Prep Baseball Report

A Look Back & Ahead: 2019 NorCal ProCase

Blaine Clemmens
Northern California Director

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - This time of year in the baseball community is all about looking ahead. High school and college teams/players are fairly well into their seasons. Professional players are two weeks+ into spring training. Recently signed free agents have hopefully become comfortable in their new clubhouses and new teammates are now simply teammates. Scouts are solidifying their pref lists in relative to the prospects in their coverage area for the 2023 MLB Draft.

This is also the time of year when draft projections and top prospect lists have appeared on the internet, on MLB network, and your local sports talk shows. Prep Baseball Report directors are organizing and scheduling events for the summer, dates, locations, and in the case of exclusive events such as a ProCase, considering which players to invite and in some cases, already begun inviting players.

Speaking of which... in California we have begun inviting the top 2024 and 2025 players to both the Northern and Southern California ProCase events, with an eye further down the road on the PBR All-American Game in September. Players in attendance at ProCase events can earn consideration for an invitation at the PBR All-American Game.

PBR Draft HQ Top 200 Draft Board

The 2019 Northern California ProCase is where there is a convergence of nearly all of the aforementioned things the baseball community is looking forward to. Why is that? Players from that event check all these boxes; college players who have begun their season, professional players grinding through spring training, players whom MLB scouts are evaluating, college players appearing in draft projections, and professional players showing up in top prospect lists and in some cases, at the top of prospect lists.

Let’s look back at some of the exceptional talent that attended the 2019 NorCal ProCase. Interestingly, that was the first ProCase we ran and it’s hard to imagine there will be another one in Northern California with so much high end talent. But given that we are in California, we shall see!

2019 Northern California ProCase Stats/Data/Roster

Here are those who attended (alphabetically), with their high school(s) and present team/organization listed; Isaac Ayon (Buchanan, U of Oregon), Kevin Bratset (Washington-Fremont, San Jose St.), Rio Britton (Capital Christian, NC State), Michael Brown (Vacaville, U of Washington), Cole Carrigg (Turlock, San Diego St.), Treven Crowley (Hilmar, CSU Bakersfield), Kenny DeCelle (Vacaville, Delta JC), Dalton Durossette (Central Catholic, Modesto JC), Jack Grant (San Ramon Valley, U of Arizona), Petey Halpin (St. Francis/Mira Costa, Cleveland Indians), Kyle Harrison (De La Salle, SF Giants), Kevin Haynes (Jesuit, Sacramento St.), Keith Jones (Heritage, Washington St.), Nick Kresnak (Acalanes, Texas Christian), Jeriah Lewis (Encinal, San Jose St.), Brian McClellin (Vacaville, Delta JC), Andrew Neil (Freedom, U of New Mexico), TJ Nichols (Oakmont, U of Arizona), Omar Plascencia (Lodi, UC Davis), Joey Soberon (Clayton Valley, UC San Diego), Tyler Soderstrom (Turlock, Oakland Athletics), Daniel Susac (Jesuit, Oakland Athletics), Cole Tremain (Vista del Lago, Baylor), Tommy Troy (Los Gatos, Stanford), Cam Walty (Cosumnes Oaks, U of Arizona), Jacob Weiss (Atwater, U of Pacific), and Nick Yorke (Archbishop Mitty, Boston Red Sox).

How many of those players will play professional baseball (five presently do)? That remains to be seen. How many will be or have been top three round draft picks (five thus far)? Again, that remains to be seen. How many will reach Major League Baseball? Time will tell. However, we are getting close to having answers to these questions.

Kyle Harrison (video below), drafted in the 3rd round by the Giants (#85 overall), has rocketed through the organization and up top prospect lists. He’s recently been ranked as the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game and is widely expected to make his MLB debut sooner rather than later in the 2023 season. There stands a chance he could break camp with the club, though given service time considerations and/or how the club assesses his readiness, we shall see. He’s likely to start at AAA Sacramento, back in Northern California where his family and friends, former teammates and coaches can go see him pitch. Perhaps Kyle will even get to see his brother play this spring, senior catcher Connor Harrison (De La Salle), one of the top uncommitted 2023 talents in the state.

Three of the players from the 2019 NorCal ProCase were drafted in the 1st round; Nick Yorke (#17 overall), Tyler Soderstrom (#26 overall, video below), and Daniel Susac (#19 overall out of Arizona in the 2022 draft). Of those players, it’s the left-hand hitting catcher Soderstrom who is closest to the big leagues. After hitting 29 home runs and driving in 105 runs across three levels in 2022, he’s been invited to spring training with the big club and given his ability to also play 3rd base in addition to catch, his left-handed bat has him knocking on the door of the big leagues. Aside from the impressive HR/RBI numbers, his average rose at each level, (.260 A+, .278 AA, .297 AAA). Assuming he stays healthy, Soderstrom is going to make his MLB debut this season.

Yorke, Susac, and Petey Halpin are all expected to return to various levels of minor league baseball and continue to progress and develop toward future big league careers. Perhaps this time next year we can expect to see one or two of them joining Harrison and Soderstrom at the highest level of the game.

Here is a link to our first edition PBR Draft HQ Top 200 Draft Board, where you will find Stanford SS Tommy Troy at #34, putting him in play to be selected in the 1st round. Scrolling down the list we find San Diego State switch-hitting C/UTL Cole Carrigg at #95, which has him firmly in the mix for a top three round selection, which is also a fair projection for Arizona RHP TJ Nichols at #108 on the list.

There are two other Northern California players from the 2020 grad class on the Top 200 list. One attended our 2019 SoCal ProCase, Oklahoma State RHP Juaron Watts-Brown (#34, Hanford HS), and at #78 is Arizona OF Chase Davis (Franklin HS-Elk Grove). Davis was signed up to attend the NorCal ProCase but he had a schedule conflict with an MLB Breakthrough Series event, so we missed having Chase there.

When considering the 2020 draft was shortened to five rounds, there may have been more 2019 NorCal ProCase players drafted and signed had there been more rounds. Maybe, maybe not.

Aside from the four ProCase players who were drafted and signed out of high school in 2020, Susac (video below) seemed like a very strong bet to be a fifth one. With his rocket arm, raw power, performance in high school, make-up, and bloodlines (his brother Andrew backed up Buster Posey on the 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants), not to mention his athleticism displayed as a starting and very successful quarterback, there were legitimate reasons to project him as a first/second round selection. As with every high school player, it came down to signability.

Now, Susac could have agreed to sign and would have had a significant signing bonus, he had that option. What went into his equation regarding sign or not sign was a little different than most high school seniors. Given his date of birth he would again be draft eligible after just two years in college. He had an opportunity to start from day one at Arizona and if he performed and developed to his capabilities, it was realistic to project him to be a top 10 selection in the 2022 draft. That projection, given the bonus amount differences from what was available to him in 2020 and projecting his 2022 draft status, was part of the consideration in going to school. Not to mention the two years of starting for a College World Series contender and all that could come with his growth as a young man, a leader, and honing his craft. Susac was selected #19 overall in 2022 and appears to have made the right decision.

Troy (video below), with his Stanford commitment was likely headed to college anyway, as is often the case for Stanford commits. On The Farm he could develop into a high level prospect, such as former Stanford SS and present Chicago Cub Nico Hoerner. Their physical attributes, talents, and athleticism are similar and now it seems both could be drafted in about the same place in the draft (Hoerner went #24 overall in the 2018 draft).

Nichols (video below) was highly regarded as well but at the time was still a slick fielding SS with intriguing hitting talent and was being offered an opportunity at Arizona to let his talents blossom as a position player or as a pitcher, so he was almost assuredly going to school. I was of the opinion that he would eventually be the starting SS at Arizona and play professionally as a position player and if he didn’t pan out in that regard, he could always take his mid-upper 90s stuff to the mound.

Aside from Susac, Carrigg (video below) was the one who would seem to have had the best chance to be drafted and signed out of high school. His overall profile as a switch-hitter, multi-position talent (catch, 3rd base, pitch), all added up to a talent coveted by pro ball. Additionally, he and Soderstrom were high school teammates. With strong performances in front of the scouts at Turlock games primarily there to see Tyler, Cole could have gained some helium by virtue of not only his talent, but the frequency of being seen not by area scouts, cross-checkers, and those even higher up the organizational ladder. He did have interest from some clubs, but seems to have chosen the right path.

So there you have it, a look back to the 2019 NorCal ProCase and how that event ties into our present college and professional baseball seasons. Now, it’s time for me to turn my attention to those to invite to the 2023 Northern California ProCase.

NOTE: Other players to watch for in the 2023 draft; Jeriah Lewis and Kevin Haynes.

For those of you who have read this entire article, here is a treat for you…on the same 13U team, from left are TJ Nichols, Mitchell Parker (sophomore OF at Folsom Lake College), Tonko Susac (Daniel’s cousin, sophomore RHP at Arizona), Luke Williams (sustained injury in college, no longer playing), Tyler Soderstrom, Garret Forrester (junior 1B/3B at Oregon State), Carson Blatnick (junior C at Sacramento State), and Daniel Susac.