Prep Baseball Report

NC Top Underclass Games: Quick Hitters

By Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

Just over a week ago, fifty of the top underclass players in North Carolina assembled at Campbell’s Jim Perry Stadium.  A gorgeous day featured each player showcasing their talent in a controlled setting.  The position players went through an extended BP, followed by individual work at their defensive positions.  Pitchers worked to live hitters in two controlled innings, showcasing their stuff and ability to pitch.

As the PBR staff is cutting the video, pouring through the stats, and beginning to finalize the evaluations, we wanted to share some quick thoughts and notes from the event.  The video should be up by early next week (Week of AUG 21st) with positional stories and evaluations on each player becoming available.  Each player’s performance earned a grade which will be used as PBR works to update each class’ rankings in PBR.

Top Underclass Games Quick Hitters

+ 47 Players took part in the Top Underclass Games
+ 15 Players ran a 7.40, or better 60… 6 ran better than 7.20
+ 6 Position players showed an arm speed of better than 80 mph from their position
+ 9 catchers registered Pop Times of better than 2.20… 3 were below 2.10
+ 12 hitters had exit velocities, off the barrel, of 84 mph or higher
+ 7 pitchers touched 83 or better with their fastball… 1 touched 90.

CLICK HERE for a full roster of participants

CLICK HERE for a full statistical breakdown from the Top Underclass Games

Physicality Plays

When younger players attend an event, the evaluations can be subject to the maturity in each player’s body.  The 60 is the first example, where a player may have above average speed home to first, but may not be able to carry top end speed for a full 60 yards.  The same can exist in a swing, where a player may have a good mechanical approach but may not have the strength yet to create quickness with the bat and control the bat head. 

The game has become, more and more, a game of strength.  Stronger players can have an advantage.  Several players that have advanced strength and size stood out at the Top Underclass Games



Ian Asken RHP / 1B / Apex Friendship, NC / 2019

At 6-foot-9, with strength in the build, Asken grabs your attention walking to the mound.  Projection exists as he continues to figure out his own length and the delivery may quicken allowing for increased arm speed.  Up to 82 and showed two different breaking balls.





Dominick D'Ercole 3B / RHP / Middle Creek, NC / 2019

For a 2019, there is already strength in his game.  A lot of average or better grades in his evaluations including a 7.20 sixty, 83 across the infield, and 87 off the bat.  Top it off with an aggressive demeanor on the mound that worked up to 83.





Tyler Driver RHP / Crossroads Flex, NC / 2019

Quite possibly the biggest winner of the day pumping 85-88 and touching 90 once.  Long levers with length in a thin build that will continue to mature.  High ceiling righty will be fun to watch moving forward.





Xander Hamilton 1B / RHP / Broughton, NC / 2019

Jumped off the page during BP with balls rocketing off the barrel at 89 mph.  Strength didn't quite translate to games as he fights to find the barrel consistently, but the power potential exists.  Was eager to play... High motor... Anytime there was an open spot on defense, Xander took it, playing CIF and OF. 

Then he got on the mound.  The fastball was impressive at 86, but the slider is a separator.  Ranging 77-78 with hard, late tilt that allowed the fastball to play higher.





Cooper McKeehan LHP / OF / Weddington, NC / 2019

Beginning to fill out, McKeehan threw for PBR early in the summer and has begun to take jumps on the mound.  The fastball was up to 82, with more coming easily.  The breaking ball is tight, with a mature arc at 64-65, producing awkward swings from left and right-handed hitters.





Robbie O'Neal C / 2B / DH Conley, NC / 2019

Physically strong, with quickness.  There is a polish to his game.  Has a chance to stick behind the plate with pop times ranging 1.99 - 2.06 with carry at 77 mph out of the crouch.  On the infield, the foot quickness will need to improve but the hands work and the arm carries.  Legit switch-hitter with quickness and barrel awareness.





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

Phyiscal presence in the box that has shown patience in front of PBR at the Top Prospect Games and the Top Underclass Games.  Turned BP into a home run derby at Chapel Hill and Campbell with members of PBR's staff comparing the towering shots.  Also jumped on the mound and worked up to 84.





Catching the Eye

The PBR showcase format allows for players to take ground balls in a mass fungo situation prior to moving to the individual evaluation.  This mass fungo is a more familiar drill for many players, as most do not take 5 consecutive ground balls in a practice format, while the other infielders wait.  Players that catch the ball cleanly and exchange the ball cleanly can stand out. 

In the summer and fall showcase schedules, the ability to take infield / outfield has become non-existent as tournament directors work to player 5+ games on a field each day.  The schedule is just too tight to allow each team an additional eight minutes prior to their games. 

At the Top Underclass Games several players stood out, and caught our eye, as they worked on the infield. 



Justin Ebert SS / 3B / Terry Sanford , NC / 2019

Active feet and advanced actions.  Caught the ball cleanly throughout the day.  Arm carried at 76 mph across the diamond, showing good accuracy.  Ran a 7.63 sixty and 4.60 down the line but the quickness in the body suggest he should develop into a solid average runner.





Cameron Greene 2B / SS / Charlotte Country Day School, NC / 2019

7.06 runner in a lean, athletic 6-foot, 170 pound frame.  Loose feet and body through the catch.  Funnels to the mid-section securing each ball.  Showed exit velocity of 86 mph off the bat as well.




AJ Jones SS / 2B / Southern Nash, NC / 2020

Young player plays with looseness and soft hands.  Good actions as the ball is secured to the mid-section.  Clean and athletic.  Arm shows promise, already 79 across the diamond.



Michael Misenheimer SS / 3B / Piedmont , NC / 2019

Ability to catch the ball stood out.  Easy footwork and loose body.  Funneled to the mid-section and used active feet to show some accuracy on throws.  Arm strength can improve as he gets stronger and the arm swing becomes more compact. 





Greyson LaSpaluto SS / 2B / Apex Friendship, NC / 2019

Ran a 6.97 and followed it with clean actions during the workout.  Active feet and secured each ball with ease.  Fluid and athletic.  The arm shows some carry at 81 across the diamond. 



Underaged Tools

As the evaluation process ramps up for the 2020 class, many times their ability to showcase one tool that stands out will put them “on the list”.  Regardless of the tool, the ability to stand out from the pack can make a difference at any point during evaluations.  These players had something that set them apart.



Corey Avant OF / RHP / Sun Valley, NC / 2020

Better than average bat speed with a thin, lanky build.  Level and fluid from a tall base.  Exit velo already at 84 mph off the barrel.  In game, strength is still needed to handle higher velocities consistently but showed an ability to drive the baseball, hitting one to the base of the left field wall.





Joey Berini SS / 2B / Orange, NC / 2020

Notes from multiple PBR staff members included, "Handsy", "Barrell", and "Loose".  Hitterish at a very young age.  Has the ability to let his hands works, creating and maximizing the strength present in a 5-foot-9, 150 pound build.  Line drive approach and stayed gap-to-gap.  Sprayed the ball around in game without much to show for it, but there is a presence in the box.





Ryan McCrystal C / 3B / Fuquay-Varina, NC / 2021

Rising freshman impressed with his arm strength in the workout.  Still a lot of development ahead of him, but showed a feel for the bag out of the crouch with pop times ranging 2.11, 2.13, 2.24, and 2.32.





Shemar Dalton OF / SS / South Stokes, NC / 2020

2020 with an athletic build that showed arm strength and advanced accuracy from the outfield at 85 mph.  Easy arm action and carry.  Ran a 7.21 sixty, showing a good burst off the line.





Chandler Riley SS / 2B / Cox Mill, NC / 2020

Left-handed hitter with a feel for the barrel and the ability to drive the baseball to all parts of the field already.  Swing translated better in the game than in BP, but the BP rounds were solid.  In game, drove a triple to dead center and followed it with a double to left-centerfield.  Hands work to the ball, allowing the barrel to play on most swings.





Take Note

While many players stood out in their own way, and we will be covering every player in attendance in the coming week, these players were marked by PBR staff.  For some it was their current ability and for others is was there future ability.  For many, it is an unfinished product that should be followed.



Jacob Carter RHP / 1B / Crest, NC / 2019

Up to 84 with advanced feel for a solid breaking ball.  Showed an ability to throw it for a strike and to expand with it. 





Trey Deutsch RHP / 3B / Clayton, NC / 2019

High ceiling.  Up to 84 and easy to dream about his development in the coming years.





Nolan DeVos SS / RHP / Hickory Ridge, NC / 2019

Legit two-way prospect for some schools as the body is still continuing to mature.  Catches the ball on the infield.  Multiple slots on the mound, up to 79.  The next year, strength gains should translate quickly.





Seth Sigmon 1B / 3B / Alexander Central , NC / 2019

Left-handed hitter with a feel for the barrel.  Handsy swing and the ball jumped in BP and in game. 





Bo Rusher III C / Salisbury, NC / 2019

Good athlete that does a lot with ease.  Each time PBR sees him it looks like there is more in there, and each time he is slightly better.  Ceiling has a chance to be fairly high as he "turns it loose".