Where MLB scouts, college coaches, and top high school prospects meet.
player profile search
Dustin's Deep Drives (3/23/23)

I'm emptying the notebook this week after seeing over 40 games. After publishing lengthy, in-depth reports on Sinton, Westlake, Lake Travis and Rockwall, these next reports will be more concise because the in-person looks were often just a single game. 


Games seen: (3/7 vs. Vista Ridge)

Any report that features a pitcher who threw 100 MPH has to put that report first. It’s a rule. Travis Sykora came out of the gates firing. Literally. As nearly 20 radar guns pointed his direction, Sykora’s first pitch against Vista Ridge registered 100 MPH. He proceeded to toss 4.0 shutout innings and gave up just one hit with five strikeouts. 

As crazy as this might sound, Sykora’s slider was more impressive than his heater, which settled in at 94-98 MPH and created some whiffs with some natural arm side run up in the zone against right-handers. Vista Ridge hitters geared up for the fastball and didn't have as much issue making contact as you'd expect against premium velocity. As for the breaking ball, it was the best I’ve seen from Sykora, which includes a strong showing at Area Code. Up to 87 MPH with true slider shape, the breaking pitch created several very ugly whiffs and was even thrown over the plate earlier in counts for a strike. 

The combination of shape, control, command and execution made it a breaking ball that routinely flashed plus and might project in the future as a plus-plus pitch. Yes, it was that good. Sykora threw one changeup at 86 MPH that resulted in a swinging strikeout. In the past, he’s thrown a true forkball, but this pitch looked more like a firm changeup with some late tumble.  As Sykora continues to build up his workload and pitch deeper into games, he becomes even more intriguing for professional evaluators because he’ll be able to give them a true look of what he looks like with a starting pitcher’s workload. 

We covered some of these players in a previous edition of Dustin’s Deep Drives, but a few are worth mentioning again. Junior shortstop and DBU commitment Hudson Ellis continued to show he’s more than just a good defender - he’s performing with the bat and can move well. With a blazing 3.83 seconds down the line on a bunt, junior Connor DiGesulado, a left-handed hitter, impacted the game with his athleticism, aggressiveness and speed. He also pulled a hard RBI single against Vista Ridge. Keep an eye on senior Cole Cravens. The second catcher used after Sykora’s outing because Braeden Best can best handle Sykora’s heat, Cravens is a big, loose athlete who popped a 1.89 time and ran from home to first in 4.20 seconds on a bunt (right-handed hitter). He looks like a hidden gem for Texas Lutheran. 


Games seen: (2/21 vs. Clark)

Like clockwork, Reagan will again be a candidate to play for a state championship. It doesn’t rebuild. It reloads. And Reagan’s march towards another great season begins with Pittsburgh signee Aidan Coleman on the mound. Across 6.0 innings, an impressive length considering it was late February, Coleman gave up just one earned run and competed very well. 

He touched 93 MPH with his fastball early and settled in at 90-92 MPH early and 86-88 MPH in the middle innings with the ability to reach back for 88 MPH in the sixth inning. The heater had hints of some natural life and induced some swings and misses up in the zone. At times, Coleman lost his timing on the mound, but I was impressed with his ability to eventually adjust and get back in the groove to complete six efficient innings. 

At the next level, Coleman’s two breaking balls should be able to frustrate college hitters immediately. He threw a sharp curveball with true shape and spin up to 2500 RPM and his slider also showed shape true to its name, racking up some whiffs down and away from righties. Coleman also showed a changeup should be a future average or better pitch. From a side view the righty, with a frame that reminded me of Sonny Gray, showed a very quick arm with good hand finish through his pitches. 

Catching Coleman was uncommitted senior Andrew Ermis. The son of St. Mary’s University head coach Chris Ermis, Andrew really impressed me with his work behind the dish. The physical right-handed hitter has a strong, accurate arm with receiving skill and impressive agility. At the plate, he packs a powerful punch with some bat speed and pull-side power. Obviously, he’ll have an opportunity to play at St. Mary’s, but any JUCO program in the region should take a close look. He could help from day one. Speaking of catchers, Reagan is loaded at the position because Caden Roy in the 2024 class, who was playing first base this game, hits in the middle of the Reagan order and was one of my favorite catch-and-throw prospects from the summer. 

Ashton Beaird is a gamer heading to New Mexico Junior College. He came through in the clutch with a big two-RBI single and plays with a slow, calm heartbeat at shortstop, too. Brennan Greer (St. Mary’s University signee) is a true two-way talent with intrigue both as a hitter and pitcher. Keep an eye on 2024 prospect Michael Yzaguirre. He came off the bench in this game and immediately showed notable bat speed and a swing worth betting on from the right side. Don’t be surprised if he blows up this summer or later this season. Ryland Rangel, also in the 2024 class, played third base well and showed a big arm, which translated to an impressive outing on the mound with a fastball up to 85 MPH. 

In the 2025 class, athletic outfielder Kaleb Rogers looked like a future D1 prospect. He broke up Clark’s combined no-hitter with a hard double into the right-center gap and later added a RBI single when he pulled a hard grounder down the third base line. I didn’t get to see him pitch, but he has a quick, loose outfield arm that likely translates to a good fastball on the mound with interesting projection. 


Games seen: (2/21 vs. Reagan)

On a 70-pitch limit early in the season, Jake Neely showcased some of the best pure stuff I’ve seen in the 2024 class. Currently uncommitted, Neely touched 95 MPH with an explosive heater and sat 90-94 MPH with no dip in velocity. Unfortunately for hitters, Neely’s arm path includes a bit of deception, allowing his fastball to play up when it comes out of his hand the right way. Neely featured a knuckle-curve, a unique offering from high school pitchers because it’s more difficult to throw and throw properly. When thrown correctly, it’s a low-spin breaking ball, but moves towards home with overhand-type shape and gives a similar appearance to a traditional, higher spin hook. 

Neely, who appeared to be around 6-4 and 210 pounds with a good frame, also showcased a true slider up to 81 MPH and an inconsistent 77 MPH changeup. During 2.2 innings, every out he recorded came via strikeout; he also walked four batters and didn’t give up a hit. As he progresses this season and gains more reps, I expect Neely’s strike-throwing to improve. Early in the season, it appeared he was at times focusing too much on getting a pitch to have the exact shape he wanted as opposed to pitching freely without thinking about perfection. Although he’s undoubtedly a pitcher at the next level, Neely showed some power with the bat by hammering a solo homer off Coleman. 

TCU commitment Jacob Silva, the younger brother of current TCU freshman shortstop Anthony Silva, didn’t even look like the same player I saw in the summer. He was noticeably more physical and clearly put a lot of time into his offseason workouts; a growth spurt helped, too. The added strength showed in his ability to impact the baseball off the bat. After seeing him again, I’m even more optimistic about his long-term outlook as a hitter and he’ll put the work in to improve behind the dish. 

Uncommitted seniors Leo Carden and Eli Castanon took quality, competitive at-bats and had some bright moments defensively. Freshman right-hander Ethan Keller looked like a future sinker-slider pitcher to keep an eye on with a lively fastball around 80-83 MPH.


Games seen: (2/23 vs. Rockwall, 2/23 vs. Alamo Heights, 3/10 vs. Sinton)

Dripping Springs could be a major pain in the you-know-what for district opponents with a rotation of sophomores Taylor Tracey (Tennessee) and Cooper Rummel (Texas). My look at both was early in the season as they were building up for bigger pitch counts and district starts. Tracey is clearly one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the nation for his class and showed a fastball up to 89 MPH, changeup that’s a future difference-maker with short drop at 80 MPH and a curveball with short, almost slider-like break at 71-73 MPH. 

A good athlete at 6-5 who glides around center field with ease when he isn’t pitching, Tracey should continue to naturally add velocity and his athleticism and feel for pitching strongly suggest he’s going to possess a good blend of control and command. With the bat, the right-handed hitter drilled a home run out to left-center field in one game I saw and broke up Braeden Brown’s (Sinton) no-hitter by hammering a double to the right field fence. He’s a pitcher at the next level, but he would be one of the best prospects in 2025 even if he were just a hitter. 

As for Cooper Rummel, he’s more of a pure power pitcher than Tracey, who has more pitchability. A strong, very physical right-hander, Rummel is already getting his fastball into the low 90s and it can routinely beat hitters when it’s in the strike zone. My look against a loaded Rockwall lineup included some early-season control issues. As Rummel matures, he’ll likely harness his stuff and long arm action better to keep his stuff in the zone more consistently. When he’s on, he can overpower a lineup with a strong two-pitch mix. 

Sign me up as a fan of 2025 infielder Conner Helms. In one game I saw, he blasted a homer to left-center field and his swing creates some late hand separation before he unleashes it through the zone. He has well-rounded, interesting tools across the board, including notable athleticism and speed. Although he dropped a sky-high fly ball in a key situation late in a game against Sinton, I saw him make several routine or tough plays at third base or shortstop. With his projection and current skill set, I think he’s bound to be a D1 prospect. 

Dripping Springs’ infield is strong defensively when Jaxon Conover is at shortstop. An undersized but quick 2024 prospect, Conover made a couple of highlight-reel plays with the leather against Sinton. Left-handed hitter and 2024 prospect Theo Howard gives Dripping Springs even more athleticism, ran down the line in 4.10 seconds on a bunt and came through with a clutch, game-tying single against Sinton to force extra innings. 

Recent Temple College commitment Mason Ashlock gets into the batter’s box and unleashes dangerous bat speed and can create loud exit velocity. He’s a bat-first corner infielder, but he could provide some legitimate extra-base pop at the next level. 


- Alamo Heights shortstop Jackson Duffin, currently uncommitted, stands out defensively each time I see him play. The game comes easy to him on defense and he has impressive quickness, range, and a quick transfer to allow his arm to play up. Any JUCO program looking for a shortstop should put Alamo Heights on the list. He’s routinely put the ball in play when I’ve seen him hit and is tough to strike out. Parks Zunker (2024 middle infielder) and Harrison Sobey (2023 do-it-all player) routinely stand out with their at-bats, too.

Teammate Bruno Robles stood out on the mound when I saw Alamo Heights during a scrimmage, and he was solid with the bat when I saw the Mules again during the Hill Country Classic. Behind the plate, Robles is unafraid to showcase his strong arm and caught a runner stealing. He’s a 2024 Incarnate Word commitment. 

- Hutto slugger and Texas Tech signee Garet Boehm mashed a game-tying, seventh-inning homer with two outs against Rockwall and remains one of my favorite power hitters in the state. The third base prospect also has a plus infield arm, and while he never gets cheated in the box, he typically chooses good pitches to swing at. Teammate Aidon Alvarez, an uncommitted senior, hit two very hard singles, hits cleanup, and was 80-83 MPH on the mound with a right-handed changeup that induced whiffs. 

Leadoff hitter and recent Blinn commitment Zyon Hamilton plays with noticeable baseball athleticism and has a compact, strong frame. The Blinn staff is clearly doing its homework. I liked junior third baseman Aiden Pollard’s swing from the right side; good path to the baseball with vertical approach. 

- We’ve covered Smithson Valley at length already, but it was good to see Jackson Elizondo on the mound against Sinton. Once the Baylor signee started cooking on the mound, he punched out five-straight batters with an explosive fastball up to 90 MPH. Hitters don’t see the ball well out of Elizondo’s hand, likely a result of short arms and a path that creates some deception. The lefty also used a 73-76 MPH curveball, and a cutter he’s been working on at 83-86 MPH. In 5.0 innings he gave up one run on two hits, four walks and struck out nine. 

One of the strongest and most athletic pitchers in the state, I remain convinced Elizondo’s strike-throwing will improve at the next level with mechanical tweaks and improved timing because he maintains a steady head in his delivery with impressive leg strength.

It was a really quiet night for Smithson Valley against Sinton lefty Jaquae Stewart, but MJ Espinoza and David De Hoyos took the best swings of the game; De Hoyos was robbed of an extra-base hit by a great play. 

- New Braunfels 2025 catcher and Texas A&M commitment Clayton Namken certainly looks the part of a major prospect. The physical right-handed hitter looked like a future SEC linebacker and punishes baseballs with a quick, low-maintenance swing. Defensively, he moved with agility and is an impressive athlete. 

Matthew Netardus did what few have been able to do this season - keep the Austin Westlake lineup quiet. A tall, skinny lefty, Netardus routinely beat Westlake with an 80-83 MPH fastball that punched above its weight class because of its deception and he created some angle with command to both sides of the plate. But the star of the show was one of the best curveballs I’ve seen in 2023. It checked all the boxes and baffled Westlake hitters in any count. With big, true overhand shape and spin, the 68-71 MPH offering dropped in the zone for strikes early in counts and started towards the middle of the plate before falling off the table in deeper counts. Yes, the velocity readings for the fastball will hold some colleges back, but he can pitch. Someone will benefit by taking a chance on him.

Five Tool Academic alum Ryder Rutledge came through with the big knock to give New Braunfels the win. A good athlete who can really run, Rutledge manned center field, hit near the top of the lineup and remains one of the most interesting, uncommitted 2024 outfielders in Texas. 

- New Braunfels Canyon is a competitive, deep, veteran-led team that is unsurprisingly off to a very good start to the season. When a player like Centenary signee Tripp Villanueva hits towards the bottom of the order, you know it’s a good lineup. Because the stocky, athletic second baseman has really swung the bat well when I’ve seen the Cougars. Isaac Yruetagoyena (Texas A&M - Kingsville) provides a physical, strong presence in the middle of the lineup and valuable catching skill. Evan Janner (UTRGV signee) puts together quality at-bats from the left side at a very impressive rate and has the skill and frame to compete immediately at the next level. 

By chance, I saw uncommitted senior Sam Ortiz pitch twice. And each time I watched a very competitive right-hander refuse to give in and attack hitters fearlessly. A good athlete who was excellent coming off the mound to defend against bunts, Ortiz’s fastball was up to 85 MPH and sat around 82-84 MPH deep into starts. His changeup created a lot of uncomfortable swings and takes with a lot of arm side fade; his overhand curveball could tighten up to improve its shape, but was capable of being thrown early in counts for strikes. An uncommitted prospect who is also a two-way talent, Ortiz would bring quality skill and makeup to a college program. 

Junior Deuce Adams is likely going to be a standout quarterback in the future, but I did watch him hammer a hard line drive single. He has interesting tools and physical projection. Blinn signee Will Canalichio is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but that doesn’t prevent him from showing a promising, quick, short swing that can do damage. At 6-4, 210 pounds, he’s likely a middle-of-the-order first baseman at the next level and hopefully his recovery goes well. 

- My second look at Vista Ridge was against Sykora and Round Rock. So, there weren’t many hits for the Rangers. The only one against Sykora came courtesy of sophomore shortstop Ethan Sanders, a good athlete the coaching staff is very high on. He smacked a 97 MPH fastball hard into right field for a single. Every time I watch Jake Wagoner I marvel at the job Seattle University did to secure his commitment over a year ago; he’s one of the best catch-and-throw prospects in the state. 

- Coppell’s TJ Pompey smashed a moon shot home run at Westlake during the Hill Country Classic and also struck the ball well in two other at-bats. Defensively, he smoothly completed the plays that came his way, makes tagging runners at second base look cool, and has one of the best infield arms in the nation. The focus of scouts in attendance and sure to attract them in all his games in the future, Pompey’s ability to cut down on whiffs and get to his pull side power will be the likely focus of professional evaluators. 

I came away a huge fan of Wichita State commitment and right-handed hitter Michael Russell. A twitchy athlete with ballplayer vibes on both sides of the ball, Russell made hard contact more consistently than anyone else in the lineup. He has more than enough skill and athleticism to stick in the middle of the diamond. Liam Krauss, an uncommitted senior catcher, stood out with his catch-and-throw ability. He caught Brayden Randle stealing, a rare feat. He doesn’t lack competitiveness and looked solid in the batter’s box with a couple of clutch knocks. Matthew Welsh, another uncommitted senior, can absolutely fly and is a good, quick-twitch athlete that played center field well. Grayson signee Andrew Schultz carried himself with a good presence in the batter’s box and could be a middle-of-the-order bat at the next level. He’s a physical left-handed hitter. UTSA signee Tanner Sever smoked a hard two-RBI double and showed UTSA continues to do its homework on the recruiting trail. 

- The installment of Katy and Tompkins I attended was a low-scoring duel, as expected. UTSA signee Lucas Moore was up to 90 MPH for Katy and showcased his usual swing-and-miss changeup with a high-spin curveball. His control was uncharacteristically a tad off, and his defense forced him to labor through some innings. But his stuff played well in the zone, creating a high rate of whiffs. He handed the ball to Cole Kaase, who touched 91 MPH with a fastball that showcased some explosive traits up in the zone. Kaase, an imposing figure on the mound, used an inconsistent slider, but when he threw it with conviction and more velocity, it flashed as a better pitch with bat-missing qualities. The big righty also showed a changeup at 78 MPH. Kaase, who is heading to Texas Tech, is a candidate to throw much harder in the future and a more consistent breaking ball could do wonders. 

I think Houston Christian Ty Dagley profiles best as a hitter and outfielder at the next level, but he gave Tompkins some quality innings on the mound and really competes well in everything he does. Cooper Markle took the best swings of anyone in the lineup and impressed with his athleticism and bat speed. It was a quiet night for talented seniors Drew Markle and Landon West but seniors Darius Woodson and Ivan Gomez helped pick up the slack with clutch hits and defense. At the top of the order, uncommitted senior Aryan Chopra set the tone for Tompkins with competitive at-bats. St. Thomas signee and right-hander Kaden Bertrand entered a jam to earn the save.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor