GARNET VALLEY, Pa.—Maplezone Sports Institute held its annual Pro Invitational showcase on Monday, giving scouts their first looks of the spring at some of the top prospects from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The youngest players at the event were high school freshmen and sophomores, and they joined upperclassmen, junior college prospects and one minor league free agent.
In 2016, the MSI Pro Invitational brought in an extremely talented collection of talent. Red Sox lefthander Jason Groome headlined the event, and he was joined by several players who would go on to be drafted and signed by pro teams the following June, including fellow first-round pick Alex Kirilloff (Twins), righthander Tyler Mondile (sixth round, Reds), righthander Max Kranick (11th round, Pirates), righthander A.J. Alexy (11th round, Dodgers), outfielder Kobie Taylor (15th round, Rangers) and outfielder Joe Burton (24, Yankees). Top underclassmen at the event included outfielders Quentin Holmes (N.Y., 2017) and Mike Siani (Pa., 2018).
While the group of players wasn’t as illustrious as last year’s, the event was certainly worthwhile, drawing scouts from most major league teams. What follows is a breakdown of the top draft-eligible prospects at the event and an introduction to some 2018 prospects of note.
Don’t Talk About Fight Club
Evaluators met Tyler Dearden (Rancocas Valley High, Mount Holly, N.J.) at a very strange time. Usually prospects of his caliber are well-known prior to the spring of their senior seasons and have played in high-profile summer events, such as the East Coast Pro Showcase or the Area Code Games. Dearden wasn’t at those heavily-scouted events last summer, and has added significant muscle to his frame since participating in this event a year ago. In 2016, he showed above-average bat speed, albeit with a longer swing, a deeper load and less balance.
On Monday, Dearden showed off impressive hitting tools. The lefthanded-slugging Dearden pelted the wall of Maplezone’s indoor facility, launching missile after missile in batting practice. He showed off above-average bat speed and thunderous hips, with the ability to stay balanced and keep his head on plane through contact.
After running the 60-yard dash in 7.27 seconds at last year’s event, Dearden showed improved speed this year, running it in 7.07 seconds. He is said to be a tad faster than that typically. Dearden appears best suited for left field at the next level.
Dearden doesn’t have the sexiest defensive profile, but his potential to hit and hit for power will make him an intriguing player for scouts to follow this spring. He is committed to play at Penn State should he decide not to play professionally immediately after high school. He will be 19 on draft day, meaning that he is old for the class and would be a draft-eligible sophomore if he goes to college.
Stauffer’s Heating Up
Behemoth righthander Adam Stauffer (Coatesville Area High, Pa.) could be an intriguing player for scouts to follow this spring. The St. John’s recruit said he was at 50 to 60 percent along the way to being ready for game action, but his stuff looked solid in a bullpen session.
Baseball America’s only prior viewing of Stauffer came back in October at the World Wood Bat Association World Championships. Pitching for All-Star Baseball Academy, Stauffer pitched at 85-88 mph and showed a low 70s, early-breaking curveball that got swings and misses in the zone. According to TrackMan Live, Stauffer was generating some of the best extension of any prospect in the nation, allowing his stuff to play as if were thrown at a harder velocity.
On Monday, Stauffer worked at 87-89 mph, locating his fastball to either side of the plate. His breaking ball showed inconsistent shape at 72-74, but has some positive elements because of Stauffer’s ability to repeat his throwing mechanics. He’s athletic with a high knee raise and long stride toward the plate. Stauffer gets his torso deep over his front side. His arm action includes a plunge past his back hip, but he’s strong on his back side and a very good athlete for a pitcher of his size (6-foot-6, 240 pounds). He showed an 80 mph changeup which appeared to be in its nascent stages of development.
Bednar Getting Better
Randy Bednar (Landon School, Bethesda, Md.) stood out for his excellent bat speed and loose wrists at last summer’s East Coast Pro Showcase, but he had difficulty using his tools. Bednar threw well from the outfield and ran the 60-yard dash in 6.9 seconds.
At the time, Bednar’s swing featured a deep leg kick and an explosive stride out toward the pitcher, and he’d lose balance on his back side early. Bednar also started with a high-and-deep hand set, and he had trouble repeating his bat path as he lost balance and swung aggressively. Bednar went 0-for-9 at East Coast Pro, striking out six times (five times swinging). Of the four balls he put in play, three were on the ground.
Several weeks later, at the South Atlantic Border Battle in late September, Bednar’s tools were again on display. He showed pull power potential in batting practice and a tick above-average outfield arm. In his first game of the event, he still went 0-for-2, striking out once swinging and once looking.
A month after that, Bednar was playing for Team Citius in the WWBA Championships in Jupiter, Fla. Bednar performed well there, going 4-for-9 in the tournament. He held his own against Evoshield Canes pitcher Hagen Danner, hitting a sharp flyout and then tripling.
On Monday, Bednar showed off a new-look swing. He’s toned down the leg kick in his swing and tucked his hands a bit closer to his chest. In batting practice, his head stayed on plane as he maintained better balance, and he was able to avoid pulling off with his front side. Bednar again showed solid-average arm speed when throwing and ran well, this time running a 6.8 60.
Bednar, a Maryland commit, has an offense-dependent profile, as he’s likely to end up playing a corner outfield position at the next level. His natural bat speed and surprising power potential will likely always be his best assets. His adjustments are encouraging.
• Righthander Joe Lancellotti, formerly of Archbishop Wood High (Warminster, Pa.), transferred to Penn Charter (Philadelphia) for his senior year. The North Carolina recruit is still in the beginning of his preseason throwing program. He’s a well-coordinated athlete and can pound the zone with three pitches.
• Infielder Luis Guerrero (Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Conn.) showed promising all-around tools. Guerrero ran the 60 in 6.64 seconds. He showed infield actions that could play at third base, and quick hands in the batter’s box.
• Shortstop Chris Alleyne (Chestnut Hill Academy, Philadelphia) showed quick feet in the infield and the potential for an above-average throwing arm. He’s a switch-hitter with some feel from both sides of the plate.
• Tommy Gibson (Williamstown High, N.J.) showed promising hands and foot speed in the infield, and then threw with carry from the outfield. Gibson showed a line drive swing in batting practice.
• Vanderbilt recruit Justin Willis (Memorial High, West New York, N.J.) pitched at 88-90 mph in his bullpen and had his signature wipeout slider darting with late horizontal sweep. Willis is a solid athlete, with a quick-twitch leg lift in the Carson Fulmer mold.
• Tor Sehnert (Peters Township High, McMurray, Pa.) ran the 60 in 6.85 seconds in his first attempt. He was injured during his second run and did not participate in the rest of the showcase. Sehnert is a Coastal Carolina recruit who has shown power potential in the past.
• The physical Shane Muntz (Malvern Prep, Pa.) showed off his strength in batting practice. Muntz, who performed well on the mound at the Area Code Games, will no longer pitch and will focus on catching and hitting this spring.
Junior College Standouts
• Dom D’Allessandro (Rowan College at Gloucester County) is a massive human being with wide shoulders and a thick build. The sophomore catcher showed solid arm strength behind the plate and power potential during batting practice.
• Luke Johnson (Harford CC) showed off loose athleticism behind the plate and promising hands in catching bullpens. Johnson has a very quick transfer and had pop times less than 1.9 seconds. In batting practice, Johnson sold out on his backside early, looking to pull the ball with power. His catch and throw skills will likely be his best assets.
• Ryan Shinn (Harford CC) showed fluidity and rhythm in batting practice. He has a chance to be a quality hitter.
• Bay To (Prince George’s CC) is a quick-twitch athlete, armed with significant arm strength and bat speed. He will have to work to gain better body control as he matures, but has intriguing raw ingredients.
• 2018 righthander Brock Helverson (Perkiomen Valley, Collegeville, Pa.) throws from a low three-quarters arm slot. His fastball, which reached 90 mph, showed late life and jumped through the zone. Helverson has a very clean and easy finish to his arm action and a projectable 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. He has a very high ceiling. He is committed to West Virginia.
• 2018 righthander/outfielder Tyler Ras (Middletown North High, N.J.) pitched at 88-90 and showed late movement on his fastball. Ras has a highly-projectable 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame. He also showed power as a switch-hitter. Ras is committed to Alabama.
• 2018 infielder Charles Mack (Williamsville East, N.Y.) is a lefthanded hitter with exceptional pure strength for his age. He has a strong, muscular build. The ball came off Mack’s bat with authority throughout batting practice. He is committed to Clemson.
• 2018 catcher Andrew Cossetti (LaSalle High, Glenside, Pa.) showed impressive strength and hard contact ability. He is a St. Joe’s commit.
• 2018 righthander/outfielder Brady Devereux (Malvern Prep, Pa.) offers significant projection. He has a balanced, athletic delivery and showed a late-breaking curveball with outstanding vertical depth. He also showed a fluid swing and ran gracefully. Devereux has a lean, projectable body with room to continue filling out. He is committed to Wake Forest.