High School | General | 2/19/2021

High School Notebook: Feb. 19

Vincent Cervino         Tyler Russo        
Photo: Karson Ligon (Perfect Game)
2021 High School baseball Index

Jac Caglianone, LHP/1B, Plant (Fla.)
Caglianone is one of the higher touted two-way prospects in the country and he’s already been one of the biggest risers in this young spring draft cycle. He’s talented enough to do either or at the next level but what has scouts and evaluators excited is that he’s beginning to scratch that sky-high upside on the mound specifically. The Florida signee is already attracting a lot of scouting attention as there’s potential for two plus-or-better pitches with tons to project upon given his 6-foot-5, 210-pound stature. The delivery is methodical and calculated but what stands out is the athleticism throughout and the ability to get his body into good positions to create a ton of angle. The arm stroke is whippy through the back with a big crossfire landing. The first inning was very loud where he sat 92-95 mph and touched 96 mph with the aforementioned angle and deception. He showed both a slider and a changeup throughout with the slider showing plus early in the 80-84 mph range. Caglianone struggled some with replicating the arm slot on both the offspeed pitches but when he got on top and really turned over that slider it was hellacious. Strikes were the biggest issue with Caglianone’s performance as he walked four in four innings but given the body, arm talent, and delivery Caglianone seems like a player development dream who has some truly monstrous upside.

Conner Whittaker, RHP, Sarasota (Fla.)
Opposing Caglianone in a future rivalry matchup, Whittaker, a Florida State commit, looked solid and pounded the zone effectively. He had the look of a polished collegiate arm with three pitches he could throw for strikes and the comfort to throw any pitch in any count. Whittaker isn’t overly physical but he’s a solid athlete with a compact delivery and a very clean operation overall. He started out sitting 88-90 mph with the fastball and really did a nice job locating the pitch to both halves of the plate. He filled up the zone with the fastball and showed very good feel not only for fastball command but for mixing all of his offerings nicely and adding and subtracting as well. The changeup/splitter is very firm in the low- to mid 80s with some late sinking action while the curveball is good too with excellent shape in the low-70s and projects nicely moving forward. Whittaker definitely turned in a strong performance and has the look of a righthander who can not only compete with any lineup in the country but one that could potentially step in right away and pitch at the next level.

Jose Pena, RHP, Tampa Prep (Fla.)
One of the stronger and more consistent performers over the course of the summer, Pena came out in an early season look and threw a fairly efficient three scoreless innings in a scrimmage game. Pena’s velocity has ticked up nicely over the last calendar year and he also looks stronger and more athletic, all good indicators of helium guys as spring progresses. There’s upside as he’s likely to continue throwing harder given the athleticism of the delivery and the arm speed but he sat 92-94 mph with the fastball fairly consistently over his three innings. The arm stroke is a bit deeper through the back and he sprayed the fastball a bit but when the pitch was in the zone he missed a good amount of bats with the offering. The curveball was his primary secondary offering in this look and it flashed solid potential with sharpness to the break and late bite when he was on time with the arm stroke. The Florida International signee was a bit inconsistent in terms of replicating the release on the curveball but Pena still showed potential for a quality spinner. The changeup was used sparingly but he’s shown good feel for it in the past with a lot of action. Pena is a prospect who will continue to be seen as the spring marches on and could vault himself up boards with good performance.

Karson Ligon, RHP, Riverview (Fla.)
Another high ceiling prep projection arm, Ligon had an uneven outing during an early-season scrimmage but still showed out well to continue building on what was a loud summer circuit for the Miami signee. Ligon checks a lot of boxes for upside prep righthanders with excellent size at a listed 6-foot-3, 193-pounds along with plus arm speed and athleticism throughout to build off as he develops. The delivery is fairly simple with good extension toward the plate and a longer arm path with the aforementioned impressive arm speed. He sat 92-94 mph in his first inning of work, which was extremely quick, before settling more in the 90-92 mph range after that. The fastball plays nicely and shows some good life over the arm side of the plate and showed both secondaries. The breaking ball was inconsistent but he flashed a couple of nasty ones when he got on top of the pitch. His bread-and-butter off speed pitch is the changeup, however, and has true plus potential with a ton of fading action in the low-80s. Ligon lost the strikes toward the end of the outing but overall it was a good showing for an arm who’s a candidate to pop once he gets in midseason form.

-Vinnie Cervino

Jace Jones, RHP, Cypress Lake HS (Fla.)
Jones has established himself as one of the more consistent arms on the tournament circuit and his preseason outing last week looked like a tune-up ahead of what should be a good finish to his prep career. At 6-foot-4, 200-pounds he’s both physical and athletic with numerous components that posit good upside beyond his present stuff. He usually works in the 88-92 mph range with the fastball, showing slightly lower than that over a few innings in this look, with the ability to garner swing-and-miss with the fastball. The changeup has been a pitch he’s been comfortable going to in the past as he tunnels it well off the fastball, but the breaking ball showed a bit better in this look when he was able to land it and should be a pitch he throws often in big spots this spring. There were some strike issues in this recent look, but as he progresses through the spring and finds the zone more often, he should rack up good strikeout numbers as the ace of the staff.

Reilly Witmer, RHP, Naples HS (Fla.)
Witmer opposed Jones for the majority of his outing and was quite impressive, especially in regard to how much the stuff has improved since the last time we saw him in the summer. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore has good strength in his lower half that allows him to stay balanced through release and get down the mound with some explosiveness. He has a longer arm stroke that gets the fastball downhill and shows excellent arm speed getting over his front side. He worked comfortably in the mid-80s for the entirety of his outing, topping out at 87, and generates a good bit of sink to it while showing three different off-speed offerings. The slider is the most advanced of the three as he throws it in the mid-70s with present swing-and-miss components, but the curveball is a solid pitch with vertical shape and he maintains arm speed well when going to the changeup allowing it to be an effective change of pace pitch.

Michael Graziano, OF, Naples HS (Fla.)
Graziano is one of the best pure athletes in the class and he can impact the game in a variety of ways. With the prototypical high-contact centerfielder profile, he hits leadoff for his high school and has shown comfort already against talented arms, both on the tournament circuit and in the high school ranks. He’s disciplined in being able to recognize pitches out of the hand while being explosive through impact when he recognizes early. At 6-foot-3, there is a good deal of room to add serious strength over the next couple years making the power ceiling an intriguing piece, but the athleticism looks to have continued trending in the right direction as he patrols the middle of the outfield with ease, making for a profile that is surely being heavily recruited.

Jason Bello, SS, Naples HS (Fla.)
Bello is a versatile athlete who has really shown an ability to produce on the tournament circuit, making him an easy choice to hit a spot behind Graziano in the lineup. His comfort that he showed in this recent look was something to keep good note of as he looked to have no problem handling high-octane Jones while being able to adjust to the arms that came after him. A good addition to the young profile was the fact that Bello was tasked with shortstop duties as only a freshman and he handled it quite well showing good range to either side, soft hands and a strong arm across. He’ll get plenty of reps in those spots and should be called upon to be a leader early on in his high school career, something he seems to have started out well at.

-Tyler Russo
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