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Mattingly WS Scout Notes (Part 1)

Extreme heat, which led to some fields playing like Coors Field, wasn’t the only thing provided at the Z-Sports Plex in Melissa, Texas during Five Tool’s premier 17U event. If you enjoy drama, the AABC Don Mattingly World Series provided plenty. Star players starred in huge moments. New names caught the attention of scouts. And Saturday’s semifinal between Twelve Baseball 2023 Maroon and Dulins Dodgers Prime is a leader for best game of the summer.

Speaking of Dulins Dodgers Prime, it won the title and a berth to the AABC Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, New Mexico in thrilling fashion. Before knocking off Marucci Elite Texas 2023 – Thames, 6-4, during the Sunday championship game, it took Texas Twelve 2023 Maroon’s best punch – back-to-back homers to take the lead in the sixth inning – the night prior and responded to its incredible comeback with one of its own to win in walk-off fashion, 10-9. After Texas commitment Lane Allen tied the game in the seventh inning with a majestic blast so loud it sounded like someone set off all their leftover Fourth of July fireworks at once, Army commitment Andy Neal won the game with a walk-off homer.

Let’s start the first part (we’ll have a part for each of the four brackets) of our AABC Don Mattingly World Series scout notes with Dulins Dodgers Prime and the Yankees bracket:

(Note: with so many games often going at once, it’s impossible for us to have eyes and ears on each at-bat and pitching performance. So, some players will be unintentionally left off. But our social media team did a fantastic job, like usual, of capturing all the standout moments from each game. All prospects are in the 2023 class unless otherwise noted.)

Dulins Dodgers Prime

Allen and Neal provided the biggest swings during the semifinal, but Mississippi State commit Aidan Smith won Tournament MVP honors thanks to his remarkable consistency. Across 27 plate appearances, Smith struck out just twice and hit .478/.556/1.000 with three homers, five doubles, five steals and three walks. The right-handed hitter didn’t give a single at-bat away and during a time of the year when many players are dragging, the Lovejoy product’s energy, focus and competitiveness remained very high each pitch.

Listed at 6-2, 170 pounds, Smith looked like he’s not done growing and has the type of youthful, thin frame that suggests muscle and weight will be added in the future. Smith can play center field well currently at the high school level and read the ball well off the bat with confident routes and athleticism; in the future, he has a chance to stick there because of his natural ability to track balls down and if he did move to a corner outfield spot, his glove could be above average at worst, with developing power that he’s currently getting to in games. On the bases, he plays a little quicker than the stopwatch (4.29 seconds home-to-first, which is, obviously, pretty dang fast), looks for chances to go first-to-third on singles, and will be a guy pitchers always have to pay attention to.

Smith creates some noticeable separation with his hands and arm bar when he times pitches and although he often keeps his front arm rigid through contact, Smith drove the ball with authority, thanks in large part to how quickly he rotates his hips with bat speed lagging behind, with pull side juice, especially against pitches middle or lower, and strength to the opposite field. Given his athleticism, ability to naturally track pitches and time them and make hard contact, he’s a good bet to continue hitting and his all-around profile should give him staying power as one of the premier outfielder prospects in the state. When Smith swings, he has a unique ability to stay in sync and keep his hitting posture.

How loaded is the Dulins Dodgers Prime lineup? Allen, a Denton Guyer product, hit fifth and ended the event with a .381/.500/.714 slash line with two homers, four walks and five strikeouts. A noticeably physical right-handed hitter with some of the best raw power in the event, Allen utilizes his short arms well in a promising swing with bat speed and leverages his strong lower half. Yes, there is some swing-and-miss that accompanies his hitting profile, but the 6-3, 200-pound third baseman with a bat-first profile should be able to create some very good exit velocity that when the ball is in play, it’s often screaming through the infield, flying into the gaps or damaging a parked car.

Helping Allen and Smith provide thump in the middle of the lineup was big left-handed hitter Matt Ossenfort (Sioux Falls Christian; South Dakota), who was unafraid to unleash some noteworthy bat speed and ended up slugging .864 with two homers and five doubles. Listed at 6-6, 220 pounds, Ossenfort moved well for his size, should add strength in the future, and wasn’t a clumsy, mature, grooved-swing masher; he covered the plate, showed the ability to change his swing/approach when the situation called for it and will be an intriguing arm to follow in the future, too.

When Oklahoma commitment and left-handed leadoff hitter Dakota Howard takes a more direct path to the baseball with his swing, his gap-to-gap power sticks out and so does his athleticism in his swing. Well, to be fair, the multi-sport athlete’s athleticism sticks out in everything that he does. He looks like the perfect fit for OU in the future because of how much OU wants to push the action offensively and values speed and athleticism around the diamond defensively.

Simo (Oklahoma) shortstop and Oklahoma State commitment Kyler Proctor fielded his position well, worked seven walks, was 4.46 on a short turn and did a good job of throwing his hands at and through the baseball in the batter’s box. A two-way player, Proctor tossed just 1.2 innings, but struck out three and showed really intriguing arm strength.

On the mound, competitive, right-handed strike-thrower Brad Pruett, a Texas State commitment from Guyer High School, threw a complete game in the championship to earn the win. Pruett’s sharp, hard slider with true shape gave hitters problems deep in counts and his heater often resulted in balls being hit into the turf.

Arkansas commitment and Pottsboro standout right-handed pitcher Barrett Kent returned from MLB/USA Baseball’s Prospect Development Pipeline in North Carolina to pitch 4.0 innings against a loaded Texas Twelve 2023 Maroon lineup. He struck out seven, was up to 93 MPH, and showed stretches when it looked like he could emerge as a top 10 prospect in the state. The ball is coming out a little cleaner with more zip and the stuff is trending in the right direction. In the batter’s box, Kent used a simple swing geared for contact and singles to hit .500.

While he doesn’t light up the radar game like some of his teammates, don’t sleep on Plano left-handed pitcher Kyle Bade, who threw 4.0 strong innings and gave up just one run on four hits, three walks and struck out five. I think the walk total is a bit misleading because Bade has a simple, repeatable, athletic delivery and arm action/shoulder rotation that all suggest he’s going to throw strikes with command. Bade mixed speeds well and has an advanced feel for how to pitch and get outs. The shape of his stuff gave hitters problems.

Listed at 5-11, 160 pounds, Bade, a lefty, looks quite different physically from 6-4, 219-pound right-handed Carson Priebe. Both uncommitted prospects, Priebe can light up the radar gun and was up to 92 MPH while holding 88-89 MPH in the third inning. For a tall, young pitcher with a full takeaway and some length in the back of the arm action, Preibe kept his posture pretty well in his delivery, which included a low three-quarters slot that occasionally added a little bit of arm side run to his heater. But there were moments when repeating everything at his size led to some occasional control issues.

The Frisco Wakeland prospect had quick hand speed through his finish, and if the shape of his fastball and short, hard curveball with an overhand look improve, he could miss a lot of bats moving forward. I didn’t get to see it as much as I’d like, but Priebe’s changeup, with noticeable pronation out of the hand to create some spin and circle look, looked like it could be a weapon against lefties in the future. There’s a lot to like about what Priebe could become in the future and there is a big gap between where he is presently and where he could be in the year, which is undoubtedly a positive.

Marucci Elite Texas 2023 – Holle

Before reaching the semifinals, Dulins Dodgers Prime had to knock off one of the best, most competitive teams in the event in the Yankees bracket championship, Marucci Elite Texas 2023 – Holle. It says a lot of good things about the Marucci Elite Texas program that it had one team in a bracket championship game and another team, Marucci Elite 2023 – Thames, in the championship game.

Rice commitment and Cy Ranch shortstop Tobias Motley has caught my attention for over a year now, and he’s started to fill out and turn more of his intriguing projection into improved skill and production. The athletic right-handed hitter slashed .385/.500/.846 during the AABC Don Mattingly World Series with just two strikeouts in 18 plate appearances. Motley hit extra-base hits down the left field and right field lines, hit an inside-the-park homer (around the bases in 15.6 seconds despite being slow out of the box and pulling up at the end), and still has even more physical and skill growth on the horizon.

If you coach at a top academic institution and you haven’t taken a look at Cy Fair outfielder Kyle Chambers, change that. A plus athlete with an excellent academic profile who is also a football standout with plus wheels, Chambers, a right-handed hitter, batted .450/.500/.500 with just one strikeout and swiped four bags. His short, quick swing is definitely built to be contact over power, but his speed and instincts on the bases often allow him to turn singles into doubles.

Chambers’ high school and summer teammate, Parker Lewis, hit .500/.526/.778 from the left side with two triples. Lewis starts with high hands in the batter’s box, but uses that to help time pitches and showed some feel for the barrel and getting to pitches down in the zone to pull. Brenham’s Jacob Mabie, who catches and plays first base, had just six plate appearances, but hit .500/.667/1.250. He did a good job working with the standout pitcher on his team.

On the mound, right-hander Gavin Hickman is a name to follow after tossing 4.2 dominant innings. Hickman, who attends Oak Ridge and is uncommitted, gave up just one hit, didn’t issue a walk and struck out seven with a fastball up to 90 MPH. Listed at 5-9, 160 pounds, Hickman looked a tad taller and heavier than his listed measurements, but isn’t going to have ‘physical projection’ tagged to his profile. That said, his infielder athleticism shows on the mound, and he uses an efficient, simple delivery to routinely fire strikes with his lively fastball and tight, sharp slider to both sides of the plate; he gathers and stays on his backside well and finishes with a strong lead leg.

The way Hickman finishes pitches creates a near sidearm look for hitters, but didn’t prevent him from snapping off breaking balls with true slider shape to his glove side; it does help his fastball occasionally grab some natural arm side life and the pitch played up. Hickman, who was first-time all district as a left-handed hitting infielder, also showed a changeup for a strike against left-handers.

More Notes from Yankees Bracket…

– LV Recruits 2023 catcher Gavin Taylor, a Nevada commitment, had one of my favorite right-handed swings in the event because of his balance, and how his quick, strong hands worked to pull inside pitches, hit outside pitches away and punish mistakes over the wall in dead-center field. Taylor (Birmingham; California) didn’t strike out a single time, hit .563/.579/1.125, and was undoubtedly one of the top players in the event.

Physical right-handed hitter James Starkus (Sierra Vista; Nevada) caught my attention because of his pitch recognition and approach. In the game I saw, Starkus recognized a two-strike breaking ball and nearly hit a homer to the opposite field.

– I’m a big believer in the importance of bat speed, and Prospects National Team 2023 left-handed hitting catcher Brooks Carter (Shallowater) has that along with a really intriguing, confident and aggressive left-handed swing. Don’t be fooled by his .385/.467/.385 line because there is some raw power in the profile.

Klein Oak two-way player Bret Deegan gave up just one unearned run across 3.0 innings with four strikeouts, two hits and one walk. The physical right-handed used a fastball up to 85 MPH and slider and changeup for strikes. Deegan also hit .333/.571/.444 and remains one of the better competitors in the class who elevates his performance in big moments.

– North Dallas Baseball Academy – Smiga’s Luke Lianthong (Wylie) stood out with his bat and glove. From the right side, Lianthong made quality contact at a high rate and hit .417/.533/.500 and he also made one of the best defensive plays of the week with a diving catch in deep right-center field.

– If you swing a neon green wood bat, you better be able to hit. This was my second look at Dallas Tigers Ahearne 17U’s Ayden Terry (Community), and the switch-hitter definitely hit. Again. There isn’t anything Terry can’t do on the diamond.

He again made highlight plays at third base while playing with calm, confident actions; he smacked line drives and proved to be a tough out in the batter’s box with zero strikeouts; and he fired strikes on the mound with a fastball up to 87 MPH that had a hint of deception because of his short arm path.

Teammate Bryce Gilchrist (Frisco Heritage) threw a seven-inning complete game and gave up two earned runs on three hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. The righty attacks hitters from a unique sidearm look that includes his back leg and knee nearly touching the mound at foot plant after a crouched, compact gather.

– ABA Lehman’s Gene Trujillo (Saint Puis X; New Mexico) caught the attention of many onlookers during last year’s AABC Don Mattingly World Series and he was at it again this year. He features a promising left-handed swing with good rotation and posture through his finish, which helps his power (two homers) show during games.

Teammate and right-handed hitter Vascon Smith (Rio Rancho; New Mexico) hit .500/.636/.625 and played shortstop with quick, confident actions. With some noticeable strength on his athletic frame, it was no surprise to learn he’s a football player, too. Shortly after the event, Smith committed to New Mexico.

– Fort Worth Cats right-handed hitter Caleb Boswell (Permian) routinely smacked hard liners all over the diamond and saw and timed pitches well from an open stance. A physically mature player, Boswell made swinging wood look easy with quick hands and noteworthy bat speed. Boswell, who caught a runner stealing with a 2.14 pop time, showed his power when he drove a ball out to center field for a homer despite a swing that wasn’t his best or most balanced.

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball