Return Look: Preseason All-State Upperclass


Ryan Ozella
Special Contributor

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After almost a year-long hiatus, it was nice to be back out on the field with the PBR CA Crew for the Preseason All-State at McBean Field in Lincoln, CA. Getting back on the field allowed me to get return looks at a group of Upperclass players (2021-2022) who had previously shown well over the years at events and in gameplay. 

Below is a short breakdown of nine players that have continued their development and showed skills and tools that translate to the next level. You can find more about the players including previous coverage, video, rankings, and stats by clicking the player’s names and checking out their profiles. 

2021 1B/RHP Devon Walczykowski (Jesuit) - Pepperdine Commit.

I last saw Walczykowski during his sophomore year hitting lower in a deep Jesuit lineup. During that look, he showed off the power in-game turning on some balls and showing explosive batspeed through the zone. Since then Walczykowski has significantly trimmed the frame looking strong and powerful now as a 6-2, 210 with the power aspect now a carrying tool in the swing. During BP using a wood bat, Walczykowski was consistently on pitches with a relaxed and easy upward barrel path that produced loud contact all round (93.41 AVG EV, 90.9% Hard Hit Rate). With his ability to impact the baseball, pitchers need to be careful on how they pitch him because they know one swing could change a game. Defensively Walczykowski showed the agility, footwork, and arm strength to be solid at 1st. He moved easily on the bag and off making the plays and sticking in on hops to help his infielders. Walczykowski has shown MLB Scouts should keep an eye on him after a strong showing this summer during the ProCase and that is still the case after the Preseason All-State. 

2021 OF/LHP Joshua Algarin (The King’s Academy) - Uncommitted.

During my previous CCS coverage, I’d seen Algarin produce in games and then at PBR events and he’s always stood out as a L/L OF who can play solid defense in any OF spot with a bat designed to spray line drives all around the field. As one of the few uncommitted 2021’s at the event, Algarin showed those skills have continued their upwards trajectory and he would be a great fit to help at the next level.  The athleticism and strength in the frame (5-9, 160, 6.75 60 yd) have improved, and comes out regularly with ease. At the plate, he stays balanced through contact with a simple swing that allows the bat to get to the ball and drive it consistently through the middle of the field.  Blast shows a hitter who has maximized his efficiency in the swing to produce consistent hard contact: 27.60/24.53 Max/Avg Rotational Acceleration, 22.50/21.32 Max/Avg Handspeed, 76.70/71.93 Max/Avg Bat Speed, 67% On Plane Efficiency. In the gameplay, Algarin drove a ball well to CF before singling that way in his second AB against two mid/high 80’s arms. Defensively Algarin is as fundamental as they come making it look easy in the OF and being consistent in his execution on throws (85 MPH). With a multitude of tools, I’ve always been a big fan and the trajectory continues to be up for me on Algarin. 

2022 OF/LHP Jaron Nevarez (San Ramon Valley) - SDSU Commit. 

Always a fan of the two-way prospect for Nevarez, his hitting performance at the event has elevated his bat with a big arrow upwards in my eyes. The entire toolset continued to be on display with Nevarez showing me he is one of the top OF’s in the 2022 Class. The hit tool has everything you’re looking for in a L/L OF with an excellent feel for bat-to-ball skills, power to the middle of the field, and the ability to drive the ball consistently. He registered the top Exit Velocity Maximum (101.35) and top Exit Velocity Average (94.38) with a repeatable, powerful swing. During gameplay he showed the ability to push AB’s long, fouling off good pitches for mistakes he can punish and playing with bounce and twitch out of the box; during his second AB he beat out a diving INF 1B showing that speed (4.38 H-1st, 6.96 60yd). The arm and defensive skills fit RF at the next level with a quick arm and aggressive throwing style (91 OF MPH). Topping off his great day, Nevarez was solid on the mound in one inning of work showing the ability to manipulate the baseball for a quick 1-2-3 inning. He changed speeds and locations with the FB (83-88 MPH) spotting to different parts of the zone and setting up his two offspeed pitches. The CB (70-72 MPH) was a short overhand bender with the ability to spot it in and out of the zone and feel for its shape and matched that with a Knuckle Ball (67-70 MPH) that acted as a Change showing flashes of dance and depth. The pitching skills were still good, but with the bat making big leaps, Nevarez could position himself as an MLB Draft-ready OF when the 2022 Draft comes up.

2022 OF/2B Evan Wallace (Buchanan) - UC Irvine Commit.

My last viewing of Wallace was when he was an incoming freshman prior to the 2019 season and I was excited to see the physical growth and adjustments he’s made at the plate for this event. Those excitements were realized when Wallace showed up with much better strength while not taking away from any of his athleticism (5-10, 180, 6.92 60yd) and putting on a display during his round of BP. At the plate, the swing produced easy lift to the pullside with great turns that allowed him to impact the baseball (99.51/92.02 Max/Avg EV, 80% Hard Hit, 85% On Plane Efficiency). It’s a type of swing that has the ball coming hard off the bat looking initially like base hits but carrying into long doubles and homers. Defensively he showed strong range in the gameplay making a great play on a diving ball to his arm-side; during workouts, he showed good footwork and rhythm to work through the baseball. The biggest knock would be overall arm strength (81 OF MPH), but with his footwork and athleticism, I could see Wallace turning into a power-hitting 2B or LF at UC Irvine while being a mainstay in the lineup. 

2022 C/OF Karson Bowen (Orange Lutheran) - TCU Commit.

Last seeing Bowen during the inaugural State Games in 2019 at Vanguard University, the progress he’s made since then was quite noticeable especially with the amount of strength the frame (5-11, 195, 7.2 60yd) has added and how easy he tapped it during workouts. Offensively he starts narrow early, sinking into the hips on the forward stride while keeping the hands low and tight to the frame. His ability to have his hips start and stop the swing quickly was impressive and allowed the barrel to be extended through the zone with great direction. Working gap-to-gap, balls jumped off the bat (56.3% Hard Hit, 88.26/98.30 Avg/Max EV, 66% On Plane Efficiency);  later in the round he showed that there’s some pullside power as well with home runs that way. Defensively, Bowen might have one of the highest ceilings for the 2022 class making the position look easy during workouts and in the gameplay. The arm and athleticism are all present on defense where he explodes out of the crouch and with his arm strength and transfer abilities can get even the best of runners (82 C MPH, 1.91-1.99 Pop). During gameplay, he handled velocity with a soft glove and gets his body in strong positions for his receiving to stay in the middle of his body on all pitches. Bowen is already highly touted (#15 in 2022 Class) and with another big year could be putting himself into Draft consideration as well.

2022 OF/RHP Corbin Ybarra (Buchanan) - Washington State Commit.

Ybarra was one of my standouts during the 2019 Area Code Tryouts with lots of projection on a toolset that was projecting to a corner OF spot at the collegiate level. That projection is still holding and he’s made considerable leaps in his strength on the long, athletic frame (6-4, 190, 7.25 60yd) while still having plenty of space to keep filling the frame. Ybarra’s defensive actions fit RF now with easy footwork and body control through the baseball matched with a very quick and compact arm that keeps balls firm to their targets with life (87 MPH OF). Offensively he stays tall with good posture allowing him to rotate through the zone with a slightly upward path and relative ease in the swing. During the BP rounds, he stuck to the pullside with some big HR’s and long 2B’s (87.68/92.79 Avg/Max EV) before scorching a liner at the RF in his first AB during gameplay. Once he reaches full maturity that pullside power will be a big part of his game with his ceiling being a middle of the lineup RF for years to come. 

2022 SS/RHP Caden Thompson (Woodcreek) - Santa Clara Commit.

During the summer of 2019, Thompson made a great impression showing his skills playing in different events and the ability to stick at SS and help a team with short stints on the hill. Since then Thompson has firmed up the frame (5-9, 170, 7.3 60 Yd) while still having easy foot/glovework to stick at SS. Those easy actions stood out during defensive workouts moving laterally with fluid hips and smooth hands that consistently grabbed the ball off the ground and funneled to his chest. The arm strength was easy and able to make different throws keeping them on the bag (77 INF MPH). Offensively I’ve always liked his ability to get on plane very deep in the zone (59% On Plane Efficiency, 50% Hard Hit) while controlling the barrel through contact. It’s a quick and compact swing that taps into his ability to rotate quickly (23.9 Max Rotational Acceleration, 75.5 Max Batspeed) and stay behind the baseball. During BP he drove balls gap-to-gap (89.96/95.34 Avg/Max EV, 90% Line Drive/Fly Ball %) then did the same during gameplay catching an 89 MPH FB deep on the plate and driving it into RCF for a standup 2B. To end his day Thompson showed off the true arm strength available with a compact and easy 3/4 release on the hill for a 3K inning. FB (85-87 MPH) went glove side and up through the zone with a good feel for its horizontal and vertical action (15.6 Max HB, 18.2 Max IVB) keeping it in the zone well. The FB set up a firm and slurvy SLD (68 MPH, -13.4 Max IVB, -15.7 Max HB) and strong diving CHG (74-75, 14.3 Max HB) that he could spot off the FB. Thompson is one of my picks for a guy who should continue to shoot up the 2022 Rankings as his tools continue to shine.

2022 RHP Danny Peters (Palo Alto) - Uncommitted

Peters caught my attention before COVID took over in 2020 in a short stint at San Benito where his workhorse frame and ability to pound the zone were on display as a Sophomore. Since then he’s tightened up the XL frame (6-5, 235) but still projects to keep firming as he reaches full maturity. On the hill, he controls the effort well over the rubber before a shorter cross-body finish allows the H-3/4 release to get over the front side well. As he continues to strengthen the front leg, velocity will make a jump and allow him to firm up more down the hill. During his two-inning stint, Peters pounded the zone with two strong pitches striking out 4. The FB (82-86 MPH, 2360 Max Spin) showed times where he cut it but was at its best when he worked behind the pitch attacking the top and bottom of the zone (21.3 Max IVB) where the ride would change eye levels. The CB (67-73 MPH, 2170 Spin Rate, -10.2 IVB, -10.7 HB) shows good spin with smaller actions late on the FB path and there was feel to put it in or out of the zone. Peters was able to keep a similar release height on the FB/CB and the late break allowed it to fool hitters. Peters looks like he could make a leap in his velocity and with it would be a good starting candidate at the next level with his feel and XL frame. 

2022 C/1B Gavin Ducker (Palma) - Uncommitted

Ok, this is me cheating a little bit since I never technically saw Ducker at a PBR event or during my previous time covering the Central Coast Section. Instead in my previous role, I worked directly with him and saw a player who made tremendous strides forward with his hitting skills. Getting to see him on the field during the Preseason All-State showed he belongs with the deep group of 2022 Catchers in the State putting on a strong display during BP and the arm strength to be an asset behind the plate. Offensively, Ducker gets into the hinge early and allows himself the space to rotate before the hands explode out through the baseball (22.9 Max Rotational Acceleration, 76.7 Max Batspeed, 58% On Plane Efficiency). During his round, he drove balls deep into the pull gap and hard through the middle of the field (87.27/96.84 Avg/Max EV, 62.5% Hard Hit), and the way the bat works there will be more pull power as he fully matures. Defensively the arm strength was evident getting it out of his glove and on the bag easily (78 MPH, 1.99-2.03 Pop) with good direction in his footwork. The blocking skills are there and as he gets more reps the receiving should keep making jumps as well. Add in the fact that Ducker is a fantastic student (1420 SAT, 4.6 GPA) and he would be a strong addition for teams looking for a power-hitting Catcher for the 2022 class.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
San Diego Open CA 03/07 Maranatha Christian
Northern California ProCase (INVITE ONLY) CA 07/06 McBean Stadium
SoCal ProCase (INVITE ONLY) CA 07/07 Hart Park
California State Games CA 07/16 Islanders Field


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