4 break.

Lefthander Sixto Torres (2015, Jacksonville, Fla.) has a strong 6-foot-5 frame and ran his fastball up to 89 mph yesterday for Arlington Country Day. It appears as though Torres has reclassified to the 2015 class as well.

A top 50 player in the 2015 class, righthanded pitcher and third baseman Austin Riley (Hernando, Miss.) put on a strong performance on both sides of the ball last night in DeSoto’s opening night victory. At a very strong 6-foot-3, 227-pounds, Riley would blend into any elite level college program, or any minor league team for that matter.

Starting the game on the mound, Riley came out throwing 89-90 while touching 91 mph with heavy and late arm-side run on his fastball, which he commanded well to both sides of the plate. His arm action is short and compact with a slight wrap in the back. The ball comes out of his hand clean and he repeats his balanced delivery well. Riley maintained the 89-91 velocity throughout the entire game, and touched 92 in the in the fifth. When Riley kept his fastball low in the zone, he was unhittable given the combination of command and late life on the pitch.

Riley also mixed in two off-speed pitches very well. His go-to pitch was a 12-to-6 curveball with nice depth and tight spin, and he showed the ability to locate the pitch to the glove side extremely well and with intent. The Mississippi State commit also showed a changeup at 75-77 mph with slight fade to his arm side.

Riley was just as impressive with the bat, showing excellent bat speed by turning on an inside 88 mph fastball and drilling it down the left field line for a double.

Clay Casey
(2014, Southhaven, Miss.) of DeSoto Central and Luke Bonfield (2014, Skillman, N.J.) of IMG Academy both attracted scouts to the night game at JetBlue Park and showed some positive things. Casey displayed a patient approach at the plate, drawing two walks in his first two at-bats before staying on a fastball and lining it up the middle late in the game. That shot came off the bat at 93 mph. He stole second base in 3.34 seconds, showing off his speed and newly transformed body, shaping his football muscle into lean baseball muscle.

Luke Bonfield manned right field for the Ascenders and looked good doing it, tracking fly balls well with proper routes. His arm wasn’t challenged but it looked good in pre-game warmups and showed strength on all his throws in, clearly aware of the contingent of scouts watching.

Rather than run through each player on the DeSoto roster, it would be easiest to describe them as a team rather than individually, as each player is strong and uses that strength in their swing. They don’t try to do too much with the ball and use the simple approach “hit it where it’s pitched….HARD!”

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