Top Prospect Games: Quick Hitters


Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

On Monday August 6th, at Campbell’s Jim Perry Stadium PBR held one of the must-see events of the year in North Carolina.  In its second year, the Top Prospect Games have become a marked event for college coaches and pro scouts. This year’s event saw 66 players perform in front of over 25 evaluators from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Divided into four teams, position players were able to go through a complete pro-style workout, followed by an 8 inning controlled scrimmage.  Pitchers threw two controlled innings. This format allowed coaches and scouts to see players take BP, run a 60, workout at their defensive position, and still evaluate them in game situations.

 

Over the coming week, we will take a deep dive into the players that took part in the PBR Top Prospect Games.  Today we will take a quick look at some of the numbers and performances that jumped out at evaluators in attendance.

CLICK HERE for the complete roster from the 2018 PBR Top Prospect Games
CLICK HERE for the complete statistical look at the 2018 PBR Top Prospect Games

2018 PBR Top Prospect Games Quick Hitters

 

+ Many times at showcase events pitchers are at an advantage.  Hitters will only get one look at each arm that throws and hitters are looking to be very aggressive to pitches in the strike zone.  The Top Prospect Games were not any different. Twenty total arms took the bump with 6 touching 87 mph or better. Another five arms worked at 85 mph or above.

+ Leading the way on the mound was 2019 RHP Mason Gwyn (North Surry HS).  Gwyn has an athletic delivery and arm swing in a 6-foot-2, 170 pound frame.  The fastball has grown this summer but his warm-up pitches prior to his first inning brought a calm quiet through the stands as the gun read 88 or better on several pitches.  As the first inning progressed, Gwyn sat 88-89, bumping 91 twice on multiple PBR radar guns. In his second inning the velocity calmed a bit but the buzz was real.

 

+ Tyler Driver (RHP, 2019, Pro5 Academy), a Charlotte commit, jumped on the scene last year at the Top Underclass Games.  In the last year he has continued to develop with his fastball reaching 89. The breaking ball has tightened at 74-77 and a slider has been added to the repertoire.  A large 6-foot-3, 180 pound frame still has room to continue to add strength to in the near future. The ceiling remains high for the righty.

 

+ The BP rounds throughout the day were loud and physical.  Twenty hitters posted an exit velocity of 90 mph or better. Ronald Evans (3B, 2019, Pro5 Academy), a UNC Wilmington commit, led all hitters with an exit velocity of 99 mph.  Carson Whisenhunt (LHP/1B, 2019, Davie County HS) continued to show why he may be one of the top two-way players in the state as he posted an exit velocity of 97mph.  In the 2020 class, Jake Soorus (OF/RHP, North Lincoln HS) and Campbell Conard (C, TC Roberson HS) each posted an exit velocity over 90 mph.  Soorus is raw at times but the combination of quickness and strength will allow him to continue to develop.  Conard, a switch hitter posted exit velocities of 89 mph from the left side and 91 mph from the right side. Carter Merrill (C, 2020, Stuart Cramer HS) was the other young player to reach the 90 mph barrier.  Physical in the box, when Merrill is on the barrel, the ball does jump.

 

+ As PBR of North Carolina enters its 3rd year, the history on players at PBR Events is beginning to grow.  Several players took big steps forward when compared to notes from the past. Joey Berini (SS, 2020, Orange HS) played at a fast pace throughout the day.  Running a 7.09, he moves with even better quickness on the infield and there is a lot of trust in his hands and feet.  AJ Jones (SS, 2020, Southern Nash HS) continues to get better each time we see him.  The arm is continuing to develop, showing carry at 81 mph across the diamond.  Jason Montague (OF, 2019, Southern Nash), a Coker Baseball commit, flashed bat speed last year but has continued to take it to another level.  He also ran a 6.86 sixty. Nolan DeVos (RHP, 2019, Hickory Ridge HS) continues to fill out his 5-foot-11, 160 pound frame.  As he adds strength the fastball continues to climb, working at 84 at Campbell. There is depth and sharp tilt to the breaking ball already and as the fastball continues to tick up, someone may get an arm with a chance to record outs early.  

+ One of the premier events of the PBR Events catalog are the PBR Future Games.  The Future Games are made up of uncommitted underclass players. In this year’s Top Prospect Games, 3 participants had represented North Carolina in the premier event.  Ronald Evans attended the 2017 event, prior to his commitment. In 2018, Chandler Riley (SS, 2020, Cox Mill HS) and Gavin Mortenson (SS, 2020, Northwest Guilford HS) each attended the Top Prospect Games after coming home from Indianapolis and playing on the first Team Carolina.  Riley received an offer from Charlotte shortly after the PBR Future Games and committed shortly after the Top Prospect Games. Mortenson has shown an ability to play SS at a very high level, with a frame that is screaming projection.  As he continues to get stronger we expect the run and hit tool to continue to develop. He is receiving interest from schools that were in attendance in Indianapolis and at Campbell.

 

+ A trio of players committed to Lenoir-Rhyne just before or just after the PBR Top Prospect Games.  Max LeCroy (OF/SS, 2019, Christ School) has a lanky frame with quickness present.  LeCroy ran a 6.80 on the laser and recorded a positional velocity of 86 mph from the outfield.  Bryson Smith (OF/3B, 2019, Apex Friendship HS) works with balance and a short, direct stroke from the right side.  There is barrel awareness and an exit velocity peaking at 92 mph. He ran a 7.23 sixty. Pres Cavenaugh (OF, 2019, Myers Park HS) is a good athlete that put up solid numbers across the board at Campbell.  Cavenaugh ran a 6.96 sixty and recorded an exit velocity of 88 mph off the barre. The big part of all of these commitments for Lenoir-Rhyne is the fact that each should continue to get better as their frames and games are still developing.

 

+ Ten catchers took part in the workout portion of the day.  All ten recorded at least one pop time under 2.10 with Bo Rusher (C, 2019, Salisbury HS) leading the group, ranging 2.00 - 2.08.  Rusher is athletic behind the dish with a positional velocity of 78 mph out of the crouch.  As impressive as his numbers was the accuracy displayed in the workout and during game situations.  Carter merrill and Cambell Conard matched their intriguing numbers offensively with their workout numbers.  Sullivan Newsome (C, 2020, Wedding HS) catches the eye walking past evaluators at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds.  His range sat at 2.00 - 2.15 with a positional velocity of 78 mph. Austin Gilley (C, 2019, Southern Alamance) and Bryce Stober (C, 2019, Hickory HS) may lack the physical stature of others, but each plays with a high motor that is contagious.  Gilley flashed a 2.04 pop with Stober at 2.07. Each carried accuracy into game situations as well. One name that was new to PBR but shouldn’t be new to coaches for long is CJ Martin (C, 2019, Pro5 Academy).  An athletic frame that is wiry and looking to add strength, CJ easily creates strength and quickness, running a 7.19 sixty.  The exit velocity peaked at 91 mph while the arm showed accuracy at 77 mph out of the crouch, with a pop time range of 2.08 - 2.16.  Fundamentally sound, as he continues to add strength, watch for these numbers to climb.

 

PBR Top Prospect Games: By The Numbers 
+ 66 of the Top Players in NC attended the 2018 Top Prospect Games
+ PBR received over 120 request for invite to the event, working with the state’s high school coaches, area scouts, and PBR’s staff to limit it to players that received a recommendation
+ 27 players ran a sub-7.25 sixty… 16 sub-7.10… 9 sub-7.00
+ The top infield velocity was 88 mph across the diamond… 12 players were 80 mph or better
+ The top outfield velocity was 89 mph… 13 players were 80 mph or better
+ All 10 catchers posted a workout pop time under 2.10
+ 21 hitters had an exit velocity of 90 mph or better with the high getting to 99 mph
+ 20 arms threw with 1 above 90mph… 9 above 85 mph… 16 above 81 mph.