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Tucson Preseason ID: Quick Hits


Paul Panaccione
Arizona Scouting Director

On January 8, Prep Baseball Report Arizona held the Tucson Preseason ID at Cienega High School. The Tucson Preseason ID is an open showcase accessible to the class of 2022-2025 players in the state of Arizona, granting players the opportunity to be evaluated by the PBR Arizona staff while their tools were analyzed by state-of-the-art technologies on-site. 

Today, we’ll begin to publish our findings from our first event of the year in the form of this Quick Hits post. In no order, we will state some of our initial takeaways and highlights from Saturday’s showcase. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more post-event coverage.

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Quick Hits

C Joel Esparza (Tombstone, 2022)

5-foot-11 145 pounds, Joel Esparza (recent Ottawa University commit) was a stand out the whole day at the Tucson Preseason ID. Esparza possesses above average athleticism for his position, with some twitchy actions, mobility, and good footwork. He stood out most with his defensive work. All throw downs to 2nd base were sub 2, consistently at a 1.95 pop. The arm action was loose with some whip and the ball came out of his hand with true carry on the bag. During the bullpen sessions, Esparza showed his simple and efficient receiving skills, and above average blocking ability. At the plate, Esparza has a simple bat path that is direct to the baseball and on this day, produced a high rate of line drive contact. Joel Esparza is a high motor defensive catcher, with his arm and athleticism being his most glaring tools. If strength and size can be added, Esparza will be a great addition to Ottawa next year. We will continue following his development. 

 

2B/SS Roberto Gallego (Nogales, 2022)

5-foot-8 165 pounds, Roberto Gallego was an interesting uncommitted 2022 prospect at the Tucson Preseason ID. With a simple and balanced setup at the plate, Gallego possesses a bat path that stays tight to the body, with a small amount of tilt to the barrel. Ball flight was majority to the middle of the field. With his compact build and strength, Gallego seems to be a hitter that can drive balls to the gaps for extra base hits. More of a line drive approach would benefit Gallego's style of play. His footwork and body positioning in the infield was above average. With active feet and solid glove work, Gallego stood out as one of the top infielders at this event. Gallego possesses the ability to play at all three infield spots. Roberto Gallego is an athletic middle infielder with good infield instincts and gap-to-gap offensive potential. 

 

C/UTIL Jose Simon-Aguirre (Salpointe, 2024)

5-foot-11 165 pounds, Jose Simon-Aguirre showed his versatility and offensive ability at the Tucson Preseason ID. Simon-Aguirre has true utility player skills with ability behind the plate, in the outfield, and on the infield dirt. He recorded a 6.9 60 yard dash on a slow track, which clocked in as the 2nd best on the day. Simon-Aguirre opened some eyes with an impressive round of BP, recording the highest average exit velo at 92 mph, and tied another participant for the top exit velo at 98 mph. Sinking into his back leg in his load, he gets into a strong position to hit and does a good job of keeping his weight back and using his lower half to produced bat speed and hard contact. With a pull side approach, Simon-Aguirre produced a 65% rate of line drive contact. Behind the plate, Simon-Aguirre lacked some consistency on this day with the accuracy of his throws, but the arm strength is there. With more reps and fine tuning to his technique, we expect Simon-Aguirre's 2.0-2.15 pop time can improve. Jose Simon-Aguirre will be a great follow over the years and we look forward to tracking his progress. 

 

 

RHP/3B Andres Castro (Pusch Ridge, 2024)

6-foot-1 200 pounds, Andres Castro was no doubt one of the top prospects at this event. Castro has a strong build with strength in his lower half, and showed some athleticism for his size. His best tool is no doubt his arm. For now, Castro has some upside on both sides of the ball, but his future could be on the mound. He posted an event high for FB velo at 85 mph. He was able to produce solid spin numbers, FB max spin rate was recorded at 2237 rpm with some ride at the top of the zone. The CH was thrown with good arm speed and sat 70-72 mph and commanded well. And the breaking ball sat 68-70 mph. When Castro stays closed and gets down the mound, all pitches play well. The CH showed to be his best offspeed offering on this day. Offensively, Castro was able to turn in an event high for bat speed on our Blast Motion Sensors (78.5). Castro's best bullet on the day offensively was a 92 mph line drive. Castro's bat path attacks from a slightly steep angle, would benefit from a swing that is more on plane and through the zone, allowing him to use more of his strength. Defensively, Castro showed graceful actions in the infield. He was quiet on his feet and fielded balls in motion to the target. Glove work was consistent and again, his arm strength showed well across the diamond. Expect Andres Castro to be a top producer for Pusch Ridge over the coming years. 

 

 

 

SS/3B Zakye Hawkins (Las Cruses, 2024)

6-foot 180 pounds, Zayke Hawkins is a left-side infielder with size and an impressive hit tool. Hawkins joined us at the Tucson Preseason ID from Las Cruses, New Mexico. His set up at the plate is balanced in a knock kneed stance, with his hands tight to his body and held just above shoulder height. This set up puts Hawkins in a good position to stay loose with his hands and get extension through the baseball. Attacking the inner half of the baseball, Hawkins is able to create back spin flight to all fields with high line drives. His max exit velo on the day was recorded at 98 mph with a max distance of 336 feet. On Blast Motion Sensors, Hawkins posted event high scores for hand speed and rotational acceleration. Hawkins showed good rhythm and timing with his footwork in the infield and a short arm action. He was consistently 82 mph across the diamond and showed the ability to come get balls and throw on the run from different angles. Zayke Hawkins is no doubt an offensive presence with good actions in the infield. We look forward to Hawkins coming back to Arizona with his BNL club so we can continue our evaluations. 

 

LHP/OF Sal Valenzuela (Nogales, 2024)

6-foot 175 pounds, Sal Valenzuela is a guy that has been on our radar for some time now, and continues to impress PBR staff. This L/L prospect showed well on both sides of the ball at the Tucson Preseason ID, but the upside on the mound is undeniable. This is a left handed arm with some size and a clean delivery that shows there is still much more in the tank. On this day, Valenzuela's FB sat 81-83, topping at 84 mph with some good arm side run. The CH was impressive, sitting 69-72 mph with -16.4 horizontal movement. This showed to be his best off speed offering on this day, this pitch can be very tough on RHH falling off away from them. The CB is a slower downward breaking pitch that sat at 64-67 mph. Offensively, Valenzuela sets up in a wider stance with a bend in the knees and uses a no-stride approach. He has some pull side pop, majority of his swings were fly balls to the pull side with a max exit velo of 93 mph and a max distance of 348 feet. Overall, Valenzuela has a great build with a very intriguing arm on the mound, this will be a high follow for us through the spring. 

 

SS/RHP Nate Shoemaker (Catalina Foothills, 2025)

6-foot-2 182 pounds, Nate Shoemaker is a prospect to follow from the 2025 class. He possesses advanced size and strength for his age along with ability that we expect to take off with reps and refinement. He sets up at the plate with a strong base that is slightly open, with a bend in the knees. He's got a clear inside path to the baseball, with a high rate of line drive contact. His max exit velo posted on Saturday was 94 mph, with a max distance of 335 feet. Handling balls best on the inner half of the plate. With more at bats and maturity, we expect Shoemaker to be able to handle the ball on the outer half with more success than was shown on this day. Defensively, Shoemaker showed a quick first step with solid glove work. His arm strength will play from the left side, as his ball had good four seam carry with a 75 mph INF velo. On the mound, Shoemaker's FB sat 74-76 mph, CH 67-69 mph, CB 63-65 mph. One glaring number from Shoemaker on the mound was his FB spin rate (2182 rpm). A higher spin rate with the lower velo that Shoemaker currently has, shows us growth is in his future. Nate Shoemaker is a big upside guy for us, and we are very excited to keep following his development as he adds strength and athleticism. 

 

1B/3B Nathan Huie (Sahuarita, 2024)

6-foot-1 195 pounds, Arkansas commit, Nathan Huie showed his strengths on Saturday at Cienega High. Huie took what could have been arguably the best rounds of BP at the event. Huie possesses a large frame with strength and a good feel for his barrel. He has a simple set up at the plate, base is shoulder width, slightly raised back elbow, and an athletic bend in the knees with good posture. He uses a knee to knee stride while generating power into his back hip. He is slow and controlled in the box until he explodes at contact. Huie has the ability to let balls get deeper than the average hitter at his age. We've seen him use the whole field in the past, and now the pull side power is starting to show. Huie left the yard multiple times in BP with a max distance of 345 feet. Most of his offensive work was done to the pull side on this day. Defensively, we have seen large improvements from Huie's foot and glove work. He is starting to understand hops and the hands are working softly. While Huie's athleticism keeps progressing, we could see a corner infielder with big pop who understands hitting. 


 

LHP Sam Pitts (Buena, 2023)

6-foot 150 pounds, Sam Pitts had a great showing at Saturday's Tucson Preseason ID. Pitts attended this event as a pitcher only, and performed well. Pitts has a quick arm action from the left side with good tempo to his delivery. He was able to command four pitches for strikes and his misses were down in the zone. Pitts' FB sat 80-81 mph with conviction at the bottom of the zone. He posted the #4 max FB spin rate on the day (2122 rpm) with slight arm side run. The SL sat 69-71 mph and was thrown majority glove side and down. The CH was 70-72 mph with more of a straight change look to it. CB sat 64-68 mph with some solid spin numbers (2112 rpm). CB and SL have similar break types, CB is thrown slower. There's always a place for a 6-foot left hander with pitch-ability, and that's what Sam Pitts showed he was on Saturday. We look forward to following Pitts' development.

 

 

 

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