After three full days of outstanding competition, despite the unrelenting heat, just 10 teams remain in the AABC Don Mattingly World Series. Friday evening features the bracket championship games before Saturday’s semifinal contests and Sunday’s championship. So, there is plenty of baseball still to be played and a champion will soon be crowned. In the days after the event’s conclusion, we’ll have thousands of words packed into scout notes for each bracket as well as a Five Tool Podcast, too. In the meantime, here are five takes after seeing three full days of action (all players are 2023 prospects unless otherwise noted):

 

 

 

Ethan Mendoza is making a strong case as one of Texas’ best pure hitters

Among the players I was most excited to see was Southlake Carroll shortstop and Arizona State commitment Ethan Mendoza. Last summer, Mendoza showed a very promising right-handed swing and quick hands with bat speed. What followed was one of the best high school seasons in the state for the 6A state champions. And Mendoza hasn’t slowed down.

Heading into Friday’s action for Stix Scout 2023, Mendoza is hitting .571/.632/1.214 with three walks and zero strikeouts. I don’t recall seeing him swing and miss once when I watched. Mendoza has consistently timed pitches well and exudes natural hitting instincts in the batter’s box with a slow, calm heartbeat. Additionally, he’s shown good barrel feel with the ability to hammer the ball – he hit a bomb to left-center during his first game of the event – and also use the whole field down in the count. Defensively, Mendoza has made several impressive plays at shortstop, showcasing athleticism on slow rollers that required quick actions and arm strength.

His teammate Dylan Schlaegel has shown some of the loudest all-around tools of any position player at the event and has turned that into a .529/.619/1.059 slash line with two homers. The DBU commitment looks every bit the part of one of the most talented and best outfielders in the state and has added noticeable muscle to his frame.

Max Stanley won’t remain uncommitted for long…

Colorado Yard Dogs right-handed pitcher Max Stanley (Douglas County; Colorado) was the best pitching prospect I saw during the first three days of action. At around 6-3 with room to fill out, Stanley repeated his delivery well and fired four quality pitches for strikes – fastball (87-91 MPH), slider (82-83 MPH), curveball (74-77 MPH), changeup (75 MPH). He executed his slider with command to his arm side to frustrate right-handed hitters, moved his fastball around the zone and spun the best curveball I saw. Stanley should be a heavily scouted arm as a senior and looked like a future Friday night starter at a major D1 program if he makes it to college.

Aidan Smith is a machine

Each time I looked up to see Aidan Smith, a Mississippi State commit, batting, he did something to get on base. Through four games and 15 plate appearances, the tall, right-handed hitting center fielder, who plays quicker than the stopwatch on defense, is hitting .583/.667/1.250 with zero strikeouts and two homers. Giving away an at-bat and lacking energy and competitiveness don’t seem to be in Smith’s DNA.

Brett Smajstrla established himself as an outfielder for D1 programs to track

We wrote about Pearland and Houston Athletics 17U Gold outfielder catching our attention earlier this summer and he saved the best for Five Tool’s biggest 17U stage. A strong and athletic right-handed hitting outfielder who can run, Smajstrla hammered two homers and finished with a .500/.571/1.083 slash line across 14 plate appearances. The uncommitted prospect held his balance and posture well through his swing, which allowed his power to show.

Clayton Freshcorn is definitely a righty to watch in Texas

When I spent some time at Twelve Baseball’s Scout Day in early June, it took about three pitches to label Waller righty Clayton Freshcorn, who is currently uncommitted, as a pitcher who could blow up this summer and his senior year. An extended look – 5.2 innings of filling up the zone with an 85-89 MPH fastball, 71 MPH curve, 74 MPH slider and some signs of a changeup (76 MPH) – encouraged the same thoughts.

With a very quick and loose arm, Freshcorn fires easy gas towards home plate and it’s only a matter of time before 85-89 MPH turns into 90-94 MPH. Still a bit raw in terms of spinning the baseball and pitching, Freshcorn showed he can manipulate the shape of his breaking stuff and with his arm path coupled with the way the four-seamer comes out of the hand, you don’t have to go out on a limb to project the breaking stuff to improve. At around 155 pounds right now, added strength and mass that’ll come with maturity will add even more gas to the tank.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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