The 2018 schedule marks the beginning of when Pathway Baseball began to make a real difference in the lives of athletes, families and college baseball programs looking for the best recruiting fits, with high-value events taking root in Omaha, Atlanta and Albuquerque.
Next up is the Northern Colorado Fall Classic, slated for Aug. 24-26 at a dozen fields orbiting the Front Core cities of Fort Collins, Greely, Johnstown, Loveland and Windsor. In a successful nine-year partnership with the University of Northern Colorado, this event is a regional showcase highlight drawing high school programs in and around Colorado to play in front of dozens of college coaching staffs.
Word is spreading, as the number of showcase teams attending has spiked from 43 in 2017 to 60 this year.
“There’s a reason why multiple college programs and a growing number of high school showcase squads continue to invest time and energy toward the Northern Colorado Fall Classic,” said Gino Grasso, director of Pathway Baseball. “The four-game guarantee keeps the tempo and enthusiasm levels nice and high, and Pathway Baseball will go the extra mile to make sure the colleges have every opportunity to learn about players who have improved and become more relevant after the summer season.”
Coaches from UNC will be on hand at selected fields to provide an instructional tone to the event, offering occasional instruction and encouragement. Scores are not kept for the two-hour showcase games, and each half inning rolls over to the next after the eighth batter.
Pathway Baseball has one more impact event to deploy later this year, the inaugural Sept. 20-23 Fall Games Arizona set at the Peoria Sports Complex.
The Underclass Division at USBC is off and running. Here is a list of just a few of the promising young prospects that stood out in the first two days.
Michael Schultz – Richmond Braves - RHP – 2020
Michael Schultz from the Richmond Braves is RHP that has promise. Schultz’s FB ranged from 81-86 mph in his time on the mound. His delivery is slow paced but otherwise conventional. With a good arm and the ability to spin a breaking ball, he will be a player to follow for most college programs.
Ben Harrison – RI Baseball Club – SS – 2019
Ben Harrison is an athletic lanky bodied infielder. He stands somewhere around 6’3’’ and moves extremely well for his size. Harrison has good infield arm action and the arm strength to stay at short stop at the next level.
Xavier Baker – NJ Nationals – SS – 2021
Legitimate short stops are few and far between, and Xavier Baker just might turn into one. Baker is an extremely athletic infielder with a plus arm for a 2021. He plays defense with good tempo and understands when and how to turn up the dial. He can hit too. This is a very interesting player to keep an eye on in the NJ Nationals organization. Baker has good hands and feet defensively. He is still young but could potentially turn into a player with 3 legitimate tools.
John Gillespie – Diamond Spikes Baseball – LHP – 2019
Gillespie stands at 6’7’’ with a long slender frame. His arm action is coming along, and as he gains in experience and strength, we expect to see big velocity improvements. As long as he is around the zone like he was today, he will be successful. There is natural deception in his delivery because of his height alone and some arm side run to go along with it.
Jordan Griffin – Ocean State Swarm – 1B – 2019
Hitters with an actual power potential is another rare thing in high school baseball. Right handed hitter, Jordan Griffin, has power. He is a very strong with a large frame. He has a huge presence at the plate. As a hitter his he is somewhat raw, but his swing does play. His strength at the plate gives him a chance to hit the ball a long way every time he swings and there is more bat speed in there.
A great turnout for the Pro Day Camp before the Underclass Division of USBC. Here are the highlights from the workout:
Top 30 Yard Dash Times:
1. Sean Farrell, Ocean State Swarm – 3.75
2. Tommy Jasmin, Dirt Dawgs – 3.81
3. AJ Maicchio, Sports Kingdome Aces – 3.82
Top Position Player Velocities:
1. Aiden Cury, Sports Kingdome Aces - 87
2. Noah Cook , Ocean State Swarm - 87
3. Jake Randall, RI Baseball Club - 87
4. Eric Yost, Sports Kingdome Aces - 87
Top Catcher Pop Times:
1. Ginafranco Messina, Ocean State Swarm – 1.96
2. Mason Kelper, Mid-State Maverics – 1.97
3. Joe Giudice, Generals – 1.97
Top Ball Exit Speed:
1. Sean Sposato, RI Baseball Club - 94
2. Joe Giudice, Generals – 93 mph
3. Elijah Lambros, Mizuno – 91
USBC Upperclass Division Champions
The CT Blue Jays defeated the RBA South Phillies to win the Upperclass division of the U.S. Baseball Championships. Both organizations have been a staple of the event from the beginning and tend to attract the attention of many college coaches and scouts during USBC.
This year, the CT Blue Jays and head coach, Joe Serfass, were typically strong and well coached. With athletes up and down the lineup and arms that really know how to pitch, it is no surprise to see them come out on top. Congratulations to CT Blue Jays organization.
A Quarter Finals Match-up
It wouldn’t be USBC if there was not a Richmond Braves vs. Virginia Cardinals conversation. Both programs have a long history of winning in Virginia and at the U.S. Baseball Championships. It is said to be one of the better rivalries in travel baseball, and yesterday these teams squared off in the quarter finals of the upperclass event. The Virginia Cardinals won the contest by a run, but the story today is about the starting pitchers from both programs.
#19 Jimmy Starnes – 2019 RHP - Virginia Cardinals – West Virginia University verbal commit
Starnes is a Virginia native that attends IMG Academy in Florida. He has shown arm strength and promise all along, but yesterday it was apparent he is really figuring out how to pitch. We have seen huge improvements in his stuff since last year at USBC. His FB is reported to often reach the low 90s or higher, and more impressive is the amount of arm side run and natural deception from his ¾ slot and relatively easy delivery. Complimenting his plus FB is the makings of a wipeout slider. Scouts will hope to see Starnes mature and show better presence on the mound in challenging situations, but there is no question he has the stuff to make it happen at the highest of levels. Starnes went the distance and got the win for the Cardinals.
#6 Mason Delane – 2019 RHP – Richmond Braves – VCU verbal commit
Delane is an athletic bodied pitcher listed at 6’4’’, 178 lbs. He has a conventional over the top delivery that generates serious hand speed and downhill velocity. Delane throws a hard breaking ball that has some shape now and a lot of promise. He is also a K thrower, and with his athletic frame and sound mechanics, expect to see big velocity jumps in the future. Delane topped out at 89 mph at an event earlier this summer.
Power Hitter’s Report
The upperclass event has featured a number of huge bats this year and some of these big hitters deserve attention. Here is a list of players that could add some serious thump to the middle of any lineup.
Connor Davidson – 2019 – 3B – GBG Northeast Hawks - Uncommitted
Davidson is a right handed hitting third baseman with real power. He was the favorite going into the homerun derby based on his performance at the pro day camp where he showed the ability to consistently drive the ball in the gaps and flashed big time pull power. Davidson has serious bat speed now (over 90+ mph BES off a tee) and legitimate power potential at the next level. As he gains experience, his ability to hit for power in BP will start to really translate. His swing is conventional and sound already.
Benjamin Avila - 2019 – C – NY Nighthawks – Uncommitted
Avila is a big presence at the plate. Listed at 5’11’’, 195 lbs he is an aggressive swinger that has power to all fields. He is one of a number of players on the Nighthawks with a potential power tool. Avila has a stocky frame and is very strong for a high school baseball player.
Darren Stanford – 2019 – 1B/OF – RBA South Phillies - Uncommitted
Stanford is an interesting player that flashed some serious power at times this week. He is a little raw as a hitter but the power is there. Another strong bodied athlete that might be one to keep an eye on as he matures. For a big kid he runs well but his position at the next level is in question, the natural fit will likely be at 1B or even a DH, he plays some OF as well.
Mark Smith – 2019 – Mizuno Black Sox
This kid is an athlete. After winning the HR derby with somewhere near 30 dingers at RF&P Park (most of which well beyond the fence, if not off the train car), he continued to show his bat speed in games all week and his overall athleticism. Right now, his power and approach is primarily to the pull side, but he is athletic enough to make adjustment when needed. Smith has the Pro Day Camp high BES at 96 mph off a tee. Worth a follow for any level recruiting coach or professional scout.
Current Playoff Bracket:
10 RBA South Phillies 2019
1 LONG ISLAND STRONG BASEBALL ACADEMY
2 Richmond Braves 17u 2018
3 Evolution Baseball
2 Triple Crown Wolves Upperclass
13 GBG Northeast Hawks 17U
1 NE Dirt Dawgs Showcase
6 Mizuno Blacksox PB 17U
3 RBA South Phillies 2019
4 CT Blue Jays Elite
2 Richmond Braves 17u 2018
3 NY Nighthawks
8 Triple Crown Wolves Upperclass
0 Dirtbags 18U
4 NE Dirt Dawgs Showcase
6 Virginia Cardinals 2019's
9 LONG ISLAND STRONG BASEBALL ACADEMY
8 CT Blue Jays Elite
8 Evolution Baseball
10 NY Nighthawks
1 Dirtbags 18U
9 GBG Northeast Hawks 17U
2 Mizuno Blacksox PB 17U
3Virginia Cardinals 2019's
The Virginia Cardinals finished the day with two victories. As usual, the Cardinals were loaded with talent. Today’s roster featured four Division I commits including Ty Barker (VMI), Brett Cook (Tulane), Justin Stark (VMI), and Jimmy Starnes (West Virginia). Cook had a typically explosive day at the plate with multiple hits and continues to show off his speed on the base paths. The rest of the Cardinal’s roster includes many high-profile and uncommitted prospects. In their first game of the day, uncommitted 2019 RHP, Devin Miles, showed well. Miles’ fastball topped out at 89 mph. At 5’10, 155lbs, there is probably more to come out of his fastball. Velocity aside, Miles effectively dominated hitters with a hard slurvy breaking ball that plays at the next level. He is also a strike thrower.
In the Cardinal’s second game against the Mizuno Blacksox, Alex LaRou, a 2020 RHP started on the mound. LaRou is quickly becoming one of the more sought-after arms in his class. His velo was down this morning, 77-79 mph, but scouts shouldn’t shy away. LaRou has a 6’6’’- 205 lbs frame and his arm works. When his extra-large frame is in sink you can expect to see a whole lot more velocity, earlier in the summer he was clocked at 84 mph with a few reports of even bigger numbers. It will be exciting to see this prospect progress in the coming years as he continues to get stronger and hone his skills.
USBC is not light on athletic middle infielders this year that can flat out pick it. Two high energy players in the middle that are fun to watch are Evolutions Baseball’s, Nick Carelli and the NY Nighthawk’s, Adrian Paulino. Carelli was at the pro day camp and was notably one of the most talented infielders with plus hands and feet. After watching two days of Carelli in live games it is clear that his skills translate on the field when it matters. Carelli is athletic and it shows, he can hit too. Carelli is 5’7’’ – 150lbs. Paulino is also an extremely athletic infielder listed at 5’6’’ – 155 lbs. Even on a very athletic Nighthawks club, he stands out. Paulino is a fast twitch athlete with plus defensive actions.
The action continues tomorrow at the Virginia Sports Complex and RF&P in Glen Allen.
Richmond Braves 6, NE Dirt Dawgs Showcase 4
Richmond Braves’ starting pitcher, Mason Delane, continues to show promise as he topped out at 88mph with his fast ball this morning. The VCU commit projects to throw harder in the coming years. He has continued to make velo jumps throughout the summer, and as he fills out his lenky 6’4’’ frame, expect to see even more. As Delane’s breaking ball (currently a slider) develops to compliment his velocity, we expect he will be a special prospect to follow into his college career.
Following Delane on the mound, the Braves rolled out uncommitted 2019 RHP, Colby Hutnan, who also displayed some projectability. Hutnan is another lenky bodied RHP with clean arm action and a bright future. Pitching exclusively from the stretch, the rising senior sat in the low 80’s this morning with more in the tank. Scouts have reported velocity spikes as high as 87 mph throughout the summer. Another interesting prospect entering his senior year uncommitted.
Triple Crown Wolves 1, RBA South Phillies 7
Dirtbags 2, Long Island Baseball Academy 11
NY Nighthawks 4, Virginia Cardinals 12
Right handed hitter, Ty Garner, showed raw wood bat strength at the plate with the first homerun of the day to deep left center. Garner is an uncommitted 2019 third baseman that plays for the Virginia Cardinals.
Evolution Baseball 0, Mizuno Blacksox PB 5
GBG Northeast Hawks 4, CT Blue Jays Elite 8
CT Blue Jays have a number of exciting players, one prospect to keep an eye is 2018* (doing a PG year) short stop, Gianni Zarrilli. Zarrilli is an infielder that truly projects to play short stop at the next level. His athleticism is apparent the moment he steps on the field. He looks the part and possesses plus infield actions along with the arm strength needed to get it done on the left side of the infield. Zarrilli is still uncommitted and will enter a Prep Year at Salisbury this fall.
USBC, hosted by Pathway Baseball, kicked off today with the Upperclass Pro Day Camp at the Virginia Sports Complex and the Home Run Derby at RF&P Stadium. Here are some of the day’s highlights.
Top Position Players Velocities
1.86mph – Ryan Kane – LI Strong – 2018 - OF
2.85mph – Connor Hujsak – Evolution – 2020 - OF
3.84mph - Andrew Eppingers – Evolution Baseball – 2020 - OF
Top Catcher Pop Times
1.2.00 - Jose Matos – LI Strong – 2019
2.2.10 – Eric Preston – Evolution Baseball -2019
3.2.15 – Michael Milanoski – 2019
Top Bat Exit Speed
1. 96mph – Mark Smith – Mizuno Black Sox – 2019
2. 92mph – Frankie Hernadez Jr. – Evolution Baseball – 2020 Gradute
3. 91mph - Connor Davidson – GBG Northeast Hawks – 2019
The following players were identified and selected by the Pathway Scouting team as prospects with power to participate in the Home Run Derby:
Connor Davidson – GBG Northeast Hawks – 2019 Graduate
Mark Smith – Mizuno Black Sox – 2019 Graduate
Frankie Hernadez Jr. – Evolution Baseball – 2020 Graduate
Andrew Florio – Evolution Baseball – 2020 Graduate
Brad Sakellarides – LI Strong Baseball – 2019 Graduate
Thomas Analetto – NE Dirt Dawgs – 2019 Graduate
Dan Saraceno – GBG Northeast Hawks – 2019 Graduate
Trey Stover – Mizuno Black Sox – 2019 Graduate
Champion – Mark Smith
RunnerUp – Frankie Hernandez Jr.
After wrapping up the Great Lakes Spectacular in Michigan a couple days ago, Triple Crown takes Pathway Baseball east for the highly anticipated U.S. Baseball Championships in Richmond and Henrico County, Virginia.
USBC has established itself as one of the premier college exposure events in the country. It features a small amount of teams and big exposure; the event has seen over 40 college coaches and professional scouts in attendance the past two years. In 2018, there will be 15 Underclass (16u) and 12 Upperclass (17u and 18u) teams from ten different states competing and 26 college coaches committed to attend.
“The U.S. Baseball Championships has been a strong college exposure event for the past eight years in the Richmond and Henrico County area,” said Pathway Baseball director Gino Grasso. “While it has lost some steam this year in total team numbers, we are looking at ways to grow the event and bring it under the Pathway umbrella in 2019. The baseball talent is rich in Virginia and surrounding states and there are tons of colleges within driving distance to recruit. I can see this being one of our top Pathway events in the coming years.”
Tomorrow, Tuesday June 18, the Upperclass division will start off the 2018 USBC with a bang at the Home Run Derby held at RF&P Stadium. The 5-game guarantee will start the following day and teams will soon be seeded in a single-elimination bracket that concludes on Monday, July 23. The 2017 USBC Underclass champions, the Virginia Cardinals, have moved up an age group and are in the mix of talented Upperclass competition this year.
The Underclass division takes their cuts later this week with their own Home Run Derby. The tournament format models the Upperclass division and includes playing on first-class facilities such as the University of Richmond, Randolph Macon College, RF&P Stadium and a few beautiful, local high school fields.
In addition to showcasing power at the home run derby, USBC offers position players the opportunity to showcase their skills prior to pool play at the College Exposure Clinics, also known as the Position Player Preview Workouts. The team invite is included in the USBC entry fee and every team will have a time slot to showcase position players in front of college coaches in infield and outfield specific drills as well as batting practice and a timed 60-yard dash.
The clinic will take place at Virginia Sports Complex with the following lineup: Infielders 8am-10, outfielders 10:30am-12:30, and pitchers/catchers 1:30pm-4. Players are welcome and encouraged to come to one or all of the time slots.
For more information, event updates and news, follow the Pathway Twitter, @PathwayBB or visit the website, www.pathwaybaseball.com.