Over the next three days David Rawnsley, Frankie Piliere and Jheremy Brown 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
spent three game slots waiting for the theme of the day to develop at
the Indians quad and was finally rewarded during the fourth slot,
along with a cadre of college coaches who had hung out at the same
location since the morning.
reality of college recruiting is that most of the top 2014 players
are verbally committed well before late September. The signing
deadline is the second week of November, little more than six weeks
away. But there are always players who have slipped through the
cracks or have just improved. The coaches are looking for those
players, often for specific needs in their programs.
uncommitted seniors started games during the final 6 pm time slot and
could have significantly changed their college options.
first was San Diego Show third baseman and right handed pitcher David
Hensley. Hensley has attended the past two Sunshine West
showcases but has not pitched at either, although he did pick up a
8.5 PG grade at the 2013 Sunshine West as a third baseman. However,
at 6-foot-5, 175-pounds, Hensley has the look of a righthanded
pitcher all the way. He threw a complete game five-hitter in a five
inning run-rule shortened 10-0 victory over the Colorado Travelers,
allowing only two hits, walking none and striking out 12 hitters.
Hensley pitched in the 85-88 mph range from a low effort delivery
with a loose, fluid arm action. He frequently mixed in a 77-80 mph
slider that had close to curveball depth at times to give him a
second pitch that can get upper level hitters out right now. It was
an impressive overall performance.
asked the Show coach afterwards what might account for Hensley not
having a college commitment yet and he said it very well could be his
splitting time between third base and pitching, with more of an
emphasis on playing the position and hitting.
the case, he’s clearly a solid Division I pitching prospect for me.
other senior mound standout was ABD Bulldogs righthander Grant
Wilhelm, who threw four innings in a must-win game for the
playoffs against a very talented Arizona Athletics 18U team that
featured many D-I college commits in their lineup. Wilhelm went the
first four innings, allowing two hits and an unearned run while
striking out four and putting ABD in position to advance to the
playoffs with a hard fought 3-1 win in one of the best pool play
games I saw this weekend.
has what one coach called “Zack Greinke mechanics,” with a high
arm circle in back and a cross body high three-quarters release that
creates severe angle to the plate. Wilhelm pitched steadily in the
86-88 mph range and the ball seemed to get on hitters, especially
righthanded hitters, very quickly. His best secondary pitch was a
nice changeup with ideal arm speed and he also mixed in a couple of
was the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Wilhelm’s first ever outing at a
Perfect Game/WWBA tournament, although he did pitch at the 2012
California Underclass Showcase, receiving an 8.5 PG grade.
had the opportunity to talk to Mike Wilhelm, Grant’s father, after
the game and asked the same question I had of the San Diego Show
coach about Hensley. He answered that it was probably due to Grant
not really being very exposed yet; he attends a small high school
(Laguna Beach High School) and until recently hadn’t been playing
for a scout team or for a travel ball organization, but that things
were starting to pick up.
would suspect things would start picking up very quickly in the near
catcher Ryan Oberg of the AZ Athletics and Sunnyside High
School in Phoenix is another uncommitted senior who looks to be a
definite college level player. He has a strong 6-foot, 200-pound
build and was especially talented behind the plate, with a solid line
drive stroke from the right side.
pitcher Alex Hernandez was also outstanding for the Bulldogs
in the 3-1 win over the AZ Athletics, needing only 39 pitches to
complete the final three innings in shutout fashion. He pitched in
the 83-86 mph range with a big breaking curveball. He is also an
first baseman Shane Potter, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound lefthanded
hitter who is both presently strong and still very projectable
physically, blasted an absolute monster of a home run (the only one
hit in pool play at the Indians quad) that left Field 6 in a hurry
and hit over half way up the big screen in right field that protects
the parking lot.
Select Red is nominally the second of the two Iowa Select programs
but they are in the playoffs and Iowa Select Black is not after the
Red’s 6-0 win over the San Gabriel Valley Arsenal, one of the top
travel ball organizations from Southern California. I watched much
of this game and have to say that I have rarely seen a team execute
more consistently throughout a must-win game at this level than Iowa
Select Red did through seven complete innings. Of course, it was
made easier because of a masterful performance by lefthanded pitcher
Ben Nelson, who threw a three-hit shutout, using only 98
pitches to strike out 12 hitters without issuing a walk. Nelson
pitched in the 78-81 mph range but liberally used both a cutter and a
changeup to get the ball moving in different directions, along with
an occasional big breaking curveball. He was in complete command the
West Coast Clippers went 3-0 in pool play and look like a candidate
to bring home the hardware on Monday if they have enough pitching.
Their starting lineup is very solid. San Diego State commit Matt
Wezniak has a strong lefthanded swing and impressed on the mound,
topping out at 84 mph from the left side as well. Cal State
Northridge commit and centerfielder Justin Toerner looks on
the slender side at a listed 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, but blasted a
pair of doubles and a triple yesterday and could have had a couple of
home runs if the games weren’t being played on Major League fields.
Catcher Chandler Wagoner is an Oklahoma commit who squares up
everything at the plate and does a very good job receiving and
most interesting pitcher I saw on the Clippers was slender 6-foot-1,
170-pound senior righthander Ty Connor. Connor threw five
shutout innings against a scrappy Team Avenue Aces squad in a 4-0
win, allowing only one hit, no walks while punching out seven
hitters. He threw his fastball almost exclusively, topping out at 84
mph, except that his fastball was actually a cutter that bordered on
slider depth at times. Given his very young build and the fact that
he’s pounding the strike zone with 84 mph breaking balls, it’s
very easy to see his spot on a college pitching staff.
had a long look at Watsonville Aggies shortstop Kobie Foppe,
an Arizona State commit, and came away very impressed. He’s a very
high energy player with plus speed on the bases – 4.17 best home to
first from the right side, frequently steals bases at will – and
some strength in his righthanded swing. He has some work to so to
stay at shortstop defensively but is athletic and fast and the motor
stands out. First baseman Alex Ellison and 2015 outfielder
Tyler Williams had very good days for the Aggies as well, with
Williams showing a very sound hitting approach that resulted in many
hard hit balls to the middle and opposite fields.
– Jheremy Brown
of the more impressive swings of the day belongs to Kekai Rios,
a 2015 catcher from Kaneohe, Hawaii. In his first at-bat of the game,
Rios, who swings a quick, fluid bat with strength in his swing, hit a
ball over the wall in left-centerfield for one of the first home runs
at the Reds complex.The exit speed of the ball on the home run was 95
mph, followed up by a hard line drive double down the left field line
in his next at-bat, coming off at 92 mph. His third at-bat may have
been his best one, finding himself down in a two-strike count with
the tying run was on second base with two outs. The pitcher tried to
sneak a curveball by him on the outer half, trying to get Rios to
swing over the top of it or roll it over. Rather, he sat back on it
nicely and put it through the right side hole for a single, bringing
in the tying run.
in California good players are somewhat overlooked due to the depth
of talent. 2014 righthander Connor Stotz is one of those
players, who last night showed that colleges need to take a look at
him this spring. With a 6-foot-2, 180-pound athletic frame, Stotz
threw a complete game three-hitter, striking out nine batters.
Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, Stotz pumped his
fastball up to 88 in the early going and maintained his velocity well
throughout the game, still sitting 85-86 in the last couple innings.
With a quick arm with good arm-side run on fastball, he also showed a
feel for a sharp curveball at 76 mph, along with a change and slider.
Rosario continued to hit the ball well, smoking a hard double
down the left field line in his first at-bat. He's quick on his feet
and is a good runner along with a strong arm, Rosario may eventually
move to left field to let his athleticism play.
Another glove change occurred yesterday for Chay
Toson, who started the game as a lefthanded center fielder before
moving back to second base, righthanded of course.
seen CBA Marucci play a handful of times this summer I’ve been able
to get a feel for the players on the team, including Chris Betts,
who played first base in the first game, giving him a short break
from behind the plate. In his first at-bat Betts showed his strength,
lining a hard single through the right side, coming off the bat at 94
mph. He then came in to close out the game, throwing the final
inning, something I haven’t seen from Betts before. Whether from
stretch or windup, Betts sat 88-89 mph with his fastball, topping at
90, and he also broke two bats in the process. He throws relatively
easy, with a long arm action – something you might not expect from
a catcher – and gets downhill action.
Allen put his strong defensive tools back on display, rounding a
chopper up the middle, gathering well, and making a strong throw
across the infield. He runs well for his size, getting down the line
at 4.44 seconds. He also had a nice day at the plate, with two hard
hit balls, one of which was a double to the right-centerfield gap.
apologies go out to Ian Manzo of the Colorado Travelers, a
2014 righthander from Manitou Springs, Colo., who threw in the first
day of the tournament. I had notes on him, but for some reason I
didn’t put them in the Day 1 report. With a short arm action and
three-quarters slot, Manzo throws easy and is able to generate
downhill plane on his fastball, which topped 87 mph and sat at 84-86
mph. His slider is a very good high-spinning, tight breaking ball
with 10-to-4 shape, and his changeup showed good fade at 76 mph.
With square-shouldered, lean frame, Manzo offers plenty of
projectability and should see his velocity jump as he continues to
add strength and gain experience.
Select Black split the two games they played yesterday at the Reds
complex. Starting the second game was University of North Carolina
commit Mitch Keller, a righthanded pitcher who is a veteran of
nine Perfect Game showcases, throwing well each time. His fastball
topped out at 90 mph, sitting at 85-88 mph with an 11-to-5 curveball
that was clocked as high as 70 mph. He has a loose arm and throws
from a high three-quarters slot with the ability to repeat his
delivery while pounding the strike zone. Overall, Keller threw a
complete game three-hitter, striking out four.
Dogs Baseball, a California based team, sent projectable 6-foot-2
righthander Jeremiah Wylie to the mound in their first game.
Using a slow, steady tempo delivery, Wylie throws from a whippy, low
three-quarters arm slot and topped at 86 mph with his fastball, which
has good run. His slider shows late break, although from his arm
slot, he tends to get around the pitch and pull it across.
Schilling is Mad Dogs' starting shortstop and plays the position
well, with fluid defensive actions and a very strong arm across the
infield with minimal effort.
Little, a 2016 righthander who plays for Bishop Gorman High
School in the spring, started the game for On Deck Baseball Academy.
With a strong, young frame that has projection for more, Little
touched 88 mph in the first and sat 84-87. He has both a changeup at
70-71 mph and a true splitter at 74 mph, which falls off the table
with late break. He slows up his arm a little on his 12-to-6
curveball, but for a 2016 to have a feel for four pitches, of which
he throws for strikes, it is certainly worth taking note of.
Taylor Fajardo is on deck, you can hear him. Not because he’s
loud or anything like that, but because of his swings. He is able to
generate excellent bat speed and you can hear the barrel through the
zone. Given his bat speed to go along and his strong, 6-foot-3 frame,
Fajardo has the ability to hit the ball a long way when squared up.
Blake Perkins is the leadoff hitter for the PB Outlaws and he runs
well. That speed plays well in center field, as does his arm
strength. With a man on second base, and a fly ball to center, the
runner attempted to tag up, but Perkins delivered a strike to third
base, online and in the air, to record the assist.
Cal Bombers brought in Gabriel Llanes, listed as a primary
shortstop who I noted for having a strong arm at third when he played
there, showed the same arm strength on the mound. With long limbs and
a high waist, the Fresno State commit pretty much sat 88 mph with his
fastball, occasionally “dropping” to 87 mph, and flashed arm-side
run at times. He has a quick arm and throws from a three-quarters
slot, and with his frame – which is about 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2, not
5-foot-10 as listed on his team's roster – he gets downhill well.
His slider sits in the upper-70s with good break, and he has a feel
for a 75 mph changeup.
Trejo, who Frankie mentioned in yesterday’s Day 1 recap,
continued to show well with the bat. A San Diego State commit, Trejo
has the ability to consistently barrel up the ball with a quick bat
and some leverage.
Lillie did an excellent job in relief during the Bombers first
game, coming in with the bases loaded and two outs and his team
already chasing a couple runs. Lillie threw four fastballs,
82-85-85-84 mph, striking out the batter and escaping the jam. Lillie
ended up going 6 1/3 innings, as he came into the game in the top of
the first, and topped at 87 mph, striking out eight.
defending champions of the tournament, the Trombly Nighthawks have a
loaded roster and are looking to repeat heading into the playoffs
today. With numerous bats that can do damage, including PG
All-American D.J. Peters and UCLA commit Josh Morgan,
the Nighthawks got a strong pitching performance from Joey
Deceglie, an uncommitted 2014 lefthander from Los Osos
High School. He pounded the strike zone and repeated his delivery
well. With a quick arm from a three-quarters slot, Deceglie worked
his fastball at 84-85 mph while keeping it low in the zone. His
changeup might be his best off-speed pitch, with good arm-side fade
at 76 mph. His curveball shows short break and he has nice feel for a
cutter at 79 mph. He might not have big velocity, but he is a lefty
with a feel for four pitches, throws strikes, and spots up well.
Mardirosian has smooth, athletic actions at second base, despite
being listed as a primary outfielder. Using an aggressive approach,
Mardirosian keeps his hands in on his swing and has the ability to
drive the ball opposite way.
Mota has a strong frame and a quick bat, lining a pitch back up
the middle for a single that registered 95 mph off the bat. He is
committed to San Diego State.
teams based out of Tucson, one the Tucson Cowboys and the other the
Tucson Bobcats, each sent a strong armed righthanded pitcher to the
mound on Saturday.
Bobcats sent uncommitted 2014 Luis Gamez to the mound and he
showed well during his time on the mound. His fastball topped out at
91 mph in the early going, showing very good, hard cutting action.
With broad shoulders, long limbs, and room to fill out, Gamez has a
quick arm and gets good extension on his pitches. Working exclusively
from the stretch, as Gamez tired his fastball began to straighten
out, but was still touching 88 mph. He throws from an over-the-top
slot and is able to get 12-to-6 break on his curveball, which he
needs to work on maintaining his arm speed.
righthander Javier Medina
started the game for the Tucson Cowboys, throwing from an easy,
three-quarters arm slot. When he is throwing in a game, it looks
effortless, like he is just warming up, which reminds me off how
easily Luis Ortiz throws in games. Medina threw six innings, striking
out two with a fastball that topped out at 86 mph. His curveball
shows good break at 74 mph, and his changeup, which topped at 73, has
good arm-side fade showing a very strong feel for the pitch. With how
easy he throws, it’s easy to believe the reports of even higher
velocity from Medina.
Peoria Sports Complex
– Frankie Piliere
what was somewhat quiet early morning of arms, it was 2015
righthander Nathan Madden with the So Cal Birds that stood
out. The Huntington Beach native got the start for the Birds and
showed high quality stuff and projectability. Although he did
encounter some command issues, Madden displayed a very fast arm and a
lively 82-84 mph fastball, reaching as high as 85. His velocity plays
up a little bit, looking a few ticks better than that present
velocity. He also has confidence in two breaking balls, a slider and
curveball. His slider shows late, tight rotation and he did a good
job of locating it for the most part. If he can command his fastball
more consistently, he can be highly effective, and figures to add
more velocity to his fastball.
you were looking for another projectable righthander with some time
to develop, you could also find Craig Colen, a 2015 graduate
from San Francisco on Field 3 on the Padres’ side of the Peoria
complex. Colen’s body type stands out immediately, a tall and lean
build that is going to get stronger in the next couple years. The
Lamorinda Monarchs hurler was a strike throwing machine on Saturday,
attacking with an 82-85 mph fastball that he was able to keep down in
the strike zone. He also mixed in and spotted a sharp 11-to-5
curveball mostly around 71-72 mph. His arm works very clean and is
another arm that should continue to improve with added strength.
as things seemed to quiet down at the end of the first round of games
in Peoria on Saturday, Garrett Hutson took the mound for the
Midwest Warducks. The righthander, a 2015 grad, came in pumping an
89-91 mph fastball, reaching as high as 92. He threw only 14 pitches,
but each one of them was impressive. Hutson threw just one curveball
but it was sharp with 11-to-5 action at 75 mph. He tried mixing in a
changeup, and it has the potential to be a solid pitch for him.
and bystanders of all kinds gathered around Field 6 on the Mariners
to see another two-way star, Alex Verdugo, for Prospects
National Team, as they took on Foothills Dawgs Baseball. I’ll of
course get to Verdugo in a moment, but it was Alberta, Canada native
Matt Lloyd that ended up opening some eyes for the Dawgs. He
stood out not just on the mound, as he made the start for the Dawgs,
but also at the plate. He drove the ball well to left field in his
first at-bat and showed good carry. On the mound, he worked at 86-88
mph and had a highly effective changeup. His fastball dipped just a
little later in the game, ending up at 84-87 mph, but overall he
maintained his stuff very well. He’s an athletic two-way player
that really further established himself with a strong showing on both
sides of the ball on Saturday.
Lloyd for Prospects National was righty Tyler Giovanoni, a
two-way talent from Schertz, Texas. The 2014 grade is an imposing
figure on the mound, with his durable 6-foot-4 frame. And, he has the
firm fastball to match. He worked at 85-87 mph early in his outing,
mixing in a short, late-breaking curveball every now and then. He
also shows potential at the plate, and he lists himself as a primary
Alamo, brother of PG National alum and Cubs’ prospect Tyler
Alamo, established himself on Saturday as one of the more impressive
overall bats I’ve seen this weekend in Peoria. He looks the part at
the plate, standing at a very legitimate, 6-foot-2, 210-pounds. In
other words, he’s a very physically mature, strong player for a
2015 graduate. He has an outstanding up the middle, opposite field
approach and can hit in that direction with easy power. And, despite
his size and power, he still keeps his swing compact and balanced. He
uses his lower half well and it makes everything he does look very
effortless at the plate.
of the more projectable hitters that caught my eye on Saturday was
Garrett Brockel. In the Placentia Mustangs afternoon contest,
Brockel took an outside pitch and drove it with a significant amount
of carry, which was fairly surprising considering his tall but young
frame. He has a balanced, controlled swing with good extension. He
got around the bases very well also. His at-bats overall on Saturday
were some of the best I’ve seen this weekend, as Brockel is a 2015
that I’ll be interested to see more of in the future. It should be
noted that he and Alamo attend the same high school in California
Placentia Mustangs had a number of plays that stood out on Saturday,
and Tyler Radcliffe was yet another one. He worked at 84-86
mph with his fastball from a high arm slot, and he kept his delivery
balanced and controlled, attacking the zone consistently with his
fastball. He also flashed a sharp 68-71 mph curveball with 11-to-5
bite that he didn’t use a lot, but was effective with it when he
a good reason that Gerard Hernandez is ranked No. 122 in the
2014 high school class, and he showed that on Saturday afternoon. He
showed some of the best bat speed of the weekend during Saturday’s
action, bat speed that in his first at-bat produced a 95 mph line
drive right at the shortstop. The lefty swinging Phoenix, Ariz.
native has a good opposite field approach and stays very short to the
ball. His offensive game appears to have taken a step forward from
June when he attended the PG National Showcase. And, although he
ended up running into an out, I liked his aggression on bases on
Saturday as he tried to take an extra base on a ground ball through
the hole on the right side.
kept on rolling in his second game of the day, lining what appeared
to be hanging breaking ball into right field for a single. He does a
superb job of keeping his hands back. And, those hands have a lot of
strength in them.
teammate, heralded two-way prospect Alex Verdugo, got into the act
offensively in their team’s second game of the day, smacking a long
opposite field double into the gap. I had noticed Verdugo’s
willingness to go the other way in his first game, but in this game
he began to square the ball up better.
Lewis showed off a dynamic skill-set in ABD Nevada’s two
Saturday games, collecting three triples over two games. He hit the
ball hard all day, but his difference-making speed going from first
to third made those triples possible. He’ll be an interesting bat
to follow the rest of this weekend.
seen better velocity from Prospects National lefty Justin Farrar
in the past (up to 88 mph at the PG National) but his pitchability
still stood out. He was able to locate his fastball effectively at
82-84 mph. Pitching aggressively with his fastball, he used his
curveball sparingly, but when he did it flashed depth at 68-72 mph.
Kyle Dohy was a guy that when I first spotted from the tower had some
traits that make you want to take a closer look. He has an extra easy
arm action, and delivery overall, and the ball comes out of his hand
nice and easy. He reached 87 mph early in his outing, but worked
mostly at 81-86 mph, and there’s a lot more velocity in the tank.
He also showed a nice feel for his 11-to-5 curveball at 71 mph. His
extension out front was impressive, and his body is projectable
enough to believe he’ll continue to add ticks to his fastball.
Budrovich was another in the line of solid lefties in the late
afternoon games in Peoria. The 2014 grad worked mostly at 83-85 mph
with his fastball for the CBA Warriors, mixing in a good fading
changing going away from righthanded batters.
seen Clay Pittman before, most notably over the winter at the
Pitcher/Catcher Indoor event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And, as it has
before, Pittman’s bat stood out. Playing So Cal NTT, Pittman
collected four hits in as many plate appearances against AZ Pro 2014
on Saturday afternoon. He shows above average bat speed and good
Carranza took the mound in one of
the final games of the day on the Padres’ side of the Peoria Sports
Complex, and he showed improvement from his Sunshine West Showcase
appearance a few months back. Carranza worked at 82-86 mph with his
fastball, showing late life through the zone. He varied the speed of
his breaking ball, but mostly snapped it off between 71-74 mph. He’s
a 2015 arm that at 6-foot-3, 165-pounds, is highly projectable and
needs to be followed closely.