Viera, FL - We've seen quite a few 2017-18 grads from all over the state playing for many different travel programs and the early returns are that the 2017-18 grad class is deep with some very elite talent.
FTB has long been known to develop their players as well as any travel program in the country. They prepare their players for the next level which may be college baseball, professional baseball, or just life in general.
The talent on display last weekend in Viera, Fl for the underclassmen classes was impressive to say the least. Let's get right into it.
One of the most talented players at the FTB Fall Instructional Camp was also one of the youngest. Matthew Allan, a 2019 grad started an immediate buzz after his bullpen session. Allan is probably 6' 160 lbs and has a very projectable body with longer limbs and broad shoulders. Most of the college coaches were in disbelief as I was that Allan is a 2019 grad.
During Allan's bullpen session, he sat 82-84mph with ease! His arm works extremely well and he uses his lower half in conjunction with his upper half and has sound mechanics. Matthew is a rare, athletic arm that can actually pitch and has an idea how to pitch.
Everything was down in the zone, his curveball was a 12-6 borderline hammer that will become a plus pitch at 67-69mph with tight spin. Allan's curveball has some depth and a nice hump to it. Another rarity was that at such a young age, Allan had very good feel for his change-up at 72-73mph and located it well.
With three potential plus to plus plus pitches in his future, Allan will become a household name with college coaches very soon. It's hard to label a kid a can't miss, which we won't say yet but as we watch Matthew develop over the next year he may very well become a no-brainer, can't miss type of arm.
Some other 2019's that will soon be known to college coaches in the next year or two are catchers Jake Herbert and Jon McArdle.
Herbert is a switch-hitting catcher with big time power potential. Jake has plus batspeed for his grad class and already knows how to create leverage and backspin with his swing. The ball jumps of his bat with plenty of carry. Switch-hitting catchers with power are as rare as it gets. We need to see Herbert more behind the plate to better scout his catching ability.
McArdle, we didn't to see play but his BP was impressive. The batspeed and hard consistent contact is there and offensive catchers are always coveted these days.
There was actually a 2020 grad at the camp, Ryan McCauley that ran his fastball up to 73mph in his bullpen. He's very lanky and projectable. RIght now, Ryan showed arm strength but not much of a secondary pitch yet. We'll keep a close eye on how he progresses over the next few years! Could be another no-brainer.
Today's reports are focused on the 2018's. This weekend's will be on the 2017's, new 2016's, and new 2015's. When we say new, we mean new to FTB or to our scouts.
The 2017 grad class was probably the deepest and most talented at the camp. The 2018 class is getting deeper and has some very elite, high-ceiling players out there. Here are our notes from the 2018's that caught our eye.
Nick Noel C Lake Highland Prep - Noel has a chance to be both an offensive and defensive catcher. The bat is already there. Nick showed plus plus batspeed for his grad class, stayed through the hitting zone with a good path and had tremendous bat whip. Defensively we need to see more of Noel, but his POP times seem to be getting better and better.
Christian Robinson OF/LHP Melbourne HS - If you looked up "Baseball Freak" in the dictionary, Robinson's picture would probably be there. We've seen him for over a year now and he continues to get better as the competition gets better. Christian has the tools and smarts to play anywhere in the country at the college level. Physically, he may have a better body right now than half the outfielders in Major League Baseball.
Robinson is strong but tone, high-waisted, sloped shoulders, and is a quick twitch athlete. Projectability may be a question with him because he's already physically mature beyond his years. The good thing is, is that he doesn't need to really project much more physically except just getting stronger with physical maturity.
Like many young players, Robinson is inconsistent at the plate. He'll have several at-bats where he looks great and several where he looks overmatched against average pitching. He has plus plus batspeed and power for his grad class and we think that will stay with him as he matures and becomes stronger.
Christian can run and defend, he covers a lot of grass in the outfield and has plenty of arm strength. As a pitcher, he's more of a thrower right now but does have arm strength running his fastball into the mid 80's at times. Once he learns the game a bit more, Robinson may sky rocket up college and pro-scouts lists. It takes time for younger players with tremendous tools to learn how to play the game and use their tools effectively in games. Once he does that, watch out!
Jacob Swinarski MIF American Heritage Delray - Swinarski will be a fun player to watch over the next several years. He's wiry, bounces around, and loves playing the game. Defensively, right now Jacob's is a plus plus defender with a plus plus arm for his grad class. He moves both laterally and vertically extremely well and has hands as quick as a lot of professional prospects. Swinarski's bat is there too, plenty of batspeed with a good bat path. We think he'll always be a tough out and have the ability to make hard consistent contact because of his batspeed and eye-hand coordination. He just needs to get stronger, which he will over the next few years. Jacob could develop into a high-level college player and defensively by the time he's a senior, he may be one of the best defenders in the state.
Nicholas Dicapua RHP Melbourne HS - In his bullpen session, Dicapua drew several of the college coaches attention. His fastball only topped out at 77mph but there's definitely more velocity coming. Nicholas' curveball had pretty tight spin at 65mph and he was able to keep it around the zone. He has a quick, loose arm and that's typically a sign that 77mph could be 87mph in the next couple of years once he starts to mature physically.
Robert Wegielnik RHP Cypress Lake HS - Robert has already increased his fastball velocity from 73mph to 76mph since June. He competes and should be touching the upper 70's low 80's by next summer. His curveball isn't bad at 60mph, it needs tighter spin but that should come with physical maturity.
Taylor Pridgen OF/LHP Eustis HS - Pridgen is a strong bodied LHH with some power potential. He has a strong lower half and get's through the baseball really well. He fires his backside through hard which creates plus batspeed for his grad class. Sometimes, because his back hip is so quick he has a tendancy to pull off the ball but when he stays square and through it, the ball travels off his bat. Taylor has some arm strength as an outfielder and on the mound running his fastball up to 76mph in the past. His bat is what will take him to the next level eventually, it's wait and see if the power comes.
Aramis Cruz OF Colonial HS - We didn't get to see much of Cruz but he stands out on the field. Cruz has a very athletic, projectable body and showed some batspeed. He's a bit raw in his approach at the plate and very aggressive which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Aramis is a player we need to follow to get a better read on his baseball abilities, but the body and tools are there.
Look for a lot more reports throughout the weekend on the newer 2017's, 2016's and 2015's!