Prep Baseball Report

Draft League Scouting Notes - May 27

Nathan Rode / Mike Rosenbaum / Tad Slowik / Zach Day
PBR Staff

West Virginia @ Frederick

LHP Ronan Kopp (South Mountain) entered in the fifth inning from Frederick’s bullpen and immediately opened eyes, flashing power stuff -- including a Draft League-best 98.2-mph heater -- with high spin rates from a projectable 6-foot-7, 240-pound frame. Sitting 93-96 mph with spin rates in the 2400-2500+ range, Kopp posted a 72.2-percent whiff rate (13 whiffs/18 swings) with his fastball in the outing, throwing it 52 times over three innings. He flashed a pair of breaking balls in a hard slider at 86-90 mph (T 2804 rpm) and a 2871-rpm curveball at 80-81. Though Kopp’s tall, lean frame and long levers does lead to issues in repeating his delivery and throwing strikes -- he issued five free passes on Thursday night -- there is something to be said about his ability to miss both bats (seven strikeouts) and barrels (zero hits). 

Keys starter RHP Peyton Zabel (Iowa Western CC) turned in four solid frames, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out three and walked four. A physically strong and durable right-hander, Zabel broke several bats and induced even more weak contact with his heavy sinker at 89-92 mph (T 93.1). He flashed some sharpness with his 80-81 mph slider, though the shape and action of the pitch varied across the outing. Following Zabel and Kopp on the mound for Frederick were LHP Shane Barringer (Bellarmine) and RHP Francois Castillo (John Logan JC), both of whom topped out at 92 mph. 

RHP Joshua South (Belmont) delivered four scoreless frames, allowing two hits and striking out a pair in his Black Bears debut. Though he didn’t get any whiffs on his 88-91 mph fastball, throwing it 28 times in the outing, South did post a 42.9-percent whiff rate on his changeup and induced at least one whiff with both his curveball and slider. After topping out at 96.2 mph on Opening Day, RHP Kobe Robinson (Chattanooga St. CC) sat 91-94 mph on Thursday night, albeit with the same loose, whippy arm action that makes it easy to easy to project future velocity gains in the projectable 6-foot-4, 170-pounder’s future. He showed feel for four pitches, including a mid-80s changeup with fade that played nicely off his fastball. RHP Michael Hobbs (Saint Mary's) struck out three over two one-hit frames during which he touched 93.4 mph and averaged better than 92. 

Keys 1B Nick Hernandez (UT Permian Basin) showed off his strength at the plate and ability to drive the ball to both gaps. After scorching a line drive to right-center field for a double (96.6 mph exit speed) in his first at-bat, Hernandez tied the game with a solo blast to left-center field in the sixth inning, driving the ball 400 feet at 101 mph. With his relaxed approach and loose hands, Hernandez is the lone player in the league thus far to produce barrel, hard-hit and sweet-spot rates at a 50-percent-or-better clip.

MIF Eli Hammill (Holy Trinity HS) cut the Keys’ deficit to 5-4 with a two-run triple in the 8th. The switch-hitting prep let his hands do the work and threw the barrel at the ball, driving it 333 feet at 93.6 mph to left-center field.

West Virginia C/3B Ranko Stevanovich (North Park) worked the count full in his first at-bat before drilling an opposite-field solo shot on a 91-mph sinker from Frederick starter Peyton Zabel. Stevanovich’s homer had an exit velocity of 97 mph with a 28-degree launch angel, traveling 371 feet.

He ended up reaching base in each of his five trips to the plate, finishing 1-for-1 with three walks and a hit by pitch. Stevanovich has impressed at the plate in the early going, combining a balanced, minimal-stride swing with a quick, direct bat path and an advanced approach.


State College @ Mahoning Valley

State College starter RHP Jared Kengott (Emporia State) fanned eight batters in four innings to take over over as the Draft League’s single-game strikeout leader. He recorded a CSW% (called strikes + whiffs) rate of 37.8-percent with his heater, sitting 90-93 mph with a max spin rate just shy of 2500 rpm. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder showed feel for three quality pitches in the outing, posting 50-percent whiff (6 swings/3 whiffs) rates with both his curveball and changeup. The former has some out-pitch potential, thrown with downer break at 76-78 mph. Kengott repeats his delivery well, operating with clean mechanics and a quick arm. RHP Payton Rice (Cumberland) battled control issues but completed three innings out of the Spikes’ bullpen, bumping 94.5 mph with a fastball that had a max spin rate of 2500+ rpm. 

Scrappers starter RHP Preston Salazar (St. Louis CC) worked five scoreless innings to earn the win in his Draft League debut. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder allowed one hit in the outing, striking out two and walking four. He sat 85-88 mph in the outing and threw his upper-70s changeup more often (46.4 percent) than he did his fastball (43.5). RHP Reese Dutton (Heartland CC) followed Salazar with two scoreless frames of his own, fanning four. Dutton’s strength lies in his ability to spin his two breaking balls, and he topped out at 2900+ and 2600+ with both his curveball and slider, respectively, on Thursday night. 

LHP Jimmy Burnette (Saint Leo) impressed on several fronts as he pitched around a hit to strike out the side in the eighth. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound southpaw worked at 90-93 (T 94) with a heavy fastball that appears to get on hitters quickly. Burnette complements his dynamic heater with a high-spin slider (up to 2800+ rpm) that has sharp, late diving action. He recorded whiffs on five of six swings with the two pitches on Thursday, offering a glimpse of his bullpen potential at the next level.

But as someone who repeats his delivery well and throws quality strikes against hitters on both sides of the plate, Burnette could also be a candidate to start, especially if he can add a changeup to his repertoire. RHP Gabe Shepard (Southern Mississippi) struck out the side in the ninth to seal the win. He was up to 90 mph with his deceptively quick fastball, throwing it 24 times for a 41.7-percent CSW%. 

OF Jason Hinchman (Tennessee Tech) paced the Scrappers offensively, going 2-for-3 with two RBI. Both of his hits had a 90+-mph exit velocity. He’s been an offensive standout in the early going, producing a max exit velo of 105.3 mph and a 99.9-mph exit speed on FB/LD contact, with an average launch angle of 12.6 degrees that’s ideal for driving the ball into the gaps.

CF Mathieu Vallée (Northeast Oklahoma A&M) recorded his third multi-hit performance in four games while reaching base five times from the leadoff spot. He scored three of the Scrappers’ four runs in the contest, finishing 3-for-3 with two walks. After four games, the left-handed hitting speedster ranks atop the league in average (.583, tied-first), hits (7, tied-first) and runs scored (7, first). SS Jalen Jones (SWIC CC) went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple that he hit 358 feet with a 98.1-mph exit velo. C Sergio Guerra (San Diego HS (TX)) showed plus arm strength from behind the plate. 

Although the Spikes’ offensive struggles continued on Thursday, with club tallying just four singles, OF Cameron Lee (State College of Florida) did record the day’s highest exit velocity (105.5 mph) when he laced a line-drive single back up the middle against an 86-mph changeup. INF Brady Brecklin (Illinois Central) and OF Michael Slaten (Benedictine) were both held hitless but logged multiple quality at-bats apiece. 

Williamsport @ Trenton

Williamsport SS Chaz Salter (Wallace Dothan) followed up a 4-for-5 showing on Wednesday by going 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs out of the leadoff spot. He’s racked up seven hits over his first three contents, good for a .538 average. 6-foot-5, 215-pound OF Jaxon Shirley (Lubbock Christian) -- the son of White Sox scouting director Mike Shirley and a 34th-round pick by the South Siders out of high school -- drove in five runs on a pair of doubles, going 3-for-5 at the dish in the Crosscutters’ 11-2 win over Trenton. 

RHP Nick Cosentino (State College of Florida) allowed one run on two hits over three innings en route to winning his first start (second appearance) of the season. He mixed two hits with two walks in the outing, striking out four. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder worked in the upper-80s, backing up his heater with a plus-spin, mid-70s breaking ball that he throws with elite Induced Vertical Break (max -23.3 inches in his first appearance). LHP Holden Christian (Loyola Marymount) recorded five of his six outs via the K in relief of Cosentino, and RHP Owen Holt (Alvin CC) tallied one punchout while working the final two frames. Neither hurler allowed a hit.

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