If you thought the Junior Arizona Fall Classic was loaded and included a ton of video coverage, the senior version likely blew you away.
Always one of the premier, destination events of the baseball calendar with outstanding, MLB Spring Training fields as its setting, the Arizona Fall Classic once again delivered with a tremendous amount of talent from all over. And in our first year as an official partner with the AZFC, Five Tool was back in the Phoenix area to capture as much of the action as reasonably possible during the senior event. We’re going to look at some of the standout players from the final weekend of the AZFC; I say “some” because it’s impossible to list all of them so make sure you find the AZFC coverage at FiveTool.org.
(All prospects mentioned are in the 2024 class and uncommitted unless otherwise noted.)
The list of pitchers who grabbed our attention is seemingly endless and this would turn into War and Peace if I listed all of them. Let’s start with the Academic Showcase Game with Bryson Schelp (Davis High School; California).
In addition to a lively fastball with noticeable tilt/natural arm side run, Schelp flashed a dynamic splitter that aggressively danced towards home plate and looked like a future weapon. The righty’s breaking ball, a two-plane curveball, complimented his fastball and splitter well with its slight break the opposite direction towards his glove side. Yorba Linda (California) right-hander Aiden Alvarez caught my eye as well. Around 6-1 and skinny, Alvarez should fill out some in the future and some added strength will improve an already good, low-effort operation on the mound. He easily creates hand/arm speed with a clean arm, good shoulder rotation and showed one of the better sliders that we saw – a short, tight, bat-missing offering that complimented his easy fastball, which played up, well. Alvarez showed a lot of strike-throwing traits and is an obvious candidate to make a jump in the future.
A similar right-hander because of his thin frame with some length, Scotts Valley (California) prospect Corbin Giesen struck out eight of the 15 batters he faced with a dominant two-pitch mix of fastball up to 86 MPH and slider up to 77 MPH. While the velocity might not be as notable as some other senior pitchers, Giesen’s delivery showed a lot of areas he could tweak to become more efficient and utilize his arm speed and shoulder flexibility better. Sam Kretsch, a skinny, projectable righty from Junipero Serra in California, fired his fastball up to 90 MPH and flashed one of the best breaking balls – a short, tight, true slider that looked like the type of pitch Kretsch could lean on at the next level successfully. Hawaii prospect and right-hander Kory Chu attacked hitters with a unique look – a sidearm slot that featured a low release height and a horizontal release point towards third base that hitters aren’t used to seeing. With a fastball up to 89 MPH and a slider that played well out of his slot, Chu was impressive once again. Sticking in Hawaii, Team Hawaii Gold's Elias Pereira made hard, loud contact multiple times and has become noticeably more physical since we saw him in the 2022 Hawaii Sandlot Classic.
Among the most impressive uncommitted right-handed pitchers in the event was Joseph Norris. Recently, Norris, who is from Los Angeles, California, re-classified from the 2023 class to the 2024 class and is training at Combine Academy in North Carolina as a post-grad prospect. While Norris’ fastball was notable with its peak velocity at 92 MPH and glove side command, the most impressive aspect of his performance was his feel for spinning two distinct breaking balls and also being able to throw multiple pitches for a strike. Norris, who struck out 12 of 20 batters and issued zero walks, was able to routinely hammer the outer corner against righties thanks in part to opening up early on the mound right before foot plant. Given the present strength and the velocity already, it would be a surprise if Norris’ stuff doesn’t continue to tick up this year.
How about a Five Tool Academic team member bringing some heat? Pearce right-handed pitcher Degan Kubat was up to 91 MPH and struck out five of 15 batters. From a low three-quarters slot Kubat occasionally creates some natural arm side run and is able to execute his 73-76 MPH slider with feel for a changeup, too. Catching Kubat was two-time Five Tool Academic Team selection and Friendswood catcher Ayden Pearcy. For the second year in a row, Pearcy hammered extra-base hits all over the park and brought his infectious personality and baseball makeup to each game. A very strong right-handed hitter with a compact frame, Pearcy is going to again be a key member of the Friendswood lineup this upcoming season. It wasn't a surprise to see Rayner Heinrich named Player of the Game during one of the Five Tool Academic team's games.
Big, imposing right-hander Winston Peterson, who lists himself at 6-8, 240 pounds and boasts a 4.4 GPA and 32 ACT, presented a very intriguing look on the mound. Up to 88 MPH with a lively four-seamer that appeared to attack hitters with some carry and extra giddy-up through the zone, Peterson looked like he’s a candidate to throw really hard in the future with a chance to either be a power arm as a starter or a leverage reliever that can air it out for a couple innings. For a young player of his size, the Village Christian School (California) product moved well on the mound and generally gets his body into good positions during his delivery. He also releases the baseball lower than hitters would anticipate from a 6-8 frame and gets downhill with some extension, too. Intriguing pitcher who showed some notable upside and struck out four with no hits.
It didn’t take long to figure out why Loyola Marymount already secured a commitment from left-hander Johny Casale (Brophy College Prep; Arizona). Against a good lineup, Casale struck out seven of the 10 batters he faced with a promising three-pitch mix. He moved his fastball, which was up to 89 MPH, around the zone, used a big, 69-73 MPH curveball with depth and also flashed a bat-missing changeup that will neutralize righties at the next level. New Mexico commitment and Waxahachie prospect Beck Sullivan delivered an entertaining look on the mound because his fastball really jumps out of his hand and often dances towards home plate with a lot of natural life – sometimes sink and sometimes cut. Exciting upside.
On the hitting side, it’s tough to have a better game than Darin Osterloh did. A Chaparral (California) prospect, Osterloh mashed two homers in the same game. The right-handed hitter did a good job of leveraging his short-armed, compact and strong frame. He swung a heavy barrel with good feel for making impact contact and pulling the baseball with authority.
Jacob Freer showed one of my favorite left-handed swings and was a standout for the AZFC Senior Academic Team. He was able to efficiently get the barrel to and through the baseball and create some loud impact multiple times, which included a deep homer to right field. His feel for making contact and balanced approach to timing pitches and transferring energy should make him one of the top hitters in Washington this upcoming season.
Zach Doyle’s short, direct swing and repeatable approach with impressive hand-eye coordination made him one of the better left-handed hitters we saw. At 5-10, 170 pounds, he wasn’t the home run threat of some other standout hitters, but make no mistake, he was a constant threat to drill extra-base hits into the gaps and can turn on mistakes to pull them out, too. There wasn’t a lot of whiff in his hitting profile, and I doubt there will be in the future because of the way he controlled the bat, tracked pitches and made quality contact easily.
I fully admit I didn’t know a thing about Michal Šindelka prior to his homer, but the 2025 prospect from the Czech Republic looked like a legit, major prospect even if I am basing that off a very limited look. He was physically impressive, had a good right-handed swing and had surprising hitting feel considering his home country. Playing for MLB World Select, this 6-2 outfielder looked like he has a definite future in baseball.
I can’t imagine there being a better player who participated in the Senior Arizona Fall Classic than Tennessee commitment Ty Southisene. Everywhere Southisene goes, you can depend on him to hit, make highlight plays defensively, force the action on the bases, impact winning and play hard. He always plays hard. Always. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see the twitchy athlete smack extra-base hits, make sensational web gems and fly around the bases because that’s who he is.
The best pitcher? Sandia (New Mexico) right-hander Zach Kmatz touched 94 MPH and was again dominant in front of Five Tool during his short outing, but 2024 Saguaro (Arizona) lefty Cam Caminiti was extremely impressive. In what looked like a stroll in the park for the LSU commitment, Caminiti easily fired fastballs up to 93 MPH and showed a strong four-pitch mix. He punched out four of the five batters he faced. An impressive athlete, the very talented lefty, who is also a two-way standout, showed an improved delivery and is consistently doing a good job of gathering on his back leg.
Ponderosa (California) right-handed hitting infielder Bryce Robinette stood out during the AABC Don Mattingly World Series and his performance at the Arizona Fall Classic proved what we saw in the summer wasn’t a fluke. He can hit. And he can also create some surprising pop despite being 5-10, 175 pounds. In addition to blasting a bomb way out to left field, Robinette showed his athleticism and wheels when he smacked an inside-the-park homer, too. Among the most consistent hitters we saw, Robinette refuses to give away at-bats and competes very well.
Peyton Adams was among the most productive hitters in the event. A 5-9 shortstop with a loose, athletic frame and actions, Adams (Cooper Hills; Utah) earned multiple Player of the Game honors for his performance and smacked hard base hits to all parts of the field; his spray chart would have been a beautiful thing. Speaking of guys who collected a ton of hits, Wyatt Miyamoto (Benicia) finished with nine hits in four games. He did an excellent job of staying within himself in the batter’s box and jumping on mistakes when he could while also spoiling tougher pitches with his calm, consistent approach and bat-to-ball ability. Mountain Pointe (Arizona) right-handed hitting middle infielder Cole Rogers had one of the biggest swings we saw when he drilled a grand slam; it was especially impressive because he was forced to keep his hands and weight back against an offspeed pitch and despite not getting his best swing off he used a heavy barrel to drive the ball out. Rogers’ hands in the batter’s box were fun to watch and he often created the type of barrel feel and path that led to extra-base threat.