Tournaments : : Story
Thursday, July 25, 2013

17u PG World Series - Day 4 notes

Todd Gold        
Photo: Perfect Game

During the course of the five-day 17u Perfect Game World Series (July 21-25) Todd Gold and David Rawnsley will be providing daily recaps of notable prospects and their respective performances.

Contributing: David Rawnsley

17u Perfect Game World Series: Event pageScout blogs

On the fourth day of the tournament (third for half of the 16 team field) teams were playing their sixth and seventh games of the week, and predictably a lot of them were playing with considerably less energy than they displayed on opening day.

That was not the case however for the EvoShield Canes, who showed they were firing on all cylinders offensively from the get-go in the morning’s first game against Tri-State Arsenal. They got things started in fitting fashion, like most teams the Canes were starting to run low on pitching depth on the final day of pool play and were forced to turn to a primary position player. Of course, the Canes being the Canes meant that the position player happened to be a lefty who broke 90 mph.

2014 1B/LHP
Hunter Williams (Chesterfield, VA) sat 87-91 in a scoreless first inning, backing it with an 81-83 mph slider that showed good depth and mixed in an occasional changeup to right-handed hitters at 77-78. While he’s still a work in progress on the mound, he showed flashes that make it seem possible that in spite of his massive raw power, he may have a future on the mound, and his four pitch strikeout of soon to be Virginia Cavalier freshman C Matt Thaiss was an excellent example of that.

2013 C
Matt Thaiss (Jackson, NJ) got revenge in the second lefty-lefty matchup with Williams. After Williams painted the outside corner with a pair of fastballs to move ahead in the count to 0-2, Williams tried to put him away with another slider low and away, but left it up a bit and Thaiss unloaded a hard line drive to the right center field gap for a two-out, two-run triple. Thaiss has been a major impact bat for the Arsenal throughout the tournament and finished up with a line of .643/.737/.857 in 19 plate appearances.

While Thaiss led the Arsenal lineup admirably, they just couldn’t keep up with the Canes. 2014 3B
Charlie Cody (Chesapeake, VA) got things started early on with a solo run home run to left field on a very smooth well controlled swing. While Cody still has some work to do on using the entire field on a consistent basis, he has one of the cleanest right-handed swings (when pulling) in the class and he has deceptive power.

Cody wasn’t the only Cane to leave the yard, as 2014 PG All-American 1B
Justin Bellinger (Weston, MA) unloaded on a low fastball for a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning. The homer was Bellinger’s first of the tourney, as he, like Thaiss, has been pitched carefully throughout the tournament. It was a key moment in the game as the Arsenal had just cut the defecit to two and Bellinger’s bomb started a big inning that allowed the Canes to rebuild the margin to a comfortable level that allowed them to manage their pitching staff. Bellinger would also single and walk in his other two plate appearances on the day. Defensively he provides a big target for his infielders, though he’s more adept at picking low throws out of the dirt than snaring high throws. It should be noted that his present defensive ability is barely more than an afterthought to scouts at this point given his prodigious power.

2014 MIF/OF
DJ Burt (Fuquay-Varina, NC) showed off his ability to use his plus speed effectively. After flicking what should have been a single into left center field in his second at-bat, he hustled out of the box the whole way and aggressively stretched into a double (rounding first in 4.27 seconds). Two pitches later he stole third and then came in to score without a throw on a routine ground ball to the shortstop.

2014 3B
Taylor Lane (Chesapeake, VA) also had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three well struck balls. His first trip included a double to the warning track that one-hopped the fence, followed by a single back up the box and then finally a towering flyout to the warning track in left field. Lane has exceptionally fast hands and creates very good bat speed with a long swing, while his approach leaves him prone to some swing-and-miss, when he connects he is capable of doing some damage, and the amount of damage he can cause is likely to increase significantly as he gets stronger.

2014 3B/RHP
David Hensley (San Diego, CA) was impressive in his start against a loaded Marucci Elite team. While he didn’t have his best stuff and he’s pitched sparingly this year, he competed extremely well against a lineup filled with MLB Draft prospects. While he didn’t break 90 mph with his fastball or show a plus breaking ball, his stuff was solid and he projects to get a lot stronger physically. More importantly, he navigated the land mine that is Marucci’s lineup by nibbling on the corners effectively and executing in big spots. He didn’t show as much in terms of raw stuff today as he has in the past, but the way he battled through tough situations was impressive, and he looked like the kind of player that you want to have on your side. It was a good encore to his 4-for-4 effort at the plate in the Show’s 3-1 win over East Cobb yesterday.

Arguably the defensive highlight of the day came from an unlikely source: 2015 RHP
Drew Finley (San Diego, CA) who moved to 1B in the sixth inning for the San Diego Show, made a diving stop along the right field foul line to snare a rocket off the bat of 2014 MIF Greg Deichmann with the bases loaded and two outs to preserve a one run lead. While he didn’t have to go far to make the play, the ball came off the bat extremely hard and Finley had little time to react, and it was an even more difficult play when you consider that he had just entered the game defensively.

2014 LHP/OF
Alex Verdugo (Tucscon, AZ) made his second relief appearance of the tournament, and would go on to earn the victory after getting Marucci Elite out of a jam in the sixth and then pitching a scoreless top of the seventh. He sat 90-92 with his fastball in this outing and while he was up in the zone more often than he was in his previous outing, his stuff was plenty good enough to get the job done. While he has the body of a power hitting outfield, it would be very difficult to not use a live loose lefty on the mound. Whether Verdugo profiles as a LHP or power hitting RF will be an interesting debate as the 2014 MLB Draft approaches. This author is currently leaning towards the mound.

2014 MIF
Austin Filiere (Chandler, AZ) had an good showing against East Cobb in the afternoon games, blasting a home run to left field on a 3-1 fastball and making a good play going to his right while playing second base, making an accurate throw while falling away from 1B to rob a base hit. He has a thin athletic frame that projects for added strength with good bat speed and pullside pop.

2015 LHP
Erik Cha (Chino Hills, CA) showed good life on his mid-80s fastball with late run to the arm side. He has a loose arm action and a young athletic build that projects for added strength. He has some work to do to add more power to his curveball as he tends to slow his arm down when he throws his secondary pitches relative to his fastball. His changeup has good tailing and diving action in the low-70s, and his arm projects.

South Florida Elite Squad SS
Jonathan India (2015, American Heritage HS, FL) is the No. 45 ranked player in the 2015 class by Perfect Game and one of the top young infielders in the country. He’s hitting .417 (5-12, 2 doubles, 1 triple) through five games while hitting leadoff for the Elite. During Tuesday night’s game he fielded a routine ground ball with the tip of his middle finger on his right hand, made a strong throw to first base for the out and immediately started wringing his hand in pain and came off the field. Ends up he tore back his fingernail and at least badly bruised his first knuckle joint. He was starting and leading off in the 8:00 am game Wednesday morning, though, and I was interested in how he would respond. In his first at-bat he was visibly flexing his hand before and after every pitch trying to figure out whether it would work or not, and then blasted a long foul to left field with easy home run distance. Simply state, the finger is working just fine.

Ryan Nolcheff (2014, Hamilton HS, AZ) has left a very positive impression on the college coaches and PG scouting staff. Playing centerfield and hitting leadoff for Mountain West, Nolcheff is 9-for-17 at the plate with four runs scored and three stolen bases. It looks like he has at least solid average big league speed if not a step or two better. He’s 5-foot-11, 180-pounds with solid upper body strength and the contact I’ve seen is solid up the middle to right centerfield line drive contact. The interesting thing about Nolcheff is that he plays at Hamilton HS in Chandler, Arizona, and only had nine at-bats as a junior this past spring, so he’s probably had almost no exposure to many college coaches. He’s a young talent that hopefully gets a strong look from schools this summer and over the next year.

Another Arizona native who deserves more attention from the college coaching community is Team Northwest’s RHP
Billy Oxford (2014, Sunrise Mountain HS, AZ). The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Oxford has been steadily improving over the past year. He topped out at 85 mph at last September’s EvoShield Underclass and Upperclass Championships, then topped out at 87 mph at the WWBA West Memorial Day Tournament. Wednesday, Oxford sat in the upper-80s, topping out at 90 mph, for six very solid innings, showing very good downhill angle on a heavy fastball that produced ground ball after ground ball. His mid-70s curveball is a solid second pitch and he didn’t walk a hitter in his outing. I talked to Oxford’s father after the game and he said that while his son had some local offers, he was looking to go out of state for school and hopefully this outing would help him in that goal. Oxford is a good student as well and hopefully he’ll be able to meet his goal as he continues to improve.

The Florida Burn’s
Ryan Miller (2014, Venice HS, FL) is undoubtedly one of the more versatile players in the country and he proved it again on Wednesday. The slender and very young looking senior-to-be threw four innings against Team Northwest, topping out at 91 mph frequently and flashing a solid mid-70s curveball. His improvement on the mound has been notable this summer, but even more notable is the Florida Atlantic commit’s ability to play virtually every position on the field. Miller is C Mike Rivera’s backup on both the Venice HS and Burn teams. He ran the 60 in 6.79 seconds at the Perfect Game National Showcase and threw 94 mph from the outfield, his third position, but has the build, tools and athletic ability to project as an infielder. There is only one other player in the country who comes immediately to mind who could probably play all nine positions, including catcher and pitcher, at a prospect level right now and that is PG All-American Jakson Reetz
. That’s good company.

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