Fort Myers, FL - The rain cut short SWFL Baseball's 2015 Fall Invitational at Terry Park Sept. 12-13, but there was plenty of talent there for our staff to scout and college coaches to recruit.
The day before the tournament started, there was SWFL’s Pro’s Select top 75 Showcase. There were about a dozen colleges and several pro scouts in attendance. It was a great way to kickoff a “showcase tournament.”
SWFL’s program is run by professional scouts and “baseball” people. They understand travel baseball is about giving players opportunities to get in front of colleges, but more importantly giving players all the necessary tools and guidance to succeed in the classroom when they earn that college scholarship. A college scholarship starts the process, but SWFL wants their players to succeed in life after their playing careers are over.
This message was clearly evident after the showcase was over late Friday afternoon. All the players and parents gathered in the stadium at Terry Park to listen to the college coaches as well as John Cedarburg, a former college player and 18 year veteran scout with the Colorado Rockies. Cedarburg is also one of the founders of SWFL.
The set-up was perfect, players and parents in a captive environment listening to the truth about travel baseball, college baseball and professional baseball. The college coaches and Cedarburg shared their own personal stories of what they went through to get to where they are now and that the path isn't always easy.
They talked about what’s important and more importantly, NOT important with travel baseball. They talked about what colleges look for when recruiting players and again what’s important and NOT important. They went over the recruiting process in general and answered questions from parents and players. They let our staff speak as to what we see day in and day out in travel baseball, and how our interaction with players/parents, colleges, and pro scouts can make a difference and help.
The overall message delivered by SWFL was as accurate as it gets for players and parents in travel baseball looking for answers on what’s best for their futures.
We'd like to thank SWFL for having our staff in Fort Myers to scout and take part in a great showcase/tournament!
Below are some of the prospects we were able to scout. The rain kept us from getting to see other players that we wanted to scout, but these players were one's that stood out.
Nate Gillen - 2017 - LHP - R/L - Florida Burn - Estero HS - 6’ 2” 165 - LHP with a delivery comparable to that of David Price. Pitched 4+ innings while constantly working ahead in the count and delivering two quality pitches (fastball, slider) with plus command for a 2017. With a tall, lanky frame, there is promise to develop more arm strength while he currently pitches in the low to mid 80’s. He is a two-pitch pitcher that hides the ball well as he lifts his leg high and rocks back to deliver. He projects as a quality mid-week starter or middle reliever at the Division 1 level with upside if he develops arm strength and third pitch.
Matthew Golda - 2017 - MIF - R/R - Atlanta Blue Jays - Inspiration Academy - 6’ 175 - Golda is an interesting talent with a great tool set. At the showcase portion of Pro’s Select Showcase Golda displayed tremendous speed running a 6.78 60 yard dash on a slow track, by far the fastest player to showcase. He has plus tools overall for a 2017 in the five major categories with the exception of power, where he rates out as average. Defensively, he shows soft hands and good footwork with a quick release and strong arm at 86-87 across the diamond. He has good control of the bat and displayed a good top hand approach with bat speed. When watching Golda play you see some rawness to his game but he plays aggressively. Good coaching should tame him down when he tries to make something out of nothing. For example: He made a nice stop in the 6-hole but had no business throwing it and made an errant throw to no one in particular. The athleticism is there but the decision making sometimes isn’t. His tools play at the next level but will most likely need a year or two to mature to take on a prominent role of a Division 1 roster. His plate coverage is diminished from a small step in the bucket but that can be corrected fairly easily.
Wylie Johnson - 2017 - C - R/R - Ostingers Baseball Academy - Bloomingdale HS - 5’ 9” 160 - Johnson is a little undersized, but plays with passion and hustle. His baseball instincts and IQ are well above average and make up for his lack of size. Coaches who preach hustle will have a model to display to the rest of the team in Johnson. He consistently hustled down the line to back up the first baseman on ground balls and stayed home when the situation called for it. He turned a 5-2-3 double play like it was second nature and showed decent arm strength and accuracy on all throws to second with a 2.0-2.15 pop time. Johnson also showed good technique on balls in the dirt and sticking close pitches earning his pitchers more strikes. Johnson handles the bat well but has some loop in his swing via a small dip of his hands. He was able to stretch a double on a line drive to left-center field and was also able to connect on a well hit sac fly to right. He’s more a mid-major type of player. Every coach would be happy to have him. He deserves a school to play at at the next level. Strength and conditioning and a weight gaining diet will help him exponentially.
Ryan Bozek - 2017 - LHP - L/L - Ostingers Baseball Academy - Newsome HS - 5’ 8” 130 - A wise man once said, “Never give up on left handers who throw strikes.” Bozek is a strike throwing machine and can seemingly put it wherever he wants. Bozek wore down the corners of the plate all day with three pitches and opposing batters beat it into the ground one after another. Outfielders were essentially unnecessary as he induced ground balls and swing and misses over 4 innings before a rain delay shortened his outing. Bozek is under-sized, but definitely knows how to pitch. He’s not going to light up the radar guns, but he has the ability to get hitters out and have them wondering what happened. His demeanor and consistency with his mechanics are what makes this kid stand out. We think he can have success at the D-2, D-3, NAIA level.
Josh Winckowski - 2016 - RHP - R/R - SWFL - Estero HS - 6’ 3” 185 - Winckowski pitched well and had swing and miss stuff with a 86-89 fastball and a sharp slurve. He showed sound mechanics and consistency with a high ¾ arm slot. Projects as a quality middle-late relief pitcher with two plus pitches. Winckowski is committed to play at Florida Southern next year.
Xavier Rodriguez - 2017 - MIF/RHP - S/R - TBE Express 16u - Brooks DeBartolo HS - 5’ 9” 145 - Rodriguez, a 2015 PW All-American, showed surprising power for his size and was the first time we’d scouted him as a hitter. He hit a bases clearing double off the wall in left and followed that with a triple down the left field line. He picked up two more singles in the game both sneaking between the third baseman and the line. Using only 10% of the field to hit to (or pulling everything) due to pulling off with the front shoulder will catch up to him against good breaking balls but at this level his hand-eye coordination are good enough to square it up. His triple came off a 2-1 hanging curveball where he showed the ability to keep his weight back and use quick hands. Rodriguez doesn’t have the range to play SS and projects more as a third baseman where his plus arm strength for a 2017 can play. He is taking on switch hitting but has a lot of room for improvement from the left side. In previous PW events Rodriguez has shown potential 2-way ability where his fastball reaches 86mph from the mound.
BJ Minarcin - 2016 - Infielder - R/R - SWFL - Naples HS - 6’ 170 - BJ Minarcin took arguably the best batting practice of the Pro’s Select Showcase. In today’s era of baseball and the importance of showcases it is refreshing to see a player take a business approach towards his game. Minarcin took the right approach to a batting practice where most players try to hit it as far as they can to impress the college coaches in attendance. Instead of swinging for the fences, he displayed a short, compact swing smashing line drives or hard ground balls. Of the fifteen or so swings he took, not one was a fly ball. Minarcin got the bat on plane with the pitch and hit through the ball with extension creating that CRACK of the bat that all “baseball people” love to hear. I’m sure the power is there if he gets under the ball a hair based on his bat speed, but the show he put on was awesome.
Rob Adams - 2017 - 1B/LHP - L/L - SWFL - Desoto HS - 6’ 2” 170 - Adams taller frame presents a good target at 1B. There is room for more development in his frame but his athleticism stands out. Showed good bat speed in the game roping a hard ground ball through the 4-hole and showed his ability to put it in another gear going first to third on another single to right. Scouts say that his future might be on the mound but he was not used in the tournament as a pitcher. He had a good arm action when watching him throw from 1B.
Matt Hurley - 2018 - C - R/R - SWFL - Seacrest Country Day HS - 6’ 2” 170 - Hurley is well put together for a 2018 graduate. During the showcase he displayed plus bat speed for a 2018 and power to the pull side. He was a bit stiff and mechanically, but the raw power was there. Keep an eye on Hurley as he has the size and strength that a lot of colleges covet.
Tyrell Brewer - 2019 - SS - R/R - Orlando Scorpions Underclass - Edgewater HS - 5’ 5” 120 - Brewer has a chance to be a special player. Tyrell’s a quick-twitch athlete with tremendous foot/hand speed. Right now, his running speed doesn’t matchup with his quickness from lack of strength. Once he begins to mature physically, Brewer may be a plus runner. Defensively, he showed crazy range at SS, plus actions and a plus arm for a 2019. At the plate, he showed a patient approach, working counts, getting his pitches to hit. Tyrell has plus batspeed for a 2019 and as he gets stronger, he’ll be a doubles and triples machine. He hit several balls hard and seemed to barrel everything. Tyrell’s selectively aggressive on the bases and showed great instincts as a base runner. All the tools are there for Brewer to be an elite lead-off hitter at the next level and when the strength comes, a potential MLB draft pick.
Christian Bernabe - 2019 - 2B - R/R - Orlando Scorpions Underclass - Deland HS - 5’ 9” 135 - Bernabe has a very projectable, athletic body. At 2B, he moved well laterally and showed above average to plus range and arm strength for a 2019. There’s no question that Christian can play defense, his bat is what will need to come along as he physically matures over the next few years. At the plate, he showed above average to plus batspeed for a 2019 and had a sound approach. His bat is in and out of the zone which led to some inconsistent contact. Once Bernabe begins to keep his bat through the zone longer, he’ll start to drive balls and make more consistent hard contact. He plays hard and has a lot of upside.
Humberto Torres - 2018 - OF - R/R - Belen Jesuit HS - 5’ 10” 175 - Torres could develop into a big time power bat with more consistent contact. Humberto doesn’t have a lot of projection, but should get stronger over the next few years. He’s got a very strong lower half and generates plus batspeed for a 2018 with his legs/hips. He’s aggressive at the plate, which at times worked against him, swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. He did make some adjustments at the plate from at-bat to at-bat and hit several balls hard. Torres had some of the quickest hands and bat at the event compared to other 2018’s. He’s athletic enough, with enough arm strength to play solid defense in the OF. If Humberto can learn to be more disciplined at the plate and get better extension through the ball, he’ll start to show big time power.
Carlos Vazquez - 2017 - SS - R/R - Belen Jesuit HS - 5’ 11” 165 - Vazquez, a 2015 PW All-American is one of the better defensive SS’s in Florida in the 2017 class. Carlos has a lean, wiry frame, with some present strength. At SS, there aren’t too many plays he can’t make. He showed a plus arm, plus plus range, plus actions for a 2017 and made every play look easy at SS. At the plate, Carlos showed above average batspeed for a 2017 and squared up a couple balls. He had a tendency of getting his front foot down a little late at times, getting beat inside. When he got his foot down on time and was in a better hitting position, he showed better batspeed, more consistent hard contact, and stayed through the zone better. Vazquez can play at any college level right now defensively. If the bat comes around, he’ll be on every college’s radar.
Fabian Escalalante - 2019 - OF - L/L - Orlando Scorpions 2019 - Bishop Moore HS - Fabian may be the best pure hitter we’ve scouted for the 2019 grad class in Florida. We only saw him from the left-side at the tournament Escalalante showed a very advanced approach and never had a bad at-bat in the games we scouted. He worked the count, got his pitch and hammered several balls to all fields. Fabian has plus plus batspeed and plus power for a 2019. What makes him different than most hitters in his grad class, is that his power is effortless and useable in games. During one at-bat in the stadium, Fabian battled and fouled off several pitches with two strikes before flicking his wrists and driving a ball about 390 feet to dead CF. He was out on his front foot, but kept his hands back in that at-bat and showed that plus power. Fabian has great rhythm/timing and eye-hand coordination. He’s a very tough out and could be an elite hitter at the college level and eventually have MLB scouts paying attention by his senior year. The ball flies off his bat! Defensively, he can play all three OF positions.
Bryce Boone - 2019 - C - R/R Orlando Scorpions 2019 - Trinity Catholic HS - 6’ 1” 170 - Boone has a very projectable, athletic body, especially for a catcher. Right now, his catch/throw skills are ahead of his bat, but we think he’ll be a defensive and offensive catcher in the next couple of years. Behind the plate, Bryce gets rid of the ball as quick as any 2019 we’ve scouted and he gets it done in games. He showed an above average to plus arm, with carry and accuracy, throwing out several runners in the tournament. He’s the type of catcher, teams just won’t run on. At the plate, Boone is just a little weak right now, but as he matures physically, we think his bat will come around. He showed some batspeed and hit a couple balls hard. Athletic catchers are hard to find and as Boone continues to get stronger, he’ll be at the top of most college coaches recruiting lists. The defense is already there and the bat will come along, Bryce just needs time and reps.
Casey Daiss - 2019 - P/1B - L/R - Orlando Scorpions 2019 - Windermere Prep - 6’ 3” 210 - Daiss is a big, thicker bodied RHP that has a lot of projectability. We didn’t get to see Casey hit, but we did get to see him pitch. Everything is there for Daiss to be an elite pitcher at the next level and a potential MLB draft pick by his senior year. His arm works well, the ball comes out nice and easy with a little sink and run at times. Mechanically, he struggled to repeat his delivery and find his release point from the stretch. From the wind up, everything seemed to be more in sync and his fastball sat 82-84mph with some late life. He worked downhill and threw a lot of strikes. Casey has a ton of upside with a quick arm and it won’t be long before he’s sitting in the mid to upper 80’s. Colleges need to take a close look now at Daiss.
Tyler Owens - 2019 - RHP - R/R - Orlando Scorpions 2019 - North Marion HS - 5’ 9” 160 - Owens has a strong build with good wide hips. He used his lower half well, dropping and driving a bit but then cuts himself off before releasing the ball. Tyler’s arm worked well and for being 5’ 9”, he pitched from a good downward plane. His fastball has some late life and was up to 86mph, down in the zone. Once Owens gets through his front side better, with better extension and doesn’t throw as much across his body, his velocity will make a jump. There’s no doubt, he’ll be a upper 80’s, low 90’s arm with a little work. Maybe as soon as next summer.
Jud Fabian - 2019 - OF/LHP - Orlando Scorpions 2019 - Trinity Catholic - Fabian is a smaller framed kid that is well put together and will continue to grow into a well proportioned athlete. He is very polished in all parts of his game - especially defensively where he is a plus CF for his grad class. He runs well, takes good routes to balls, and has a smooth, clean arm stroke that we wondered if it would translate to the mound. Fabian did pitch at the SWFL tournament, sitting in the upper 70s with more to come. His arm continued to work well on the mound which isn't always the case with young pitchers. He is extremely versatile overall. Offensively he doesn't have a lot of thump in his barrel just yet but that will come with age maturity. However, all of the pieces are there for him to become a high level hitter. He has a good feel for the barrel and he seems to have an advanced understanding of how to take a quality at bat. Fabian seems like a kid who has either had good coaching growing up or he is just a natural baseball player.
Mike Gerwitz - 2018 - 2B - R/R - SWFL 15U - Home School - 5’ 9” 145 - Gerwitz is a scrappy type of player and was a tough out the games we scouted. He had a couple of 10-12 pitch at-bats. He’s fairly athletic for a 2B and can make most of the plays defensively. At the plate, he showed a patient approach with a quick bat and made adjustments from pitch to pitch. Mike showed above average batspeed for a 2018, once he starts to physically mature, he could turn into one of the better hitters in southwest Florida for his grad class.
Keaton Bailey - 2018 - 3B - R/R SWFL 15U - Oasis - 5’ 11” 160 - Bailey has an athletic, strong body for a 2018. At the plate, he showed plus batspeed for a 2018, with great rhythm and timing. Keaton is projectable and his power may come as he gets stronger. He’s definitely a player, colleges need to lay eyes on over the next couple of years.
Cameron Weinberger - 2016 - RHP - R/R - Spanish River HS - 6’ 4” 215 - Weinberger, a UF commit, has a good, strong pitchers body. His arm works well and the ball comes out of his hand easy. Cameron was up to 89mph, but struggled with his control and finding his release point. He flashed an above average CB for a 2016, with some depth, but it was inconsistent with spin and location. Weinberger looked rusty, but being that it’s September, that doesn’t bother us. His arm speed is there to be a low 90’s, Sunday or mid-week starter at UF. If he can throw more strikes with both pitches, his change-up will be more effective. He showed good arm speed on his change, and it had some late run when it was down. Everything’s there for Weinberger to be effective in the SEC once he becomes more consistent.
Mike Hopta - 2019 - SS - R/R - Spanish River HS - 5’ 9” 150 - We didn’t get to see much of Hopta, but we saw enough to know that he’s an athletic, wiry “baseball” player. He can make all the plays at SS and showed plus batspeed for a 2019 and squared up a couple of balls. Mike’s a player our scouts definitely need to see more of!