Five Tool World Series: 17U Hitter Scouting Notes

 

TOMBALL – Although pitchers grabbed most of the spotlight during the final days of the Five Tool World Series, that doesn’t mean 17U hitters didn’t have some big moments and performances as well. 

 

Mentioned in yesterday’s 17U pitcher breakdown because he was up to 89 MPH, LBC National – Moench’s Nico Ruedas stood out more with the bat, in our opinion. A switch-hitter with juice from both sides of the plate, the Dripping Springs product smoked a homer from the right side against hard-throwing lefty Edward Hart of LightsOut 17u Black and slugged .778 across five games with five walks and two strikeouts. The next day, the Tarleton State commit nearly hit a homer the opposite way from the right side. 

With a big leg kick, Ruedas gets spread out in the box when he unleashes his swing, but is more than athletic enough to tap into his lower half, repeat his swing and he creates a positive attack angle through the hitting zone and especially at extension. He carried himself with a ton of confidence all over the diamond, which included playing very strong defense at shortstop, and showed a natural feel for the barrel, although the swing can get a little too long through the finish on occasion.

 

Ruedas’ teammate Brandon Arvidson is another player who stood out with the bat highlighted in our pitching piece. However, unlike Ruedas, Arvidson looks like pitching will clearly be his top option at Texas State. He does have intrigue as a two-way player, flashing impressive athleticism in right field with a running catch near the fence in foul territory and with a homer. But the upside on the mound strongly suggests his future role will be firing fastballs. 

Alvin’s Tanner Marek, currently uncommitted, showed an all-fields approach from the right side with a simple setup and swing. He finished the World Series with a slash line of .500/.533/.714 with three doubles.

Speaking of uncommitted prospects who performed very well, a good case can be made that two hitters helped themselves immensely with outstanding weeks at the Five Tool World Series. First, Canes Scout Premier’s Maddox Miesse smashed three homers and slashed .400/.538/1.300 across four games with eight RBI.

 

With good rhythm in his setup and a quick, clean, powerful swing, Miesse showed major pull-side power by hitting three no-doubt bombs to left field or left-center. The talented 2022 catcher from East Central has shown a quick release and strong arm behind the plate at previous Five Tool events. 

Although his statistics – .300/.500/.400 – don’t jump off the page quite like Miesse’s, Action Baseball 17U Bell’s Tyler Betts routinely put the ball in play very hard with his barrel. The Round Rock prospect won a game with a walk-off double, keeping his hands back on an offspeed pitch up in the zone and ripping a hard double down the left field line. Betts used all parts of the field and played the game aggressively and confidently, which included some standout plays covering a lot of ground in center field. Intriguing player with quick hands listed at 5-9, 168 pounds. 

Betts’ teammates Tucker Allen (Cedar Ridge), Reece Bell (Georgetown), and Austin Butler (Poway – California) had strong flashes as well. Allen lacks physical projection, but came across as a solid ballplayer who makes the routine plays at shortstop at a high level and has the present hitting ingredients to hit line drives with frequency. Bell, the son of former standout MLB reliever Heath Bell, showed noticeable bat-to-ball ability and should add considerably more game power in the future. Butler caught multiple runners stealing (2.08 pop time) with a strong arm, was an eager worker for his pitchers, and put the ball in play hard multiple times. 

 

Miesse wasn’t the only noteworthy standout for the Canes Scout Premier. St. Michael’s Catholic Academy’s Carson Frezon showed some of the best bat-to-ball ability of any hitter with hands capable of getting inside fastballs and covering the plate away. Listed at 5-10, 160 pounds, Frezon should fill out more across the next 12 months and is capable of playing center field. 

Texas Twelve Maroon 2022, winners of the AABC Don Mattingly World Series, bowed out of the Five Tool World Series early but not before a few bats stood out. Like usual, MLB scouts and college coaches were spotted during the event and 2022 infielder Ryan Franden (Seven Lakes) capitalized.

 

A couple days after the event ended, Franden committed to Sam Houston State. He used a pretty swing from the left side to hit .333/.333/.500 across five games and made hard contact multiple times that didn’t result in a hit. Coming back from a broken leg, Franden didn’t look rusty in the batter’s box and should fill out considerably through the upper body in college. 

As usual, teammates Justin Vossos (Ridge Point) and Jack Little (Tompkins) played well and created highlight moments. Despite just missing pitches on multiple occasions and hitting hard, deep fly outs, Vossos, who was 4.05 seconds down the line on a bunt attempt, slugged .778 and walked three times with zero strikeouts. Each time we see him, he looks like one of the best players in the state. 

As for Little, well, don’t park your car beyond left field when he’s hitting. The athletic and physical right-handed hitting outfielder smoked a line drive with barely any spin over the wall in left field and straight through the back window of a black BMW. He showed impressive hand quickness and strength to get the barrel to a pitch down in the zone and then hit it on a line out of the park. 

 

Kaden Kent, a Texas A&M commitment like Vossos, strengthened his case as one of the best pure hitters in Texas. From the left side, Kent again sprayed the ball all over the field with impressive hand-eye coordination, barrel control and pitch recognition and selection. Uncommitted outfielder Trent Baker (Klein Cain) did swing and miss on occasion, but when he barrels the baseball, liners often jump from his bat and he has the strength and athleticism to make plays on the bases as well.

Texas Twelve Maroon 2022’s run in the Five Tool World Series was ended by Premier Baseball 2022 – Hayes thanks in part to Trevor Sebek. He tossed a six-inning complete game on the mound, but it was his bat that stood out more. From the left side, the Cy Fair prospect used a short swing with a fairly flat bat through the zone to drive the ball very hard and very deep to center field multiple times. When Twelve pitchers tried to attack with offspeed, he reacted and adjusted impressively to use his barrel for hard contact again. 

Another left-handed bat that stood out this weekend was Westbrook’s Owen Cansler. Interestingly, the Setx Mizuno 17U Moreno catcher adjusts how he uses his lower half in his load depending on the situation. At times, he has a very active lower half while tracking the baseball and preparing to attack, but his athleticism and rhythm allowed it to sync with his bat just fine. Other times, Cansler, an uncommitted prospect, doesn’t take any stride and allows his hands to go to work. 

He hammered line drives down both the right and left field lines and also lifted a hard double to the wall in right field. During the Five Tool World Series, he finished with a slash line of .455/.538/.636 with just one strikeout and three doubles. Catcher might not be his best position moving forward, but he competed very well behind the dish and looked like he still has some growth and physicality to add. 

From a crouched stance from the left side, Cancer’s teammate Killian McLaughlin, another uncommitted bat, used a very short swing he cuts off some at the end to hit .444. Maybe the lack of batting gloves helps influence this, but McLaughlin has the stance, approach and bat path of a throwback-type hitter that aims a little more for contact than impact. But with the way he rotates his hips, there’s more power in there to tap into. 

For the second-straight week, the Houston Athletics 17U Gold competed extremely well and consistently, coming up just short in the 17U National championship game against Dallas Tigers 17U Cienega/Beaven. Lutheran South Academy’s Syr Bailey probably had the buffest arms and is built like a muscular fire hydrant. His short-levered swing created some noticeable pop off the bat. It looked like Bailey, who was wearing a knee brace, was coming off an injury when running the bases, but that didn’t stop him from hitting .400/.647/.500 in six games with five walks and three strikeouts. He definitely had the look of a bat first player, but he created hard contact frequently. 

Playing up in the 17U division, Milby switch-hitting shortstop Omar Montemayor showed quick, clean, confident actions defensively with a surprisingly strong arm and again put the ball in play often from both sides of the plate. He’s very undersized and lacks physical projection, but his baseball instincts and competitiveness are really impressive. Whenever he saw increased velocity, his production didn’t change. 

 

Dustin McComas – Follow me on Twitter @DustinLMcComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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