Mattingly WS: Day One Scouting Notes…

 

MELISSA – College coaches, scouts, and some of the best 17U teams in the nation treated viewers to competitive, high-level baseball Tuesday to open the AABC Mattingly World Series. Stand in the center of the Melissa Sports Complex and the surrounding baseball action dominates the senses, and the event began with a fantastic game between Stix 2022 Scout and Hawai’i Elite 2G. 

 

Both starting pitchers set the tone for their respective teams and pitched very deep into their outings, but it was how the game ended that made it one of the best of the day. Oklahoma commitment Christian Smith-Johnson made a jumping catch at the wall in center field to preserve Stix’s 4-3 victory, a lead courtesy of Texas Tech commit Damian Bravo’s (Haltom) dramatic two-run homer to left-center. 

 

With small movement in his hands and a quiet lower half, Bravo, not at all bothered by the moment, jumped on the first pitch he saw and unleashed a quick swing to drive the ball out in front with an athletic, two-handed finish. 

 

For Stix, right-hander Anthony Garcia repeatedly pounded the zone, didn’t issue a walk across 5.0 innings, and showed feel for throwing two different breaking balls. He tossed a harder slider 78-80 MPH early and slower curve at 74-76 MPH. 

 

Garcia’s fastball, out of an over-the-top angle, sat 85-88 MPH early and he held 85-86 MPH into the fifth inning. The feel for a change was present as well. A MacArthur product, Garcia is currently uncommitted and looks like a future strike-thrower at the collegiate level with multiple pitches. 

 

Hawai’i Elite 2G’s Zacary Tenn was forced to take a tough-luck loss despite throwing a complete game. A Washington commitment, Tenn competed extremely well and maximizes his physical tools on the mound, carrying 85-86 MPH into the final innings of his complete game performance. Unafraid to throw any pitch in any count, Tenn, a righty, showed a fastball, cutter, curve and changeup with some flashes of commanding his stuff to both sides of the plate. 

 

Tenn was aided by strong play behind the plate by Beau Sylvester (2022 – Kamehameha Schools – Kapalama). A high-energy player with some bat speed at the plate, Sylvester, who moved around well and caught an excellent game, threw out a runner trying to steal from his knees early in the game with a 2.00 pop time. 

 

Stix right-hander Nolan Perry, a product of Carlsbad (New Mexico), shut down a solid Hawai’i Elite 2G lineup and closed the game with 2.0 scoreless frames and five strikeouts. The 2022 right-hander touched 88 MPH in his first relief inning (84-86 MPH in his second inning) with a fastball that played up and he overwhelmed hitters with a 73-76 MPH curve that featured slurve-like break and tight spin to push righties back before late, sharp break.

 

Perry also showed feel for a 75 MPH changeup with some arm-side fade. His delivery and arm-action added some deception and although he cupped the ball very slightly in his delivery, Perry’s arm worked very well out in front, which showed with a curve that racked up swings and misses. With a body that projects and easy delivery, Perry shouldn’t be uncommitted for long. The body, delivery, arm action and stuff gave off some Aaron Nola vibes; I’m not at all saying Perry is the next Nola because that would be unfair, but the movements on the mound were similar. 

 

Speaking of the Hawai’i Elite 2G lineup, leadoff man and center fielder Keoni Painter (2022 – Kamehameha Schools Maui) showed he could put the bat on the ball and impact it. From the left side, Painter uses his quick hands as a trigger to start his swing by moving them back slightly with the pitcher before bringing his bat through the zone and doing a good job of keeping a quiet head through contact with an athletic finish. 

 

Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock, who was in attendance for all of Tuesday’s action, had to be thrilled during the first games of the event. He had two catcher commitments going at once. We’ve written recently about Marucci Elite 2022 – Thames catcher Dylan Maxcey, who has impressive catch-and-throw skill and athleticism behind the plate. At an event when the use of wood bats can clearly separate the real bat speed from those who need to get stronger, Maxcey’s bat speed proved legit. 

 

Meanwhile on another field, Texas Tech commitment Will Bush (2022 – Birdville) certainly looks the part. Listed at 6-3, 200 pounds, Bush is a barrel-chested athlete who moved behind the dish well, especially for his size. In the batter’s box, Bush has a bit of an unorthodox stance; he’s crouched with his front foot pointed inward, but he uses it to keep his weight back and try to get his powerful lower half into his swing with quiet hands. Although he finished 0-for-4 during the NTXBC Dirtbags 2022 – Woods’ first game, he made hard contact multiple times and his tools showed. 

 

On the mound opposing the Dirtbags for the Texas Angels – Keeton was 2022 Jim Ned righty Blaine Palmer. Up to 88 MPH multiple times early in his outing, Palmer is an intriguing righty because of his clean, loose, quick arm action reminiscent of an athletic, talented middle infielder. He repeated his delivery easily throughout his 6.0 innings. 

 

His fastball didn’t miss bats, and proved a little flat up in the zone. However, when Palmer created some angle with the pitch down in the zone he often induced weak contact. The uncommitted pitcher’s curve, 68-72 MPH, was inconsistent, but occasionally flashed with what looked like above-average or plus spin and big break. Palmer doesn’t lack potential.

 

2022 Boerne Champion outfielder Jacob Caraway gifted Palmer some run support with a two-run homer. Caraway, listed at 6-3, 200 pounds, has an unorthodox, old school finish to his left-handed swing, but that didn’t stop him from hammering the ball multiple times and creating some extension out in front to impact the baseball. Caraway moved around very athletically. 

 

During the evening action, Texas Twelve Maroon 2022, fresh off winning the Five Tool Texas Houston College Championships, marched to an emphatic 8-0 victory thanks to the longball. At the top of the lineup, Texas A&M commitment Justin Vossos (Ridge Point) showed his ability to impact the baseball routinely with two homers and a double the opposite way. Vossos can hit the ball to all fields, but his power really shows to his pull-side. 

 

Hitting behind Vososs was another Texas A&M commitment, Lake Travis 2022 product Kaden Kent. The son of former MLB MVP Jeff Kent, he smashed a no-doubt homer to right-center. A left-handed hitter and third baseman, Kent showed feel for the barrel and some natural bat-to-ball ability up-and-down the strike zone. Unsurprisingly, he gives off major ballplayer vibes with his actions and the way he carries himself in competition.

 

For the second-straight weekend, Texas State commitment Brian Panneton cruised through a start efficiently by throwing his full arsenal of pitches for strikes and showcasing advanced control and command. His fastball velocity doesn’t blow hitters away, but Panneton has a good understanding of how to pitch, spin and command the baseball. 

 

From California, Next Level Baseball opened their Mattingly World Series with a 5-2 win against Victus Scout Team 2022. San Diego commitment Cade O’Hara (Mater Dei) was intriguing with both the glove and bat and Abel Castrejon (Tustuin) made loud contact routinely from the left side. 

 

On the mound, big, 6-5 righty Tyler Sandhu was an imposing presence and attacked hitters from a tough angle. Starting on the first base side of the rubber, the righty utilized some crossfire action and a sidearm angle to throw a complete game against Victus. 

 

For Victus, Texas A&M commitment Kasen Wells showed his speed with a 3.94 time down the line and looks like a future impact hitter at the collegiate level. With a swing that covers the plate well and is balanced, Wells (Smithson Valley) profiles as a future top-of-the-lineup bat that can change the game on the bases and hit for a high average. 

 

Defensively, UTSA commitment Preston Freeman repeatedly made tough plays at shortstop with quick, clean actions and good instincts. He also made hard contact from the left side. Listed at 6-2, 170 pounds, Freeman will fill out some but shouldn’t lose any of his quickness and athleticism as he matures in the future. 

 

The star of the late-night action was 2023 first baseman/outfielder Gene Trujillo. After homering early in the day for ABA 2022 – Lehman, Trujillo blasted a two-run homer during the nightcap. Recently, Trujillo turned 16-years-old and plays well beyond his age on the diamond with a clean swing from the left side that can impact and lift the baseball with authority. Around 6-4 with a lot of room to fill out, Trujillo bounced around the field well. He looks like he could emerge as one of the premier 2023 prospects in the country. 

New Mexico 2022 commitment Adrien Martin put in a nice night of work by pitching deep into his start and drilling a homer. A left-handed hitter, Martin competed well on the mound but is a future hitter at the next level who could work into the middle of New Mexico’s future lineups. 

 

From Illinois, Prairie Gravel 17U handed DFW Twins 17U Black a 10-6 loss despite homers from Xander McAfee, David Jones, Jordan Shepherd, and Jovany Lopez. The heart of the DFW Twins 17U Black lineup should attract the attention of college coaches because it doesn’t lack physicality and intriguing bats, headlined by McAfee, a Witchita State commitment, who continues to impact the baseball at a high level. 

 

On the mound for Prairie Gravel 17U, UIC commitment Ysen Useni kept a talented lineup in check until he ran out of team in the final inning of his outing. Up to 88 MPH with an overhand hook with depth and a changeup with arm-side fade, Useni looks like a good get for UIC and should compete to be in future weekend rotations. 

 

St. Louis 2022 commitment Easton Richter was solid at shortstop, worked two walks with a patient approach and had a promising swing from the left-handed side. On the bases, Richter was a threat to steal both second and third base whenever he reached.

 

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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