BLWS Qualifier: Saturday

By: Nick Nickles-January 5, 2008


Diamond Prospects made its way into a cold, breezy ballpark at Eastside High School Saturday morning to take in the first baseball action of 2008 in a Big League World Series qualifier. The Royals (Eastside, Greenville) took on the Braves (Riverside) in the top half of the doubleheader and the Royals took on the Indians (J.L. Mann, Mauldin) in the bottom half. Then DP traveled to Simpsonville, SC to Heritage Park to watch the Indians take on the Yankees (Southside Christian, Greenville Tech Charter).

The pitchers are limited to strict pitch counts and the games carry a “spring training” type of feeling without the Florida and Arizona weather. So, the scoreboards are turned off but it was quite evident early that the good player’s pride was still turned on in these games.


Prospect Info: Braves (Riverside)


Michael Roth-Senior, USC signee, LHP/1B/OF: Roth looked very good physically. He has definitely put his time in the weight room this off-season and he looks the part physically from his peers. He started the game on the mound and was still funky-good and threw lots of strikes and changed speeds with ease. He looked in mid-season form and was very smooth mechanically in his delivery and still had the funky “John Rocker” type arm movement before his release. He will deliver impressive results for Riverside on the bump this season. Roth, in his one plate appearance, looked primed to be an absolute force this season at the plate. He hit a laser to the center fielder that left a jet trail out of the box. He looked very quiet in the box and worked counts in his favor without forcing the issue. Roth looks like he will be in the running for any post-season awards including our very own Diamond Prospects Diamond King Award.


Will Owens-Senior, Furman signee, SS/2B: Owens projects as a scrappy college second baseman. He is sure-handed with the glove and in multiple viewings I have yet to see Owings make a mistake in any aspect of the game. A David Eckstein protégé is a good comparison for Owens. He runs the bases aggressively; he seems to always have the extra step anticipation on a passed ball or when a first to third opportunity arises. Owings is a solid ballplayer.    


Alex Poag-Sophomore, OF: He was ready to hit. The confidence and determination he carried to the box was that of a player from a good program. Riverside’s players truly possess the “carry the torch” attitude. Poag had a double into right-center. He has a good swing and looks like he is ready to contribute for the Warriors this season.


Chipper Daniels-Unsigned Senior, INF: Daniels makes at least one difficult play look easy in every appearance. He is a plus defender at third base. He gobbles up everything in sight and makes accurate throws time and time again. He still has some work to do on the offensive side, but you can’t deny that he can play the hot corner.


Will Leathers-Sophomore, 2B: Leathers is another Warrior that is a good glove guy who can simply get it done. He is a young player who will create some curiosity over the next couple of years of how he will develop. Leathers draws an early comparison to senior Will Callaway of Eastside. He displays good hands and quick actions in the infield with an average second base arm as a tenth grader.

Prospect Info: Royals (Eastside)


Andy Thompson-Unsigned senior, LHP: The left-hander is not overpowering, but throws strikes, changes speeds, and more importantly, Thompson gets outs. He gets long and stays back well before he delivers the pitch and that seems to make his change-up really effective when he would throw it for strikes. He induced a couple of ugly swings in his outing. Thompson is an interesting guy of sorts and DP will be back to check out his velocity and his progressions during the prep season. He will log a lot of innings for Eastside this season and they will need him to be good to compete in a strong region. Division II schools should be on alert with this LHP.


Will Callaway-Unsigned senior, SS: Callaway has the best infield actions in the state in the senior class. He is a treat to watch play the infield. He made every single play on the frozen tundra with ease. He was in mid-season form throwing from an array of angles while making plays all day that ended with perfect throws on each chance. This kid makes it look easy. Callaway did square up two balls on the day that ended up on the fence, and he appears to have made some strides in the box. Callaway is one of the top   unsigned seniors available.


Austen Barber-Junior, C/RHP: Barber (left) is a catcher that has one of the better arms, if not the best from behind the plate in the 2009 class. He puts a strain on the run game for opposing teams. Barber is a contact hitter at the plate and has no problems going backside as he lets the ball get deep. Barber, a two-way player also is a pitcher with a good strong arm. He throws from a high slot and his fastball can stay on a plane, but it also compliments his 12-6 curveball. Barber deserves a “follow” status.


Clay Evans-Senior, P: Evans was not on the bump this day, but was making some noise in the box with the stick, by driving a baseball in the left-center field wall. Evans should be a major contributor for the Red Raiders as a two-way player this season.  

Prospect Info: Indians (J.L. Mann, Mauldin)

Emilio Pagan-Junior, JL Mann, RHP/SS: Pagan continues to improve in all aspects of the game. Pagan showed nice actions in turning a very nice 4-6-3 double play and has good arm strength. He is athletic enough to play up the middle or on the hot corner with minimal transition. Pagan displays a solid presence in the box as a left-handed hitter with some pop. Pagan has increased his strength and it was evident with his increased bat-speed from his last viewing. Pagan hits the baseball hard, and seems to have a clue. Pagan also took the hill and was throwing all three pitches for strikes and recording outs with ease. Pagan is a guy. 

Kellen Moman-Senior, JL Mann, Brevard signee, OF/RHP: Moman hit the lone homerun on the day, a line drive to right-center field. Moman has a line drive swing with some juice. He plays a solid right field with a good throwing arm. Moman got on the bump yesterday and was slinging some fastballs in a mid ¾ slot with some arm-side run and pretty good control. Mann should be able to get some outs in relief with Moman. Moman is a guy that could have a big year for the Patriots and all-conference accolades are not out of the question.


Paul Nitto-Junior, JL Mann, C/3B: Nitto looked solid behind the plate receiving the baseball. Nitto has all the tools to be a very good catcher. He has some improvements to make at the plate, but he handles a staff really well. He is an interesting player and deserves a definite follow status.   


David Donald-Sophomore, JL Mann, OF: Donald (right) brings speed and athleticism to the table in the centerfield position. He has a line drive producing swing with exceptional bat-speed. He had two hits on the day including one ball that was scorched up the middle that gathered the attention of everyone in the park. Donald is going to be a serious threat on the high school scene if he can stay humbled and not let “the talk” effect his hunger and aggressiveness on the field. Donald is a guy that all college coaches need to lock in on and pro scouts keep tabs on as his high school career progresses.


Robert Hardaway-Unsigned senior, Mauldin, RHP/3B: A guy who can throw in the mid-80’s and has a slightly above average breaking pitch. Hardaway has some stuff to work with and was generating some decent movement with his fastball at times during this outing. Hardaway will give the Mavericks some solid innings this year, and there may be more gas in the tank with this right-hander. JUCO’s and smaller schools should check to see if Hardaway fits the mold of their program.


Madison Younginer-Junior, Mauldin, Clemson commit, RHP/OF: He did not pitch on this day, but warming up before the game you could see the plus arm strength. Younginer is a definite pro prospect with his arm on the mound. He has long arms and a projectable body and will garner plenty of attention before his 2009 graduation date. Younginer will be a good hitter for his high school club as well, recording a line drive single and an RBI in two at bats today. Younginer has the ability to control Region II-4A this year on the bump if he is able to stay healthy and throw strikes consistently.


Colby Corn-Junior, Mauldin, OF/C: Corn was playing left field today and made several plus plays utilizing his speed. He closes on the ball quickly and recorded an outfield assist at second on a sure double down the line. Corn is a smaller guy, but has some foot speed, bat-speed and athletic skills to deem him interesting. He should be a solid fit for the Mavericks considering his versatility and speed.   


Phillip Alexander-Junior, Mauldin, 1B/OF/LHP: Alexander is a middle of the line-up bat. He has some pull power, and isn’t going to get cheated with his hacks. He throws strikes from the left side but doesn’t overpower hitters. Alexander projects best as a position player that can swing it a little bit.