Jacksonville, FL - Here are the top 3 prospects from the Warriors Winter Showcase. There will be more prospect reports from this event next week.
There were a lot of good young players at the showcase, it was tough to select the top 3.
1. Jason Swan - 2017 R/R MIF Atlantic Coast HS - Swan may have improved more in the past year as a player than any player I've ever seen improve over the course of a year. That says a lot to Jason's dedication, hard work, and love for the game. A year ago, Swan was overmatched as a hitter against better pitching and when he had two strikes, his at-bat was basically over.
This past summer and fall, Jason has shown not only that he's no longer over-matched as a hitter, but with two strikes now he becomes more dangerous. With two strikes, he's driving off-speed pitches, fastballs, all over the yard now. Swan has become a legitimate elite level hitter and will only continue to get better the more high level pitching he sees.
Every part of his game has gotten extraordinarily better. Swan's hands and feet are quicker at SS, his arm is stronger. His agility and balance have gotten better. Jason is starting to become the player we thought he could become when we first saw him last October as a freshman.
Jason's coordination is catching up with his physical growth. At the plate, his batspeed is quicker, there's no wasted movement in his swing, he has an idea now of how to have a solid approach. During BP at the showcase, baseballs were rocketing of his bat. Swan is a quick-twitch athlete that is now developing into a baseball player.
The last thing to come will be his speed, right now he runs a 6.9 second 60. If Jason continues to grow and get stronger, which we don't see why he won't, he'll probably move to 3B. It's hard to imagine a player that was as raw as Swan was about a year ago has now turned himself into a legitimate elite level college player and professional prospect. For most players his age it takes several years to make the jump Jason has made.
I spoke to Jason and his father and said, "whatever he's doing, just keep doing it and he'll play this game for a long time."
2. Isaiah Byars - 2018 R/R MIF Oakleaf HS - Byars has a chance to be a very special player. Only a freshman, Isaiah already has tools that make him a top prospect. Physically, he's athletic, wiry, quick-twitch with plenty of projection and Byars has a second gear that most players don't have.
Isaiah already can run clocking an easy 6.87 second 60 on a slow track, we think in the next couple of years he'll begin to really run. We wouldn't be surprised at all to see him running in the 6.4-6.5 second 60 range by his senior year or sooner.
At the plate, there is no wasted movement in his swing. Byars has batspeed for his grad class and squares up everything. Isaiah has great rhythm and timing and attacks the baseball in the zone.
Defensively, we haven't seen a 2018 SS yet that can compare to Byars. Isaiah is already a defender for his grad class with an above average arm, quick release, hands and feet, and range for days. On a couple double plays we watched, the ball looked like it never touched his glove and then the ball rocketed out of his hand to the first basemen.
Isaiah is without question one of the best overall 2018 players in the country, and being with the Warriors program, don't be surprised if he continues to get better and better and open up college coaches eyes real soon.
3. AJ Labas - 2017 RHP Trinity Christian Academy - Labas, like Swan has steadily improved over the past 6 months. AJ is getting stronger everytime we see him, it's obvious he's put in the work at the gym. By the time he's a senior, Labas will be one of the strongest bodied pitchers in his grad class in Florida.
With the added strength, the velocity is starting to jump a bit. AJ had been sitting 82-85mph most of this past summer and fall, touching an 86mph at times. In a short bullpen session during the showcase, Labas sat 87-88mph touching 89mph several times and topping out at 91mph.
What's scary is even at 91mph, his fastball had movement and life. Most of the time when pitchers velocity starts to increase their fastball flattens out. What's even scarier, is that AJ still doesn't use his entire lower half and get his chest out over his front foot getting full extension. The upper 80mph's fastball he showed in his pen was more of a flick of the wrist with a very quick arm.
He does need to continue to work on his curveball and change-up consistency. We think it's only a matter of time before AJ's secondary pitches become his best pitches. He has a chance to have at least two pitches in the near future and maybe three at some point.
The best thing about Labas is that everything he throws tends to be down and he gets good heavy sink and run on his fastball. An upper 80's-90mph heavy fastball with sink and run? Good luck to any batters this spring and next summer that face AJ!
Labas has a great pitchers body at 6'3" 195lbs, and will probably get taller and stronger over the next several years. There's no telling how hard AJ may throw in the next couple of years, don't be surprised if he doesn't start sitting around 90mph and touching low to mid 90mph by next fall.
With more mound time and polish, Labas can be an elite college level arm and a prospect professional scouts take a serious interest in once the velocity jumps again.