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2014 NHSI - Day 2 Reports & Observations


Andy Ferguson
Baseball Factory


Day two of the 2014 National High School Invitational was packed with games. Each team was scheduled a double header with rain on the way for Friday and Saturday, meaning much like Wednesday the games were on top of each other for the entire day. As a result, shorter looks were forced in most cases - at least if you wanted to try see as many guys as possible, like I set out to do. I tried to acknowledge the cases in which I didn't see as much as I would have liked below, but there are some guys I wasn't able to see at all. With that said, I offer my reports and observations from day two of the 2014 NHSI.

ALISO NIGUEL (Aliso Viejo, CA)

Over the course of two days and parts of three games, senior SS Justin Fowler (Dartmouth College commit) has grown on me. He has a calm and mature approach to the game, along with solid and usable hit and field tools. He has a good feel for the game, plays a dependable shortstop and hits in the middle of the order.

Junior right hander Kyle Molnar (UCLA commit, and one of the first 10 players announced for the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game) started the first game of the day for the Wolverines. He touched 92 and pitched in the 88-90 range. Fastball had some arm side run from a three quarters angle, and went with a breaking ball from a little higher slot with 11-5 shape in the low to sometimes mid-upper 70s, and a very good change in the low 80s. He had excellent feel for the change in particular, and at times turned it over for diving sink action. It is uncommon to see strong armed pitchers offer evidence of a CH, normally an offering some 8-10 mph off a low 90s fastball is simply a gift to HS hitters - but that isn't the case with Molnar, and he's only a junior. He was able to add and subtract with his breaking ball some as well, generating a shorter break with plane from his hand a little nearer his fastball when he dialed it up to 76. He is very patient with his delivery, taking his time to gather his core. He remains very stable over the rubber, and lands under control as well - the potential to eventually command all three pitches is founded in this for me. He already has a great feel for pitching, and is a talented and capable athlete with arm strength and a quality three pitch mix.

Sophomore Blake Sabol has a long, lean frame that looks taller than the 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds he is given on the roster. He doesn't appear to have much strength yet, but his hands work to hit and he is a versatile defender capable of playing 1B and OF in addition to what appears to be his natural spot behind the plate. As he matures and fills out it is easy to imagine him developing into a top guy in the 2016 class.

BISHOP VEROT (Fort Myers, FL)

Junior right hander Thaddeus Ward (Univ. of Central Florida commit) pitched early Thursday for the Vikings. I saw him 86-88 with his fastball, and he paired a mid 70s breaking ball with tight spin and occasionally excellent depth with it. His fastball had good angle down through the zone, and he threw a high percentage of strikes with it and his breaking ball. He had just enough funk in his delivery to add deception, mostly following a little stab from the glove that made it tougher for the hitter to pick up the ball. At 6-foot-3 and 165 pounds he had some length to his frame and hasn't filled out that much.

Senior CF Evan Dougherty (Duke Univ. commit) is among the guys I saw good in brief glimpses, but never really got a great look at. Such circumatances are a reality in events like this, even over multiple days and games. 

THE FIRST ACADEMY (Orlando, FL)

In a longer look as a hitter today, senior Adam Haseley (Univ. of Virginia commit) offered further evidence of advanced hitting ability. He accelerated the barrel through contact a couple of times, and generally appeared to have better rhythm to hit in his at bats than yesterday. He threw a complete game shutout, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 9 - proof of his two-way ability. His fastball was 84-85 with some tailing action, while his breaking ball was kind of a loose three quarters breaker in the mid 70s. It's pretty clear that even though everything he does isn't necessarily pretty, he can do a lot of things well. He was kind of upright in his delivery and slung pitches from a 3/4 or maybe even a little lower arm slot. It was easy to get a good look at the ball from his hand, it looked like it came out soft and tumbled some - but it didn't, and that's probably a good reason for his success today and previously. The delivery doesn't scream command, but he issued just two walks this outing.

Seemingly every team has at least one, and the guy I wanted to see more of for the Royals was junior infielder Chadwick Word (Furman Univ. commit). He hits in the middle of the order and made several good passes on his way to a 3 for 4 day. He looks like he has some feel to hit along with a short right handed stroke.

MILTON (Milton, GA)

Dissapointinly, I didn't see Milton great over my two days. I saw them in glimpses, and liked several guys. But in my rounds I kept missing them, which is a reality when covering a tournament like this. 

Seniors Ryan Gridley (Mississippi State commit) and Dalon Farkas (Kansas State commit) made up a nice left side of the infield, at shortstop and third base respectively, while senior Dalton Ewing patrolled center field. Gridley is a good baseball player with usable hit and field tools, while Farkas appeared to have some louder tools - I saw some arm strength and potentially some raw power. Ewing can really run, and is willing to do things to make his speed play - like bunt for hits and steal bases. I saw him last year at this tournament, and he is a dynamic and talented athlete capable of playing in the middle of the outfield.

ORANGE LUTHERAN (Orange, CA)

Senior SS Josh Morgan (UCLA commit) drew a crowd for each of his at bats, and was among the most notably difficult to see guys for me along with Braxton Davidson. It seemed like the two of them either walked or got hit by a pitch most commonly. He has an athletic build at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, and appears to have skills to play a variety of spots in the field. He hits from a open stance and makes an aggressive pass, not always getting off his back foot - resulting in some length to his stroke and making for some glancing contact. There are some things to work with here, and in a longer look I think it would become more clear what kind of guy he could develop into.

Much like Evan Dougherty of Bishop Verot, another CF and DI commit, I was intrigued by senior CF Joey Sanchez (Long Beach State commit). I missed his at bats by a single spot in the order several times, but saw enough to like the body and the actions along with the way he tracked pitches. He hit in the bottom of the order, which can be confusing at times, but had the pieces of a guy with a chance to hit in the brief looks I got.

PARKVIEW (Lilburn, GA)

Senior left hander Mac Marshall (LSU commit) was the last of the known quantity 2014 arms to go, pitching in the afternoon on Thursday. He did not dissapoint, with a complete game shutout victory in which he allowed just 4 hits and 1 walk against 6 strikeouts. Early on, he reached 91 with has fastball and sat in the upper 80s. He effectively pitched with a solid change and curve, giving him a usable three pitch mix. His delivery is athletic, and when he got his arm up on the back side he was able to drive his fastball down through the zone with nice plane. He is a unique and talented athlete, certainly not the kind of athlete we see commonly in left handed pitchers. His feel for pitching was better than I was aware of, having only seen him previously in a workout. Later in the game he had clearly lost the zip on his stuff, and struggled a bit for consistentcy with how his arm worked from the glove - but he still competed with all three pitches to preserve a shutout, an impressive performance indicative of a competitive makeup.

Another guy I liked in glimpses was senior third baseman Jim Wagner (Georgia Regents Univ. commit). He showed good hands and body control defensively, along with a nice left handed stroke.

REGIS JESUIT (Aurora, CO)

I know I wrote about him yesterday, but it's impossible to watch Regis Jesuit play and not be impressed by senior infielder Max George (Oregon State commit). He is 7 for 11 through three games with a couple of loud outs, and plays a solid and dependable shortstop. I wouldn't say there was as much buzz about him coming in as there was about some other guys, but in an environment like this you are never that far from an adjacent field and over time can't help but hear from someone that has seen him do something. He may be playing himself into some sort of decision with his performance at this event, his feel for the game is undeniable as apparently his hitting ability is becoming.

TC ROBERSON (Asheville, NC)

With an opportunity to show throngs of scouts and crosscheckers what they came to see from one of the top billings at this event, senior Braxton Davidson (Univ. of North Carolina commit) could have expanded the zone so he could actually swing the bat, but he didn't through three games. He has been largely pitched around, seeing very few pitches to hit - much to the dissapointment of many I'm sure. However, his ability to remain patient under these circumstances has been impressive. 

VENICE (Venice, FL)

Senior shortstop Dalton Guthrie (Univ. of Florida commit) can really play the game. He is cut from the same cloth as Regis Jesuit shorstop Max George, but Guthrie is a much more capable defender with a lesser bat. His defensive awareness is impressive, as is his ability to catch and throw on plays ranging from routine to difficult. He appears to me to be capable of playing at a high level defensively, I don't see increasing speeds of the game causing him any trouble at all. He handles the bat well and runs the bases aggressively, for me relying more on feel to hit than the natural skills like he has defensively. 

Over the next several days, I'll empty out my video camera and will post footage of some of the guys listed in the reports I've posted the last couple of days. Please check back for that.
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