This is part one of a three-part series highlighting some of the players who stood out from a scouting standpoint at the 2014 PG MLK Championship at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. It is by no means comprehensive, but rather the observations and observations of one scout.
With the inherent difficulty surrounding
scouting the northwest area during the early spring due to weather, numerous scouts
took advantage of the opportunity to get an early look at the deep roster
of prospects on Team Northwest. As a result 2014 righthander Drew Rasmussen (Colbert, Wash.) was the biggest scouting draw of the day, as he got the start for Team Northwest.
The big-bodied Oregon State commit did not disappoint, coming through with three dominant innings highlighted by seven strikeouts. Rasmussen has a sound delivery with good rhythm and balance, and he pounded the strike zone, consistently showing the ability to locate his 88-91 mph fastball to both sides of the plate. His ability to locate his fastball made his secondary offerings unnecessary to dominate, but he did flash a pair of quality off-speed pitches. He showed a changeup with big fading action to the arm side at 81-82 while maintaining his arm speed, and doubled up on it to strike out a righthanded hitter. He also flashed a tight spinning slider in the low-80s as well, though he had little need for it.
2014 was expected to have a shallow crop of high school pitching in the northwest and Rasmussen has a chance to take advantage of the opportunity to become one of the top high school arms in the area if he can build off of his strong preseason performance.
There were several other players from Team Northwest who took advantage of the spotlight to impress scouts in January. 2014 outfielder Branson Trube (Merridian, Idaho) got a fastball over the plate in his second at-bat and jumped all over it. Trube crushed a line drive over the center fielder's head that left the bat at 94 mph and hustled out of the box, rounding first in 4.40 seconds and never slowed down. Trube utilized his speed to turn a well hit ball to the deepest part of the ballpark into an inside the park home run.
While Trube's inside the park home run was the offensive highlight of the day, his teammate 2014 outfielder Stuart Fairchild (Seattle, Wash.) lit up the radar gun with an even harder hit ball. Fairchild has added noticeable strength since our first look at him at the 2013 Area Code Games back in August, particularly in his forearms. With that strength he is able to whip the barrel through the hitting zone with authority while maintaining a direct hand path. In his third at-bat of the game Fairchild tore into a ball that left the bat at 98 mph. The ball caught a piece of the pitcher preventing it from reaching it's initial destination of center field, forcing Fairchild to leg out an infield single with his solid speed.
2014 third baseman and righthanded pitcher David Hensley (San Diego, Calif.) made some of the loudest outs of the day. He utilizes his 6-foot-5 frame well to create big leverage and lift and pull the baseball with authority. As he's still maturing physically, it is easy to project additional power as he adds muscle to his lean wiry frame. He went 1-for-3 with a sac fly RBI and hit a pair of towering fly balls that hung for over 5.5 seconds with one hanging just over six seconds. He's a surprisingly well coordinated defender at third base given his height, controlling his long levers very well while coming in on the baseball. The Perfect Game database does not have a college commitment listed for Hensley at this point, which is a bit surprising and represents an opportunity for programs that still have roster spots to fill for 2014 grads.
2015 infielder/outfielder John Cresto (Encinitas, Calif.) showed off his pull-side pop, turning on an inside fastball for a hard line drive down the left field line for a double late in the San Diego Show's opening victory. He is a young player who looks to have the potential to become a dangerous power hitter as he continues to get even stronger, and already has a strong angular build.
2015 shortstop and righthanded pitcher Zack Kesterson (New Hartford, N.Y.) was a player who stood out in his final at-bat of a game that started late in the 11:30 am time slot and got additional scouting attention after Team Northwest wrapped up their 12-0 victory. Kesterson got under a ball, towering a high fly ball to the middle infield, but it hung in the air for exactly six seconds, and he hustled out of the box and nearly got to second on the pop-up. Defensively he works through the baseball very cleanly and is a player we will keep an eye on as the tournament progresses.
2014 lefthander George Faue (Corcoran, Minn.) and 2014 righthanded pitcher and outfielder Josh Buamgart (Sioux Falls, S.D.) combined on a complete game shutout of one of the pre-tourney favorites, GBG Marucci Navy. Faue is a 6-foot-4 lefty with a funky delivery and big sink on a low-80s fastball and he frustrated a GBG lineup that is loaded with high ranked prospects for six shutout innings. Baumgart came in to finish the job and preserve the tie in a 0-0 game after showing solid bat speed as the Minnesota Blizzard's designated hitter for the first six innings. He then took the mound and spotted his 87-89 mph fastball to the bottom corners with good sink and backed it with a solid 78 mph changeup and sweeping 76 mph curveball from a long, loose arm action.
2015 infielder/outfielder Brendan Davis (Lakewood, Calif.) was the only player to collect multiple hits in the 0-0 pitcher's duel between GBG Marucci Navy and the Minnesota Blizzard Black. Davis went 2-for-3 with a hard hit ball to both the pull and opposite sides of the field. The ball he pulled to left registered at 90 mph off the bat, and he has significant room to fill in his thin lanky frame and already shows very good bat speed.
Since it's impossible to watch every game with up to 15 fields in use at one time, it is impossible to cover every game. But there were several performances that created a buzz around the Camelback Ranch complex, the spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.
2014 righthander Drew Weston (San Marcos, Calif.) impressed in a 2-0 win over ABD Texas. He topped out at 89 mph and was said to be throwing from a low-effort delivery and has a body that projects well. The Cal State Northridge commit allowed just one walk and four hits while striking out five over six innings.
Watson came out ahead, but 2014 righthander B.J. Myers (Flower Mound, Texas) pitched very well in the losing effort. He topped out at 89 with his fastball and continued to show advanced feel of all three of his pitches. Myers threw 50 of his 69 pitches for strikes (74.6 percent) in the follow up to a great performance to knock the loaded Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Chandler team out of the playoffs at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. back in October.
2018 righthanded pitcher and shortstop Mason Englert (Forney, Texas) made a big impression in his PG debut, topping out at 84 with a short arm action and an advanced curveball up to 72. He struck out five in two shutout innings. We look forward to following his progress over the next five years.
2017 first baseman and lefthanded pitcher Jace Chamberlain (Visalia, Calif.) was another very young player who stood out in his PG debut, touching 85 mph, striking out six in his two innings of work and crushing a triple to the fence in left center.
2015 right handed pitcher BJ Moen (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) impressed in his PG debut by striking out eight in his three shutout innings, topping out at 89 mph.