Underclass Games: Quick Hits

Brett Thorney
State Scouting Director

On Wednesday, June 16th PBR Arizona had a chance to hold its Underclass Games. This event is held at the beginning of the summer each year and gives us an opportunity to start to get a feel for some of the younger prospects that our state has to offer. This event features some of the top prospects in the 2024-2025 grad class from all around the state of Arizona. This has become a popular event as players start to get their names out there and start their HS baseball careers.

The event at Cactus Shadows included 35 + players including 13 pitchers that participated in a pro-style workout followed by simulated game play. As always, we gathered loads of valuable information on players that will live in player profiles that include Trackman & Blast data as well as 60-yard dash, positional velocities and more. Surly progress will be made in these statistics while players get older and mature physically but players were able to get a baseline of data to help understand their starting points. Scouts will use this information along with video to start to separate players more in the future.

Today, we will be highlighting some of our first impressions from the event in our Quick Hits. This is not a top prospect list but some of our initial takeaways. Be sure to follow us on social media where we will continue highlighting the event. 

To view the full event stats click here.

+ 2024 SS Jimmy Diaz (Cienega)- athletic lengthy build with some present strength, body should continue to add physicality. Showed plenty of tools to build off for his age including some power potential that he showed in BP and translated over into gap play. He has quick hands with good bat speed for his age. Defensively, he's a rangy INF with long levers, ran a 6.8 60-yard dash, showing off a strong arm for the across the diamond & on the mound.


+ 2024 3B Ford Puplava (Chaparral)- athletic, proportionally built, good frame to add strength. Showed us some well-rounded skills at our Underclass Games. Chance to hit in the future with a simple repeatable approach while working gap to gap from a squared athletic base. He has above average bat speed for his age that he displayed on HR to LF in game play. Defensively, he displayed some ability to play both INF & OF with some arm strength that should continue to improve. 


+ 2024 SS Brock DeBattista (Estrella Foothills)- Small athletic frame, still maturing, plays the game with energy. Had a nice first year on varsity as a Freshmen at Estrella Foothills and should continue to keep progressing. Snagged multiple hits in live game action coming from his present feel for the barrel, hit a double and triple on the day. Should continue to add bat speed as he matures and adds strength. Hits from a narrow upright base with direct forward move, working from underneath the ball as he starts his path. Defensively, he displays fluid uptempo actions with confident hands and AA arm strength for his age. 


+ 2024 SS Jake Sanko (Sandra Day O'Connor)- Small frame, young body, projectable athlete. We were able to catch Sanko at our West Coast Select a week or so ago where he really stood out with advanced actions for his age while collecting several hits in the tournament. The right-handed hitting shortstop has plenty of future upside. Sanko took a pretty mature round of BP at our Underclass games, working the middle of the field with a LD approach where he finds the barrel with consistency. Displays excellent body control and feel in the box even while hitting from an open stance into a leg kick trigger that helps him produce good pop from the frame. He has athletic actions up the middle. playing with some quickness. 


+ 2024 OF/RHP Brody Matcuk (Chandler)- wiry athletic frame, some quick twitch. One of the more interesting prospects of the day, showing raw athleticism & potential as a two-way player. Started the day out by running the top 60-yard dash time at 6.60. He produced deceptive pop coming from his tall unorthodox setup. He creates plenty of whip through the zone from his fast hands & ability to accelerate. As he gains strength, he has a pretty high ceiling offensively as he already has advanced bat speed with an efficient path. Matcuk also hopped on the mound where he ran his FB up to 84mph while sitting 78-81 with solid run. 


+ 2024 RHP/3B Reece Van Devander (Chaparral)- large frame at 6-3/205, some present strength with physical maturity left. Worked out as a two-way player showing potential on both sides of the ball. Has above average pop at the plate coming from his natural strength. Should continue to keep getting better as he has higher max potential bat speed. Also pitched at the event where had the top FB velocity of the day at 84.8mph with occasional cut. He also mixed in a SL that was AA for his age, average 2400 rpm with 9in of gloveside movement.


+ 2024 C Liam Wilson (Hamilton)- balanced frame with projectable strength, brother of former Hamilton star and current GCU player Tyler Wilson who also saw plenty of time behind the plate in his HS career. Liam Wilson saw quite a bit of time on varsity as a Freshmen this year for one of the top teams in the state. That early experience should be big for his development over the next year. Offensively, Wilson showed a consistent approach with a short repeatable swing that produced mostly line drive contact to mid-oppo side of the field. Behind the plate, he put some very accurate throws on the bag with good arm strength for his age in order to produce consistent 1.96-2.03 pop times. His receiving skills are farther along for his age.


+ 2024 RHP/C Brendan Burke (Desert Vista)- young athletic frame, strong lower half. Burke is a player that we have seen at a couple events in the past. He's developing pretty steadily. He has some well rounded skills & understanding of the game with current two-way capability. Offensively, there is some length to his load but he makes up for it with his quick hands and ability to accelerate quickly. He has pretty good feel for the barrel at this age with a middle of the field approach. Behind the plate, he has a short loose arm with some natural arm strength. Pretty easy footwork and exchanges. On the mound, he works quick and throws strikes with arm that should keep developing. Worked up 81mph with his FB with occasional cut while mixing in a SL at 67-70mph. Should continue to progress.


+ 2024 SS/C Chris Newstrom (Chapparal)- strong athletic frame, mature for his age. Newstrom is a familiar name in the state and is even currently ranked in our national Top-10. He was able to show us a little of everything except pitch at our Underclass Games. He's a versatile athlete that started for Chaparral HS as a Freshmen this past spring. He worked out at shortstop & catcher as well as showed what he had in the OF at this workout. He definitely has some tools to continue to build off with natural strength & athleticism. It will be interesting to see what position he lands at in the future. He didn't record huge velocities at this event but one can tell the arm should play in the future. Offensively, he has big pop for his age, looking to drive the baseball. Had the top exit velo of the day at 98.7mph via trackman. He also hit a HR to deep LF in live game action. Newstrom will continue to be top player to follow in the AZ 2024 class. 

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