Prep Baseball Report

Hardy's Hits: West Ranch vs. Calabasas

Steven Hardesty
Central Coast/North LA Area Scout


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Ventura, Calif- 

As the CIF-SS season is in full swing across the state, my opportunity to get out and see two very strong programs from a pair of quality High School leagues in North LA came as part of a season opening tournament match up. With the West Ranch Wildcats from the Foothill League facing off against the Calabasas Coyotes from the Marmonte League.

The game was originally slated for an 11 AM start at Calabasas, but after an umpire snafu the start time and location was switched to 2 PM at West Ranch which provided some unintended adversity for both programs. But, the players responded with several good performances on both sides.

The Wildcats jumped on the Coyotes starter early plating 5 runs in the first inning, but the Coyotes staff would settle in and hold the Wildcats to just 1 run over the next 6 innings. West Ranch started one of their best arms and the combination of him and 3 quality innings out of the bullpen resulted in a 6-1 win for the Wildcats who remain undefeated on the season (with one tie due to darkness ending a game).

Checkout below for the standout players from the day with a few additional names to know from each program.

West Ranch:

+ ‘24 INF Brett Ishikawa (Uncommitted)
This was my 3rd look at Ishikawa, a good LH hitting INF who I’m very intrigued by. He has shown a consistent compact swing with a line drive plane and the ability to use the middle to back side of the field effectively with hard line drive contact. There is sneaky pop to the pull side although he is best suited to using the middle of the field with leverage and play to a high contact doubles approach from the left side. He is a solid defender at 3rd who shows the range and actions to handle the spot with average arm strength, but has experience at 2B plus the athletic ability to play an OF corner. Very interesting LH bat who could add depth to a college lineup with defensive versatility.

+ ‘25 INF Landon Hu (Uncommitted)
A lean athletic frame with good actions across the board I’ve been very intrigued with Hu since I first saw him play in spring of ‘23. Playing 2B he looks the part of an above average defender who can play laterally/downhill with above average arm strength for the spot and the ability to slide over and play an average SS. A switch hitter I saw 3 at bats from the LH side on the day (I’ve seen him on each side in the past) where he continues to show a quick swing with good bat to ball ability that plays to his up the middle high contact approach. I like the swing from the LH side where he picked up a single and a couple more good swings on the day. He shows good rhythm in the box and generally makes good swing decisions staying within the strike zone. Hu profiles as a solid up the middle defender who will add depth to the back side of a college lineup, but has potential to turn into a top of the order table setter as he continues to add strength to his frame to tap into more power in the bat.

+ ‘26 SS Ty Diaz (Uncommitted)
Diaz is a name I’ve heard several good recommendations on and I was very much looking forward to getting eyes on this young Shortstop. Needless to say he did not disappoint on the reviews I had heard about him. The defensive ability is very impressive with the actions/footwork/hands all being above average while showing the arm strength presently to stick at SS with more to come. His feel for the position, body control and athleticism project potential plus defensive ability up the middle, but should be at least solidly above average there. A LH hitter with a good swing which shows some bat speed to it with a bat path which will play to leverage up the middle where his approach is geared to work the gaps with hard line drive contact. He flashes good potential at the plate, but does still need some polish offensively to reach his potential. Overall, Diaz should be a name high on college boards for the ‘26 with his defensive ability, LH offensive potential and athletic frame.

+ ‘25 CF Mikey Murr (Uncommitted)
Another talented LH hitter out of West Ranch who has a depth of quality LH bats for college programs to keep eyes on. Murr is one who stood out when I saw him last spring with a good swing that showed the feel for finding the barrel in game. The most noticeable change in this look was the strength Murr has added to his frame which has added some bat speed and ability to hit the baseball with more impact. He turned on a double in game (flashing his above average run speed) then also took several other good swings. It’s a compact frame with athleticism and some present strength with room to continue to develop. Murr is an adept defender in CF who has good routes, instincts for the ball in the air and the arm will play as average and could develop into fringe above average in the future as he continues to develop physically. Murr is one I’m very high on for his LH hitting ability and potential to play a premium defensive spot at the next level.

+ ‘24 LHP Jackson Banuelos (CSUN Commit)
This was my second look at Banuelos, but my first extended one (he came in for a brief relief appearance when I saw him in spring ‘23). Banuelos who is headed to CSUN after he wraps up his high school career, is an intriguing LH arm with a 3 pitch mix that he has good feel for. His FB worked at 84-86 MPH consistently with arm side life and touched 87 MPH (has been higher in shorter stints). It’s a deceptive FB which he gets swing/miss with because of the ride on it. His SLD was at 73-76 MPH looking noticeably sharper on the break with tight spin and late action and looks like a swing/miss offering. Mixed in a 69-71 MPH CB with a loopier break to it, but gives him a solid 3rd offering to keep hitters off balance and he showed feel to throw it for strikes. The delivery has good intent with a quick arm action and good body control to repeat consistently while throwing plenty of strikes. Banuelos could slot in as a starter going forward with his feel for 3 pitches and strike throwing ability, but also has the pitch mix with his FB/SLD combo to be a leverage reliever in short stints. 

+ '25 C Nolan Stoll (Stanford Commit)

This was my third look at Stoll having seen him twice during the '23 spring season, but solely in a DH role this was my first extended look at him behind the plate. The offensive ability for Stoll is readily apparent as he has impact in his bat with strength through contact and lift in his path. The approach is still being polished, but when he connects the ball jumps off the bat with authority and project as future pull side to middle of the field power potential. I was intrigue to watch Stoll handle the quality stuff from Banuelos and he looked very good back there sticking velocity with good pitch presentation, the patience to handle quality spin while showing the agility in his lower 1/2 to block well on balls in the dirt. The arm will flash solid average potential, but still polishing the overall throwing package. With a 2 full years behind the plate before heading off to campus at Stanford while handling multiple D1 commits on the West Ranch staff Stoll will be primed to compete behind the plate at Sunken Diamond for the Cardinals.


+ ‘24 SS Nate Castellon (Cal Poly Commit) 
Castellon has been one of my personal favorites in the ‘24 class since I first saw him in a late winter ball scrimmage in ‘22 and he consistently performs well in game every time I see him. The description of “gamer” comes to mind with Castellon; he is not the biggest or flashiest player on the field, but he just flat out performs. He is a solid above average defensive SS who will flash plus potential with the actions and arm strength to stick there long term or become a true plus defender at 2B at the next level. The bat has been the game changer for Castellon as he continues to hit and put together quality at bats at a very high clip. On this day he picked up a pull side double while working quality at bats or hitting the ball hard in each of his plate appearances. Cal Poly SLO has a very strong player headed their way in the ‘24 class and if Castellon continues to develop physically while performing like he has shown there is MLB draft potential in the future for him.

+ ‘25 INF Matthew Witkow (Harvard Commit)
Witkow is another one who every time I see him I come away even more convinced of his ability. The LH hitter is a solid above average hitter who consistently hits the ball hard while showing a feel to hit from line to line at a high level, but there is impact in the bat which will play to pull side HR power and as he matures/continues to add more strength to his frame could be potentially above average power with his natural feel to hit. What has impressed me the most on Witkow is how much he has developed defensively. He now looks like a future solid average defender at 3B with good actions and the arm to handle the spot, but I’ve seen him play 2B in the fall and there is real potential for him to handle the spot at the next level. Harvard has a very good player coming in the ‘25 class. 

+ ‘24 RHP Gavin Slobin (Uncommitted)
A smaller framed RHP who makes up for a lack of pure stuff with a funky/deceptive delivery. Throwing from a side arm slot with the ball coming out from hip height Slobin throws a FB with run/sink to the arm side, a sweeping SLD and a backup CHG. He has above average control of the strike zone with good tempo and the ability to throw any pitch in any count for a strike. It's a difficult at bat for both RH/LH hitters to drive the ball off him. He piles up ground balls from both RH/LH hitters with the ball rarely being hit higher than a hard line drive. He pitched 4 innings of relief allowing just 1 run to stay within striking distance after the starter allowed 5 runs in 2 innings. Slobin profiles as a solid bullpen change of pace arm with ability to eat innings in an extended role or pick up big ground ball outs at the next level.

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.

Calabasas Coyotes:

+ Simon Hoffman ‘24 OF

+ Will Stubbington ‘24 C

West Ranch Wildcats:

+ Hunter Manning ‘25 RHP/1B

+ Aidan Buntich ‘24 OF/INF


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