Chris Wimmer has been involved in college and professional baseball for several years. He scouted the tryouts for this year’s Texas Area Code Games team, and here are his reports on the pitchers who stood out on June 19. All of these players are rising high school seniors, and will be eligible for the 2018 draft.
Jonathan Childress | LHP | Forney (Texas) High | Texas A&M Commit
One half of the formidable two-headed monster from Forney, Childress tantalizes with the potential for four average-or-better pitches. Coming out of a high three-quarter arm slot, Childress showed a lively 87-89 mph fastball and generated consistently tardy swings. He also showed three solid secondary pitches, maintaining his fastball arm speed and arm slot with all. Featuring a sharp 1-to-7 curveball at 79-80, a tight slider at 81-83 with a short sweeping break, and a 79-81 changeup with straight vertical drop, Childress had plenty to keep hitters off balance. Starting from the middle of the rubber, Childress has a high leg kick coupled with a slight hip turn, finishing direct to the plate with a slight crossfire and a soft landing. Childress's solid athleticism along with the ease of his delivery and arm action allows for further projection upon maturation.
Mason Englert | RHP | Forney (Texas) High | Texas A&M Commit
Englert oozes ease with his delivery. With smooth, quick-twitch actions, Englert quickly closes his hip and shoulder to the hitter by the top of his balance point. As he drives with his lower half, he strides slightly closed, hiding the ball from hitters as he extends his arm back. Before his hand comes through at a slightly lower three-quarter slot, Englert's glove hand extends up and out before tucking in toward his body. His mechanics allow him to create deception by hiding the ball well. He also has deception with his sinker/slider combination. Sitting 88-89 with a heavy fastball with solid run as a function of his arm slot, Englert showed he could move the pitch in and out in a short outing. His slider is a sweeper at 80-81 with fringy movement, but he was able to keep it low on fastball plane, allowing the pitch to play up. On par with his slider is his changeup, thrown at 77-79 with solid deception out of hand and mirroring his fastball's movement as well. Englert also throws an 11-to-5 curveball at 75-77 mph that lacks impact break, but is a serviceable "get me over" pitch when used properly. In very much the same vein as his high school counterpart Childress, Englert's frame, athleticism, repeatable delivery, and quality of stuff projects well into the future as a long-term starting pitching prospect.
Joseph Menefee | LHP | George Ranch High (Richmond, Texas) | Texas A&M Commit
A sturdy lefty with a live arm, Menefee's fastball sat 89-92 with late arm-side run. Menefee backed up his strong fastball with a 1-to-7 curveball at 76-78 that showed tight spin, but he couldn't quite find a release for it in his outing, with some spiking in the dirt and some slipping out of his hand early. He also mixed in a couple changeups at 80-81 with decent deception whose break mirrored that of his fastball, running down and to his arm side. His control was a bit erratic in game, but was acceptable in the pregame tryout bullpen. With a strong, athletic delivery with a loose, yet compact, arm action out of a high three-quarter slot, Menafee's stuff and strike-throwing should improve as he adds the strength to better repeat his delivery.
Matt Rudis | RHP | Madisonville (Texas) High | Texas Christian Commit
If you were to solely look at the lower half of Rudis' delivery, you'd think you were watching a fairly ordinary pitcher. He has longer legs than most, but there’s nothing extraordinary about his lower half. But adjust your sights up a tad and there's where the talent lies. Rudis, a broad-framed-yet-lean righty, lulls the observer until right before his front foot strikes the ground. With arm speed like Rudis has, hitters can't afford a momentary lull. With a fastball up to 94, sitting 91-93, Rudis’ fast arm can really jump on a batter. Combined with a potential average vertical slider at 81-82, and a delivery with higher effort from the arm and a slight recoil, Rudis already has a reliever feel to him. As a whole, his body finishes as quiet as the early portion of his delivery, and his arm strength and speed are unquestionable. Rudis' raw ability sure isn't quiet.
Rye Gunter | RHP | Coppell (Texas) High | Louisiana State commit
Hailing from the same Texas 6A powerhouse that produced fellow arms Ray Gaither, Charles King, Jake Elliott and Jensen Elliot—as well as Cy Young winner Corey Kluber—Gunter looks to continue the power righty tradition at Coppell. Gunter's frame is large, with thick lower limbs well-equipped to carry another 20-30 pounds of muscle. He powers well from his lower half, driving hard to set up good extension upon release. Along with maintaining a high release from a near over-the-top arm slot, Gunter gives hitters a tough angle to contend with. Gunter's arm is loose and whippy, with a long circle in the back that allows him to hide the ball fairly well from hitters. Gunter took about a batter and a half to warm up, starting out at 89-91, before blowing 92s and 93s past the last couple hitters. He also flipped in a few 74-75 curveballs that vacillated between 12-to-6 and 11-to-5 break. The break was large and loopy with loose spin, fringe-average at best. As Gunter gains strength and comfort with his curveball, its velocity and spin should increase, improving the offering's bite. With an arm that works and an athleticism tending towards power, it won't be long before Rye Gunter is mentioned in the same breath as the Coppell legends of yesteryear.