Contributing: Todd Gold
a college rule change that I, and many others, evidently, weren’t
aware of, before we get to the players.
the very first game I went to Thursday in the 4:30 p.m. time slot I
saw a very prominent college head coach I hadn’t seen on the road
for a couple of years. When I asked him what he was doing away from
home this time of year, he said that there had been an NCAA rule
change effective August 1 that enabled schools to have three coaches
out on the road at the same time. The previous rule limited schools
to only two coaches on the road. Other coaches and the simple
existence of three coaches from a number of schools at the WWBA
Underclass World Championship confirmed this.
asked the coach if he liked the new rule and he said “Yes, I like
it and I think everyone else does, too. Except for my wife, that is.
She’s not used to me being on the road at this time of the year
and told me Monday is definitely a no-work day at home.”
theme at the games I bounced around too at the JetBlue Complex, the
former Red Sox 5-Plex and Terry Park was definitely the pitching,
with lots of young 2015 and 2016 arms throwing in the mid- to
upper-80s with good command and some solid secondary offerings. I
saw a couple of 0-0 games and some other games that were that way
until the bullpens and a sense of urgency got involved in the late
innings. So today’s notes will lean heavily towards the mound.
the best performance I’ve seen was by Gatorball Baseball Academy
lefthander Austin Langworthy, a 2016 from Wiliston, Florida.
Langworthy threw six shutout innings against a loaded Marucci Elite
team, allowing only two hits and walking no one. His fastball was up
to 86 mph with life, his curveball was big and hard and well placed,
and he even mixed in some nice changeups, with the Marucci hitters
getting very few good swings at any of his offerings. Langworthy is
also a legit two-way prospect going 2-for-2 at the plate.
threw five different pitchers in the 0-0 tie and all showed prospect
level stuff. Righthander Jack Weisenburger from Michigan was
probably the most impressive for me, with a 6-foot-3, 190-pound
projectable frame and a quick, compact arm action that produced an 88
mph fastball and five strikeouts in two innings of work. Third
baseman and righthanded pitcher Parker Kelly topped out at 90
mph in his two quick innings of work, the first time I believe he has
touched that mark in PG play, while righthander Bryce Denton
topped out at 89 mph. Another righthander, Andy Pagnozzi,
and lefthander Hunter Whitman also worked scoreless
seen the equally stacked FTB Mizuno team in parts of a two games the
first two days and they’ve also had trouble generating runs,
plating only five in those two games. Shortstop Ryan
Mountcastle, one of the top hitters in the 2015 class, has done
his part, going 3-for-5 in two games with a pair of hard doubles. I
dropped a “young Wil Myers look” comp on the 6-foot-3, 180-pound
shaggy haired Florida native to a few scouts and it was well
FTB position prospect I enjoyed watching at last week’s Florida
Qualifier and again this week is centerfielder Kennie Taylor.
Taylor is a 5-foot-10 speed player who has a 6.5 60-yard dash time to
his credit per the FTB coaches, but I’ve seen him blast two triples
over the opposing centerfielders' head in the last ten days to show
his surprising power.
lefthander Juan Hillman, who is ranked No. 187 in the PG 2015
Class Rankings, showed he could be ready for a rankings jump by
striking out eight hitters in three innings Thursday night. Hillman
worked in the 87-90 mph range with plus tailing life on his fastball
and simply overmatched most hitters. His 73-75 mph curveball was a
solid second offering.
pair of 2016 players on the EvoShield Canes Underclass team were
getting plenty of attention from the college coaches when I found
them Friday afternoon at JetBlue. Righthander Bryant Packard had
a very easy and smooth arm action that produced an 83-86 mph fastball
to go with an outstanding changeup while throwing five innings. He’s
a very mature pitcher for a sophomore. Catcher Brad Debo
doesn’t look much like a sophomore with a very strong 6-foot-2,
190-pound build that gets immediate attention. He went 3-for-3 at
the plate, including a ringing double down the right field line, and
shows lots of strength and bat speed from the left side of the plate.
Dirtbags allowed three runs in the top of the seventh inning to drop
a surprising 3-2 decision to a scrappy FBA Blue team Friday
afternoon, but a couple of their players really stood out.
Righthander John Creel, a Mississippi commit, cruised through
four innings in only 41 pitches, using an 87-89 mph heavy sinking
fastball and a hard 78 mph breaking ball that sat right on the edge
between a slider and a curveball. He’s very projectable and will
move up significantly from his present No. 370 ranking in the 2015
class. Eric Jenkins is a 6-foot-1, 165-pound centerfielder
with plus running speed and some pop in his bat. It might have been
a different ballgame if his early inning drive to centerfield hadn’t
been flagged down on a nice play.
tip of the cap has to go out to FBA Blue 2016 righthander Dustin
Baber, who threw a complete game three-hitter against the
talented Dirtbags line up. The 5-foot-10, 135-pound sophomore topped
out at 81 mph with a nice curveball and showed that the ability to
mix and spot his pitches, to go along with a solid defense behind
you, is a good formula against any team.
player I’m going to need to get more looks at, and undoubtedly will
over the next couple of years, is 2016 first baseman Will Benson
of the East Cobb Astros. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound lefthanded hitting
Benson really stands out on the field for his size and athleticism.
I only saw one at bat, a routine ground ball to second base, but
Benson put a good swing on it and ran well. He’s presently ranked
No. 7 in the Perfect Game Class of 2016 rankings.
Coast Baseball righthander Sam Finnerty had a healthy group of
college coaches behind the screen watching him pitch against the
Evoshild Canes Friday morning. The Alabama native threw three
innings in the 84-87 mph range with a deep true 12-to-6 breaking ball
that is going to get lots of hitters out at the next level. His 2015
teammate, righthander Colin Coates, also threw well, with an
86 mph fastball, a good low-70s breaker and nice pitchability.
Scout Team righthander Nolan Watson threw five shutout
innings, striking out seven hitters Friday morning. He has a solid
build at 6-foot-2, 185-pounds and throws from a tall delivery that
really gets downhill well. He topped out at 88 mph early, but his
best pitch was a 72-74 mph curveball that had hard bite and depth to
Thomas Szapucki, the No. 24 ranked pitcher in the 2015 class,
threw two innings for Panther Baseball Club Friday afternoon and
flashed his elite level arm strength, topping out at 93 mph early
before settling into the 87-90 mph range for most of his outing. A
Florida commit, Szapucki didn’t throw many curveballs, which is a
potential plus pitch for him in the upper-70s, but did show nice live
on some changeups.
Select/Easton righthander Jarod Bayless threw an outstanding
game Friday, going all seven innings in a 4-1 win over a talented
East Cobb Baseball team. Bayless struggled early with his command
and curveball, and essentially scrapped everything but his fastball
after the first inning. Fortunately, his fastball was 85-89 mph with
heavy sinking life as Bayless pounded the bottom of the zone and the
outside corner while walking no one and striking out nine hitters.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Texarkana, Texas native is currently ranked
No. 263 in the 2015 class rankings.
finish up today, a story that many parents out there can relate to.
I was talking to a scout friend who I’ve known for 20-plus years
before a game Friday morning. As is the norm, old friends like that
always ask about each other’s kids, especially if one of them is a
player. My friend told me that his senior son was going to sign a
scholarship next month with a very nice (and expensive) private D-I
school that will pay for all of his school costs. He added, “When
my son found out how much the school cost without the scholarship, he
asked, 'So Dad, what are you going to do with the $40K that you are
saving by my getting that scholarship?' I told him 'Son, that money
never even existed, it’s not saved and you don’t get any of it!'”
a loaded tournament like this one, it takes a lot for a prospect to
stand head and shoulders above his peers. But after five games played
at Field 1 at the Boston Red Sox JetBlue complex (featuring replica
dimensions of Fenway Park), there is one player who did just that:
2016 righthander Tyler Mondile.
became clear half an hour before game time that something exciting
was going to happen, as loaded teams like FTB Chandler and the
Dirtbags wamred up on adjacent fields, college coaches from major
Division I programs jockeyed for position behind the plate. Having
not pitched at a PG event since the 2012 edition of the WWBA
Underclass World Championship, Mondile wasn’t among the initial top
100 2016 prospects in the initial class rankings, but that is likely
to change significantly when the list is updated. The first five
fastballs he threw registered at 91 mph on the radar gun, before
trading 90 and 91 the rest of the first inning. He uses a short arm
action, and while he was frequently up in the strike zone, he worked
ahead (while working quickly) and was around the target the majority
of the time. He would settle into the upper-80s with an occasional 90
the final two innings he threw, while showing a pair of quality
breaking balls. His slider sat 80-83 with tight spin and typically
featured a short tight break, while his curveball showed good depth
and hard 11-to-5 break with an ability to throw it for strikes
the majority of the scouts assembled for the start of the game had
left by the time South Charlotte Panthers 2015 lefthander Garrett
was summoned from the bullpen to pull the Panthers out of a jam, the
ones that remained were treated to a pleasant surprise, as the
uncommitted projection lefty was also impressive. Davila sat 84-87
with a clean arm action, good shape to his breaking ball and feel for
a changeup with good life. His long, high-waisted frame projects well
and he struck out three of the five hitters he faced to prevent a
potential big inning and give his team a chance to win.
a game that featured a pair of high quality pitching prospects,
several position players managed to stand out as well. 2016 corner
infielder Jake Holtzapple
put a great swing on an 89 mph fastball on the outside corner from
Mondile, scorching it through the hole between the first and second
basemen to drive in the first run of the game. Holtzapple has a
strong lean build that stands out from the moment he steps onto the
field and he drives the ball with authority, even when he doesn’t
get all of it. He handled first base quite well defensively today.
2015 outfielder Nick Browne
stood out for his bat speed at the Junior National Showcase in June
and that certainly continued to be the case today. While Browne
didn’t do anything that showed up in the box score, he crushed
several very hard foul balls that were a few feet from changing the
outcome of the game. 2016 Luke
also stood out for an imposing physique and big time bat speed while
serving as the DH today for the Panthers.
righthander Cal Jarrett
showed a quick arm, topping out at 88 mph with a fast paced delivery
that creates deception. His curveball was slow and deep and coming
from his frenetic (yet well controlled) delivery it routinely caught
hitters off guard and was very effective. His Elite Baseball Training
Chicago teammate 2015 catcher and outfielder Nick
also stood out today, showing promising bat speed and looks likely to
develop power as he gets stronger physically.
lefthander Spencer Van Scoyoc
not only showed a projectable arm, but he found some adversity while
getting the start in Iowa Select Navy’s opening game, and handled
it very well. Van Scoyoc only topped out at 82 mph, but has more
coming with a quick arm and tall, athletic frame that projects for
significant added strength. A couple of his teammates also stood out,
including 2015 outfielder Luke
who did so for his hit tool and athletic frame, while 2016 corner
infielder Joey Polak
showed big raw power.
he’s no stranger to the national stage and his abilities are well
documented, I would be remiss if I were to fail to mention the
defensive ability of 2015 catcher Dominic
who did an excellent job of handling 2015 righthander Andrew
Cabezas sat 85-88, but had plus sinking life on his fastball that
made it even more difficult to drive with any authority, especially
given how his slow paced delivery lulls hitters to sleep. Cabezas
backed his sinking fastball with a tight slider at 77-80 with late
tilting action and a solid mid-70s changeup.
morning time slot at Field 1 at JetBlue featured a pair of intriguing
2015 outfield prospects hailing from non-traditional areas in Seth
and Kyle Parks.
Learned is listed as a third baseman in the program, but handled
center field well in his limited defensive chances, showing solid
speed and a large athletic build to go with solid present power,
burning the opposing centerfielder for a double as part of a
multi-hit day. Parks is a big physical outfielder with big time
tools, though he is still refining them – if he puts it all
together he could really turn some heads.
righthander Thaddeus Ward
was impressive in his start in SWFL 17u’s opening game, sitting
84-87 with hard run on his fastball and showing the ability to run it
inside on righthanded hitters. He hides the ball well after an deep
stab in back, releasing from a compact high three-quarters slot. His
breaking ball showed some bite at 76-77 with the ability to throw it
for strikes from a deceptive delivery that featured some funk to it.
Ward's teammate, 2015 outfielder Donovan
showed off impressive speed for such a big physical player, covering
good ground in center field and utilizing it well on the bases.
Petrey’s size and speed combination suggests he would have also
made a good football prospect had he chosen to pursue it, he’s
quite promising as a baseball prospect. Zuriel
from the 2015 class stood out for his quickness at shortstop, moving
very well defensively, and while he has a ways to go in terms of
strength development to make an impact with the bat, at the very
least he can provide strong defensive play up the middle at the
got a chance to catch the end of the Taconic Rangers’ opening game
at JetBlue Park after the conclusion of the previous time slot, and
while I didn’t get a strong feel for many of their players, the one
who stood out to me in a brief look was 2015 first baseman Griffin
In the one at-bat I saw he drove a ball very hard to the opposite
field and he certainly stands out for his chiseled 6-foot-1,
210-pound build. He’s a player I hope to be able to bare down on
later this weekend.