Kissimmee, FL - Here are my notes on the position players for FTB's Winter Instructional Camp.
2015/2016 Grad Prospects
Kirk Sidwell is an INF/OF and 2015 grad from Olympia HS. Sidwell has really started to impress me that last several times I’ve seen him play. The first thing that stands out with Kirk is that he’s physical and looks the part at 6’1” 190lbs. At first, I thought he was too physical and it made him a bit stiff at the plate but over the past several months I’ve changed my opinion. Sidwell is a strong kid and his strength has started to translate at the plate. During our Victory Fall National Championships pitchers couldn’t get him out. Kirk led the tournament in RBI’s (9), Hits (10), Doubles (4) and stole 2 bases. I think he tends to over think at times at the plate. He showed the ability to make hard consistent contact. I believe Sidwell ran the fastest 60 time at FTB’s camp running a (6.53) 60 on a slow track. The more at bats he can work the count in his favor he'll be able to use his speed more often whether its walks or gappers. Kirk doesn’t have to go far for good baseball advice and instruction. His Dad, Rob is a long time MLB area scout and has seen what it takes to make it at the next level. Defensively, I need to see Sidwell more but offensively he’s on the right track.
Bryan Scheker is an OF and 2015 grad from Montverde Academy. Scheker was a PW Underclass All-American at USF last August. He’s got some of the better raw tools in the 2015 grad class in the state of Florida. At 6’3” 195lbs, Bryan ran a (6.65) 60 on a slow track. Here’s what I wrote about Bryan last August and my opinion hasn’t changed.
Scheker already has a MLB body and looks more like an NFL wide receiver. Scheker has the tools become and a legitimate 3-4 tool player. Speed, arm strength, defense and power potential are all there. Going into the event, I had questions whether or not Scheker could make consistent contact against better pitching. The first day, Scheker seemed to be a little overmatched but by the second and third day he made adjustments at the plate. Scheker’s last couple of at bats were his best as he flashed the ability at the plate to make more consistent hard contact. A lot of professional scouts will be on Scheker the next couple of years. One thing nobody can question is the kid’s desire to play the game. Scheker’s spikes were so beat up he had to wrap tape around both spikes to keep them from tearing apart. After the event, Scheker personally thanked our staff for giving him the opportunity to play in front of that many colleges and scouts.
Gabriel Garcia is a C/3B and 2015 grad from Montverde Academy and teammate of Scheker. Garcia has a tremendous amount of upside behind the plate with a great catchers body at 6’3” 195lbs and barely 15 years old. Garcia showed a strong arm across the diamond at 3B but where he really looked great was behind the plate. Gabriel POP'd a (1.97) with good carry and accuracy. Combine Garcia’s strong arm and quick release and it won’t be long before his POP times are in the low 1.9’s consistently. I need to see more of Garcia at the plate to get a better feel for his ability to hit.
Juan Echeveria had one of the best bp sessions at the FTB camp. Juan has a great frame and a very strong arm. (see pitching notes) He has big time batspeed and made consistent hard contact just destroying baseballs. Echeveria has major upside potentially both as a position player or pitcher. Like Garcia, I need to see Juan in more game situations at the plate to write a more accurate report on his bat. Echeveria ran a (7.19) 60.
Robert Paulino is a 2015 SS from Everglades HS. Paulino might be the best defensive SS I scouted all last year in the 2015 Florida grad class . Defensively his actions are off the chart, he reminded me of another FTB SS and 2014 grad Milton Ramos. It just so happened that Ramos was at FTB’s camp that weekend watching the MIF’s during I/O. I had a chance to introduce myself to Milton and talk baseball with him for a bit. I liked Ramos before as a player and think he can potentially be one of the top shortstops taken in the 2014 MLB draft. After talking with him for a bit I became a bigger fan of Milton Ramos. He was there supporting his best friend, Robert Paulino. Imagine that, two very similar players happen to be best friends. Ramos was excited watching Paulino take ground balls, saying things to motivate his friend to perform well.
Back to Paulino. He showed a 45 arm that’s going to get better and probably become a 50/60 arm in the next couple of years. He’s very athletic and has a great frame. Robert moves laterally and vertically as well as anyone in the 2015 grad class. His hands are lightning quick and very soft as he made some tough plays look routine. As a hitter, like Ramos, Paulino has the physical tools and just needs at bats. Paulino may have better batspeed at the same age a year ago than Ramos did and a little better approach at the plate as well. Robert is an elite level college prospect as well as an elite MLB draft prospect. Keep a close eye on both Ramos for this years draft and Paulino for next years draft. If I were an MLB scout, my present grades on Paulino would be a 40/45 arm (50/55) if he were at 2B, plus defensive actions, average to above average batspeed, and a 30/35 runner (7.25 60). His speed doesn’t concern me right now because if Paulino makes a move to 2B at some point in his career he’ll be a plus plus defender.
Presley Hart is a 2015 OF from Jenkins HS. Hart is a player I had not seen before but really liked his bp from the left side. He gets very good extension through the baseball and has good rhythm and timing. Hart has a projectable body and is one I need to watch more closely heading into the summer. Hart is probably going to be a corner outfielder, just not sure yet which corner. He ran a (7.41) 60.
Christian Shinn is a 2016 OF from Wellington HS. Shinn is another FTB camper that I hadn’t had a chance to bear down on. Christian has a great body, he's strong and athletic with broad squared shoulders. There’s plenty of projection with Shinn. He has plus batspeed for his grad class and creates great leverage with his swing. Shinn’s bat stays through the hitting zone and he makes hard contact consistently. He’s faster than you think running a (6.84) 60.
Juan Abreu is a 2016 OF from Winter Springs HS. I’ve seen Abreu before and liked what I saw. The more I see of him the more I like Abreu. He’s a wiry, athletic, high-waisted, quick twitch player. Juan’s best tool right now is his speed (6.61) 60 but his bat isn’t far behind. He has a patient approach at the plate and knows how to get on base and use his speed. With his ability to make consistent contact, work the count and score runs, he’s the classic lead-off hitter and center fielder type. Abreu lacks arm strength (25 arm) but makes up for it by being aggressive as an outfielder. I’m excited to watch him play more this summer.
Manuel Merejo is a 2016 C from Colonial HS. I didn’t get to see much of Merejo except for bp. He had one of the better swing paths I saw that weekend and maybe the best extension through the baseball. Combine that with plus batspeed for his grad class and you have an offensive catcher that any college would want. Once I get to see Manuel behind the plate more I'll have a more accurate and complete report.
Christian Flint is a 2016 MIF from Boca Raton HS. Flint continues to grow on me the more I see him play. I think he’s a sleeper in the 2016 grad class and has a chance to be an outstanding MIF/UT player at a high college level and potentially get some professional interest. He has a knack for squaring the baseball up in bp and games and has quite a bit of projection. Defensively, Christian moves well and has very good actions. Flint ran a (6.80) 60 and I think he’ll get a step or two faster over the next couple of years. I don’t know if he can stay at SS at the higher levels but he can definitely play 2B and maybe 3B. His arm's a (35) but should get a little stronger over the next couple of years. Keep an eye on Flint! He has the tools to be a prospect and get plenty of attention this summer.
Kobe Lopez is a 2016 MIF from Colonial HS and Alabama State U. commit. Lopez is rapidly climbing up my ladder. I’ve seen him make plays that only major league players make at 2B or SS. Kobe’s not a big kid but he’s a quick-twitch athlete which makes up for the lack of size. Lopez has a good approach at the plate and plenty of batspeed. He ran a (7.22) 60 but is a better runner on the bases. I think eventually Lopez will settle in at 2B and be a spark at the top of ASU’s lineup.
Now I can talk about FTB players I’ve seen several times. These players continue to get better every time I see them play.
Jason Heinrich is a 2015 INF/RHP from River Ridge HS. Heinrich, a UCF commit is becoming an elite hitter with a rare combination of consistent hard contact, power and some speed. Jason’s power is useable as he not only brought some serious thunder during his bp but hit the ball very hard in the games. For a physical player he can run clocking a (6.87) 60.
Keshawn Lynch is a 2015 MIF from Haines City HS. Lynch, a UCF commit remains as consistent as any prospect in the 2015 grad class in the state of Florida. He always has good at bats, plays solid defense and continues to get stronger. Keshawn’s love for the game is always evident when he’s at the park or on the field. The game seems to come a little easier to him compared to most of the 2015 MIF’s.
Robert Lopez is a 2015 MIF from Jenkins HS. Lopez has great defensive actions and is fundamentally sound at the plate. I think he’ll be able to stay at shortstop at the higher levels but if he continues to get stronger a move to 3B or maybe 2B might happen. Robert’s bat and defensive both play as an elite level college player as well as a professional prospect. It’s hard to say he’s a sleeper but in a deep MIF grad class in 2015 Lopez may not make his name known until late this summer or fall. I can’t wait to see him play this summer and fall and get a better feel for his overall ability.
Jacob Corso is a 2015 1B/LHP from Lake Mary HS. Corso, a UCF commit may be one of the more complete hitters in the state of Florida for the 2015 grad class. He has strong wrists and hands and creates a crazy amount of batspeed. Even with a bigger swing Corso still makes pretty consistent contact and doesn’t swing and miss too often. From the left side, Jacob has a chance to be a legitimate power hitter with power to all fields. Defensively he has good footwork at 1B and a plus arm. I’d like to see more of Corso as a pitcher this summer and fall. I’ve seen him in the upper 80’s with a hammer curveball in the past. Corso has started to work hard to get better as a player and the results are starting to show on the field.
Braden Rollins is a 2015 RHP/OF/IF from Lake Mary HS. Rollins continues to get better as a two-way prospect. I still like Braden more as a pitcher if he can develop consistent secondary pitches. He has a very athletic frame at 6’3” 195lbs and a very quick arm. At the plate, Rollins has shortened his swing some and is making more consistent hard contact and showing some legitimate gap power. It will be a tough decision for colleges on whether they want Braden as a two-way player or pitcher. For professional scouts as of now it will be an easier decision to like him more as a pitching prospect. You can’t teach his size and arm strength. Rollins topped out at 90mph at FTB’s camp as a pitcher and I think with a good arm care and strength program he can be in the 93-94mph before too long. Stayed tuned!
Owen VonEsslinger is a 2016 C from Martin County HS. Owen keeps hitting and hitting and hitting. He has one of the more patient and advanced approaches at the plate of any 2016 grad in the state of Florida. Owen came up to me during the event and wanted to talk baseball for a bit. His knowledge of the game and attention to detail impressed me. With a high baseball I.Q., ability to hit with bat control and elite catch and throw skills Owen is rising as a top catching prospect. He ran a (7.29) 60 as well. Not bad for a catcher.
Rigsby Mosley is a 2016 OF/LHP from Bishop Moore HS. Mosely has definitely gotten stronger and physically looks stronger. I think the added strength has translated to his overall game. Rigsby had better batspeed, showed a better arm in the OF and hit the ball hard more consistently. He ran a (7.50) 60 and I don’t think speed will be a tool he uses very often but I do think he can get close to the (7.00) 60 range as his strength is just now catching up with his growth over the past year.
Michael Harkcom is a 2016 3B from The Masters Academy. I’ve literally watched Harkcom grow from a smaller, defensive MIF into a strong physical player that can flat out hit and defend at 3B. The scary thing is that all this has happened within the past year and Michael is just starting to show power at the plate. He’s always had great rhythm and timing and the ability to make solid consistent contact. Now, Michael has a strong lower half and the ball is starting to fly off his bat. I can’t wait to see him play this summer as he continues to get stronger and stronger. He may have had the best bp of any FTB camper and he still has a solid 40-45 arm and can still really pick it at 3B.
Brandom Lam is a 2016 OF from Lakewood Ranch HS. Lam will always be one of my favorites. He plays much bigger than his size. I believe he plays at such a high level for a few reasons.
1. He has tremendous heart and has an obvious passion for the game.
2. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with bat and foot speed.
3. He’s as competitive as any player out there.
Speed never slumps and Lam is a (6.6 or better) runner everyday of the week and he makes consistent contact. Lam is disruptive on the bases.
Herbert Iser is a 2016 C from Miami Sunset HS. Iser, a left-handed hitting catcher with a big arm and big power hit a couple balls during bp that are probably still orbiting the earth as you’re reading this report. Herbert looked great physically and was noticeably in better shape. It’s scary to think the stronger Iser gets the harder he’ll hit baseballs. Somehow that just doesn’t seem fair to the baseballs.
Notable 2015/2016 players I need to see more of:
Cole Pencosky-2016 OF Braden River HS-(7.03) 60, good bp, good frame
Benjamin Berggren-2016 OF Lake Howell HS-great bp, may have a chance to really hit, easy left-handed balanced swing
Gabriel Coburn-2016 MIF West Orange HS-40/45 arm, MLB defensive actions, quick release, attacks baseball and comes and gets it defensively
Justin Moran-2016 INF Bishop Moore HS-30/35 arm, good defensive actions, hit better in games than during bp
Joey Schulz-2015 1B Hagerty HS-stayed behind the ball during bp, solid contact, needs more strength
Mike Rojas-2015 C Gulf Coast HS-good body, big arm, good carry, slow transfer, (2.19) POP time
Myles Marshall-2015 1B/OF Cypress Creek HS-high waisted, very projectable, athletic, has a chance to hit from the left side, solid defender, 35/40 arm
Oliver Tejada-2015 OF Lyman HS-great batspeed, aggressive at the plate, attacks the baseball
Ryan Mountcastle-(UCF commit) 2015 INF Hagerty HS-athletic frame, wiry, batspeed, natural loft and backspin, easy power
Jake Rolly-2015 C Winter Springs HS-great frame, strong, big time power potential, natural loft
2017/2018 Grad Prospects
Zach Jackson 2017 C/P-Jackson has a classic left-handed swing that in time will produce big time power. Zach has played up every time I’ve seen him play competing with 16U players. I think Jackson will be an elite level hitter at the highest levels. I need to see more of him behind the plate but from what I’ve seen so far, I like Zach as a catcher. Jackson is a must follow for anyone that enjoys watching pure left-handed hitters.
Clayton Coringrato 2017 OF-Coringrato has plus batspeed for a 2017, he gets great extension and attacks the baseball with authority. Clayton is one to definitely watch. He has a lot of projection as well.
Brady McConnell 2017 MIF-I’ve seen McConnell plenty and still think he’s one of the best all around MIF’s in the 2017 class in the state of Florida. Brady is so far ahead of his peers with his instincts and baseball I.Q. Once he gets some strength, McConnell will be a name you hear a lot of in the amateur baseball circles.
Nikolas Noel 2018 C-Noel has a chance to become both an offensive and defensive catcher which is rare. Behind the plate he has a quick transfer and release which helped him POP a 2.43. Noel has a very quick bat and the ball flies off his bat. It’ll be interesting to watch his progress.
Taylor Pridgen 2018 1B-Pridgen is as solid as it gets around the bag at 1B, he can really pick it. At the plate, he has plus batspeed for a 2018 and gets good extension through the baseball repeatedly hitting balls hard in bp.
Casey Daiss 2018 3B-Daiss has big time loft raw power. He makes adjustments from pitch to pitch which is rare for a younger player.
James Sapp 2018 INF-Sapp has great actions and a bounce in his step. He moves well laterally, has a strong arm and is very athletic. At the plate, James creates some bat whip with good extension and makes adjustments from pitch to pitch.
Alexander Munroe 2018 1B-In bp Munroe was very quick and direct to the ball. Defensively he attacks the baseball and can really pick it. He has great actions around the bag.
Kendrick Caliao 2018 INF-Caliao has a big time arm, great actions and a very athletic projectable body. Kendrick has plus plus batspeed for a 2018 and made consistent hard contact during bp. Caliao might of been the top 2018 prospect at FTB’s camp.