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 nation. 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 5 West vs. Region 14 North

During Friday’s opening game, El Paso Community College catcher Mauricio Millan nearly drove the ball out of the yard to center field his first at-bat, which was just the beginning of a very impressive day. Listed at 5-11, 180 pounds, Millan made hard contact in four at-bats, which included easily getting on time to 94 MPH fastballs two separate times and hammering those offerings into the gaps for base hits.

 

With hands starting high near his right ear, Millan, in addition to showcasing his ability to time impressive velocity, routinely put the barrel on the baseball in different parts of the hitting zone, including a pitch inside, down and up. The bat plays more as gap-to-gap power and contact over impact, but Milan was confident and under control consistently in the batter’s box.

Defensively, it became obvious early during Friday’s first action Millan is a high energy player who bounces around the diamond. He showed some catch-and-throw skill behind the dish and pop times between 2.05 and 2.15 with consistently accurate throws. Basically, Milan looks like he can immediately impact a D1 program as a starting catcher.

 

Joining Millan as standout position players for the Region 5 West squad during Friday’s game was the Midland duo of Tyler Wulfert and Luke Bumpas. Wulfert, who played a solid shortstop with calm, athletic actions, smashed a three-run homer the opposite way, double off the wall in center field and nearly hit another homer to the deepest part of the park. Wulfert had some of the better bat speed in the event and showed impressive athleticism in the batter’s box and looked like he could add more leverage and torque to his swing.

As for Bumpas, he created hard contact in three separate at-bats, showed the ability to recognize and adjust between fastballs and breaking stuff pitch-to-pitch, covered a lot of ground in center field and was noticeably athletic. Midland teammate and infielder Garrett Williams also hit the ball hard.

With a short, simple swing with some extension in the follow-through, Panola left-handed bat CJ Difiglia took some of the best at-bats of the game. Difiglia, a sophomore from Plano, tracked pitches well and showed some natural bat-to-ball ability. He’s coming off a season when he struck out just nine times in 91 plate appearances, and the approach and swing are presently geared towards making solid contact at a high rate instead of searching for impact and power.

As for the pitchers, let’s just say a charged radar gun came in handy Friday afternoon. The big velocity began immediately and continued throughout the game. Midland right-hander Luke Young tossed a perfect frame to start the game and recorded two strikeouts thanks to a fastball that touched 96 MPH and a sharp curveball. With a quick, loose arm and some physical projection still remaining, Young emerged from All Star weekend as the most intriguing pitcher who participated.

Young’s athleticism allows him to repeat a delivery featuring a pause and turn and a finish that does put some stress on the body, and it’s fair to wonder if he can hold the delivery and stuff throughout a lengthy start after finishing last season with a 7.80 ERA across 47.1 innings. That said, the arm talent is obvious and at worst Young looked like a guy who could play a major role in a big-time D1 bullpen, although after his performance Friday he’ll undoubtedly be scouted heavily throughout Midland’s season.

While Young’s overpowering stuff turned heads, his teammate’s sinker was perhaps the most impressive pitch during the event. Midland right-hander Jarek Wells, older brother of 2022 Five Tool 55 member Kasen Wells, also tossed a perfect frame. The athletic righty struck out two batters with his sinker, which played like he was firing bowling balls into the batter’s box. Wells did a good job in his delivery of firing with his backside through his finish with timing and rhythm. Also, the sophomore showed a cutter up to 86 MPH and a sharp slider at 83 MPH; the slider looked like a strong complement to his sinker.

Back to the big velocity, Tyler right-hander Benjamin Wilson sat 91-93 MPH and touched 94 MPH. Unafraid to let it eat on the mound and finish his delivery with audible effort, Wilson struck out two across a scoreless frame and used a sharp slider up to 84 MPH to frustrate right-handed hitters. Interestingly, Wilson is still relatively new to pitching full-time, which suggests the development and stuff on the mound could continue to tick up. With his present combination of velocity and strike-throwing, he’ll undoubtedly be a target for D1s and will be scouted this spring.

Navarro right-hander Seth Foster touched 91 MPH and was unafraid to use his 81-83 MPH changeup early to neutralize lefties. With late arm-side fade, Foster’s changeup played off his arm action and fastball well. The righty also showed a two-plane curveball at 76-78 MPH, which registered a swing and miss for a strikeout against a right-hander. Foster did battle his control occasionally, but was certainly intriguing.

 

Former Tennessee pitcher and 6-6 right-hander Sean Goodwin possesses the physicality and velocity to be closely tracked this fall and season. However, the righty, who was up to 93 MPH, struggled to throw strikes with his fastball and hard slider (84 MPH). Regardless, the combination of arm talent and size makes him a prospect to follow this season.

 

El Paso Community College left-handed pitcher Kenneth Dutka didn’t light up the radar gun like some of the guys mentioned above, but he did flash an intriguing feel for spinning a 71 MPH hook and also feel for a changeup capable of neutralizing right-handed bats. Dutka, who touched 87 MPH, worked with a compact delivery featuring some effort through the finish that looked like it could be repeated multiple times through an order.

 

Perhaps the most interesting single pitch of the event came courtesy of Western Texas College righty Reese Weaks. A strong, well-built 6-3 righty with some projection still remaining through his upper half, Weaks moved extremely well getting off the mound to cover first base and showcased his athleticism, which was present in a compact delivery that included some crossfire. With some angle out of his 6-3 frame, Weaks fired fastballs around 88-90 MPH consistently and threw a 12-6 overhand curve for a strike.

But the changeup was the unique standout. Weaks flashed a very, very low spin 72 MPH changeup that seemed to almost stop spinning as it neared home plate; it was the type of changeup we simply don’t see very often and could be the type of thing allowing him to baffle lefties for at least the first time through the order. Weaks showed a starter’s build, delivery and stuff.

 

Defense matters too, and Panola outfielder Matthew Etzel made a strong case for best defensive play of the event when he tracked down this hard fly ball off Milan’s bat:

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

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