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DP Fall League: Opening Night-Rock Hill

By: Gary Randall - September 22, 2020

A classic fall evening welcomed in the Opening Night of the opening week of the DP Fall League-Greater Rock Hill doubleheader at the Chester Baseball Complex. Right off the bat, sincere thanks go out to Anthony Worthy and Guy Hall in Chester County Parks & Rec for allowing use and providing maintenance of the field as well as to Rock Hill HS Asst. Coach Jeremy McCoy for helping to get the field in its best possible shape for the players.

Tonight’s games were also played at Great Falls Republic Field and at the Kershaw County – West Complex where it’s reported that the Hill Cats were victors over Lancers II and the Bulldogs bested the Lancers 1 squad.

 

Although the evening went smoothly, there have been more challenges met and defeated by the 17 teams in this our fifth year of getting the league off the ground. Expectedly, there were rental fees, not begrudged, involved in the use of city/county fields once potential sites were investigated. In addition, count wins vs Covid and the legitimate concerns there, the many teams without any type of practice facilities still opting to play in the league, the inability (as yet) to play on the on campus home fields of participating schools/teams. Well-done coaches, players and parents. We salute you and pray everyone stays safe and well while enjoying this year’s league play.

-Game 1: Falcons B vs Trojans-

This Falcons team, one of three from Coach Michael Lewis and NAFO, ended up grabbing a “W” for the night They didn’t record that many base knocks, but a too large number of walks aided their cause. The Trojans didn’t appear to be at their best – scratched out only a few hits while allowing double-figure bases on balls. I’m sure both teams will “tighten up” as the league moves forward.

-Prospects: College and/or Pro-

Connor Griffin - Falcons B, 2022 IF, Uncommitted: Hits lead-off for good reason. On base 3 of 4 AB’s via a double and 2 walks. Like how he goes about his plan in the batter’s box. W/o the benefit of BP and I/O, I can’t say what his defensive assets are and the 1B times both through the bag and on a turn would question just how much speed resides there. Takeaways – more looks required, see how he fares vs velocity and how the throw/field/speed tools play out. For now, there certainly appears a possibility of developing a college-level tool/skill set.

Seth Hanson - Falcons B, 2022, RHP, Uncommitted: Solid and repeatable delivery and arm action, FB 80-83 w/ active tailing life. Compact mechanics, direct line arm path, more hip load possible. CB 71-72, casted some, but bite and depth were good when he got it right. Quick pace to work, threw plenty of strikes both with FB and CB. Potential small college fit with some minor improvements.

Ben Venables - Trojans, 2021, SS, Uncommitted: Have seen Ben have better nights at the plate, but his plate approach, barrel feel and twitchy bat speed will play as he adds experience and strength to his lean, athletic look. Certainly sufficient running speed is there as evidence by a 4.37 home-1B time on a GB to SS. We’re likely looking at a 6.7-6.9/60 time. No I/O disallowed a legit look at arm strength and fielding ability and thus necessitates a bit more time discerning where he now is in those tool categories.

-Top Game Producers-

Falcons B: Connor Griffin-double and 2 walks, Seth Hanson-single and a walk, Luke Keller-3 walks, Drew Brink-scoreless inning pitched, Paul Solari-scoreless inning pitched.

Trojans: Casey Baker-double, RBI and a walk in 2 AB’s, Cole Jordan-single and HBP in 3 AB’s, Nick Cain-scoreless 2 innings on the mound.

FB Velocities: Falcons B – Seth Hanson 80-83, Carter Cox 75-78, Drew Brink 71-74, Paul Solari 72-74, Braydn Deaton 74-76. Trojans – Cole Jordan 75-81, Nick Ondus 73-75, William Kent 79-82, Nick Cain 70-73.

-Game 2: Falcons A vs Bearcats-

Rather impressive opening night performance by the Falcons A team laying barrel after barrel on the ball both early and late in the game to tally a double figure run total. Their pitching was equally adept - say stingy - chalking up a lot of punchouts, walking only 4 and making hits hard to come by. For the Bearcats, it was not their best showing. I’ve seen most of these players for a year or two and they are better than how they showed this evening. Count on them making positive strides as we move through the season.

-Prospects: College and/or Pro-

John Wimmer - Trojans, 2023, SS, Uncommitted: Lot of potential here, definite D-1 candidate and solid odds for pro future with improvements. Plenty of whip in the bat, loose, potentially powerful stroke w/ some S/M in there. Won’t say can’t play SS at college level, but betting better fit at 2B or 3B down the road. That being said – he tends to field the ball and shows at least an adequate arm. Interesting talent to follow.

Kellan Bowman - Falcons A, IF, 2023, ECU Commit: Loose, athletic type showing potential tools/skills to play game at next level and wouldn’t rule out pro ball after this brief look. Patient, balanced plate approach drove backside gap for a double. Excited about checking more boxes on this one when I get a more detailed look.

Aaron Pendergast - Falcons A, 3B, 2021, Uncommitted: “Steady Eddie” look both offensively and defensively. Frequent barrels, solid defender. Catches also, a plus for a LH stick. Probably bat over power now, though strength gains over time may make that more even. Zero doubt there is a college fit for him out there – definite small college and perhaps a preferred mid-D1 walk-on. I’m told he’s an elite student. C’mon coaches…

Gabe Simmons - Falcons A, MIF, 2023, Uncommitted: Another HS sophomore that impressed. Solid set-up in the box, ready to hit, barrel stays through the zone. LD’s all over the park this night. Expected to continue developing as a hitter with power starting to show up real soon. Strength of speed and defensive tools yet undetermined. Word is – D-1’s all over the place descending on him. There’s no doubt he fits there and pro attention is likely just around the corner.

Justin Lehman - Falcons A, C/RHP, 2021, Army Commit: Many looks at Justin over the years in travel ball and in DP. LH-hitting catching, improving ability to get the barrel to the ball instead of dragging it. More pop showing up too. Arm strength is the showcase tool here, whippy and strong arm. If there is an area requiring ongoing attention, it would have to be receiving skills. There is a better chance he makes those improvements than a positional change will be necessary. Don’t count this one out on the mound either – FB up to 91 MPH, 88+ on call, and a CB that is unfair to HS hitters. More a thrower than a pitcher now, but he’s likely not spent a ton of time refining his pitching ability. D1 talent and potential pro ball either as C or RHP certainly a possibility.

Taylor Sprinkle - Falcons A, RHP, 2021, Uncommitted: Definite improvements over last year’s version in this league. FB up to 85 MPH, looseness and quickness to arm that will combine with physical strength gains to push the top end FB to at least 90, perhaps more. Add present out-pitch CB to the potential FB and we likely have a mid-D1 type talent here, at least one that must be scouted by those coaches. Solid over elite k-thrower with consistency expected to arrive.

-Top Game Producers-

Bearcats: Jason Shaefer-only hitter on team not to K at least once, added an INF hit. Kyle Wimmer-scoreless inning pitched.

Falcons A: Kenan Bowman-1-2 with a double, two walks and 2 runs scored, Gabe Simmons-2-3 with 2 singles and a sac-fly. Justin Lehman-2-3, two singles, two runs scored. Struck out the side in the 7th. Eric Yelton-3-4, two singles and a double, 3 runs scored. And, two effective innings pitched.  Steven Johnson-1-2, single, two walks, SB. Miles Baker-2-3, double and a single. Taylor Sprinkle-two strong innings pitched with punches for 5 of 6 outs. Chico Moreno-clean IP pumping lots of strikes, David Krise-scoreless inning, all in the zone.

FB Velocities: Bearcats: Kobe Thurmond 74-77, Morris Morrison 68-70, Kyle Wimmer 75-77, Max Gladstone 70-72, Ren Norman 70-72, John Wimmer 80-83. Falcons A: Taylor Sprinkle 81-85, Eric Yelton 80-83, Chico Moreno 74-76, David Krise 75-77, Justin Lehman 86-91.