Prep Baseball Report

Hardy's Hits: CIF-SS Coverage 3/26 - 3/27

Steven Hardesty
Central Coast/North LA Area Scout


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Ventura, Calif- 

The start of Spring Break period across high school baseball with various tournaments kicking off didn’t put an end to quality league matchups as I caught a pair of good ones. First on Tuesday I went out to see a matchup between the top two teams in the Mission League early in the spring with first place Harvard Westlake traveling to second place Chaminade. Then on Wednesday I went out to get eyes on a Marmonte League matchup with Oaks Christian hosting Agoura.

With the Mission League being amongst the best high school leagues in the state of California a match up of the top two teams in the league had the chance to produce an outstanding game and this one lived up to the potential. Harvard Westlake jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the 2nd. The Eagles cut into the lead by scoring a run in the 4th and was able to eventually grab the lead with a late rally plating 3 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning and closed out the game with a scoreless top of the 7th to win the opener of the 2 game set between the two. Harvard Westlake would go on to win the second game as the two top teams split the series and remain in the two top spots headed into their spring break non-league matchups.

The following days matchup featured a pair of intriguing Marmonte League teams with Agoura winning the first game of the series with a 1-0 win. Oaks Christian was looking to even the series headed into the final game the next day and was able to push across 6 runs after being held scoreless in the opener while receiving a strong start from their JR left hander who went the distance for a CG victory. Oaks would ride the momentum of the win into the following day with a 9-2 win to claim the series win and put themselves in a 3 way tie for first place with Calabasas and Westlake.

Below you can check out my breakdown of the standouts of the day with video highlights, access to their PBR profile and a scouting report on them.

(Players click the link on your name below to claim your profile. Also, players search the PBR database for your profile. Don't see your profile? You can create a free PBR profile here)


+  ’26 RHP/1B Eli Stephens A Orange County Preseason ID standout Stephens was one I was looking forward to seeing in live game action as he has started his sophomore season on a strong note. He earned his 1st varsity HS start against the Wolverines and put together a stellar outing. With a bigger frame that he has time to continue to develop and improve his strength/athleticism the arm shows strength on the mound with an interesting 2 pitch mix. Stephens ran his FB up to 89 MPH early with it sitting at 86-88 MPH for the first inning then settled into the 83-86 MPH range bumping 87 for the next 3 innings. Adds an interesting 74-76 MPH SLD which has some sweeping action to it, but the shape varies on it at times as he continues to polish his feel for the pitch. Throws a CHG during warmups, but did not utilize it in game. Stephens went 4 innings, punching out 3 while showing the ability to throw enough strikes to be competitive, but will need to continue to improve his control/command as he matures. Also a power RH bat who shows solid raw power with an aggressive swing Stephens is a good name to know in the ‘26 class and one to keep eyes on as he continues to build on his strong foundation of baseball abilities.

+  ’24 3B Vinny Van Der Wel Cal Poly SLO commit An interesting LH bat who is headed to the Mustangs as part of their ‘24 class which is interesting to me. Van Der Wel strung together several good at bats on the day facing predominantly spin and changeups from the Wolverines starter. He can work the middle of the field with leverage and a natural feel for finding his barrel, but has the bat speed/strength in the path to pull the ball with authority. Singled early, drew a BB after launching a loud foul pull side HR, drove a ball to deep CF and finally added an RBI 4-3 as part of the Eagles 3 run 6th inning rally. Plays a solid 3B with good footwork and soft hands while flashing lateral range with the arm strength to handle 3B, but shows the athletic ability to potentially play 2B or the Corner OF where his LH bat will be an asset to the Mustangs lineup going forward. 

+ ’24 SS Carter Bennett Claremont Mudd Scripps Commit A solid SS who moves well with reliable hands and shows fringey enough arm strength to stay at the spot going into the college level and can easily play 2B should he need to make a move off the spot. Hitting in the 2 hole for the Eagles Bennett has a direct compact LH swing which works the middle of the field and has leverage to the pull side to drive the baseball. Picked up a big single for the Eagles that was driven to RCF and would be a double at most parks, but was limited to a single by the Eagles home field set up. A leaner frame with some wiry strength Bennett should be a solid middle of the diamond defender for CMS going forward and add length to their lineup going forward.

+ ’26 OF Isaiah Hearn An impressive athlete who has present physicality to his frame with intriguing tools in his overall profile Hearn stands as the #15 ranked player in the ‘26 class by Prep Baseball California. His swing has present bat speed with room to continue adding more, he stays balanced his lower ½ allowing him to use the ground to create torque in the turn and the path shows lift in it which has shown HR power to the pull side of the field while being able to drive the ball with authority through the middle of the field. Hearn shows above average run ability with explosiveness to his stride (a standout football player in addition to his skills on the baseball field) and presently plays RF for the Eagles, but there is CF potential for him with his ability to run and the graduation of a SR playing the spot presently. His arm shows average strength with accuracy, but with some polish has above average potential. The tools for Hearn are impressive and he flashes intriguing ability as a LH hitter who has legitimate power potential while showing the profile to handle a premium defensive spot in CF, but he does have polish that is needed to his profile. In game he barreled a hard 4-3 out and beat out an INF single, but showed some swing/miss on spin and his plate approach can continue to be polished. As his feel for hitting consistently catches up with his interesting offensive tools and premium defensive profile with athleticism/strength Hearn should receive plenty of interest from college programs as part of their ‘26 class come the Aug. 1 contact date.

+ ’26 C Caydin Wilson Another strong performer from the OC Preseason ID event Wilson looked solid in my live look at him. The defensive ability is slightly ahead of the offensive ability in game presently. Wilson receives well with quiet actions and presents pitches effectively showing solid ability especially on high pitches/glove side pitches, but will need to polish his receiving on low pitches and spin to the arm side. Blocked well with quickness and his arm works with pop times as low at 1.98 between innings, but sitting consistently at 2.03-2.08 range with accuracy to the bag. Offensively he shows a balanced RH swing with a path that works directly to the baseball and will play to leverage to the middle of the field. His approach and strength gains going forward will determine the offensive player he develops into, but the swing itself shows potential that will make Wilson a good name to know for college programs to keep eyes on in the ‘26 class going forward as a solid defender at a premium defensive spot with a still developing offensive profile. 

#2 Harvard Westlake:

+ ’24 SS/RHP Bryce Rainer Texas Commit This is now my 5th look at Rainer in the last 3+ months and in each opportunity he has continued to show why he is the #1 ranked player in the Prep Baseball California and the Prep Baseball National ‘24 class. Another day with multiple hits for Rainer in which each ball was barreled with authority showing his ability to consistently find his barrel and hit the ball with authority. In the first plate appearance he stung a single right back up the middle, laced a hard one hop ground ball single to RF to plate a run and then in a left on left match up smashed a line drive back through the middle for his 3rd hit of the day. The last 2 were from 2K counts and added a BB to his day. The offensive ability for Rainer has shined for me in each look as he shows the ability to hit at a high level and then with the strength in his frame, explosiveness to his bat speed and the feel for finding the barrel there is plenty of power in his profile. Rainer is performing to the level so far this year that is giving him the chance to be amongst if not the first High School player drafted in the 2024 MLB draft.

+ ‘26 OF James Tronstein Stanford Commit Another Harvard Westlake Wolverine who in my 5 looks at him over the last 3+ months has done nothing, but perform at the plate. Tronstein shows an advanced hit tool, advanced approach all to go with a wiry athletic frame which continues to add strength to it while being a dynamic athlete who will stick in CF long term. He tracks pitches very well and shows consistent good swing decisions with minimal swing/miss in the path that even when Tronstein misses a ball foul it is off the barrel of the bat. He works the middle to pull side of the field consistently while showing leverage to his path that showed up with a pair of deep drives to CF off the barrel and then turned on a hard double down the LF line which displayed his hand speed. As he continues to develop and mature his frame there is a strong chance the RH hitting Tronstein will develop his consistent doubles power into consistent HR power from the LCF gap to the LF line. With a top of the order offensive profile, premium defensive position profile with the potential to be an impact defender at the CF spot and dynamic athletic ability Stanford has landed themselves a very interesting piece for their ‘26 class.

+ ‘25 RHP Jackson Alex In my 2nd extended look at Alex (I saw 3 innings in the late fall scrimmage against Hart) I continue to be impressed by the pitchability of the JR righthander for the Wolverines. Alex features a 3 pitch mix with a mid 80’s FB which he can throw to all 4 quadrants of the strike zone consistently, then spins a 71-75 MPH CB which he can throw both for strikes and out of the zone to induce chase while adding feel for a present 73-76 MPH CHG with sink. In this outing the Wolverines hurler was pitching predominantly off his CB/CHG pairing to keep the Eagles hitters uncomfortable including him picking up 5 K’s in a 3.2 inning outing and was able to pitch out of a tough bases loaded 1 out jam in the 3rd inning to maintain the lead for the Wolverines. I’ve seen Alex use his FB more consistently in the past so the CB/CHG heavy approach appeared to be more a scouting report approach then any issue on the FB as he touched 84-85 on multiple FB’s in the outing. There is a starter profile for Alex as he continues to build strength to his frame and his arm speed the FB velocity will tick up to go with feel for 2 quality offspeeds, but his ability to spin the CB as a strike & chase pitch gives intrigue to any potential move to a bullpen in the future. The JR righthander from Harvard Westlake is a quality uncommitted arm in the ‘25 class who will be well season with multiple years of pitching in the Mission League upon arriving on a college campus. 

Oaks Christian:

+ ’25 3B Quentin Young LSU Commit Young is a reclassed ‘25 who moved up from the ‘25 class last summer and has put himself firmly in the #3 ranked spot by Prep Baseball California and stands at #6 nationally. The nephew of a pair of former MLB players his profile is lead by an imposing 6’5ish frame which has developed physicality and solid athleticism as he continues to major all to go with loud power tools in his RH bat and RH throwing arm. I’ve seen Young on 4 occasions in the last 6+ month twice at Showcase events and twice in game play action and the power potential in his bat is readily apparent with lift in the path to go with bat speed/strength in the swing which he displayed on this day with a deep drive to CF that he narrowly missed extra bases on. This was one of only 2 swings on the day as he was intentionally walked in his first 3 plate appearances. The power profile for Young stands above his hit tool presently, but the rhythm/balance/timing to his approach continues to improve and has another 15+ months ahead of the 2025 MLB draft to show his ability to hit and his power for MLB scouts. What impressed me the most was watching Young take INF/OF at 3B where his actions in his footwork/hands looked clean and athletic while moving laterally/downhill with potential plus arm strength he is throwing from multiple angles with accuracy. In game, multiple plays look easy including moving to his left downhill for a 5-3 putout. Young will be one I need to get back to see more off, but mark me as intrigued with his potential going forward.

+ ’24 SS Elijah Clayton Cal Commit Another Lion with MLB bloodlines Clayton is the son of Oaks Christian head coach and former MLB SS Royce Clayton. That profile shows up quickly in his defensive actions where he is athletic with smooth, easy movements at SS during INF/OF where he looks comfortable playing one handed and moving laterally/downhill that you can easily see him being at least an average defender at SS, but should solidly be an above defender on the infield dirt. Hitting in the 2 hole for the Lions Clayton has smooth swing with quickness to the path while showing a middle to pull side approach with a line drive plane. He showed a hit first approach to the swing and collected multiple barrels in game including a single. Once Clayton is on base his above average athleticism/run speed takes over where he is aggressive and stole multiple bases with ease and creates havoc and distracts pitchers with what he can do on the bases. A very good piece headed to the Cal Bears as they prepare to join the ACC in the 2025 spring season.

+ ’26 C Carson Sheffer A name who I was very aware of heading into the game, I was intrigued to see how the video I had seen of him performs in a live game look and Sheffer absolutely lived up to the quality perspective I had of him heading into the game. A wiry athletic frame the sophomore backstop shows good mobility behind the plate with a smooth glove that presents pitches quietly and effectively for his pitchers. His throwing motion is quick with a lower transfer and shows the ability to throw with accuracy/strength from a lower slot which consistently sat 1.96-2.04 with his in between inning pop times. Projects as a potential impact defender at the premium spot. Sheffer’s athleticism translates into the batter's box where the rising sophomore hits in the lead off spot showing a loose quick RH swing with a middle of the field approach and a natural bat to ball feel while showing the ability to play the small game (BH bunt in game). Sheffer collected 3 singles in the game and a hard groundout to the second baseman, presently the offensive profile is hit first with some extra base pop to the gaps, but as he adds strength to his frame the swing path/athleticism will profile for pull side HR power. My arrow on Sheffer is pointed directly up and the ‘26 backstop is a name that college programs should be paying close attention to in advance of the Aug. 1 contact for his grad class.

+ ’26 OF/RHP Jack Laubacher An interesting RHP who has come with good reviews about his work on the mound, the athletic ability for Laubacher was on display on this day. A compact frame with some wiry strength to it presently he takes a quick direct swing while consistently showing bat to ball ability with looseness to the hand path. The approach is geared to hit and Laubacher works back through the middle of the field. Runs well and plays a solid OF defense which would project on the corners going forward. Laubacher is one I will be back to get a look at the work he does on the mound in addition to the skillset he shows as a position player.

+ ’25 LHP Ty Hanley A stronger framed lefthander Hanley presents an interesting uncommitted ‘25 arm for the Lions. The delivery itself is aggressive with a bit of effort, but not so much you worry about it and the arm works with a clean action and relatively loose path. His stuff is headlined by a 84-86 MPH FB which touched 87 MPH throughout his outing and has arm side run to it especially when down in the zone. His best present secondary is a 71-73 MPH CB which can flash swing/miss when he executes it properly down in the zone, but shape was inconsistent. Adds a 75-77 MPH CHG with fade to the arm side it’s a work in progress pitch for him at the present moment, but does flash potential. He is best described as effectively wild in that he throws enough strikes to get outs and pitch deep in the game (7 inning CG win allowing 1 run with 7 Ks), but there are control issues that continue to need to be polished as he goes forward to remain a starter at the next level. But, with his quality left handed profile, present solid 2 pitch mix and the makings of a 3rd offering and his competitiveness Hanley is a good name to keep eyes on for college programs as they look for LHPs in the ‘25 class.

+ ‘25 OF/RHP James Latshaw The athletic frame, loose easy actions moving around the OF, arm strength to stick as a CF with projection to handle RF and a loose RH swing which features whippy bat speed with a path that shows lift potential Latshaw is an intriguing prospect. While it was not his best overall day at the plate, the potential and tools for this ‘25 CF from Oaks Christian jump out at you with how he moves around a baseball field. The approach/timing at the plate can continue to be polished to allow him to get to what has shown to be impressive raw power in workouts while playing a premium defensive spot or priority defensive spot at a high level Latshaw presents a offensive/defensive profile of note. As well, the ‘25 uncommitted Lion is one of their starting arms who pitched a stellar game to round out the series win for Oaks on the day after this game. Latshaw will be one I will want to see again as I continue to look to get a better feel for his abilities. 


+ ’26 SS Braden Oliver An impressive ‘26 player who from my first look in January (MLK weekend) to now has continued to develop/improve his game against varsity competition and the performance is matching the tools. A clean defender who shows the actions in his footwork, smoothness to his hands, arm strength/accuracy to stay at SS going to the next level while adding in the instincts to play clean defense in game which was all apparent in my first look at him. Where Oliver raised his profile even higher for me was what he is doing at the plate. I liked his swing path, balance and hand speed in my initial look at him, but the approach has improved as he has gotten comfortable with varsity pitching to consistently find his barrel in game. Singled in his first at bat off the barrel to RCF, smoked a hard grounder to the 3B in his 2nd at bat and was able to drive a ball to deep RF in his 3rd at bat despite being late on the pitch. The swing/miss has reduced and the ability to impact the baseball is improving. Oliver is one of my personal favorite ‘26 SS prospects I have seen in the last few months and as he matures athletically/physically to go with the polish he is putting on his baseball ability should make Oliver a priority follow for college programs in the ‘26 class ahead of the Aug. 1 contact date.

+ ’26 OF Tyler Starling Another arrow up guy for me who in my first look at him during January caught my eye and left me wanting to see more of the LH hitting OF with dynamic athletic ability (standout football player who plays defensive back). I got a chance to see Starling flash his above average present speed with plus potential on multiple occasions. Playing LF in game he looks comfortable moving around on the corner with plenty of arm strength, but his future will be in CF where his athleticism/arm will both fit comfortably. Much like Oliver where Starling raised his profile even higher for me came in his work at the plate. Batting in the 3 hole the LH hitter put together 3 very good at bats against a solid LH arm with his bat speed improving plus his feel for finding the barrel trending up. Fouled off a pair of pitches in his 1st at bat before drawing a BB, then laced a line drive double to RCF where he showed his run tool making it there with ease and rounded out an impressive day with a hard single to RF. Starling is swinging the bat with comfort now as he continues to see more varsity level pitching and there is sneaky pop in his bat which could project into realistic consistent HR power to the pull side as he matures. I’m very intrigued by the potential for this LH hitting future CF defender and he is a name that college programs would be smart to have him on their ‘26 recruiting boards to keep eyes on.

+ ’26 MINF Kaden Graves This was my first extended look at Graves and the smaller lean framed 2B for the Chargers shows a good set of baseball tools. He is a solid defender who moves well with his feet and consistently soft hands to go with a clean transfer and the arm strength to play the spot. A LH hitter who hits in the 9 spot presently for the Chargers he impressed me with a compact direct bat path which allowed him to collect a line drive at the 2B for an out and then executed a slash to advance a runner later in the game. There are strength gains he will need to make and I will need to get more looks at Graves to have a better feel for his overall potential, but this look left me intrigued with the ‘26 INF and he is a name to file away for me as I continue to get more in person looks at him.

+ ‘24 RHP Braylen Dritz I missed Dritz in January as he did not throw on the day I saw the Chargers, but I got a solid look at the uncommitted righthander who has an interesting 3 pitch mix. The arsenal for the SR right hander is headlined by his 85-87 MPH FB which touches 88/89 at times while featuring ride at the top of the zone. He pairs it with a presently solid 73-75 MPH CB which when he executes it down in the zone shows swing/miss life, but his inconsistent control left the pitch up with a loopier shape at times. For good measure Dritz will mix a 76-78 MPH CHG in which he flashes feel for and is a good cross count pitch that will induce soft contact in a hitter sitting on his FB as it features similar movement to his FB. Dritz has an aggressive delivery with intent and a quick arm which all combine to give him control issues at times and would be another arm I see as effectively wild presently. He throws enough strikes to presently start, but will need to polish his control of the strike zone to remain a starter at the next level where his 3 pitch mix would play. Should a move to the bullpen be necessary for Dritz going forward he can maintain the 3 pitch mix and tap into the life on his FB/CB for swing/miss offerings while adding the CHG to keep hitters off balance. Dritz is the kind of profile I would love to see start his college career at a JUCO program who can polish his pitching profile which in turn could open up 4-year level opportunities for him that he is not presently receiving as a high school arm.

Names To Know:

In a one day look not all highlights are caught or players won’t always have their best results. With that in mind there were several other players who showed interesting tools/potential or futures. The names below are ones to keep an eye on going into the spring and going forward. Each player below is uncommitted for college coaches to put on their board for potential needs in the ‘24 or ‘25 class.


+ ‘25 INF Jackson Tyler
+ ‘25 RHP Adam Batamanian
+ ‘24 OF Gregory Rangel
+ ‘24 1B Matt Churchill Puget Sound Commit

Oaks Christian:

+ ‘24 OF McKenzie Parks


+ ‘25 LHP Thomas Novak
+ ‘24 3B/OF Will Michelman Lewis and Clark Commit