Editor's note: Perfect Game recognizes that there were dozens of standout performers at this year's 18u WWBA National Championship. The thoughts provided below are first-hand observations from Scouting Coordinator Jheremy Brown during the event's first seven days.
showing velocity and making an immediate impression in his first
Perfect Game event at the National Showcase, DeMarcus Evans
(2015, Petal, Miss.) had a strong showing in his next outing
as well. Standing at 6-foot-4, 245-pounds, Evans is athletic for his
size which helps him repeat his mechanics on the mound. His arm
action is very loose and easy and shows the ability to work downhill
on a consistent basis. There are some things mechanically to fix, but
once they are, coupled with the ease of which he throws, it’s easy
to envision the 89-92 mph, topping 93 velocity that he showed this
week climbing into the mid-90s next June.
filled up the strike zone and carried his fastball velocity better
this outing and showed a developing feel for his off-speed. He worked
his curveball in the 76-79 mph range with 11-to-5 shape, and as the
game progressed, as did his feel for the pitch and the quality of it.
His changeup was 83-84 mph and shows a feel for the pitch and will
continue to develop the more he throws it.
much as the summer circuit is about following up on known players
nationally, it’s equally important for discovering new talent, and
that’s just the category that J’Mar Smith
(2015, Meridian, Miss.) fits into.
reason that Smith has been relatively unknown outside of the
Southeast is because of his abilities on the gridiron, which has been
the majority of his focus athletically. Football is the family
tradition as J’Mar’s father, Kenny Smith, spent seven seasons in
the NFL as a defensive lineman. A sought after quarterback who is
gaining interest from SEC football schools, Smith has given us a
glimpse of his athleticism and capabilities on the diamond this week,
both with the bat and on the mound.
strongly built 6-foot-2, 205-pound third baseman, Smith shows plus
power in his swing when he is able to get him arms extended and drive
a pitch. The hardest hit of the tournament at the East Cobb Complex
came off Smith’s bat, as he was able to extend on and square up an
upper-80s fastball, sending it back up the middle at 104 mph. The
game prior, Smith again showed off the bat speed/power combo, driving
an 87 mph fastball on the outer half from a lefthanded pitcher about
390 feet over the left-center field fence.
the bat is the biggest tool, Smith showed his arm strength on the
mound, working a quick 1-2-3 inning to close a game sitting in the
88-90 mph range. The mechanics are a bit raw at this point, but there
is no doubting the arm strength and easiness of which the ball comes
out of his hand.
Newsome (2015, Columbia, Miss.)
is a quick-twitch athlete with plus speed, getting down the line in
4.19 seconds to beat out a chopper to shortstop.
speed of Alonzo Jones (2015,
Columbus, Ga.) has been well documented throughout the years,
with his most recent 60-yard dash resulting in a 6.17 second speed at
the PG National two weeks ago. While still showing his wheels this
week (4.23 with a turn on a triple down the right field line), Jones has also been
able to put the hit tool on display.
A switch-hitter, the Vanderbilt
commit has been putting solid swings on the ball lefthanded,
understandably so as he faces more righthanded pitchers than lefties
on a daily basis, despite being a natural righthanded hitter. From
the left side Jones shows fluidity in his swing, along with power and
barrel skills that correlate well into game action. The physicality
of his frame has no impact on his game, as he remains quick-twitch
and loose. During Day 5 action, Jones pulled a pitch down the right
field line for a stand-up triple, turning around first in 4.21
seconds. In his next at-bat, Jones conserved some of his energy and
launched the second pitch he saw over the right field wall,
registering 101 mph off the bat per TrackMan.
is no denying the athleticism in Daz Cameron
(2015, McDonough, Ga.), nor can you overlook his ability in
the batter’s box and the ease with which he is able to generate bat
speed. But the reason for this blurb is to speak of Cameron’s
instincts and baseball IQ when he is patrolling center field. On a
hard hit ball over his head, Cameron tracked the ball well off the
bat, and rather than attempt to catch it, which was nearly
impossible, he did the next best thing. Cameron played the ball off
the wall on a hop, turned, and fired a strike into second base,
holding the runner up with a long single on a hit which looked like
sure extra-bases off the bat. Not only does this play speak to his
athletic capabilities, it’s also a testament to his increasing arm
strength and the ability for it to play in game action.
PG National was a bit of a coming out party for Jalen Miller
(2015, Atlanta, Ga.) as he had some of the better in-game
swings and he hasn’t let up since getting back on his home turf in
Georgia. An uncommitted shortstop, Miller shows the actions at short
that should play well there at the next level, with smooth, quick
hands, plus athletic actions, and playable arm strength across. Like
his hands, his righthanded bat is also quick with a feel for the
barrel, and he exhibited his strength as well, driving a pitch off
the scoreboard in left field at Field 2 of the East Cobb Complex.
Down the line, Miller has been in the 4.3 range.
of showing a feel for the barrel, Thomas Johns
(2016, Pinson, Ala.) seems to get a base hit every time he
steps up to the plate. With a strong 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, Johns
is able to create excellent bat speed from the left side with a
natural ability for hitting. At first glance of his swing you may
think Johns is all about pull-side power, but he consistently proves
that idea to be wrong as he can drive the ball to the opposite field,
and did just that during Day 5 action, hammering an outside pitch on
a line to the 360 foot foot mark in the left-center field gap. He
starts a bit wrapped in his swing but the hands are so quick and
strong that he can whip the barrel through the zone to square up any
pitch. Only a rising junior, Johns will be a bat to follow through
the summer and over the next couple of years.
the plate, Chase Smartt
(2015, Troy, Ala.) does a lot of things well that you like to
see in a catching prospect. He receives very well with strong
catch-and-throw skills, and he stays compact and low throughout. The
Troy commit’s arm is equally as impressive with strength and
accuracy, consistently popping 2.00 in between innings, with actions
that carry over to his in-game throws with similar pop times.
you have seen Will Benson
(2016, Atlanta, Ga.) either in person or on video last summer
and this summer, the first thing you will notice is the change in his
stance. He has become more upright in his approach, allowing him to
utilize his long arms to create leverage and drive the ball. The
6-foot-6 Benson shows present power to the middle and pull-side parts
of the field, and once he demonstrates the ability to hit to left
field, he will be dangerous in each at-bat, especially given his
approach and knowledge of the strike zone.
showed off his power in consecutive at-bats, first driving a pitch to
the right-center field gap that one-hopped the wall, taking long
strides around the bases for a stand up triple. In his next at-bat,
Benson showed fouled off a handful of pitches before finding one he
liked, squaring it up for a hard line drive off the right field
Garrett (2016, Foley, Ala.)
has the type of arm scouts can dream on and he also shows all the
intangibles they look for in a young arm. Here's the check-list:
arm action: Yes
with life: Yes
he spin it: Yes
he show command: Yes
at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, Garrett projects very well with added
strength, but already shows plenty with his current frame. When his
front shoulder stays closed, the recent Vanderbilt commit is able to
create nice angle on his fastball, which sat at 87-89 mph and topped
at 90 while generating downhill plane with life. His curveball is a
present plus-pitch with tight spin, depth, and velocity – 74-77 mph
– to go along with the ability to spot it to both sides of the
plate. To round out his three-pitch mix, Garrett shows a nice feel
for a 80-82 mph changeup with fade to his arm side.
stays balanced on his backside and repeats him mechanics and arm slot
very well on all three pitches. With a short arm action in the back,
Garrett is able to fill up the strike zone, especially in the lower
documented by his 91 mph velocity from a showcase earlier this year,
Brenton Burgess (2015,
Lithonia, Ga.) has more than enough arm strength to play at
third base and continued to show it off this past week. He has also
showed similar power with the bat, driving a low and outside 89 mph
fastball to the right-center field gap before driving another pitch
over the wall in left field for a grand slam.
in his first Perfect Game event, Ben Ellis
(2015, Cordova, Tenn.) made his presence felt, going
4-for-4 with a single, double, and two triples. Needing only a home
run for the cycle, Ellis sent a pitch high off the wall in left field
for what would become his second triple of the night, missing the
round-tripper by about 10-15 feet.
Watson (2015, Potts Camps,
Miss.) reaffirmed his strength with a single swing in the
final time slot at East Cobb, turning on an inside fastball that
traveled an estimated 417 feet per TrackMan, coming off the bat 99
mph, a no-doubt shot off the bat.
last time I saw Justin Smith
(2014, St. John’s, Fla.) was in Jupiter last October and he
was starting with an extremely wide base in the batter's box which
was taking away from the leverage and strength he generates in his
swing. Jump forward to this tournament and Smith has shortened his
stance and is able to use his low half more, proving so by
effortlessly driving a pitch over the left-center field fence.
Jenista (2015, Eudora, Kan.)
showed a strong feel for the barrel, and even though his 6-foot-4,
215-pound frame would suggest he uses a power approach from the left
side, the Wichita State commit demonstrated the ability to go to the
opposite field with solid contact.
two-way player at the next level, Zack Shannon
(2014, Cincinnati, Ohio) took the mound for the Midland
Redskins and begun the transformation from a hard thrower into a
pitcher who can throw hard. With broad shoulders and a strong,
physical frame, Shannon worked in the 88-91 mph range, topping out at
92. Throwing from a lower arm slot, the Chipola College commit was
able to generate hard arm side run working low in the zone. He threw
two sliders in his outing at 75 and 77 mph both of which showed depth
and sharp 10-4 break to them.
game plays faster when D.J. Wilson
(2015, Canton, Ohio) steps into the batter’s box as his plus
speed forces teams to align differently and be ready at all times.
Even routine ground balls become havoc when it comes off Wilson’s
bat, as the defense has to rush their throws across. This exact play
occurred when Wilson, a left-handed hitter, reached safely on a
ground ball hit to the second baseman in which he forced an errant
throws thanks to his 4.02 second speed down the line. Later in the
tournament Wilson turned on an inside fastball and drove it over the
right field fence for a solo home run.
find a safe and easy comparison for Wilson you won’t have to look
far, and in fact you won’t even have to look on a different team as
2014 outfielder Jeren Kendall (Holmen, Wis.) played alongside
Wilson and exhibited a similar high energy, top-of-the-order
skill-set. Both can impact the game on both sides of the ball with
their plus speed.
may not be a player swinging a hotter bat than Chipola College commit
Jay Estes (2014,
Crawfordville, Fla.) from Next Level Upperclass. A
quick-twitch middle infielder, Estes shows an extraordinary feel for
the barrel head, lining doubles and triples to all parts of the
field, including a couple of home runs over the course of the
tournament. He moves well in the infield and down the first base line
with a home-to-first time of 4.31 seconds.
though Andrew Toelken (2014,
Green Cove Springs, Fla.) was working in the 89-91 mph range,
topping at 92 with his fastball, there’s good reason to believe
there is a lot more velocity left in his right arm. The arm action is
clean and easy, and with the incorporation of his lower half, and
getting over his front side, Toelken should be able to make that next
jump. In the early going Toelken lived low in the zone. and with his
lower three-quarters arm slot, the St. John’s River commit was able
to generate very late sink and run on the pitch. The feel for his
slider is still developing, and the rotation is loose, but he does
throw it with the proper velocity at 79-82 mph. He flashed a changeup
or two at 81 mph with fading action to his arm side.
Mississippi State commit, Jared Padgett (2015,
Graceville, Fla.) is a lefthanded pitcher from the
Panhandle of Florida who began making some noise throughout the
spring and has now pitched in two different Perfect Game events this
he didn’t show the reported low-90s velocity, it’s easy to see
that velocity being true given what Padgett showed in this particular
outing. A projectable lefthander with a lean, 6-foot-4 athletic frame
with long limbs, Padgett works from a high three-quarters arm slot
and gets on top of the ball well, creating nice downhill plane to his
fastball worked in the 86-88 mph range with occasional arm-side run
from a shorter arm action in the back. As the outing progressed he
settled into the mid-80s as he began to use more arm in his delivery.
The difference maker for Padgett is his 12-to-6 curveball with shows
sharp life and depth to it at 73 mph. He maintains his arm speed and
action on his changeup, which he threw between 76-78 mph.
time Sixto Torres (2015,
Jacksonville, Fla.) takes the mound at Perfect Game
events he seems to add velocity to his fastball, and that was once
again the case at the 18u WWBA National Championship. After working
in the 87-89 mph range the day prior in an inning of work, Torres
came back the following day even stronger, working 89-91 mph and
topping at 92. He was clearing his front side better than his
previous outing and getting on top, working low in the zone with a
quick arm. Along with his fastball, Torres showed a feel for a sharp
slider at 79 mph with 2-to-8 shape and a nice changeup with late,
fading action at 79 mph.
his Perfect Game profile, David Hensley (2014,
San Diego, Calif.) is still uncommitted, and whichever team
picks him up is getting a very nice all-around player. Despite his
6-foot-5 frame, Hensley moves very well at third base and made a
barehanded, off balance play charging in and delivered a strike to
for popping 1.9’s from behind the plate due to his arm strength and
athleticism, Tim Susnara (2014,
Redwood City, Calif.) took the mound and brought his big arm
with him. Working the last inning to close out a game for the San
Diego Show, Susnara worked in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball
showing very hard arm-side run. With a short arm action, Susnara was
also showing a feel for a 12-to-6 curveball with late break and depth
at 76 mph.
2016 graduate, Keenan Bell
(2016, Jacksonville, Fla.) has a strong, physical build from
the left side and shows very nice bat speed with strength that
projects well in the future.
Gilliam (2015, Kennesaw, Ga.)
has continued to take strides on the mound in terms of velocity
throughout the spring, with his best coming out early this summer. In
his first outing of the 18u WWBA, Gilliam worked in the low-90s,
occasionally dipping into the upper-80s, while topping out at 93 mph.
to last night and Gilliam is throwing an inning of relief for Nelson
Baseball School and worked a quick 1-2-3 inning. Working from a high
tempo delivery, Gilliam maintains that energy in his arm action,
showing a fast arm and the ability to get on top of the baseball. The
uncommitted junior worked in the 88-91 mph range low in the zone with
two-seam life and has the ability to run it back over the outside
corner to a righthanded hitter. His curveball is equally impressive,
showing sharp 12-to-6 shape with depth at 78 mph and the ability to
throw it for strikes consistently.
Gilliam above, Nick Neidert (2015,
Lawrenceville, Ga.) is a quick-twitch athlete with a fast arm
with an effortless release. A righthanded pitcher, Neidert made a
strong impression at the PG National showing big velocity over his
two innings at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
the opening round of the playoffs for Team Elite Prime, Neidert took
the mound and again showed big velocity in the 90-92 mph range,
topping 93. He maintained that velocity of the course of his six
innings of work, showing that it translates well into game action.
is the type of pitcher that has the chance to be in the mid-90s next
spring and possibly touching higher. The arm action is loose and
easy, he repeats it well, and the ball comes out of his hand cleanly
without any effort. He spots his fastball well low in the zone with
consistent arm-side run, and when the heater is put in play, it
usually generates ground ball contact due to the late life.
slider is a nice pitch at 77-78 mph with depth, and although it’s a
bit inconsistent in shape, he is able to throw the pitch for strikes
either early or late in the count. The University of South Carolina
recruit also showed a quality changeup at 82 mph, coming out of his
hand looking like a fastball with fading action to his arm side.
at 6-foot-4, Nick Lee (2015,
Longville, La.) stands tall on the mound, and with his long
limbs it can appear as though he is handing the ball to the catcher.
He shows a long arm action in the back but more than enough arm speed
to get on top of the baseball and work down in the zone from a
three-quarters slot. As he starts to incorporate his lower half more
and lengthen his stride, it should be easy for Lee to add velocity.
on Lee topped out at 92 mph, working 89-91 with life before settling
into the 87-90 range for the remainder of the game, occasionally
touching a 91. He showed a strong feel for his slider and threw it
frequently in the mid- to upper-70s, topping at 80 mph with the
Randolph (2015, Griffin, Ga.)
may just end up possessing one of the best overall hit tools in the
2015 class. A lefthanded hitter, Randolph shows a smooth swing with
an advanced feel for the barrel and the ability to hit to all fields.
The Clemson commit is able to recognize the spin of off-speed and
make an adjustment. In one game Randolph collected a line drive
single through the left side before driving a fastball to the
right-center field gap for a standup double, which jumped off the
for the Orlando Scorpions Prime on the mound, Cole Sands (2015,
Tallahassee, Fla.) showed a three-pitch mix throughout his
outing. Standing at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds, Sands is able to generate
nice downhill plane on his fastball, staying tall on his backside and
getting good extension with his lower half down the mound. His arm
action is longer in the back, but with a fast arm Sands is able to
get on top of the ball and work well to both sides of the plate with
Florida State commit maintained 89-91 mph, topping 92, velocity on
his fastball well, coming out of his hand clean with late arm-side
run low in the zone. His changeup is the more advanced off-speed
pitch at present, showing late fade while maintaining his arm speed
at 80-81 mph. His curveball is a pitch that has continued to develop
and should continue to do so. Throwing it in the 77-79 mph range, the
pitch shows 11-to-5 shape with occasional life when he stays on top
of it. He gets around the curveball at times, causing it to lose it’s
shape and become more slurvy. Overall, Sands repeats his mechanics
well and is able to maintain his velocity from the stretch.