Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Trials: Quick Hits

Jordon Banfield
Arizona Scouting Director

The Preseason Trials took place on Wednesday, December 27th at Corona del Sol HS in Tempe. The event featured prospects from the 2019-2021 classes and served as an identifier for future invite-only events such as the upcoming Preseason All-State Games and next summer’s Top Prospect Games and Future Games. Today, we start the event analysis with some Quick Hits on a few of the top performers. Complete data and pictures are already posted with video and scouting reports soon to follow. As always contact [email protected] or direct message @PBRArizona on Twitter with any questions and/or information.

Hernandez and Keith Test Off The Charts

-2019 Gerardo Hernandez is currently PBR’s 3rd rated player in Arizona and he showed why, posting the top testing numbers in every category in which he participated. We are looking at an elite-level college prospect and potential future pro with continued physical development and some refinement to his swing mechanics/approach. Hernandez has a very lean 6-foot, 161-pound frame with a narrow waist and very broad shoulders that should allow him to add plenty of strength moving forward. Posting a 6.81 60-yard dash on a slow track, he has previously shown himself to be at least a 55 runner in games, getting down the line on swings and drags at an impressive clip. Offensively Hernandez shows very loose wrists with some length in his swing. During his round of BP, he made lots of contact deep in the zone and could stand to hit the ball out front more often, allowing the raw power he possesses to show up more often. His 96 mph exit velocity with wood is off the charts for a 161-pound prospect. Hernandez moves effortlessly in the outfield and shows an average arm with solid carry, posting a 91 mph outfield velo.

-2020 Colten Keith was a virtual unknown to scouts and recruiters prior to this event. That all changed in a matter of hours. The physical 6-foot-2, 180-pound prospect has sloping shoulders and proportional strength. Everything he did on the day was fast twitch and Keith established himself as one of the elite 2020 prospects in Arizona if not the country. A legitimate two-way player, Keith has high-end tools as a pitcher and third basemen. Offensively, the ball flies off his bat, using a very high leg-lick and high back elbow, generating elite bat speed from the left side. His 94 mph exit velocity is the highest we have recorded in AZ for a 2020 prospect. Defensively profiles as third baseman, feet work well, putting him in position to show off a present grade 50 arm with outstanding carry; 87 mph infield velo. Also turned in 6.99 60-yard dash. On the mound he uses a compact delivery with high leg lift and relatively short stride. Throws from high ¾ slot with short arm stroke, getting on top of the ball quickly in back before showing elite arm speed. Worked 86-87 mph with his heavy fastball, touching 88. Also showed a 70-73 mph slurve that flashed tight rotation and hard, late break, if somewhat inconsistent. Best secondary offering was sinking 79-81 mph changeup thrown with great arm speed. Also mixed in a 70-72 mph knuckleball for good measure. Keith will be featured prominently when we update our 2020 rankings in February. 

Committed 2020 SS Makes Gains

-2020 SS Hunter Haas is an early commit to Oregon State and has always been an advanced defender that lacked some physical strength. In our first look at him this winter the 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect has completely transformed his body showing much improved strength and a thicker lower half. The strength gains were evident as he posted a 89 mph exit velocity, good for third best at the event. Haas hits from a wide, solid base with a short stride, loading his hands deep to create separation and nearly barring his lead arm. Almost all contact was made well out in front with his head moving forward at times, but producing plenty of hard contact to the pull side. Defensively Hass continues to be a natural mover, getting excellent bat reads, working through his target to make accurate throws from a low ¾ slot; 78 mph infield velo. Also turned in 7.21 60-yard dash. 

Other Standouts

-2019 SS Thome Nickelson is an intriguing prospect, showing a combination of bat speed, arm strength and all-around fast twitch ability. May profile best in the outfield at the next level.

-2020 OF Cade Verdusco is a natural mover in the outfield and posted solid testing numbers with a 7.09 60-yard dash and 85 mph outfield velocity. Verdusco shows a loose, easy rhythm in the box with a short, contact oriented swing.

-2020 LHP Bryan Webb isn’t a physical specimen yet, but she shows advanced feel on the mound, pounding the zone with multiple pitches and even dropping down to produce impressive sink on his fastball. Also a natural defender at first base, Webb was easily the top defender at that position.

-2019 C/RHP Jeremey Davidson receives well, posted a 2.01 best pop time and also hopped on the mound, working in the low 80’s with a three-pitch mix. Can help a college program.

-2019 OF Easton Erwin doesn’t possess a standout tool but has feel to play the game and was all over the barrel in his round of BP. Also posted 7.04 60-yard dash and 84 mph outfield velo. 

-Young catchers 2021 Cole Sheehan and 2020 Ben Click are both interesting prospects to follow, posting 2.16 and 2.08 pop times respectively.