CARY, N.C.—Most of the top pitchers at the National High School Invitational throw the first day in an attempt to put their teams into the winner’s pool. But evaluators were elated to hear that one of the top arms in the event, Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) lefthander Mac Marshall, was slated to go on the second day, and Marshall twirled a gem against Venice (Fla.) High.
Marshall spun a complete game shutout against one of the best teams in the country, striking out six against one walk and four hits. Marshall generated 14 swinging strikes (16 percent) on 88 pitches, showing swing-and-miss offspeed stuff.
His fastball was mostly 88-90 mph on the day, touching 92. While Marshall’s fastball touched 94 over the summer, his velocity has more consistently been in the range it was Thursday. The Louisiana State commit has a quick arm and offers some deception with a high glove extension. Working from the third base side of the rubber, Marshall can get downhill plane from a high three-quarters arm slot, though his fastball is straight for a lefthander. Primarily throwing four-seamers, Marshall’s fastball gets tail its best. His strike-throwing comfort range was in the high-80s, as Marshall often pitched up at the high end of his velocity range.
Both Marshall’s changeup and curveball showed at least above-average potential. He showed tremendous feel for his 77-79 mph changeup with considerable tumble. In the first through third and fifth through seventh innings (the fourth was not spent behind home plate), Marshall threw nine changeups, generating six whiffs and one foul ball.
“He really showed that he has the ability to manipulate his offspeed stuff and both offspeed pitches were above-average,” an American League scout said. “He showed that he could pull back the changeup and really get good tumble. He really had good feel for it today.”
The 18-year-old varied the shape of his curveball, which ranged from 73-78 mph, showing considerable depth at its best.
“He changed the breaking ball shape, earlier in counts with the bigger breaking ball with a tighter one later in counts,” the scout said.
Marshall showed strike-throwing ability after having bouts of inconsistent control on the showcase circuit. He did a better job of not falling off and spinning towards the third base side compared to last summer. Sixty-six percent of his pitches went for strikes on the day.
Marshall, who was measured at 6-foot, 187 pounds at East Coast Pro, has an athletic, evenly proportioned build.
• Returning to the same back field he pitched on during Tournament of Stars, junior righthander Kyle Molnar (Aliso Niguel High, Aliso Viejo, Calif.) might have turned in the most impressive pitching performance of the day, both in stuff and performance.
Entering the seventh, Molnar had a chance for his second no-hitter of the season, but allowed two hits and no runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine against two walks.
From an easy, smooth delivery that looked improved and easier than this summer, Molnar sat 89-91 through his first three innings, touching 92. The ball jumps out of his hand. Molnar touched 93.6 mph at the World Wood Bat Championships last fall in Jupiter, according to TrackMan data. With some length in the back of his arm action, the quick-armed Molnar created glove-side run and some sink from an arm slot a tick below three-quarters. His velocity fell to 87-90 by the later innings.
But, like Marshall, it was his offspeed stuff that stood out on the day. His 80-83 mph changeup showed the makings of a plus offering. He showed tremendous feel for the pitch, tripling up on it to the righthanded-hitting No. 3 hole hitter in the ThunderRidge lineup. Molnar garnered many swings and misses on this offering.
His breaking ball, which was in the high-60s at the Area Code Games, looked as though it added depth and power to its shape at 73-75 mph. The offering had depth and showed the makings of at least an average pitch. He has a high-70s to low-80s slider that had the highest slider spin rate tracked at Jupiter this year.
Molnar was a strike-thrower from the get-go and showed advanced command for a 17-year-old. The 6-foot-2 Molnar has an athletic build that will accommodate additional strength gains. The UCLA commit was one of the 10 initial invites to the Under Armour All-American Game this summer in Wrigley Field.
• Molnar’s teammate, sophomore Blake Sabol, also showed well on Thursday, going 2-4 against ThunderRidge. The long, lean and athletic Sabol is a 6-foot-2 catcher/corner outfielder who played an outfield corner Thursday. He showed bat speed and natural feel to hit. Speed did not appear to be a big part of his game as the lefthanded hitter ran a 4.51 on a groundout to first base and a 4.71 on a wide turn following a line-drive single to right field.