Prep Baseball Report

NC Top Prospect Games: Quick Hitters

By Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

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On Tuesday July 25th, Prep Baseball Report of North Carolina ran its first outdoor invite only event at the University of North Carolina.  A beautiful day featured over 50 players from across the state, on hand to go through a pro-style workout followed by live game action in front of PBR Staff, college coaches and pro scouts.  In the coming days, we will dive into the full evaluations and numbers, but right now we take just a quick look at some good impressions made at the Top Prospect Games.

The Catchers

If a college program is still in the market for a catcher, the state of North Carolina has a plethora of talented ones.  Austin McKeithan (2018, TC Roberson HS, Tulane commit) led the group with the best pop times, ranging 1.90 – 2.11 with several throws in the 1.93-1.95 range.  Along with the quick times, the accuracy really stood out, throwing to the bag time after time.  McKeithan’s quickness in the exchange and release overshadowed the arm strength.

On the Gold team, Chris Shepherd (2018, Durham Jordan HS) and Nick Kromer (2018, Cary HS) joined McKeithan as physically imposing back stops.  Shepherd took an aggressive BP with balls flying off the barrel.  The strength was evident.  In the workout, pop times ranged 2.06 – 2.11, lacking accuracy, but this aspect was cleaned some between innings in the game.  Kromer was fluid through the ball, staying gap-to-gap with above average bat speed and an exit velocity of 90 mph off the barrel. 

Tyler McPeak (2018, North Lincoln HS) re-opened his recruiting process the day of the Top Prospect Games.  Again, physically imposing, the ball jumps off the bat with an exit velocity of 91.  Pop times ranged 2.07 – 2.18 with a feel for the bag.

Hayden Cross (2018, Southern Lee HS, Appalachain State commit) has an athletic build showing average tools across the board.  His game elevated in game as he worked to help his pitchers and commanded game control.  The pace of the game was noticeably quicker with Cross behind the plate. 

Ryan Taylor (2018, Hoke County HS) is an interesting prospect.  The hit tool is ahead of the defense right now.  Physically strong, the ball jumped off the bat.  There is quickness to match the strength in the swing.  Taylor also jumped on the mound at the end of the day.  Velocity reached 84, but the arm seemed quicker.  With the workout, catching, and the long day we believe the arm may play better on the bump in the very near future.


PBR had some national representation at the Top Prospect Games with Nathan Rode, Shooter Hunt, and Mark Dvozniak all in attendance at the North Carolina event. While they have a firm feel for some of the national players gaining attention out of NC, this may have been their first encounter with several players.  These players created a buzz throughout the day.



Colby Emmertz C / 1B / Topsail, NC / 2018

Solid workout with solid numbers.  Ran a 4.58 to 1st in game.  Pop times ranged 2.01 - 2.16.  Jumped out in games with a quick bat, consistently getting the barrel to the ball.  Drove several balls foul to the pull side with good back spin.  3 barrels in 3 at-bats vs. live arms.





Bryceson Hernandez 1B / OF / Panther Creek, NC / 2018

Solid swing path that worked loose and direct to the ball in BP.  Worked out at 1B flashing decent hands.  Heads turned in game as the power potential jumped wiith the ball screaming off the bat in his first 3 AB's.  Ran well on the bases and showed an ability to be at least average in a corner outfield spot.  4 at-bats and 4 hits.  Handled left handed pitching as well. 





Sen Kenneally RHP / Phillips Exeter, NC / 2018

Maybe the biggest winner of the day... Athletic build in a 6-foot-8 frame.  Showed an ability to control his body over the rubber.  Short arm action, with the elbow loading the scapular.  Fastball up to 88.  Ran from his slider at times, creating a bigger loop out of the hand but flashed a hard, darting slider when he stayed behind it, at 76.  Strike thrower that looks to have a high ceiling.





Will Palinkas 3B / RHP / Providence, NC / 2018

Slender frame at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds.  Showed multiple arm slots on the infield and it translated to the mound where the fastball worked out of a low-3/4 slot and a sidearm slot, touching 83.  The breaking ball does come out of a higher slot, but flashed a hard 10/4 break at 71.  Offensively, showed some pop with an exit velocity of 92 off the barrel.  Overall, very intriguing as his future is not determined yet and there is still a lot of growth available.





Anthony Saieed SS / 2B / JH Rose, NC / 2018

In a world where versatility adds depth, Saieed showed off the ability to contribute in a lot of ways.  Soft hands with an easy transfer led to 85 mph across the diamond with carry from a short arm action.  In the box, during BP, used a simple, easy setup to get the barrel to the ball, staying in the middle of the field.  Strength in the swing with an exit velocity of 86 mph.  In game, the swing worked uphill a little more than BP.





Alex Sniffen 3B / RHP / New Hanover, NC / 2019

Strength and power in the swing.  Evident from the first swing he took, but jumped off the page as he it one ball off the top of the Boshamer Stadium video board.  Exit velocity measured at 95 mph.  Defensively, plays a little high at times with the arm showing average carry.  One of the few 2019's in attendance, Sniffen is schedule to pitch at the Top Underclass Games on August 10th.





Brendan Wright RHP / 3B / Holly Springs, NC / 2018

Quick arm on the bump, up to 88 with more coming.  Easy arm stroke led to some feel for a tight slider with late action at 73-76.  Attacked hitters and worked in a quick fashion.  Pitched with feel for moving the ball around.  Not out of the question to see another jump in velocity soon.




Steady and Rising

While some players were making their first impression on the staff of PBR there were players in attendance that the staff is very familiar with from past events and coverage of North Carolina.  These players reinforced past reports, evaluations, and thoughts. 



Tylan Reece SS / 2B / South View , NC / 2018

Committed to USC Sumter, Reece's motor impress every time he is in front of PBR.  Ran a 4.28 to 1B.  Plays the infield with a feel for the speed of the game.  While he has to play around his arm a little, he did show more carry than earlier in the summer at 85 mph across the diamond.  Consistently accurate with the arm, the in-game feel for when to charge and when to play faster has become impressive.  In game, showed an ability to stay on the ball and spray it around the field, working off the barrel.





Braxton Boddorf SS / 2B / Athens Drive, NC / 2018

Fundamentally sound, the body is starting to mature and the strength is coming.  Defense is ahead of offense and he is starting to flash the arm strength needed to stay on the left side of the field.  Consistently catches the ball, shows feel for the speed of the game.  Arm strength measured at 83 from short.





Max Hildreth SS / 2B / New Hanover, NC / 2018

Defends with ease at short, flashing plenty of arm, 87 mph across the diamond.  Has all the plays and arm angles in the arsenal.  The bat has been on the rise this summer, showing an increased feel for the barrel.  The frame at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds suggests there is more strength, and potentially quickness, coming.





Koty Proctor LHP / 1B / Wesleyan Christian Academy, NC / 2018

Easy defender at 1B with good hands and an accurate arm.  The feet work well around the bag.  Left handed hitter flashes strength with an exit velocity of 93.  The swing path is geared to line drives, working the middle of the field.  This may mature in the coming years to gap power as more lift may be applied.  On the bump, worked up to 83 with minimal effort and a 3/4 slot.  Change-up flashes swing and miss potential at 68-69.





The event as a whole was very entertaining to watch as players played with a high level of effort and concentration throughout the day.  As reports, evaluations, and video are released, many players will be in a position to strengthen their recruiting, and possibly, their draft positions.  These players were noted as making a jump in the minds of PBR staff members.



Anthony Castellano OF / Chapel Hill, NC / 2018

Arm strength with carry at 85 mph from the outfield.  Noticeable accuracy, as the ball stayed true out of the hand.  Strong and whippy with the bat from the right side.  Above average bat speed working level and staying gap-to-gap.  Exit velo topped at 91.  Doubled in game.





Matt Burke OF / LHP / Weddington , NC / 2018

Committed to Presbyterian as an outfielder, Burke's swing is set to be flat through the zone.  Strong hands created better than average bat speed.  While there was some swing and miss in the game, you could see what the staff at Presbyterian liked... The upside was Burke on the mound where the lefty flashed a hard 1/7 slider with late movement and good shape.  Inconsistent, ranging 71-73, the slider compliments a fastball sitting 80-83 from a high-3/4 slot. 





Layton Helms 2B / RHP / North Stokes, NC / 2018

The primary 2B turned heads when he jumped on the mound.  The 5-foot-10, 180 pound righty worked with a quick arm and a long arm arc.  The fastball sat 83-86, playing harder out of the hand and jumping on hitters, suggesting a higher spin rate.  More of a relief profile, the fastball - slider combination kept hitters off balance in his one inning of work.