MLK Weekend Scouting Notebook


Joey Cohen
Socal Area Scout

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Southern California. -  With Covid-19 shutting down most preseason HS games last year, the 2021 MLK baseball weekend didn't happen. So with MLK tournaments and team camps returning this year I tried to make it too as many games as I could throughout the three days. In total, I saw nine games at four different locations which included Newbury Park, USC, Glendale Sports Complex, and USD. Saw plenty of quality uncommitted underclass/upperclass players and very talented committed players that will be high on draft boards come summer. I break down my notebook below by team as several of the teams I saw had multiple players worthy of mentioning. 

Sierra Canyon

The first game I took in on Saturday was Sierra Canyon vs. Saugus. Sierra Canyon’s ace Jaden Noot got the start and showed why he will be a high MLB draft follow come this spring. Noot has very mature and physical build with a strong lower half. One of the most appealing things about Noot is the easiness of his delivery as it’s considerably low effort for his velocity. He doesn’t make big athletic moves in his delivery but instead is able to sequence his lower half well and just has a natural fast arm. His arm action is more compact in the back that is kept hidden behind his body. The FB in the first inning was 95-96 and he was 93-95 in the 2nd. It has a ton of arm side run that will produce many jamshots and GBs this year. His slurvy breaking ball at 76-78 will be his highest used secondary and it shows good shape. Has some present hump when he wants to get it over for strikes but can add some horizontal sweep if he wants a swing and miss chase. He slots it the same as the FB and hitters had a hard time picking it up out of the hand. With Noot along with Kassius Thomas, Max Martin, and Eddie Mgdesyan they have an elite staff that will make them the prohibitive favorite in Division 2. The other player that stood out to me that game was their starting catcher ‘23 Ethan Munoz. He has a shorter stocky build with present strength. Munoz threw out 3 base runners by the 4th inning and had himself an LD single to left. He will hit in the middle of the lineup for the Trailblazers and should get on some college radars. 

 

 


Notre Dame

Notre Dame had a strong season last year and returns plenty of starters and quality arms in 2022. I got to see their ace in ‘23 UCLA commit Justin Lee who is coming off a successful sophomore season. Last spring I saw him at 84-87 with the FB and on Saturday he was 88-91 T92. It's an easy effort and repeatable delivery. Arm works into a noticeable scap load without getting into an inverted W which helps him create more force and arm speed. His slider at 78-79 looked legit showing hard and late break that stays on the same plane as his FB and dives. Expecting a very dominant season from Lee this year that should get him on pro radars by the summer. 

 

 

A few ND hitters had some nice ABs on Saturday which included ‘23 UCSB commit Ryan Limerick who will start in the OF and hit in the middle of a loaded lineup and uncommitted ‘22 Max Aude who will hit at the top of their lineup. Limerick is a physical and athletic player that seems to get bigger and stronger after each viewing. Had an impressive AB on Saturday where he fought off some tough pitches in a 1-2 count and drove a ball into the LC gap for a double. Has a compact direct swing path which will make him a hard hitter to punch out come spring time. Max Aude is coming off a breakout junior season and I’m not expecting any slow-down come this spring. He also had himself a hard-fought AB that ended in an RBI LD single to right. The hands work loose, easy, and in rhythm which is why I am a big believer in his future success. 


 

La Mirada

The main takeaway from La Mirada this weekend is how important ‘23 Columbia baseball commit Eric Jeon is going to be this year for their team. I have seen him twice before Saturday at our Top Prospects ID last summer and at DudeDay back in August. Have always been impressed by his overall skill set as he is a twitchy athletic defender and the bat really plays showing consistent barrel accuracy and ability to use the whole field. He showed that ability in his first AB off Justin Lee where he drove a 90 mph FB to the RC gap. Then after that, he pitched three scoreless innings. He has an athletic delivery where he uses his lower half well. Has a whippy arm action where he at times changes his slot to manipulate pitch tilt. His FB was 86-88 that was located well. He also showed a big breaking ball that flashed some nice sweep and produced swings and misses. Jeon is going to hit at the top of the order and will pitch big innings on the mound which makes him crucial to La Mirada’s season success.

Chaminade

Got to take in a Chaminade double-header on Sunday and my takeaway with them is the number of quality arms they have. ‘22 Fordham commit Aric Berg is going to head the staff but they round it out with ‘23 USC commit Cristian Brewster and ‘22 USD commit Peter Michael. Brewster started the first game and was surprised to find out that he just started to pitch in the past year. In the first inning, he was 90-92 with the FB and settled in his later two innings at 88-90. Is an athletic pitcher showing a quick uptempo delivery.  Has a shorter arm action that hides the ball well behind his body. Showed an 11/5 breaking ball that had good shape and he felt comfortable getting over for strikes. Can probably increase the CB usage to help get hitters off his FB. 

Peter Michael is an arm that I have been keeping my eye on in the twitterverse these past few months. A few months ago he had a more high effort delivery but in recent weeks has cleaned things up where he is now working more simple and with less effort which has helped his velocity and has allowed him to be more consistent in the zone. He was 88-89 with the FB on Sunday with a quality 12/6 breaking ball. With the three arms I mentioned above they have a chance to win some big games this year, but they will also need guys like ‘24 UCLA commit Miles Ghossein and ‘22 OF Wolf Mahoney to step up for the offense. In addition, a player to look out for that got on my radar after his performance at our Preseason All-State Underclass showcase is Gregory Rangel. The ‘24 OF had a good weekend at Newbury Park barreling several balls with a smooth left stroke. The sophomore should get significant playing time on Varsity this spring. 

 

Orange Lutheran

Took in Orange Lutheran vs. La Jolla Country Day on Monday and OLU looks poised to compete for a CIF SS DIV 1 Title. The lineup looks dangerous especially at the top of the order with players like Derek Curiel, Mikey Romero, Casey Borba, and Bryan Martinez who had himself a line drive HR seen below.

Got to zone in on ‘22 LSU commit Mikey Romero a bit and the swing to me looks like it will play at the next level. Has some natural rhythm in his load and hands that help him get on time. Also has a calm presence and approach in the box with present pitch recognition skills. Only question seems to be is will it become a swing that will hit for more power. Romero has seen some draft helium in recent weeks and if he breaks out at the plate this year I wouldn’t be surprised if he is taken quite high. 

I saw also got to see two of their quality uncommitted arms in ‘24 Ross Clark and ‘23 Jordan Cole. Ross Clark was at our Underclass Preseason All-State last week where he was only 81-82 with the FB but on Monday he was 83-86 T87. Clark has consistently been a strike-thrower but at times can be too good in the zone and on Monday he worked in and out of some jams. It’s still a projectable arm that works clean and easy. The lean athletic body shows more in the tank in the velocity department. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a big time arm by his senior year. My last look at Jordan Cole was last fall at our Upperclass Games at Biola University. Was an easy standout who pitched well and sat 85-86 with the FB. In his one scoreless inning on Monday, he was 88-89 with his FB that has some heavy run to it. He moves slow and under control down the mound which allows for an easily repeatable delivery. These two RHPs are arms to not forget about on this loaded squad. 

 

Granite Hills

Granite Hills took on San Marcos in my MLK finale and they look like a team that can make a deep playoff run this spring. They have a formidable top-of-the-lineup themselves with ‘23 UCSD commit Camden Sos, ‘22 UOH commit Grant MacArthur, and ‘22 Spencer Davis. 

The story of their team this weekend however was the breakout performance of ‘25 INF/RHP Brenden Lewis. Lewis has a smaller frame but the athleticism is easily present. Was impressed with what I saw from him on the mound on Monday. Was 81-83 T84 with the FB and he mixed in a two-seamer that worked well on RHHs. His also ripped off some good-looking breaking balls that stayed on plane early and broke late which produced a ton of whiffs. Didn’t get any hits on Monday but he went 5-8 at the plate during the weekend and apparently left the yard. We could be watching a two-way star for years to come. 

 

San Marcos

San Marcos is coming off a successful 2021 season where they won 26 games and the Palomar League title and it should be more of the same in 2022. They might have the best top of the order in the San Diego Section with ‘22 Zac Farrell, ‘22 SDSU commit Ryan Rivera, and ‘24 Cal commit Kalen Applefield. Can say with confidence that Farrell can go AB for AB with the best hitters in the class. His swing stays connected, short, and compact with advanced bat speed and natural loft. On Monday he had a nice two-strike LD single to right. He hit 10+ HRs last year and there’s no reason to expect less this year. 

Of all the player performances I took in that weekend, Kalen Applefield probably had the best overall performance on Monday. It started when he dropped the barrel on a low and in FB and drove it over the RF fence for a HR. He has noticeably gotten bigger and stronger and should hit his fair share of HRs this year. Then two innings later he got on the bump and sat at an easy 87-89 with the FB with a big breaking ball. Looks like he will be closing out games for the Knights this spring. After getting to start on varsity last year as a freshman and getting a feel for it, I believe he’s gonna have a monster sophomore season.

 


UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
Central Coast Preseason ID CA 01/22 Hartnell College
Sacramento/Delta Preseason ID CA 01/23 McBean Stadium
Peninsula/South Bay Preseason ID CA 01/30 Canada College
Super 60 Pro Showcase NATIONAL 02/06 The MAX - McCook, Ill.


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