CA Winter Road Trip: Harvard-Westlake v Hart
December 23, 2019
Newhall, CA - With 2019 winding down and the holidays coming closer, I headed down to see my family in the Santa Clarita Valley. As part of the road trip I made sure to catch what was most likely my final games of 2019 as the Hart Indians took on the Harvard-Westlake Wolverines at Master’s College for a Spring 2020 tuneup. Let’s take a look at the players who stood out, including players highly ranked in our CA State Rankings.
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2020 OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (Harvard-Westlake) - Vanderbilt Commit
The #1 Overall Player in the 2020 Class, Pete Crow-Armstrong (“PCA”) will have plenty of eyes on him during the 2020 season as was evident by the roughly ten scouts in attendance for a Winter game. I’ve been able to get a good looks at PCA during the past two summers at the Area Code Games and this look continued to show a player who should be a very high-round pick come June 2020. The long, wiry strength has continued to firm up, adding more mass without taking away from his twitchy athletic ability that shows up in all aspects of the games. At the plate the CF keeps the hands high with a simple knee tuck while maintaining strong posture and allowing for fast turns that create space for the hands to work through the zone; the bat speed is an asset and when on time has the ability to square up multiple pitches. During the game, his timing was tinkered with and while he didn’t pick up a hit, was right on a mid 80’s FB for a hard L8 before walking and showing that quick twitch burst to steal 2nd. Defensively he’s an easy fit in CF where he covers both gaps and has the ability to pick his spots for special plays. That was evident on the last play of the game when he started in on a lined ball at him adjusting his body on the fly, turning and making a leaping catch to prevent the ball from going over his head as it took off; it’s the type of reaction and athleticism that isn’t taught.
2023 SS Kai Caranto (Harvard-Westlake)
The #9 Player in the California 2023 Rankings, Caranto will push to be the starting SS for Harvard-Westlake as a Freshman with defensive skills that are very advanced for his young age. That defensive prowess was on display throughout the game showing a strong prep-step and ability to cover ground all around him. His footwork is very smooth and controlled keeping momentum while being able to work under and through the baseball with ease and showing the ability to get the ball out with firm throws across the diamond. Late in the game with his team leading he made a big-time play cutting in front of the bag at 2nd to grab a strongly hit ball taking away a hit as he threw a strike to 1st. You could see the confidence from his pitchers that balls hit his way would be outs. At the plate, Caranto showed a strong understanding of the zone from a wider, balanced stance seeing the hands start high and pulling back on a slight foot lift before working level through the zone; it’s the type of swing built for line drives and to stay at the top of the lineup as he matures.
2020 RHP Warner Rhodes (Hart) - Chapman Commit
Rhodes started the game for Hart and had a strong 3 inning outing striking out three and giving up only 1 hit. Rhodes is long and lean with the type of frame and clean arm actions that could see jumps in velocity as he adds mass and strength to the frame. He pounded the zone for three innings as he attacked hitters with a strong three-pitch mix. The delivery is unique and athletic with a full windup including a high hand lift at the start that allows him to gather over the rubber with a slight coil before the high front knee creates a clean hand break to the 3/4 release. Rhodes stays inline down the hill and this helps the three pitches play up with a consistent release point. FB 84-86 firm through the zone with his two-seam variant having late arm-side run; he was able to throw the pitch to both sides of the plate and able to stay low in the zone with it. CHG 74-77 was heavy with late bottom; great ability to sell the pitch and flashed as a future above-average pitch. CB 68-69 ability to manipulate the shape, but most consistently was a tight, overhand 12/6 breaker that he could alter the depth of; Slurve variant had more 10/4 break and was shorter sweeping off the plate late.
2021 RHP Christian Becerra (Harvard-Westlake)
Starting for Harvard-Westlake and getting his first innings of the Winter, Becerra looks like the type of pitcher that could be counted on in Spring with the frame and pitches having the space to make continued jumps. The one inning outing saw Becerra work with three pitches including a Slider that will be a future swing and miss pitch. The overhead delivery allows him to find his footing before bringing the hands back to the waist with a high front knee adding deception to the delivery as he rides the back hip down the hill. The arm is loose with a quick, full swing through the H-3/4 slot allowing him to finish out over the strong and firm front leg. FB 83-85 showing slight cutting action and flashing times of better angle to the glove-side. CHG 80-82 was heavy with straight, small actions; times where he choked the pitch, but when allowing it to work showed good action. SLD 72-74 with tight 3/4 bend having it’s best action showing late darting depth; that variant got his 1 K on the outing and flashed above-average actions.
2022 C Matt Quintanar (Hart)
Starting behind the plate as a Sophomore, Quintanar’s defensive skills are being counted on showing the space to keep progressing and developing with more strength and maturity. Quintanar has the trust of his pitchers working well with them as he showed solid glove and blocking skills during the game; he consistently catches the ball in the pocket with a firm wrist while being relaxed and athletic behind the dish. During the game on a squeeze attempt with a 1st/3rd situation, he bounced out from behind the plate, eyed the runner back to 3rd and threw a strike for the out. The arm flashes strength when he lets it loose putting throws on the front of the bag between innings and in the game (2.15-2.20); times where it looks measured. At the plate, he stays balanced keeping his hands tight while showing a short foot lift; when he stays tall and stacked the barrel has better feel as evident with his solid single to RF scoring a run for Hart. Hitting in the 3rd spot, Quintanar will be one to follow.
2021 OF Eddie Tejada (Hart)
Lanky and athletic with fast feet, Tejada has the frame that projects as more strength will improve the profile with maturity. Hitting in the two-hole, Tejada shows a slashing type of swing keeping his hands and back elbow high; the swing is made to stay through the middle and over the heads of the infielders and can square up the baseball. Started the first with a solid 1B back through the box (4.59T) before a hard 6-4 fielder's choice and walk/stolen base finished the day. The foot speed and athleticism are carrying tools for him in that two spot where his contact oriented approach will allow him to get on base for the boppers behind him in the lineup. In CF he shows strong range and the ability to close on the ball; he made a great play deep in LCF on a surefire triple, cutting the ball off with a slide and throwing a strike to limit the runner to 2nd base. He’s also shown two-way abilities with an athletic delivery and wider 3/4 release; that arm strength flashes in CF as well.
2020 RHP Jack Hassett (Harvard-Westlake)
Hassett came in relief and showed a loose arm from a tall and high waisted frame working in the stretch and pitching with moxie during his two inning outing. The delivery starts with the hands at the chest and quick rock over the back hip before having some push down the hill. The glove side pulls tight helping to create momentum and add some torque to the delivery as he finishes over a closed front foot; the closed foot leads to him fighting the front side at times. The arm is loose having quick length out before working through the 3/4 slot. His first inning was clean and while he had a couple runners on in the second, pitched around the trouble as he moved the FB. FB 83-85 cutting the pitch towards the gloveside. SLD 70-72 tight and quick 3/4 break flashing small depth; threw a couple that backed up on him. CHG 75-76 with arm side bottom flashing run and ability to double it up. Hassett could fit a reliever profile and the velocity should tick up come warmer weather.
Other Players of Note:
2021 SS Ryan Benz (Hart) athletic middle infielder showed good range during the game and a strong approach at the plate with a flat bat path as the leadoff man for Hart. A nice play in the 6-hole prevented a run from scoring as he showed baseball instincts to prevent the runner from keeping on the move...2022 3B Jordan Kang (Harvard-Westlake) started at 3rd and showed arm strength to stick on the left-side of the infield. Plays with low hips and flashed some bat-speed during his ABs...2020 OF Sam Biller (Harvard-Westlake) Cal Poly commit is very athletic and showed bat speed on a slider up for a single through the middle; busted out of the box on a routine 3U (4.26 H-1st) and showed that speed covering well in RF...2020 1B Thomas McCaffrey (Harvard-Westlake) UC Irvine commit shows a bat that will be counted on in the middle of a deep lineup. Slow load allows him to stay balanced with a quiet head picking up two big hits; 1B into LF and 2B into LCF gap jumped off the bat...2020 1B Isaac Kim (Hart) Pomona-Pitzer commit is big and physical hitting in center of lineup for Hart. When he stays tall the bat works upwards through the zone and has the ability to drive balls into the gaps.
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