Far North Preseason ID Quick Hits

Blaine Clemmens
Northern CA Director of Scouting


At The Yard Podcast

CHICO, CA - We made a foray up to California's Far North region, our latest stop on the road to the California State Games. The weather was pleasant and the event had a roster of nearly 40 players in attendance. 

As per usual, the players were put through a pro-style workout that included the 60-yard sprint, a round of batting practice, defensive workouts at respective positions, and concluded with bullpen sessions for pitchers. We purposely did not include games, as the high school season is right around the corner for these players.

Most of the players were attending their first ever PBR California event, giving us a first look at these players in a showcase setting. Some we had seen in previous game action and a couple we had seen in other PBR events, as well at the Area Code tryouts last summer.

We will roll out positional breakdowns in the coming days, but until then, in this edition of Quick Hits we’ll take a look at some standouts from the event.

(Note: Players are listed in alphabetical order. All showcase videos will be added to player profiles in the near future.)

Quick Hits:

Donovan Crook 3B / OF / San Ramon Valley, CA / 2022

7.25 60yd, 80 3B, 80 OF, 86 EV
Surprisingly physical hitter in BP round, given his 5-foot-10, 170-pound body type. Made repetitive LOUD contact during the round, lashing line drives to all fields, while showing the ability to backspin the ball in the opposite field (RCF) gap, created by a flat and occasionally somewhat steep swing plane. Plenty of bat speed and an aggressive nature. Defensively showed a strong arm that was consistent from both the OF and 3B. Not a burner but at 7.25 he has enough quickness to man either corner OF spot or 3rd base. Given what looks to be playable hitting ability, his positional versatility is certainly a plus attribute.

Jacob Cullen C / OF / Vista Del Lago , CA / 2022

7.43 60yd, 77 C, 2.07-2.14 Pop, 86 EV
Long and lean with some visible present strength at 6-foot-1, 170-pounds, Cullen is a very intriguing sophomore catching prospect. The metrics will continue to improve as he trains and gains more skill, because the talent is present. Strong hitting hands with some present pop, particularly to the pull-side. Creates some quite a bit of loft in the swing and showed the ability to finish with a good top hand, while working inside the ball. The 77 mph catcher velocity, at his age, is impressive and it's realistic to expect him to climb over 80 as he develops. To sum it up, an offensive type catcher with a future above average to plus arm.

Colton Daugherty OF / Pleasant Valley, CA / 2020

7.13 60yd, 86 OF, 89 EV
Given his powerful 6-foot-1, 189-pound build, Daugherty's stats stand out quite loudly. He is a physical presence on the field and has tools to impact the game as a power bat/arm corner outfielder, with speed to play either corner OF spot. Quiet body in the box in his pre-pitch load, showed balance and ability to stay stacked, which allows for what appears to be good pitch recognition skills. Occasionally got a bit aggressive with the body and the quality of contact would change when that happened. Pull-side power is present now, with bat speed and offensive tools to utilize the whole field. For programs still looking for a corner bat in the 2020 class, Daugherty is definitely worth a look, and he looks to be more than just a hitter.

Ryan Edwards RHP / C / RHP / Chico , CA / 2022

FB 81-83, CHG 75-76, SLD 75-76 / 7.44 60, 76 C, 1.94-2.09
A two-way player we've seen well a few times, Edwards looks poised for a strong 2020 season. A lean and streamlined 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, he's proportioned well when regarding him as either a pitcher or a catcher. On the mound he displayed clean mechanics, with an online delivery that incorporates good rhythm and consistency of the release point. The slider has late, somewhat smooth break and the change-up showed feel and late depth on the arm side. As a catcher, his 1.94 pop time was lowest of the participants and the 76 mph velocity should continue to creep toward 80 mph and possibly above, especially given that he's a sophomore.

Jacob Flener SS / 3B / Pleasant Valley, CA / 2020

7.06 60yd, 77 SS, 85 EV
One of the more skilled uncommitted seniors we've come across, Flener first drew our attention at last summer's Area Code tryout. He's got that sinewy and athletic look at 6-foot-0, 155-pounds and a focused, poised demeanor. For him to not be committed at this time is surprising and maybe it's just that schools are waiting on the physicality of his body. His swing happens EASY and the bat speed is quite good. His hands are live and he showed good barrel control. There is some power potential down the road when man muscle develops. Defensively he was the standout among the INFs, w/soft hands and a strong, accurate arm, calm/confident release, quite good to the backhand. Expect the 60 time to get below 7.00 at some point and INF velocity to go above 80 in the not so distant future.

Jake Hamman OF / Chico, CA / 2021

6.97 60yd, 85 OF, 91 EV
Regarding tools and only tools, Hamman was the most impressive prospect at the showcase. At a lean and wiry-strong 6-foot-0, 165-pounds, he's got that twitchy/electric body actions that draw immediate attention. Interesting to also note that his older brother is also a good athlete (now a pitcher at Sac City). Hamman runs easy, throws easy with aggression, and attacks the baseball. In fact, his overall style of play, whether defensively or offensively, is that of an attacking nature. His hand speed at the plate is a plus and the swing trigger is very quick. He displayed balance and a quiet body, allowing him to have good barrel control along with the plus bat speed. Given another year of physical development, it's realistic to expect Hamman to enter and rise up our 2021 rankings.

Mario Johnson C / SS / Valhalla , CA / 2020

6.84 60yd, 74 C, 1.94-2.07 Pop, 85 EV
A versatile and athletic defender, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound C/INF is an uncommitted 2020 to keep an eye on this spring. He's lean and strong and there are present tools, with glimpses of the skills to play four year college baseball. With quick feet and quick hands, he possesses tools that will play in the field and at the plate. Quiet offensive set-up and approach with well above average bat speed and balance throughout the swing. Power potential showed up in his BP round and the way the ball came off his bat indicates there is strength from his forearms through his fingertips. The 74 mph catcher velocity is fairly modest but the low pop times give an indication of how quick and efficient his feet are.

Dustin Niles RHP / Foothill , CA / 2020

FB 82-84, CB 70-71, CHG 74-76
Though the velocity didn't quite burn up the radar gun, at a preseason February showcase that is of little concern when considering the totality of the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Niles. He's long and lanky, with rangy projectable proportions and an easy arm action (high 3/4 slot). The delivery is fluid and loosey goosey. Regarded as the top senior pitcher in the Far North (CA) region, projectable right-hander is exactly the description for him. He showed flashes of what the breaking ball (slider type break) will look like when he settles into the season and his change-up looks to be an above average pitch, with good arm side fade/finish. The velocity will go up a couple ticks from what we saw here and for those college pitching coaches who enjoy molding/developing an under the radar talent, Niles is right up your alley.

Eli Rainey RHP / OF / Chico, CA / 2021

FB 84-86, CHG 77-79, SLD 75-76 / 7.00 60yd, 86 OF, 93 EV
Of all the players at the Far North (CA) event, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Rainy just might have left the biggest impression, certainly among non-seniors. Physically he has the body type that QUICKLY draws a scouts eyes, with rangy proportions but also taking up some space and having presence. TBD whether he's a RHP or OF beyond HS, but with a quality 60 time, plus OF arm and plus bat speed/power potential, the position player profile is exciting. The swing is explosive, with an aggressive lower body, and then a very nice finish through contact. The tools of a legitimate power hitting corner OF are present with Rainey. The arm translated to the mound, with easy mid-80s velocity and a feeling that he's quite aways from his velocity ceiling. Final slider in the session was a nice glimpse of what it can be and the change has a chance with some refinement and reps. Suffice to say that he's a two-way prospect that should draw plenty of college attention.

Michael Ryan OF / Gridley, CA / 2023

6.94 60yd, 82 OF, 82 EV
One of the more talented freshman players we've come across, Ryan looks poised to be one of the more heavily recruited 2023 OF in Northern CA. He's a lean and athletically proportioned 5-foot-8, 145-pounds and even at that modest size, there is explosiveness in all that he does. The 60 time was impressive and a foreshadowing of his hand speed that was on display in the BP round. Frankly the video doesn't do his hand speed justice. He can develop better lower body control in the swing but the hit talent is a plus attribute. Short to it, aggressive through it, with a flat, slashing type stroke. Stayed in the middle quite well. Defensively he will eventually develop a plus throwing arm and has the speed to cover the OF well, maybe not with plus range, but certainly with above average range.

Justin Sullivan 2B / OF / Cardinal Newman, CA / 2021

6.81 60yd, 76 SS, 81 OF, 87 EV
Not a large person at a compact and lean 5-foot-8, 150-pounds, Sullivan possesses tools that should be paid attention to. His positional versatility showed well with arm strength that showed to be useful and potentially approaching above average in a four year college sense, as he profiles as a UTL (2B/CF/LF). His 60 time was the second lowest among participants. Offensively he had a disciplined and impressive round, hitting where he was pitched, showing a quiet pre-pitch set-up with an angled flat-ish bat load, short stroke with good hand speed and balance throughout. His timing, body control and ability to routinely make barrel contact was impressive, showing hit tools of a traditional 2-hole type with bat to ball skills. 

Cooper Thacker SS / Pleasant Valley, CA / 2020

6.84 60yd, 78 SS, 81 OF, 82 EV
A lean and twitchy type athlete at 5-foot-11, 155-pounds, what tools Thacker possesses now will only improve in the coming years. Yes, he's a senior but the gut-feel here is that he's still got a real nice ceiling he can reach. The raw tools all rate well now and he's really just some physical strength away from making the leap to a higher level of prospect. Offensively he sees the ball well, with good hand speed and though not physical yet, there is a hint of some future pop. Got more comfortable as the round went along and though maybe a bit too much top hand with pull-side approach, he's got a shot. Defensively he showed soft hands and good fielding skills, fielding the ball out front and moving to and through the ball well. Some throws got a little short as he looked to maybe muscle up a bit but the fielding talent and raw arm strength give him a shot play up the middle beyond HS.

Blake Tweedt OF / Red Bluff, CA / 2020

6.66 60yd, 87 OF, 87 EV
One of the state's top uncommitted seniors, the chiseled 6-foot-0, 180-pound Tweedt showed us all the reasons why we believe a college will come calling this spring. The raw tools, including the real quick 60, the plus OF arm and the bat speed and potential to drive the baseball, all showed up. There was a lot of loud contact during his BP round and he makes a strong, long and explosive move through contact. There is some aggressive stride but he was on-time and created leverage at contact. The raw talent and hand speed are very present, as was the approach to use the whole field. Defensively he appeared to be very confident, even on surface that gave numerous players some trouble. He measures the ball in the air well and the release is clean, with a strong accurate arm that played on or very near the bag on all throws.

Joey Van Dusen OF / RHP / Chico, CA / 2021

FB 82-84, CB 72-73, CHG 75-76 / 7.03 60yd, 84 OF
One of a couple of standout two-way players at the Far North (CA) event, Van Dusen should make a name for himself this spring and following summer. At 6-foot-0, 160-pounds he's lean and strong, with athleticism to translate to the mound and the field. On the mound he displayed a clean, compact delivery with an overhand slot and good body control/release point. Both a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball, with hints of sink on the 2-seamer. Change-up is a quality offering, with good differential off the fastball and late life. Slider is more the curveball speed, with somewhat big slider break but he threw it with feel and some depth. Offensively has a loose easy stroke and ability to serve/spray the ball around. There is quite a bit of pre-pitch bat waggle and movement which can cause some barrel to ball inconsistencies for him. Developing more strength and working to stay behind the ball will enhance his future offensive talents.

Chris Wagner SS / OF / Whitney, CA / 2021

6.70 60yd, 83 SS, 84 OF, 88 EV
A really interesting athlete in the 2021 class, the 6-foot-0, 160-pound Wagner is lean and streamlined, with athleticism and athletic actions that show up all over the diamond. Offensively he's got real quick hands, good balance, understands his swing plane and swings easy, with hints of gap power. There is some upper body over-rotation that could be corrected to be more linear but the hit tools are quite good. The 60 time only gives more credence to what he can bring offensively. Defensively, if considered as an OF or SS alone, he shows well. He's confident in his glove skills at both spots and lets go of his throws with confidence as well, with an arm that rates at or near plus at either spot. Soft hands show up in the infield and really does a nice job of staying low and below the ball, utilizing his strong legs. As a UTL with offensive talents, this spring and following summer very well could/should bring college attention to him.


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