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South Alabama Preseason All-State: Quick Hits


PBR Alabama Staff

The South Alabama Preseason All-State was held this past Sunday, January 23rd at The Performance Lab Training Facility in Mobile, AL. This event consisted of some of the top players ranging from the classes of 2022-2026. These players went through an extended pro-style workout and took batting practice using Trackman and Blast Motion sensors. Pitchers were able to throw in simulated bullpens and were able to get numbers and metrics off of our Trackman unit, such as pitch velocity, spin rate, horizontal & vertical movement & much more. There were some players who showed up and continued to build off of prior performances, but there were also some new names who jumped onto our radar with a strong showing on Sunday.

Kicking off our post-event coverage for this event, we take a look back at some of the top performers and standouts from the event. Continuing over the course of the next week or so, we will release Statistical Leaderboards for the event then transition into releasing individual scouting reports for each player in attendance.

 

+ RHP Jonathan Stevens (Briarwood Christian, 2023) is already showing signs of having a breakout season heading into his junior year. A 6-1, 190-pounder, Stevens was as good as we've seen him over the past two years, including last summer's PBR Future Games where he touched 88 mph in his outing. Fast-forward to yesterday, Stevens started off the bullpen session with a major statement, as he worked consistently at 90-91 mph and touched 92.1 mph with his fastball. The righty also featured two distinctly different breaking balls, one being a slider in the mid-70's with quick, horizontal break & the other being a low-70's breaking ball with 11-5 depth. Both posted 2600 rpm's & have the potential to be real swing-and-miss offerings. He also flashed a fading changeup in the low-80's, as well.

+ RHP Eli Driskell (Faith Academy, 2024) was one of the many talented right-handed arms in the sophomore class who had big days on the mound. Like Stevens, Driskell was a member of Team Alabama at last summer's PBR Future Games who continued to build off prior performances. A 6-0, 190-pounder who has since added some noticeable strength to his frame, Driskell landed all three offerings for strikes throughout his outing. The sophomore righty worked 87-89 mph (2300 rpm's) with riding life through the zone with his fastball using a loose & quick arm action. Both breaking balls he used had 2600 rpm's, as the breaking ball flashed 11-5 shape & slider had short, horizontal break. He worked from a clean operation & repeated his delivery well.

+ Chipola CC signee & RHP Thrasher Steed (Gulf Shores, 2022) looked like he was in midseason shape in this preseason bullpen as he heads into his final year of his high school career. A durable 6-4, 210-pounder, Steed looks the part of a front-line at the next level. Steed worked 89-91 mph with sinking action to the bottom of the zone with his fastball using a quick, high 3/4 arm slot during his bullpen. His slider in the upper-70's is easily an above average offering at the moment with two-tier shape. Steed also turned over numerous quality changeups in the low-80's, making for another lethal weapon in his arsenal.

+ 3B Olin Ward (UMS-Wright, 2023) came into this event as a quality uncommitted hitters in the junior class, and his showing on Sunday affirmed he's got a chance to be a middle-of-the-order bat at the next level. A 6-3, 195-pounder packed with strength & athleticism, Ward showcased numerous above average tools across the board. After running a 7.05 laser-timed 60 YD, the right-handed hitter worked gap-to-gap during his round BP with multiple mid-90 EV's. Ward incorporates a strong lower-half well & creates some lag in his bat path before shooting a quick barrel through the zone. He should be a follow in the junior class moving throughout this spring.

+ OF Gabriel Young (Mountain Brook, 2023) took some quality swings during his round of BP & continued to elevate his offensive profile in this viewing. A 5-11, 192-pounder, Young fits the mold of a left-handed impact bat at the next level. During his round, the lefty showcased some of the best bat speed from the event as he consistently worked the power alleys, posting multiple mid-90 mph EV's. He flashed some intriguing power with a chance for more as he continues to fill out his physical frame. Young also posted the second-best outfield velocity of the event at 88 mph.

+ SS Paxton Ponder (Cullman, 2023) enjoyed a quality outing in multiple facets attending the event as one of the top uncommitted shortstops in the junior class. An athletic, still projectable, 6-0, 160-pounder, Ponder continues to look the part of a middle infielder at the next level. The uncommitted junior uses a simple & efficient setup from the right side with a flat path through the zone, resulting in consistent firm line drives to all fields. He's a rangy defender up the middle with advanced actions and the arm strength (86 mph) to stick on the left side of the infield. Also ran a 7.05 laser-timed 60 YD.

+ RHP/3B Carson Joyner (Bayside Academy, 2024) is another sophomore who did a number of things at a high level at yesterday's event. Joyner, a strong 5-11, 195-pounder, is an intriguing two-way prospect with defined physicality. He started his day off with a good round of BP, flashing plenty of pull-side pop and posting low-to-mid 90 mph EV's from the right side. The sophomore then hopped on the mound and worked in the upper-80's with his fastball, and reached 89.8 mph on the last pitch of his bullpen. Joyner also ripped off a few sharp breaking balls with 11-5 depth.

+ 3B Ben Arendale (Tuscaloosa County, 2023) has continued to get better over the past few months, and his showing at the event yesterday definitely showed the progress that he's made. A 6-0, 185-pounder, the junior right-hander improved his PBR personal-best in almost every statistical category. Arendale showcased a smooth right-handed swing during his BP round while working the middle of the field with consistency. He uses a direct path to contact with a quick barrel through the zone. He showed off some athleticism running a 6.85 laser-timed 60 YD and was also 84 mph across the infield.

+ Troy recruit & SS/RHP Brady Richardson (Enterprise, 2025) had a quality PBR debut at the event yesterday both at the plate and on the mound. An athletic 6-0, 175-pounder, Richardson looked really comfortable in the right side of the box during BP, as he sprayed consistent firm contact to both gaps. He's got a clean path through the zone and repeats his swing well. On the mound, the freshman worked in the low-80's with his fastball, and showed solid feel for his secondary offerings. Ran a 7.14 laser-timed 60 YD.

+ OF Connor Cosby (Auburn, 2023) is another talented uncommitted upperclassmen who came into this event for a final tune-up as he heads into his junior campaign. An athletic 6-1, 190-pounder, Cosby put up some impressive numbers across the board in this showing. From the left side, Cosby is under control at all times & repeats a smooth left-handed swing well. The uncommitted junior works with a slightly uphill plane that produces firm contact to both gaps. Cosby ran a 6.99 laser-timed 60 YD and was clocked at 85 mph on throws from the outfield.

+ SS Alex Bennett (Mobile Christian, 2024) will be another sophomore to keep an eye on as we move throughout the next few years. An athletic 5-11, 190-pound frame, Bennett is a switch-hitter who looked comfortable from both sides during his round of BP. The sophomore uses above average bat speed to impact the baseball at a high level, which resulted in a top EV at 94.3 mph in his round. He also showed some impressive athleticism, running a laser-timed 6.84 60 YD.

+ SS/RHP Connor Gatwood (Baker, 2024) is another underclassmen who showed signs of being quality prospect to follow in the coming years. Gatwood, a long & lean 6-3, 170-pounder, has plenty of projection and room for continued physical growth in the future. During his round of BP, the sophomore got off some good swings using a line drive approach and simple, confident setup from the right side. Gatwood was also equally as impressive on the mound, where he worked 84-86 mph and touched 87 mph on the final pitch of his bullpen. There's a lot to like in the future for Gatwood as he continues to develop as a prospect.

 

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