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Tournaments : : Story
PG EvoShield Underclass Day 2
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013

Over the next three days David Rawnsley and Jheremy Brown will be providing their observations from the first three (of four) days at the 2013 PG EvoShield Underclass National Championship. The event is being held at two prominent baseball complexes/spring training sites, Camelback Ranch (Dodgers and White Sox spring training) and Goodyear Ballpark (Reds and Indians).




Camelback Ranch
– David Rawnsley

The Colton Nighthawks 2015s are a very talented group of big athletes but one player who I especially noticed on Friday during their first game was 2016 righthander Reggie Lawson, who was DHing that game. He is 6-foot-2, 190-pounds with an eye catching combination of youth, strength and looseness. I made a mental note that I had to be at the field when he pitched, as the Nighthawks were staying at Camelback Ranch during all of pool play. That was a good decision, as Lawson may have been the best prospect to come through the White Sox or Dodgers fields during the two days. He threw five shutout innings in the final game Saturday to help the Nighthawks clinch a playoff berth. Lawson was mostly 86-88 mph from an over the top arm slot with incredible downhill angle to the plate. He also threw a respectable low-70s curveball and filled up the strike zone, throwing 71-percent of his pitches for strikes and only 65 pitches in five innings. The most noteworthy thing from a scouting perspective is that he was doing this with virtually no use of his lower half, just pivoting, taking a short stride and powering his long, loose arm downhill. His back leg virtually stayed over the rubber and hardly rotated. He could probably be throwing low-90s right now with a couple of well thought out adjustments. Lawson also plays with a youthful enthusiasm that you have to love, although the Nighthawks second baseman may disagree after being run over by Lawson in pursuit of a pop up that turned into a double play.

Shortstop Alejo Lopez plays for Foothills Dawgs Baseball, which is based out of Calgary, Alberta, and has a verbal commitment to the University of Arizona. That in and of itself is an unusual combination. A little investigating into Lopez’ background revealed that he is the son of a prominent Mexican businessman with connections in Canada but who is attending Greenway High School in Phoenix this year. He’s a very impressive young player with surprising power for his size offensively and lots of flair and tools on defense. I wasn’t sure if I’d seen Lopez play before so I looked him up in the PG database and found I’d written a report on him from the 2012 PG National Underclass Showcase-Session 1. In retrospect it was a pretty good report, although I would bump his grade up from an 8.5 to a 9 now having seen him in game action.

Here is that report:

Alejo Lopez is a 2014 MIF with a 5-8 160 lb. frame from Okotoks, AB who attends Holy Trinity HS. Medium athletic build with some present strength. Switch-hitter with similar swings and tools, bit more bat speed left handed, good hitting balance with a fluid, tension free swing, hits under control, short swing with surprising strength, has some power especially from the left side. 6.87 runner, quick feet and hands on defense, smooth and balanced to the ball, quick release with solid arm strength, good overall actions. Has all the tools to play at the next level.

I suspect that the West Coast Mariners are one of the best teams that didn’t make the 16 team playoffs, a thought I’m confident they share as well. They had an outstanding pitching staff and that was shown out in their 2-1 loss to GBG Marucci White Saturday morning. They started lefthander Sage Diehm from Nampa, Idaho and Diehm was very solid for two innings, pitching in the 84-86 mph range from a sound delivery with a mid-70s hammer that could end up being a plus pitch for him, especially if he used it a bit more frequently. They then brought in righthander Jacob Bennett from Tualatin, Ore. for the next two innings and Bennett quickly became one of my favorite pitchers I saw at Camelback Ranch during pool play. He’s a 6-foot-5, 185-pound righty with good looseness and a fast, projectable arm. Bennett pitched in the 85-87 mph range and split his pitches 50/50 between fastballs and a 79-81 mph true slider that was nasty at times and thrown with very good mechanics for the pitch. It’s very easy to see Bennett with a low-90s fastball and mid-80s slider combination in the future.

Third baseman
Parker Kelly threw the final two innings in quick and efficient fashion, topping out at 85 mph. Shortstop Anders Green stood out among the position players for the Mariners this game. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound switch-hitter made a couple of nice charging plays on defense, showing balanced actions and the ability to throw on the run, and had a couple of base hits, including a double.
 

Another team that probably thinks they are worthy of a playoff spot is GBG Marucci White, which lost a 4-1 decision to pool champions Slammers Holzemer Saturday morning but outscored their other two opponents 25-0. PG Scouting Director Greg Sabers was at that game over on the Dodgers side and made the following comments afterwards:

Slammers Holzemer: 2016 righthander Bo Weiss, the son of Rockies manager Walt Weiss, was 81-84 with his fastball and around 71 with his breaking ball while throwing four shutout innings. His arm works very well and he really projects. 2016 catcher Maverick Handley is a very solid all-around prospect, with bat speed and a strong arm and polished defensive skills. Outfielders Wyatt Featherstone and Quin Cotton, as well as shortstop Aaron Dammer, all members of the 2016 class, also stood out for their bats and overall potential.

GBG Marucci White: 2016 shortstop Will Proctor is going to be a very good player, he can play shortstop and is really going to hit. 2016 shortstop Zack Chan is a nice all around player. Third baseman Matt McGeagh showed very good bat speed and projects as a hitter.

I had the chance to see Gravel Baseball play three times in two days and they are a fun group to watch play, as they are both athletically talented and play with lots of energy. Outfielder Chris Botsoe has really left an impression on me with his explosive speed and quick righthanded swing. He’s fast on a home to first and base-stealing situations, but when he puts on the jets going first to third or home to second, he’s flying.

A couple of more notes on Gravel players:

There were a large contingent of college coaches gathered to watch righthander Grant Sloan pitch and he responded with a quick, easy three innings of work, striking out six and only throwing 44 pitches, 31 for strikes. Sloan topped out at 87 mph with a curveball that reached 76 mph.

A pitcher who probably left a very favorable impression with the college coaches was lefthander Austin Morales, who came into a close game during the final time slot with Gravel behind Trosky Baseball in the fourth inning and fighting for a playoff spot. Morales dominated the final 3 2/3 innings, striking out seven without allowing a hit, and gave his team time to come back for a 7-2 win. Morales is a slender, loose 6-foot, 160-pound southpaw with a deceptive delivery and a fastball that touched 86 mph to go with a big-breaking 71 mph curveball.

During their morning game, Gravel had one of the more interesting “athletic” innings you’ll see a team have. Star second baseman Ako Thomas lined what appeared to be a routine double down the left field line, but when the ball hugged the left field fence in foul ground and the left fielder couldn’t pin in down, Thomas sprinted around the bases for what I would have ruled an inside the park home run. The next hitter, 6-foot-3, 197-pound first baseman Malik Carpenter, walked, and when a catcher’s attempted pickoff throw rolled along the right field fence in much the same way, Carpenter showed outstanding speed in scoring all the way from first base as well.

Lefthanded pitcher and outfielder Terrance Robertson stepped up two batters later and basically said “You guys can run around in this 103 degree heat all you want, I’m not,” and blasted a home run over the right field fence for an easier trot around the bases.

LCC Wreckers 2016 righthanded pitcher and outfielder Julian McDonald is a very interesting athlete who needs to be followed at both positions. He has a loose and athletic 6-foot, 165-pound build that looks bigger than that and could well project out to 6-foot-3, 195 in a couple of years. He only threw one inning in relief during pool play but I happened to see it and he topped out at 85 mph from a low three-quarters arm slot that will cause hitters problems. He made a couple of nice defensive plays in right field Saturday when I bore down on him harder and showed strength in his lefthanded swing.

Yesterday I highlighted a 2016 righthander from the ASD Bulldogs named Bradley Spooner as an example of why at an Underclass tournament you aren’t always looking for velocity and/or present stuff as a scout. That projection of the whole package is so important. A pair of 6-foot-4 left handers fit the same bill today.

2016 lefthander Shaun Little from the CBA Warriors is 6-foot-4, 185-pounds and has a young look but some present physical strength. He throws from a very slow paced and balanced delivery with a low effort release and a loose, smooth arm action. He threw 4 1/3 shutout innings against the Minnesota Starz, topping out at 80 mph. It’s just a matter of time before he’s at least mid-80s from the left side.

2017 lefthander Cameron VanHoorebeke of Chandler Baseball takes the projection even a step further. Van Hoorebeke is listed at 6-foot-4, 160-pounds and might not weigh that much – he certainly hasn’t started even thinking about getting strong yet. But his arm works very nicely and he topped out at 78 mph even with his lack of strength. A couple of years of hard work, good diet and good health by both young men and scouts and college coaches will be flocking to see them.


Goodyear Ballpark

– Jheremy Brown

The first game of the day that I got to watch involved the CBA Marucci 2016 team out of California. Based off of Perfect Game's initial top 100 rankings for the 2016 class, six players on their roster are amongst those 100, with five of them in attendance this weekend (outfielder Blake Rutherford is also a standout wide receiver).

Nick Allen
is a 2017 grad with a very young build, but don't let that fool you as his defensive actions play well above his years. The game comes easy to him in the infield, with quick footwork and reads the ball well, getting around it and working through the ball. And, despite his size, he shows good arm strength across the diamond which will certainly continue to get stronger with maturity.

Blake Sabol
is the younger brother of former PG All-American Stefan Sabol and is very much a prospect in his own right. With a long, lean and athletic frame, Sabol shows good extension from the left side with present strength. In the game I watched he went with an outside pitch, lining it to left-centerfield for a double. Unlike some players his age who would attempt to pull an outside pitch and roll over it, Sabol stayed on the pitch and barreled it up well. And even though his next three at-bats won't pop out in the box score or stat column, they were still telling. Facing a mid- to upper-80s righthanded pitcher, Sabol stayed in there without intimidation and fouled the ball straight back twice, just missing the ball. In his final at-bat, facing the same pitcher, he just missed the pitch, getting it more towards the end of the bat for a deep fly out to right-centerfield.

Starting the game for CBA was 2017 Charles Nies, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound righthanded pitcher. Throwing from an over-the-top arm slot, Nies was able to bump his fastball up to 82 mph with softer 11-too-5 break on his curveball at 67 mph. He does project well, given how young he is and how broad and square his shoulders are.

Defensively at first base Cameron Jabara was very sound, making three nice diving plays on the three balls hit his way. Two were to his right and one was to his left. On the two that were to his right there was a runner on, in which he sprung back to his feet delivering a strike to second base, nailing the runner once.

Griffen Herrera
is one of the six players in the top 100 for 2016 and he showed why when he jumped all over a hanging slider for a stand-up double. Already showing good strength with leverage in his swing, Herrera is certainly a bat to keep an eye on in the upcoming years.

Brendon Davis
is a highly regarded prospect in the 2015 class and is playing for GBG Marucci Navy this weekend. At the plate he shows a very quick bat with quick hands, and he gets his hips through the zone very well. There is some length in his swing now, but his bat speed and pitch recognition are two very strong attributes in his offensive game. Already 6-foot-4, Davis will continue to see power develop in his swing as he fills out his 160-pound frame over the next two summers.

In the two innings that he was behind the plate, Ryan Fineman played very well. His two pop times in between innings were 1.93 and 1.94, and he also showed good receiving skills, moving fluidly, and he stuck the ball well when he caught it. He's not afraid to block the ball either, moving well laterally and keeping his chest to the ball to knock it down. With a strong, mature frame, he also shows promise swinging the bat and batting in the cleanup spot for GBG. Like Davis above, Fineman shows good bat speed and he has present power with loud contact when barreled up.

The Oklahoma Fuel 16u sent out a 2016 lefthanded pitcher, Benjamin Crabtree, in relief that stands out at 6-foor-5, 180-pounds. He topped out at 78 mph, but with long limbs, a slender frame, and a quick arm, he projects for more velocity. His mechanics need some adjustments with the biggest being the incorporation of his lower half to drive to the plate, but he is a 2016 pitcher that has a feel for three pitches. His fastball shows good arm-side run, and has a feel for both a 1-to-7 curveball and a changeup.

As promised I went and saw Shane Martinez again and he continued showed off his defensive tools. He is so fluid with such easy quick-twitch, athletic actions it's hard not to notice him play shortstop. His first throw of the day did get away from him, but this is partially due to him not setting his feet and rushing. Rushing is something he doesn't have to do because of how quickly he transfers the ball, and he has plenty of arm strength across the diamond, which allows him time to set feet and deliver a strike.

Playing at the same complex and the same time slot as Martinez and the Playa Vista Orioles was the San Diego Show Blue. Getting a more extensive look at Mickey Moniak allowed me to see his ability to hit to all fields, hitting a double to left-centerfield in his first at-bat of the day, before pulling a single through the right side in his second trip. His instincts on the bases allow him to swipe bags with ease.

Batting in the three hole for the Show is 2017 third baseman and shortstop Ben Rameriz, who doesn't look like a player that has been in high school for only a couple of weeks. A lefthanded hitter with bat speed and leverage, Ramirez made solid contact for a line drive single and gave a glimpse of what we will see for the next four years. He also spent some time at shortstop and was able to see him make one play, where he was very smooth and showed good arm strength across the infield.

Starting on the mound and throwing a complete game for the Show was Kyle Hurt, a 2017 righthander. His fastball topped at 82 mph in the early going before settling in to the 79-80 mph range. Throwing from a low three-quarters arm slot, Hurt shows a loose, whippy arm and gets some arm-side run on his fastball. 

Team Oklahoma played in the last time slot and rewarded the college coaches that stuck around to watch one of the final games of pool play. Getting things going early for the Oklahoma offense was Blake Brewster, a University of Oklahoma commit who Jeff Dahn profiled at the Junior National Showcase, smoking a line drive to right-centerfield, registering 91 mph off the bat. In centerfield Brewster got good reads on fly balls and used his speed to camp under balls hit his way.

Jackson Goddard
is a very interesting 2015 righthanded pitcher that needs to be followed closely. Working exclusively from the stretch, Goddard pounds the strike zone, throwing from a three-quarters arm slot. His fastball topped at 88 mph, sitting 85-87 with hard arm-side run at time, especially low in the zone. The ball leaves his hand easily and a lot of his velocity come from how quick his arm is along with his arm strength, as there isn't much lower half used in his delivery. With the incorporation of lower half he will be able to generate more leverage and get even better downhill plane than he currently does. Goddard throws both a slider at 70 mph and has a feel for a nice changeup at 73 mph with good fade and dip.

Catching Goddard was Jonathan Davis, a lefthanded hitting catcher from the 2015 class. In between innings he popped at 2.07 and in-game was 2.03 when throwing out a would-be base-stealer. He has sound throwing mechanics and shows an accurate arm with good strength. He had no problem handling velocity, receiving the ball well, and he blocked balls in the dirt with relative ease.

In their second game of the day, SACSN National won big and got contributions from everybody in the lineup. William Guay threw a four inning no-hitter for SACSN, striking out eight and walking two. With a big, strong frame, Guay throws from a three-quarters arm slot with an easy arm action, topping out at 84 mph, sitting low-80s throughout his time on the bump.

I really like what Danny Casals does defensively at shortstop, exhibiting ease and grace, showing quick feet with a strong arm across the diamond. He plays with confidence and shows soft, sure hands. At the plate he hit a line drive single and was able to show off his speed again, this time on the basepaths.

Kyle Dean
is a well-built 2015 outfielder from San Diego, Calif. who attends Poway High School. He collected two doubles in the game, both hard hit balls past the third base bag, one on the ground, one line drive. The combination of his strength, bat speed, and leverage makes it easy to envision Dean hitting the ball a long way whenever he steps up to the plate.

Speaking of hitting the ball a long way, Daz Cameron did just that, sitting back on a pitch and hit it about 350 feet over the left field fence. It's well documented what Cameron can do with the bat, especially when he gets to swing it after walking four times in two games yesterday.

A primary lefthanded pitcher who threw very well in their first game of the day, Max Wotell has impressed me with his athleticism and just how well he runs the bases. He can swing the bat a little bit too, knocking out a triple to left-centerfield from the right side.

The West Coast Mariners continued to roll out quality arms, this time in the form of lefthanded pitcher Sage Diehm (listed above), who David was also able to see earlier in the day. The Idaho native topped out at 84 mph and throws from an easy, loose arm and gets good angle on his pitches. The ball leaves his hand easily and shows good life low in the zone. Diehm's fastball shows some arm-side run and he has a strong feel for his low-70s curveball with sharp break. I was told he recently committed to the University of North Carolina and is something we will need to look into.
David Irvine, a catcher and University of Washington commit, displayed sound defensive tools and a quick bat from the left side. He also has a high baseball IQ and a strong approach in the box. For example, he stepped up to the plate with a runner on third with one out. Rather than going up there swinging freely, Irvine was looking for something he could pull to the right side, and he did just that, grounding out to second base and driving in the run for his team.



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