One thing pitchers are asked to do all the time is “hit their spots.”
Picking your spot can be important as well, something Air Academy HS senior pitcher Grant Shandy displayed Sunday during showcase action in Greeley at the UNC Fall Classic, presented by Pathway Baseball and Triple Crown Sports.
As his Slammers-Ackerfeldt team took on the Rocky Mountain Oysters at University High School, Shandy struck out the first eight batters he faced, a timely effort with more than a dozen college coaches paying close attention. In his four innings of work, Shandy allowed just one walk and one hit batter, mixing his locations expertly.
“The end of my summer was a little rough, so I was happy to get out here again and pitch well. I’m trying play somewhere for college, so I feel this event helps me get that recognition,” Shandy said. “There’s some anxiety at first, but as you do it more it gets easier. This morning, I felt relaxed … I’m happy where I am. Spring was good, had some trouble with my mechanics but cleaned that up in the last month or so. Came out today and felt the best I have all summer and fall.”
“We’ve played in this event the last three years; we love the facilities, and obviously for the kids, the (colleges) being here, you get in front of a lot of schools,” said Slammers head coach Duane Ackerfeldt, whose own son has played in the tournament. “That was a pretty typical effort by Grant, as he’s always around the zone. He mixed in a slider, a breaking ball in fastball situations. He is definitely a pitcher, not a thrower, our best pitcher for sure.
“We talked a lot about playing unselfish baseball, where you give up an at-bat to score a run or move a runner. I think if a college scout is watching a guy hit with a runner on second and no outs, and he hits the ball to the right side, that’s better than a base hit in my opinion. I think the college guys understand that.”
With nearly 60 teams circulating around Northern Colorado for the event, the UNC Fall Classic was a natural platform for talented athletes from the region, with players from Arizona and Nebraska also joining the pool of Colorado players.
“This is a great event with great weather, and we had the biggest NC Fall Classic to date with 57 teams,” said event director and Pathway Baseball director Gino Grasso. “A lot of top level players took the field in front of 25-plus college coaches. We are excited to continue building and refining this event to make it the top fall event in Colorado and the region.”
Although the Oysters didn’t get much done in the Slammers matchup, they did score twice in the fifth inning. And of course, there were multiple games over the weekend for the Oysters to stretch out and show their skills.
“A lot of our kids are from the Western Slope, and sometimes they fly under the radar. That’s why we come to this event every year, because we want our guys to be seen by the 20 or so college coaches,” said Oysters head coach Joe Lefebre. “We’ve played some good teams; it’s a fun event. Baseball is a game you have to play to get better, and that’s why we have a fall program, to get that extra work.”
Pathway Baseball has one more event on the fall slate of events, running Sept. 20-23 in Peoria, AZ.
photo by Michael Brian
The final day of the 2018 UNC Fall Classic was a success by any measure. This is one event that continues to turn out so many of the best players in Colorado, year after year. Sunday's action allowed even more players to stand out and even earn themselves spots on recruiting boards for the first time.
Here are some of the notable performances from Day 2:
Slammers - Embry
Brady Rose - 2019 - LHP
Rose is a player who may have made a huge jump in velo at just the right time. Reportedly a high 70's to low 80's arm just weeks ago, Rose pitched at UNC’s Jackson Field in front of a large group of college coaches Sunday, with a velo spike as high as 86 mph. Rose sat 83-86 in his first inning with good command and clean arm action that really works. He flashed the makings of a good breaking ball and definitely projects to throw much harder in the future. Brady Rose is a lean 6'5'' who will be great to follow.
Norco Phillies Scout Team
Jared Ure - 2019 - RHP/1B
Ure is another 6'5'' athlete with some upside. He pitched Sunday and topped out at 86. He is another guy with clean arm action with whom we could see enormous velocity jumps in down the road. Ure is getting most attention as a pitcher but all weekend long he barreled up the baseball and could possibly hit at a very high level as well.
Cherry Creek - Johnson
Ben Perla - 2020 - SS
Perla is an exciting and very athletic infielder from Cherry Creek. He has plus actions and plays with tons of energy. He definitely projects to be a solid college baseball player already, and if he continues to get bigger and stronger it is hard to put a limit on where he could end up.
Colorado Rockies Scout Team
Brady Deacutis - 2020 - LHP
6'4'' with a loose and easy 3/4 slot. Up to 85mph.
Spye Turnbeaugh - 2020 - RHP
Good arm action and projects to throw hard. Up to 83mph. Turnbeaugh is 6'5''.
AJ Cordova - 2020 - RHP/SS
Repeatable mechanics, competes, great mound presence, good arm side run, sits 84-85 mph and will get stronger.
As expected, the UNC Fall Classic hosted some of the premier talent in Colorado Baseball and beyond. In its biggest year ever, there were high profile Division I commits dotting fields around Northern Colorado. Here is a quick peek at some of the noteworthy teams and players from Day 1.
Colorado Rockies Scout Team
The Rockies Scout Team, as usual, was loaded with big time athletes all over the field. Two future Division I infielders who stood out were:
Justin Boyd - 2019 - SS (verbally committed to Oregon State University)
Boyd is a special defensive infielder with all the ability needed to stay at shortstop in the Pac-12. He is a high-level hitter too, patient at the plate and swings with authority. Boyd also has the speed to be a real threat on the base paths.
Derek Shaver - 2019 - 3B (verbally committed to Wichita State University)
Shaver looks the part as a big-time corner infielder at the next level. A strong athletic build with arm strength that plays at the highest level. Shaver is also a strong hitter with the size and strength that projects to continue to hit for power down the road.
Phillies Scout Team
The Phillies Scout Team is a mix of 2019 and 2020 prospects, and they are athletic throughout the lineup with some projectability on the mound. Here are a few promising 2020s to watch:
Carter Young - 2020 - SS
Young is a high energy infielder with lots of athletic ability. He has plus actions and works through the baseball well; his arm strength is average and will likely find a home at 2B at higher levels. Young is an exciting player to watch and will become a real threat as a hitter as he continues to gain size and strength. He is also a good runner.
Ryan Ure - 2021 - LHP
Definitely a guy to keep on your radar. Ure is a 6’4” LHP that was up to 82 this morning. His arm works, and he will throw much harder as he progresses.
Tyler Holmes - 2019 - LHP
Another left-handed arm that can get it done. Holmes is a guy who is ready to get outs in college baseball now. He knows how to pitch and can really spin a breaking ball.
Additional noteworthy players:
Graham Osman - 2019 - LHP
Up to 87 with plus arm side run and natural deception. The makings of a wipeout slider (75-77mph).
CNBA - White
Trey Rodriguez - 2019 - OF
Very athletic and can really run (inside the park HR at UNC today)
Jack Moss - 2020 - 3B/RHP
Big-time athlete and LHH with some pop. Exciting to watch, verbally committed to the University of Virginia.
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.