Prep Baseball Report

2016 TOS: Day 2 PBR Area Notebook

The 2016 Tournament of Stars is underway in Cary, NC, and Prep Baseball Report Executive Director Sean Duncan and National Supervisor Nathan Rode are in attendance. For the first two days of games—Wednesday and Thursday—they will provide two notebooks. Duncan will highlight players from states in PBR’s coverage area while Rode will cover the rest of the country.

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

CARY, NC – USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars features a heavy dose of Florida prospects peppered throughout all six teams. On Thursday, during the second day of game play, several Florida players took center stage and elevated their stocks in front of a packed house of pro scouts.

One of the more interesting prospects of the day was LHP Jake Eder (Atlantic HS, FL). The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Vanderbilt recruit has been a tough one for our scouting staff to track down in the spring and early summer, so he was a high-interest follow after Eder created so much buzz last fall.

Eder pitched three scoreless innings of relief during the Stars’ 3-1 loss, as he surrendered two hits, struck out four and walked two.  For his size, Eder showcased a highly athletic arm and the ball comes out of his hand easily from a high-3/4 window. Working slightly across his body, Eder’s fastball ranged between 89-92 in the first inning before settling in at 88-91. He works the lower half of the zone well, though at times he struggled with release point, missing down gloveside. In the second and third innings, he began throwing his 71-72 mph curveball with more confidence and got a pair of strikeouts with the pitch. If he threw a changeup, it was not detected.

With Eder’s size, athleticism and arm speed, he should continue to see his velocity climb in the coming years. And the fact he’s left-handed should make him a high-follow draft prospect.

Eder, who is currently ranked No. 6 overall in the 2017 class, was far from the only Florida prospect who made a strong impression. A look at several others:

+ RHP CJ Van Eyk (Steinbrenner HS, FL) was one of the biggest winners of the day, in my opinion. After a two-plus hour delay to start the day due to field preparation from the night before, Van Eyk opened the festivities with a strong performance. At 6-foot-1, 171 pounds, the Florida State recruit is long and lanky with plenty of room for continued physical development. His arm works quick and cleanly and he has athletic feet. Aside from his projection, Van Eyk also spun one of the better breaking balls of the day, a 74-78 mph hammer that had sharp, late bite. He throws the pitch aggressively and he seemed to know how he wanted it to behave, adding and subtracting from it from time to time. Van Eyk’s breaking ball was made that much more effective thanks to his lively fastball that had arm-side run and occasional sink. In the first, his fastball lived at 90-91, touching 92 on occasion, then settled in at 88-90.  In three innings, Van Eyk struck out five, walked none, yielded three hits and no earned runs.

+ LHP Logan Allen (University HS, FL), who’s currently ranked No. 11 overall, closed out the game during the Brave’s 6-2 win over United in the first game. The slightly built 6-foot, 166-pound Alabama State recruit has been nearly unbeatable over the last two years; in fact, he surrendered only one run all spring long as a junior. In his one-inning stint, Allen seemed intent on showing the scouts he can dial it up with the bigger boys, opposed to his typical performance in which he turns the batter’s box into a carving station with his three-pitch mix. Allen’s fastball sat 90-91 with arm-side life, to go along with an occasional 74-mph curveball and 80-mph changeup. All three offerings have the potential to be go-to pitches, though he lived off the fastball … and rightfully so. Allen allowed one hit and struck out one in the inning.

+ For the second straight day, SS Brady McConnell (Merritt Island HS, FL) showed why he is one of the fastest rising prospects in the country. On Thursday, the highly athletic 6-foot-2, 169-pound Florida recruit went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles – one to right field and the other to left. A 6.4 runner, he maneuvers around the bases extremely well and has an advanced plan in the box. Defensively, he started the game at second base, and made a ranging play up the middle and edged the runner at first base with a Jeter-like leaping throw. Later at shortstop, he started an inning-ending double play in the eighth. Click HERE to read about McConnell’s performance on Day 1.

+ RHP Brandon McCabe (Home School, FL), a 5-foot-11, 184-pound Miami recruit, pitched the final inning during the Stars’ 3-1 loss. In all my years scouting, I’ve never witnessed a pitcher scream during every pitch – think former tennis star Monica Seles with a microphone – as McCabe does. I can only imagine it is disorienting to be standing in the box experiencing it live as 90-93 mph pellets are being fired in your direction. Nevertheless, if you can strip away the screams, McCabe’s stuff is flat out dirty. Working exclusively out of the stretch, McCabe’s best pitch is his curveball, which is a true 12/6 hammer with late downer action. It goes without saying that with the scream incorporated, coupled with his lightning quick arm speed, he throws the breaking ball with aggression, which is always a good thing for a reliever. McCabe recorded two strikeouts with the curveball in his spotless inning.

+ RHP Tyler Ahearn (William T. Dwyer HS, FL), a long and lanky 6-foot-1, 169-pound Florida State recruit, started the game that McCabe closed. Ahearn’s fastball ranged between 88-90 early on with a 69-70 curveball and 80-82 changeup. In two innings, Ahearn walked three, hit one batter, struck out two, yielded two hits and one run.

+ In a muddled catcher field, Zach Jackson (Haines City HS, FL) stands out just by his profile alone. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound left-handed hitting Florida recruit has a strong sturdy build with wide shoulders and proportional strength. His throws have carry and finish to second base and he stands in the box like he’s about to inflict damage. Jackson drove in a run with a deep sacrifice fly to right field in two plate appearances.

In other state news:

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