2018 Top Underclass Games: Quick Hitters

Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

Wednesday August 8th saw some of the Top Underclass players from across North Carolina converged on Jim Perry stadium on the campus of Campbell University.  The Top Underclass Games culminated PBR’s three days at Campbell and the talent on hand was impressive.

Close to 45 players took part in the day.  Position players ran through a full pro-style workout, running a laser timed 60, going through offensive testing, taking live BP, and working out defensively.  PBR was able to take statistics on each player throughout the workout. A full evaluation and video will also be added to the player profiles on PBR in the coming week.  Pitchers threw in live game situations, working two controlled innings, allowing hitters to get live at-bats.

In the coming week we will take an in-depth look at each player in attendance.  Today we begin with some of the notes, statistics, and take-aways from the day.

PBR Top Underclass Games: By the Numbers
+ 44 Players worked out on the day… 39 took part as position players and 15 pitchers threw in live game action.
+ Top Underclass Games Record - Laser timed 60 of 6.48… Topped a record time of 6.52 recorded earlier in the day
+ 42 Players ran the 60.  4 ran under 7.00. Median time of 7.42.
+ 8 of 21 infielders had a positional velocity across the infield topping 80 mph
+ 7 of 15 outfielders posted a positional velocity of 80 mph or better
+ 5 of 9 catchers recorded workout pop times under 2.10
+ 15 hitters with an exit velocity of 85 mph or better… 9 above 88… 5 above 90 and the leader at 94.
+ Median fastball of 81 with two arms reaching 87 mph on the day.

CLICK HERE for a complete roster from the 2018 Top Underclass Games

2018 Top Underclass Games Quick Hitters

+ While the entire day was filled with good performances and players posting solid numbers, there were two numbers that stood out on the day and they were both posted on the laser timed 60.  Archie Herring (OF, Westminster Christian Academy, 2021) ran a 6.52, a new event record, only to see the record fall as the next team ran.  Wesley Turley (OF, Porter Ridge HS, 2020) turned in a blazing 6.48.  Anytime we see numbers this fast in a 60 there is immediate skepticism.  PBR re-checked the tape for the right distance; it was dead on. We also looked at 15 players in the 2018 Top Underclass Games, including 8 who ran in the same session as these two times.  Those players each ran within 0.15 of a time that PBR recorded within the last month. Herring and Turley were absolutely floating!

+ A possible front-runner for breakout performer of the day may have been Stewart Evans (OF, Scotland County HS, 2021).  Evans ran a 6.94 sixty, one of only 4 sixty times under 7.00 on the day.  His first round of BP there were flashes of strength, but he seemed a little rushed with his timing.  That issue was fixed in his second round as he began to pepper the pull-side gap with backspun balls off the barrel.  As the 2nd round wore on he launched several balls out of Jim Perry Stadium. In game action, the loud BP turned into loud at-bats.  A right-handed hitter, Evans has feel for the barrel and the strength is real.

+ Two of the better defensive middle-infielders in the 2020 class went through the defensive workout within minutes of each other and followed it by playing in the same controlled scrimmage.  Matt Kemp (SS, Randleman HS, 2020) is an NC State commit.  A lanky build, Kemp has continued to improve is strength levels and foot speed in recent seasons.  He ran a 7.02 sixty and led all hitters with an exit velocity of 94 mph. On the infield, there is a lot of trust in the hands and feet.  The exchanges are quick and athletic, transitioning to an arm with carry at 81 mph across the diamond. Kemp has the ability to make athletic throws from multiple angles with accuracy.  Gavin Mortenson (SS, Northwest Guilford HS, 2020) is still growing into his lanky frame.  Strength will be added in the coming months and schools may have a chance to steal a premium defender, especially as the footspeed continues to improve.  Mortenson catches the ball with ease and creates easy carry across the diamond at 81 mph. He has run under 7.30 for PBR in the past couple of weeks for PBR, but he seems to play much quicker than his sixty time in a 5 yard box.  The rangy body moves with rhythm.

+  Potential dual players (position/pitcher) stood out throughout the workout and game play.  Ryan McCrystal (C/RHP, Fuquay-Varina HS, 2021) flashed arm strength behind the dish with pop times peaking at 1.94 in the workout and a positional velocity of 79 mph out of the crouch.  On the bump McCrystal 86, working 83-85. McCrystal’s teammate Cyle Phelan (LHP/OF, Fuquay-Varina HS, 2021) created buzz with an athletic delivery and quick arm on the mound.  Reaching 87 with some ease, the secondary stuff gives Phelan a chance to carry 3, at-least average pitches with him.  During the pro-style Phelan ran a 7.34 and flashed easy carry off the barrel during BP. His exit velocity peaked at 90 mph.  Marlowe Iorio (RHP/1B, Chapel Hill HS, 2020) instantly catches the eye with strength in a lanky frame.  There is athletic present and it translates from workouts to the game setting. On the mound, Iorio touched 87, working 83-85.  Offensively, his exit velocity peaked at 88 off the barrel. Iorio also ran a 7.13 sixty. Gabe Zickefoose (3B/RHP, Southern Wake Academy, 2020) profiles a little more as a position player first where his strength could translate into a middle of the order type hitter.  The exit velocity touched 91 and translated into the game segment. On the mound, there is a little effort but the fastball could continue to grow as he is touching 83 right now.

+ The catching corp was extremely strong with several 2021 prospects making strong statements.  3 of the top 4 pop times came from 2021s. Chris Katz (C, Heritage HS, 2021), a Wake Forest commit, has elite carry from the crouch with a positional velocity of 80 mph and workout pop times ranging 1.90-2.01 with accuracy.  A strong build, Katz looks to be durable behind the plate and handled several good arms with ease in his hands. Michael Groves (C, Holly Springs HS, 2020) was very consistent throughout the day with workout pop times ranging 2.04 - 2.09.  Accuracy was present and there was an easy, consistent exchange. Groves looks to be a potential utility player, working out on the infield and in the outfield as well.  

+ Tyler Strickland (RHP, Grays Creek HS, 2020), a UNC Wilmington commit, may grow into an electric arm in the coming year.  While the fastball was down a bit at the 2018 Top Underclass Games, reaching 86, his length, athleticism, and arm speed suggest big growth in the near future.  Strickland’s fastball rode on hitters creating some awkward swings. The breaking ball has depth at times and length with tilt at 69-73. He catches the eye walking to the mound and keeps evaluator’s attention with the stuff.

+ Jesse Ashenfarb (LHP, Cox Mill HS, 2020) has made a solid jump in the last year.  PBR last saw him in August of 2017 as he worked out at the CBA Copperheads Scout Day.  The frame has added strength and the arm action is much more athletic. At the 2018 Top Underclass Games, Ashenfarb led all pitchers with 12 swing and misses on his fastball that topped at 78.