Prep Baseball Report

Return Look: Preseason All-State Underclass

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 so I knew going in it would be mainly with fresh eyes, but a few players were ones I’d seen prior to the event and continued to show strong progression in their skills. Today, I’ll take a look at 5 players who were returning looks. Click the links and you’ll get more insight on these players like stats, video, notes, and Blast/Trackman Data.

2023 RHP/OF Jacob Hudson (Valley Christian) - TCU Commit

Last seeing Hudson before the 2020 season and COVID hit, his overall strength for the frame and explosive actions were big stand outs both on the hill and in the batter’s box. The TCU Commit continues to show the strength in the frame (5-10, 195) to be one of the most impactful arms in the 2023 class and his hitting/defense showed he could push for two-way opportunities at the next level. The first arm out for his side, Hudson attacked hitters with a FB/SLD combination that should befuddle hitters this season and beyond. The delivery has rhythm as the hands work down/up breaking on an average front knee and allowing the front leg to firm up down the hill. Hudson’s ability to ride the back leg allows him to control his actions and let his fast arm get through the 3/4 slot with a consistent release point for both pitches. FB (88-91 T92 MPH, 2657 Max Spin, 19.1 Max IVB) had good ride up through the zone with the ability to spot to corners as well. SLD (73-74 MPH, 2600 Max Spin, -17.2/-21.2 Max IVB/HB) is a swing and miss type with late and hard horizontal break. There were a couple he threw that with it’s late sweep are diving out of barrel paths. One of the few players who used a wood bat, Hudson showed explosive rotations at the plate with extension from his handspeed and the ability to drive balls deep into gaps (22.8 Max Handspeed, 74.3 Max Bat speed, 98.40 Max Exit Velocity). Defensively the arm strength fits a corner OF spot and Hudson was controlled in his efforts (92 OF MPH). One of my favorite things about watching Hudson is his competitive, yet jovial demeanor on the field. He can be in compete mode, but once he crosses the foul lines can turn that off and be joking with other players before turning on compete again. 

2023 3B Casey Borba (Orange Lutheran) - Uncommitted

Last seeing Borba at the 2019 State Games, he’s has made tremendous leaps in his overall strength defining the shape of the 6-0, 200 frame and improving his overall athleticism looking ready to have a big season at 3B. The strength in the bat showed flashes early in my first look, and during BP he showed that his power and bat-to-ball skills are going to be carrying tools for him. Working with higher hands and an opened stance, the slight kick allows him to stay anchored on the backside hinge rotating when he wants to and keeping the barrel through the zone a long time. Balls were jumping off the bat through the middle of the field with ease and when he wants to can dial it up for the pull side power (19 gs Max Rotational Acceleration, 73.6 Max Batspeed, 22 Max Handspeed, 63% On Plane Efficiency, 55.6 Hard Hit%, 93.70 Max EV). At 3B the early footwork and actions allowed him to play soft and efficiently through the ball with lateral range and agility to open and go get the ball. His arm strength (74 3B MPH) makes all the throws needed and and the quick release allowed him to keep throws on target while being on the move from different angles. Playing on one of the strongest teams in the country as a power hitting 3B, Borba should have plenty of eyes on him this Spring and Summer. 

2023 C/SS Elias Duncan (St. Francis) - Uncommitted

Duncan and I spent time around each other in the cages hitting this summer and the first thing that stood out to me wasn’t the tools, but the understanding of what he did well and the questions that showed a growth focused player. It’s easy to see the actions on the field and know that Duncan is one of the better players in the 2023 class with athleticism in a compact and physical frame (5-8, 175, 7.31 60 yd) showing multiple tools during the day. Offensively his ability to time the hinge with a quick knee tuck/hand pump allows him to stay on the plate well and get firm into the front side allowing the upper half to keep going. It’s a quick, loose, and easy swing with the ability to stay behind the baseball and stay strong through the zone. Showed the skills translated with big standup 3B to RCF and great AB's being on lots of different pitches (93/96.6 Avg/Max EV, 87.5 Hard Hit %, 75% Fly Ball/Line Drive). Defensively he used his athleticism to round and get through the baseball well with his compact arm at SS, but his Catching skills were very impressive using his flexibility for multiple stances and to handle the best velocity arms on the day (78 C MPH, 84 INF MPH, 2.02-2.07 Pop). With his tools, and the grinding work ethic, Duncan looks to continue his way up the 2023 class. 

2023 1B/OF Nolan Stevens (Franklin) - Uncommitted

Stevens was another guy who I saw bits of during this summer and the physicality in his long 6-3, 210 frame matched well with his ability to be explosive in short bursts (7.20 60 yd). The hit tools is going to be very high when it’s all said and done and that showed up in BP with Stevens punishing baseballs deep into gaps during the round (78.3 Max Batspeed, 56% On Plane Efficiency, 22.5 Max Handspeed, 16 gs Max Rotational Acceleration, 93.49 Avg EV, 80% Hard Hit, 97.80 Max EV). Starting open with hands at the back shoulder, Stevens is able to stick the front side allowing his hips to drive the barrel through the zone with consistent hard contact out front. The feel for the barrel is evident and as he reaches full maturity will regularly show off the pop that he’s got. Defensively he showed his ability to play multiple positions (OF/1B) with a plus arm for either position (89 1B/85 OF MPH) and the athleticism that is present in the strong frame allows him to go attack the ball. I liked his ability to help infielders at 1st and with his length and size could turn into a star at that positon long term. Stevens has already shown he’s one of the best 2023 players in the Nation this summer and reiterated it during the Preseason All-State. 

2023 1B Jarren Ford (Will C Wood) - Uncommitted

Ford first showed he was a power bat to follow during the 2019 State Games and as he’s put work into trimming the already large, strong, and wide shouldered frame. Similar to a Cecil Fielder build (6-1, 220), the power and bat-to-ball skills are going to carry Ford to the next level. Offensively he starts open with a small kick allowing the hands to stay connected to the back shoulder and a powerful sequence that rotates behind the baseball finding an upward finish. Ford had multiple HR deep into LCF during the round with consistent barrel control (22.3 gs Max Rotational Acceleration, 75.2 Max Batspeed, 22.7 Handspeed, 56% On Plane Efficiency, 88.9% Line Drive/Fly Ball %, 97.1 Max EV) creating very loud contact. I really enjoyed his ability to attack pitches during BP and that’s what he did in his 1st AB for a hard single to LF. At first base, Ford has really improved his footwork and ability to bounce off the bag. During the infield rounds it seemed like he consistently picked balls for the Infielders working angles and staying behind the baseball. With his size, it’s a great target for infielders to throw to and if he continues to show that type of glove/feet actions infielders will let it loose when they need to. Overall Ford’s power plays at first base and as teams consistently look for power, Ford should be a name on their list.


San Diego Open CA 03/07 Maranatha Christian
Rising Stars Showcase CA 06/22 Hart Park
Northern California ProCase (INVITE ONLY) CA 07/06 McBean Stadium
SoCal ProCase (INVITE ONLY) CA 07/07 Hart Park
SoCal Academic Games CA 07/13 Hart Park
California State Games CA 07/16 Islanders Field