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Summer Scout Notes: Underclass Standouts


Ryan Ozella
N. California Area Scout

 

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San Jose, CA - The summer schedule continues with two games at Bellarmine showcasing 2021-2023 prospects from around Northern California. Here is a look at a group of Underclass players who stood out. 

2021 Players:

2021 C Anson Aroz (Placer) - Aroz has continued to progress this summer and today was no different as he showcased an improved left-handed swing consistently finding the barrel. He’s lifted his hands and slowed his approach to the baseball allowing him to stay in his legs and adjust to the pitch; the bat speed and compact swing are still present getting on-plane early and driving through the baseball. Doubled down the RF line in his 1st AB, being out front a bit and keeping it fair past the bag; loved the hustle thinking two out of the box. Singled in 2nd AB through 4-hole and then adjusted to a pitch down in the zone during his 3rd AB getting barrel head under ball and knocking off high fence for a long 1B. Hit a shot that the CF made a diving catch over his head into the gap, robbing him of easy extra bases during the last AB. Aroz hopped behind the plate late in the game and showed his plus catching skills working easy with his pitcher and having a plan of attack for hitters. Ended the game with a great play having the ball scoot away but got to it quickly and put the ball on the money to knab the runner on base. Looking forward to seeing how he compares to the other top catchers at Underclass Area Code Games next week. 

2021 OF/RHP Cameron Butler (Modesto Christian) - Cal Poly Commit. Butler is another guy getting ready for Underclass Area Code games and looked like the same elite athlete that he’s shown consistently, playing strong defense in CF, arm strength on the mound and the pop in the bat. Offensively showed a quick and compact swing that stays balanced and behind the baseball very well; above-average hand speed able to get the barrel through the zone on upward path. HR to LCF that got out in a hurry and 2B off the top of the wall in LF during the game. Had a strikeout on a SLD, but showed ability to foul off pitches and work the count in that AB. In CF, has freedom to go get the ball and with his arm prevents runners from even looking to advance. Pitched the final three innings giving up no runs, working with strong tempo and a fluid delivery to attack with three pitches. Quick, loose arm from H3/4 moves freely and repeats it. FB 83-85 T87 moved the pitch around getting swings on it through the top of the zone; solid control set-up all other pitches. CHG 77-78 with late run arm side under barrels of RHH; got an ugly sword for a swinging K. CB 69-70 12/6 shape with rolling depth; had a couple back up but also could get fingers over and into zone with some feel. Butler has a chance to be the top player in NorCal as he continues.

2021 1B Dylan Hartmann (Pleasant Grove) - Hartmann is a physical, large framed player who moves easy on the field including a swing that can really bang the baseball. I’d seen Hartmann earlier in the summer and he continued to impress today. High hands, tall setup, relaxed at the plate, Hartmann destroyed a baseball over the RF fence showing easy loft from a quick two handed power swing not missing his pitch. The bat speed is present and the upward path of the swing will lead to a lot more power as he continues to mature and grow. At first base, he’s got agile feet able to play the base well moving through and up the line to grab the ball and giving confidence in his infielders to make the throws. Power hitting left handed hitters are a premium and Hartmann has continued to show that. 

2021 OF Bobby Blandford (Pleasant Grove) - I’ve seen Blandford at a couple different events this summer and the frame definitely passes the eye test. Long and wide, high waisted with length in the limbs projecting well for the next level. Athleticism and defense are both very strong as he moves easily in the field. He showed it in this one with plus range in CF and a diving play over his head in RCF to take away a big hit. The arm is compact and shows a high release fitting best in the middle of the OF. At the plate, Blandford is balanced keeping the hands even with a high back elbow; tilts the hands towards the catcher with a controlled knee lift and hang. Barrel turn is quick and compact showing a flat barrel designed to hit line-drives which he did; one at the 1st baseman and the other at the SS.

2021 3B/C Drake Bicknell (Jesuit) - Bicknell moved around during this game showing his defensive versatility at both third and behind the plate. At third he made back-to-back great plays showing off the easy arm strength and quick feet; jumping quick snag out of the air before than getting a top ball with ease. Behind the plate he showed a soft glove sitting from a higher squat; his receiving flashed well and I see the space for continued growth. The arm strength and footwork that carry him at third work well behind the plate allowing him to move in tight spaces. At the plate he’s got an open, high handed stance with some bounce; the barrel has a quick downward movement getting into the zone quickly and finishing high. Put quality swings on the baseball just missing some hits. Looking forward to seeing Bicknell again in a couple weeks; will be representing Northern California at the State Games.

2022 Players:

2022 OF Payton Brennan (Rocklin) - UCLA Commit. After getting some good reports on Brennan, I came away very impressed with him in my first look. Projectable, long frame with squared shoulders and the space to add weight and strength; moves well with more projection in his speed as well. Stands tall and quiet at the plate with a simple set up keeping hands at the back shoulder; easy controlled load allows for quick, loose swing. Had three quality at bats where he looked calm and in control of the strike zone; took good swings at the ones he liked with only two walks to show for the day. Was able to impact the game even without picking up hits as he showed off his speed to score from 1st on a long single off the RF wall. In the OF moves easy as well showing ability to cover ground and get the ball in quickly. Loose arm with current strength; chance for more in there as he matures. Loved his consistent effort on and off the field and running out hard 90’s even when grounding out to the pitcher. Big arrow up.  

2022 SS Brandon Forrester (Bella Vista) - Oregon State Commit. Top SS in Northern California showed more of his plus defense and bat-to-ball skills during his game today. Medium frame with first step athletic ability and twitchy attributes. Started the game with a bang on a 1st pitch FB driving it off the top of the fence in LF before diving into second for the double. Excellent bat speed from the compact swing as he hits behind the baseball driving over a firm front leg. Had two AB’s where he squared up the baseball, one for a hard 5-3 (4.3 H-1st), and another that was right at the SS for an L6. Patience and zone knowledge were also present as he picked up two walks and fouled off many good pitches to extend AB’s. The twitchy actions show up at SS where he shows plus range and very quick bounce in his step able to move any way and make the plays; showed baseball instincts with runner trying to advance in front of him and throwing a strike. The arm has the strength to make all the throws and he knows when to give a good hop for his first baseman. High Floor/Higher Ceiling type of player. 

2022 MIF/OF Caden Thompson (Woodcreek) - Has really impressed me in two looks with the way the bat works and his athletic ability that will help him stick in the middle of the field. Long frame, lean with projectable build and space to take on weight. Keeps hands at the back shoulder, loose and easy with some bounce pre-pitch while keeping a slightly opened stance; big knee lift allows him to coil around the back hip before showing a ready to fire trigger. Barrel gets on-plane early allowing loose, strong wrists to work level through the zone with the adjustability for different locations and types of pitch. Doubled into RCF showing the full two-handed finish in 1st AB before showing it again on a hard 5-3 (4.87 H-1st, 4.97T) in his 2nd AB and walking in his third AB. Defensively he’s got a compact arm from a lower slot flashing average for the position. Glove works from different angles fielding the ball with forward momentum moving through the ball. Looking forward to see how he progresses. 

2022 OF Raoul Fabian (California) - Fabian has been one of my favorite outfielders to cover in the 2022 class and the skills are just starting to show their full potential. Medium frame with high waist and strength in the athletic build. On a day where he didn’t pick up a hit, Fabian still showed tools at the plate. Fabian is consistently balanced at the plate and the quick, slightly uphill bat seems to find barrels even when those hard hit balls end up at people like they did during the viewing. The defense was on display in LF where he showed off his arm strength throwing out a runner on a Sac Fly at the plate; compact, online throw with good strength. Fabian showed good range and played solid defense on an awkwardly shaped field understanding reads off the fence and tracking down balls. The tools continue to develop and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the Spring. 

2022 RHP Wyatt King (St. Francis) - King finished the game going three scoreless innings and shows the projectable build and stuff to be a frot of the line starter in a few years. Medium frame, rolled shoulders with some strength and projection in the proportional build. Full, overhead motion with high front knee; allows his long, loose arm to work in time before finishing over stiff front leg. Attacked hitters using three-pitch sequence. FB 80-82 T 83 showed angled on both sides of the plate as he worked the bottom half of the zone all day. CB 67-73 with 12/6 shape from overhand release; pitch flashed feel and through the zone actions with the ability to speed up/slow down as needed. CHG 75-76 holding a FB look with late arm side run and bottom getting under barrels and flashing as an above average pitch. At the plate showed a balanced, high hands setup with slight lean over the plate; the bat can get over-rotational and around the ball with good quickness in the swing. 

2022 RHP Austin Turkington (Bellarmine) - Turkington pitched at the CCB World Series event earlier this summer and getting to see him on the mound again allowed me a better look at his repertoire. Long limbed with wider shoulders, Turkington has the space for more weight without taking away from his athletic ability. From a stretch only look, he’s got an early lean down the mound that when on time allows the momentum to create late arm speed; when the body rushes it slows down the arm and sequencing of the body causing some control issues. Quick arm from a H-3/4 release pulling out the elbow from the glove showing extension down the hill. FB 79-81 pitching up/down in the zone being able to move the ball to both sides of the plate. SLD 68-72 flashes as above-average or better; 3/4 break, late at the plate when the fingers drive through the pitch. CHG 70-71 with bottom using in the bottom half of the zone. Was able to pitch around some control issues and showed a projectable combination of pitches. Will look forward to seeing him this Spring in #CCSFocus.

2023 PLAYERS:

2023 RHP CJ Rice (Granada) - First time seeing Rice and was impressed with his ability to compete; the stuff has a chance to be very good. High waist with length in the legs and some growing strength, it’s a young frame that has time to continue to develop and strengthen. Keeping his hands at the chest as he moves through a simple side step and high tucked knee before drop and drive styled delivery with some head whack; shorter extension finishing over firmer front leg. The delivery is deliberate having the armspeed play up on hitters and allows him to ride the back hip. The arm has length out of the glove before 3/4 release working cleanly; times where the arm gets stuck in the glove causing it to be late to release and having to try and catch up to the body. When in time he was able to showcase better stuff and control of his pitches. FB 78-80 T82, dropping down to 75-78 in the 3rd inning, showed two-seam run arm side. SLD 65-69 with late lateral action flashing some tilt at it’s best; times where his fingers get around the baseball and cause it to spin which can be expected from a young pitcher. CHG 71-72 sells it well with some late sink in the pitch. Will need to work on holding runners on base and getting the arm out of the glove a bit earlier to reach his ceiling, but it was a solid outing and he’s got the chance to keep improving. 

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