Kissimmee, FL - Arms, Arms and More Arms!
A week before Friday the 13th in December last month there was something very strange that happened at FTB’s Instructional Camp in Kissimmee, Fl. It was something that I had never witnessed at an instructional camp especially in December.
If it had been Friday the 13th I would’ve started to believe in the myth that goes with that day. But it wasn't Friday the 13th, it was December 6th and FTB pitchers were scheduled to throw bullpens.
There were 28, let me say that again, TWENTY EIGHT arms that threw 85mph or better in their pens that night. Out of the 28, six let me say that again, SIX arms were 90mph or better. More impressively only four of the arms were 2014 grads and none of them were 90mph or better!
It was the best display of arm strength at a December camp I’d ever seen.
Some of the players at FTB's camp I’d seen several times. These particular reports are mainly focused on the players I haven’t seen or needed a better look at.
Here are my top pitchers from their bullpens that night by grad class not in any particular order:
Ryan Girard is a RHP from Wiregrass Ranch HS. Girard has a very projectable pitchers body at 6’4” 205lbs. Girard can definitely put more strength on his frame which will add to his velocity. Ryan’s fastball topped out at 86mph with an easy arm action. The baseball comes out of his hand nice and he gets very good extension. Girard needs works on his secondary pitches. His breaking ball was inconsistent as he came around it from time to time. His arm lagged at times on his curveball which resulted in inconsistent location and spin. Ryan did however flash a couple very good breaking balls that he released more out front with tighter spin. Girard's a must get for a college now.
Brian Auerbach is a RHP from Palm Harbor HS. Auerbach has a projectable, lean pitchers body at 6’4” 170lbs. Brian has a very loose arm and ran his fastball up to 88mph with some late life and arm-side run. His curveball showed good depth and late break at 75mph. Auerbach showed a good change at 75mph that had some run as well. His arm speed was good on his change. Another 2014 Grad that should have a college comittment.
Bay Buckley is home schooled from Naples. Buckley caught my eye at the end of the bullpen session. Bay’s fastball was up to 84mph with some deception. There’s something there with Buckley whether it's the deception or ability to repeat with the deception. There are plenty of colleges that can use a LHP that throws strikes and get ground ball outs.
Ray Hernandez is a 3B from Colonial HS. Ray showed some arm strength on the mound running his fastball up to 87mph. I like Ray better as a 3B because of his bat and defensive ability but maybe he can become a closer if he can get in that upper 80’s, lower 90’s with his fastball.
This is what I wrote last spring on Philip Seili from Wellington HS as a position player:
2015 grad Philip Sieli, a 1B/RHP is listed at 6'1' 190 lbs but I think the 190lbs is being kind. I would say he's more in the 210 lbs range. Sieli really swings the bat. He's very aggressive at the plate and made consistent hard contact with good bat speed. I don't think the weight will be an issue, I believe it's just baby fat. Defensively, Sieli moves well at 1B and looked to have a better than average arm. I'd like to see him on the mound this summer.
I didn’t get to see Philip pitch in that spring break tournament but I did get to see him pitch a little at FTB’s camp. He has a quick arm and ran his fastball up to 91mph and works downhill. Seili is a thicker bodied kid right now and for me is more of a thrower. Typically true two-way players like Seili are better as position players because they spend more time in the cage than in the pen. I can see Philip getting attention from plenty of colleges as a two-way player and potentially from pro scouts as a pitcher or position player over the next couple of years.
Chentouf was one of the last arms of the night and a lot of the coaches and scouts including myself had most of our notes done and were chatting about players at the camp. After hearing a couple pops of the catcher’s mitt in the pen and one of the coaches saying, “this kid just touched 92mph!” everyone began scrambling to get their notes back out and paid close attention to Yasin’s bullpen. Nobody even really knew his name and kept mispronouncing it. It didn't take long for every coach there to get the correct spelling and pronunciation of his name.
After seeing a few pitches, I was bearing down on Chentouf just like everyone else. Right away he reminds me of a Tim Hudson type of arm and body type. Yasin isn’t a big kid but has a lightning quick arm and is a very good athlete running a 6.75 60 and sub 4.4’s down the line from the right side. He’s wiry with a very live arm.
During the game on Saturday night, Chentouf wasn’t as sharp as the night before but the baseball exploded out of his hand and at times he flashed a swing and miss breaking ball. I need to see more of Yasin as a CF and at the plate but right now I think he could potentially be an elite college level two-way player. Leading off and playing CF and coming in 90-94mph for an inning or two closing as a freshman in college. Chentouf will definitely get pro attention over the next couple of years because of his athleticism and arm strength.
Juan Echeveria is a RHP from Kentucky. Echeveria has plenty of upside at 6’3” 180 with a very loose and easy arm action. Juan’s fastball topped out at 91mph and there’s definitely more in there. I didn’t get a good feel for his secondary pitches. Where Echeveria really stands out is at the plate from what I saw the next day. I need to see more of Juan on the mound and at the plate in games.
Jared Middleton is a LHP from Jenkins HS. If I was a college coach, Middleton may be the first player I’d try to lock up in recruiting. Jared has a strong, stocky type body at about 5’9” maybe. His size doesn’t bother me for a couple of reasons. One reason is that he has a quick, strong arm and pitches downhill. Another reason is his lower half is very strong and I think Middleton can sustain his velocity throughout an entire game. Jared’s typically 85-89mph and will touch 90mph with his fastball. What separates him from the majority of pitchers in the 2015 grad class is his ability to flat out pitch and place the ball where he wants it. Middleton has average MLB command of his fastball, curveball and change-up right now. His curveball has tight spin, depth and is a true swing and miss pitch. Jared understands how to set hitters up and it was fun watching him bury his curveball on right-handed hitters back foot after going fastball fastball away. Middleton’s change-up is another out pitch for him. It has some run and again he places it where he wants.
At the plate, I don’t know if Middleton is an elite level college hitter just yet but I think he can become a good two-way college player.
I can see Jared’s fastball sitting 88-91mph this spring/summer with command of three pitches. With that said, he’ll get some interest from MLB scouts his senior year.
The main reason why I’d take him right away as a college coach is because the kid just competes relentlessly and challenges hitters. He attacks hitters over and over and is a winner.
D’Quan Matthews is a RHP/OF from Colonial HS. Matthews velocity is beginning to jump as he touched 89mph with his fastball during his pen. He has one of the loosest and easiest arms I’ve seen within the FTB family. His release point is more ¾ or high ¾ but he repeats well and keeps the ball down in the zone. With his arm angle, Matthews gets some arm side run at times but it’s not consistent yet. D’Quan is very athletic and projectable as a pitcher. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress but the arm works really well and Matthews should continue to get better and better if he works on his secondary pitches.
Jake Rolly is a C/RHP/1B from WInter Springs HS. Rolly is more of a thrower right now with arm strength. His fastball touched 89mph but his arm action is a little stiff which probably comes from being a catcher. Jake has a great frame at 6’3” 195lbs and definitely has some upside as a pitcher. It’s a tough transition to make from catcher to pitcher and If Rolly makes that change he’ll need to lengthen his arm stroke which may add more velocity.
Christopher Gau is a 2015 RHP from University Christian HS. Gau has a very projectable pitchers body at 6’2” 180lb. He continues to grow on me the more I see him. His fastball topped out at 89mph with late life and run. His curveball was a bit more consistent this time with tight spin and depth. Gau’s change-up is probably his second best pitch at 81-82mph with some late tail.
Michael Zimmerman is a LHP from Gulf Coast HS. Zimmerman a UF commit is one of my favorite LHP’s in the state for the 2015 grad class. Zimmerman’s fastball was up to 88mph in the pen which is the hardest I’ve seen him throw. His delivery is mainly “arms and legs” right now. Michael has some projection and pitches from a great downhill plane. I’m not saying he’s Chris Sale but there are some similarities at the same age. Like Sale, Zimmerman is tall, lanky and thin. He also has a live arm and works downhill like Sale did from a ¾ high ¾ arm slot. I think Zimmerman’s curveball has a chance to be an out pitch. One thing I can’t project is if Zimmerman’s velocity will jump 8-10mph in the next several years like Sale’s did. Sale went from 82-85mph occasionally touching 86-87mph as a senior to topping out at 97-98mph as a sophomore/junior at FGCU.
Ryan McKay is a RHP from Satellite HS. McKay has a great pitchers frame at 6’4” 180lbs with plenty of projectability. Ryan was one of the best arms at FTB’s camp that I scouted. His arm is very loose and live. His fastball topped out at 88mph but there’s definitely more in there with some added strength. McKay gets great extension with his fastball but has some minor mechanical issues to work on. His front side opens up a bit like a “swinging gate” and he has a tendency to fall off to the side as he releases a pitch. Ryan flashed a cutter at 77mph that has a chance to be a very good out pitch. His change needs a lot of work, I think he may grip it too tight which is not uncommon for a young pitcher if they haven’t learned how to throw a change-up early on. McKay is definitely an arm to keep an eye on!
Kyle McLaughlin is a RHP from Martin County HS. Kyle is another good bodied, strong kid that looks athletic at 6’2” 185. His fastball touched 87mph but was straight. Kyle has a tendency to open up his frontside early similar to McKay. As I watched him pitch, I wondered if Kyle dropped his arm angle some would it create more movement and life. His arm works well but a straight fastball is tough to get by with at the higher levels unless it can be placed exactly where you want it. McLaughlin has upside and is one to watch and see if he can get some minor mechanical issues worked out.
Cameron Peppiatt is a LHP from Oviedo HS. Peppiatt is an arm colleges need to take a close look at. Cameron’s fastball was mainly 86-87mph and deceptive. He has a herky jerky type delivery with a quick arm and should be able to disrupt hitters timing and get plenty of off-balance weak swings.
Troy Brown is a LHP from Lakeland HS. At 6’2” 184lbs. Brown has a projectable body and upside. Troy ran his fastball up to 86mph but he short arms it and needs to get better extension. He has a tendency to rush his delivery as well which is why he can get away with short-arming it. Brown does have some upside and did show the makings of a good curveball. I think if Troy can learn to get better extension his velocity will increase and he'll be more athletic on the mound.
Kyle Marman is a RHP from Dr. Phillips HS. Here’s what I wrote about Marman last spring at the CF Slam Spring Break Tournament:
“Another sophomore that was interesting was RHP Kyle Marman. Marman's listed at 6'1" 160 lbs but he looked to be closer to 6'2"-6'3". He doesn't have an electric fastball at 80-82mph but his curveball is one of the better ones I've seen this spring and he competes. Marman's curveball was 63-67mph straight over the top 12-6. His change-up was also very effective at 73mph. What makes Marman so effective is his lanky frame and unorthodox delivery and ability to release all three of his pitches from the same release point. I can see his fastball velocity increasing to the mid 80's by next summer and with a hammer for a curveball, Marman will be on college coaches radars.
Marman’s velocity is already increasing as he topped out at 86mph with his fastball and his curveball was in the 72mph range. Keep and eye on Marman, I think colleges will like the 12-6 hammer that can get ground ball outs.
Clayton Jeffries is a LHP from George Jenkins HS. Jeffries has some deception in his delivery and a pretty quick arm running his fastball up to 86mph. Jeffries needs to work on locating his pitches better but a lot of that is from being a two-way player as Jeffries swings the bat pretty well too. It’s rare to see a two-way player that is elite as both a hitter and a pitcher because of the time it takes to work on both. Jeffries will have to make that decision soon or let the colleges make it for him.
Luke Spetsas is a RHP from Matanzas HS. Spetsas isn’t a big kid but he has a pretty quick arm with good life on his fastball. Even though his fastball topped out at just 83mph, it was up 5-7mph from last year which is a great improvement. He’s wiry and there is a little bit of projection there for a kid that probably weighs only 150lbs. Luke should have colleges on him very soon.
Colton Chupp is a LHP from Lakewood Ranch HS. Chupp’s arm is definitely getting quicker as he touched 83mph with his fastball. His fastball was up 3-5mph from late in the summer and with a quicker arm now I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s touching 85-86mph this spring. Chupp has a compact delivery and repeats well.
Here’s some quick notes on what I like to call FTB Fire. These are pitchers I’ve seen plenty of times and bring the heat.
Jason Heinrich is RHP/1B/OF and 2015 grad from River Ridge HS. Heinrichs, a UCF commit is quickly becoming one of the best two way players in the country. His fastball was up to 92mph but more impressively his bat is really starting to come around. Jason’s beginning to become a legitimate high level D1 hitter with gap power and a high level D1 closer. Heinrichs will get plenty of MLB draft attention the next two years. He’s becoming a complete player showing speed as well running a 6.87 60. Jason has size, speed, strength and competes every time I’ve seen him play.
Jordan Gubelman is a RHP and 2015 grad from Sarasota HS. Like Heinrich, Gubelman continues to rise as a prospect. He’s getting bigger, stronger and learning how to repeat his delivery better. His arm is working easier now which is increasing his velocity as he topped out at 91mph in his pen. His curveball is still a work in progress because of his inconsistent release point with it. Jordan doesn’t get his curveball out front at times and his arm tends to lag and not catch up more times than not. His straight change is probably his best pitch at 83mph with good arm speed and location.
Dylan Burns is a RHP and 2015 grad from Vero Beach HS. Burns, a USF commit keeps getting more refined as a pitcher and it’s obvious he continues to work hard on his pitching. Dylan added an 83mph slider that was one of the best pitches at the FTB camp. The question is can he control his slider and become more consistent with it. It has great late movement, darting downward at the last second like a split-finger fastball. If Burns can keep it around the strike zone and get ahead of hitters with his fastball, he’ll start racking up the K’s this summer.
Mikey Ruff is a RHP from Lake Brantley HS. I’ve seen Ruff before and liked him. Ruff is one of the more polished pitchers in the 2016 Grad class in the state of Florida. Mikey already has a good feel for his curveball that has consistent tight spin. His fastball sits 84-86mph right now but his velocity will increase with maturity. Ruff gets good arm side run on his fastball as well. Colleges should pay close attention to Ruff as he could walk right in as a freshman and contribute at most college programs.
Josh Bonynge is an INF/RHP from Cardinal Mooney HS. Bonynge was one of the better two-way players and athletes at FTB’s camp. He's got a compact, strong body. His fastball topped out at 86mph and he showed a nasty cutter in the mid 70's. Josh is a live bodied athlete with quick twitch muscle that translates at the plate as well. His arm is very quick and I can his velocity jumping to the upper 80’s before too long. He’s one I need to see more of but Bonynge should definitely be at the top of a lot of college coaches recruiting lists.
Tyler Mattes is an OF/RHP from Lakewood Ranch HS. Mattes fastball topped out at 85mph. Tyler has a great body. He looks more like a running back, high waisted with a strong lower half which leads me to believe there’s more velocity to come. He had maybe the best secondary pitch at the FTB tryouts showing the makings of a power slider at 80mph that already is a true swing and miss pitch. Mattes is someone I definitely need to see more of this spring/summer.
Other notable 2016’s that are pitchers to watch the next couple of years:
Sam Allen-FB up to 84mph
Travis Hosterman-FB up to 86mph
Bryce Van Horn-FB up to 82mph, good body
Chrisopher Demayo-FB up to 80mph, good deception, good feel for his change, needs strength
2017 Pitchers to Follow
Bailey Wendel-FB up to 84mph
Zachary Grabbe-FB up to 82mph
Franklin James-FB up to 83mph
Christian Santana-FB up to 81mph
Lyon Richardson-FB up to 81mph (2018 Grad)