Prep Baseball Report

1.4.14 Underclass Invitational - Pitching Analysis

By Sean McCann and Shon Plack
Prep Baseball Report

On Saturday, January 4, 2014 Prep Baseball Report Kansas and Missouri hosted the first ever Underclass Invitational, an invite-only event for area class of 2016 and 2017 prospects. The overall talent level was exceptional with a high number of the top freshman and sophomores from Kansas and Missouri participating. 

Below are the scouting reports on the 26 pitchers that took part in the bullpen workouts.  We had several two-way players (pitcher + position player) at this event, but keep in mind that the evaluations below are based solely on pitching performance.  Next week we will post the scouting reports on all of the position players, a group that will also include the 2-way players.

To see video of a pitcher's performance (subscriber-only content) click on their name and you will be directed to their profile with scouting reports and video(s).

Top Pitching Prospects 

1. Tyler Benninghoff, RHP, Rockhurst HS (MO), Class of 2016
The very athletic Benninghoff stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 175 pounds.  He starts with a controlled vertical knee lift then explodes at the plate utilizing simple, fast arm action and a ¾ slot.  His fastball ranged from 83-86 mph.  Benninghoff’s 74-75 breaking ball has late, sharp break to it – definitely an at-bat ender as he learns to harness it.  He also threw a 73-76 change-up.  He was the top pitching prospect at the event among a very strong group of underclassmen pitchers.

2. Braden Minor, RHP, Eisenhower HS (KS), Class of 2016
The 6-foot, 170-pound Minor has been the picture of consistency the three times we’ve seen him over the last several months. He has a simple delivery, excellent body control and loose, easy arm action that produces an 83-85 mph fastball in the strike zone.  This past weekend at the Kansas State camp he bumped it up a notch with a couple of 86 fastballs.  Minor also has advanced feel for a 64-66 breaking ball and 69-72 sinking change-up.  He was hands-down the most polished pitcher at the event. 

3. Tommy Barnhouse, RHP, Leavenworth HS (KS), Class of 2016
The physical 6-foot-2, 215-pound Barnhouse works from a high ¾ slot with easy, clean arm action.  He showed balance throughout his delivery and works inline with the plate.  Big pitchers with body control and efficient arm action are a rare find and Barnhouse definitely fits that description.  His fastball ranged from 80-82 mph.  He also threw a 62-64 curve ball and 72-74 change-up.   

4. Cole Duensing, RHP, Blue Valley Northwest HS (KS), Class of 2016
Duensing is another pitcher at this event who has made a velocity jump since the fall season.  The 6-foot, 150-pound right-hander has an easy, athletic delivery and throws from a ¾ slot producing good, late sink on his 79-81 mph fastball.  He had one of the best out-in-front release points at the event, repeatedly peppering the bottom of the strike zone with all of his pitches.  He also threw a 64-66 breaking ball and 69-71 change-up.  He’s a young sophomore that is just now developing body control and strength, if he stays focused and healthy don’t be surprised if he moves into the elite category in the Class of 2016 within the year. 

5. AJ Knight, LHP, Mill Valley HS (KS), Class of 2016
Quick-armed left-handed pitchers are worth their weight in gold and Knight definitely fits that criteria.  The athletic 5-foot-9, 150-pound lefty has a simple, repeatable delivery and threw a boatload of strikes with all three pitches.  His 77-79 mph fastball has late, controllable sink. He also showed a late breaking 72-74 slurve type breaking ball that has a chance to be a plus pitch.  Knight’s 69-72 change-up has late arm-side sinking movement likely to give right-handed hitters fits as it runs away from their bat as it approaches the plate.  Overall Knight was one of the more polished pitchers at the event.

6. McCae Allen, RHP, Bishop Carroll HS, Class of 2016
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Allen throws from a high ¾ slot downhill to the plate.  He demonstrated excellent body control throughout his delivery, impressive considering his size.  Allen’s fastball was clocked between 81-84 mph – a jump since we saw him this past fall.  He threw a high number of fastballs at the bottom of the strike zone with, at times, hard sink.  His breaking ball has a sharp break at times and ranged from 65-68 mph.  He’s another pitcher in the 2016 class that is trending in the right direction.

7. Tanner Fox, RHP, Blue Valley HS, Class of 2016
Fox is a very athletic 5-foot-10, 160-pound right-hander with a rhythmic delivery and ¾ arm slot.  He works uphill but his arm works so well he gets to an out in front release point with ease.  His fastball velocity was clocked at 80-81 mph.  He also threw a sharp 71-72 curveball and has feel for a 72-74 change-up.  He threw strikes with all three pitches, at a rate as high as anyone at this event. 

8. Hunter Swift, LHP, Staley HS (MO), Class of 2016
Swift is a boxy-bodied 5-foot-7, 165-pound left-handed pitcher that throws from a low ¾ slot with long, slinging arm action.  His tempo goes from slow and controlled to fast which likely causes his 80-82 mph fastball to get up on hitters quicker than the radar gun registers.  Swift showed a fastball that runs away from right-handed hitters as well as a firm glove side fastball.  He also threw a 69-70 late breaking slurve and 74-75 sinking change-up. 

9. Nick Mehlin, RHP, Blue Valley Northwest (KS), Class of 2016
The wide-shouldered, athletic-framed 6-foot, 165-pound Mehlin throws from a high ¾ slot with easy, clean arm action.  His fastball was clocked at 78-80 mph - this is up from the 74-76 we had seen him at earlier in the fall - so he is trending in the right direction.  He showed body control throughout his delivery and command of a 12-6 curveball in the 64-65 mph range.  He also threw a 68-70 change-up in the strike zone consistently.  With his athleticism and clean arm action don’t be surprised if a mid-80’s fastball appears sooner rather than later.

10. Avery Jennings, RHP, Rock Bridge HS (MO), Class of 2016
The strong, athletic-framed 5-foot-11, 170-pound Jennings throws from a low ¾ slot with a slinging-type arm action.  His 80-82 mph fastball has occasional arm side run.  He threw a 72-74 slider that took a hard left turn as it approached the plate – a potential plus pitch in the future.  He also flashed a 75-76 mph change-up with near fastball arm speed and sinking action.

11. Dalton Hill, RHP, Lee’s Summit HS (MO), Class of 2017
Hill has an athletic 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame and throws from a high ¾ slot with some arm quickness.  He has a balanced, vertical knee lift and separates his hands in a unique way, hiding the ball in a way that is likely to create timing problems for the hitter.  His fastball was clocked at 77-81 mph.  He also features a 12-6 curveball that was clocked at 66-67 mph.  Hill also showed good feel for a 66-69 sinking change-up 

12. River Wright, RHP, Bucklin HS (MO), Class of 2017
Wright is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-handed pitcher with a high ¾ slot and quick arm.  He starts with a simple controlled knee lift then rares back and chucks it at the plate – reminiscent of a big league closer’s delivery.  His fastball ranged in the 80-82 mph range.  He threw a short 69-71 breaking ball with late breaking stuff to it and has a 68-69 change up. 

13. Reid Briney, RHP, Blue Valley HS, Class of 2017
Briney stands at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds and throws from a ¾ slot using short, simple arm action.  His overall delivery is simple and he demonstrated body control throughout his delivery.  He peppered the strike zone with his 81-84 mph fastball, 64-66 curveball and 70-72 sinking change-up.  He wastes no time in between pitches as he back peddles to the top of the mound immediately after delivering a pitch.  Strike-throwers that work fast tend to log a lot of innings at all levels of baseball and Briney fits that mold. 

14. Ross Messina, RHP, Staley HS (MO), Class of 2016
The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Messina has a simple athletic delivery that grades out as well as anyone at this event.  He throws from a natural ¾ slot with clean arm action.  All of his pitches have late breaking action to them – a 79-81 hard-sinking fastball, a 69-71 short curveball and sinking 69-72 change-up.  His overall command wasn’t great but with his delivery and athleticism it’s just a matter of time before consistency kicks in.  Of all of his pitches, he controlled his breaking ball the best – a potential plus pitch down the road.  

15. Max Dehon, RHP, Olathe Northwest HS, Class of 2016
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Dehon throws from a deceptive low ¾ slot with a loose arm.  His fastball ranged from 78-80 miles per hour, at times running, at times cutting.  His top velocity of 80 is up from when we saw him top out at 77  in October.  Dehon threw both a 68 curveball and 74-76 slider, although his slider has the most potential of the two as it follows his natural arm path sweeping away from right-handed hitters.  He showed excellent command of a 66-68 change-up that sinks away from left-handed hitters, an important weapon for him going forward as left-handed hitters will get a much better look at his pitches from his arm slot than righty’s. 

Best of the rest (Listed Alphabetically) 

Jamey Fisher, RHP, Shawnee Mission Northwest HS (KS), Class of 2016
The 6-foot, 157-pound Fisher works from both a ¾ slot as well as submarine style. He uses long arm action from both slots.  His fastball was clocked at 75-79 mph showing more command of his running fastball from the submarine slot than he did throwing higher up at ¾.  He also showed a sweeping breaking ball at 65-67 mph from the lower slot that would likely cause right-handed hitters to bail out if he could harness it.  Despite having a complex repertoire of angles and pitches Fisher threw a high percentage of strikes.  He also throws a 68-70 mph change-up from the higher slot.    

Tyler George, RHP, Raymore-Peculiar HS (MO), Class of 2017
George is a 6-foot, 200-pound right-handed pitcher that throws from a high ¾ slot with short arm action.  His fastball ranged from 71-74 mph.  He also threw a 62-64 breaking ball. 

PJ Henning, RHP, Bishop Carroll HS, Class of 2016
Henning is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound physical right-handed pitcher that throws from a ¾ slot with long arm action.  He showed balance throughout his delivery.  His fastball ranged from 77-81 mph and he threw it in the strike zone consistently.  He also features a 65-67 curveball of the 12-6 variety and a 68-70 change-up with run. 

Will King, RHP, Crane HS (MO), Class of 2016
The 5-foot-7, 180-pound King throws with a long slinging arm action and a ¾ slot.  His fastball was clocked at 69-71 mph.  He throws a 12-6 curveball at 65-68, his best pitch right now.  He also showed a 62-64 change-up. 

Andrew McEwen, LHP, Marquette HS (MO), Class of 2016
McEwen is a big 6-foot-3, 225-pound left-handed pitcher that throws from a low ¾ slot.  His fastball registered in the 74-76 mph range.  He also threw a 67-69 breaking ball and 66-67 change-up.  

Brendan Shutt, RHP, Mill Valley HS (KS), Class of 2016
Shutt is a 5-foot-9, 145-pound right-handed pitcher that throws from a ¾ slot with a loose arm action.  He throws his 77-79 mph fastball in the strike zone at an exceptionally high rate.  He also throws a 69-72 breaking ball and 69-71 change-up.  If you like pitchers that work fast and pump strikes with their fastball, Shutt is your guy.  With sophomores like Shutt and AJ Knight emerging, the pitching staff at Mill Valley HS should be in great shape the next three years.

Tristan Stevens, RHP, Kickapoo HS (MO), Class of 2016
Stevens is a 6-foot, 160-pound right-hander with a medium athletic frame who works from a ¾ arm slot with some effort.  He demonstrated early balance and worked down in the strike zone with a 77-79 mph fastball.  He also showed a 67-68 breaking ball and 72-74 change-up.  As his body and arm get more synced up in his delivery he should gain velocity and command. 

Jack Riney, LHP, Lafayette HS (MO), Class of 2017
Riney’s sturdy 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame is impressive, especially considering he is yet to throw a pitch in his high school baseball career being a Class of 2017 prospect.  The big lefty throws with long arm action and a high ¾ slot.  He has very good balance throughout his easy delivery.  His fastball was clocked at 75-77 mph.  He also showed command of a 60-62 curveball and 67-68 change-up. Being a physical left-handed pitcher, Riney is definitely a prospect to follow closely and could easily jump into the top level of 2017 prospects as he adds velocity.

Treston Rook, LHP, Olathe Northwest HS (KS), Class of 2016
The thin-framed 5-foot-10, 144-pound Rook works from a ¾ arm slot producing arm-side run on his 72-73 mph fastball and 64-66 change-up.  He has good balance throughout his simple, efficient delivery and has clean arm action.  Rook also features a 64-65 curveball.

Robbie Suhr, RHP, Summit Christian Academy (MO), Class of 2016
Suhr is a 5-foot-10, 145-pound RHP with long arm action throwing from a ¾ slot.  He has a simple, balanced knee lift.  His fastball was clocked between 77-80 mph with a good amount of arm side run on it, often making it difficult to throw it in the strike zone.  He also featured a 66-68 breaking ball and 69-70 change-up. 

Vincent Vilott, LHP, Olathe South HS (KS), Class of 2017
The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Vilott throws from high ¾ slot with clean arm action and some effort.  His motion is efficient as he demonstrated excellent body control throughout his delivery – a rarity for a freshman in high school.  His 76-78 mph fastball had late life, at times sinking, at times cutting – when he learns to harness this life in the strike zone it’s going to be problematic for hitters.  He also showed a 68-71 sinking change-up.  Being a 6-foot-1 left-handed pitcher with a sound delivery once Vilott develops command he will no doubt climb that ladder rapidly.

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