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Ten 2021 MLB Draft Prospects Who Elevated Their Stock At UBC



Last week, Florida Burn won the inaugural Ultimate Baseball Championship—a high-level travel ball tournament, powered by Baseball America, pitting seven of the best teams in the country against one another.

While the event was competitive from a team perspective, it also proved to be fruitful for scouts looking to get more knowledge on the 2021 high school class. There were 37 of the top 100 high school prospects in attendance at the event.

Below are ten players who elevated their draft stock in one way or another, based solely on feedback from evaluators in attendance.

James Wood, OF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.

Travel Team:
The Dirtbags
Commit: Mississippi State
Performance: 4-for-12, 1 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 5 BB, 5 K


Wood was the biggest standout at the UBC, thanks in part to a massive, 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame that screams pro player. Despite that size, he moves around well at the moment and looked pretty good patrolling center field with a strong arm that could fit in right field in the future.

Wood has power now and plenty of more power projection in the future thanks to his massive frame. But scouts love the ease of his swing and saw a better approach this week than they did at Perfect Game National. There are still some strikeouts in his game, but most evaluators believe he’s going to do enough damage on contact that they won’t be a deal breaker.

Add good instincts on the bases and in the outfield and there’s a lot to like with Wood, who will be seen plenty at IMG Academy for his high school season and has become a high-priority player for Southeast scouts.

Daylen Lile, OF, Trinity HS, Louisville

Travel Team:
Canes National
Commit: Louisville
Performance: 5-for-13, 2 3B, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K

Lile was one of the first players mentioned among scouts after Wood. The 6-foot, 195-pound outfielder doesn’t have the projectable frame that Wood has, but his bat might be special enough to the point that some scouts think of him as a first-rounder because of it.

He’s shown a special hit tool in previous events, and that continued to be the case at the UBC. Lile has some athleticism and good bat speed, with more power to his pull-side than the opposite field right now, but with some strength in his compact frame.

His supplemental tools leave something to be desired at the moment, and scouts think he profiles best in left field at the moment thanks to a fringy arm, which will put more pressure on his bat moving forward. But the bat is loud.

Chase Burns, RHP, Station Camp HS, Gallatin, Tenn.

Travel Team: Canes National
Commit: Tennessee
Performance: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K, 0 BB, 43 pitches (62% strikes)

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus top arm in the 2021 class at the moment—particularly with LHP Maddux Bruns struggling with control at the UBC—but Burns is safely in the top tier of arms and continues to impress.

Burns has shown one of the better pure fastballs in the class at times, but it was his pitchability that impressed scouts at the UBC. He ran his fastball up to 95-96—he’s previously been up to 99—and showed a good downer breaking ball, but evaluators thought he was doing a nice job pitching rather than simply getting on the bump and trying to throw hard.

There are still some refinements that need to be made in his delivery, in terms of syncing up some moving parts and being on time with a longer arm action, but scouts who saw him this week didn’t have any glaring concerns with it and pointed to high-quality strikes and good angle on his stuff.

Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Travel Team: Team Elite
Commit: Florida
Performance: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K, 1 BB, 73 pitches (61% strikes)

Like Burns, Painter is solidly in the top tier of high school pitchers in the class and while his statistical performance wasn’t quite as impressive as Burns’ was, there are some scouts who believe Painter has the best combination of stuff, arm action, delivery and future projection of the class.

A tall, 6-foot-6, 210-pound righthander, Painter has impressive body control already despite his size and pairs that with at least two impact pitches in a fastball and breaking ball. He’s shown a legit four-pitch mix in the past, but what gets scouts excited with Painter is when they project on his frame and imagine what he could look like in four or five years.

This isn’t a direct comparison to Mick Abel, but it does seem like at this point in the process, Painter is checking off starter traits and tools in a similar fashion to the Oregon prep first-rounder.

Carter Holton, LHP, Benedictine HS, Savannah, Ga.

Travel Team: Team Elite
Commit: Vanderbilt
Performance: G1 (Relief) 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 6 K, 2 BB, 56 pitches (64% strikes) | G2 (Start) 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 9 K, 4 BB, 92 pitches (58% strikes)

Holton got plenty of work in at the UBC, pitching an extended three-inning relief outing and then adding another long outing as a starter later in the event. He pitched well in both outings and racked up 15 strikeouts in just eight innings.

Holton doesn’t have the obvious pro frame and stuff that others like Burns and Painter possess now, but he does a lot of things well that could lead pro teams to try and scoop him out of a Vanderbilt commit. Holton sat in the 90-94 range for the most part, touching 95 and showing good ability to spin a solid slider and a solid changeup.

He’ll face scrutiny because of a 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame, but his ability to compete, throw strikes with three pitches, work at a quick tempo, change speeds and miss bats all impressed scouts more than they were expecting. While he doesn’t have a single carrying pitch or plus offering, his sequencing and feel for mixing and matching stands out.

James Peyton Smith, RHP, East Robertson HS, Cross Plains, Tenn.

Travel Team: Team Elite
Commit: Vanderbilt
Performance: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB, 64 pitches (64% strikes)

In a lot of ways, Peyton Smith is the opposite of Holton. Where Holton stands out for advanced pitch-making ability and feel, Peyton Smith jumped out with electric pure stuff.

His fastball got up to 98 mph and was consistently around 96, but there’s a lot of refinement that needs to happen outside of his fastball velocity. Peyton Smith has a lot going on in his delivery, with long arms and legs and plenty of length in the back of his arm action that could lead to inconsistencies with his control.

Scouts said he looked more like a thrower than a pitcher at the moment, and while his firm slider plays well off his fastball now, scouts think it’s just a fringe-average pitch presently. Peyton Smith has plenty of upside if he can iron out the delivery and firm up a 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, but there’s some reliever risk here as well.

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Cody Schrier, SS, JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Travel Team: Canes National
Commit: UCLA
Performance: 1-for-13, 3 BB, 4 K

Schrier has some similarities to Lile, in the sense that he doesn’t have a super projectable frame, but has plenty of present strength with a muscular, 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame. His statistical performance wasn’t loud at the UBC, but scouts like a lot of the things Schrier does.

He shows power to all fields, and while it might not be the prettiest swing they’ve ever seen, evaluators have some confidence that he’s going to be able to hit because of his track record and given how often he puts the barrel on the ball. Defensively, he has the arm strength and hands that could keep him at shortstop at the next level, where he would most likely profile as an offensive-oriented player there.

Schrier will be seen plenty throughout his high school season, as JSerra Catholic is loaded this year, with fellow top 100 prospects LHP Gage Jump and RHP Luke Jewett.

Roc Riggio, OF, Thousand Oaks (Calif.) HS

Travel Team: East Coast Sox
Commit: Oklahoma State
Performance: 4-for-11, 1 HR, 1 2B, 3 BB, 0 K

Riggio has been something of a conundrum for scouts and is likely already the victim of prospect fatigue. A famous name for years now thanks to his performance as an underclassman and play with Team USA, the bar always seems high for what Riggio needs to do to impress.

While he might not stand out in workout-oriented showcase events, Riggio always seems to produce. His feel for the game is exceptional and he’s the type of player who stands out the more you watch him. A 5-foot-9, 180-pound outfielder, Riggio isn’t overly projectable but has a lot of strength for his frame, with over-the-fence pop to the pull side.

He grinds out at-bats at the plate and has an advanced understanding of the zone and of what he can do as a hitter. He makes adjustments well within at-bats, shifting his feet in the box forward and back as he sees fit and he checks a lot of mental and leadership boxes with high baseball IQ, confidence, plenty of communication in the outfield and impressive reads and routes.

He’ll likely continue to be difficult for scouts to figure out as they try and square his baseball skills with his body and toolset.

Tommy White, 3B, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.

Travel Team: Florida Burn
Commit: North Carolina State
Performance: 6-for-13, 3 2B, 3 BB, 3 K

The MVP of the event, White carried the burden for Florida Burn offensively on the way to the team’s championship. From a scouting perspective, it’s clear White can hit, but he’s going to be a challenge for teams to figure out.

A big-bodied third baseman, White is listed at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and will need to put in plenty of work on his body and improve his defensive ability to stick at the hot corner. Many scouts already seem convinced he’ll have to move to first base.

But the bat is loud, and White leaves nothing on the table in the batter’s box. He takes big, aggressive swings and constantly tries to do damage. Even with the violence and intent he swings with, scouts think the swing path and his overall mechanics are solid. It’ll be a difficult profile as a right-right, likely first base profile out of high school and for that reason some teams might prefer to see him prove it at NC State. At the same time, he’ll be seen frequently with IMG Academy and have all the opportunity to show his bat is special enough to take a chance.

Max Debiec, RHP, O'Dea HS, Seattle

Travel Team: Canes National
Commit: Washington
Performance: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 2 K, 2 BB, 54 pitches (53% strikes)

Debiec has plenty of size that scouts like to see from a pitcher, with a 6-foot-7 202-pound frame that's described as "ultra projectable." With a fast arm to go on top of it and exciting pure stuff, Debiec has a lot of ingredients for scouts to get excited about.

Debiec has run his fastball up to 97 mph at its best in shorter outings this summer, but he peaked at 94 at the UBC, with his velocity ticking down into the upper 80s and low 90s as the innings progressed. He has potential with a breaking ball as well.

What scouts will look for moving forward with Debiec is more deception or the ability to miss bats more consistently. Evaluators noted that hitters managed good swings against him consistently in this event despite his stuff and he'll need to miss more bats to jump into the elite tier of arms. With his frame and the amount of weight he still should be able to pack onto it, Debiec's upside is significant.

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