Houston College Championships: Scouting standouts day two…


HOUSTON – The University of Houston and Rice University were destinations for pro scouts and numerous college coaches Friday thanks to the 16u and 17u talent participating in the Houston College Championships. Coaches from Texas, Stanford, Oklahoma State, SFA, ACU, Texas Southern, Grayson, Texas A&M, Houston and more were spotted during Friday’s action. 


The action at Rice began early with Banditos 17U Scout claiming a 3-0 victory over HP Baseball 2022 – Cunningham. La Joya High School (2022) standout JC Gutierrez received the start for Banditos 17U Scout and pitched deep into the game. Challenging hitters primarily with a 82-85 MPH fastball with control that bounced in-and-out, the lefty kept an intriguing changeup in his back pocket to use sparingly but effectively along with a 12-6 hook with depth. Routinely, Gutierrez, with an easy delivery, made the pitches he needed to with traffic on the bases and his fastball played up. 


At the plate for the Banditos 17U Scout team, 2022 Texas A&M commitment Blake Hansen (Cinco Ranch) sparked a late run-scoring rally with a hard double down the right field line. Quiet in the box with relaxed hands and a slightly spread stance from the left side, Hansen rotated his hips well and showed some power and average potential with the bat in his hand. Teammate Matt Padilla (2022 – Los Fresnos) had the loudest out of the game when he jumped on a fastball and watched it find a glove on the warning track. 


The best at-bat of the game belonged to 2022 Rice commitment and HP Baseball 2022 – Cunningham catcher Tanner Chelette. From a crouched stance, the right-hander utilizes his lower half and takes very aggressive but confident and controlled swings with good pitch recognition. He drove a ball to the deepest part of the park and looked the part of a future impact bat at the next level. 


A strong weekend during the event continued for HP Baseball 2022 – Cunningham outfielder Jeric Curtis (Tomball Memorial). A plus, maybe plus-plus runner, Curtis competed very well in the batter’s box often making contact, spoiling pitches, and seeing the ball well deep into at-bats. Currently uncommitted, Curtis is making a very strong case to be on a lot of college coaches’ radars right now.


Over at the University of Houston, scouts had eyes on DFW Twins 17U Black left-handed starting pitcher Dante Cano. A commitment to Texas Tech, Cano (Abilene Wylie) is a projectable and physical 6-4 who sat 84-87 MPH with his fastball and touched 88 MPH. Working from the stretch exclusively, Cano attacked hitters with a fastball and curveball combo; the latter had downward break around 72-74 MPH, but showed inconsistent spin and shape as the young, big lefty grows into his body and arm action. 


At the plate, Wichita State commit Xander McAfee (Southwest Christian School) consistently made solid contact and his athleticism makes him a very intriguing prospect to project and follow moving forward. Jovany Lopez (Trimble Tech) blasted a three-run homer; he does a good job of keeping weight back on his back foot and rotating a quick bat with some juice through the hitting zone. 


2022 Marucci Elite – Thames right-handed starting pitcher Adam Troy was up to 88 MPH, and when he was able to time his arm action out in front, his fastball and swing and miss changeup caused problems for DFW Twins. However, his control was inconsistent, which led to some traffic on the bases. The present arm strength and changeup make him an intriguing pitcher to follow. 


Following strong performances Thursday, 2022 Marucci Elite – Thames’ players Jayden Duplantier and Zach Fields performed well again Friday. The former smacked a hard two-strike single into right field off Cano before stealing second and third base; the latter just missed a grand slam with two outs by being a split-second out in front of a pitch and hitting a deep fly out to left field. 

Back over at Rice during the early afternoon, Texas Twelve Maroon 2022 handed Trosky Texas 2022 – Ina a 5-3 loss in a very competitive, high level game. Alabama commitment Canon Chester made a loud statement early in the game with a two-run homer to deep left. Utilizing a short, powerful stroke, Chester doubled later in the game and showed some impressive juice with the bat. 


Wyatt Wiatek, who started on the mound for Texas Twelve Maroon 2022, was up to 92 MPH but credit Trosky Texas 2022 – Ina for sitting fastball because of the inconsistent breaking ball control and putting the barrel on hard heaters. Rashaad James, who played third base, drilled a 91 MPH fastball to deep left-center for a double that was 96 MPH off the bat. Later, James, a product of Kinkaid High School who is currently uncommitted, smacked another double to deep left-center and this time it was 99 MPH off the bat. 


Listed at 5-11, 185 pounds, James’ swing is short and flat through the zone, but quick and powerful; he carried himself with a lot of confidence in the box and was unafraid to attack good velocity the first time he saw it.  Cy Ranch 2022 infielder Christian Salazar showed impressive bat speed and drilled a homer over the left field wall. 


But Texas Twelve Maroon wouldn’t be denied. It’s a relentless lineup filled with a lot of patient but competitive approaches, and perhaps the best example of that is Texas A&M 2022 commitment Mason Ruiz (Bryan). During Thursday and Friday, Ruiz showed good strike zone awareness and a patient approach to only swing at strikes, and when he did hack, he often made good contact. Ruiz also pitched and showed underrated athleticism with a fastball up to 85 MPH. That said, he looks like a bat first player in the future. 


Blake Mitchell was up to 94 MPH during his Friday outing.


The final Friday game at Reckling Park on the campus of Rice University was the main attraction for college coaches because it featured Texas Twelve Maroon 2023 and Lonestar 2024 – Sanders. Before lightning and rain cut the game eight minutes short, the Texas Twelve Maroon 2023 pitching duo of Ty Baker and Blake Mitchell dominated the opposition. 


Listed at 6-4, 200 pounds, Baker didn’t lack physicality and velocity. The big righty touched 90 MPH multiple times early in his outing and during the middle innings, he found feel for a 76-77 MPH breaking ball with 11-5 break and swing-and-miss ability. Baker threw one changeup at 81 MPH that he turned over, and because his fastball was so good, he didn’t have to go to the third pitch. For a pitcher his size, Baker repeated his delivery pretty well with some extension and better timing with his release will unlock more velocity in the future. He looked like a major prospect in the 2023 class. 


It became immediately obvious when he stepped onto the mound two-way 2023 prospect and LSU commitment Blake Mitchell (Sinton) is undoubtedly one of the top players in the 2023 class. Mitchell struck out the side during his first inning out of the bullpen and touched 94 MPH with downward angle thanks to a repeatable delivery that’s strong and athletic. Even though he didn’t need to, Mitchell showed his 77 MPH plus curveball with a late, sharp break that also featured depth. 


Teammate Jacquae Stewart provided one of the game’s biggest swings when he drilled a 3-2 breaking ball to the wall in right-center. Although Stewart doesn’t get cheated in the box with some aggressive hacks, he has natural feel for hitting, the barrel and making hard contact, which showed with an exit velocity of 99 MPH. A consistent performer all spring and summer, Stewart looks like one of the top left-handed bats in the class.


Arkansas 2023 commitment Kendall George is probably best known for his plus-plus speed, but don’t sleep on his ability to put the bat on the ball consistently at a high level. Known for his ability on the mound, Vanderbilt 2023 commitment Jakob Schulz (Memorial) made hard contact in the batter’s box three times. 


Although he didn’t light up the radar gun (78-82 MPH fastball), Lonestar National 2024 – Sanders right-handed pitcher Reagan Chomel (San Marcos) showed promising feel for a future three-pitch mix with feel for a solid curve and changeup. As he grows and adds velocity, Chomel could be an intriguing arm to follow in the 2024 class. We know shortstop Theo Gillen is a definite name to follow in 2024. The Austin Westlake standout had a quiet day with the bat, but he ended the game by picking a hard one-hopper with a backhand and throwing out a speedy George. 


Credit Oklahoma commitment and 2024 Klein Oak outfielder Matt Scott II for being ready to hit against the hard-throwing Mitchell. Scott showed his quick hands by jumping on a 92 MPH fastball and driving it deep to left-center. Although it found a glove, the swing was a great example why Scott is one of the most talented players in the state for 2024.


Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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