Prospect Team members Steve Givarz and Javi Guerra were able to attend the World Wood Bat Association tournament in late October, getting a look at the upcoming crop of talent for the 2018 (and 2019-20) drafts. Here are some of their favorite arms.
Garrett Wade, LHP, Hartselle HS, Hartselle, AL
A strongly built lefty, this 6-foot-2, 190-pound pitcher had some of the best breaking ball feel of the entire tournament. An Auburn commit, Wade’s 76-77 mph curve fooled hitters during his time on the mound. It varied between 12/6 and 1/7 but had late depth that he could use for strikes, or for chase. He also had an 81-83 (t84) slider that was very impressive in its own right. It had hard late action with depth that looked similar to his curveball out of the hand. Against lefties, he would often start ABs with it, but would use it to back-foot righties as well. His fastball was 89-90 (t91), but it proved to be more than effective with sink/tail in the zone.
Cole Henry, RHP, Florence HS, Florence, AL
A large, physical right-hander, Henry has impressed before at other events, and did so again this past weekend. Standing 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, this LSU commit still oozes projection with his clean arm action and quality arm speed. His fastball was 91-92, touching 93 with average arm-side run. His curve was a sharp 77-78 offering with quality depth and action that he was able to throw effectively to both sides.
Charles Braxton Cottongame, LHP, Perry Country Central HS, Hazard, KY
Winner of the “best name of a baseball player” contest that I always play in my head, Cottongame has stuff to go with his name. A Kentucky commit, this 6-foot-4, 185-pound lefty gets his arm up quick with a high-three-quarters slot, and a projectable body. His fastball was 89-91, but hitters struggled to square him up as the pitch seemed to have riding life up in the zone. His best pitch though was a 76-78 curveball that had hard 1/7 shape, with consistent spin that he could spin whenever he wanted to. He used it effectively in all counts, and showed advanced control when he needed a strikeout.
Because it’s never too early…
Jacob Meador, RHP, Centennial HS, Burleson, TX (Class of 2019)
In general, Meador had to be one of the most impressive arms overall in the tournament, age be damned. Only a HS junior, Meador might be undersized at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, but he pitched as if he was a 6-foot-6 monster. His fastball was up to 93 with a clean delivery, and a smooth compact arm action with quality arm speed. But the reason I am so excited about him is his 76-79 curveball. It is a true hammer, I could rate it a plus pitch now, it is that good. 12/6 depth, sharp action, can locate for strikes, bury for a chase, oof. In 5 innings, he struck out 13 guys.
Camden Sewell, RHP, Cleveland HS, TN
Sewell has an XL frame with room for muscle. The Tennessee-commit checks off many Trackman metrics—specifically he can really spin the ball—not just with his curveball, but with his fastball, too. Sewell works from a three-quarters release point and has plus extension. His has a fastball-curveball-slider-changeup mix, showing elite spin on both his fastball and curveball. His fastball was 91-93, tailing into right-handed hitters with life. His curveball, 76-78, has 11-5 shape with plus depth that maxes out at 2808 rpm. He can place it in and beneath the zone. He also showed the ability to add tilt, making it 10-5 at times. His changeup, an 84 on a single reading, showed solid depth and action with good arm-speed replication.
There is a wrinkle in his arm action and the delivery has some rigidness, but that does not hinder his control, tantalizing stuff, or his ability to generate swings-and-misses. His quick tempo and arm plays his stuff up more, not allowing hitters to catch up. It is tough to see teams passing over Sewell, a first-day type of talent, but he could very much adhere his commitment.
Because it’s really never too early
Jared Jones, RHP, La Mirada HS, CA (Class of 2020)
I wish badly I could leave it at that, but that does not tell you much. Thus, I am going to reward you with probably the most impressive arm I saw at the WWBA event.
Watch this video before you continue:
— WWBA (@PGWWBA) October 23, 2017
You see that rock? that swagger? that confidence? that juice!? Though many six-foot pitchers are overlooked because of their size—friends, do not overlook Jared Jones. Lean and compact, he pounds the zone, giving you 110 percent. It is a highly athletic delivery, repeatable and controlled, from the first base side of the rubber into a well-above-average extension (around seven feet).
Yes, there is effort, but the kid can zip it, spin it, place it, and mix it. His fastball is 90-92 with tail and an elite spin rate around 2500 rpm. He shows good feel and command for his curveball, working it in the mid-70s with 11-5 shape. His changeup has solid fade and repeats it well in the low 80s. These factors easily explain why he is committed to USC, as a sophomore in high school, and why teams might draft him before he steps foot on campus.