Statesboro, GA - Chain Baseball National’s tryouts at Georgia Southern University this past weekend showed us why the state of GA, per square mile, has some of the best talent in the country.
First, we’d like to thank Andy Buress and his Chain staff for inviting us to cover their tryouts. They are a first class organization with great baseball people.
One of the more impressive aspects of Chain’s tryouts we noticed were the amount of families in attendance. Chain Baseball is truly a family organization, the families were wearing all types of Chain gear with the words “Chain Mafia,” they've adopted as expressing that idea of family.
Most of the 2016’s at the tryouts were committed, the class that really stood out for our staff were the 2018’s.
Below are reports on the players that stood out at the tryouts. They are in no particular order, except by grad year.
Chris Bashlor - 6’ 2” 205 R/R C Calvary Baptist Day - Bashlor, a Lipscomb commit, is a big, strong, physical catcher that has a chance to be a high level college player as well as a potential MLB draft pick. He has a great catchers body, wider, strong lower half, moves well laterally, soft receiving. Chris pop’d a 1.91, but had a bit of a hitch in his throwing action. He has big time arm strength, with carry and accuracy. Once he cleans up his transfer some, he may consistently be in the mid to high 1.8’s. As impressed as we were with his catch and throw skills, Bashlor’s bat really stood out in BP. Chris showed plus batspeed for a 2016, kept his hands inside the ball well, and hit the ball as hard or harder than anyone at the tryout. There’s always a different sound with some players when the ball comes off their bat, Bashlor was one of them. He showed great rotation with his (quick) hips through the ball and finished with good extension. Chris hit line drives from gap to gap. The tools and talent are there for Bashlor to be a name most professional scouts will be looking at next spring.
Alex Crotty - 6’ 1” 205 S/R C Windemere (Fl) Prep HS - Crotty, a Mercer commit, is a player we’d seen in the past and he’s gotten a lot stronger and is more of a complete player since we last scouted him. Crotty pop’d a ridiculous 1.81 that was straight as an arrow. Alex has a strong lower half and thicker build, perfect for a catcher. He always had the ability to block everything behind the plate, with a strong arm, now he’s put everything together defensively. In BP, Crotty showed above average batspeed from both sides of the plate. Alex looked better from the left side, he was shorter and quicker to the ball with more power. The ball jumped off his bat more from the left side, either way a left-handed hitting catcher with some power is just about as valuable as a switch-hitting catcher. MLB scouts will be watching Crotty next spring, the defense is there, his bat is what they’ll be watching closely.
Justin Dahill - 6’ 2” 190 L/R 1B St. Petersbug (Fl) Catholic HS - Dahill, a Charleston Southern commit, was as impressive as anyone in BP. He created serious bat whip and his hands/bat were as quick or quicker than anyone else’s at the tryout. He showed good rhythm and timing and was very short/direct to the ball. Most of his power during BP was pull-side power, but he did show the ability to drive the ball the other way. Justin showed above average to borderline plus batspeed for a 2016. He squared up about every pitch in BP. Defensively, Dahill is adequate around the bag at 1B and will get the job done. Like many corner IF’s, his bat is what will carry him through college and potentially after college.
Tyler Daughtry - 5’ 10” 175 L/R SS Veterans HS - Daughtry, a Florida State commit has the tools to be an elite college level SS. Tyler showed above average actions at SS for a 2016 with an above average to plus arm at 90mph across the diamond. He can probably stay at SS at the college level, but if pro scouts start looking at him next spring or during his time at FSU, it will probably be as a 2B. With great footwork, decent lateral movement and a borderline plus arm, that translates into a plus defender at 2B. The fact that Tyler’s a LHH only helps, as LHH SS’s that can consistently hit and defend are tough to find. During BP, Daughtry showed average to above average batspeed for a 2016, with good rhythm and timing. He had a tendency to get around the ball a bit but when he kept his hands inside the ball, he was a lot more direct to the ball and was able to drive it the other way. The defensive tools are there for Tyler to be an everyday MIF at FSU, his bat like most players is what will determine whether or not he is an everyday player. Either way, Daughtry is a solid overall MIF.
Dalton Griffin - 6’ 2” 200 L/L OF South Effingham HS - Griffin, a South Carolina commit has a legitimate chance of being drafted next June. As an OF, Dalton can probably play all three OF positions at the college level. His best tool as an OF he showed at the tryout was his arm, 91mph w/above average carry and accuracy. There’s not a lot of LH throwing OF’s that show a 60 arm, which made our staff think, does Griffin pitch? The ball came out of his hand easy, the arm worked from the OF, would it translate on the mound? If Griffin decides to spend some time pitching this spring and can sit upper 80’s-low 90’s, with a secondary pitch, he may present scouts with a good dilemma, will they like him more as an LHP or OF? For now, what we saw as a position player, the tools are there for Dalton to be an elite player at the college level and a draftable player next spring. His arm and speed play anywhere at the college level defensively, for pro scouts, he probably profiles more as a corner OF. During BP, Griffin showed above average batspeed for a 2016, with effortless power. He starts from a high hand-set and drops his hands a bit before being very direct to the ball, that may be an issue as he advances in college/pro ball. He used his lower half probably better than anyone at the tryout, really getting through the ball. His bat stayed through the hitting zone forever and he had great extension. The ball jumped big time off Griffin’s bat, he was able to show power to all fields that looked effortless. It will be scary when he matures more physically, shortens his swing just a bit and uses his lower half, bat path, and extension to hit balls as hard and as far as anyone. Dalton has a lot of upside and whether or not he heads for professional baseball or South Carolina, he’ll be one to follow wherever he ends up.
Garrett Hodges - 6’ 185 L/R OF South Effingham HS - Hodges, a Kennesaw State commit is a “baseball player,” with tools. As an OF, Hodges has a plus arm at 92mph with carry and accuracy. He moves ok defensively and should be able to play anywhere in the OF in college, but mainly a corner OF. Garrett has a strong lower half which helps create the above average batspeed he showed for a 2016. He showed some pull-side power during BP, and squared most of the pitches up. He got around a few balls, but showed gap power. Hodges isn’t going to wow anyone with his tools, but he’s a solid all around player. Once he gets stronger, he’ll be able to stay inside the ball better and drive balls the other way. He’s one to watch while he’s at Kennesaw State.
Jamar Brennan - 5’ 11” 170 R/R MIF Richmond Hill HS - Brennan isn’t a big physical player, but he’s strong. He showed average to above average batspeed for a 2016, and had a easy RH swing. He showed effortless power, the ball rocketed off his bat. He was about as short and direct to the ball as anyone we scouted at the tryout. Jamar made hitting a baseball look easy, everything worked together mechanically. His hips fired through the ball which created the surprising power. His bat stayed in the zone with some of the best extension through the ball we’ve seen this summer. As Brennan continues to mature physically, the doubles may start to turn into HR’s. We have a feeling this kid will be a late bloomer out of college.
Zachary Strickland - 6’ 2” 185 R/R RHP Ware County HS - Strickland, a Georgia Southern commit, has a quick arm and a sharp curveball that can be an out pitch at the next level. Zachary has a good pitcher’s body, with a strong lower half and wider hips. He sat 91-93mph in his bullpen at GSU. Everything was down, and he hit his spots for the most part. He’s a max effort type arm, which means he may or may not be a starter at the next level. If Strickland moves to the pen, 91-93mph may turn into 94-96mph. His arm is quick enough to be a mid 90’s arm. He jumps out at the hitter a bit with his delivery which could be deceptive. Mechanically, he looked fine, he stayed closed, used his lower half and repeated well. It will be interesting to see what pro scouts see Zachary as at their level, a starter or reliever.
Kevin Barham - 6’ 160 L/L LHP Salem HS - Barham has some projectability. He was only in the mid 80’s in his bullpen, but we could see upper 80’s easily in his arm sooner than later. His arm worked really well and the ball came out his hand nice and easy. Mechanically, he’s got some work to do. He opened up early, which may have been why his velocity was a little down and had trouble repeating and having the same release point. He flashed a couple of true sliders that with some work, could be a swing and miss pitch at the next level. If Kevin can clean up his mechanics some and become more consistent, he’ll start to draw interest of pro scouts by his senior year. If he can sit in that 88-90mph range, which we think is possible by his senior year and tighten up his slider, he’ll definitely get pro scouts interest. Everything’s there for Barham to turn a corner next spring/summer and develop into a special LHP for 2017.
Taber Mongero - 5’ 9” 130 L/R MIF North Hall HS - Mongero is the typical baseball rat, that loves the game and has some tools. He’s not a big, physical kid, but he’s got some quick-twitch. Taber took more ground balls than probably any MIF that was there during BP, it was like he never wanted to leave the field. Defensively, he showed some of the best actions at SS, plus actions for a 2017 with great footwork, quick release and strong arm at 82mph across the diamond. During BP, he showed some bat quickness through the zone hitting quite a few balls hard using all fields. His bat and defense play bigger than his size, which is always a good sign in a younger player. His approach at the plate was very loose and easy, with good rhythm and timing. If Taber can get to 150lbs by his senior year, he could be an impact player at the next level. College coaches may not want to wait that long to lock him up though.
Deandre Shelton - 5’ 9” 170 S/R MIF West Orange (Fl) HS - We’ve seen Shelton plenty and he continues to get better defensively and offensively every time out, which is a result typically of hard work. The more we see of Deandre at 2B, the more we like. Defensively, he makes great reads, and rarely makes errors. He can probably play SS at the college level, but we feel his tools are better suited at 2B, where he would be a plus defender with a plus arm. A move to 2B probably wouldn’t happen more than likely until pro scouts start looking at Shelton. At the plate, the better the pitching has been, the better Deandre has hit. None of his tools are off the charts, but he does everything pretty well. His best years are still way ahead of him. Shelton will be an elite college level player by his sophomore, junior year and a pro prospect as well.
Orlando Adams Jr - 6’2” 190 R/R C Redan HS - Redan HS has put out a ton of MLB draft picks and prospects, Adams Jr will be the next one in that long line of tradition. Orlando had the most upside of any player at Chain’s tryouts. He has a great catcher’s body, high-waisted, athletic, strong lower half and loose upper half. Adams Jr pop’d a 1.94 and that’s just the beginning, his times will be in the low to mid 1.8’s consistently by next summer with a little bit of work. During catcher pop’s, after a couple throws, we asked Orlando to make one minor adjustment getting the ball up to his ear quicker. On the next pitch, he made the adjustment without any problem, considerably lowering his pop time. He showed a 50 MLB arm already, with carry and accuracy. He showed footwork like a shortstop, lightning quick feet behind the plate. Orlando’s transfer needs some work, but everything else is there. In BP, he tended to jump out after the ball a bit, getting out on his front foot and over striding some. He showed plus to borderline plus plus batspeed for a 2018 and big time pull-side power. Adams Jr has a natural, non-mechanical swing and has a chance for some big time power to all fields. All the tools are there for Orlando to be a high level college catcher and top 10 round or higher draft pick for 2018. We haven’t scouted too many 2018 catchers that have his tool set.
Brandon Howlett - 6’2” 190 R/R 3B George Jenkins (Fl) HS - Howlett has a chance to be a true power bat and an above average 3B. Brandon’s one of the few younger players that takes a big hack, but stays in control and still makes hard consistent contact. Defensively, at 3B he’ll get to more balls than most 2018 3B’s and has enough arm strength and bat to stay at 3B. It’s always scary when pitcher’s have to face hitters that swing big, but still make solid contact, pitcher’s are a mistake away from getting taken deep by hitters like Howlett. Brandon has some lateral head movement in his swing but it stops from his stiff front leg at impact. He generates plus batspeed for a 2018, but his stiff front leg doesn’t allow his hips to clear fully every swing and may make it hard for him to drive balls backside eventually. He’s a strong bodied player and moves well around the bag. By the time he’s a senior, Howlett has a chance to be a beast and a definite MLB prospect at a corner INF position.
Leyton Pinckney - 6’ 2” 180 R/R C Veterans HS - Pinckney grew on our staff the more we saw him swing the bat in BP. He has a very projectable body and will only get stronger over the next few years. Leyton pop’d a 1.91 and for a taller catcher, his catch and release is quick with an above average arm for a 2018. In BP, he didn’t have as much length in his swing as we anticipated for a longer type of player. He uses a leg kick for timing and hits against a stiff front leg, basically generating most of his power from his upper half. He showed power to all fields and over the next few years as he matures more physically, he could start showing above average to plus power for a 2018. Right now, he doesn’t get much of his lower half involved in his swing. When he starts to get his lower half through the ball more, look out. Colleges need to take a serious look at Pinckney now, before he’s on everyone’s radar.
Kelvin Smith - 5’ 11” 165 R/R SS Redan HS - Smith, another Redan HS prospect was one of the more interesting players at Chain’s tryout. Defensively, he had the best actions there at SS, making a couple of in-between tough hops look easy. He’s a plus defender with an above average arm for a 2018, with great movement both laterally and vertically. Nothing’s forced, he makes everything look easy defensively. Smith is very athletic and has a plus body, high-waisted, lean and projectable. Kelvin’s BP was very inconsistent, but the tools are there. He’d take a couple bad swings and then a couple good swings. He has above average batspeed for a 2018, quick wrists and has enough eye-hand coordination to find the barrel enough. Smith is just a bit raw at the plate right now, with more reps against quality pitching, his athleticism will start to take over. He has a chance to be an elite SS and MLB prospect when the bat comes around.
Harrison Padgett - 5’ 7” 150 R/R MIF Maclay HS - Padgett is a wiry body type, that showed plus batspeed for a 2019. Harrison may have squared up more balls than anyone during BP. He gets his hips through the ball, which helps generate serious bat whip and the plus batspeed for a 2019 grad. He takes his hands right to the ball and stays behind the ball really well. Right now, he’s young and not physically strong. Once Padgett starts to mature more physically, he may start to show power, especially pull-side power. He may end up having some of the best batspeed in the country by the time he’s a senior. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Harrison, colleges need to as well.
Chain National’s next tryouts will be December 5th, at the New York Yankees Steinbrenner Complex in Tampa, Fl. We’ll be there as well to cover that tryout, can’t wait!