Riverside, CA - First, I want to apologize to ABD, the players and parents for the reports taking time to be written. Certain things happen that are uncrontrollable, but that's not an excuse.
This was one of the best tryouts our staff has cover since we began covering tryouts 7 years ago.
Here are the Top 10 prospects from the showcase, the second 10 will be out tomorrow. Like any event we cover, these rankings are strictly PW's opinion. There were several players left out of the top 10 that easily could have been in with more exposure.
1. Tony Bullard - 2018 R/R INF/RHP John W. North HS - We had heard how talented Bullard was coming into this showcase, but like anything in the business of scouting, we have to see a player before we make our own scouting opinions.
The first thing we noticed about Tony was his size and agility. Bullard stands between 6'2"-6'4" as a 2018 grad! Typically, a player's physical talents and coordination at that size and age haven't quite caught up yet with his growth. Tony Bullard is a rare exception.
During his I/O at SS, Bullard showed a 35-40 arm with easy actions. For a bigger kid, he attacked the baseball and had one of the quickest releases at the showcase. Defensively, we don't know if Tony will stay at SS because of his size and potential power bat. A move to 3B wouldn't be out of the question at the college or professional level. Bullard's strengths defensively would only enhance his value at 3B.
Everything Tony did at SS was very easy, clean and athletic. He just needs to keep progressing and get stronger naturally over the next several years.
At the plate and during BP, Bullard is a rare "natural" hitter. We rarely see players as advanced as Tony at such and early age, with tools and a good approach. Everything he does, including hitting, he does naturally. The phrase we like to use here at PW when talking about players like Bullard is that, "he was born to hit a baseball."
During BP, the ball made a different sound coming off his bat during BP. Bullard showed effortless power for his grad class and seemed to track the ball extremely well out of the pitchers hand in games, recognizing spin and pitch location right away.
The only thing Tony doesn't do extremely well right now is run, a 7.49 sec 60, but that doesn't concern us as he'll be down around a 7.0 sec 60 by his senior year. We don't think colleges or professional scouts are going to bear down on his speed considering everything else he does at such a high level.
The game comes very easy to Tony, and as a 2018 grad, that's scary for his opponents.
We didn't get to see enough of Bullard on the mound to write an accurate report.
All indications are is that Tony Bullard is one of the top 2018 prospects in the country. If he continues to work hard, get his reps in, and play good competition over the next several years, there's no telling how high his ceiling can be.
Colleges need to already be on him, and pro scouts won't be far behind.
2. Zack Sherwood - 2017 R/R 1B/3B Saddleback Valley Christian School - Putting it plain and simple, Sherwood is a man-child. At 6'3" 195lbs, legs built like a linebacker, Zack looks like he's a 5 star football recruit.
Typically, when we see players built like Sherwood at a younger age, they tend to be a bit stiff and unathletic. That wasn't the case for Zack.
During I/O, we were impressed with Sherwood's quick feet and ability to change direction vertically and laterally at 1B for a bigger kid. He was a bit inconsistent with his footwook, but his foot quickness was fine. His arm works well and is accurate, right now it's an easy 40 arm but should get stronger over the next few years.
Running a 7.33 sec 60 on a slow track let us know that Zack may be able to play a corner OF spot if 1B/3B doesn't workout long term. It'd be hard to waste the speed and arm strength at 1B if he continues to get his 60 times down around 7.00 sec or better.
We think Sherwood's bat is by far his best tool and will play at just about any level, even at the highest levels potentially.
He had some of the best if not the best bat whip and batspeed at the showcase. Zack has very strong wrists and his barrel was lightning quick through the zone, staying on a good plane at the same time. In BP and games, he was able to drive the ball to all parts of the field with power. When you take his powerful, quick lower half and strong quick wrists, he produces + raw power for his grad class.
He has a projectable, athletic frame that will be as strong as anyone in his grad class by the time he's a senior.
At the end of the day, we think Sherwood has all the tools to be an elite college level player and potentially a draftable player by his senior year. The more we see of Zack, the more we'll get a better feel for his defense and where his bat will play.
Colleges need to be on him now, and professional scouts will be keeping a close eye on Zack his senior year.
3. Clay Owens - 2018 3B L/R Centennial HS - Owens, another 2018 grad in the ABD program that has tremendous upside as a left-handed hitter. At first glance, after a few swings, Clay reminded us of another southern Cali player from San Diego, John Drennen. Owens handspeed/batspeed is off the charts for his grad class.
Clay has a strong body and his bat projects to have some natural raw power. Right now it seems like most of his power is to the pull side, but only a 2018 grad, he has time to learn how to use the entire field.
Our staff is excited to see more of Owens this summer to better evaluate his overall game, but the tools seem to be there for Clay to be an upper level college prospect.
4. Zack Bowman - 2016 1B/3B L/R Aliso Niguel HS - Bowman is a 2016 grad that has a chance to really hit at the college level and potentially higher. He doesn't have a very projectable body and is limited to 1B and maybe 3B because of his range. One thing that we do know is that Bowman's bat can play anywhere in college.
Defensively, Zack's arm works well from the infield and outfield. He showed a solid 50 arm from both positions and moved well for a thicker body, wide hip type.
He had a deep drive that was hit well into left center-field during one of games, if there was no wind, the ball might still be traveling. Bowman has the classic easy, smooth lefty swing with easy power. The ball jumps off his bat and he doesn't miss too many pitches. He's aggressive and attacks the baseball, unlike a lot of amateur hitters.
We didn't get to see Bowman on the mound, but being a lefty and having some arm strength, it may be something worth trying out for him this summer. College coaches need to be on Zack now, if they're not already.
5. Blake Borror - 2016 RHP Quartz Hill HS - Borror, a 2016 grad was one of the more interesting and projectable pitchers at the showcase. Blake has a longer limbed, lean, loose, projectable, athletic body.
Borror threw well in both his pen and in the game with his fastball sitting around 84-85mph and touching 86mph. There's more in the tank if Blake can get on a good arm care, strength and conditioning program and stay on it. His arm is quicker than his velocity right now. We could see his velocity potentially jumping to the upper 80's by mid to end of this summer with some added strength.
There's some deception to Borror's arm action and the ball seems to get on hitters fairly quick. Blake's best pitch by far is his curveball, which has a chance to become a power curveball and a true swing and miss pitch. He showed very tight spin, and tremendous depth at 75-76mph.
Borror's change-up needs work, but with his arm speed and control, it just may be a matter of throwing it more often and getting a better feel for it.
Blake has a lot of upside on the mound and if he focuses mainly on pitching this spring and summer, there should be plenty of colleges that take notice.
6. Josh Whetstone - 2015 LHP Aliso Niguel HS - Whetstone was a pleasant surprise as a LHP. Typically, when we see a player going into their senior year, we've seen enough of them and they're already committed to a college somewhere.
Whetstone needs to have a college scholarship now! He's not the biggest kid at maybe 6' 165lbs, but being a LHP, that doesn't really matter, and he competes.
For us, it was all about how well his arm worked and how we could almost see the velocity increasing right before our eyes. His coaches mentioned even as early as this past fall, Josh wasn't touching the mid 80mph's like he was at the showcase.
Whetstone has some upside if he can get into the right program with the right pitching coach, we can see him being upper 80mph's and touching low 90mph's by the time he's a junior in college.
7. Jordan Tapias - 2017 RHP San Clemente HS - We first noticed Jordan getting loose down the left-field line, long tossing with a long, easy arm action and the ball jumped out of his hand.
Tapias, when it's all said and done may end up throwing as hard as anyone we saw at the showcase. For a stronger, thicker, barrel-chested kid, he was loose and flexible on the mound with good extension. His fastball sat and easy 84-85mph with very good life.
Jordan's difference maker was his curveball. His spin at times was real tight and showed a true swing and miss curveball, but it was inconsistent. If he can stay flexible and continue to get stronger over the next couple of years, he should be sitting upper 80mph's and touching low 90mph's.
He's still a little raw for major college programs, but if he can put it together this summer, get consistent with his pitches, then colleges will take notice.
8. Hunter Padilla - 2017 MIF R/R Redlands East Valley HS - Padilla may be the sleeper in the group we saw at the showcase. Everytime we looked up, he was hitting the ball hard. Hunter's BP sessions translated to the games. He may have had 5-6 hits in two games and none were cheap.
Padilla is one of those players that you have to really bear down on and see play several times to appreciate how good of an overall player he really is. He's not a big kid, but plays big.
Hunter's selectively aggressive in the box, with an advanced approach for a 2017 grad. He was a line-drive machine in games. Like a few other ABD prospects, he attacks the baseball in the zone and keeps his hands inside the ball well.
Defensively, he makes all the plays and moves well both laterally and vertically at 2B. He showed a solid 30-35 arm and ran a 7.53 sec 60 on a slow track. Padilla is the definition of a gamer. He's a perfect small college type player right now, and could become a better college prospect with more strength and exposure.
9. Jacob Ogle - 2017 MIF R/L - Right now, Ogle doesn't necessarily pass the eye test at about 6' 140lbs, but there's a lot of projection with Jacob's body and game. He has long limbs, and showed enough athleticism and quick twitch to get us interested in where he may be a few years from now.
Ogle is still growing into his body and according to his coaches, started making significant strides this past summer as a player. He has quick wrists and creates above average batspeed for his grad class. During BP and games, he hit several balls hard showed an ability to compete at the plate and be a tough out.
One thing that was obvious with Jacob, was that he loves the game of baseball.
Defensively, we think Ogle is going to get better and better over the next couple of years. The more his coordination catches up with his growth, the better MIF prospect he'll become. He had one of the quickest and easiest releases from SS at the showcase with a solid 35 arm. Jacob just needs time and physical maturity before colleges start showing up asking who he is.
10. JT Grozak - 2015 MIF R/R Redlands East Valley HS - Grozak did a little bit of everything at the showcase and drew some college interest. JT is a solid MIF prospect and can play either SS or 2B at the college level, his bat plays at that level as well.
He ran a 7.28 sec 60, but his game speed was better. Grozak has good instincts both defensively and on the bases. He can make all the plays and is consistent. JT showed a combination of some of the best hand and feet at the showcase. He was always under control and made plays look easy. He had a real "bounce" to his step.
At the plate, Grozak had good rhythm and timing and squared up several balls in BP and the games. His path to the ball was short and direct, he used all parts of the field hitting line drives repeatedly. The only issue we could see is that he had a tendancy to get his front foot down a bit late and against better velocity, he may struggle a bit until he gets his timing down.
There aren't many holes in JT's game, he's a solid college level player that will get better in the right program.
Tomorrow I will have reports on the second 10 players and potentially more. They won't be in any particular order.