2016 ECP Hitters
1B Alex Toral, West Orange HS (FL) – One of the strongest players in the 2017 class, Toral put on a show during the week at the plate. The University of Miami commit has at least plus raw power with plus bat speed, plus physicality, and an uphill stroke with loft. There is a chance for more raw power given how young he is, if he maintains his body well. As a hitter he recognizes pitches well and has an idea of what he can and can’t hit. He got a healthy dose of off-speed offerings during the week, but opted to wait for his pitch rather than chase. Toral taking D.L. Hall deep was one of the highlights of the event and showed how much playable power he could have down the road. Unfortunately, his hit and power are the only average to better tools he brings to the table: he is a 30 runner, with a 40 arm, and a chance for a fringe-average glove at first base. Given the nature of his body now, there is a chance that he could be a DH if his body goes the wrong direction.
OF Cole Brannen, The Westfield School (GA) – An all-around athlete, Brannen stood out this week for his plays in the outfield, his speed, as well as his hitting ability. He is highly athletic with some room for growth. Brannen hits from an upright stance, with loose hands and good rhythm, and tracks pitches out of the hand well. He has plus bat speed with a smooth, short stroke; on his first at-bat of the tournament, barreled up a fastball on the upper half for an opposite field home run. He has some present strength, and currently has 40 raw power, but given his size and projection, he could get to average down the road. The Georgia Southern commit ran the 60-yard dash at 6.43, so while I did not get a H-1B time, he is an 80 runner by that grade. In the field, he played center field exquisitely, tracking balls and taking great routes. Brannen has elite range in the field and could be a potential plus defender in center. While his arm only grades out as average, he got rid of it quickly and was accurate to cutoff men.
OF Jo Adell, Ballard HS (KY) – One of the best athletes in the country, Adell has some playable tools as a pitcher, but really stands out at the plate and in the field. A Louisville commit, Adell officially checked in at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, and has projection remaining. He has a lean body with an athletic frame. In the field, Adell has a plus throwing arm and makes accurate throws to the plate, as well as to the bag. He ran the 60 at 6.56, and is a plus-plus runner. He makes good reads and shows the ability to close on balls well in the outfield. While he may have to move to right field down the road, he should be able to play center for the near future. At the plate, Adell bats from an open stance with an early stride. He has plus bat speed and makes loud contact at the plate. He currently lacks control of the barrel, but while there is a fair amount of swing and miss in his game, it was mostly when chasing off-speed pitches out and away. He doesn’t miss fastballs and has a quick hand path through the zone. Adell also has plus raw power at present, as he is able to combine his current strength with plus bat speed to take balls out from left field to center field. There is even a chance for more, as he has room to add good weight and strength down the road.
Adell has current plus tools in his arm (60), power (60+) and is a plus-plus runner. While he could get to above-average with the glove, what matters most is how his hit tool will translate. There is a lot of risk with his profile, as the swing-and-miss and lack of bat control will need to improve before June 2017.
OF Baron Radcliff, Norcross HS (GA) – What stood out first about Radcliff was his size, officially listed at 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds, he certainly looks the part of an athletic, power-hitting baseball player. Despite his present size, Radcliff retains projection thanks to his inexperience in the game, as he mainly played football before going full time to baseball. Radcliff hits from an even stance, and employs a toe-tap. While it is more muscular strength than bat speed, he shows the ability to square up the ball and get the bat to the zone quickly, thanks to strong wrists and hands. His swing is still rather long and he struggles to recognize off-speed pitches currently, but given how raw he is in terms of baseball skills, it could improve down the road. He showed 55 speed in the 60-yard dash. Radcliff profiles as corner outfield, where his above-average arm strength would play well.
C M.J. Melendez, Saint James School (AL) – One of the best catchers for the upcoming draft, Melendez impressed with his all-around catching skills behind the plate, as well as some promise at the plate. The owner of an athletic, wiry build, Melendez is still flexible with remaining room for projection. He hits from an upright stance, and has wiry strength to go with above-average bat speed, and quick hands and wrists. He doesn’t have a lot of natural strength right now but projects to have average raw power due to his current bat speed paired with added muscle as he fills out—although it might never play to that level in-game. It’s the defensive chops that make Melendez stand out. He has plus arm strength behind the plate, with throws from 1.92-1.98 and he was very accurate during the week. He displayed impressive blocking skills throughout the week, getting in front of nearly everything in the dirt. He has good athleticism behind the plate and moves well side-to-side. As with most catchers, Melendez has below-average speed, but he has positioned himself as potentially the best amateur catcher in the class thanks to the qualities described above.
OF Daniel Cabrera, Parkview Baptist HS (LA) – An LSU commit, Cabrera has plus bat speed and above-average foot speed. He patrols the outfield well, taking clean routes and making quick reads off the bat, and his average arm strength allows him to play in both center and right when asked. There isn't much strength present in his frame—he's listed at 5-foot-11 and nearly 190 pounds—but the hope is he can add some as he matures.
INF Tim Elko, Hillsborough HS (FL) – Elko, listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, is a large, physical player. Predictably, he has above-average raw power, with the size and strength to muscle balls out—even those he doesn't square up. Also predictably, Elko has a long swing that's light on bat speed, and struggled with offspeed pitches during the event. His average arm plays at the hot corner, however, his poor footwork and below-average speed could necessitate a move across the diamond.
INF Nick Egnatuk, Basking Ridge HS (NJ) – Egnatuk showed off his advanced hitting ability during the event, barreling up everything thrown his way. He has above-average bat speed and good feel for the barrel, and he recognized pitches well. Defensively, he has a below-average throwing arm and range—his hands weren't impressive, either, as he struggled to field balls in the dirt. Long story short, Egnatuk has the chance to be a quality hitter, but teams will have to figure out where he'll play on D.
OF Leugim “LG” Castillo, Lancaster HS (NY) – Castillo stood out as having some of the most potential in the class—albeit with comparable risk. He has above-average bat speed with quick hands, though he struggled mightily with pitch recognition and fastballs on the outer half—often chasing on pitches in the dirt. He has above-average raw power currently and could have more down the road as he grows into his body and adds strength. Castillo ran the second fastest 60-yarder at the event at 6.44 (Brannen was the fastest at 6.43) and glides to balls in the outfield with his speed and range. His arm, which grades as average, plays in all three spots. A team will pop him due to his loud tools, with the hope that they can help him shore up those weaknesses.
INF Mark Vientos, American Heritage HS (FL) – While not possessing a lot of current strength, Vientos is able to produce loft and could have average raw power down the road. Defensively, he has fair actions at shortstop with good hands, but he will most likely have to move to third base as he trades range for strength. The good news is his above-average arm will play at either position. Vientos has a lot of projection in his body, so expect him to look different in a few year's time versus now.
INF/OF Noah Campbell, Cardinal Gibbons HS (NC) – Campbell, a South Carolina commit, is a quality athlete who could play the infield and outfield as a professional. While listed as a switch-hitter, he only took swings left-handed, and I was told he had not hit right-handed all summer. He has good bat speed with quick hands, and produced some leverage. Defensively, he showed an average arm from the outfield, but a below-average arm in the infield. He did display soft hands, yet he's inconsistent with his footwork, meaning there's no perfect fit for him either way.
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