Depth and Variety Define 2016 UA Pre-Season Middle Infielders
We usually see many talented athletes in the middle infield at events, and the 2016 Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament was no exception. Standouts were aplenty across each of the three classes in attendance (2016, 2017 and 2018), with variety of profiles and big tools represented.
All Around Talent
While some showed a standout tool or two, a few showed very well-rounded tool sets and the ability to use them in the games. Matt Tarabek (2016 – Irwin, PA), a Fordham University recruit participating in his third Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament, was one player who had a big weekend. He swung the bat extremely well in the workout and carried it into games with a 3-for-5 performance that included a walk and sac fly. He is also a solid infield defender at SS and 3B.
Justin Connell (2017 – Pembroke Pines, FL) also opened some eyes with his 6.61 time in the 60 and ability to impact the ball. His offensive performance over the weekend included a triple to deep left-center field. Defensively, Justin can play multiple positions with plenty of range and dependable hands.
Local product Nick Hamilton (2017 – Peoria, AZ) is also a complete player. He has natural hitting actions with a big, aggressive swing that results in hard contact. Defensively, he has loose and live actions that play well now, and he has the look of someone who will be able to stay at SS at higher levels. His loud measurables shed light on his explosiveness, and include a 96.9 mph exit velocity off the bat and a 9’2” broad jump.
Another talented all-around shortstop is the 6-foot-2 2017 Matthew Givin from Castle Pines, CO. Givin has a coordinated swing with good feel for the barrel. As a defender he has sure hands and crisp actions with solid range. A sub-7 runner with more strength to come, he is a leader on and off the field.
A dynamic athlete with impressive tools across the board, Dallas Baptist commit Luke Bandy (Bentonville, AR) earned top 10 honors for the class of 2016.
Florida commit Brady McConnell (Merritt Island, FL) has a complete all-around game with some loud tools and the ability to use them. He earned top 10 honors among 2017 graduates, click here for his scouting report.
Division I Commits
Aside from the players above, several other middle infielders at the UAPSAA Tournament had also already made a college commitment. Zach Sehgal (La Jolla, CA), a 2017 grad, is an impressive shortstop prospect who is committed to Stanford. Several years ago, when Zach lived in New York he traveled down to workout at our Baseball Factory headquarters in Maryland. He has continued to progress since then, and is a smooth defender with a line drive stroke. He has a high baseball IQ, as you would expect, and has a bright future as he fills out his 6-foot-2 frame.
Another 2017 SS in attendance with a major commitment is Crews Taylor (Lawrenceville, GA). Crews plans to take his quick-twitch actions and left-handed bat to Georgia Tech. He is a confident and polished player with some loud tools – like his 6.65 60 time.
Another Georgia native who had a good weekend was Tyler Simon (2017 – Leesburg, GA). Simon runs well and plays with great passion and intensity. His right-handed stroke is short and quick and he covers some ground defensively thanks to active feet and a good first step. He plans to take his talents to Kennesaw State.
The switch-hitting Tommy Bell (2017 – Kettering, OH) is committed to Old Dominion University. He is a blue-collar baseball player with a short stroke from both sides of the plate, solid infield actions and natural instincts for the game.
Two other middle infielders who showed well in Arizona have verballed to Texas schools: Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli (Austin, TX) to Texas State and Devin Beard (Hobbs, NM) to North Central Texas College. Clark-Chiapparelli, a 2017 grad, makes the biggest impact with his speed (6.6 in the 60), though he is also a smooth defender and a polished right-handed hitter. Beard is in the 2016 class and is an excellent athlete who ran a 6.81 and registered a broad jump of 9 feet. He has a solid, coordinated swing that leads to consistent contact and he can play any infield spot.
Finally, Gregory Ryan (Richmond, VA) is young – only a 2018 grad – but he has already made a verbal commitment to play at the University of Pittsburgh at the next level. He has tremendous upside as he already displays excellent hands and instincts in the infield, and is able to make plays on the run and throw from different angles. His swing is loose and level with quick hands that allow him to catch up to velocity. For a young player he is patient at the plate as well with a good idea of the strike zone. He should be a nice addition to Pitt’s program in the future.
Left-handed hitters are always in demand, and there is special interest anytime a middle infielder emerges who can swing the bat well from that side of the plate. Several players fitting this profile performed well, including 2016s Andrew Bayard (Palmdale, CA) and Justin Taveras (New York, NY).
Bayard is a physical young prospect (6-2/190) with a balanced left-handed stroke and an excellent feel for the game. He is comfortable going to both his forehand and backhand side at shortstop and has an accurate arm. Taveras has excellent finish to his swing generating very good bat speed. He can really impact the ball as evidenced by his triple to deep left-center field in game action.
Other players turning heads included:
Anthony Servideo (2017 – Jupiter, FL) – a 6.75 runner with a fluid, rhythmic left-handed stroke
- Matt McGrady (2017 – Clovis, CA) – a second base prospect with dependable hands and a short, quick swing with some surprising pop
- Hawaii native Jesse Awa (2017 – Kaneohe, HI) — high leg kick triggers a strong and fast left-handed stroke capable of impacting the ball with authority
- 2018 grad Mike Turconi (Beaver Falls, PA) — plays beyond his years with a mature, patient approach at the plate and a polished glove in the infield
Perhaps the only thing more desirable than a left-handed hitting middle infielder is one who hits from both sides of the plate. Abraham Sequera (Doral, FL) does just that, with the ability to do damage both right and left-handed with a clean, loose stroke from both sides. He’s a confident young player with polished actions defensively as well.
The higher players progress, the fewer two-way players we find on rosters. However, we had three prospects in Mesa that showed potential both as infielders and on the mound.
Austin Thompson (Rincon, GA) is a very talented 2017 who can impact the game in many ways. He is a sure-handed infielder with the range and arm necessary to play SS and swings the bat well from the right side with surprising pop. In addition, he got on the mound and ran his fastball up to 88 mph while showing excellent feel for his breaking ball and change-up.
The 6-foot-2 Colton Rexroad (Yukon, OK) was impressive in games going 3-for-7 with a double to deep right-center field. He also showed well defensively and jumped on the mound for three clean innings.
Chase Shell (Milton, FL) showed power in multiple ways – first at the plate, driving a triple off the wall after showing pop in batting practice, and then on the mound with mid-to-upper 80’s fastball and power breaking ball that was very effective.
The lefties weren’t the only ones drawing attention in Arizona. Several right-handed hitting middle infielders showed an encouraging offensive profile as well.
2017 Anthony Encalade (Turlock, CA) was among them, he used present strength and featured a short, quick swing to do some damage at the plate. He got the bat through the zone quickly and showed some pull-side power. 2016 Kip Brandenburg is a big, strong prospect (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) from Greensboro, NC. He accelerates the barrel well through impact and makes loud contact. He has the look of a future middle-of-the-order bat.
The Other Side of the Bag
Two 2016 second base prospects also showed well with the bat. Ryan Whithorn, a two-time Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament participant from Claremont, CA, has a loose, clean stroke with a good feel for the barrel. He went 2-for-5 with a walk in game action and crushed a double to left field.
Sebastion Pereyra (Lawrence, MA) has a good motor and plays with energy at all times. He has a mature approach at the plate with a short, quick right-handed swing.
Perhaps the best defensive second baseman at the event was Ricky Colon (Orlando, FL). He is extremely smooth with easy and polished actions in the field. His hands are soft and sure – the exchange is quick – and his range is excellent. Colon ran 6.81 at the Under Armour Futures South Showcase in October 2015. He followed that with 6.60 in Mesa, to mark a solid improvement and to rank among the top runners at the event.
The 2018 class had an impressive showing at the Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament, with a deep group of middle infielders. While Raynel Delgado, Jarrett Ford and Sterling Hayes earned Top 10 honors, there were several more players that showed future promise.
Jeff Bruyntjens (Laguna Beach, CA) draws attention immediately with his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. He swings the bat well and with authority, registering a 98.5 mph exit velocity. Hilton Brown (San Antonio, TX) is an athletic prospect with a polished offensive approach. He went 3-for-6 with a walk in game action against quality pitching.
Another patient, mature approach at the plate was shown by Kevin Navedo (Harrisonburg, VA). He walked three times in games, added in a triple, and showed good hands and natural defensive instincts.
One other 2018 grad that deserves mention is Amari Riley from Chula Vista, CA. Though a bit undersized presently, Amari takes an aggressive hack that generates bat speed and he centers the ball consistently. As he develops, expect to see him become an impact bat.