DALLAS – Just days after hosting some of the top high school talent in the state, Dallas Baptist University hosted the Texas-New Mexico JCBCA 2021 All Star Weekend. The event, which spanned two days September 24-25, featured four teams and boasted, without question, some of the best junior college baseball talent in the region. Five Tool Baseball covered the event with live social media coverage (Twitter) and continues its coverage this week with multiple installments of our scout notes, highlighting some of the standouts among the nearly 100 players who participated.

 

TX-NM JUCO ALL STAR WEEKEND: Region 14 South vs. Region 5 West

 

This past Saturday’s action at Dallas Baptist started with a bang when Frank Phillips College outfielder Cory Bonstrom jumped all over a hanging slider and smashed a two-out grand slam in the top of the first inning. Bonstrom, a sophomore who hit .312/.485/.503 last season with 17 steals in 54 games, rotates well in the batter’s box, adding some torque to his swing in addition to using his athleticism and lower half for leverage. With a positive attack angle and some bat speed and intent, Bonstrom, despite being listed at 5-10, 175 pounds, aims to do damage with his hacks; there is some swing and miss in the swing, but Bonstrom also made it down the line in 4.28 seconds and make hard contact in another at-bat. 

In the top of the second inning, Region 5 West continued to drive the ball with authority. New Mexico Junior College second baseman Stanley Tucker emerged from All Star weekend one of the top position players at the event. Listed at 5-11, 165 pounds, Tucker, who hits right-handed, is a threat to drive mistakes, like the curveball he jumped on his second at-bat, out of the yard to his pull-side thanks to his bat speed, and combination of leverage and rotation in his swing. Tucker gets the bat through the hitting zone quickly, uses a well-timed leg kick and his athleticism shows in his finish; he gets the most out of his strength and athleticism. In particular, Tucker seemed to track breaking stuff very well and recognized spin early. 

Staying with the bats who went deep for Region 5 West, Howard right-hander Hunter Simmons smacked a two-run homer the opposite way and finished the day with four base hits, including three hard ones and a loud out. It was easy to see why Simmons hit .469/.580/.654 his freshman season and the 5-11, 195-pound sophomore certainly looks the part physically. While his defensive profile is inconclusive and probably results in a corner outfield or first base spot, Simmons’ bat looked like it could impact a major D1 program immediately. 

Italian infielder Daniel Monti, who hit .329/.390/.557 for Odessa last season, used a simple swing with some separation to drive a homer out the opposite way; his bat stayed in the hitting zone and looks like it features some gap-to-gap impact with the occasional bomb to the pull-side and opposite field. Although it looked like he’ll move off shortstop at the next level, Monti’s bat was intriguing.

How about we stick with the international theme? Not every ball thrown resulted in an extra-base hit somewhere and pitchers definitely had their moments during Saturday’s first game too. Perhaps the most interesting arm of the day called home a place far, far away. New Mexico Military Institute right-hander Megumi Fukuda hails from Takarazuka, Japan and it showed in his delivery. 

The 5-9, 175-pound righty utilized a slow tempo, poised delivery reminiscent of so many big-time Japanese pitchers and out of that delivery came a fastball that touched 95 MPH with some downward angle. With some arm quickness, Fukuda also featured a power curve (81-83 MPH) that generated a swing and miss and a promising 81-82 MPH changeup. Although he’s undersized, Fukuda showed the arm talent and delivery capable of being a starter at the next level. 

 

From Italy to Japan and now over to the Netherlands… JUCO baseball in the Texas-New Mexico region truly has worldwide appeal. San Jacinto left-hander Chris Stuart, from Amsterdam, touched 94 MPH with some crossfire in his delivery that could be a tough look for lefties with his low three-quarters slot. Stuart struck out three batters in a scoreless frame, including a couple defensive swings from a lefty against his slider (79-82 MPH).

Based on the limiting viewing of a two-pitch mix, it looked like Stuart might profile more as an impact reliever, especially against lefties, than starter. But he’s a strong 6-0, 215 pounds with a simple delivery. Teammates Luke Pectol (left-handed hitting center fielder) and third baseman Ben Greer showed their all-around talent and skill with standout moments defensively and offensively. 

Tall, lanky Coastal Bend College right-handed pitcher Ian Sexton struck out two batters across a scoreless frame. Although he could pull the fastball to his glove-side too much on occasion, Sexton harnessed the length in his arm action and it showed promise both in how it worked in the back and out front. Sexton mixed speeds very well, featuring a 89-92 MPH fastball with some angle when he was on top with timing, a 81 MPH changeup with some two-seam-like action, and a 71 MPH curve depth and impactful shape. 

If you like curveballs, New Mexico Junior College righty Zach Boyer flashed an impressive, tight 79 MPH curve paired with a fastball that touched 90 MPH and Midland right-hander Caleb Heuertz snapped off a few hard, power hooks at 80-82 MPH that played really well. Heuertz also touched 92 MPH and was able to consistently get to his breaking stuff despite showing a lot of his arm action in the back. 

His stuff wasn’t as loud and didn’t miss bats at the rate of some other pitchers, but Midland right-hander Luis Rodriguez looked like one of the best strike-throwers of the All Star weekend. Rodriguez touched 91 MPH with his fastball and threw his changeup (81-83 MPH) and curveball (76 MPH) for strikes. Wharton righty AJ Kostic showed a changeup capable of missing bats and neutralizing lefties.

 

Tune in Friday as our TX-NM All Star Weekend coverage continues with notes from the event’s final game.

 

Dustin McComas – Follow me on Twitter
Senior Editor
Five Tool Baseball

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