2018 Southern Academic Games - Quick Hitters


Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

Wednesday June 20th, at Davidson College, Prep Baseball Report of North Carolina hosted the 2018 Southern Academic Games, featuring high academic players from as far away as Texas and West Virginia, with a majority of the players from North Carolina.  On an unbelievably hot day, position players took part in an extended workout prior to controlled scrimmages. Pitchers were able to throw to live hitters with the staff of PBR controlling the length of the innings as most players were gearing up for another weekend of contests.  


With close to 40 high academic players in attendance, several took the opportunity to separate themselves in front of college coaches in attendance and the PBR staff.  As part of the event, PBR will be breaking down each player, presenting the statistics from the day, with an evaluation from a PBR scout and video.


Today we take a quick look at some of the things that stood out on the day…


CLICK HERE for a complete look at the Southern Academic Games Roster


Southern Academic Games - Quick Hitters


+ This may have been the warmest day of any PBR event hosted in North Carolina.  With the temperature reaching 97, players were encouraged to continue to hydrate while the schedule was altered to give players a break after 45 minutes to an hour of game play.  The heat took its effect but many players, in front of college coaches, were able to grind through the day earning high marks from coaches in attendance. There are times when coaches can mark players based on a 60 or a play in the field… On this day, several players gained marks for simply continuing to compete at a high level in difficult circumstances.  


+ Twice on the day, college coaches pulled PBR staff aside to communicate, “This is a high level of talent for an academic event.”  Expect the Southern Academic Games to continue to grow as top level students and athletes see it as a positive experience. There are talks between several PBR territories to combine efforts on a Regional Academic Games as well.


+ Six players ran sub 7.20 sixties on the laser timer.  Chris Perez (OF, Raleigh Charter School, 2019) turned in an event best 6.82.  Griffin Adkins (OF, Cabell Midland (WV), 2019) ran a 6.96.  Aidan Voorhees (OF, Powhatan HS (VA), 2019) just missed the sub 7.00 club with a 7.01.


+ Matthew Walker (OF, St. Stephens, 2020) turned in an impressive day with an outfield velocity of 89 mph during his workout and an exit velocity of 93 mph off of a tee.  The skill set transferred into the game play as well. At 5-foot-10, 165 pounds there is strength and quickness and the arm has carry and accuracy in game settings.


+ Physicality stood out on the infield.  Gage Smith (3B, Lake Norman HS, 2019), Shane Russell (1B, Charlotte Christian, 2019), and Caleb Fluno (3B, Home Schooled, 2019) each catch the eye just walking into the facility.  Length and strength, as each is over 6-foot-2, with Fluno leading the way at 6-foot-5.  All three flashed power potential in BP and carried it into the game setting. . While each will need to continue to clean up their timing and barrel awareness, when the ball is on the barrel, there is a high probability of damage being done.  In a controlled setting, off of a tee, the exit velocity of Smith, Russell, and Fluno registered 90, 88, and 92 mph respectively.


+ Gavin Mortenson (SS, NW Guilford HS, 2020) and AJ Jones (SS, Southern Nash HS, 2020) both play with rhythm in the middle of the field.  Mortenson stands with a lanky 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, working with easy hands and carry across the diamond.  Jones has a high motor and may not take the most efficient route to some balls, but is constantly in position to catch, exchange, and be accurate to 1B.  While each has a lot of maturation ahead, both will have the opportunity to play on the left side of the field moving forward.


+ The stigma around high academic events is there will be a lack of strength and a lack of athleticism.  This was not the case at Davidson as PBR was able to draw high quality student-athletes. On the exit velocity testing, 10 players registered better than 85 mph.  Nick Leonard (1B, Ronald Reagan HS, 2019) led the way with a 94 off the tee.  Matthew Walker, Caleb Fluno, and Gage Smith rounded out the four players touching 90 off the tee.  Logan Sylvester (3B, Wesleyan Christian Academy, 2020) touched 86 with more maturation coming in the frame.


+ Drew Bryan (C, Southern Lee HS, 2020) led the catchers with his pop times ranging 1.90 - 1.94 and a positional velocity of 78 mph out of the crouch.  Bryan has advanced accuracy, but that did not separate him from a group that showed accuracy throughout the day. Derek Hughes (C, Ravenscroft HS, 2019) and Bret Wiseman (C, Weddington HS, 2019) carried the ball with ease to 2B at 75 and 77 mph out of the crouch, respectively.  Hughes’ best pop times was 2.07, while Wiseman flashed a 2.08 pop. Rodney Bonilla (C, Apex Friendship, 2020) and Joshua Harris (C, Green Hope HS, 2019) have continued to get better.  PBR saw each last year and in that time, Bonilla has shaved almost 0.10 off his pop time while increasing his accuracy to the bag.  Harris has dropped his pop time by more than 0.15.


+ Seven total pitchers threw live to hitters in the event, with two right-handers above 85 and one lefty working at 84.  John Torroella (RHP, Mt. St. Joseph’s, 2019) is a lanky, thin 6-foot-3, 170 pounds.  The fastball peaked at 87, with more coming, while playing better than the gun reading.  The ball seems to explode onto hitters, creating swing and miss in and out of the zone. Tyler White (SS/RHP, Hopewell HS, 2019) has some strength at 6-foot-2, 175.  The fastball reached 86 early, settling 80-83. With two-way potential, White was on the field from 10am - 4pm, doing it all and it may have ticked the fastball down a bit, but it is play-able.  Jake Stroud (LHP, IMG Academy, 2019) created discomfort and a lot of chase with his fastball, touching 84.  The range on the fastball jumped a little as Stroud worked to find his rhythm, but the arm works with some ease and hitters do not seem to see the ball out of the hand.


In the coming week, we will continue our look at the 2018 Southern Academic Games.  An in-depth look at the statistics from the event, as well as individualized evaluations on each player in attendance.