2015 Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament: 2017 Grad Top 10
The class of 2017 top 10 is made up of one pitcher, three two-way players, and six position players. Of the nine hitters, two are left-handers, two are switch-hitters and the remaining five are right-handed. We had two shortstops, two catchers (both switch-hitters), one third baseman and one outfielder.
Half stand taller than six feet, with three standing 6-foot-3 or higher. Interestingly, the smallest pitcher turned in the highest velocity (Danny Boehmer touched 90) and one of the biggest players posted the lowest 60 yard dash (Golston Gillespie ran 6.89).
Our scouts, along with the others in attendance, were treated to impressive displays from this group of players. While we cannot honor everyone that attended, we did want to highlight a few players that stood out from each graduating class.
Appearing below are the Top 10 players from the class of 2017.
SS – 5’11″/180 – R/R – 2017 – Sports Leadership & Management (SLAM) HS – Miami, FL
Usually with players at “premium” positions (shortstop, center field, catcher), it’s an either-or proposition. EITHER he can field, OR he can hit – not very many can do both, so our expectations of those positions are lesser in terms of offensive production. When you come across a guy that CAN do both, you’ve got something special.
It’s early, but from what we’ve seen so far there is reason to believe Jeter Downs may in fact be a guy that can do both.
His defensive actions are fluid and smooth, such that he moves to the ball and completes plays with what looks like very little effort. He earns high marks for body control and overall athleticism, and though his arm strength isn’t overwhelming it is enough for the position.
A right-handed hitter, he features strong and quick hands along with the ability to easily accelerate the barrel through contact. His path is level and seemingly built to deliver line drives to all fields. He’s a better runner down the line than in the 60 yard dash, and an even better runner once on base – where instincts and aggressiveness take over.
SS/RHP – 6’0″/175 – R/R – 2017 – Frisco HS – Frisco, TX – Oklahoma State Univ. commit
Remember the part above about “premium” position players with fielding ability AND hitting ability being special? Well, we can apply that to another shortstop here in the #2 slot.
Ryan Vilade is built with long levers, and appears taller than the 6-foot he’s given on the roster. He generates bat speed with remarkable ease, and keeps the barrel working through the zone a long time. The reaction of the ball off the barrel (even with wood) is impressive, making for a combination of hitting ability and raw power.
Defensively we again see easy and fluid actions. It appears the game comes easily to him here as well. He can accelerate quickly when he needs to, and can catch and throw when he needs to – though he appears to prefer a more comfortable and controlled pace.
As a member of the USA Baseball 2014 15U National Team, Vilade contributed mainly on the mound. In Mesa, he showed the mound presence and feel for pitching you’d expect from an experienced young pitcher. His stuff was in pre-season form in terms of velocity and sharpness, but he pounded the zone and changed speeds effectively with his breaking ball and changeup.
OF/LHP – 5’11″/175 – L/L – 2017 – Fort Bend Travis HS – Richmond, TX
If it was more apparent he could play center field, we could repeat the “premium” position line again with Cole Turney. That may turn out to be the case, but at this point he seems better suited to a corner outfield spot.
His move is athletic through the ball, and he generates backspin on throws that were accurate and firm through the target. The key will be an improved first step and reaction to the ball upon his initial read.
A left-handed hitter with a good setup and hitter actions, he exudes natural and pure hitting ability. He has some style to his prep action, with some height to his stride and a load approaching what could be considered slight bat wrap. However, he has strong hands and gets the barrel quickly to contact. He moves through contact with conviction, allowing for loud contact and for frequent use of the sweet spot.
On the mound, he worked from a balanced and coordinated delivery. He topped at 85 mph with his fastball, and spun an upper 60s breaking ball.
3B – 6’1″/195 – R/R – 2017 – Calvert Hall HS – Mount Airy, MD – Univ. of North Carolina commit
The first true corner player among this group, Brandon Dorsey is also the only player among this group to matriculate from the 2014 Baseball Factory Pre-Season All-America Rookie Tournament Top 10. We’ve seen a number of examples now of his ability to play the game at a high level, and to do so against players often older than him. He certainly doesn’t seem like a 2017 graduate, which at this event was the youngest in terms of graduation year.
He offers a combination of offensive and defensive ability, though to this point his calling card has been his ability to make hard contact in game at bats. He didn’t necessarily produce any standout box score lines at this event, but he made hard contact with a wood bat – most notably a drive of over 380 feet to straight-away center field.
Defensively, he has the ability to maintain body control as he ranges left and right, and has the arm strength to get the ball across the infield with ease. Here again, his ability to play the game stands out over anything he will show in a workout. Like his hitting ability and power, his fielding ability is usable – which in turn makes it valuable.
SS – 6’2″/200 – R/R – 2017 – Sanger HS – Fresno, CA
Jamal O’Guinn has a high-waisted large frame at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. He’s bigger now than most shortstops, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop where he is.
As his body changes, he may eventually outgrow his current position – and frankly, he may be better suited for 3B at higher levels. He moves with some ease and can make a variety of throws with accuracy – which along with a solid set of hands gives him what he needs to hold down shortstop for now.
His ticket is going to be a high level combination of hitting ability and raw power. He maintained great balance in his game at bats, and created bat speed against both fastballs and off-speed stuff. It isn’t very often we see such feel for hitting in a young hitter with a projectable, athletic frame – but that’s the case here, and that’s what makes him an exciting prospect.
A better runner down the line than in the 60 yard dash, he posted 4.38 from the right side of the plate live in a game.
1B/RHP – 6’3″/210 – R/R – 2017 – Clements HS – Sugar Land, TX
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds with a physical look, Jack Conlon fits the mold of the power arm / power bat type two-way guy.
The power fastball is more evident today than the power bat. He was aggressive on the mound and pounded the zone with an 85-87 mph fastball. He offered hitters an uncomfortable look, working from a three-quarters arm angle with a very fast arm out front. This outing, he relied entirely on his fastball – and frankly, he didn’t need much of anything else.
His right-handed stroke is much cleaner than his delivery however, making it likely for his raw power to pass his fastball as his best tool in the future. It won’t be an all or nothing type move though, he works from a balanced approach and has rhythm to hit. He handled a wood bat with ease, generating bat speed through the zone while maintaining control of his body. His stroke has some natural lift, likely facilitating power production as he matures.
C – 6’3″/210 – S/R – 2017 – Madison County HS – Hull, GA
One of six 2017 graduates to post a sub-seven 60 yard dash, 6-foot-3 210 pound Golston Gillespie ran 6.89 to break the mold both for his size and his position. We don’t commonly see athletes of his size (at least not baseball players) run that well, and it’s even more rare considering he is a catcher.
The rarities don’t stop there however. He is also a switch hitter, and appears more than capable of handling the bat from both sides of the plate. His move was simple and coordinated both ways, allowing for good barrel accuracy and the ability to use the whole field. His swing angle is flat and seemingly built more for line drives than to get the ball in the air – making a longer look necessary to decipher his future power potential.
Behind the plate, again he showed low effort coordinated actions. His release was repeatable, while his throws were accurate and in the 2.1 to 2.2 range – in both the workout and games.
RHP – 5’10″/165 – R/R – 2017 – Columbia HS – South Orange, NJ
The only 2017 pitcher to post a velocity higher than 86 mph was Danny Boehmer, who topped at 90 mph. He works from a unique delivery, offering the look and feel of the stretch with a step back towards first base to start his motion.
Though he stands at 5-foot-10, his arm works through a big and deep move from the glove and out front. His delivery and arm action are coordinated, allowing him to generate the arm speed needed for upper 80s fastball velocity and for a mid to upper 70s breaking ball.
He threw a lot of fastball strikes, while his secondary offerings found the zone a little less frequently. His curveball got better as his outing went along, with his later ones showing more consistent shape and depth. Over the course of four innings of work, he stuck out six against a single walk, and allowed just four hits.
OF – 6’4″/180 – L/R – 2017 – Long Beach Poly HS – Long Beach, CA
JeVon Ward drew comparisons from our scouts to Dexter Fowler (current big leaguer with the Houston Astros, formerly with the Colorado Rockies), with the only obvious difference being that Ward is a left-handed hitter while Fowler is a switch-hitter. Both stand at 6-foot-4 with thin and long limbs.
Though some tightness prevented Ward from working out in the outfield, it didn’t seem to cause him any trouble swinging the bat. His move is fluid and pretty, moving fully through the zone to a high finish. He stays generally upright, and works the barrel down below his hands for the most part. It is a loose, low effort move that he seems to be able to control and repeat. After missing some time on the first day, he collected a pair of singles and a walk in his games on the second day.
C – 6’0″/175 – S/R – 2017 – Grissom HS – Huntsville, AL
One of five 2017 catchers to post a pop time below 2.05, Johnny Mangini featured a good transfer and an accurate arm on the way to a low time of 2.02. He was able to move very well from a crouch – this was most apparent during his blocking drills, where he showed excellent range to his left and right.
A switch-hitter, he showed strong quick hands and barrel accuracy from both sides of the plate. He had rhythm to hit from both sides as well, highlighted by a shift of his weight back prior to trigger his pre-pitch action – in this manner, his moves looked very much the same both left- and right-handed. Athleticism permeates his actions offensively and defensively, he seems to have a natural ability to move his body between necessary positions.
In seven trips to the plate, he collected three singles along with a RBI triple to finish with a solid 4-for-7 weekend.