Tournaments : : Story
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pickett's blast highlights PGWS day 4

Todd Gold        

With 70 of the 71 games on the schedule at the 2014 17u PG World Series in the books there have been a total of 12 home runs hit.

None has been more jaw dropping than the one hit by outfielder Greg Pickett (2015, Aurora, Colo.). According to the TrackMan data Pickett's mamoth blast left the bat at 106.8 mph and traveled an estimated 449 feet. Obviously, it was clear that the ball had no chance of staying in the yard from the moment of impact. Pickett's three run shot off an 84 mph fastball put Chandler Baseball World in position to end their consolation game early with a mercy rule victory, which they did half an inning later, winning 10-0 in five innings.

While the highlight of the day was a massive home run, perhaps the strongest performance came in the semifinals by Houston Banditos right hander Chris Paddack (2015, Cedar Park, Texas). The sinkerballer hit 90 mph several times early in his five inning complete game and struck out nine to pick up his second win of the week and send the Banditos to the champioship game. His funky delivery creates deception to hitters and good downhill plane. His changeup was his best pitch in the mid to upper 70s with big sinking life and he pounded the zone with both pitches and also landed the occasional slow curveball. Paddack ended South Florida Elite Squad's streak of championship game appearances, as they won the inagurual edition in 2012 and made a return trip to the title game a year ago.

The other semifinal game featured a lot more drama than the mercy rule shortened 9-1 victory from the Banditos, as the EvoShield Canes stormed back from a 4-1 deficit in their final three outs to punch ticket for a return trip to the championship game with a 5-4 victory. Canes right hander Hunter Parsons (2015, Fruitland, Md.) picked up the victory in relief, and deservedly so. Parsons features a long loose arm action working from a low three quarters slot and he sat 88-91 with big tailing life and threw 12 of his 19 pitches for strikes while facing the minimum over two innings of work. Parsons got by mostly on his darting fastball but flashed a nasty changeup at 80 with decceptive arm speed and good life, and also showed a couple of deep low 70s curveballs.

Outfielder Dan Reyes (2015, Miami Lakes, Fla.) continued swinging a hot bat during the South Florida Elite Squad's stretch run, going 4-for-6 between the extra inning matchup with CBA Marucci and the semifinal loss to the Houston Banditos. He finished the tournament 11-for-22 with three stolen bases (in three attempts) and finsished the tournament with a line of .500/.542/.727. While his solid left field tools don't stand out, he's a sound defender, but his offensive tools are exceptional. Reyes generates plus bat speed with extremely impressive ability to accelearate the bat and has plus present hand strength. His performance will likely warrant at least some MVP consideration even though the award is traditionally given to a player on the championship team. He didn't homer, but he came within a couple of feet of it when he blasted a bases loaded triple with a playoff berth on the line on Sunday. It was another impressive performance at a PG event for Reyes, his next will come at PetCo Park in San Diego in the PG All-American Classic.

Another right handed power hitter who swung a hot bat during Tuesday's playoff action was EvoShield Canes cleanup hitting first baseman Desmond Lindsay (2015, Bradenton, Fla.). He was intentionally walked during his final plate appearance as the Canes mounted their epic comeback in the semifinals. And for good reason, he was 1-for-2 in his previous at-bats, with two balls crushed that left the bat at over 95 mph each time. Heading into Wednesday's championship game Lindsay is 11-for-17 with seven of those hits going for extra bases and three walks for a gaudy line of .647/.700/1.294 and a tournament best 2.021 OPS.

While the above mashers who have been putting up big numbers were big names coming into the tournament, there were two hitters who introduced themselves loudly this week. Mountain West third baseman Jared Mang (2015, Los Alamos, N.M.) and CCB Elite outfielder Trevor Larnach (2015, Concord, Calif.) have both combined impressive hittting tools with performance. Though their similarities end there. Larnach is a 6-foot-3 high waisted left handed hitter with leverage oriented strength and plenty of physical projection. Mang is a 5-foot-10 right handed hitter with a densley filled muscular frame with a short compact swing and plenty of present strength to go with average to slightly above average speed (as evidenced by 4.2-4.3 home to first times from the right side). They both go about it differently, but the end result has been the same: frequent hard contact.

Somehow outfielder-first baseman Brandt Stallings (2015, Buford, Ga.) has been absent from this space over the past few days. His day one matchups with fellow All-American Beau Burrows went in favor of the pticher, as those types of matchups are expected to. Then as a result of eight fields being in use simulatneously this scout/author didn't catch him in action in the couple of day in between, but the slugger went out with a bang, smashing a line drive that left the bat at 99 mph in his final at-bat of the tournament. Stallings combines high level bat speed and power with a large athletic frame and above average speed for an impressive prospect profile and he was among the top prospects in attendance.

Dbacks Elite Scout Team center fielder Tyler Williams (2015, Peoria, Ariz.) stands out not only for his size, but also his speed. He made two highly impressive plays in their matchup against CCB Elite,  robbing a couple of extra base hits, one in each gap, and laid out for an attempt at a diving catch that nearly gave him a third stolen hit. Williams is still behind the top prospects in terms of present offensive ability, but he has a high long term ceiling of his own and will be followed closely by scouts going forward.

These observations and opinions are those of one member of the PG scouting staff. With games being played on up to eight fields simultaneously, it is impossible for the preceding recap to be fully comprehensive. Rather these are the players and moments that stood out the most while watching some of the top players in the country compete in an intensely competitive atmosphere. 

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