Auburndale, FL - An exciting weekend at Prospect Wire’s Fall Wood Bat Classic was capped off by two familiar champions. The Orlando Scorpions defeated the Tampa Suns 8-0 in the 16U Division while Chet Lemon’s Juice won the 18U crown beating CFBL Elite Blue 5-1 in the 18U Championship.
There’s the old adage that great players make great teams. Any manager or coach can be made to look like a genius if he has great players to work with. That’s true, but the more tournaments I watch, the more it’s reinforced that great players alone don’t win championships. It also takes a team effort and strong coaching and I can say the Scorpions and The Juice exhibited both.
The breakthrough talent in the 16U Championship was a sophomore lefty from First Academy in Orlando. Adam Haseley was nothing short of masterful, no-hitting the Tampa Suns with a six-inning effort, striking out 11 and giving up only three walks. It was a combined no-hitter as another sophomore, Caleb Maggio, came in and shut the door in the 7th. Hasely also hit third and drove in two runs to further fuel the Scorpions championship drive.
The lefty threw 83-87 MPH for most of his start, with a 72 MPH curve. Haseley’s fastball showed very good two-seam action and his curve at times had a sharp two-plane spin. The stuff by itself may not sound overwhelming, or to be that of a high draft pick in 2014, but I think he has a chance for several reasons.
One, Haseley is a lean, immature under-6’0”, 170 lbs, who will get a lot stronger in two years and could still grow taller. He also has a long, loose arm-action that will surely get quicker and allow him to throw harder. I don’t envision Haseley as a flamethrower, but could he be a low-90s guy when he’s in his prime? It’s possible.
But first and foremost, what impressed me about Haseley was his command and his feel for pitching. He located his mid-80s fastball to the corners, up-and-down, like a Friday starter would in the SEC. It was quite remarkable to see that in a high school sophomore.
A lot of scouts say you can teach someone to pitch but you can’t teach them to throw 95 MPH. That’s not all untrue, but teaching how to pitch isn’t easy either and there are 6’5” flamethrowers stuck in A-ball who prove that point!
Any way, as long as he continues to “pitch”, I think he’ll have all kinds of offers. If Haseley falls into the trap of so many pitchers before him, of throwing to the radar guns, he’ll go backwards as a prospect. It will be interesting to follow his career from this point out.
The 18U Champion Chet Lemon’s Juice didn’t have a singular superstar or even a player I could look at and call a definitive high draft pick, but they were loaded with depth and quality players who performed in the pressure cooker. Perhaps the most likely draft pick is Richie Martin, a speedster who hit leadoff as the extra hitter and reached base in all three at-bats (two walks, one hit). The 5’10”, 170 lb Bloomingdale HS product is committed to Florida and drew notable pro attention at the Florida Diamond Club just two weekends ago.
Most pro scouts see him as a second baseman or outfielder at the next level. His game is definitely built on speed and if he can master the leadoff role and cover good ground in the field, Martin will play at a high level.
The true offensive hero of the game for The Juice was second baseman George Ragsdale, a senior from North Port High School who hasn’t committed to a school. Ragsdale drove in three of the five Juice runs with a double and showed some range with his glove. At 6’0”, 175 lbs, he’s not real physical just yet but has a frame to grow into. I expect we’ll see him at a Division I or high-powered DII school somewhere in the future. How he physically develops will determine if he becomes a pro prospect after 3- 4years, but he’s shown in repeated events that he can perform on the big stage.
Lefty Charles Fowler was dominant in getting the win. The Durant High School ace threw mostly around 80 MPH and struck out eight, walking just one and yielding only a single hit over four shutout innings. Just a junior, the 5’11”, 180 lb Fowler showed the pitchability and location to win at a higher level and he should be on the radar for smaller D1 schools. If his velocity creeps up, he can be successful as a “crafty” lefty.
Over the weekend, I walked around the fields and saw a number of very good seniors without college commitments. It’s not unusual for even pro prospects to fly under the radar to this point because Florida is such a loaded baseball state and some players are just later to develop.
Pompano Beach HS righty D.J. Fenstermaker is a very notable such late riser. He’s pitched at many of our events in the past, usually dealing in the high-70s and low-80s, showing pitchability and movement but not the stuff of a High-D1 arm.
Well this weekend, Fenstermaker showed a lot more and I believe he should have opened some eyes. Still just a very slender, almost frail 6’1”, 150 lbs, Fenstermaker threw 86-88 MPH and showed a slippery 77 MPH curveball. What made his fastball most impressive was its movement. Despite releasing from over-the-top, Fenstermaker got very good running action on his heater which will allow it to miss bat barrels and induce weak contact. That’s something that can’t be taught, most pitchers either have movement on their fastballs or they don’t.
Fenstermaker’s curve isn’t sharp, but it has a lot of movement. I don’t see it as a strikeout pitch at the highest levels, but like his fastball, it should work well to contact.
Fenstermaker’s arm-action works okay, but he’s still not physically strong enough to throw with a sturdy, balanced delivery. I think it’s coming along and you might see a totally different pitcher in a couple years. The fact he’s showing this stuff at 150 lbs means he could be very tough when he’s 175-185. Definitely one to watch, he’s the type who would have been a junior college-bound draft-and-follow prospect under the old draft rules.