Deep Keepers: Perfect Game All-American Classic Part II
Evan continues his excellent scouting and reporting from the Perfect Game All-American Classic Recap Part II. You can find Part I here.
RHP Chris Oakley was easily the tallest player at the event (at 6’8″) and he’s going to be a popular name next spring. His legs look to be about 2/3 of his height, but he’s developing well in the upper body. The fastball was a steady 92-94 mph and he showed two secondaries: a low 80s change with both good fade and tailing action as well as a curve at 74-76 with decent shape. He started off downhill as expected, but ultimately failed to use his length effectively. He was living up in the zone with his 4-seamer and finishing a bit tall in his delivery (which was otherwise quite sound). The two things I look for with pitcher’s this size are body/conditioning concerns and mechanical issues, and he had neither. One of the best righties at the game.
OF Josh Hart had two nice catches in left field. One was just short of the wall in foul territory. It would have been nice to see what he could have done in CF.
SS Chris Rivera has been a top name the last year and a half and is well-conditioned with a good swing. He’s somewhat in the Christian Lopes/Addison Russell mold; guys who are more developed than their peers as underclassmen and who get more attention. In Russell’s case this worked as he was able to make adjustments heading into his draft year, but in Lopes case he seems to have a more modest ceiling. I think Rivera is more the former, as he seems like he has a chance to stick at SS for a while, but he didn’t make quite the impression I expected.
RHP Brady Corless wasn’t a name I was too familiar with heading into the game, but he’s interesting. He’s very mature in build, but also has an older face, like a college player’s. This was reflected in his approach; which was more about craft than power as he was mostly 85-87 with the fastball. In his defense, the commentators said he had peaked at 93 at recent events, so he may have left his fastball at one of them. He threw a curve at 77/78 and a change at 79, which was hard to gauge considering the lack of separation from the fastball. None of this stopped him as he pitched around a walk and then threw the kitchen sink at Demeritte to get a strikeout. He glides through his delivery a bit, but it was reasonably sound. He knows how to pitch, so if low 90s velo is truly in there he could be an interesting college arm.
RHP Kevin Davis is probably going to get a lot of relief projections — and with good reason. His delivery is extremely violent and he looks like he could break off at the waist and fly halfway to home on his next pitch. It’s too bad as the fastball has some zip at 92-94 and his high-70s hard curve was right with Kaminsky’s and Clarkin’s for best in show honors. The FB did dip to 88/89 a couple of times, but it appeared that he was dialing it back to locate. Some optimistic team may draft him hoping to fix the delivery — the pitches and command are tempting — but most teams will probably see a back of the bullpen ceiling I suspect. On the other hand, Dillon Maples got paid how much? I like Davis’s chances better than Maples’ for what it’s worth.
Boldt hit a ball into the LF corner and showcased his speed, turning it into a triple.
Demeritte made a very nice play coming in on a roller and flashing an above avg throwing arm.
LHP Jonah Wesely was a guy whose inning I was really looking forward to seeing, as I haven’t seen him before. He’s a beast physically, with tree trunk legs and a muscular upper half. He gets over his front leg well and really works the extension with a back bent almost parallel to the ground at release. He gets some demerits for rushing his motion a bit and pivoting hard on the heel of his plant foot, and the arm is a bit stiff for me. He got the FB up to 91-93, but also threw a lot at 87/88 on the T.V. gun that looked faster thanks to the deception in his delivery. He flashed a curve at 74 with okay shape, but the secondaries weren’t there in this look to place him very high in a class with this many intriguing left-handers. He commands attention as a physical presence and he makes a nice project for some lucky team’s player developemnt staff.
Sternagel showed off that contact ability, lining a 90 mph FB to the opposite field.
Mercado hit a flare to RF thanks to good bat control and a willingness to go with the pitch. He looks good even on softer contact.
Clint Frazier absolutely crushed a flat FB to dead CF — sometimes the big hit is worth noting too. If there’s a nit it’s that his speed looks good, not great. He keeps getting five-tool nods and is credited with elite speed, but I don’t see it translating on the basepaths. Mercado was out at home on a nice relay throw from SS Sheldon Neuse to Jeremey Martinez who was smothering home plate. No surprises on the Neuse throw as he’s also a top pitching prospect.
RHP Mayky Perez was the game’s representative from the Dominican Prospect League, and it was nice to see PG continuing the relationship they started developing with the DPL during this spring’s tour. This proved to be an interesting inning for both of the international attendees, Perez and Jan Hernandez.
Perez was one of the most projectable RHPs in the game, with long, coltish limbs and big hands and feet. Slope-shouldered and already developing through the neck, he could end up being a truly formidable physical specimen in his prime. He’s a bit spider-legged right now, a la Aaron Sanchez or the young Taijuan Walker. Mechanically he’s very deliberate, and has been well-schooled to use his height and fire downhill. The fastball sat 87-90 with natural sink and some tail and came out of his hand well. It wasn’t the hottest FB by any stretch, but that movement will really play and if commanded has the makings of an above average pitch even if it doesn’t tick up. The arm isn’t that fast, but it’s hard to tell if that’s because he’s so intent on controlling his delivery.
There wasn’t much in the way of secondaries. He threw a slider in the high-70s — many of which showed sharp break — but also immature shape and not all were under control. Besides being essentially a one-pitch guy, he was also undone by poor command as he walked two of the first three batters he faced. Some bad luck manifested in the form of a dropped throw by Hernandez costing the force and the potential double play. Worth noting is rather his youthful demeanor. After not getting a couple of borderline strike calls Perez was visibly agitated, shaking his head and snapping his glove at the ball. With the bases loaded and no one out, Dom Smith poked a grounder past Hernandez to drive in two runs, and Perez started losing the release point on his FB and bouncing it. The same happened with his slider as he snapped it off so hard that it darted out of the zone to the glove side and was nearly impossible to catch. He ended the inning with a plus curve with sharp downward break to 3B Gosuke Katoh that got a flailing swing-and-miss, raising the question of why he was working the slider rather than the curve.
I’m very intrigued to see where Perez is by the spring. It was a poor inning (and he lost his cool a bit) but this is rare projectability that should make him one of the more highly sought IFA starters.
Navaretto wasn’t a name I was very familiar with — some research revealed that he’s a member of the always tough East Cobb Braves with Demeritte and pitchers Kevin Davis, Chris Oakley and Clinton Hollon — but he’s a definite follow for me after seeing him here. Catching Perez was a tall order and Navaretto did his level best. He has a good build for the position and decent actions, but he probably stands out a bit more with the bat. His swing is sound, but a bit perty. After starting open, he closes slightly but balanced on the toe of his front foot, reminiscent of Dante Bichette. He hit a no doubter to the opposite field and the bat will get him some early round looks. He’s currently uncommitted.
LHP Stephen Gonsalves continues to cement his staus as a top of draft prospect. He showed one of the loosest arms of the night, pumping easy 90-92 fastballs and there’s reason to believe that the old-timey arm swing he brought back from his Team USA tenure may have unlocked his arm a bit by giving him some more comfortable check points. He’s already filling in his lower half and though he is still thin up top, he does have the shoulder slope and tapered torso of a future power pitcher. His plus athleticism showed in both his repeated delivery and a stolen base while pinch running in a later inning. He didn’t have the same above avg curve he showed at the Prospect Classic, but he didn’t really need it, inducing ground balls for outs and covering home on wild pitch that Martinez was able to gte back to him in time for the third out. Not the most eventful inning, but he’s a thoroughbred.
Hernandez’s struggled on both sides of the ball. In addition to the dropped throw from 1B Zach Collins that cost Perez at least one out, he also showed poor range on the Dom Smith grounder that plated two runs. It appeared that he wasn’t able to see the throw in the twilit conditions (it hit him on the knee as he didn’t even move his glove), so he might get a pass, but the ground ball exposed him a bit in my opinion. As I read my notes back now the words “Not a SS” are inked darkly and underlined in the margin. Hernandez had looked bad in his first plate appearance, swinging awkwardly through a 4-seamer up and away from him before clouting the ball to CF and Gonsalves must have been watching as he started him with two FBs to the same spot for swinging strikes.
It should be noted that the throw from Collins was a great baseball play, as he threw a strike to second that passed the runner and then tailed perfectly in to the bag, which is why it struck Hernandez on the left knee. It’s hard to see Collins sticking at catcher with his size, but that was a very heady play that will serve him well at his most likely defensive destination.