I’m a fool. I went to Brenham and left without any Blue Bell. But I did go to Brenham and see some quality left-handed arms and a lot of homers. Kind of sounds like a Holiday Inn commercial. Anyway, the Brenham/Montgomery Tournament treated me to hours of entertaining baseball and a trip to the Katy area afforded me an opportunity to see a couple Five Tool 55 members and a future stud in the 2025 class. Let’s get to it:

Lake Creek vs. Episcopal

FIREMAN’S PARK (BRENHAM) – Unlike the previous week, this time I went to an early game I didn’t see snowflakes. What’s better than non-freezing temperatures? Pleasant temperatures accompanying a classic park and a 9:30 a.m. first pitch featuring one of the state’s top senior left-handed pitchers. Texas A&M signee Shane Sdao started for Lake Creek against Episcopal and ended up throwing a complete game (5.0 innings) shutout thanks to his offense providing 10 runs. Uncommitted junior Samson Pugh had five RBI – three-run bomb and two-RBI double to center field – before everyone’s coffee kicked in. More on him later.

Despite tossing a shortened shutout, I’ve seen Sdao throw better, which speaks to why he’s a Five Tool 55 member who attracted a few scouts that early morning in Brenham. Sdao came out firing his four-seam fastball 87-89 MPH and that didn’t really change the duration of his appearance; his fastball dipped to more 85-87 MPH later, but the 88 and 89s kept reappearing occasionally (including the fifth inning). The pitch continues to play above its velocity thanks in part to some deception in the delivery.

(By the way, Sdao can swing it, too. He smoked a couple of balls to the wall in center field.)

Even though he didn’t have his best stuff, the lefty, as usual, competed very well and challenged Episcopal hitters to hit his fastball. A favorite thing of mine about Sdao is he’s unmistakably skinny, but he pitches like he’s a fearless, 230-pound fireballer. Sdao showed some glimpses of fastball command to his arm-side and up-and-down the latter. His changeup, a future plus offering, remains a weapon and he tossed it 78-80 MPH with fastball arm speed and conviction and very late fade.

Interestingly, Sdao threw his curveball much more often than his changeup. And it remains a work in progress. The shape and break of the pitch remain inconsistent and it was thrown anywhere from 70-75 MPH. At the next level, Sdao will probably re-work the breaking ball and I still think the way his arm works he could benefit from throwing a slider, especially one he could use as a backfoot offering to righties to accompany that devastating changeup. Regardless, Sdao is poised to throw a lot of excellent, competitive innings for a very strong Lake Creek club and remains a pitcher scouts are likely to track the rest of the season.

Lake Creek leadoff hitter and senior second baseman Jaron Lyness helped set the tone for the team and ended the game by making a tough play up the middle at second base look easy. A Tyler Junior College signee, Lyness hammered the ball twice from the left side and ran 4.28 down the line. He looks like he’ll immediately make an impact at the JUCO level.

Another player who looked like he can really run is sophomore Sam Lee. A recent Arkansas commitment, Lee aggressively covered a lot of ground defensively in center field and looks like he could develop into an above-average or better defender at the premium spot. Lee’s standout football ability shows in his athleticism, strength and explosive movements on the diamond. The right-handed hitter looks like he could pack the type of similar all-around impressive skill set as current senior outfielders like Carson Queck and Jack Little.

More on Lake Creek…

Lake Creek vs. Brenham

FIREMAN’S PARK (BRENHAM) – Opposing teams better be ready to play when Brenham shows up. In what turned into a very competitive, back-and-forth contest, Lake Creek barely held on to beat Brenham, 9-8. The Cubs might not be as talented as they have been in recent seasons, but they make up for it with a bunch of seniors who know how to play the game, compete and are unafraid when they step into the batter’s box.

Junior catcher Jacob Mabie sat back on a 75 MPH slider and smacked a hard double off the right-field wall in a left-on-left matchup against 2023 Baylor commit Jackson Wilkerson. Later in the fourth inning, Mabie just missed a mammoth homer to right field and probably missed a few cars nearby, too. He then took his walk and repeatedly put together impressive at-bats. A bat-first player who is likely a first baseman/designated hitter at the next level, Mabie has strong hands/wrists and promising bat speed.

As for Wilkerson on the mound, the 2023 Baylor commit and Lake Creek standout touched 89 MPH with an inconsistent but occasionally sharp slider. Wilkerson showed noticeable effort in his delivery and his velocity dipped out of the stretch. He’s going to log a lot of important, quality innings for one of the best teams in the state this season. But he might be best utilized at the next level as an impact reliever, especially in left-on-left situations because of the look he presents.

Joining Mabie in setting the tone for Brenham early was senior shortstop and Angelina College signee Ethan Jezierski. Jezierski had zero issue timing upper 80s velocity, created pullside barrel paths to the baseball and routinely had very calm, mature at-bats. Defensively, the skinny shortstop showed impressive range to his arm-side multiple times, but his arm will need to get stronger if he’s going to stick there at the next level. Also, keep an eye on uncommitted senior Hayden Hupe. A bat-first utility player, Hupe smashed a majestic homer to left field during Brenham’s game against Kingwood Park and his ability to pull his quick, strong hands inside the baseball inner half and still keep that ball fair caught my attention.

His lengthy stay on the mound, because Brenham clearly needed him to eat some innings before the rest of the tournament, against a very talented Lake Creek wasn’t fun, but uncommitted senior Mason Lampe enjoyed his time in the batter’s box, which included a two-run homer to left field. Lample’s hands start at letter-height and his short, strong forearms help deliver some bunch with some help from quick hip rotation. With a short, strong, compact frame, the right-handed hitter and utility player doesn’t possess the physical projection of some of his teammates. That said, he is a competitive ballplayer with the ability to go hit somewhere at the next level.

A Brenham player who does possess that type of physical projection is left-handed hitting junior outfielder Landon Sparks. I didn’t get to see Sparks really unleash his bat often, but I did get to see him run 4.22 down the line and play center field in the type of instinctual, athletic way that made me confident he can stick there in college. He looked like a D1 prospect.

Speaking of D1 prospects, Lake Creek’s Pugh is undoubtedly one of them. Ranked No. 43 in the inaugural 2023 Five Tool 55, Pugh played third base in both games for Lake Creek and stood out with the bat. The uncommitted prospect gets the most out of his 4.42 speed down the line, playing quicker than the stopwatch on both offense and defense. Pugh’s glove could profile all over the diamond, including the outfield where his above-average, possibly plus arm helps boost his defensive profile.

His bat profiles anywhere. Pugh’s swing features an athletic finish; his back knee nearly touches the ground as his lead leg has noticeable knee flexion, which speaks to getting rotation and lower half into his swing. He’s unafraid to swing with intent, which does lead to the occasional swing-and-miss against spin. But I’m sure Lake Creek is fine trading a few strikeouts for homers. We’ve seen Pugh in the summer and now in the high school season and the prevailing thought is the same: he’s an all-around talented, no-nonsense ballplayer. And he has great hair.

Pugh isn’t the only 2023 D1 prospect on the left side of the infield. Sam Houston State commit Blake Brown hits ahead of him in the lineup, and mashed a homer that nearly hit the scoreboard. Brown packs some surprising right-handed impact, thanks in part to his bat speed, for a player his size and his baseball movements are athletic regardless of the play. He plays shortstop for Lake Creek and can handle the position fine in high school, but projects more as a second baseman or a do-it-all athletic defensive player whose bat simply needs to get into the lineup.

Uncommitted 2023 utility player and right-handed hitter James Kennedy caught my eye. He played in right field, but has played in the infield and caught in the past. Kennedy looked stronger and had more twitch to his game and swing than when we saw him in the summer. The right-handed hitter took confident hacks and had a presence in the box bigger than his stature.

Another uncommitted player, who hit right in front of Kennedy, for Lake Creek is Ethan Davis. The senior left-handed hitter was in the designated hitter spot and mashed a bomb way out to left field. He presents a bat-first first base/designated hitter profile, but he also presents noteworthy bat speed with the type of swing that suggests sitting on two homers this season won’t last long.

Lamar vs. Episcopal

Through 3.0 innings, Lamar 2022 right-handed pitcher and USC commit Douglas Bauer was one of the best pitchers I’ve seen this high school season. The tall, slender right-hander threw his four-pitch mix with full conviction and focus. Up to 92 MPH in the first inning out of a three-quarters slot and 86-89 MPH in his fourth, final inning, Bauer finishes pitches with intent and effort, often finishing his heaters with his back leg whipping around and propelling his body towards the first base side.

Early, Bauer attacked hitters with fastballs and they created some swings and misses, especially up in the zone and to the glove-side. Then, Bauer snapped off a swing-and-miss curveball with depth and a sharp break at 72 MPH. In the third inning, Bauer began showing the full arsenal, which included a 76 MPH changeup and a 77-80 MPH slider. The former nearly had a split-like look, diving away from left-handed hitters with seams present – Bauer told me it’s like a “Vulcan” changeup, which is the pitch Eric Gagne became famous for – and the slider had true slider shape, featuring a short, late break that played well off four-seamers. You could tell Bauer has been fine-tuning his arsenal. After executing his slider well for a strikeout, Bauer pounded his fist into his glove, a competitive sign of approval.

Across 4.0 innings, Bauer struck out eight Episcopal hitters. However, as his velocity dipped in the fourth inning, Episcopal finally found a couple barrels. Rice signee and switch-hitting catcher Paul Smith showed his strength when his short, strong arms and short swing unleashed a two-run homer the opposite way to left-center. We’ve seen Smith up to 87 MPH off the mound and he looks physically ready to make the jump to college, routinely hitting the ball hard in Brenham.

Joining Smith with a homer during that fourth inning was freshman Jackson Cotton. An impressive, athletic prospect with plenty of projection, Cotton used his loose, strong wrists to swing the bat with impressive speed from the left side and ripped a liner over the wall in left-center field. Earlier in the day against Lake Creek, Cotton had one of the loudest outs of the game in a left-on-left matchup against the talented Sdao. At times, Cotton’s feet can get a little too jumpy in the batter’s box, but that’s nitpicking a freshman excelling at the varsity level already. He looks like a major D1 prospect.

Once Episcopal right-handed starting pitcher and UTSA signee Tres Organ settled in, he kept Lamar hitters guessing with his ability to spin a quality 73-74 MPH curveball to accompany his 83-86 MPH fastball. Out of the EHS bullpen 2023 right-hander Ashton Lassiter touched 87 MPH with some interesting breaking ball feel. Shortstop and 2024 prospect Eddie Tamez caught my attention with his glovework and displayed confident actions and quality instincts to make a couple of tough plays look easier than they were.

Organ would have enjoyed a better day on the mound if not for Lamar two-way standout and Tulane signee Wilson Woodcox. Woodcox, whose future is on the mound, caught a 3-0 pitch way out in front of the plate and smashed a majestic two-run homer way over the left field fence. Woodcox moved around shortstop with a surprisingly athletic bounce. Here’s a look at his curveball, which can flash plus, in a one-hit shutout later in the tournament against Lake Creek:

At the top of the Lamar lineup, 2024 left-handed hitting second baseman Tristen Brown is going to terrorize some opposing defenses with his ability to put the ball in play and use his athleticism and speed on the diamond. Brown was 4.28 down the line and pulled up at the very end on a grounder and has a promising swing and hitting ability. A two-sport standout, Brown plays receiver in football

I wasn’t here for this game, but 2022 Lamar right-handed pitcher Grant Fullmer, a big, 6-6 prospect, threw the ball very well against Hutto and has been up to 92 MPH with a solid curveball. Fullmer is currently uncommitted and certainly looks talented enough to continue pitching in college:

Hutto vs. Kingwood Park

FIREMAN’S PARK (BRENHAM) – Before I grabbed a solid, 50-grade cold brew from 30 North Coffee Bar and Gastropub in Brenham and hit the road back home to Austin to be dad before my 23-month old son went to bed, I had to see 2023 Hutto standout Garet Boehm hit. I told my wife to keep Jack up a little longer because I couldn’t leave yet. I knew if I did, I’d miss a home run. I was right.

Boehm, committed to Texas Tech, smashed a homer over the batter’s eye in center field on the first pitch he saw. Almost 6-3, the physical right-handed hitter showed his plus raw power because he was out in front against the lesser velocity and still hit the pitch out to dead-center field. He has such an advanced understanding of how to create carry off the bat and use his hips/lower half to lead his swing that he doesn’t need to be perfectly timed to create that type of game power. A two-way standout with big arm strength on the mound, Boehm looks like a future third baseman at Texas Tech with perhaps the potential to profile in the bullpen if needed. He plays shortstop for Hutto and can handle the position at the high school level.

Sign me up as a believer in 2023 Kingwood Park infielder Marshall Burke’s bat. I like the right-handed swing with bat speed that fits his short, compact, strong frame. Burke appeared to be at least an average runner. He plays shortstop for Kingwood Park, but likely would have to move off the position at the next level.

Notes from Fulshear….

FULSHEAR HIGH SCHOOL – I caught most of two games Friday at Fulshear High School before finding the best toll road to cut down my time spent in traffic heading to Minute Maid Park for the Shriners Children’s College Classic. Anyone who has ever spent time in Houston knows it’s all about finding whatever toll road keeps you off 610/whatever highway it merges with as long as possible.

For Ridge Point, it isn’t all about 2022 Texas A&M signee Justin Vossos, which speaks to the depth of the club. But it was obvious Vossos fills the vocal, energetic and intense leadership role for his team. It was common to hear Vossos’ voice coming off the field on defense and around the dugout or on the bases on offense. The right-handed hitter, and Five Tool 55 member, pulled two hard liners to left field, including one that carried a left fielder to the warning track and bounced off his glove. He also hit a RBI single through the right side.

Vossos played shortstop and can handle it athletically, but his arm looks like a better fit at second base where his bat and plus speed profile well. A player scouts are tracking in the 2022 class, Vossos looks like a good bet to hit at Texas A&M and who could hit his way into a much bigger signing bonus after a collegiate career. Vossos’ is one half of one of the best double-play duos in the state. Consider me a fan of ACU commit and right-handed leadoff hitter Zion Stephens. A high-waisted, projectable athlete, Stephens showed bat speed and an athletic swing with some feel for the barrel. Credit ACU for making a move to lock up his commitment.

Helping Stephens and Vossos in the lineup is 2023 uncommitted right-handed hitter Owen Farris. Farris showed his ability to create some juice when he smoked a solo homer to left field and there will be more power to tap into as he fills out. Farris is currently uncommitted.

Facing a lineup with the firepower Ridge Point has at the top was a tough challenge for 2023 Houston commitment Austin Vargas. Tall, long and very projectable, it was easy to see why Houston secured the lefty’s commitment because there’s a lot to dream on and envision at the next level.

Hitting cleanup for Ridge Point is 2023 Dallas Baptist commit JJ Kennett. With a calm heartbeat and confident demeanor in the batter’s box, Kennett seemingly tracks pitches very well. Good luck getting him out because he’s willing to use the whole field and put the bat on the ball at a very good rate. He worked in the second game against Waller with 2025 Texas commitment and standout left-handed pitcher Jack McKernan. McKernan bumped 89 MPH in the fourth inning of his start, pitched with advanced competitiveness and showed a sharp slider that racked up swings and misses around 75 MPH. Major upside.

Speaking of Waller, 2023 Five Tool 55 member Davis Rivers showed his ability to bounce back. After a couple of frustrating strikeouts in left-on-left matchups against McKernan, Rivers won a left-on-left battle with a soft single the other way before smoking a double to the ball of the wall in center field against Vossos. The physical ACU commitment has good raw power and bat speed from the left side and swings with intent, which can lead to some swinging-and-missing. But his offensive game is built on mashing, and when he finds a barrel, it can leave any part of the yard.

Behind the plate, Rivers looked like he could stick behind the dish in college. As he’s matured physically, he’s taken care of his body, allowing him to work well with the catcher’s gear on. He’s also unafraid to use his arm, routinely back-picking at first base and even second base. Always talking, Rivers takes the role of being the vocal leadership presence for his team to heart.

Random thoughts from the road…

Brenham is a gem of a city I’ve taken for granted. It’s historic charm creates a welcoming vibe and Fireman’s Park is beautiful. Lake Creek’s bats ending a game after five innings afforded me a few minutes to drive two minutes to Andrea’s Taco Shop. I went with a bacon, egg and cheese and chorizo, egg and cheese breakfast taco. They were 50-grade tacos. Improved tortillas could bump them into the plus range.

At the Shriners Children’s College Classic, the No. 1 Longhorns remind me so much of the 2010 team, which was the best Texas team I covered despite the Baseball Gods ending their season in cruel fashion in a Super Regional against an outstanding TCU club that had no business not being a national seed. Consider me a fan of what Tony Vitello is doing at Tennessee. The Vols had the most impressive roster top-to-bottom in Houston and are loaded with physicality, talent and velocity. Big things on the horizon in Knoxville after last season’s trip to Omaha.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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