Five Tool Texas Championships: 16U Scouting Notes

 

TOMBALL – Following an exciting, highly competitive AABC Mattingly World Series, Five Tool’s focus shifted to 15U and 16U action. This week at Premier Baseball of Texas, Sam Houston State, Texas A&M and the Ballparks in Crosby, 84 teams took part in the Five Tool Texas 15U/16U Championships. I spent a couple days at Premier Baseball of Texas and its six fields hosting constant action. Some 16U notes from Thursday and Friday:

 

College coaches from the likes of Texas A&M, DBU, Texas State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UTSA, SFA and more were in attendance for a very intriguing pitching matchup during early Friday action. Listed at 6-0, 195 pounds (which appeared a little on the short side), Next Level 2023 – Davis’ Bret Deegan, an uncommitted product of Klein Oak High School, pitched 4.0 dominant innings against a good UBC 16U Tompkins lineup. 

 

Deegan ran into trouble in the fifth inning when he was extended, which resulted in four runs on four hits and four walks across 5.0 innings, a line not truly indicative of his performance. The physical righty struck out nine batters, held his velocity deep into his outing, and carried himself with noticeable competitiveness on the mound. Up to 87 MPH and consistently in the 83-85 MPH range throughout his outing, Deegan threw strikes with all his stuff consistently but especially with his fastball, which showed some late life to miss bats and glimpses of command to both sides of the plate. 

Although his 73-74 MPH breaking ball looked like a slurve visually, it created swings and misses down in the zone and Deegan showed some feel for burying the pitch ahead in counts and throwing it for a strike early. Deegan’s changeup, which ranged from 74-80 MPH, was inconsistent, but the hardest one he threw, which could have been accidental, showed very late fade and played well. There is a noticeable head-whack and some effort in the finish, but Deegan finished his pitches well out front, making his arm action work and his control was solid until his final pitches. 

 

Southlake Carroll 2023 product Ben Tryon was one of the only UBC 16U Tompkins players to put a barrel on a Deegan pitch early. A left-handed hitter listed at 5-11, 180 pounds, Tryon hammered an 85 MPH fastball away on the black over the left field fence on a line. He also homered during Thursday’s action. With a swing geared towards going up the middle or the other way, Tryon showed some juice. He’s currently uncommitted. 

Texas A&M 2023 commitment Bennett Fryman also swung the bat well for UBC 16U Tompkins. Fryman, a left-handed hitter, creates late separation with his hands before showing some bat speed and an athletic swing through the hitting zone. 

 

Opposing Deegan on the mound for UBC 16U Tompkins was uncommitted 2023 Rockwall prospect Mac Rose. The right-hander’s outing lasted just 2.2 innings because he issued five walks. Although Rose has some athleticism and his delivery is simple and doesn’t require much effort, the hard-throwing righty showed an inconsistent release point, which played into a lot of his fastballs missing way up. 

That said, when Rose’s arm and delivery timed up and his release point was more direct instead of sky-high, he showed massive upside, touching 90 MPH in the first inning with a lively heater; when Rose’s fastball was in the zone, it missed bats. If Rose is able to, as he matures and logs more innings on the mound, find a more consistent release point, he has the ingredients to emerge as one of the top arms in Texas for 2023 because there’s more velocity in the tank and a big gap from his present skills and where they could be when he graduates high school. 

 

At the plate, Rose’s swing from the left side was visually appealing, athletic and very aggressive. He aims to do damage with some big hacks that have a promising path through the zone but do create some swing-and-miss issues. Rose played first base when he wasn’t pitching. 

Behind Rose on the mound was right-hander Brydan Hernandez, and he ended up allowing his team to earn a 6-2 victory with some late runs. Across 3.1 innings scoreless innings, the undersized righty racked up seven strikeouts and gave up just two hits with two walks. 

 

Although Hernandez topped out at just 82 MPH, he repeatedly threw strikes with his fastball, changeup and curveball with slurve shape; the changeup showed command to his arm-side and generated swings and misses. Hernandez also catches and his short, repeatable arm action on the mound allowed him to throw strikes with a hint of deception. 

 

The standout pitching didn’t stop when the next two teams, Texas Twelve Maroon 2023 and Test Baseball, took the same field. Once again, 6-4, 200-pound right-hander and recent Texas A&M commitment Ty Baker looked like one of the top 2023 arms in Texas and perhaps nationally too. Baker touched 89 MPH early in his start and flirted with a no-hitter, tossing 6.0 shutout frames with one hit, two walks and seven strikeouts. 

Although Baker’s velocity settled in at 82-85 MPH in the middle innings, his fastball command then ticked up. Normally, 16U pitchers with Baker’s size and physicality can sometimes struggle to repeat their deliveries and throw strikes. That’s not a problem for the Second Baptist standout. Baker often spun his 71-75 MPH curve for a strike when he wanted and pitched backwards occasionally to keep Test Baseball hitters off-balanced. He also showed some fastball command to both sides of the plate and even though he turned his changeup over too much at times, the big righty did flash some feel for that developing into a legitimate third pitch to accompany his fastball and promising breaking ball. 

 

Texas Twelve Maroon 2023 catcher JJ Kennett, who tossed 5.2 shutout innings earlier in the event, was a treat to watch behind the dish working with Baker. Kennett moved energetically but quietly behind home plate, received the ball well, and displayed noteworthy catch-and-throw skill with a strong arm. The defense stands out much more than the bat, but pitchers have to love working with him. Kennett attends Ridge Point and is currently uncommitted. 

 

Sign me up as an enormous believer in 2023 Jaquae Stewart (Sinton) being one of the top hitters in the state. All he does is hit. He can pull the ball with juice from the left side; he can drive the ball up the middle; he can handle a pitcher’s pitch away and line it into left field. Stewart simply hits over and over and over again. 

Landon West (Tompkins; uncommitted), a Texas Twelve Maroon 2023 teammate, created some of the loudest contact throughout any Friday game I watched thanks to his bat speed. A physical 6-2, 180 pounds with room for projection, West whipped the barrel through the zone quickly with well-timed separation with the hands in rhythm with his front foot, handled pitches down in the zone and definitely has some pull-side juice. 

Thanks to Baker’s effort, it was a quiet day in the batter’s box for Test Baseball. Baylor 2023 commitment Tyler Garritano was one of two players to record a hit, and with a short, quick swing through the hitting zone, Garritano generated some pop off the bat and some lift despite a mostly flat bat. His offensive numbers thus far have been underwhelming, but his at-bats against Baker looked different in a good way. 

Wichita State 2023 commitment and Test Baseball shortstop Cam Johnson played defensively with confident, clean actions and made hard contact during the team’s next game versus Trosky Texas 2023 – Brewer/Hughes. Added strength will really aid the swing, but there was some intriguing feel for hitting present. 

 

On the mound for Trosky Texas 2023 – Brewer/Hughes, right-handed Jackson Blank showed a live arm with strength and touched 87 MPH multiple times. Unfortunately, like Rose earlier that day, Blank couldn’t find a consistent release point and timing on the mound, which resulted in four walks in 2.0 innings. When Blank was in the hitting zone, his fastball played up and he hinted at feel for spinning a curveball with depth. With some athleticism visible in a fairly easy delivery, Blank looked like he has a lot of ingredients to possibly develop into a hard-throwing, effective pitcher. 

Lefty Connor Masraff cleaned up the mess behind Blank, even though he topped out at 80 MPH. A quick-working lefty with a fast, simple delivery, the skinny 2023 prospect fired strikes consistently across 5.0 innings. He gave up just one unearned run on three hits, two walks and struck out five with feel for a curve and sinking his fastball. Masraff should fill out at least a little bit and if he can add some arm strength to go with his pitchability, he could put himself on the radar of college coaches in the Lone Star State. 

MORE 16U NOTES…

— Texas Twelve 2023 Gold infielder Joe Jefferson (Katy Taylor; uncommitted) had some of the best bat speed of any hitter in Tomball. Listed at 6-2, 177 pounds, Jefferson, who hits and throws right-handed, looked like he still has considerable room to fill out through the upper half and is on the path towards possessing plus raw power in an athletic frame. 

The question will be if he can cut down the strikeouts to put the ball in play more consistently, but there’s a ton of talent to work with. He played shortstop, but will likely outgrow it. That said, he showed hands and instincts that could stick on the dirt at third. 

 

— Jefferson’s teammate Andrew Hilton (Katy; uncommitted) played with outstanding energy, quickness and showcased quick-twitch athleticism. Just 145 pounds currently, Hilton needs to add a lot of weight and strength to better help him impact the baseball. That said, he was up to 86 MPH off the mound, can cover a ton of ground in the outfield, and put the bat on the ball routinely. 

 

— Major ballplayer and hitting vibes were given off by Dallas Tigers Ethridge’s shortstop Colby Porter. An uncommitted 2023 prospect from Caddo Mills, hit hard grounds, liners, and lifted the ball with some authority thanks in part to a balanced swing with rhythm and some natural hitting skill. Porter moved well on the dirt and had the build and running movements of a talented high school running back. 

— Trosky Texas 2023 – Young right-handed starting pitcher Nicolas Graves-Garcia (Cy Ridge) was up to 83 MPH and struck out eight across 5.0 innings with two earned runs on five walks and three hits. He searches for velocity with visible effort, but has some arm strength and repeatedly threw a 66-70 MPH curveball with a strike; the pitch was soft, but had enough shape and spin to create a lot of uncomfortable takes. 

— Texas Angels 2023 Gutierrez center fielder Reese Borho covered a lot of ground defensively, covered the plate with the bat and popped a homer during Saturday’s action after creating loud contact Thursday. The Abilene Wylie product has an athletic build and swings from the left side. 

 

Borho’s teammate Carter Beard (Wylie) touched 85 MPH during his 2.1-inning outing on the mound and sat comfortably 80-84 MPH. The righty created some angle with his fastball and had inconsistent feel of a big-breaking, 74-76 MPH curve that resulted in strikes when he could get on top of it. 

— Marucci Elite Texas 2023 – Hardin’s Kade Hanks is a muscular athlete who made hard contact repeatedly, was 4.3 down the line from the right side, and showed some hand strength in the batter’s box. The Klein Cain prospect manned center field. 

 

Dustin McComas (follow me on Twitter: @DustinLMcComas)
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball 

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