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Perfect Game National Notebook: Seven Standouts So Far

FORT MYERS, FLA.—We’re two days down at Perfect Game National, which is the first premier showcase immediately following the 2017 MLB Draft. This event is where the 2018 draft cycle officially gets started, with some of the most highly anticipated prep players coming to Boston’s spring training facility—JetBlue Park—to showcase their abilities.

Here are a few players who have stood out over the first two days:

• Landon Marceaux | RHP | Destrehan (La.) High

Marceaux is a 6-foot, 180-pound righthander who showed an advanced feel for pitching on Day 1, doing an excellent job pitching to both his arm- and glove-side, while sequencing a three-pitch mix effectively. Marceaux used three different offerings in his two innings of work: a 90-92 mph fastball, a diving, mid-70s curveball and an 83-84 mph changeup that he used as a setup pitch. One of his best sequences came in his second inning, when his final three pitches to lefthanded-hitting OF/LHP Connor Scott went as follows: a fastball on the inside corner for a called strike; an 84 mph changeup away, fouled off; back inside with a 91 mph fastball, which jammed Scott, broke his bat and forced him to ground out to second. Marceaux is committed to Louisiana State.

• Adam Kloffenstein | RHP | Magnolia (Texas) High

Kloffenstein was the first pitcher to toe the rubber in JetBlue Park, and made the most of his two innings on the mound, striking out four of the six batters he faced. Kloffenstein threw a low-90s fastball and mid-80s changeup that got multiple swings and misses, as well as a low-80s curveball that he had success throwing to righties and lefties. He backdoored his breaking ball to lefthanded hitters for strikeouts in back-to-back plate appearances, and also got a swing-and-miss strikeout on an 81-mph curve to the first righthanded batter he faced in his second inning. Kloffenstein is committed to Texas Christian.

• Noah Naylor | C/MIF | St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary (Canada)

Naylor recorded one of the best pop times among catchers from the first four teams to workout at Perfect Game National, with a 1.76 pop being the quickest that Baseball America recorded. Naylor is able to get to second quickly thanks to plus footwork behind the dish and a strong arm, which he used to throw out speedy infielder Ryan Bliss on his first steal attempt on Day 1 and back-pick Georgia infielder/righthander Devin Warner at first base on Day 2. Bliss did manage to steal second on Naylor on his second attempt, although both middle infielders were late to cover the bag on a strong throw from the Canadian backstop. Naylor is committed to Texas A&M.

• Elijah Cabell | OF/3B |The Next Level Academy, Longwood, Fla.

Cabell showed off one of the strongest and most accurate arms among outfielders on Days 1 and 2, with plus strength and accuracy, throwing perfect strikes to both third and home from right field. Additionally, he is responsible for one of the hardest hit balls in-game, launching a double to straightaway center field that carried well over the centerfielder’s head, through no fault of the defender, but because it was hit so deep and carried so well. Cabell has shown some swing and miss tendencies as well, but his tools have been louder than his flaws. Cabell is committed to Louisiana State.

• Brandon Dieter | SS/ RHP | South Hills High, West Covina, Calif.

Dieter put himself on the national landscape with an excellent two-way performance at this year’s National High School Invitational, and continued to perform during the first two days in Fort Myers. Dieter showed advanced actions at shortstop during workouts, with at least average arm strength and plus hands, and showcased power to his pull side during batting practice, with great bat control. Dieter is a pain for opposing pitcher’s in the batter’s box, as was made obvious during a 17-pitch at-bat against California righthander Carson Lambert on Saturday. Dieter fell behind 0-2 after watching a pair of curveballs fall for strikes, before taking three fastballs out of the zone to get back to 3-2. Following that, the Stanford commit fouled off two 90+ fastballs, two mid-70s curveballs and took an 83-mph changeup out of the zone to draw a walk. With Perfect Game’s showcase rules, a courtesy runner was sent to first, and Dieter continued his at-bat, with balls re-set. In an 0-2 hole, Dieter fouled off five more fastballs before finally striking out on an 89 mph pitch.

• Joe Gray Jr. | OF | Hattiesburg (Miss.) High

One of the top players in the class, outfielder Joe Gray Jr. reaffirmed why he’s one of the most highly rated players of the class. During the afternoon workout session on Day 2, Gray Jr. displayed the strongest arm we’ve seen during the showcase, with a quick release and 70-grade raw arm strength. His throws weren’t as accurate as Cabell’s, overshooting third by a large margin on one throw, but the pure strength of his arm impressed scouts, fans and players alike. During batting practice, Gray Jr. showed easy power to the pull side, turning the bat head around with quick hands and good hip rotation. He cleared the tall left field fence multiple times. Gray Jr. is committed to Mississippi.

• Blaze Alexander | SS | Bishop Verot High, Fort Myers, Fla.

The name is fitting for Blaze Alexander, who has likely had the best all-around showing at Perfect Game National after two days, despite not yet playing in a live game. Alexander’s most obvious tool is his arm from shortstop, which is at least plus (his highest infield velocity was 98 mph, according to Perfect Game). Alexander throws with high effort to reach those numbers, but at the same time his throws were routinely accurate, and he also displayed soft hands in the hole on backhanded balls, and the ability to throw from different angles and on the run. He also performed in BP, with blazing fast hands in the box, and regular hard contact that gave him power to his pull side, and hard line drives across the diamond. Alexander was a name before this event, but he’s only improved his standing in the class after displaying his twitchy athleticism and strength. Alexander is committed to South Carolina.

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