Blue Jays Scout Team Scout Notes

 

DALLAS – Dallas Baptist, on a gorgeous fall Texas night perfect for baseball, hosted some of the top high school talent in Texas when the Blue Jays Scout Team played Panola College Wednesday in an exhibition game. The Blue Jays Scout Team aimed to build a roster of some of the premier high school players in North Texas and it delivered. Some thoughts, notes and more from the Blue Jays’ victory:

 

After falling behind 3-0 early despite some loud contact in the batter’s box during the early innings, the young Blue Jays didn’t blink. Instead, they started smacking the ball over the fence after watching hard contact find gloves during the early innings. Prosper catcher and 2022 Oklahoma commitment Easton Carmichael put his team on the scoreboard when he drilled a homer into the left field bullpen. Future Red River rival and Aledo standout outfielder Max Belyeu followed with a solo homer of his own. Quickly, the Blue Jays grabbed control of the game and didn’t look back. 

 

Speaking of Belyeu, the physical left-handed hitting outfielder was the most impressive player in uniform Wednesday night. After missing time with a broken rib this summer, Belyeu, listed at 6-1, 195, made up for lost at-bats by smashing a hard liner up the middle his first plate appearance before hitting a sinking liner that cleared the right field wall his next at-bat. 

 

With a compact, strong build that features functional strength and some athleticism, Belyeu unleashes a confident, pretty, quick left-handed stroke with noticeable rotation and leverage. Presently, his power might play with more rockets gap-to-gap with some topspin than towering bombs, but make no mistake, the No. 14 player in the Five Tool 55 can impact the baseball and more power is coming. 

 

Known for his bat, Belyeu showed his arm off when he nailed a runner at home from left field, which led to a bigger celebration than his homer. I suppose when you hit as many tanks as he does, the outfield assists come less frequently. Also, as my colleague Drew Bishop noted during the final at-bat of the game, Belyeu made it down the line in 4.44 seconds on a routine ground ball despite the game’s outcome already being decided. It was obvious last night Belyeu needs to be strongly considered as the best outfielder in Texas and perhaps the best bat in the state. 

 

As for Carmichael, he possesses a build that looks more like a middle infielder with some noticeable growth potential through the chest and some length compared to the type of compact, strong catcher builds we’re used to seeing. And his right-handed swing features some of that athleticism too with a good feel for timing fastballs. 

After being beaten by a fastball early in his first at-bat, Carmichael made the adjustment to put a barrel on one later in the at-bat only to watch it find a glove. Later, he timed one so well that no one could catch it except pitchers in the Panola bullpen. Carmichael uses a legkick to time and create separation before showcasing some impressive bat speed through a short, powerful finish. Some spin got the best of him later in the game, but the swing and physical projection suggest Carmichael is undoubtedly one of the best catchers in Texas. 

 

The Blue Jays finished the game with a bang, literally, thanks to Jayson Jones. Well, he wasn’t the only one creating loud noises. Nearby, a Dallas Baptist school pep rally included what sounded like cannonballs from the set of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. No one was harmed during the pep rally, but it’s possible some of the state’s finest baseball minds in the scouts’ section needed a new pair of pants on the way back home after some unpredictable explosions. 

Anyway, Jones, who possesses some of the most raw power in the state, got way ahead in the count and timed an upper 80’s fastball, which resulted in a missile being hit over the wall in dead-center. Jones, who singled his first at-bat and popped out and walked in another, is most dangerous when he works ahead in the count and can sit dead-red on fastballs; his swing and timing mechanism are like a rubber band being slowly and rhythmically stretched before being unleashed with maximum speed, and in this case, torque. During this process, Jones’ head can sometimes move too much, leading to a swing that can get offline with more of a “sent it to the moon in batting practice” swing as opposed to a natural one seeking contact. But when he times heaters and finds his rhythm, look out because he can make the ball jump like no one else in the 2022 class. 

 

With the glove, Jones was impressive. He’s definitely a corner infielder in the future despite playing some shortstop currently. Regardless, he plays on the dirt with confident, good defensive actions and a strong arm that’s probably plus. Jones made a play from the hole in short that required going to the turf to make the stop before firing a one-hopper across the diamond to end the inning. Like many of his Blue Jays teammates, Jones looks like a guy who finds joy being anywhere on the diamond and wants to be a part of the action. 

 

MORE NOTES:
— Jett Williams just missed a homer to deep right-center his first at-bat before hitting a sky-high fly out to center field and walking twice later. The No. 1 player in the Five Tool 55, Williams showcased the bat, pitch recognition, timing and approach that led to him turning more heads than anyone in a Texas roster at Area Code. Each time Williams’ bat was on the move, the Rockwall-Heath product made contact, which included spoiling some two-strike spin, fouling a fastball straight back and tattooing a breaking ball just foul down the left field line. 

 

Williams started the game at shortstop for the Blue Jays and in his limited opportunities and brief reps during in-and-out, he looked like a player capable of sticking there with a slow heartbeat, reminiscent of his approach in the box, and plus arm to accompany confident hands and quick transfers. Given his short-area quickness and instincts, Williams’ lack of length/size shouldn’t be too big of an issue when it comes to range. 

 

— While we’re on the subject of talented and exciting infielders, consider me a fan of Coppell 2023 infielder TJ Pompey. The Texas Tech infielder, listed at 6-3, 170 pounds, moved athletically around the diamond with a loose, athletic build that strongly suggests physical projection. While his right-handed swing looked a little raw during a limited batting practice round, Pompey stepped into the box and made hard contact against live bullets and didn’t look at all overmatched. 

 

But the glove is the fun part. Pompey, who also touched 88 MPH off the mound, showed some clean, confident actions defensively and made a really nice play deep in the hole at shortstop look easy to record a force out, allowing his pitcher to escape a jam. As we begin our work on the 2023 Five Tool 55, it’s obvious Pompey will be considered one of the top shortstops in the state. 

 

— Fellow 2023 classmates Mac Rose, David Heefner and Barrett Kent didn’t look out of place with some of the top 2022 players in the state and a quality junior college program. Rose is a do-it-all baseball junkie who jumped in at catcher and swung the bat with some impressive strength. 

 

On the mound, Kent touched 91 MPH and his fastball sat 86-89 MPH. The tall right-hander, with plenty of room to fill out through the lower half, showed intriguing feel for a 78-79 MPH changeup with fade and some control to his glove-side of a 82-83 MPH cutter. At times, Kent showed his youth when his size and moving parts led to his delivery being offline and his fastball control getting away from him, which isn’t at all uncommon for young arms with his build. That said, Kent looked like a major 2023 right-handed arm to follow who should compete as one of the top in the state for his class. 

 

— Overall, it was a fairly quiet day on the mound for the Blue Jays scout team. Texas Tech commit and lefty Dante Cano tossed just one inning and touched 88 MPH with an inconsistent breaking ball. Jared Thomas was asked to pitch after Cano didn’t come back out for his second inning and entertainingly, after entering the game cold, fired 79-84 MPH fastballs towards home plate and also showed his pitchability, making him an actual two-way threat if he makes it to college. Make no mistake, Thomas is a big-time hitter all the way at the next level and also looks like he could be a plus defender at first base. 

 

Future Longhorn and current Highland Park lefty Collin Valentine looks like he and a college strength program are going to get along great because he has noticeable projection remaining to compliment some present feel for control, command and spin. Big righthander Braedyn Cunningham, committed to Houston, touched 88 MPH and showed a 75 MPH curve he was able to throw for strikes. With a short arm action, his delivery somewhat reminded me of current pro Corey Kluber. 

 

Dominick Reid showed his velocity gains late in the summer were definitely real and touched 92 MPH while sitting 88-90 MPH with above average spin on his four-seamer. He showed just a couple hooks, but they flashed depth and knee-buckling spin. Reid, committed to Oklahoma State, does have some length present in the back of his arm action, but his loose, athletic arm and build work out front to deliver some heat and intent off the mound. There’s more to come on the mound for this righty. 

 

— UT Arlington appears to have landed a gem in left-handed hitting infielder Ryan Black, an athletic, confident competitor who made contact at a high rate in the batter’s box. Wichita State commitment Xander McAfee had a very strong summer in Five Tool events and made loud contact his first at-bat. A very projectable athlete, McAfee did swing-and-miss some later in the exhibition but remains a candidate to flourish and develop in college.

TCU commitment Jake Duer showed an intriguing left-handed swing with length. Cedar Hill outfielder and Oklahoma commit Tavion Vaughns turned his bat speed into hard contact during two plate appearances and intriguing 6-5, uncommitted outfielder Jordan Shepherd hit a loud line drive single after drilling a liner at an outfielder earlier in the game when he feasted on a hanging changeup.

 

Check out the Five Tool Baseball Podcast to hear more discussion following Wednesday’s Blue Jays Scout Team game.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

Drew Bishop contributed to this report

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