High School : : General
Monday, March 19, 2012

Cleats Invitational Top 25 Prospects

Todd Gold         Ben Collman        

1. Mitchell Traver, 2012 RHP, Houston Christian (TX)

2. Jackson McClelland, 2012 RHP/1B, Redlands East Valley (CA)

Choosing the top prospect at the 2012 Cleats Sports Invitational was far more difficult than anticipated heading into the tournament. Mitchell Traver is firmly established as a high level prospect, a well-known commodity whom has played on the biggest stages in amateur baseball. McClelland is relatively new to pitching, and has really come on strong of late. Both pitchers touched 94 mph, both are tall, physical right handers. Traver worked at 90-92 during a gritty complete game performance against Arcadia in the National Game of the Week. McClelland typically sat 88-92 during his two outings. Traver's power breaking ball, ability to hold his velocity late in games and larger build give him a very slight edge. McClelland's young age (turns 18 in July) and inexperience combined with his recent development suggest that he could overtake Traver, but for now Traver is more advanced and has a higher floor.

Both pitchers posses physical tools that simply cannot be taught or developed by most humans.  Both lack present feel for their secondary pitches. Both of them are inconsistent with their command at times due to occasional balance and timing issues in their deliveries, which is quite common amongst tall teenage pitchers. It also leaves room to project improvement from both pitchers. At their best, they each pound the bottom half of the strike zone with heavy low 90s fastballs that very few high school hitters can square up.

Traver's start against Arcadia drew 20-30 MLB scouts and executives, each of McClelland's starts drew exactly one. Suggesting that Pepperdine (where McClelland is committed) may be in line for a major recruiting coup.

Click the link to see video of Traver          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xjPpg32UkM

Click the link to see video of McClelland                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4bMVQegUTY

3. Riley Unroe, 2013, MIF, Desert Ridge (AZ)

Unroe is the highest ranked position player on this list and has all the tools you look for in a SS. He is lean and athletic with smooth, easy defensive tools and very quick hands. He has plenty of arm strength for the position and very good accuracy. A switch hitter at the plate he shows a bit more looseness from the left side but has the same quick bat and strong approach from either side. Saturday at ASU he hit a screamer to SS registering 100 off the bat and ran a 4.12 down the line. Unroe’s tools are very strong but what sets him apart is his instincts and natural feel for the game. A player to watch very closely over the next year and a half.

Click the link to see video of Unroe          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1wpwGKYpnU

4. Brian Trieglaff, 2012 RHP/1B, Houston Christian (TX)

It would be easy for Trieglaff to get lost in the shuffle with the power arms that highlight the top of this list, including his teammate Mitchell Traver. But Trieglaff is a high level arm in his own right. He sat 88-91, touching 92 multiple times during his complete game effort in the semifinals against Chaparral. The last three fastballs he threw each registered at 91 (pitches 108-110) with some tailing action. He creates a good downhill plane when he stays tall in his delivery, in spite of a relatively short 6-foot-1 frame. His low 70s curveball showed good depth and flashed tight spin and downer break. In addition to seeing quality stuff from Trieglaff at the Cleats Invitational, we learned something about the kind of competitor he is with the way he competed during Houston Christian's semifinal loss.

Click the link to see video of Trieglaff      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teSCyEuEukw

5. Andrew Naderer, 2012 LHP/OF, Arcadia (AZ)

Naderer isn't accustomed to throwing in front of large crowds of scouts. So his start against Houston Christian was a rare opportunity, as Mitchell Traver drew a crowd. Naderer capitalized, outpitching the All-American for most of the game. Naderer showed good pitchability and feel, locating all three of his pitches well. Naderer worked in the mid 80s, topping out at 87. He showed a quality changeup (up to 78) with good life and deception. His breaking ball lacks bite at present but had good depth and feel. He's tall, but physically immature and once his body fills out he will add strength to his quick loose arm. That strength should lead to increased velocity and higher spin rate to his breaking ball. If he isn't drafted as a lottery ticket out of high school he is likely to make a big jump during his college career at Grand Canyon University.

Click the link to see video of Naderer      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8j3jG-zHy0

6. Steve Baldwin, 2012, RHP, Grand Junction (CO)

An uncommitted senior, Baldwin is a pitcher with a big upside. He has a lean pitcher’s build and projects to gain strength. He uses his lower half well in his delivery and worked his fastball 86-88 on Friday, also throwing a 74-75 mph curveball . He also throws a straight changeup but was dominant enough with two pitches that he didn’t need to use it. There is some effort in his delivery but the arm action is clean and he repeats and throws strikes. A solid athlete he plays RF when not on the mound and hit the farthest ball of the week, a long no-doubt homer to left field that flew an estimated 380-390 feet.

Click the link to see video of Baldwin       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLcRe-1myYM

7. Casey Burns, 2012, MIF, Grand Junction (CO)

Burns, a St. Mary’s commit looks the part of a top prospect with an athletic frame with length that brings to mind a slightly shorter version of 2012 SS Zach Green (Sacramento Jesuit) and a veteran of many PG events playing with the Texas Sun Devils. Defensively, Burns projects to stay at SS as he showed range to both sides, fielding thru the ball and showing loose, easy arm action with plenty of arm strength. He isn’t a burner, but is a solid runner and he projects to hit for both average and some power. His swing is very short right now as he tries very hard to stay inside the ball. He has the strength and the looseness in his other athletic actions to suggest that his swing will eventually add that same looseness. The bat speed is already present.

8. Dylan Cozens, 2012 OF, Chaparral (AZ)

It's difficult to project Cozens, as he is already a monster of a human being at a young age. However, as a high level defensive end prospect, his baseball skills lack polish. His short compact swing path prevents him from realizing his massive raw power, though he still drives the ball out of the park frequently because of his raw strength. He runs very well for his size, making it likely that he will not have to move away from a corner outfield spot to first base. The question is whether he can develop into a good enough pure hitter to make it worth his while to give up a promising future as a football player. Cozens was named the tournament MVP for champion Chaparral. He is dual committed to the University of Arizona (football) and Central Arizona CC (baseball).

Click the link to see video of Cozens        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3_i3l30Z6Y

9. Tyger Talley, 2012 RHP, Chaparral (AZ)

This may be a rare case when the quality of his slider actually hurts his ranking on this top prospect list. Tulley threw three dominant innings of relief against Saguaro in the tourney opener. He worked heavily off of his slider, and while at the next level he won't be able to rely on it as much, he had no reason to get away from what was working so well. Saguaro's talented hitters stood no chance against Tulley's 82 mph wipeout slider, so he rarely went to his fastball which sat 88-89 with more in his arm. Chaparral's pitching depth allowed them to save him for an important conference matchup against Desert Mountain on Tuesday so we didn't get to see enough of his fastball and changeup to be certain that he doesn't belong higher on this list.

10. Cody Erickson, 2013, MIF/RHP, Desert Mountain (AZ)

Erickson is a very interesting prospect. An athletic SS, he showed range and arm action to go along with a short line drive swing with bat quickness. He came back Thursday night and pitched, throwing a one hit shutout against Houston Christian. He worked up to 87, sitting 83-86 with a 74-75 mph curveball, and 75-77 mph changeup. Erickson worked very quickly, pounding the zone with strikes and showing the ability to throw all three for strikes in varying counts and situations. His future is on the infield where his athleticism can be best used. He is very adept at going into the 5.5 hole and turns the double play as well as any MIF we saw this week.

11. Zach Gibbons, 2012 OF/RHP, Saguaro (AZ)

Gibbons has showed strength, athleticism and bat speed in past PG tournaments and did again this week. His well rounded set of tools makes him interesting. He typically runs well and covers good ground in center field, he has a solid arm (has been up to 87 on the mound) and while his swing is geared for hard line drive contact, he shows flashes of power. He also has good instincts on the bases and can be disruptive at times. His lack of size may allow the Arizona Wildcats to get their talented recruit on campus. His combination of talent and skill should make him successful at the next level.

Click the link to see video of Gibbons      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ckvjigv4AUY

12. Troy Ruggiero, 2012, RHP, Seton Catholic (AZ)

Ruggiero can make a case that he had the best pitching performance on the tournament as he no-hit Redlands East Valley in Monday’s opening game, striking out ten while walking five and hitting a batter. He is a big, strong pitcher with room left to fill out. His fastball topped at 88 and he worked in the 85-87 range for most of the night. The velocity makes him very interesting and a feel for three off-speed pitches: a 75-76 mph slider, 70-71 mph curveball, and 73-74 mph changeup, further Ruggiero’s top prospect status. He has committed to South Mountain CC.

Click the link to see video of Ruggiero     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37lqcIfRDIs

13. Max Schuman, 2012 C, Arcadia (AZ)

It is Shuman’s ability to drive the ball with authority to all fields and polished hitting skills that earn him a high ranking on the Cleats Sports Invitational top prospect list. He is athletic for a catcher, and has enough arm strength for the catcher position. If he can develop his receiving skills and stay behind the plate his bat will be highly attractive, if not his athleticism will allow him to fall back on a corner outfield position, a luxury that few high school catchers enjoy.

14. Sean Rubalcaba, 2012, IF, Grand Junction (CO)

Rubalcaba flat out produces . He picked up a hit in each of his first three at-bats Friday, running his streak to 14 straight hits to start the season. A long, high-waisted athlete, Rubalcaba has committed to play QB at Northern Colorado next year and looks the part. He is an above average runner, clocking a 4.05 on a bunt to first base and his arm strength plays at the 3B position. He does not have the bat speed or the swing smoothness of some of the hitters ahead of him but has exceptional hand eye coordination and very rarely fails to make hard contact.

15. Justin Jacome, 2012 LHP/1B, Redlands East Valley (CA)

You can dream on the 6-foot-6 southpaw, who is nowhere near his ceiling. His long lanky build is immature, and he will likely add considerable strength. The added strength combined with improved balance should allow him to make a big jump with his velocity. In an unexpected relief appearance on a chilly night in the tourney opener Jacome sat 82-84 and topped out at 85. We have heard that he threw harder later in the week, in a complete game 10 strikeout performance against Fort Collins, and given what we saw on Monday it is certainly believable. He also showed some promise with the bat, though his large strike zone works against him. We expect him to make a big jump as he matures physically and are comfortable with projecting him aggressively.

16. Chris Akmon, 2012 OF, Saguaro (AZ)

Akmon has a long lean frame that projects well physically. He shows the bat speed and leverage to project good power as he increases his wiry strength. His upside is that of a plus power hitter and he shows signs of that power already and is a solid present defensive right fielder. If he adds significant mass to his frame he may have to make a move to first base, but that added strength should give him enough power to produce at the high level that the position demands.

Click the link to see video of Akmon        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl1s7DCSqVs

17. David Greer, 2013, IF, Desert Mountain (AZ)

Greer is the classic projectable athlete with a lean frame with lots of additional strength to come. He is a very good defensive 3B at present with quick actions, good balance and a very strong arm. His bat isn’t there yet but shows a lot of potential. He has a loose swing and bat speed and it is only a matter to time before he starts hitting balls a long way. The summer of 2012 will be a big one for Greer and with a strong showing will pop up on a lot of follow lists next spring.

18. Marcus Wirth, 2012, OF, Grand Junction (CO)

A quick twitch CF, Wirth is an exciting player to watch. He is very aggressive at the plate and is always a threat to lay down a bunt. He is a plus runner with speed as well as instincts on the bases. That speed allows him to cover a lot of ground and his quick release makes his arm playable in CF. Wirth shows good pop for his size but tends to try to drive the ball to LF, resulting in flyouts, rather than uses his speed and hit the ball on the ground. He has committed to Coppin St.

19. Austin Anderson, 2012 OF, Saguaro (AZ)

The lone lefty in the Sabercats potent lineup showed off his power with an impressive Home Run to right field in the semifinals at Packard Stadium. He's athletic enough that he would play center for most high school teams, but handles left field for Saguaro thanks to the presence of Gibbons. Anderson evens the score however by pushing Gibbons out of the leadoff spot thanks to his quality hit tool. It's no wonder Saguaro scores a lot of runs.

Click the link to see video of Anderson   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr6T5WMtH4Q

20. Nick Fatica, 2012 OF, Marcos de Niza (AZ)

The thin athletic center fielder has a projectable body and good all around skill set. He's a switch hitter who showed some pop from the left side with a short quick swing. His best tool is his speed, covering good ground in center and moving well on the bases. He is a gap to gap hitter from both sides of the plate and figures to be a very valuable outfielder at Central Arizona CC, one of the best JUCO’s in the country.

21. Benji Ayala, 2013, MIF, Marcos de Niza (AZ)

Ayala has the loose Latin actions at SS that scouts love to see. He is very lean and projectable and figures to add more running speed and overall strength once his body fills out. His present skills at SS play at a high level as his range is solid and his quick, loose arm action and ultra quick hands allow him to get rid of the ball very quickly. He is one of the few players I have seen who is more comfortable fielding and throwing on the run than he is when stationary. His bat is a behind his fielding tools at present, with some mechanical and approach adjustments Ayala figures to be a slashing, all fields type hitter.

22. Ben Rodriguez, 2013, 1B, Desert Mountain (AZ)

In terms of raw power potential, Rodriguez is behind only Dylan Cozens on this list. He has the frame at 6’5, 220 with lots of strength. He is a good athlete who moves well around the first base bag. Currently Rodriguez is most comfortable driving the ball to right field. The ball comes off his bat well and he has plate coverage and bat speed. Once, Rodriguez starts turning on inner half fastballs and driving balls to the pull side he could be a force at the plate.

23. Tyler Gastineau, 2012, C, Grand Junction (CO)

Gatineau had one of the best bodies of the tournament, a chiseled 6’1 185, and definitely looks the part of a high level backstop. He is a very good receiver with a strong base and soft hands and shows arm strength as well. At the plate he is short to the ball and tries to stays inside but his strength allows him to drive balls to either gap. He is a Scottsdale CC commit.

24. Keaton Boysen, 2012, OF, Desert Mountain (AZ)

Boysen’s smooth left-handed swing and bat speed make him a very interesting prospect. He has strength but is a more of a line drive hitter at the plate. He has pop and looks to pull the ball but does show the ability to go the other way. His other tools don’t jump out as much as his bat, he is solid across the board with some foot speed and is a good defensive outfielder with an accurate arm. He is a Gateway CC commit.

25. Dillon Bigcrane Jackson, 2013 LHP/1B, Chaparral (AZ)

Bigcrane is an interesting two-way player. With the value of quality left handed pitching that is probably where his future lies, but he can swing it from the left side as well. He nailed down a three inning save against Houston Christian in the semifinals, sitting 85-87 and touched 88. He hides the ball well with short arm action in his rotational delivery and has a low 3/4 arm action that makes it very difficult for hitters to pick the ball up. His secondary stuff has shown improvement as has his command, and if he can cut down on the drift in his swing he should be a high level two-way player at the college level.

Honorable Mention:

Chance Adams, 2012, IF/RHP, Chaparral (AZ)

Daniel Akmon, 2012, RHP, Saguaro (AZ)

Frank Alvarez, 2012, MIF, Redlands East Valley (CA)

Reed Austin, 2012, IF, Saguaro (AZ)         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkCIdoaNLPc

Jonathan Bravo, 2012, MIF, Houston Christian (TX)

Ryan Bresnahan, 2013, IF/C, Seton Catholic (AZ)

Eric Brossart, 2012, C, Chaparral (AZ)

Drew Butler, 2012, 1B, Arcadia (AZ)

Will Campbell, 2013, OF, Montgomery Bell Academy (TN)

Eddie Castro, 2012, 3B, Cactus Shadows (AZ)

Brian Chaparro, 2012, OF, Redlands East Valley (CA)

Tristan Chari, 2014, C, Montgomery Bell Academy (TN)

Gary Cornish, 2012, RHP/OF, Arcadia (AZ)

Cullen Cosco, 2013, OF, Houston Christian (TX)

Michael Diamond, 2013, IF/RHP, Chaparral (AZ)

Nick Diamond, 2012, LHP, Chaparral (AZ)

Houston Edwards, 2012, RHP, Coronado (AZ)

Ryan England, 2013, MIF, Redlands East Valley (CA)

Dan Garlid, 2013, MIF, Seton Catholic (AZ)

Jacob Goldfarb, 2014, OF, Desert Mountain (AZ)

JD Hammer, 2012, MIF, Fort Collins (CO)

Hakeem Haynes, 2012, IF, Redlands East Valley (CA)

Kaleb Johnson, 2014, OF, Grand Junction (CO)

Turner Lace, 2014, IF/RHP, Saguaro (AZ)

CJ McGrady, 2012, IF, Seton Catholic (AZ)

Drew McLaughlin, 2012, MIF Desert Mountain (AZ)

Matt Morris, 2012, MIF/RHP, Saguaro (AZ)

Penn Murfee, 2013, IF, Montgomery Bell Academy (TN)

Tyler Nesby, 2012, 3B, Fort Collins (CO)

Austin Orth, 2012, C, Fort Collins (CO)

Noel Rodriguez, 2012, RHP, Marcos de Niza (AZ)

Chandon Rose, 2012, OF, Grand Junction (CO)

Casey Sheehan, 2014 OF, Redlands East Valley (CA)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_jqHH6HKlE

Austin Singer, 2012, OF, Chaparral (AZ)

Danny Soto, 2012, RHP, Bowie (TX)

Kevin Stevens, 2012, RHP/IF, Redlands East Valley (CA)

Gavin Vanderhider, 2013, OF, Houston Christian (TX)

Devon Wilson, 2014, MIF, Houston Christian (TX)

Jeremy Wolf, 2012, OF, Chaparral (AZ)

Alec Zeidler, 2012, LHP, Chaparral (AZ)   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVWaXRf1l6I

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