Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Trials: Top Prospects

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 Preseason All-State Games and next summer’s Top Prospect Games and Future Games. This week we wrap up our coverage of the event with top overall prospects. Complete data, pictures, video and scouting reports from the event are posted to players' profiles. As always contact [email protected] or direct message @PBRArizona on Twitter with any questions and/or information.

2020 Colten Keith lands in the top spot after a dominant performance where he burst on to the scene and cemented himself as a potential national top 100 type prospect. 2019 Gerardo Hernandez has strong tools across the board and is a potential difference maker at the next level. 2020 Hunter Haas is one of the more polished prospects in the state and an early verbal to Oregon State. 2019 Thome Nickelson and 2020 Cade Verdusco take home the final two spots in a virtual dead heat with 2020 LHP Bryan Webb who has very high upside and will likely climb the rankings throughout his high school career.

Top Overall Prospects:

Colten Keith 3B / RHP / Verrado, AZ / 2020

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. 

Gerardo Hernandez OF / RHP / San Luis, AZ / 2019

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.

Hunter Haas SS / 2B / Corona Del Sol, AZ / 2020

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 Haas 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. 

Thome Nickelson SS / 3B / Mountain View, AZ / 2019

Athletic 6-foot, 155-pound frame. Intriguing prospects shows combination of bat speed, arm strength and all-around fast twitch ability. May profile best in the outfield at the next level. 7.01 60-yard dash shows he’s the type of athlete that will offer positional versatility moving forward. Shows present bat speed and projects for at least gap power as he gets stronger. Bat path can get steep at times and back side doesn’t always get through the baseball. Tools to hit with improved mechanics. Feet and arm work well on the infield, shows whippy arm action and the ability to throw from multiple angles; 82 mph infield velocity. Hands may project best to 3B or the outfield.  

Cade Verdusco OF / SS / Corona Del Sol, AZ / 2020

5-foot-10, 165-pound frame. Was one of the more natural defenders in attendance at the event, showing advanced footwork with solid carry and accuracy on his throws from the outfield (85 mph). Shows a loose, easy rhythm in the box with a short swing and contact oriented approach. Hits from a somewhat narrow base with a significant forward head move. Should hit for at least gap power with continued physical development; 80 mph exit velocity. Also posted solid 7.09 60-yard dash.