Prep Baseball Report

First Look: Underclass Preseason All-State

Ryan Ozella
Special Contributor

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After almost a year hiatus, I was excited (and thankful to the PBR Staff) to get back out on the field to see the talent coming for the Preseason All-State as the previous two years of the event had always been one of my favorites to cover. This event tends to have surprises every year with players who have made huge offseason gains and come into the event ready to showcase their tools and improvements. 

The 2023 class was just getting to High School during my coverage a year ago, and the 2024 class was still a year away so I knew going into the event they would both be getting fresh eyes from me. With recruiting occurring earlier and earlier I knew that there would be lots of talent at the event, but after looking through notes from the event it’s safe to say that this list could have easily been double the length. Plain and simple, the 2023-2024 classes are going to continue to produce high-end talent and coaches are going to want to have these names on their follow lists this Spring with all players being Uncommitted at the time of writing. Today, I take a look at 9 players who made immediate impressions in my first look. Click the links and you’ll get more insight on these players like stats, video, notes, and Blast/Trackman Data. 

2023 SS JP Acosta (Buchanan)

Middle Infielders were one of the deepest positions at the event and Acosta played like he wants his name to be one of the first ones coaches are looking into this Spring. At 5-11, 165, the lanky and lean-strength frame shows the projection for filling in with more strength over the next years, and the athleticism (7.32 60 yd) and ease of actions on the diamond are some of the first things that stood out. The footwork and hands show a player who has been putting in the work on his defense, with first step actions allowing him to cover range and play in rhythm. The arm strength is present now (84 MPH) and his ability to get rid of it showed up in gameplay and workouts. As a switch-hitter, Acosta has the type of bat-to-ball skills that are going to keep him at the top of a lineup driving liners all around the field during BP and in the gameplay (80.31/93.48 Avg/Max EV, 69.4% Flyball/Linedrive %). It’s a similar setup on both sides with a loose and flowy swing coming after a short leg kick. Both sides allow the bat to unwind through the zone, though the RH swing is the more natural and on-plane earlier. With that said, the actions and swing show a player who will keep improving on both sides of the plate and the advanced data helps back it up (68.31/72.40 Avg/Max Batspeed, 17.8 Max Rotational Acceleration, 22.6 Max Handspeed, 55% On Plane Efficiency). With his flashy skillset on display, Acosta looks ready to make a big leap over the 2021 year.

2023 RHP/C Joshua Pashby (St. Ignatius)

It’s easy to catch eyes when you’re on the field playing hard in every aspect of the game, and that’s just what Pashby did during the event. The 5-10, 180 frame shows strength in the chest now and plenty of space to see another growth-spurt and strength jump. The athleticism shows up in multiple ways (7.30 60yd) with his ability to react for blocks behind the plate from multiple stances and on the hill. Behind the dish, the arm strength was present (79 C MPH, 1.97-2.08 Pop) and his ability to work low in the zone was impressive. Early on in the swings, there’s a slight hover allowing him to load the back hip and keep the hands high before making his forward move. Early in the round he was getting steep, but adjusted and allowed the bat to start flowing behind him and the ball jumped through the middle of the field more consistently (83.60/89.40 Avg/Max EV). Showing his possible future, Pashby was very good on the mound in one inning to end the day striking out two. The lift, drift, and drive-styled delivery was controlled early before allowing the arm to be very quick through the 3/4 slot. His ability to keep the arm with the torso creates great arm speed and deception for all the pitches coming out of a similar slot. He pitched off the FB (84-86 MPH) with firm life in the zone and some ride when going up (20.8 Max IVB). The CB (72-74 MPH) was his put-away pitch with a tight over-hand bender that had late depth (-19.4 Max IVB) and the CHG (74-76 MPH) fits well with the CB depth and FB ride being firm and straight to throw off timing. Overall there were a lot of tools on display and Pashby will have the ability to develop them all over the next years.

2023 C Jake Moreau (Jesuit)

At 6-0, 215 Moreau’s physicality stands out with present strength and thickness and he caught my attention when he started off the day running a 6.95 in the 60 yd. In a group that was loaded at Catcher, Moreau stood out with not only the physicality but a big set of tools. Defensively he had the best arm (82 C MPH) on the day and made sure he showed it off throwing multiple times from his knees; the throws had a tendency to be high, but no one was doubting the strength and explosiveness he got when getting out of the crouch (1.89-1.91 Pop). During gameplay, I liked his ability to work with pitchers and the way he used his body to keep balls close to him. In BP, Moreau consistently drove the ball through the middle of the field with a powerful swing that was backed up with a deep 2B over the CF head in gameplay (89.19/96.96 Avg/Max EV, 66.7 Hard Hit%, 88.8 Linedrive/Flyball %). The toe-tap load allows him to sink the lower half and time up a bigger hand move before the front side slams on the brakes to allow the barrel to work upward through the zone (75.2 Max Batspeed, 22 Max Handspeed, 14.4 Max Rotational Acceleration). Physical, athletic, and powerful at a premium position will have Moreau gaining eyes this Spring. 

2023 OF Carmelo Rivera (Valley Christian)

Having covered the CCS for multiple years, Rivera looked the part of the next OF in line to break out for an always deep Valley Christian team. At 5-10, 165 the high-waist, the lanky build has athleticism (6.92 60 yd) now and projects to be a middle of the outfield type once fully mature. Defensively he shined during workouts with the athleticism on display utilizing strong footwork through the baseball and the compact arm kept balls firm and online to bags (82 OF MPH). At the plate, Rivera starts balanced and even with a simple front foot lift and hand pull back that allowed him to keep great balance while the top half rotated quickly (79.42/89.12 Avg/Max EV, 16.6 Max Rotational Acceleration, 69.7 Max Batspeed, 20.8 Max Handspeed, 66% On Plane Efficiency). The top hand was taking over a bit early in the round, yet Rivera was still able to spray hard-liners from gap-to-gap and that type of swing will play up as he continues to mature looking like a strong bat-to-ball swing. Rivera will have the opportunity to show his deep tool bag during the always competitive West Catholic League in 2021 and with his athleticism could see a big leap in the near future. 

2023 LHP Myles Standish (Eureka)

At 5-10, 172 with a frame that is still young and soft, Standish might not jump off the page just looking at the numbers presented. But if you watched him pitch and how he attacked hitters,  you see the projection for a LHP that could be a year away from making a big physical and stuff jump. During his two-inning outing, Standish was on the attack from pitch one with plus tempo and a competitive demeanor on the mound punching out 4 of the 6 hitters he faced. His ability to repeat the compact and quickly tucked delivery allowed him to get great extension down the hill and have all his pitches play up from a similar release. The wider 3/4 release comes out loose and easy showing a consistent release point on the FB/SLD/CHG to have all three tunnel off each other. FB (76-78 MPH) was spotted to all parts of the zone having good run arm-side and ride (-18.5 HM, 21.6 IVB). The SLD (66-69 MPH) was tight and short with good horizontal break (10.4 HM) and able to keep it under the RHH hands. To finalize the repertoire, the CHG (68-70) looked like the FB with late bottom and arm-side run (-17.8 HM, 15.9 IVB) and the break in speed to keep hitters off the FB. Hailing from an area that has players tend to be late bloomers, Standish will be a pitcher coaches will want to track over the next few seasons. 

2024 SS/2B Brock Thompson (Liberty)

At 5-8, 145, Thompson might not stand out physically like some of the other players during the event, but the tools were loud and project to be very good as his frame matures. Since coming to his first PBR event, Thompson has made significant strides in all areas of his game and the bat looks like it’s going to stay at the top of a lineup for years to come. Open early then utilizing a toe tap to load, Thompson stayed locked on the pitcher with his front side and it allowed the easy and loose swing to let the hand speed come out and drive balls through the middle of the field as he worked gap-to-gap with easy carry (21.7 Max Handspeed, 64.2 Max Batspeed, 55% On Plane Efficiency, 60% Line Drives). That bat to ball skill translated to gameplay where Thompson picked up two hits and the second one was after falling behind in the count. Defensively there was rhythm and timing with fluid agility on the field; if the pure speed improves it will be easy for him to stick at SS with his glove actions. The arm fits more on the right side of the infield right now, but it has short and compact actions at SS and was able to consistently hit its target. I had heard that Thompson was a hitting machine this summer and it was great to see that in person now to see where it goes in a couple of years. 

2024 OF/SS Ben Reiland (Orange Lutheran)

Reiland was one of my favorite players to watch during the event and gameplay because the athletic actions (7.28 60yd) showed up in all parts of the field. It’s a lanky and athletic 5-8, 140 frame with the space to see significant jumps in overall strength and in the tools. Offensively the simplicity in the swing allowed him to stay in the zone for a long time after a balanced setup allows him to keep the hands higher at the back elbow with an easy, relaxed base. Staying on his back hip well with a quiet forward move and excellent sequencing of the swing, Reiland had liners jumping off the bat through the middle of the diamond and then did it in-game on a hard liner to RF (20.2 Max Rotational Acceleration, 20 Max Handspeed, 66.9 Max Batspeed, 67% On Plane Efficiency). Defensively he worked at both SS and the OF with the OF being his more natural spot currently but the footwork and actions suggest plenty of time to keep doing both. The arm is loose and easy and was able to keep throws on the bag (81 OF MPH, 70 INF MPH) and when on the infield adapted to different angles. Overall Reiland could be one of the more impressive 2024 players once the class is fully mature. 

2024 RHP/C Tyler Patrick (Clovis West)

Another player who seemed to be all over the field showing strong actions, Patrick played well beyond his years. The 6-1, 185 frame is showing strength already allowing him to make quick jumps with the tools in short order. During BP, Patrick got into the back hip hinge early and was able to rotate off of it allowing the hands to stay tight to the body before getting high on the finish. This allowed him to drive balls gap to gap with consistently solid contact (60% Line Drives, 57% On Plane Efficiency, 18.7 gs Max Rotational Acceleration, 21.9 Max Handspeed, 69.1 Max Batspeed, 93.20 mph exit velocity) and should be a big aspect of his game as he matures; during gameplay in his 1st AB he drove a ball into the LF for a double. Behind the dish, Patrick was efficient in his exchange and with good feet was able to consistently keep the ball on the bag (2.03-2.09, 74 C MPH). His receiving stood out with a soft glove able to stick multiple pitches. Patrick kicked off the gameplay with a good 4 batter inning showing moxy on the hill and a projectable starter repertoire. A simple, repeatable delivery allows for good direction and extension down the hill as the hands work down to the waist and allow him to break cleanly for a compact 3/4 release. FB (81-83 MPH) kept firm and when going up showed ride (21.2 Max IVB) while setting up the CB (65-67 MPH) and CHG (72-74 MPH). The CB broke off a similar FB height and with opposite IVB depth (-20.8) which helped to keep hitters guessing. The CHG came into play earlier when he wanted to switch sequences and with its horizontal bottoming action (17.5 HB, 11.9 IVB) looked like a FB.  Overall lots to like and a definite follow. 

2024 RHP Ross Clark (Orange Lutheran)

At 6-4, 185 Clark stood above other players in the 2024 class, and with his long projectable frame, it’s easy to dream big on this young arm. Working out of a stretch-only delivery, Clark’s athleticism and repeatability of the delivery allowed him to challenge hitters. The delivery gets into the drift down the hill early as the compact arm stays in the pocket before being fluid to its H-3/4 release; the arm stays with the torso for a long time allowing the arm speed to pick up and jump on hitters with its deception. I was impressed with his ability to control the front side and get over it when it firmed up and that will also help him continue to make velocity jumps in the future. Clark used his heigh on the mound well and it created a heavier FB when working North/South or a running version when working East/West (19.5 Max IVB, 15.9 Max HB, 81-84 MPH, 1965 Max Spin). The FB set up a SLD (67-69 MPH, -18.6 HB) that had excellent feel in and out of the zone. The pitch was tight throughout its late horizontal break and he had a couple that snapped off. Clark could pitch out of the bullpen right now as a Freshman, but as he develops should look like one of the better 2024 arms in the class.


San Diego Open
CA 03/07 Maranatha Christian HS
State Games ID - NorCal  CA 06/15 Islanders Field
Rising Stars Showcase  CA 06/22 Hart Park
Northern California ProCase  CA 07/06 McBean Stadium - Lincoln, CA
SoCal ProCase  CA 07/07 Hart Park
SoCal Academic Games  CA 07/13 Hart Park
California State Games  CA 07/16-07/18 Islanders Field