ANAHEIM, Calif. – In a series of tournaments that places an emphasis on longstanding teams surviving and advancing over a long period of time with the same players in place, depth is as important as high level individual prospects. It should come as no surprise then that the inaugural SoCal Qualifier was won handily by the deepest team in the field: CBA Marucci.
Like the Super25 itself, CBA Marucci is technically in it's first year of existence, though it is years in the making. CBA Marucci is a spin off of the storied ABD Bulldogs program, which has produced countless professional players and won numerous national tournaments over the years. The Bulldogs remain a strong team in their own right even after the split and reached the semifinals and had a couple of players who stood out from a scouting standpoint and will be discussed in paragraphs below. But for this event, it was CBA who stood above the rest, advancing out of the Qualifier stage in highly impressive fashion.
Below are a few of the players who made an impression over the weekend at the SoCal Qualifier:
RHP/OF Kyle Molnar - The No. 3 ranked prospect (nationally) in the class of 2015 is obviously impressive on the mound at his primary position, and he lived up to expecations when given the ball in the championship game. But watching him in the outfield in previous games made it quite clear that if he chooses to play at the college level, he has the ability to be in the lineup everyday as an outfielder on the days he isn't pitching. On the mound he pitched at 88-91 topping out at 92 mph with a low effort delivery, flashing late sink and run. His curveball flashes plus potential and was at it's best at 74 mph with biting 11-5 action, though he is still developing consistency with it. He also showed off his newest weapon, an 80 mph slider. There are no glaring holes in his game as position player or pitcher, though if he develops his secondary pitches and continues to fine tune his repertoire on the mound, he may hang up his outfield glove come June of 2015.
2015 C Chris Betts - Molnar's battery-mate in the championship game is a highly ranked prospect in his own right (No. 17), and he provided a big presence to the cleanup spot in the order for the tournament champions. His plus raw arm strength allows him to take his time and make accurate throws more consistently than most catchers at this level, the result is that he rarely posts impressive pop times, but that is partly due to the fact that he doesn't rush his throws and thus has a high rate of success on the throws he does make. He'll need to quicken his release time for the next level, but he has the raw tools to make an adjustment to his approach. If he stays behind the plate, his bat provides a lot of upside given his raw power. Though he has also pitched in short stretches and there is some intrigue amongst scouts about his potential there as well, though he's obviously still seen as a C/1B (in that order).
2015 LHP Bailey Falter - The tall projectable left hander sat 84-86 in a quick first inning and cruised through the early innings of the semifinals before exiting with a lead (and shutout). He is still learning how to use his height to his advantage and work downhill consistently, but he shows the raw ingredients to project an interesting prospect profile with continued development.
2015 LHP Kyle Robeniol - Command and pitchability is the name of the game for Robeniol. He doesn't quite overpower hitters with his mid 80s fastball, though it is fairly firm for this level and he generates it with little effort. But it's his ability to locate that fastball on a consistent basis that allows him to mix his secondary pitches with so much success. His fastball/changeup combination is advanced for an underclassmen and he shows an idea how to set up and put away hitters. If his stuff can take a step or two forward while maintaining his command, he could become a high level prospect.
2015 1B/RHP Eric Wagaman- Wagaman may have been the most interesting find of the event for PG, as he was not in the database prior to the event. He's a large framed two-way player. He shows a quick arm with a chance to generate good velocity as he learns to incorporate his lower half better and his frame suggests he could develop into a pitcher long term. But presently, it's his power bat that stands out most. In their matchup with CBA Marucci, Wagaman tagged a deep fly ball that bounced off of the high fence in left center at Carter HS that was positioned about 350 feet from home plate. He is a high school teammate of Kyle Molnar's, combine that with playing for the ABD Bulldogs and this is almost certainly not the last look we'll get at Wagaman.
2014 IF Jordan Pearce- The big left handed hitter has solid prospect grade present raw power. While he had a relatively quiet tournament, he was certainly a presence in the lineup for CBA Marucci whose outs were loud. Defensively he likely profiles at third base, though that is still being determined at this point.
2015 C Ty Greene- Greene lacks the prototypical size of a textbook catching prospect, but he has an immature body that is still growing and has quick actions behind the plate. He posted pop times between innings as low as 2.04 with a quick release, though he understandably deferred a lot of the playing time at that position to Chris Betts. He has a crouched and coiled approach at the plate that allows him to get maximum use of his available leverage to create suprising power, homering to right field in the semifinals.
2015 OF/LHP Steven Elliott- The undersized leadoff hitter uses his small stike zone to his advantage, combining a short swing (though he also showed the ability to adjust) with quick hands and good strike zone judgement to be a very pesky tablesetter. He touched 80 mph on the mound with a short quick arm action and projects across the board. How much he develops physically will ultimately set his ceiling as a prospect, but he has an athletic body that he gets the most out of at this point.