JUPITER, Fla.--Thursday was the first day of the 2017 World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) Perfect Game World Championship, with more than 88 teams in the event. It’s one of the top tournaments of the year for college scouts, pro scouts, coordinators, scouting directors and players alike, and the first day included a lot of impressive performances.
Here are some of the standout players in the eyes of Baseball America:
Owen White | RHP | Carson HS, China Grove, N.C.
Owen White took the mound for the the South Charlotte Panthers 2018 team in the afternoon, matching up with the Rawlings National Scout Team. White--who was one of the more impressive junior pitchers on the summer showcase circuit in 2016--had backed up in recent events this summer but absolutely dominated on Day 1 of the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship.
White allowed a double in the first inning to Tenessee commit Sean Guilbe, but that was the only hit he would give up all day. He threw all seven innings, striking out 13 batters and walking none, with the third-best average fastball velocity (90.9 mph) of all the pitchers who threw on day one, according to Trackman.
White opened up with a 92 mph fastball, and as Trackman shows, sat close to that velocity throughout his entire outing. The South Carolina commit was 91-93 in the first inning and in the sixth inning was still hitting 92 mph regularly, although his range was more 89-92 at that point and he used his secondary pitches more frequently.
White’s best secondary was a 76-79 mph curveball that showed excellent depth and late breaking, flashing two-plane movement at times, keeping Rawlings National Scout Team batters off balance throughout the outing. Per Trackman, White averaged 2,459 RPM on his breaking ball, with a max spin rate of 2,729--the 11th-highest breaking ball spin rate of the day. In addition to holding his fastball velocity and showing an above-average curveball, White offered a few firmer, slider-shape breaking balls and several low-80s changeups with fading action.
Perhaps the best look at his changeup came in the sixth inning against Texas Tech commit Max Marusak. White started Marusak with a 90 mph fastball up and away outside of the zone before spotting an 81 mph change at the bottom of the strike zone. He then doubled up on the pitch at the same velocity, getting Marusak way out in front and causing him to swing over the pitch. After a pair of 90-plus fastballs up in the zone--one that was fouled off and one that was called a ball--White went back to the change and got his second swing-and-miss on the pitch of the AB, striking out Marusak.
Thursday’s outing should give White a significant bump in his draft stock.
Aidan Maldonado | RHP | Rosemount (Minn.) HS
Minnesota righthander Aidan Maldonado took the mound for the Reds Midwest Scout Team in prime matchup against Team Elite Squad, and started popping the radar gun immediately. He opened with a 92 mph fastball to Georgia shortstop Isaiah Byars and sat 91-94 in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
Maldonado’s fastball velocity dropped off a tick in the second inning, where he was 89-93 mph, but he still got several swings and misses on his heater up in the zone. He used the fastball regularly, rarely going to an upper-70s/low-80s breaking ball that he also had in his back pocket, and when his fastball command lapsed a bit in the third inning he walked a pair of batters and wasn’t able to pitch another frame.
The Illinois commit averaged the fourth-highest fastball velocity (90.9), right behind White, and his 94 mph fastball was the third-highest of the day--behind Seth Halvorsen (95.4) and Victor Vodnik (94.7).
William English | OF/RHP | Western International HS, Detroit
English is an interesting (and uncommitted) prospect on both sides of the ball, and showed some feel for the barrel during the Midland Redskins’ first game against the Ohio Warhawks, tripling to left-center. English is tall at 6-foot-3, and runs well with long strides, and he rounded the bases well after his hard hit.
He got on the mound a few moments after his triple, where the results weren’t as impressive. English has a loose arm out of a low three-quarter slot but struggled with control Thursday, hitting one batter and walking another while giving up a pair of hard hit doubles after leaving fastballs over the heart of the plate.
He pitched mostly 86-89 mph with his fastball, and did get some swings and misses on the pitch when he located to the sides of the plate. He showed the ability to do that during one at-bat against 2019 Utah commit Kayler Yates--seen in the video above--but the consistency wasn’t completely there.
There are a few things he might have to iron out in his delivery, including some crossfire and a weak ankle when he lands with his left foot, but the natural talent he has is interesting, especially given his arm speed and projectable frame.
• Florida outfielderBrandon Schrepf, a South Florida commit, hit one of the first home runs of the event in the Louisiana Knights’ first game against the Braves Scout Team/East Cobb, hitting a two-run bomb off of Georgia righthander Kole Newman. Less than a week earlier at the Florida Diamond Club’s annual showcase, Schrepf also homered. Fellow Louisville Knights playerLandon Jordan, a 2018 Mississippi infielder committed to Mississippi State, hit a grand slam to right-center in the next inning.
• Alabama righty Noah Upshawstarted for the Louisiana Knights, throwing two innings and striking out five batters while walking just one and allowing one hit. Upshaw has a tall, lanky frame at 6-foot-5, 175-pounds and threw mostly in the mid-80s with his fastball but also had a hammer 12-6 curveball in his arsenal, with great depth that regularly dove into the bottom of the strike zone and into the dirt. Upshaw is an interesting projectable 2018 arm who remains uncommitted.
• Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team left fielderChase Hansonshowed some in-game power in a matchup with the Mountain West Slammers, hitting a no-doubt shot to right field that slammed into the scoreboard off of Colorado righthander Ben Peterson. Hanson is committed to Nevada-Las Vegas.
• The top catching prospect in the class, Georgia productWill Banfield, showed his tools in a night game against the Reds Midwest Scout Team. Banfield jumped on the first pitch that the aforementioned Maldonado threw him in the second inning--an 81 mph curveball--and sent a hard single through the left side of the infield. One at-bat later, Banfield went with a pitch on the outside corner and singled to the opposite field. Scouts have had some swing-and-miss concerns with Banfield this summer, but his first look in the 2017 WWBA would make you question whether those were valid. One baserunner stole on Banfield off the pitcher without a throw, before two more tried the same tactic--both were gunned down.
Day 1 Trackman Leaderboards
Max fastball velocity:
Seth Halvorsen, RHP, Heritage Christian Academy, Plymouth, Minn. -- 95.4