2023 Area Code Upperclass Games: Rangers Quick Hits & Superlatives
August 23, 2023
PBR Draft HQ staff was on hand in San Diego, Calif., earlier this month to take in the annual Area Code Games. Shooter Hunt previously published team-by-team player rankings inside of his ‘Impact 60’ series for the Underclass event that preceded these Class of 2024 players we're breaking down below. Shooter and Draft HQ Advisor Ian Smith teamed up to produce these Area Code Upperclass scouting reports and superlatives from each of the eight teams in San Diego.
TOP PROSPECT: C Cade Arrambide
Just an unreal week with the stick for the LSU commit. Arrambide was catching barrels in every game throughout pool play, and how he was doing it was the more impressive sight – no pitch was safe in the zone. He took a 91 mph fastball to his opposite field for a no-doubt home run that was 101 mph off the bat, and he also sat on 72 mph curveball (above) for a pull-side shot that traveled over 370 feet to left field. Arrambide fired doubles into both gaps, as well as very minimal swing and miss throughout. The advanced use of his lower half paired with electric bat speed allows Arrambide to drive the ball to all-fields with minimal effort, and he opened even more eyes by doing so against velocity and spin from left-handers and righties alike. There wasn’t a time this week where the Texas backstop looked overmatched at the plate. Limited chances defensively for Arrambide but flashed the plus arm on throw-downs. Overall, after an impressive showing at East Coast Pro and now here at Area Codes, Arrambide’s stock couldn’t be higher as he heads to the last events of the summer, including the All-American game on Sept. 23.
TOP PITCHER: LHP Cooper Williams
On a roster full of impressive pitching, Williams made sure to stand out. The high-waisted 6-foot-4 lefty utilized an aggressive, uptempo approach, attacking hitters throughout the zone with three pitches. Repeats a slight rocker step well with an easy-moving lower half and low, three-quarters arm slot that jumps on hitters while repeating very well. Fastball command was exceptional, working 91-93 mph east to west, while running it up to 94 multiple times. Created in-zone misses along with some chase. Good tilt and sweep to a mid-to-high 70s slider to keep hitters off-balance and command to land for strikes. The star of the pitch mix was a low-80s changeup that killed spin with hard, arm-side tumble and a strong ability to tunnel off the fastball. Williams is able to create whiffs with all three pitches and only got stronger as his outing went.
SLEEPER: RHP Jackson Burns
2024 RHP Jackson Burns (TX) is going to throw fuel. Compact arm circle with a physical lower half. Repeats well.— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) August 7, 2023
Heavy 92-93 with late life.
Immense feel to spin a quality mid-70s CB (max 2898). @TTU_Baseball commit. #PBRinSD // @ShooterHunt // @PBR_Texas pic.twitter.com/qljhkU6hLL
Standing a physical 6-foot-5, 210 pounds and armed with a bullying fastball, Burns quickly stood out on a pitching-heavy Rangers team. Works extremely fast with a shorter arm action that still creates huge scap retraction boding well to future velocity. The frame is continuing to get stronger with present physicality in the lower half. The Texas Tech commit lives 91-93 mph (T94) with carry and arm-side run that can attack hitters both in and out of the zone for swing and miss. Curveball has the chance to be an above-average breaker, currently at 75-77 mph with innate feel to spin (2,800 rpm) and the ability to manipulate shape to some degree. Breaking ball has made massive strides over the calendar year and could be still getting better. It wasn’t a great outing results-wise, but it’s a great ball of clay that has as much projection as you’ll find in a Texas right-hander in 2024.
PICK TO CLICK: CF Braylon Payne
From day one of the week, Braylon Payne impacted the game in all phases. Already presenting a plus glove in centerfield with a plus run tool to match, the left-handed-hitting Payne started to show the potential he has in the bat as well. The Houston commit took some of the best overall at-bats of the week showing an advanced feel for the strike-zone while making a habit of spoiling good pitches. Hands are extremely fast with a line-drive approach to let his speed thrive, but took some fantastic swings that created loft pull-side including a triple off the right field wall and near-grand slam to right-center. It’s a prototypical lead-off bat in the making, and with a very lean 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame that offers immense projection. With the present toolset that Payne paired with the potential, there’s a real chance he’s one of the best outfield prospects in the country next spring.
RHP Jake Neely
Mixing in present feel for two quality swing-and-miss breaking balls, as well as a fastball with heavy arm-side run, Neely was one of few pitchers all week with three swing-and-miss offerings. Fastball was comfortable 91-94 mph, and it was nearly un-hittable while opposing left-handed bats. Low-80s slider and mid-70s curveball has budding above-average potential. Compact arm circle into an over-the-top arm slot with present ability to repeat, the Arizona State commit shows real pitchability that can stand out among his peers. Neely would lead the entire event in strikeouts with nine recorded over his four innings pitched.
RHP Jason Flores
Flores oozed confidence from the second he got on the mound. Showing some of the best velocity of the event, The 6-foot-2 righty sat 94-96 mph in his first inning of work from a lower three-quarters slot with big extension, and settled 91-94 throughout. Some heaviness with ability to pound the zone for IZMs. Power curveball could be his best pitch at 78-81 mph with plus feel to spin and hold 11/5 shape consistently. Flashed a high spin, tunneling changeup as well. One of the top uncommitted arms in the country.
RHP Casan Evans
Evans showed an impressively deep pitch mix in his outing, including a potential plus splitter that opened eyes throughout. Another Texas arm that works up-tempo with a lightning-quick arm, the LSU baseball commit lived comfortably in the low-90s while running it up to 95 mph and creating weak contact. Battled breaking ball command early but settled in and landed a curveball at 76-78 mph and low-80s slider both for strikes. Aforementioned, low-80s splitter was a star that killed both velo and spin (799 rpm min.) with devastating arm-side tumble.
SS Sawyer Farr
The Texas A&M commit gives you the frame and projection to dream on the left side of the infield. At 6-foot-5, 175 pounds, Farr made covering ground look effortless, and showed advanced body control for such long levers. Made two of the best defensive plays of the week at shortstop and third base, moving laterally while leaving his feet with accurate throws to boot. Not to mention, a switch-hitter with near identical actions from both sides of the plate.
OF Sawyer Strosnider
‘24 OF Sawyer Strosnider (TX)— Shooter Hunt (@ShooterHunt) August 7, 2023
Electric athlete who put on a display. Twitchy w/ eye-opening power.
Check out the glass shatter here 👀👇#PBRinSD || @PBR_DraftHQ #MLBDraft24 || @PBR_Texas pic.twitter.com/bqKt0srHVm
After a glass-shattering display in BP (literally), the TCU commit showed potential for a high-level hit tool in-game. Quick-twitch toe tap with impressive bat speed, Strosnider showed advanced barrel control to work balls to all-fields including hard-hit line drive base hits to both right and left field. An above-average runner with present tools to stick throughout the outfield round out what showed as a very well-rounded profile.
LHP Jordan Stribling
The PBR All-American Game invitee presents an imposing 6-foot-6 frame with broad shoulders and long levers that get downhill with a drop-and-drive delivery. Present feel for a three pitch mix. Heavy low-90s fastball that touched 94 mph. Ability to land a mid-70s curveball for strikes and budding mid-80s changeup.