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2019 National High School Invitational: Day 4 Notebook

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Jason Hodges (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

The final day of the National High School Invitational saw Orange Lutheran win its third straight championship, but on the back fields of USA Baseball's Complex there was plenty of action as well.

Here are the standout prospects and performers from Day 4 of the NHSI, and if you've missed any of our tournament coverage, be sure to check out our hub page here, which includes results, standout players from each game and links to daily scouting notebooks.

Jason Hodges, OF, Marist (Chicago)
2019 Arkansas Commit

Hodges, the No. 91 prospect on the BA 300, brought the most raw power to the table at the NHSI, but before Saturday went hitless in Marist’s first two games of the tournament. In a Sunday matchup against Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.), Hodges broke out a bit, going 2-for-3 with a single and a home run.

The homer came in his first at-bat of the game, when Hodges jumped on an elevated first-pitch fastball and hit a no-doubt homer to left field that showcased the easy power that he produces out of a muscular, 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. Hodges got his second hit of the day with a single to left field in his second trip to the plate.

It’s easy to dream on a player like Hodges due to his plus-plus raw power, though scouts have been concerned with the amount of swing-and-miss in his game. On Saturday at least, Hodges looked more than capable at the plate, and in his final at-bat (a pop out) he battled off a few tough pitches to keep the at-bat alive.

Defensively, Hodges played right field for Marist and is certainly a corner player at the next level. He’s a below-average runner, but he handled himself just fine on this day, tracking fly balls well and making all the routine plays.

— Carlos Collazo

D.J. Jefferson, RHP, Desert Oasis (Las Vegas)
2019 Southern California Commit

Jefferson took the ball for Desert Oasis in its final game of the tournament Saturday against IMG Academy. While he didn’t have the most dominant outing—throwing five innings and allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out just two—Jefferson showed some solid tools to project on moving forward.

He opened up the game in the 90-92 mph range, but the velocity quickly ticked down into the upper 80s when he was forced into the stretch from the second inning on. A tall, wiry righthander listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, Jefferson brings a lot of natural athleticism to the table and pitches out of an overhead windup with a long arm action in the back, throwing from a three-quarter arm slot and getting over his lower half well in his delivery.

His curveball lacked power in the 68-71 mph range, but showed decent 11-to-5 shape that could allow him to turn it into a solid pitch in the future. He’s already got a solid pickoff move, to both first and second base, with footwork that’s quicker than what you’d expect from most high school pitchers of his height.

While there might not be a now tool to bet on in the draft, Jefferson offers some intriguing upside given his size and athleticism, and he could take big steps forward with added strength in the future.

— Carlos Collazo

Jag Burden, OF, Huntington Beach (Calif.)
2020 California Commit

Burden patrolled left field for Huntington Beach against Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) on Saturday morning in a consolation matchup. He went 2-for-4 with one run scored in a 5-4 win.

The 6-foot-1 Burden has a slim figure, weighing in at 170 pounds with a projectable frame and wiry body. At the plate, he showed off some quality bat-to-ball skills. The lefthanded hitter was able to foul off tough pitches and fought to stay in at-bats. He stands fairly upright at the plate with a little pre-swing movement of his hands. He has a modest load of the hands and a simple trigger, which helps him to ensure bat control. He shows good bat speed and a feel to manipulate the barrel in the zone.

Burden also has above-average speed, allowing him to swipe bases and cover ground in left field. He didn’t get great reads in left, often going back on fly balls before changing his route and charging in. He shows the ability to hustle and gives excellent effort on both sides of the ball, making him an interesting player moving forward.

— Justin Coleman

Hunter Haas, SS, Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.)
2020 Oregon State Commit

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Haas played shortstop for Corona del Sol against Huntington Beach. Haas collected two hits in five at-bats with an RBI single on a line drive to center field in the top of the fourth inning.

Haas has a larger, slim frame which has future projection and should allow him to become much stronger in the future. He shows athletic actions in the field, with solid footwork and the ability to come in on grounders effectively. His hands work well at the position, and he showed solid range while understanding the angles to take to effectively field ground balls. Haas shows good arm strength with some carry and a relatively quick release.

Haas doesn’t look particularly strong just yet, but he shows above-average bat speed and is short to the ball. He is quiet in the batter's box, with a high hand set and uses a small leg kick as the trigger to begin his swing. Haas stays balanced and showed the ability to shoot the ball to the opposite field with some authority.

What might be most impressive is his maturity. Haas also showed some leadership on the diamond, picking good spots to go and have a chat with the pitcher during particularly tense moments. With his athleticism and feel for the game, Haas should continue to grow and produce with a quality set of tools.

— Justin Coleman

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USA Baseball Announces 2019 NHSI Field

The National High School Invitational once again brings plenty of impact MLB Draft prospects to Cary, N.C, this spring. Headlining the 2019 group is dynamic shortstop C.J. Abrams.

Jeremy Wiegman, RHP, Huntington Beach (Calif.)
2019 Cal State San Marcos Commit

Wiegman tossed two innings in Huntington Beach’s consolation game against Corona del Sol. The 6-foot-5 righthander threw 38 pitches, 26 of which were for strikes.

The righthander has a good pitcher’s frame with relatively wide shoulders and strong legs. He throws from a three-quarter arm slot with a longer arm action in the back. His action is slightly crossfire, and he uses a small shoulder tilt which helps him get on top of breaking pitches.

Wiegman worked mostly with a fastball-curveball combo during his two innings of work. His fastball topped out at 86 mph with a bit of late life. He got some swings and misses up in the zone and was able to dart the glove-side for strikes in the second inning. Wiegman threw his curveball in the mid-70s with 11-to-5 break. He didn’t show good command of the pitch, landing it for strikes only every so often. While he did throw a handful of changeups, they weren’t particularly effective during his short stint.

Wiegman’s physical build, solid arm strength and feel to spin the ball make him an arm to watch for the future.

— Justin Coleman

Landon Sims, RHP/OF, South Forsyth (Cumming, Ga.)
2019 Mississippi State commit

Sims patrolled center field for South Forsyth in the consolation game on Saturday against Christian Brothers Academy. He had two singles in four at-bats in the loss against CBA.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Sims is an imposing figure. He has a large frame with upper body strength and thick lower half. For a large guy, his speed is about average and shows the ability to close on fly balls. While he did misread a fly ball, he was able to adjust and make the catch. Sims also takes charge in the outfield, calling off his fellow outfielders on pitches hit towards the gaps.

Sims showed good bat speed on Saturday. He stays balanced at the plate with a slight bat tap on his shoulder before using his quick hands to get the barrel through the zone. Sims makes the most of his upper body strength in his swing. He did swing-and-miss through a few pitches up and out of the zone, while effectively putting the barrel on pitches that were in the zone. Sims shows the hand-eye coordination to manipulate the barrel in an effort to make sound contact.

Sims has the tools and physicality that should garner him more attention as he matures as a player, though his pro upside is higher on the mound as he ranks No. 98 draft prospect in the country on the most recent BA 300.

— Justin Coleman

Christian Little, RHP/OF, Christian Brothers Academy.
2021 Vanderbilt Commit

Little was the designated hitter for Christian Brothers Academy Saturday against South Forsyth. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI double to right field.

Little has an excellent frame with good projection and a broad upper body. At the plate, he showed off plus bat speed. He uses a slightly open stance with a high leg keep to help him stay back. He gets his foot down on time, ensuring that his bottom and top half are synced up. Little showed some knowledge of the strike zone and was able to make loud contact to right field for his RBI double.

He didn’t play in the field or pitch, but Little showed promise with his bat speed and swing mechanics.

— Justin Coleman

Other Players To Note:

  • 2020 Monsignor Pace (Miami) SS Sammy Infante showed good actions at shortstop throughout the week, making all the routine plays and showing decent range and impressive instincts. He’s committed to Miami.
  • 2020 Monsignor Pace (Miami) C/OF Robert Moya has some present strength and pull-side pop at the plate. Also a Miami commit, Moya led Pace hitters with a 4-for-11 week at the plate with two doubles, four walks and two strikeouts.
  • 2019 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 1B/C Will Bartlett consistently shows a good approach at the plate and did so again at the NHSI. The vocal leader on the Ascenders, Bartlett went 6-for-12 with three doubles, two walks and no strikeouts during the week. He’s got plus raw power in the tank and always puts together competitive at-bats, though his defensive profile will continue to put pressure on his bat moving forward. Bartlett is committed to Arizona.
  • 2019 Desert Oasis (Las Vegas) LHP/1B Campbell Holt showed a good feel for the barrel this week, going 8-for-15 and leading his team in hitting with a .533/.563/.667 line that included seven singles, a triple, one walk and one strikeout.
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