Prep Baseball Report

The Rode Show: Wind Denies Kyle Tucker

By Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

After seeing some of Tuesday’s action at the IMG National Classic, I jumped in the car and drove north to see two of Tampa’s better programs in Plant HS and Alonso HS. The game was packed with prospects, most of which are underclassmen, but the main attraction and reason scouts showed up was to see OF Kyle Tucker (Plant HS, FL). A handful of area scouts were in attendance, plus some crosscheckers and other high level personnel.

Like so many other hitting prospects I’ve seen in the past couple weeks, Tucker isn’t seeing much to hit right now. LHP Nick Kennedy (Alonso HS, FL), a Texas recruit, was on the mound and was working the outside corner with fastballs against Tucker. The first three missed, though not by much, and Kennedy then came inside, but it was ball four and got past the catcher. Tucker hustled down to first base and easily took second, despite stumbling along the way. It’s unconfirmed, but something must have been up with C Andrew Abbott’s (Alonso HS, FL) arm. He didn’t make a throw down to second in between innings and a scout said he could barely get the ball back to the mound in the bullpen before the game. Plant obviously knew or noticed this and was aggressive on the base paths. Tucker proceeded to steal third and then came home on a sacrifice fly from 2018 OF/LHP Conner Scott.

In his next two at-bats, Tucker seemed anxious, getting out on his front foot. He popped out to center field and then weakly grounded out after chasing two pitches in the dirt. He got down the line in 4.1 seconds in that at-bat. With the game tied at 3-3, Tucker led off the bottom of the seventh with 2017 LHP Jordan Butler on the hill, a Florida recruit. Butler challenged him with a fastball right away and Tucker was waiting. He hammered the pitch for what seemed like a no-doubt, walk-off home run, but the wind was blowing in and the center fielder was able to track it down in deep right-center field.

Kennedy came out of the chute showing an intriguing arsenal, but was ultimately done in by wildness, exiting in the middle of the leadoff batter in the fourth inning. He allowed two runs on no hits—walking five, hitting one and throwing four wild pitches. But he struck out three and has projectable stuff. His fastball was mostly 87-90, touching 91, with riding life and he mixed in a sharp slider at 81-83 that could be thrown to the back foot of righties or dive away from lefties. He has some funk to his delivery, which is up tempo, and he throws from a low 3/4 slot.

Butler got the win, entering in the seventh and finishing the game after Alonso scratched out a run in the eighth. He was 85-90 in the eighth and threw a 72-74 breaking ball with loose, 10/4 shape. He threw one breaking ball with sharper break at 77. Butler has a physical, projectable frame at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and hits third in Alonso’s lineup. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI and hit the ball hard a few times.

Scott, just a freshman, hits third in Plant’s lineup and had an RBI single up the middle in the first inning. He has a good frame with plenty of room for added strength as he matures physically. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds and reportedly has offers from the usual suspects like Florida and Florida State. Scott got on the mound in the eighth and allowed the go-ahead run on a double, but was 82-84, touching 85, with a sweeping breaking ball at 67-69. He has good arm speed and one of his breaking balls flashed 1/7 shape with depth at one point.

Finally, Alonso has another sophomore that should be watched closely over the next couple years. SS Jose Ciccarello, is verbally committed to Florida, and immediately jumped out for his defense in the pregame warm-ups. He has a wiry frame at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds and showed good actions, a clean, quick exchange and strong arm. He reached on an error in his first at-bat, stole second and scored. He finished the day 0-for-3, but drew a walk and has quick twitch actions.

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