SEE ALSO: Nolan Gorman Powers West To Win
SAN DIEGO—Despite a 6-1 final scoreline, the story of the 2017 Perfect Game All-American Classic was pitching, as the strength of the 2018 class continues to be shown with quality arm after quality arm trotting out to the mound.
Eighteen different arms went to the rubber at Petco Park, and every pitcher threw at least 91 mph at some point with their fastballs.
Georgia righthander and East Team starter Kumar Rocker’s fastball got to the highest velocity on the night, hitting 97 several times, while a number of other pitchers were up to 95-96. While velocity is exciting, there were a number of impressive pitching performances in this game.
We’ll break down every pitcher who appeared in the game, with the West Team broken down below in order of appearance:
Matthew Liberatore | LHP | Mountain Ridge High, Glendale, Ariz.
— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) August 14, 2017
After winning the Player of the Game Award in the Under Armour All-America Game just a few weeks ago at Wrigley Field, Liberatore got the start for the West Team in Petco Park, and dominated once again.
The Arizona commit needed just 10 pitches to navigate a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, pitching off of a 93-94 mph fastball from the far third base side of the rubber, striking out two batters and forcing a third into a groundout.
Liberatore continued to switch his tempo against hitters, occasionally quick-pitching to prevent batters from getting comfortable in the box. He did this effectively with each of his three pitches—fastball, curveball and changeup. His curveball was sharp and showed good depth with top-to-bottom movement on the two instances he used it (both to Nander De Sedas) and he also threw in one 83 mph changeup that De Sedas swung through to strike out.
While he used it just once, the change showed good fading action and looks like it could be another potential plus pitch to go along with his curve.
J.T. Ginn | RHP | Brandon (Miss.) High
Ginn was not the sharpest he’s been this summer, but still pitched off of a 94-96 fastball and showed a low 80s slider with great bite—although he buried most of these pitches in the dirt.
Ginn allowed a double to Kendall Simmons on a 96 mph fastball on the inner half—which was more of a product of good hitting and quick hands on Simmons’ part than a bad pitch on Ginn’s—and walked Nick Dicker on five pitches before the inning ended when Noah Naylor caught Simmons trying to steal third on a slider in the dirt.
Ginn forced Triston Casas into a groundout and got Elijah Cabell to pop up to shortstop, while showing some armside run on his fastball, and flashed an 87 mph changeup with fade to lefthanded hitting Parker Meadows.
Austin Becker | RHP | Big Walnut High, Sunbury, Ohio
Becker needed just 12 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the third, and pitched off a 95-96 mph fastball and arguably the best changeup thrown in the Classic, an 86-88 mph pitch thrown with excellent arm speed that he located down and away from lefthanded hitters routinely.
Becker forced Austin Meadows to pop out to shallow left field, struck out Nick Schnell swinging on an 88-mph changeup and got Anthony Seigler to fly out to center.
Becker threw three curveballs, a pitch that ranged from 77-79 mph, but missed the zone each time.
Jack Perkins | RHP | Kokomo (Ind.) High
Perkins opened his outing with a 95 mph swing-and-miss fastball on the outside corner to Blaze Alexander, and continued to hammer away with that pitch to each of the four batters he faced. He routinely went glove side to righthanded hitters, too much so to Jeremiah Jackson following his strikeout of Alexander (on a 94 mph fastball), as Jackson took four 93-94 mph fastballs away to draw a walk.
Perkins got one swing and miss on an 81 mph slider that was down and in to Will Banfield, and threw one 85 mph changeup for a ball to Nander De Sedas—who also walked.
While Perkins did walk a pair of batters he pitched with deception, as he hides his low-to-mid-90s fastball well in his delivery. His slider had lots of horizontal movement, and if he can clean up some of the crossfire in his landing to the plate, his command could easily improve.
The stuff, however, was obvious.
Jonathan Childress | LHP | Forney (Texas) High
Childress was the first pitcher of the game to routinely throw fastballs in the upper 80s, but the less-impressive velocity certainly didn’t make for a less-impressive fastball. He got three swings and misses on the pitch, thanks to the late life and running action that it has, and continued to show good feel for a 79-80 mph curve with 1-to-7 shape.
His best sequence came against Kendall Simmons. After starting him off with an 89-mph fastball in the dirt, Childress fired an 89-mph fastball in on the hands, with run, for a swinging strike. He then got another swing-and-miss on a 78 mph curve down and in and went back to the same pitch (albeit an 80 mph curve) for a third straight swing-and-miss—strike three.
Mike Vasil | RHP | Boston (Mass.) College High
Vasil threw just nine pitches in a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, all of which were 93-96 mph fastballs.
Vasil’s first batter, Nick Decker, barreled a first-pitch 94 mph fastball that appeared to be a definite extra-base hit off the bat, but was hawked down by a diving Jarred Kelenic. After Kelenic’s catch in the outfield, it was smooth sailing for Vasil, who located his mid-90s fastball in, out, up and down to Kevin Vargas and Cabrera Weaver, striking out the former and forcing the latter to pop out to third.
Vasil touched 96 mph just once, but it was on a fastball up and away to Vargas, for a swinging strike three. His outing was extremely efficient, but based on how well he was commanding, some evaluators might have wished it lasted a bit longer.
Blake Burzell | RHP | Laguna Beach (Calif.) High
Burzell started his outing by forcing Anthony Seigler into a flyout to center field on just two pitches, but quickly ran into some trouble.
The Duke commit left a 91 mph fastball over the plate that Mason Denaburg hit solidly to right for a single, and then walked Xavier Edwards and Nander De Sedas.
The at-bat against De Sedas was where Burzell seemed to lose his fastball the most, throwing five of six fastballs out of the zone (De Sedas swung through one fastball up) and eventually walking the Florida shortstop.
With the bases loaded though, Burzell won a seven-pitch battle against Will Banfield, striking out the Georgia catcher on a 92 mph pitch and then forcing John Malcom to ground out to third on one pitch and getting out of the jam.
Burzell was mostly 90-92 with his fastball, although he touched 93 twice, and showed a 78-80 mph curve that broke early and had a noticeable difference in arm speed.
Ian Bedell | RHP | Davenport (Iowa) Central High
Bedell cruised in the bottom of the eighth inning, working what should have been a 1-2-3 inning if it weren’t for a throwing error that allowed Nick Decker to reach first, although he struck out his fourth batter—Connor Scott—with a 90 mph fastball that had late, sinking movement to prevent any real damage.
Bedell threw 17 pitches in total, working mostly 92-94 before seeing that velo drop a bit to Scott, where he threw 90-91. He also mixed in a low 70s, loopy curve that broke fairly early but was mostly kept down in the zone.
Seth Halvorsen | RHP | Heritage Christian Academy, Maple Grove, Minn.
Halvorsen ended the game with a bang for the West, striking out the side with mid-90s heat, but using a 76-78 mph curveball as an out pitch on two occasions: once on an outside curve in the zone that froze Cabrera Weaver and a second time to Blaze Alexander, who swung through the pitch.
Halvorsen’s final strikeout was a game-ending whiff of Mason Denaburg, who swung through a 96 mph fastball up and away—Halvorsen’s 14th and final pitch.
In addition to the fastball and curve, Halvorsen also mixed in a slightly harder breaking ball that had a slider look with more horizontal movement at 79 mph.