Jacksonville - Ryan Robinson and Stuart Tapley are starting to see results from their hard work of building a program. Next Level Baseball out of Tallahassee, Fl is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the travel baseball world.
Next Level’s been getting the right players over the past several years. For me, the “right” players are players with exceptional talent and exceptional character. Typically the players have come from the Tallahassee area but this past Saturday Next Level held a tryout at University Christian High School in Jacksonville.
With Next Level beginning to extend their reach into other areas of Florida and other states, I think they will become a national powerhouse sooner than later.
There was a great turnout of players and parents at the Jacksonville tryouts as well as several professional scouts and at least a dozen college coaches.
There were no games played, just workouts and instruction.
Here are my top 5 for each part of the workouts.
Top 5 60’s
1. Austin Murphy 2014 OF Episcopal HS - 6.50 At 6’2” and 210 lbs. Murphy looks more like a linebacker or fullback than an outfielder. I would estimate there may be a dozen or less kids nationally that can run a 6.50 flat at 6’2” 210 lbs. When you combine his speed with his light tower power from the left side, Murphy has a rare combination of tools coveted by professional scouts. Power and speed.
2. Adam Williams 2015 OF Rickards HS - 6.53 Williams showed a quick burst and first step. In the outfield, Williams showed a 25-30 arm that was very clean and easy. It was one of the more accurate arms at the event. His bat still has a ways to go but if he can hit some and learn how to bunt effectively to use his speed he’ll start to draw more attention from colleges. With elite speed, players have to learn to bunt and hit the top half of the baseball.
3. Josh Taylor 2014 OF Sneads HS - 6.59 I’ve seen Taylor run in the 6.2’s before on a track. I know Taylor can run, I wanted to focus more on his bat at this event. Defensively, Taylor lacks arm strength and will need to use his speed to attack baseballs and cut the distance off the length of his throws.
4. Bo Dewitz 2014 RHP Dunnellon HS - 6.72 Every now and then a pitcher can run.
5. Rhett Baldwin 2015 OF/3B Suwannee HS - 6.85 Baldwin showed a 30 arm in the outfield but needs to lengthen his arm stroke to stay in the outfield. His arm was a bit better in the infield showing a 35 arm but his actions were a bit stiff.
Notable 60 times
Christopher Gau 6.89
Zack Miller 6.94
Hunter Brown 6.98
Adam Asker 7.00
Alex Hendricks 7.00
Joey Bend 7.03
Top 5 Outfield Arm Strength and Fundamentals
*Note: Please keep in mind these evaluations for OF’s and IF’s are based strictly on mechanics and arm strength. I didn’t get to see any players in game situations seeing how they track baseballs, get jumps, take correct angles, see full actions, etc.
1. Michael Dailey 2014 OF Mandarin HS - At 6’3” 175 lbs. Dailey has a very projectable body. His arm and mechanics were very easy and sound. The ball came out of his hand with little effort as he showed a solid 45 arm with carry and accuracy. I’d actually like to see Dailey pitch just to see if his arm strength translates to the mound. There’s some potential with his bat because of his quick hands but he needs to get his lower half more involved and work on his rhythm.
2. This player was a late add I believe and I only got his #20. On the roster #20 is Spencer Coleman, a 2014 RHP from Newberry HS. I’m not sure it’s the same player but he showed a 35-40 arm with good carry. The ball came out of his hand easy and he had a projectable lanky frame. It makes sense if it is Coleman considering he’s listed at 6’2” 155 and topped out at 86mph as a pitcher
3. Adam Williams who made the top 5 60’s. Williams showed a 30 arm that could get better if he gets on a good throwing program. His arm was very clean and very accurate. Fundamentally/mechanically Williams was one of the better outfielders.
4. Robert Girgis 2015 OF/RHP Forrest HS - Girgis has some quick twitch in his actions both with his arm and bat. He showed a solid 30 arm with accuracy. With a quick arm, Girgis has a chance to have a 35-40 arm just by long tossing regularly and taking care of his arm.
5. Austin Murphy who ran the top 60 time, was a question mark for me as an outfielder because of a lack of arm strength and a bad arm action. With that said, Murphy used his speed to attack the baseball and make pin-point accurate throws. I would grade his arm at a 25-30 arm. As he progresses he may need to make a move from CF to LF.
Top 5 Infield Fundamentals and Arm Strength
1. I believe #17 that was a write in as a SS was Mike Cassala a 2015 RHP/MIF/C from Bartram Trail HS. I’ve seen plenty of Cassala and continue to like what I see. At SS, he showed a solid 40 arm with great footwork and soft hands. I still believe long term Cassala’s future is as a pitcher. I think once he focuses mainly on pitching Cassala will have a chance to pitch at the highest level.
2. Josh Broughton 2015 SS Trinity Christian Academy - Broughton had the quickest hands and release at shortstop, MLB caliber in my opinion. His arm strength isn’t great right now showing a 30 arm but the quick hands and release makes up for the lack of arm strength. If Broughton can get his arm to a 40 type arm he’ll be an elite defender at the next level.
3. Zack Miller 2015 RHP/MIF University Christian HS - Miller moved extremely well both laterally and vertically. He showed an easy 35 arm which will get stronger. His actions were above average and he was very athletic. This is a player I’d like to see more of.
4. Joey Bend 2015 3B/RHP Sandalwood HS - Bend is a flat out baseball player. He showed a solid 35-40 arm with above average footwork and actions. Bend also ran a 7.03 60 and was a line drive machine in BP. I don’t know if Bend is committed to college anywhere yet but if he’s not, they are missing out
5. Andy Toelken 2014 RHP Clay HS - Toelken’s future for me is as a pitcher but he showed well above average footwork and a 40-45 arm at SS. It’s obvious he’s a good athlete with a projectable body which gets me more excited about what he can potentially become as a pitcher.
Top 5 Catchers
1. Tyler Myrick 2016 C/RHP Columbia HS - Myrick is only a sophomore and is very athletic as a catcher with a live arm and quick release. His 1.97 POP was third best at the event. Taking his POP time and the fact he’s only a sophomore into consideration, he’s only going to get stronger and better as a catcher is why he’s my #1.
2. Jordan Stacy 2014 C/SS Episcopal HS - It was a tough decision for me not to have Stacy as my #1. His 1.87 POP was by far the best time at the event. Stacy may have the quickest catch and throw skills I’ve seen this year. His transfer and release are lightning quick.
3. Mike Cassala is an all-around athlete as he showed some catch and throw skills I hadn’t seen in the past. In fact, I’d never seen him catch. His transfer and release were below average but with his arm strength he showed a 2.06 POP. If Cassala worked on his catch and throw skills I think he’d be in the 1.90-1.95 POP range.
4. Andrew Williamson 2015 C/IF Trinity Christian Academy - Williamson has very good arm strength and as a catcher that’s 6’4” 205 his transfer and release are pretty slow. He showed a 1.95 POP which surprised me but told me he has great arm strength. Williamson has plenty of upside if he can work on his transfer and release he may be in the 1.8’s.
5. Christian Harkey 2015 C St. Augustine HS - Harkey lacks pure arm strength but had a quick enough transfer and release to show a 2.06 POP. Only a junior, Harkey has time to get his POP under a 2.00 by getting stronger.
My next reports from the Jacksonville showcase will be on batting practice and the pitchers.