Prep Baseball Report

Quick Hits: Brewers Final Area Code Tryout

Les Lukach
State Scouting Director

The final Brewers Area Code team tryout took place Saturday at Dedeaux Field on the campus of the University of Southern California. This was the second tryout as a group of players participated in an initial tryout last week at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

The final tryout typically attract a smaller group of players - there were 72 players in attendance today - and is usually reserved for the top players in the class. Many of the top players from the PBR Class of 2019 Top 100 including all seven players from Southern California from the Top 10 participated in the tryout. Altogether there were 49 players from the Class of 2019 Top 100 rankings at the tryout.

The players went through the same process as the underclass tryout participants - batting practice, defensive workout, simulated game. There were many standouts on the day so let's dive right in to the top guys. Players are listed in no particular order.

- 2019 LHP/1B Spencer Jones (La Costa Canyon HS) is currently ranked fourth in the 2019 class and he proved on Saturday why he has a legitimate shot at taking over the top spot. While his BP rounds were okay, Jones saved his best for the game situations. It's hard to choose where I like Jones better - on the mound or at the plate. On the bump he was 88-91 with his fastball and backed it up with a 73-75 curveball, both of which he threw for strikes. But at the plate he was really impressive. His approach is mature and his swing has a chance to be special. He had a single off an 89 mph fastball in that he muscled to center then he went with a 91 mph fastball away and drove into left field for a standup double.

- 2019 MIF Sean McLain (Beckman HS) has seen his stock rise following an impressive junior season and has carried that momentum into the summer circuit. McClain shows pull-side power and a swing that consistently squared balls up during his batting practice. The hands are fast resulting in excellent present bat speed. Defensively he is hyper-athletic infielder with plus footwork and a borderline plus arm. He plays with very good body control. McClain did not play in the game because of a tweaked back.

- 2019 RHP Jay Baggs (San Clemente HS) was the biggest eye-opener for me on the day. The 6-foot-5 225-pound righty looks like a starting QB in the Pac-12 with his squared shoulders and athletic frame. With an over-the-top delivery, Baggs generates downhill plane on a fastball that worked 88-91 and shows life as it enters the hitting zone. He backs that up with a true 12/6 breaking ball at 76-77 that made things uncomfortable for hitters. The arm action is easy and fast and projects as a power arm in the future. The uncommitted rising senior is certain to be off the boards in no time after this performance.

- 2019 Sam Hliboki (Harvard Westlake HS) showed very well today as he showed an uptick in velocity from the last time I saw him the spring. His fastball worked 90-92 showing excellent command working to all quadrants in the zone. The question on Hliboki has been his command of his breaking ball and while he left one slider up, the rest were down in the zone and flashed good depth at 76-78 mph. The Vanderbilt commit made a very good case for being on the final roster.

- 2019 RHP Dawson Netz (Maranatha HS) is a guy who will absolutely see a rankings jump when we release our update rankings soon. The Arizona commit has easy arm actions that result in a fastball at 92-93 mph. He also showed a slider at 77-81 that has flashes of potential along with a curveball at 71-73 that can be loose at time but is very effective and plays up given his fastball velocity. He threw one changeup at 81 that showed late life and came from the same slot and with the same arm speed. A two-guy on his summer team, Netz's future is clearly on the mound where he is ultra competitive and doesn't give in to hitter no matter the count.

- 2019 LHP Cutter Clawson (Laguna Beach HS) has seen his stock soar since the spring after a solid showing at the TOS and in several tournaments leading into the Area Code Tryouts. The BYU commit came out firing today with his fastball that shows good armside run at 88-91. Clawson pounded the pitch in on lefties making for some uncomfortable at-bats. He backed that up with a slider at 78-79 that tight and shows late depth as it enters the hitting zone. There's a lot of deception in his delivery with a high leg kick that leads to a crouch with a slight shoulder turn that shield the balls from the hitters view.

- 2019 C Gabe Briones (Martin Luther King HS) is arguably the top catchers in the state and he showed that again on Saturday. His BP rounds resulted in loud contact with line drives to all fields but he especially peppered the left center field gap. There's legitimate power in the bat that projects for over-the-fence pop. Behind the plate he basically puts a stop to the run game with pop times in the 1.93-2.07 range during the workout and an in-game caught stealing at 1.94. The USC commit is both physical and nimble moving easily behind the plate while in and getting out of his crouch.

- 2019 OF Connor Buchanan (La Canada HS) has improved significantly since I last saw him prior to the start of the high school season. For one he looks more physical and he appears to have improved his footwork in the outfield where he possesses an above average arm that results in accurate throws to the bags and home plate. At the plate is where Buchanan really stands out with his fast bat and present power that produced loud rounds of batting practice. The USC commit seemed very comfortable at the plate in-game where he hit two balls deep that were caught for outs.

- 2019 OF Sebastian Orduno (St. John Bosco HS) continues to get better and better each time I see him. He made a play in game ranging to left to track a ball down in the gaps that few players have the speed to make. He got an incredible jump on the ball showing off his instincts and pre-pitch preparation. During BP he hit a ball out to right field that appeared to still be going up when it hit the protective netting over the wall. He can lunge at balls at time, but when his timing is right at the plate it shows potential to be special.

- 2019 LHP Cooper Benson (San Luis Obispo HS) currently sits atop the 2019 Top 100 player rankings and he showed that he belongs in that conversation. Working at his usual quick pace, Benson pounded the zone with his fastball at 87-88 which worked black-to-black and elevated for a different look. He appears to put some cut movement on the pitch at times causing more angst for hitters. His curveball at 68-70 was an excellent change of pace pitch and is deceptive given the same slot and arm he uses to deliver it. The Arizona State commit is a two-way player on his high school team where he's an excellent outfield, but he only pitched today.

- 2019 LHP/1B Josh Hahn (Huntington Beach HS) is the number two player in the 2019 Top 100 in California and the UCLA commit did nothing today to dissuade me that he belongs near the top of the rankings. After a very good batting practice where he peppered the gaps with line drives and hit a few to the track, Hahn really shined in his stint on the mound in the game action. His fastball was consistent at 88-89 and showed some life while his changeup was his best pitch on the day at 81-82. He backed those up with a curveball at 70-71 that he threw for strikes. He also took a couple of really good at-bats where he showed patience in laying off bad pitches and attacking good ones.

- 2019 RHP Joey Estes (Paraclete HS) is a guy you're going to be hearing a whole lot about over the next year. The 16 year-old junior (he doesn't turn 17 until October) came out and showed why he was such a sought after recruit before ultimately choosing Long Beach State. His fastball shows tailing action at 90-92 while his slider has wipeout pitch potential at 80 mph. But it's his curveball that drew the most grunts from scouts in the stands. A true two-plane pitch, it starts high before darting down with an 11/5 shape and the occasional 10/4 break at 75-76 mph. Estes really projects for both future physical maturity and added velocity. Couple that with his age and date of birth and you could have a sleeper in next year's draft.

- 2019 1B Joe Naranjo (Ayala HS) is a guy I've seen since he was an incoming freshman and simply put the guy is a ballplayer. His approach at the plate is mature beyond his years and the results are fantastic. Naranjo is short to the ball and long through it with current gap-to-gap line drives and shows flashes of pull side power. Defensively he's a vacuum at first base where he shows excellent footwork and scoops anything within reach. He's athletic and his baseball IQ is off the charts. There may not have been a more competitive player at the tryout.

- 2019 LHP Quinn Mathews (Aliso Niguel HS) was arguably one of the top lefties in the state coming into the summer and he solidified that feeling again today. He's seen an uptick in velocity since I saw in the spring where he was 84-87 as he was 88-90 today with lots of run to the arm side. His velocity on his other pitches - curveball and changeup - has maintained where they were but his command of both has improved. While his curveball can be loose he manages to keep it down as it drops out of this hitting zone. His changeup has a whole lot of life as it enters the hitting zone and fades away from righties. The Stanford commit made a strong case for himself today.

- 2019 RHP Justin Campbell (Simi Valley HS) appears to be fully healthy after suffering a labrum injury last season that caused him to miss the entire season on the mound. This is my second viewing in five weeks and he's already showing positive gains. His fastball was steady at 88-91 and shows some late life as it enters the zone while his changeup has fading action away from lefties at 78 mph. Campbell's curveball is tight with late break at 71-72 as it appears he's just playing catch with it. The delivery is clean, easy and repeatable. Currently uncommitted, Campbell is one of the most sought after recruits in the state.

- 2019 RHP Evan Fitterer (Aliso Niguel HS) was about as good as I've seen him over the last two years. His fastball had life and run at 90-92 and was coming out easy. His changeup was okay at times and really good at times at 81-82. But it was his slider that was lights out as it was tight and showed sweeping action at 75-76 missing barrels and resulting in swing-and-miss passes by hitters.

- 2019 RHP Derek Diamond (Ramona HS) was the guy that quickly ended many of the conversations in the stands and drew all the attention leading one scout sitting near me to say "this is what they're supposed to look like." Diamond is a two-sport standout heading to Stanford as a baseball player after his prep career is over. With an easy delivery and repeatable actions, Diamond features a true four-pitch mix. His fastball flashed some run at 89-92 and his tight curveball shows 11/5 break at 71-72. Diamond also threw a changeup at 79 that had late fading action, but it was his cutter at 75-77 that really caught everyone's attention.


- 2019 LHP Jacob Widener (San Marcos HS): 87-89 FB, 75-76 CB; Lots of deception from a short arm action; breaking ball is slurvy and fastball is heavy; 6-foot-6 190-pound frame really projects for added strength.

- 2019 OF Jasiah Dixon (Orange Lutheran HS) is finally fully healthy and looking like the player we projected him to be as freshman. An electric athlete with a big outfield arm, Dixon appears to have worked out some flaws with his bat too. Really exciting player.

- 2019 SS Michael Curialle (JSerra HS) found his rhythm with the bat during the season and it's carried over. Appears thicker and stronger too. Very good athleticism to go with a big infield arm.

- 2019 C Jared Thomas (Orange Lutheran HS) was strong during the defensive portion of the tryout with pop times in the 1.97-2.09 range. Shows good feel for the barrel and a line drive stroke.

- 2019 C Joshua Romero (Oxnard HS) is a strong defensive catcher with gap-to-gap tendencies at the plate. Has a clean and consistent swing path that is balanced throughout. Popped in the 2.01-2.04 range.

- 2019 RHP Tyson Heaton (Yucaipa HS) shows a deceptive delivery that makes it hard to pick the ball up out of the hand. FB 90-91, CB 76-77, SL 81, CH 81. Heaton has been very, very good since midway through the high school season. Earned PBR California All-State honors.

- 2019 RHP Andrew Devine (Simi Valley HS) shows an electric arm that is fast and whippy. There's some effort but the delivery is repeatable and clean. FB 89-92, CB 70-73. The Texas Tech commit is also a very good MIF who has been clocked in the 6.4 range in the 60.