21 Underclass Draft Prospects Who Stood Out At Perfect Game Junior National
The 2021 draft is still a few weeks out, but the summer circuit is underway.
I went to Georgia first for the Prep Baseball Report National Program Invitational, a massive tournament that had some of the top rising seniors and underclassmen in the country. It overlapped with the Perfect Game Junior National Showcase, which had many of the best 2023s and some of the top 2024s among the 300 players there, with some players participating in both events.
Below are reports on 21 players who stood out at PG Junior National, including some who could develop into first-round picks.
Max Clark, OF, Indiana
Clark played at the NPI right before going to PG Junior National. By the end of the week, Clark made a compelling case that he's the top 2023 player in the country. Clark started his week at the NPI, where he went 11-for-16 (.688). He kept hitting at PG Junior National, where he went 2-for-5 with a double and two walks. With a strong but lean, athletic build at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Clark hits from the left side with a smooth, balanced swing that stays through the hitting zone for a long time. It's a calm, compact stroke with good bat speed and a line-drive approach with home run power to his pull side. Clark also showed a sharp eye for the strike zone and did not swing through any of the 33 pitches he saw at PG Junior National, hanging in well against both righties and lefties. Clark also showed well above-average speed, running the 60-yard dash in 6.53 seconds and beating out an infield single in 3.97 seconds at the NPI. When Clark pitched at the NPI, he showed a strong arm with a fastball that touched 91 mph.
That's a lot of strengths and not many weaknesses from a dynamic, well-rounded player who has a chance to be an impact hitter and play good defense at a premium position in center field. Clark is a Vanderbilt commit, but he's on a trajectory that could make him one of the top picks in the 2023 draft.
Walter Ford, 3B/RHP, Alabama
First, Ford became one of my favorite position players at PG Junior National. He's 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and showed big raw power in batting practice, then brought that power into the game with a home run that cleared the left field wall. He went 2-for-5, staying inside the ball to shoot a line drive for a single the opposite way to right field. Ford showed the tools to handle third base, making a great diving play on a groundball up the line and finishing it with an outstanding arm to get the out at first.
Then Ford took the mound and stood out as one of the top pitchers in the 2023 class. In a quick 1-2-3 inning, Ford recorded two strikeouts with three fastballs at 95 mph, three at 96 mph and finished his outing with a 97 mph fastball for strike three. For context, with a handful of exceptions, usually the hardest throwing pitchers at 16 are throwing 93-94 mph, and there's probably more in the tank for Ford to throw triple digits one day. He paired it with a sharp biting slider at 77-81 mph that flashed as a future plus pitch. If you wanted to nit pick, you could say he was overthrowing at times and it cost him command, but that might have just been the showcase environment. By the end of his time there, Ford showed elite two-way talent with first round potential both as a hitter and a pitcher. He's an Alabama commit.
Dean West, OF, California
West is a big arrow-up player coming out of PG Junior National, showing an exciting mix of quick-twitch athleticism, tools and game skills at a premium position. West isn't that big (5-foot-9, 165 pounds), but he jumped out right away in the workout, showing plus-plus speed with a 6.50-second time in the 60-yard dash. During BP, he showed quick hands with a compact, direct swing from the left side with good path through the hitting zone. It looked like a swing that should translate well against live pitching, and West continued to shine when the games started, going 3-for-5 with a triple, a double and a walk. A UCLA commit, West's ability to hit and play up the middle make him another player on a potential first round track for 2023.
Cam Collier, INF, Georgia
Collier is one of the best pure hitters in the 2023 class. He has a loose, easy swing from the left side that's compact with plenty of bat speed coming through the zone and an innate feel for barreling balls. He tracks pitches well and has been a consistent high-level performer in games. PG Junior National was an exception, as Collier went hitless in two games, but he's still an advanced pure hitter who's now up to 6-foot-2, 210 pounds with big power as well. Collier also has a plus arm and played well on defense, making a diving stop on a groundball to his left at third base and getting up to throw the batter out at first. He's a Louisville commit.
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George Wolkow, 3B/OF, Illinois (2024)
Wolkow is still 15, but he could step on to the field with a major league team today and would not look out of place physically. A South Carolina commit, Wolkow is a gigantic 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, with the strength, leverage and speed in his lefthanded swing to drive the ball with impact to all fields already. He projects for plus raw power soon and it could develop into a 70 or better tool on the 20-80 scale. Wolkow drove the ball well both in BP and in games, smacking a triple to left-center field. He did strike out in two of his four at-bats, but he has a fairly sound, fluid swing for someone his age and length. Wolkow worked out as an infielder and an outfielder, showing good athleticism and moving well for his size. He has a strong arm for either third base or right field that he showed by throwing out a runner at home from left field. Wolkow pitched too and ran his fastball up to 87 mph, but his future looks brightest as a hitter.
Dylan Cupp, SS, Georgia
A Mississippi State commit, Cupp has the makings of a big arrow-up player. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Cupp has a lean, athletic frame with good strength projection and easy actions on both sides of the ball. An average runner, Cupp took a smooth, clean infield and again showed that fluidity with quick feet and a good internal clock when the game started. The ball flew off his bat and over the fence during BP with a loose, easy stroke, good bat speed and more power coming once he gets stronger. Cupp didn't do much during his at-bats and showed a surprising amount of swing and miss, but he typically has performed well with good strike-zone judgment and contact skills. That ability to stick at shortstop and potentially hit somewhere in the top of a lineup make him one of the best players in the 2023 class.
Antonio Anderson, SS, Georgia
A Georgia Tech commit, Anderson is 15 and on the younger end of the 2023 class, but he showed maturity in the batter's box beyond his years. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Anderson looks hitter-ish from both sides of the plate with good rhythm and balance in a smooth swing. He tracked and recognized pitches well, showing a good sense for the strike zone. He drove a hanging breaking ball for a single, drew a pair of walks and he didn't swing and miss once during the showcase. He stung the ball well from the right side, with the bat speed and strength projection to grow into average or better power. The rest of his tools are solid—he's a near average runner with a good arm that was up to 89 mph on the mound—but his hitting ability looks like his calling card.
Arjun Nimmala, SS, Florida
A Florida State commit, Nimmala put on one of the most impressive BP displays of the event. He deposited baseballs over the left field wall and another just to the right of the batter's eye in center field over the 385-foot sign. It was surprising power for a still wiry 6-foot-1, 165-pound hitter, especially for one of the youngest players in the 2023 class who turns 16 in October. In games, Nimmala showed some swing and miss, recorded an infield single and got robbed of a hit on a diving catch in right field by Murchael Turner, but the draw here is a potential power-hitting infielder with good strength projection remaining from a player who's more than a year younger than some of the other 2023s.
Colton Wombles, C, Alabama
Three runners tried a straight steal of second base against Wombles. He threw out all three of them, with pop times of 1.80, 1.82 and 1.77 seconds. Those aren't workout times where the catcher is throwing without his full gear on, getting in a half crouch and reaching across the plate to throw. Those were legitimate game throws, with times that aren't just good for a 17-year-old, they're elite for a major league catcher. Wombles throws well, but it's not like he has an 80 arm. Instead, he's extremely quick and efficient getting rid of the ball with his footwork, swift exchange and short throwing stroke. Wombles made impressive blocks as well, showing the attributes to develop into a high-end defender. Defense is the selling point of Wombles' game, but he has a solid bat for a catcher, driving one ball over the fence in BP and pulling a slider for a line-drive single in games with short levers in his 5-foot-9, 185-pound frame. He's an Auburn commit.
Aidan Miller, 3B/RHP, Florida: Miller is one of the top players in the 2023 class, standing out both as a third baseman and a pitcher. He's a strong, physical 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with good power, a strong arm and an impressive track record of hitting in games. An Arkansas commit, Miller also got on the mound and sat at 89-92, touching 94 mph at PG Junior National after reaching 95 at the NPI.
Braden Holcomb, INF, Florida: Holcomb hurt himself sliding at second base so he didn't play much, but the Vanderbilt commit stood out for his physicality (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and power tools to match, with big raw power and a plus arm across the diamond.
TayShaun Walton, OF, Florida: Walton is a physical player (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) with a strong lower half and moves surprisingly well for his size with a tick above-average speed. That will probably slow down as he gets older and put him in an outfield corner, but he has a good track record of hitting and has shown the ability to drive the ball with impact from the right side.
Daniel Cuvet, 3B, Florida: Cuvet is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds with advanced physicality for his age and the strength to produce some of the biggest raw power in the class. A Miami commit, Cuvet showed huge righthanded pop during BP, though it came with swing and miss in games. His strong arm fits well at third base, with a possibility he could play there but a chance he could outgrow the position and head to an outfield corner or first base.
Wes Mendes, LHP, Florida: Mendes mixed in a couple of curveballs but threw almost all fastballs in his two innings. It was an extremely effective pitch, with nine empty swings on 36 fastballs total. Mendes touched 91 mph on his first pitch, worked the rest of the way at 87-90 mph and used his fastball effectively up in the zone for whiffs. Mendes is a good athlete who should be reaching the mid 90s once he fills out his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame. He's a Vanderbilt commit.
Justin Best, OF, North Carolina: A Florida State commit, Best has grown to 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and has shown a good track record of hitting well in games. With an uppercut stroke from the left side, Best has the size, strength projection and bat speed to hit for power in the future and a strong arm that should project well for a right field profile, with average speed and good actions in the outfield.
Evan Haeger, OF, Michigan: Still 15, Haeger is on the younger end of the class, but he showed an impact tool with his speed, running the 60-yard dash in 6.53 seconds and he made a diving catch coming in on a ball in center field. His athleticism, physical projection (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) and short lefty swing with quiet hands stood out here. He's committed to Alabama.
Riley Jackson, C, 2023: Jackson showed an intriguing offensive-oriented catching profile at PG Junior National. He went 2-for-5 with a double and a walk, staying back on a 2-2 curveball on the outer third for a line-drive double the opposite way. A 6-foot, 197-pound Florida State commit, Jackson will need to improve his agility behind the plate but he showed a strong arm for the position.
Jorge Gonzalez Febo, SS, Florida: The 6-foot-2, 189-pound Gonzalez Febo had two of the loudest tools at PG Junior National, headlined by an outstanding, plus-plus arm to go along with a 60-yard dash time of 6.50 seconds. It's a glove-over-bat profile for Gonzalez Febo, an uncommitted shortstop, but those tools pop right away and he hit a line-drive single the opposite way as well.
Adam Hachman, LHP, Missouri: Hachman walked four batters in two innings, but there was a lot to like with both his present stuff and physical projection. He's on the younger side of the class with a ton of space to fill out his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame and add to a fastball that touched 93 mph multiple times and sat at 89-92 mph. Hachman threw nearly 90% fastballs, but he flashed a curveball with good shape and depth in the low 70s to strike out the first hitter he faced. He's uncommitted for college.
Dylan Loy, LHP, Tennessee: Loy is 6-foot-1, 160 pounds and doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but he had one of the best breaking balls of the event. While Loy's fastball ranged from 83-87 mph, he threw his 72-75 mph curveball 10 times and induced seven empty swings with another landing for a called strike. A Tennessee commit, Loy is on the older end of the 2023 class, but his breaking ball makes him intriguing if he can increase his fastball into the low 90s.
Tyler Smith, LHP, Pennsylvania: Like Loy, Smith is a lefty who doesn't overpower and requires a deeper projection but has swing-and-miss breaking stuff. A 6-foot, 170-pound Auburn commit, Smith pitched at 84-88 and touched 89 once, but the separator was a slider that generated five swing-throughs in the seven times he threw that pitch.