Prep Baseball Report

College Crosscheck, Week 5: Tennessee, Alabama, Charlotte & UNC Wilmington

By: David Seifert & Brandon Hall
Draft HQ staff

Our Director of College Scouting, David Seifert, visited Tuscaloosa, Ala., last week to witness the SEC's start of conference play in between Tennessee and the hosts, the Crimson Tide. Also, Prep Baseball Mid-Atlantic Scouting Director, Brandon Hall, was in Charlotte watching the 49ers play in-state program UNC Wilmington, and those takeaways can be found below as well.


Continue on to read Seifert’s College Crosscheck, Week Five:


Billy Amick 3B / P27 Academy, SC / 2021

Draft HQ, Top-200 Rank: No. 14

Amick has hit the ground running in Knoxville after a part-time two-year career at Clemson one that saw most of his playing time as the designated hitter. Despite early negative reviews on Amick’s chances of sticking at third base defensively in the long term, he has improved to the point where it’s now reasonable to ask: How far above average can he rise?

Last fall, Amick looked solid at the hot corner against Virginia Tech and continued to show his progress throughout the three-game series in Tuscaloosa. Amick showed sure hands and better than average range. His arm strength was also above average to plus from all angles and while on the move. He made all of the plays that came his way, including ranging far to his right, well behind the third base bag, for a ground ball that he fielded cleanly and fired on a line to first for the out. Offensively, Amick can be compared to Trevor Story; one who can hit for both above-average power and batting average. On Friday Amick was his usual self with early pitch recognition, a great feel to hit and the resulting hard contact. He walked twice and singled twice. On Saturday, it was the Amick I had not seen before. He seemed confused at the plate, not seeing the ball well at all, chasing a fastball above his letters for a strikeout and then taking a called third on a down/away fastball in the zone. On Sunday he was back to his usual hit-collecting self with three knocks in five at-bats.

For the season he currently has a .442 ISO to go along with a 15.6% strikeout rate and an 11.1% walk rate. He has also mastered the art of hitting the ball in the air (46% fly ball rate), keeping it off the ground which allows his plus bat speed and 60-grade raw power (114 max EV) to be put into full use. Overall, Amick combines performance on both sides of the ball with tools, makeup and analytic-friendly data. If the draft was tomorrow, he would hear his name called in the first round.

+ RHP Drew Beam (Blackman HS, TN, 2021): Ranked No. 68 on the Draft HQ Top-200; just as Amick combines the necessary ingredients for high-pick hitters, Beam combines velocity and control like few other pitchers in the college game. This combo typically translates into being selected during Day One. Although not his best outing on Saturday against the Tide, Beam battled for eight innings and 101 pitches after allowing six runs in the first three frames. There is some funk to his arm action, but he easily overcomes it to fill the zone with five pitches; 4-seam, 2-seam, curve, cutter and changeup. His 4-seam fastball sat 94-95 and touched 96. However, it was a bit dead with nearly matching 14” of Induced Vertical Break and 16” Horizontal Break. However, he missed barrels with his 2-seamer as he pounded it down in the zone at mostly 92-94 with 20” of HB. His changeup was also a strong pitch at 86-87 and spin in the 1650-1780 rpm range. The depth, action and effectiveness of Beam’s 78-80 mph curve was inconsistent, as it’s been in the past. Always a ground ball pitcher (47% career ground ball rate), Beam has taken that label to new heights this season with a 57% GB rate in what is obviously a small sample size to date, but it is likely due to the development/greater use of his cutter. If the draft was tomorrow, Beam would likely be selected in the second round.

(Drew Beam, 3/26/24)

+ 1B Blake Burke (De La Salle HS, CA, 2021):
Ranked No. 146 on the Draft HQ Top-200; off to a strong start in 2024 after a lackluster 2023, the lefthanded, power-hitting Burke currently boasts statistics similar to Amick with a .382 batting average, .434 ISO and a 15.3% K rate against a 10.6% BB rate. He was outstanding during the Bama series with three hits on Friday, including a 112 mph EV homerun, two more hits, including a 112 EV double on Saturday and another base hit on Sunday. Plus-plus raw power is his tool and offensive production will be what’s it all about for him as he’s limited to first base defensively with below-average arm strength, although he does have a quick release, and well below-average foot speed. At the end of this season, if Burke continues his year at the current pace, he’s likely to be selected around the third-to-fourth round. If his performance declines a bit, but not to the 2023 level, Burke will likely be chosen closer to the fifth round where many clubs begin to select corner prospects who have plus to better raw juice as their top/main tool.

+ RHP A.J. Causey (Sparkman HS, AL, 2021): A different look starter with a sidearm slot, Causey is a unicorn in both his spin analytics and his ability to repeat and sustain his stuff from that release point over numerous innings. After allowing two home runs in the first inning on Friday night, the 6-foot-3 righthander found his groove and held the Tide scoreless over his last six. Causey worked with a running 90-92 mph fastball throughout the evening, and two effective secondary pitches—a solid 79-82 mph changeup and high-spin sweeper (3000+ rpm) in the 72-76 mph range. He also showed the ability to change the shape of his sweeper from one that peaked at 24” HB to a slower one with more depth. His stuff and deception, when combined with his competitiveness and high-end performance should land him in the top five-to-six rounds this summer.

+ OF Dylan Dreiling (Hays HS, KS, 2022): Ranked No. 61 on the Draft HQ Top-200; the draft-eligible sophmore outfielder continues to move up draft lists, as a result of consistent hard contact at the plate and strong tools across the board. His Friday night home run left the barrel at 108 mph, and his double at 100. He continued to find the barrel on Saturday with a 104 EV groundout and a 101 EV fielder’s choice. Currently batting .354 with a .446 ISO, Dreiling has advanced pitch recognition and barrel control with impressive contact rates both in-and-out of the zone. There’s potential for a high-level hit tool with budding power potential from present strength and bat-speed (112.6 max EV this season) with an innate ability to create loft from a 5-foot-11, 200-pound frame. He’s also an above-average defender with above-average speed and range, along with solid average arm strength that also comes with good carry and accuracy. He’s the complete player with tools, skills, performance and earns high marks from scouts for his “old school” grind it out mentality. On my current draft list he will be the fourth Volunteer selected, and all will likely be chosen in the top two or three rounds.

+ MIF Christian Moore (Suffield Academy HS, CT, 2021): Ranked No. 59 on the Draft HQ Top-200; Moore finally woke me up to what he is, and even more importantly draft-wise, to what he can become. In many past first-hand observations, including the USA CNT last summer, I always saw the tools and athleticism, but continually walked away questioning if he was a top-round talent. After leaving Tuscaloosa the answer is unequivocally, “YES”. The righthanded hitter began the series on Friday with a quiet 0-for-5 but quickly rebounded with a 4-for-5 Saturday that was highlighted by a majestic 426’ home run OVER the scoreboard that exited the barrel at 108 mph. Moore is strong with sneaky, but significant power to all fields. He has later pitch recognition than Amick or Dreiling and prefers to let the ball travel deeper than those two teammates. Moore also had a significant left/right pitcher split last year and that discrepancy has continued into this season. Defensively, he began this season at shortstop, but soon after moved to second base in deference to Dean Curley and his 80-grade bazooka arm. Moore closes ground quickly coming in on balls really well, but looked to have trouble laterally ranging to his right, getting his feet tied up on a fielding miscue Friday night. He also has above-average arm strength but did not show the best accuracy on longer throws, leading one to believe he may be best suited to remaining at second base in professional baseball. He’s also a plus runner underway, but is not an instinctive base stealer, nor did he show top aptitude when getting caught too far off second base on a grounder to the 6-hole that resulted in a throw behind him for a tag and 6-4 fielder’s choice. With all that said, Moore possesses the tools, talent and performance to jump into the top 50 overall picks.


+ LHP Greg Farone (Schenectady HS, NY, 2020): Ranked No. 191 on the Draft HQ Top-200; likely to become one of the first seniors selected in this year’s draft, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound lefthander looks the part of SEC weekend starter. In addition to his stellar performance against Tennessee, he also impressed with poise and mound presence throughout his 5.1 inning start. A transfer from Louisville, Farone sat 94-95 in the first before settling in at 90-92 over his last three innings. It’s higher spin (2450 rpm average), easy velocity generated with very low effort from a high three-quarter slot. Early in the game his heater was flat and he needed to live on the edges, but as the game progressed it became more lively and effective when mixed with a usable 83-85 slurve and an occasional below average changeup. Although his K rate is down a hair from last year at Louisville when he struck out 65 in 50.2 innings, his BB rate has been the key to his success. This rate has dropped from 15% last season to just 3.6% to date in 2024. With continued stuff and performance, Farone easily slots into the top five rounds as a money-saving senior prospect.

(Greg Farone, 3/16/24)

+ RHP Ben Hess (Charleston HS, IL, 2021):
Ranked No. 33 on the Draft HQ Top-200; Tennessee made Hess work throughout his 3.2-inning start on Friday night, forcing the strong-bodied righthander to throw a 28-pitch first inning and 73 through the first three. It was not the same type of overpowering performance for Hess when he dominated Indiana earlier in the season. With a near-max effort delivery, he touched 97-98 and mostly sat 94-96. His typical high-ride fastball that seems to go straight up was not A-grade. The Vols laid off and drew five walks against Hess. There was still enough life to his fastball (2300-2400 rpm with 18-22” IVB) that he didn't have to be precise with his location, but at times it seemed Hess dodged the strike zone with his heater and relied exclusively on his breaking pitches for strikes. When he’s on, Hess will show command of two distinct breaking balls: an 84-87 mph slider with tight tilt and a 77-80 curveball that spins in the 2600-2700 rpm range. On this look Hess was not the first round talent that he has shown in the past, but it was Day One worthy. Complicating his ultimate selection will be a medical that includes back troubles as a prep (same injury as what now sidelines Devin Williams of the Milwaukee Brewers) and last season’s forearm strain that shut him down starting April 1 after 36 innings. A full season of good health will go a long ways towards Hess maximizing his draft value.

(Ben Hess, 3/15/24)

+ 3B Gage Miller (Palmyra Area HS, PA, 2021):
At the beginning of the season Alabama had a couple of options at the hot corner: They could go with the best defensive player or the best bat. They chose the best offensive threat in Miller and he has greatly rewarded that decision. With good plate discipline and righthanded power production, Miller leads off and provides an immediate threat of extra bases. He’s currently second in the SEC in batting average (.435), sixth in OBP (.510) and seventh in SLG (.824) boosted by nine homeruns. He’s also the quintessential example of the sum is greater than the parts. With solid, but not spectacular tools across the board (40 runner down the line, 40 defender, 45 arm strength, 55 raw power) the 5-foot-11 infielder is not the poster child for an early round draft pick, but he is a very good college baseball player that maximizes what he does have. Miller will not be selected in the first round like Mississippi State’s Justin Foscue was in 2020, but he is similar to Foscue in many ways. With continued high-level performance, expect to hear Miller’s name called sometime during the middle of Day Two this summer.

+ RHP Aidan Moza (North Cobb Christian HS, GA, 2021): After a strong sophomore season out of the pen for the Tide last spring, Moza is off to a rough start this year. Standing a lean and athletic 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, the quick-armed Moza relieved Hess on Friday night and the Vols wasted no time hitting him around as he allowed four runs on four hits in one inning or work. However, Moza wasn’t lacking for stuff as he showed a two-seam fastball at 93-94 and a high-spin (2800+) power curve at 83-84. He also mixed in a hard slider/cutter in the upper-80s. He never got to his good riding fastball that he displayed earlier in the season for at Frisco, but regardless of this disappointing outing, Moza remained poised throughout and it’s just a matter of time before he rights the ship. When he does, expect him to be considered for selection in the later rounds of Day Two.

+ OF TJ McCants (Pensacola Catholic HS, FL): Once a Top 100 college prospect after a stellar freshman season at Ole Miss (.300/.369.433), the uber-talented McCants scuffled during his draft-eligible sophomore season and again last season as a junior. He transferred to Alabama, getting a reset to his college career and he’s taken off so far his senior season. His monster home run in the first inning on Friday night was the first of back-to-back jacks with Ian Petrutz who launched a 412’ shot a couple pitches after McCants’ 450 bomb at 109 mph EV. Five innings later McCants dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line for a hit, further highlighting his skill set. A former shortstop, McCants is a plus runner with plus raw power and above-average arm strength. There are not too many in the college game with his toolset, but swing/miss, especially against spin has been his weakness in the past. Currently hitting .398 with an .864 SLG% he also has a career-low 21% strikeout rate this season. With continued plate discipline and less swing/miss McCants will be able to get to his raw power more often, and this will likely elevate him into the later rounds of Day Two as a money-saving senior prospect pick.

UNC Wilmington @ Charlotte

By: Brandon Hall, Prep Baseball Mid-Atlantic Scouting Director

UNC Wilmington took two-of-three in a key intra-state series against Charlotte. Though it was Charlotte that jumped out Friday's game one, hanging 20 earned runs on the Seahawks staff, winning 21-10. The Seahawks bounced back on Saturday with Jacob Shafer firing eight innings, holding the 49ers bats to eight hits and two runs in his 97-pitch performance. In the rubber match, Wilmington bounced Charlotte’s Cameron Hansen after just 20 pitches, setting up Charlotte’s bullpen vs. the Seahawk offense. The four-run first inning held up as Wilmington took game three, 7-5, to claim the series.


+ RHP Jorge DeCardenas (William T. Dwyer HS, FL, 2021): A power arm out of the Charlotte ‘pen, DeCardenas got one inning on Friday and sat 92-94 mph with hard and heavy arm side run. Erratic feel and limited control falling behind on counts. The stuff was live, slider is behind the fastball at 82 with 10/4 tilt, inconsistent and erratic, showed solid feel for a change-up at 84-85 with run. Lean, athletic frame, listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, athletic arm through a high-¾ slot. The ability to land the fastball and slider consistently could lead to late-season outings where DeCardenas becomes an arm that needs to be evaluated for the 2024 draft.

+ RHP Ryan Degges (Christian Academy Knoxville, TN, 2021): Strong body and athletic mover, listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. In two outings vs. UNC Wilmington this weekend, on Friday Degges worked the Niners out of a jam, facing two hitters. The fastball ranged 92-95 mph and paired well with a slider from the same window that had late life across the zone at 82-84. On Sunday, Degges was tasked with working the final 2 frames to keep the Niners within striking distance. The fastball sat 93-95 (2300-2400rpm) with feel for his arm side. The slider has early deception, working through the window of the fastball at 81-84, and played with more tilt with earlier action. Showed solid feel for a straight change-up at 85. Big arm with a fastball that can be electric.

(Ryan Degges, 3/17/24)

+ RHP Tony Rossi (Lake Mary HS, FL, 2018) Charlotte: Physical presence with a broad shoulder and a strong, mature lower half, listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. In control and has feel for his delivery, working in rhythm, and is a quality mover at his size. Reliever profile, but shows a solid three-pitch mix with the fastball working up to 96 mph over the weekend. Two appearances, working one inning on Friday and four on Sunday, his longest outing of the year, coming off a redshirt season in 2023 due to an injury. Fastball at 94-96 on Friday and 92-95 on Sunday. Has the ability to work both sides of the plate, worked in the bottom of the zone throughout the outings. Slider sat at 81-85, spinning up to 2600rpm, with hard horizontal break, running away from right-handed barrels with feel to land the slider and working to the glove side to expand. Threw several change-ups vs left-handed hitters on Sunday, straight with deception in the arm speed at 85-88. Thrived in high-leverage situations and is a high-level competitor that pitches with emotion. Another 49er arm that is set to move quickly through a minor league system, which is a must at the age of 24.

(Tony Rossi, 3/17/24)

+ LHP AJ Wilson (East Surry HS, NC, 2019): Left-hander has created buzz in the 2024 season with his strikeout rate and whiff rate. Stands at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, his slider shined in this look and is a true weapon, with late horizontal movement, getting bad and awkward swings from both-handed hitters. Works from the stretch, working level, and back to an online landing, athletic arm action has some length getting to a ¾ slot. In two appearances, working one inning on Friday and three innings on Sunday, Wilson ranged 89-92 mph, holding 92 on Friday night. Shows the ability to attack both sides of the plate as well as run it off the glove side, under right-handed hitters, and away from left-handed hitters. The slider was 82-84 on Friday and ranged 80-83 in Sunday’s lengthened outing, spinning at 2600-2800rpm. At 23 years of age, Wilson will receive consideration as a reliever who could move to higher levels of the minors with his slider as a weapon but the fastball at average to below could be a flag.

(AJ Wilson, 3/17/24)

UNC Wilmington

+ C Bryan Arendt (Holly Springs HS, NC, 2021): Sturdy build with broad shoulders and a strong lower half, listed at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds. Defense first backstop that caught all three games this weekend, strong arm, throws play with carry out of the crouch, clean exchange, and high-¾ release. Feet work in rhythm, body works in control letting his arm do the work, 1.94 and 2.06 pop times in-game, both on the bag with carry. Solid receiver with some bend in the hips, able to handle pitches to his arm side, gets beat on pitches to his glove-side at times. Willing blocker, showing the ability to block and recover, limiting base running opportunities. Encourages his arms to work down, even with runners on. The right-handed hitter is balanced with a rhythm load, rocking back, flat path, working to create line drives through the middle and to the pull side. Has improved his ability with two strikes to recognize and cover the slider away. Defense first profile that will carry his status as a draft prospect.

(Bryan Arendt, 3/17/24)

+ LHP Luke Craig (Southern Lee HS, NC, 2020): Intriguing senior, Craig is the stopper in the Seahawks bullpen and he has stuff that plays while facing both left- and right-handed hitters. Listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, he works from the stretch with some effort in the arm action on the back side, but repeats the delivery, working level and on-line, through a ¾ slot. Fastball ranged 90-93 mph (2500-2500rpm) with feel for attacking his glove side. Created several swing-and-miss in the zone, elevated, and chase up, out of the zone. Showed control of the breaking ball, ranged 78-82 with 2/8 tilt, more length than depth. Has the ability to get under a right-handed hitter’s swing and run it off a left-handed hitter’s barrel.

(Luke Craig, 3/17/24)

+ OF Alec DeMartino (Millbrook HS, NC, 2021: A redshirt sophomoroe who is still learning what to do with his power and quickness. Stands 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, and has caught some eyes this year based on the damage he does when on the barrel. Swing is still developing but the strength is real. Flat through the zone now, with an emphasis on getting to extension, DeMartino has improved his strike zone discipline and his ability to recognize spin. The stats will drive the prospect status this year, but look for DeMartino to make a move up draft lists with another solid summer and his continued development in the box next spring.

(Alec DeMartino, 3/17/24)

+ RHP RJ Sales (Pinecrest HS, NC, 2021): Another redshort sophomore, the thin-framed, and athletic right-hander had some buzz on him coming into the weekend, especially after his outing at South Alabama two weeks ago where he worked 7 innings giving up just 1 hit for the 2nd straight outing. At Charlotte, the breaking ball that had depth and allowed the fastball to play up was not present. Sales featured his fastball at 91-94 mph with some ride through the zone, and a cutter at 86-88. The breaking ball sat 81-82, and never presented an issue to 49er hitters, allowing them to stay on the fastball. Sales did mix in an average change-up at 87-88. His name will continue to be on follow lists as the Seahawks enter CAA play.

+ 1B Tanner Thach (Perquimans HS, NC, 2022): An 18th-round pick out of high school, Thach could see his stock rise into a day one, or early day two prospect for the 2025 MLB Draft. The body has cleaned up since high school, adding athleticism around the bag at 1B. Listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, with real power. Homered in all three games at Charlotte and has hit eight home runs in UNC Wilmington’s past 8 games. The left-handed hitter works from a tall base. Easy load with a rock back into his lower half, quiet stride, advanced bat speed with good feel for the barrel. Showed an ability to get advanced fastballs and handle good sliders, left on left. Strong hands. Natural leverage and loft to the swing. Can manipulate the swing, taking team at-bats to drive in runs when allowed.