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Five Tool WS: More 15U/16U Scout Notes

Five Tool World Series: More 15U and 16U Scouting Notes

TOMBALL – Our most recent work earlier this week featured 17U prospects, and if you’re not careful and lose your scoutbook at a place like Premier Baseball, you might think some of the younger standouts you watch must be 17U players. We’ll start our second edition – click here for the first – of some 15U and 16U Five Tool World Series notes with the 16U section headlined by a power-hitter who looks like he’s on a college roster. 

Hitting with a wood bat painted in honor of his Venezuelan heritage, Trosky Texas 2023 – Baker/Hughes standout Nehomar Ochoa Acosta looked and played like a big-time 17U prospect. Although he boasts noticeable physicality already, the right-handed power hitter still possesses projection moving forward, which should lead to even more game power. The Galena Park prospect’s game power showed as he finished the event with a .467/.579/.800 slash line, which included a mammoth home run. 

For a player of his size and length, the Houston commitment’s setup and swing are fairly simple and quiet. He creates some land separation with his hands as a timing mechanism and unleashes a strong swing through the hitting zone that finishes well. As Acosta matures and improves his skills, he should be able to tap into his lower half more. 

Teammate and two-way player Jackson Blank (Magnolia West) made some noise with his swing from the right-side, although we still think he’s more intriguing on the mound. The control remained a work in progress, but Blank again showed a live arm with a fastball up to 87 MPH. When the righty finds his rhythm and release on the mound, his overhand hook is a gorgeous, bat-missing offering. 

Trosky Texas 2023 – Baker/Hughes middle infielder Jacob Tanguma also caught our eye too. He played solid defense with clean, quick actions and had an athletic line-drive swing that packed a little more punch than anticipated thanks in part to some separation created to help whip the bat through the zone. 

Thanks to three RBI and runs scored from the trio above, Trosky Texas 2023 – Brewer/Hughes cruised to a 16U National title with an 8-4 win over Next Level 2023 – Davis despite another standout performance by Klein Oak’s Bret Deegan, who smoked a rocket to the wall in deep center field for a RBI double. Deegan ended up hitting .353/.389/.824 in 18 plate appearances and when he steps into the batter’s box, he gives off the vibe of a guy in total control who you expect to barrel the baseball. 

On the mound, the physical right-hander touched 87 MPH and tossed 4.0 scoreless frames across two outings. He punched out five, but also walked five, which was a surprise considering the control and competitiveness he showed during the 15U/16U championships the week prior. We still like him to throw strikes at a better rate in the future thanks to his execution. 

Those who look at box scores only would totally dismiss Next Level 2023 – Davis right-hander Garrick Williams after he gave up six runs on seven hits in just 2.0 innings (earlier against the same team, he punched out three across 3.0 innings with three runs on four hits). And let’s preface this note by saying there is a huge gap between where Williams is currently and where he could be in years. 

That said, the right-hander possesses major projection both physically and on the mound. Williams had the look of a young arm still new to pitching, but with the athleticism to repeat a clean delivery and arm action; up to just 80 MPH, Williams barely pitched with any intent, and looked like he was learning how to tap into all his physical velocity gifts and chose control instead. Often, college coaches are forced to project and dream on what a player could become. Williams has a chance to look and perform much differently in the future than he does now with the right development. 

In a highly competitive and at times tense game, Next Level 2023 – Davis held on to beat GPS Legends 16U Montgomery to reach the championship game. For GPS Legends 16U Montgomery, Lake Travis middle infielder Hank Benny put the ball in play consistently and consistently hard all week, which resulted in a .571/.625/.643 slash line with just one strikeout. 

Although Benny, who hits from the right side, can occasionally cut off his swing at the finish, he utilizes a stroke that packs some strength and shows bat speed, which results in extra-base, gap-to-gap pop when extension is present in the finish. Regardless, Benny, who is uncommitted, showed impressive bat-to-ball ability each time he played and is certainly a 2023 position player to follow. 

Long, athletic and projectable with an upright stance and powerful swing with a short finish in the batter’s box, Benny’s teammate Kade Crawford (Stony Point) hit .455/.538/1.091 with two homers and a double. It’s a dangerous barrel on the move, but Crawford can come up empty occasionally when the length and lack of control of the barrel shows up in the hitting zone. That said, Crawford looked like a toolsy, intriguing player.

For GPS Legends 16U J Elmore, top-of-the-order left-handed bat Brooks Dillman put the ball in play hard repeatedly and swung the bat much better than his .250/.357/.333 line suggests. Dillman has bat-to-ball skill, hand-eye coordination and a swing that sprayed line drives around. The main problem for Dillman? He’s undersized and needs to add strength. Fortunately, skinny 16U players have plenty of time to add some strength to their bodies and swings. 

At the 15U age, some hitters, for a lack of a better phrase, just look different in a good way. Trent Bower (Colleyville Heritage), a physical, power-hitting first baseman, is one of those hitters. From the right side, Bower flashed really impressive bat speed and an advanced swing with barrel control and the ability to significantly impact the baseball. Frankly, he looked like too advanced of a hitter for his age group, and finished with a slash line of .500/.583/.900 with a homer and six RBI.

LBC American – Cummings catcher Gage Goldberg (Boerne Champion) slashed .462/.500/.769 over 16 plate appearances with eight runs scored and just one strikeout. A competitive, energetic catcher who worked well for his pitchers, Goldberg pulled the ball with some juice but also showed the ability to go the other way. 

Goldberg’s teammates Jack Brady (Austin Westlake) and Gabriel Winters (Bowie) stood out as well. The former is a tall player still growing into his body with bat-to-ball skill and future power potential and the latter flashed a clean, athletic swing. 

We mentioned this guy earlier in the week, but Premier Baseball 2024 Moore’s Braylon Mitchell (Cypress Creek) was impossible to ignore during Saturday and Sunday action. Things came easy to him on the field offensively and defensively and he turned noteworthy tools into production with an advanced approach (six walks; .737 on-base percentage) in the batter’s box. 

Teammate Caylon Dygert, a right-hander noted during last week’s 15U/16U Championships coverage for being up to 86 MPH with a three-pitch mix, touched 85 MPH and showed last week’s performance wasn’t a fluke. If big, right-handed bopper Anthony Key runs into one, look out. He cleared the bases with a grand slam during Sunday’s action and doesn’t lack raw power. 

How’s this for clutch? With two outs and the bases loaded with his team trailing by the run in the final inning of the championship game, pesky Houston Heat 2024 – Red leadoff hitter Braeden Scherzer ripped a sinking liner into center field. The swing resulted in a bases-clearing, three-RBI triple. Each time we’ve seen Scherzer (Tomball), he’s made the routine plays frequently at shortstop and hit liners all over the field. He finished the World Series with a .500/.545/.650 slash line and zero strikeouts. 

Teammate Dawson Park (Magnolia West), a projectable two-way player who stood out during the Houston College Championships, walked seven times with just one strikeout and racked up six RBI with an impressive, confident swing from the right side. Park helped his team reach the championship by blasting a three-run bomb in the semifinal, showing the leverage in his swing and positive attack angle.

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