Summer Upperclass Spotlights: 2023 2-way Standouts


Jason Burton
Scouting Director PBR Virginia/DC

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In late June and early August, over eighty-five uncommitted players from the 2023 class were in attendance for one, or both of our summer upperclass events. Our two upperclass summer events, the Upperclass State Games in late June and our annual Unsigned Senior Games in early August, were our most heavily recruited events in the state. Between the two events we hosted over forty coaches from the MId-Atlantic region. From those two events there have been a total of forty-two commitments in the weeks following our final summer upperclass event, with twenty-two of those commitments going to schools that were in attendance on those days. 

Today we are going to take a look at four uncommitted players from those events. 

Summer State Games Spotlights:

2023 Two-Way Players

Ethan Blakeney OF / RHP / Bayside , VA / 2023

This Bayside product has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. Blakeney is one of those guys that just does everything really well. High end run tool, uses the middle and backside of the field well, and fills it up on the mound. Has kind of been sitting on that hump in the velo department for the last twelve months or so, but he continues to add polish to his stuff. The fastball stays in the low-mid 80's (up to 86-87) and absolutely paints the glove side edge. Feel for spin that has above average spin rate with more depth and 12/6 shape. At the Unsigned Senior Games, Blakeney had one of the more dominant performances on the mound. 80% strikes in that outing, faced five batters, and punched out four of them with the fifth being a weak ground ball to first. 

Strengths: Command, hit tool, athleticism, versatility

Areas for Improvement: Taking that next step in velo department, displaying ability to turn the barrel working the pull side

 

Devin Christopher RHP / 1B / Miller School, VA / 2023

Compact frame with a strong lower half. Christopher has flashes of being a potential power arm on the mound and a power bat at the plate. A lower set in the backside getting down the mound, a lower release height, and a fastball that has been up to 87.4 with some ability to generate whiffs up in the zone. The slider seems to be his best secondary pitch. The low 70's offering has more depth than horizontal shape. Tight and late action that played well in his second and third innings the other night vs Pro 5. At the plate there are some power tendencies, but seems to be more of a run production > hit for average type of bat. First baseman/DH profile on the positional side.

Strengths: Fastball/slider combo, offensive power, ability to generate in zone whiffs

Areas for Improvement: Command, finishing counts, offensive consistency

Silas Gwathmey SS / RHP / Collegiate, VA / 2023

Compact 5-foot-7 frame with proportional strength. At the plate Gwathmey appears to have changed the stance up just a touch. Was a bit wider in the spring and has narrowed up a bit now. The new look at the plate brings a more relaxed look. Hands are still preset back, but they appear to be a little more free. Level path with a whippy barrel through the zone. On the mound, I have seen Gwathmey up to 85 with some feel for the fastball to the glove side. The separator for me when I saw him this spring was the slider. Well above average spin, getting up to 2615 RPM, and throws it with intent with swing and miss qualities. 

Strengths: Slider, whole field approach at the plate, athleticism

Areas for Improvement: Velo jump, arm path on the infield, run tool

Conner Spears 1B / C / Thomas Dale, VA / 2023

Physical 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. Athletic for size, 7.13 runner, and above average bat speed. The swing path has some uphill tilt to it, gets extension through contact, and has flashes of easy power to middle and pull side. On the mound Spears gets into the backside a little bit and creates a lower release height. The fastball was up to 87.1 with an average velo of 84.6 that day. The breaking ball has a tighter shape and stayed down in the zone. Long term profile says 1B/DH as a positional player and middle to back end reliever. 

Strengths: Power potential, athleticism for size, competes on the mound

Areas for Improvement: Continue to add velo, consistency of secondary feel, more consistent power production