The WWBA World Championship in Jupiter is quite the experience.
It’s countless golf carts roaming the Roger Dean complex and camping out behind home plate or down the lines. It’s being on your feet for hours at a time and seeing perhaps the most baseball you’ll ever witness in one day, then multiplying that over several days. It’s filling pages upon pages with notes about so much talent that it becomes almost overwhelming. It’s the Florida sun baking in the middle of the day and that occasional gust of wind. It’s seeing old friends and colleagues, and making new connections by sitting in someone’s golf cart to get off your feet.
Being a one-man band in Jupiter is a difficult task. You can watch first-round talent behind the plate on one field and literally turn around to see a projectable kid throwing 92 right behind you. Because there’s so much talent squeezed into one complex over a few days, you need to be light on your feet and know how to wheel around to catch as much as possible. You also need to plan the heck out of the thing beforehand.
This year was my first experience in Jupiter but won’t be my last, if I have anything to say about it. On to my notes:
Avery Tuck – OF, California prep, San Diego State commit
Tuck looks the part as a lengthy kid with a lean, athletic body, and he oozes projection. He also oozes grace and smoothness in the field and in the box. When he’s on his game, he lets it come to him. Despite long limbs, he keeps the swing short with a simple load and shifts well to the zone with easy bat speed based on pure strength and length. Tuck covers the plate well, features lift in the path, and he shows backspin ability. There’s easy carry in his power to all fields, including one shot I saw to the left-center gap for the left-handed hitter, and the pull-side pop is consistently over the fence. He shows solid corner outfield skills and covers ground with the same smooth actions, and he has a strong arm for any spot. Tuck has multiple carrying tools and is smooth in all aspects, making him a potentially high pick in June.
Joe Rizzo – 3B, Virginia prep, South Carolina commit
Rizzo is one of my favorites from Jupiter this year. I’m a sucker for pure hitting ability, and Rizzo shows excellent feel for the bat head. There’s a slight leg kick as a timing trigger, but he gets the foot down at the proper time and keeps everything in sync. Even if he gets out in front of a pitch, he has a feel for adjusting and maintaining contact. The path to the zone is clean and quick, and the hands are in a terrific spot to fire. It’s a smooth swing that spells out tons of contact, and there’s over-the-fence power potential as well. Although he’s physically mature and lacks projection, Rizzo looks lighter than his listed weight (215 pounds) and could probably shift between second and third. He has good feet and feel for the glove at third, and the arm has enough carry for the left side.
Brad Debo – C, North Carolina prep, South Carolina commit
Debo has a bit of an unorthodox swing to stay short and inside, but it works and produces solid feel for the barrel. There’s some lift and power potential, but Debo’s biggest sell is the ability to make consistent contact to all fields from the left side. The hands are quick and short to the zone, and he shows excellent bat control. Debo shows feel behind the plate and flashes carry on throws to second.
Seth Beer – OF, Georgia prep, Clemson commit
Walk up to any field where Beer’s team is playing and you’d think he’s the older pro player who came back to help coach. Beer is a physical kid with big shoulders and a very strong frame. It translates in his power with outstanding pull-side pop and solid arm strength. There are barrel skills to go with the power based on good bat speed and quick hands that stay inside. He’ll struggle transferring and clearing his weight at times, and pitch recognition remains a work in progress, but the combination of a strong frame, great power potential and a quick bat tends to play well.
Matt Cleveland – RHP, Connecticut prep, Florida Southwest State College commit
Cleveland drew his fair share of radar guns and looks during his Jupiter appearance. He was 89-93 and touched either 94 or 95 depending on the gun. His length works in his favor by getting downhill plane and extension when the pitch is worked down, and it flashes arm-side run. He mixed a breaking ball at 73-77 that flashed depth and hard bite, but it tended to get slurvy and was inconsistent. Cleveland has a long, full arm action to go with already long limbs, so repeating his arm slot and developing more feel will be important as he progresses. But there’s big projection here and already-present velocity. Expect his name to pop up a lot entering spring.
Joshua Lowe – 3B/RHP, Georgia prep, Florida State commit
The physical description of Beer applies to Lowe, except Lowe might be even more advanced, which is a scary thought. Lowe is just a flat-out monster athlete. He’s broad across the upper body, lengthy, has tons of present strength from head to toe, and there is still room for more. We’ve seen what he’s done on the mound in the past, but I saw him at the plate for an afternoon game and loved my look. He works a big leg kick early in his process but keeps everything smooth through extension. The bat speed is average, but he gets huge, easy carry off the barrel based on his premium strength and loft, flashing that for me by hitting a home run to the pull side. He transfers his weight well and usually produces solid extension. Lowe translates his athleticism to third base with good footwork despite his size, and he has a big arm for the position. The big left-handed bat is one of the top talents in the 2016 class regardless of his future position.
Carter Kieboom – SS, Georgia prep, Clemson commit
Kieboom is going to hit and hit plenty. He has very quick hands that produce excellent bat speed, and they stay loose and inside. He barrels consistently and shows easy pull-side power, which should translate to some over-the-fence pop to the left side and consistent gap power to all fields. Kieboom’s glove and arm should play well at third base as he grows.
Alejandro Toral – 1B, Florida prep, Miami commit
Toral is a physically mature corner guy listed as one of the top players in the 2017 class. He shows big lift and some barrel ability from the left side. He uses a wide stance and keeps his hands high, and he creates some length getting to the zone, but there’s a lot of torque and unloading as he makes contact. Toral has easy carry off the barrel and big pull-side power. He’ll need it as a first baseman, but indications point toward big power potential and enough contact skills to get the job done.
Kyle Jacobsen – OF, Georgia prep, South Carolina commit
Bat speed is Jacobsen’s biggest draw. He had one of the quickest bats I saw in Jupiter, and it’s one of the reasons he’s ranked as one of the top players in the 2017 class. Jacobsen also needs that bat speed because of a deep load. He keeps his hands inside the ball, shows some lift, and he has the ability to make consistent contact. He has a thin frame and there’s room for growth and added strength. He clocked a 4.1 to first, which puts him as a plus-plus runner, and he should maintain much of that as he develops. That speed also plays in center field, where he should stick with solid range and first-step quickness. As he fills his projectable frame, that should only help his already-impressive bat speed and quick hands. Jacobsen is an impressive, quick-twitch athlete.
Derek Bjorlo (SS, Virginia prep, Coastal Carolina commit): Smaller size but holds his own at short; quick, loose hands from right side; shows barrel skills.
Jordon Adell (OF, Kentucky prep, Louisville commit): Lean, athletic body with room to grow into strong frame; quick bat with level plane; tends to cast hands and can cut extension; raw hitter.
Davis Daniel (RHP, Alabama prep, Auburn commit): Reportedly hit 94 in his first Jupiter appearance, worked 89-92 in second outing; slight run from low three-quarters slot, flattens up; mid-70s breaking ball with slider tilt; inconsistent break/bite; flashes hard bite out of zone; quick arm, deception.
Colton Welker (SS, Florida prep, Miami commit): Power potential based on good lift and muscled swing; small load and big weight transfer to clear through the ball with great extension; shows contact skills; glove should play well at third base.
D.L. Hall (LHP, Georgia prep, Florida State commit): Lacked velo/bite/snap of previous appearances; 87-91 with arm-side run; left fastball arm side/up often; 71-73 curveball, inconsistent command; flashes depth and tight spin with downward break; crossfire motion with rotation; gets arm into path early with clean three-quarters slot.
Owen Griffith (RHP, South Carolina prep, Clemson commit): Hit 93 with run multiple times; pure arm strength; flashes biting breaking ball with feel; moved from catcher to mound during summer and bumped velo quickly; room for growth, added strength.
Chase Sanguinetti (1B, Florida prep, Florida State commit): One of the more impressive 2018 players I saw; huge hand load and leg kick with major uncoiling to the zone; controls and repeats despite moving parts; good present power for age, will grow into more; excellent bat speed; advanced approach for age.
Tucker Maxwell (OF, Georgia prep, Georgia commit): 4.15 to first from left side; medium build with athleticism; projects with bat but needs adjustments; big loft and looks to pull with some power potential; above-average bat speed; hard contact when hips clear; can cut himself off and leave weight on back side.
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