Over the next three days David Rawnsley and Frankie Piliere (and Jheremy Brown when available) will be providing their observations from the first three (of four) days at the 2013 PG EvoShield Upperclass National Championship. The event is being held at two prominent baseball complexes/spring training sites, the Peoria Sports Complex (Mariners and Padres spring training) and Goodyear Ballpark (Reds and Indians).
– David Rawnsley
offense to all the fine players and teams on the fields but the
highlight of my day came when 2012 Perfect Game All-American and 2013
Cleveland Indians first-round pick (sixth overall) Clint Frazier
found me over in the Indians Quad and stood behind a backstop talking
for a half hour. After first recovering from his iron grip handshake
and asking to see his infamous mane of flaming red hair (somewhat
hidden under a ball cap but still impressive for its length and
unruliness, if not for its color), we got down to talking baseball.
of his observations from his first season of rookie ball (he’s back
in Arizona for instructional league):
was told from the start that the biggest adjustment to pro ball was
going to be playing every day and that certainly proved to be true.
But the next biggest adjustment was food.
went straight from signing to an apartment in Arizona,” Frazier
said. “I had no car and my mom had always taken care of the food
in our house and I had no food skills. I said the first thing that’s
going to happen when that bonus check arrives is buy a car, and
that’s what I did.”
the automobile enthusiasts out there, he showed me a picture, a
modest 2013 white Jeep Wrangler.
Frazier was pleased by his overall performance (.297-5-28, .868 OPS
in 44 games), he wasn’t very happy with his 61 strikeouts. “I
got all out of sorts with my lead leg in my stride and it threw my
timing off,” Frazier added. “The Indians have a 90-day 'no
touch' rule with draftees so there was only so much they could do
with me. I’ve never been one to strike out much so it was
frustrating. But I think I’ve already got it straightened out down
here in Instructs.”
wanted to talk most about my impressions of 2014 fellow Georgians and
PG All-Americans righthanded pitcher Dylan Cease and outfielder
Michael Gettys. He and Gettys, who I have compared to Frazier
athletically in writing, are good friends and plan on hitting
together all winter.
he’s bigger than I am,” said Frazier of Gettys. “He has a
better arm and is a better base runner than I am. I think I was a
better hitter at this point than he is but he’ll surprise people,
he can hit. But what you really have to realize that Gettys is an
animal. He wants to play in the big leagues really, really badly.”
scouting star of the day on my fields was Midwest Warducks 2015
righthanded pitcher and shortstop Garrett Hutson. Hutson
played shortstop the first five innings and wasn’t scheduled to
pitch, but with the Warducks clinging to a 6-4 lead and runners on
base in the sixth inning, Hutson was summoned to the mound to get the
save, which he did with two groundouts in the sixth and by striking
out the side in the seventh. Hutson is ranked 37th in the
2015 class by Perfect Game and we’ve heard very credible reports of
him being up to 94 mph this summer. He was 89-91 with pin-point
command in this outing to go with a big breaking low-70s curveball
and it’s easy to see him throwing harder after not playing in the
field in 100-plus degree heat. The Warducks will continue to be a
closely followed team as everyone awaits the first appearance of 2014
righthanded pitcher Garrett Fulenchek.
Trombley Nighthawks are on the short list of pre-tournament favorites
but struggled in their first game due to an absolutely masterful
pitching performance by Blue Wave righthanded pitcher Shaun
Vetrovec in a 0-0 tie. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Cal-State
Irvine commit threw a 96-pitch complete game one-hitter, allowing
only a soft ground ball single to right field off the bat of PG
All-American outfielder D.J. Peters. Vetrovec relied on an
84-88 mph heavy fastball from a deceptive short arm delivery while
mixing in a big low-70s curveball, just enough to keep the Nighthawks
player who stood out for the Nighthawks was shortstop Josh Morgan.
Morgan didn’t have a strong summer, but PG’s Todd Gold reported
that Morgan had been playing very well recently. That was certainly
the case Friday night, as Morgan looked lighter and much faster, both
with the bat and with his straight line running speed. He had a few
long battles at the plate with Vetrovec that could have gone either
Dawgs Baseball shortstop Matt Lloyd was very impressive and
the Alberta native certainly has to rank among the top 2014 Canadian
prospects in the class. He’s a strong and lean 6-foot-2, 175-pound
lefthanded hitter who was outstanding on defense, and single-handedly
saved the Dawgs 3-3 tie with the Cal Stars a couple of times with his
glove and arm. He charges the ball very well from shortstop but has
the arm strength to make the long throw as well. Lloyd was also
involved in a bizarre triple play that actually took a minute or two
to figure out what went on. With the bases loaded and no outs in the
fifth inning, the Dawgs brought their infield in. Lloyd made a
diving stop of a hard line drive up the middle and the umpire
responded with a somewhat quiet “out” call. The runner on third,
thinking the ball had been trapped, raced home and Lloyd jumped to
his feet and threw home for what he thought was a force-out. By then
no one knew what was going on and had stopped, so the Dawgs just
threw the ball around to every base, tagging players and bases until
the umpires signaled three outs. Offensively, Lloyd has very good
bat speed and crushed a line drive single up the middle one at bat,
although he has a very busy and complicated load that will give him
problems with off-speed pitches until he simplifies his swing
quick hits on some other players that stood out:
Nevada 2015 righthanded pitcher Samuel Pastrone was excellent
against the San Diego Scorpions, throwing six innings of three-hit
ball and striking out seven while throwing 84-87 with a big breaking
curveball. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the field when righthander
Erich Uelmen, a Cal Poly commit, came into close, striking out
the final Scorpion hitter with a 91 mph fastball.
name Zane Gray is recognizable to most well-read people and
Big Island Baseball righthanded pitcher of the same name isn’t the
first player of that name I’ve come across. This Gray threw three
shutout innings Friday afternoon, striking out seven hitters with a
fastball that topped out at 86 mph, a hard spinning 73 mph curveball
to go with a long, loose arm action that projects well.
Marucci is another pre-tournament favorite, like the Trombley
Nighthawks, who struggled to get their bats going in their opening
game. They managed only two hits off of a pair of Mad Dog Baseball
pitchers, but scored three unearned runs in a 3-0 win. Left handed
hitter Stephen Young went the distance for CBA, scattering
three hits and striking out nine in the shutout win. Young fits the
crafty lefty bill, as he pitched between 77 and 83 mph while mixing
in a curveball and changeup.
ranked 2015 catcher Chris Betts went 0-for-3 at the plate but
stands out as one of the top defensive players in his class
nationally. His ability to frame pitches and the intimidation value
of his plus arm strength stood out.
Perfect Game staff was looking forward to following the fortunes of
the Iowa Select Black team but they opened with a 3-2 loss to the
East Bay Rep. East Bay righthanded pitcher Austin Canaday set
the pace for his team, striking out seven hitters over four innings
of shutout ball. Canaday wasn’t dominant stuff-wise, topping out
at 84 mph, but he had big movement on his fastball and he threw a
curveball, slider and changeup for strikes, always a difficult
combination at any level of baseball. Righthanders Brock Neuhaus
and Colan Borchers each threw well for Iowa, pitching in the
mid-80s, with Neuhaus’ slider being an especially impressive pitch.
West third baseman Hunter Robson stood out in his team’s
11-1 win Friday afternoon. Robson is listed at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds
but looks bigger and stronger. He hit a big double off the
left-centerfield fence in his first at-bat, walked a couple of other
times and made a number of very nice defensive plays that showed his
athleticism. He’s a 2014 that is not verbally committed yet but is
an outstanding student with top of the line grades. College coaches
please take note.
was always at the wrong fields when the So Cal Birds were playing,
but I heard over and over about a young 2016 outfielder named Dailin
Lee from Gardena, California. Lee is a 5-foot-8, 160-pound
lefthanded hitter, and the comments all had the same theme – “He
beat out a routine grounder to first base, he must have run 3.8/3.9;
He’s one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen; That must be what
80 speed looks like!” We’re going to have to track down the
young man and find out more about him.
Maryland had two players who immediately stood out. 2015 first
baseman James Monaghan is 6-foot-5, 190-pounds and has a
smooth lefthanded swing and obvious projection. Centerfielder
Terrance Pinkston, a 2014, has a strong, compact build and is
a plus runner with some bat speed from the right side.
– Jheremy Brown
Lopez, who played last week with a Canadian based team, is back
again this weekend, this time with the AZ Athletics 18u. Lopez is a
quick-twitch middle infielder with smooth glove work in the field and
a sound approach at the plate, hitting the ball hard up the middle on
Island Baseball Blue has a player by the name of Chay Toson
who left you scratching your head momentarily on one of those "only
in baseball" moments. On the mound as a lefthanded pitcher Toson
topped out at 78 mph and went three innings, striking out two and
allowing two hits. It was after his work on the mound that had you
curious as he ran to the dugout, got a righthanded glove and moved to
second base. In the program he is listed as a lefthanded batter and a
Rosario is a 2014 catcher who plays along side Toson and shows a
strong swing with good bat speed. In one at-bat he showed the ability
to sit back on a curveball and later on showed his strength, lining a
double to the left-centerfield gap. He also caught an inning and
threw out the one baserunner, using his arm strength in which he
popped a 2.18 on the throw.
Gray (as detailed above by David) is a projectable right handed
pitcher from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii who topped at 86 mph with his
fastball and sat 82-84 with the pitch. He has a quick, long arm with
good downhill on his pitches, including his fastball which showed
occasional arm side run.
Weston is an uncommitted righthander from San Marcos, Calif., who
may not be uncommitted for much longer. Repeating his low
three-quarters arm slot well on all pitches, Weston topped at 88 mph
with consistent, hard arm-side run, never getting above the hitter's
mid-thigh. With a balanced delivery and a loose, easy arm action, he
gets nice fade on his changeup, which was up to 78 mph, and also
throws a tight spinning curveball. When the ball was put in play, it
wasn't barreled up, inducing routine ground balls for his fielders.
And if his pitching wasn't enough, Weston showed off at the plate
also, hitting a double to each gap in his first two at-bats.
Smith started the night game for GBG Marucci Navy and showed
well. A 2014 lefthander, Smith topped at 85 mph, throwing from a
three-quarters arm slot while creating arm-side run on his fastball.
His curveball showed late, 11-to-5 break and he hit the outer corner
with both pitches well.
Ryan Day, who recently committed to play at Duke, made
an effortless play in the first inning, displaying very good range by
going to his backhand in the hole, picking the ball before showing
off his arm strength across the diamond to get the runner.
Hughes, who bats in the middle
of the order for MVP Baseball Upperclass, is one of only two
2015 grads on their roster. At the plate, Hughes showed his strength
by hitting a double in his first at-bat, and in his next trip to the
plate he kept his hands in well on an 86 mph fastball to deposit the
pitch through the opposite field for a single. In a later at-bat,
Hughes made a loud out, with the ball registering 94 mph off the bat.
David and I wrote about Karl Kani last week and he is back for
this tournament. He showed the same quick-twitch athleticism, both at
the plate and at second base and got down the line in 4.34 seconds.
Verdugo came out swinging in his first at-bat, showing his
strength and excellent bat speed by hitting a triple to the
right-centerfield gap on his first swing of the tournament. A
lefthanded hitter and pitcher, Verdugo squared up the ball his next
two at-bats with deep fly outs outs to left field. On his last trip
to the plate, in the bottom of the sixth, the left fielder was
positioned nearly on the warning track, clearly aware of Verdugo's
power and why he is ranked as the 20th best prospect in the 2014
Gray came in to catch the final two innings for the Prospects
National Team and showed well defensively. He has a very strong,
accurate arm with a nice transfer and popped a 1.94 and 2.00 in his
two in-between inning throws. A switch hitter at the plate, Gray has
power potential in his strong, quick bat from the right side.
the game for the Prospects was Nick Brown, a 2014 righthanded
pitcher who has commited to play for Missouri State. Brown sat 84-86
mph with his fastball, but when he wanted to bumped it up,
particularly on a 0-2 or 1-2 count, he would touch 88-90 mph. With a
big 6-foot-4 frame, the ball leaves his hand cleanly and gets
downhill well, pounding the strike zone. Brown's curveball sat at 76
mph and flashed 12-to-6 break.
Hausman got things going in the bottom of the sixth, drilling a
deep double to center field, one hopping the batters eye. Hausman
shows good leverage and strength in his swing.
best at bat of the night may go to Gerard Hernandez, a 2014
grad and lefthanded hitter. After battling in a 10-plus pitch at-bat
and showing a good two-strike approach, Hernandez fouled off numerous
pitches before putting a single back up the middle, driving in the
tying run in the bottom of the sixth, with two outs.
Maryland is staying in the same hotel as myself and they had some
interesting players in their lineup, with one standing out above the
rest, literally. At 6-foot-5, 187-pounds, James Monaghan
(detailed above) is a projectable lefthanded hitting first basemen,
showing bat speed, along with power potential, with more to come once
he starts to fill out his frame. He is one of only three 2015 grads
listed in the program on a strong team from Maryland.
West Coast Clippers have several Division I commits on their team,
and one of them, 2015 Mitchell Hayes,
who is committed to Nevada, started on the mound. A righthanded
pitcher, Hayes throws from a three-quarters arm slot with a quick arm
and strong lower half. His fastball topped out at 86 mph, and once he
starts to use his lower half he should see his velocity jump. He also
flashed an 11-to-5 curveball at 68 mph.
Wezniak is another one of the
Clippers D-I commits, his to San Diego State. He is a strong,
well-built player with an athletic frame. Wezniak has a smooth, fluid
swing with some pop and he also runs well, especially for his size.
Peoria Sports Complex
– Frankie Piliere
Hildebrandt brings a well-rounded skill-set to the table and he
put it on display on Friday. He has the ability to drive the ball to
right-center field, and showed legitimate power potential in that
direction in the first game on Friday. His footwork at shortstop is
also a standout part of his game. He gets the ball out of his glove
exceptionally well, and he made the game look easy during Friday’s
action. One of the first things you notice about Hildebrandt is his
confidence and at ease nature wherever he is on the field. He lets
the ball track deep at the plate, doing a good job of trusting his
hands. The shortstop picked up a double in game one for Hard 9, but
also drove the ball later in the game as well.
Gironda took the ball for the SoCal Marlins and immediately
showed off a lively fastball. The righthander hit 86 mph with his
fastball and lived consistently at 83-85. He has good life through
the zone and threw a lot of strikes with his fastball. Gironda also
mixed in a sharp 71-73 mph curveball with 11-to-5 break. This was a
pitch he was clearly confident in and went to in almost any situation
he needed a big pitch. He gets good extension out front, finishing
his curveball consistently and throwing strikes with it. The
6-foot-1, 180-pound righty also projects to add strength and
seen Cole Acosta before, most notably at the PG Underclass
All-American Games. And, his stuff on Friday was in line with what
we’ve seen before, and perhaps even better. He showed the best
velocity we’ve seen yet from him, as he worked between 84-87 mph
with his fastball, touching 88 and then 89 mph. And, he also mixed a
68 mph curveball with good shape, and late-breaking action. The
slider was also part of his repertoire, but on a limited basis. He
threw two of them, flashing some bite at 77-80 mph. He has a frame
that screams projection, and he looks the part on the mound. His
ability to throw strikes with all three of these pitches was perhaps
the most impressive part of his performance. He has a strong lower
half, and a high waist. Look for him to add more velocity in the very
near future. He’s a pitcher that needs to be watched very closely.
Solana Beach Cardinals did a lot of good things offensively on
Friday, and Will Law was one of their prime standouts despite
the fact that his performance may not standout in the box score. Law
showed a smooth, powerful lefthanded stroke in his first at-bat
Friday, spinning on an inside fastball and hitting a rocket right at
the first baseman. He also collected two walks on the game, showing a
disciplined approach in the process.
standing out for Solana Beach was second baseman Andrew Wilson,
who collected four hits over two games on Friday. He too
showed a disciplined approach as a well as a clean, compact line
Lottinville produced one of the day’s biggest swings, belting a
long home run, and making consistent, hard contact throughout the
day. He’s a stocky, strongly built third baseman, and he already
has an advanced power approach at the plate. His knowledge of the
strike zone stood out on Friday night, and he shows a calm,
French had a good day at the plate for the SoCal Marlins, picking
up a two hits over two games, including a well-struck double. But, he
also showed very sound receiving skills and a quick transfer to his
glove hand. He shows good carry on his throws as well.
Trejo stood out as a two-way star on Friday night for the So Cal
Bombers Black squad, touching 88 mph on the mound and showing
defensive actions at shortstop.
Graumann tossed a complete game gem for Rawlings Prospects in the
5:00 pm time slot Friday night, and did so mainly on the strength of
his command and ability to mix pitches. The 6-foot lefthander worked
mostly at 80-82 mph with his fastball, reaching as high as 84. But,
his ability to run that fastball to the outside corner against
righties while dropping in his curveball really made the difference.
He’s a classic strike thrower that works fast and knows how to keep
a lineup off balance.
Pinto took the ball for the SGV Arsenal on Friday night, and was
aggressive from the get go. Attacking hitters with his fastball, the
righthander worked at 84-86 mph, reaching 87 mph in the first inning.
He also mixed in a curveball that flashed 11-to-5 depth at 71 mph.
His delivery stays very compact and he does a good job of hiding the
ball. It’s a delivery that he should be able to repeat time after
McCaughan opposed Pinto for Hard 9 and brought similarly quality
stuff to the table. He worked at 83-85 mph, touching 86. The righty
also did a good job of mixing in a slow, sweeping curveball, which he
seemed willing to go to in most situations, even behind in counts.
Deason showed off some the day’s best pure velocity, working at
85-87 mph early in his outing, and also flashed a sharp low-70s
Kersse took one of the more impressive swings of the day,
launching a long double over the head of the left fielder. But, he
didn’t merely hit a mistake pitch. He drove a good pitch on the
inner third of the plate and did an excellent job of keeping his
hands inside the ball.
Pruitt had a simple approach on the mound on Friday night for All
Star Baseball Academy, and that was to attack with his fastball. He’s
not overpowering at the moment in terms of pure velocity, but you
wouldn’t know it by the reaction of how many of the opposing
hitters. Out of the 74 pitches he threw, 70 of them were fastballs.
Living at 80-82 mph and topping out at 83 mph early in his outing,
Pruitt attacked the inside part of the plate against righthanded
batters. He was able to do that mainly on the strength of the big
running action he was able to produce on his fastball. At 6-foot-3,
165-pounds, Pruitt is very projectable and should add more velocity
in the coming years.
seen Tyler Williams
and his extra projectable, athletic frame before and he’s always
entertaining to watch. While it amounted to an error in the
scorebook, Williams hit a soaring, deep fly ball to left field in the
fifth inning for Watsonville that was misplayed and allowed him to
end up at third base. He showed impressive first-to-third speed, but
more importantly the backspin and major lift he showed displayed a
step in the development of his power stroke. Williams also displayed
a compact, opposite field approach earlier in the game. He continues
to improve each time we see him. He’s still growing into his frame,
and needs to be watched closely.