Rising Stars Showcase: Quick Hits


Les Lukach
State Scouting Director

 

 

CORONA, CA. - The Rising Stars showcase took place at Santiago HS and drew over 40 players in the 2023 and 2024 classes. Players were put through a pro-style showcase workout that included running the 60 yard dash, on-field batting practice, a defensive workout, bullpens and other statistically measurable stations. 

Select players from this event will be chosen to participate in the Preseason All-State Showcase Games and the 2020 Underclass Games that will kick off the summer. 

As we continue to break down notes/videos we will roll out more content. In the interim, we will take a look at some early standouts in this edition of Quick Hits. 

QUICK HITS

Noah Benavides OF / RHP / Murrieta Valley, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-7, 160-pounds. Strong, physical frame with slightly sloped shoulders and noticeable strength throughout the frame. At the plate Benavides showed a level barrel path that he’s able to manipulate based on the location of the pitch. Starts with hands high - even with ear - using a short leg stride to drive hips into ball. Swing can get a bit rotational at times causing him to appear stiff, but shows enough bat/hand speed to catch up to pitches. Defensively in the outfield he showed an accurate arm with some strength. Plays through balls with decent footwork before a pronounced crow-hop allows him to gather and release. On the mound Benavides has a short, compact arm path through to a high 3/4 release point. Gains ground down the mound with significant back leg drive. Two-seam fastball shows late life as it enters the zone while his curveball is a nice change-of-pace pitch that flashes tight spin and late breaking action with 11/5 shape. Also showed feel for a changeup with late fading action. Intriguing player moving forward particularly if he continues to develop the hit tool.

Kevin Takeuchi SS / 3B / Rancho Bernardo, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-7, 150-pounds. Medium/Large frame with pronounced strength in the lower half. Squared shoulders with room to fill out/add strength in the upper half. Incorporates lower half into swing to generate his present power. Gap-to-gap approach with a level barrel path that he’s able to consistently keep in the zone. Has some lift in the swing at times with some power - registered an 80 mph exit velocity off a tee. Defensively Takeuchi showed strong glovework with soft hands, clean exchanges and strong, accurate arm to the bag. The backhand was true while his footwork was also very good with no wasted actions.  

Brock Wirthgen C / 3B / Santiago, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-7, 145-pounds. Large frame with squared shoulders and strength throughout. Starts open at the plate using a leg lift trigger to get his swing started. Stays balanced through to extension. Present strength is noticeable at the plate where he drove balls to all fields with a slight uppercut barrel path through the zone. Shows present hand/bat speed with excellent timing. Registered a 78 mph exit velocity off a tee. Defensively he sets u deep in his crouch using his lower half strength to explode out of his crouch with excellent footwork. Transfers were clean and his arm shows present strength and accuracy. On the mound he showed feel for a three-pitch mix from a true dip-and-drive delivery that sees him sink his hips onto the back leg before driving down the mound. Compact arm through to a 3/4 release point. Arm is quick and clean. Fastball shows hints of run to the arm side while working from black-to-black. Changeup shows late diving action to the back foot of righties on a downhill plane. Showed the ability to start the pitch away and run back over the plate. Curveball is a tight spin pitch and showed two types of break - one sharp and biting and the other more of a tumbling break.  

Austin Castillo SS / RHP / King , CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-9, 150-pounds. Medium frame with wiry, twitchy strength. Loose, athletic actions in his overall game that really standout at the plate where he shows no wasted movements in his attack of pitches. Starts slightly crouched with hands just below his shoulder with a slight leg lift trigger. Gets barrel into the zone and keeps it there throughout the swing with present bat speed. Very balanced throughout the swing to finish. Showed a gap approach while being able to drive balls to the pull side.  Defensively he’s a slick fielding middle infielder with the chance to stick up the middle on defense. Has excellent footwork and range to both sides. Gets rid of the ball quickly with clean transfers and an accurate arm. Turns the double play ball easily. On the mound he really projects with a loose, clean arm through to a 3/4 release point. Gains ground down the mound with a significant back leg drive. Fastball flashes some run to the arm side while working down at or below the knees. Curveball was tight with late break and 11/5 shape from the same tunnel as the fastball. When thrown with conviction it flashed plus potential with its shape/break. Castillo showed feel for the changeup that has some depth and late breaking action. 

Ethan Cheek C / 1B / Citrus Valley , CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-9, 169-pounds. Large frame with strength in the lower half. Squared shoulders with wiry strength in the upper half. High waist with long legs and arm indicating there’s a lot of growth/development remaining in the body. At the plate Cheek begins slightly open using a leg lift trigger to initiate swing. Shows a level barrel path through the hitting zone. Uses his lower half very well in the swing. Drove balls to all fields during BP with fast hands and present bat speed. Defensively Cheek sets up even before exploding out of his crouch with excellent footwork showing clean exchanges. Arm strength is present while his accuracy on throws was a tick inconsistent. Misses were mainly high to the first base side. Frames very well without giving pitches away. Stays low in his crouch and moved very well on balls in dirt recovering and blocking very well.  

Andrew Witt SS / C / Garces, CA / 2024

Uncommitted. Five-foot-9, 125-pounds. Medium frame with length in the limbs and wiry strength throughout. Witt showed plenty of bat speed through the zone where he keeps the barrel on a level path through contact. Uses a long stride that allows him to maintain his balance post contact and through to extension. Showed an all-fields approach with the ability to drive balls the other way into the gaps. Defensively Witt sets up deep in his crouch not cheating on the throwdowns. Footwork is quick without wasted movements. Transfers were clean and his arm shows accuracy with misses all around the bag. Frames pitches very well providing the pitcher a large target. Moves well laterally on balls in-dirt and is able to recover quickly after blocking balls short of the plate.  

Luke Lavin C / 1B / Santa Margarita Catholic, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Six-foot-2, 175-pounds. Extra-large frame with wiry strength throughout. High waist with long legs/arms. Plenty of room to add strength to the frame. Starts tall at the plate with a slight knee bend using a toe-tap trigger to get going. Whips barrel through the zone with present bat speed showing feel for the barrel and the ability to drive balls into the gaps with a slight uppercut path. Defensively he sets up with his weight evenly distributed down through the heels. Shows excellent catch/throw skills with clean, quick transfers and a strong, accurate arm on throwdowns - all on the bag at second. Gains ground towards the bag on his exchanges. Does an excellent job of sticking pitches with proper glovework. A very athletic catcher, Lavin has the present tools to not only stay, but thrive, at the position moving forward. 

Eric Aguayo C / SS / Martin Luther King , CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-11, 145-pounds. Large frame that is lean and wiry strong with a high waist and twitchy athleticism. At the plate Aguayo is short to the ball and long through it with feel for the barrel and a knack for squaring balls up. Gets fully extended after contact. Shows an all fields approach while favoring the gaps. If power develops as one could expect, Aguayo could develop into a high doubles type hitter. Has some strength down through the arms, particularly in the wrists that comes to light when he’s behind the plate. Frames/sticks pitches with ease while working below the ball from his low setup. The arm plays now with its accuracy and speed. Exchanges were clean and footwork was above average as he explodes out of crouch and into throwing position without any wasted actions. Very projectable player both defensively and offensively. 

Ashton Evangelista RHP / OF / Martin Luther King, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-11, 145-pounds. Large frame with long legs/arms, high waist, large feet and wiry strength throughout. Very projectable body. Evangelista was one of the top performers with his overall game particularly hit bat and his outfield play. At the plate he starts upright before rocking onto his back leg and driving through the ball. He’s short to the ball and long through it getting extended post contact. Favors the pullside but showed the ability to go the other way into the gaps. Uses the lower half very well in his swing and maintains his balance post contact. Defensively in the outfield he showed the best arm on the day with ropes to the third and the plate registering an 84 mph position velocity. He showed excellent footwork in attacking balls while playing through and using a quick, short crow hop through to release. On the mound Evangelista projects well with his loose, quick, clean arm action from a dip-and-drive delivery where he uses a strong backside drive to gain ground down the mound. From a high 3/4 arm slot, Evangelista shows feel for a three pitch mix with his fastball showing some run to the arm side. He was able to locate the pitch to all quadrants in the strike zone spotting it for would be strike calls. Curveball flashes sharp break with tight spin and 11/5 shape. He also shows feel for a changeup that is a bit behind the other two pitches presently.  

Jonathan Rodriguez 1B / LHP / Servite , CA / 2023

Uncommitted. 5-foot-11, 190-pounds. Extra-large frame with strength throughout, particularly in the lower half and shoulders. Strength is very evident at the plate where the left-handed hitting Rodriguez shows the ability to drive balls too all fields with power. Favoring the right-center-field gap, Rodriguez also peppered the opposite field gap during BP showing his ability to get the barrel on the ball consistently. Defensively at first he shows athletic actions with solid glove and footwork. Arm was accurate on double play turns and across the diamond. On the mound Rodriguez flashes a compact, clean arm action that he was able to repeat through to a low 3/4 slot. Showed a two-pitch (fastball/curveball) mix that really projects. Curveball is a tight, sharp breaking pitch that he works down in the zone with 11/5 shape. Fastball shows late life as it enters the zone on a consistent downhill plane. With the development of a third pitch, Rodriguez will have a chance on the mound. As is, he profiles very well as a strike throwing left-handed closer. 

Roman Martin SS / RHP / Servite, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Six-foot. 150-pounds. Large frame that is long, lean, and wiry strong and highly athletic. High waisted athlete with long legs and arms. At the plate he starts with a wide stance using a short stride and excellent use of the lower half to drive balls into the gaps. Has present bat speed and the ability to manipulate the barrel to get it on the ball. Gets extended post contact while remaining balanced. Defensively, Martin shows excellent range to both sides with quick feet and control of his body. Exchanges were clean with plenty of arm strength and accuracy to first base. Turns the double play ball with ease aided by fast, sure hands. On the mound Martin shows a clean, loose arm that he’s able to repeat consistently. Using a dip-and-drive delivery driving down the mound with strong drive off the backside through to a high 3/4 slot. Fastball is heavy on a downhill plane that he works to both sides of the plate with some life as it enters the zone. Curveball can be loose at times, but when on, it’s a sharp, late breaking pitch. Changeup flashes major upside with its late, fading action down in the zone. Highly projectable player who has a chance to be a two-way player throughout his high school career.  

Drew Turley C / RHP / Thousand Oaks, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Six-foot, 150-pounds. Large, long, lean frame with wiry strength throughout. At the plate Turley starts upright with a slight knee bend before using a leg lift trigger to initiate swing. Shows fast hands with the ability to manipulate the barrel through the zone and get barrel on inside pitches. Showed a gap-to-gap approach with a slight uphill barrel path. Defensively he sets up low in his crouch before exploding out with excellent footwork and clean transfers. Arm is fast with accuracy to second base. On the mound he stays tall on the backside before driving down the mound with a strong backside drive. Fastball shows hints of arm side run as it enters the zone. He keeps the pitch down and shows the ability to throw it to all quadrants of the strike zone. Curveball is sharp, tight spinning with late break in the zone. Pitch was inconsistent in terms of hitting the strike zone, but the arm action was consistent. Turley flashed a knuckleball that had traits of knuckle-curve with late, sharp break down in the zone. 

Luke Rodriguez RHP / 1B / Shafter , CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Six-foot-3, 210-pounds. Extra large frame that has significant strength in the lower half, squared shoulders with some strength down through to the wrists. Size 16 shoes indicate more growth is coming. Offensively Rodriguez shows big pop at the plate with the ability to drive balls into the gaps on a line. Starts open with a short stride and excellent use of the lower half to drive hips into the ball. Consistently squared the ball up showing his feel for the barrel. At first base he shows athleticism in his footwork and ability to work through and around balls. Throws on double play and across the diamond were accurate. On the mound is were Rodriguez really projects with his power and ability to command three pitches for strikes. Working a dip-and-drive delivery, Rodriguez explodes off the back leg to gain ground down the mound. Fastball shows life as it enters the zone at 84-86 mph on a downhill plane. Rodriguez showed the ability to work the pitch black-to-black. Curveball has the traits of a power curve with sharp, biting action down in the zone and it’s 12/6 shape. Rodriguez also shows feel for a changeup that has late fading action that he keeps down in the zone. Very projectable pitcher whose upside is through the roof.  

Eric Bitonti 3B / SS / Oak Hills , CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Six-foot-4, 180-pounds. Extra-large frame that is lean, wiry strong, and athletic with plenty of room to add mass/strength. Starts upright at the plate with hands above shoulder near ear. Uses a short stride before driving the back hip into the ball with excellent use of the lower half. Short to the ball and long through it with a slight uphill barrel path through the zone. Has plenty of present hand/bat speed to go with feel for the barrel. Shows the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field while preferring the middle of the field. Keeps the barrel in the hitting zone for a long time. Worked out at third base where his arm plays with its strength and accuracy. Glovework is consistent and he shows the ability to turn the double play with ease. Would be intriguing to see him in the outfield where his athleticism and arm strength would play up. 

Jaycob Villalpando 2B / SS / Frontier, CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-9, 140-pounds. Medium/large frame with wiry strength throughout Squared shoulders with strength down to the wrists and through the chest. High waist with long legs/arms. At the plate Villalpando starts open using a high leg lift trigger to initiate swing. Shows present bat speed and the ability to manipulate barrel plane through the zone. Advanced hitter with the ability to consistently square the ball up with a middle-middle approach. Shows the same hand speed defensively where he shows range to both sides with excellent footwork and control of his developing body. Arm is strong with accuracy across the diamond. Easily handles the double play turn. Very instinctive player that gets excellent reads off the bat. 

Thomas Morales 1B / RHP / Oak Hills , CA / 2023

Uncommitted. Five-foot-9, 155-pounds. Medium frame with wiry strength throughout. High waist with long legs/arm. Plenty of room to add mass/strength to the frame. Starts upright at the plate using a slight leg lift with a short stride to initiate swing. Shows a knack for  getting the barrel on the ball with an all-fields approach. Keeps weight back through contact. Shows present hand/bat speed and the ability to manipulate barrel plane. Power should continue to develop as his body fills out. Defensively he showed excellent footwork around the bag at first. Sure handed defender with strong accurate arm. Was able to turn the double play and get back to bag with ease. On the mound he stays tall on the backside before driving down the mound and landing inline consistently on a bent front knee. Generates downhill plane on all pitches with the fastball showing hints of run to the arm side. Curveball was a bit loose but had good 12/6 shape. Threw a knuckleball that impressed with not only it’s movement but his ability to keep at or below the knees of hitters.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
SoCal Uncommitted Senior Games CA 09/28 Fullerton College
NorCal Uncommitted Senior Games CA 10/06 College of Marin
NorCal Top Prospect Games CA 10/13 College of Marin


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