BRADENTON, Fla. – With rain in the forecast later in the day, the organizers of the Prospect Development Pipeline League decided it would be prudent to move the afternoon game to an adjacent field to be played at the same time as the already-scheduled 10 a.m. game on Saturday. That
BRADENTON, Fla. – With rain in the forecast later in the day, the organizers of the Prospect Development Pipeline League decided it would be prudent to move the afternoon game to an adjacent field to be played at the same time as the already-scheduled 10 a.m. game on Saturday. That led to many scouts shuttling back and forth between fields trying to catch as much of the action as humanly possible. When Cam Brown (Flower Mound, Texas) took the mound in the fourth inning of that moved-up game, however, a critical mass formed behind home plate.
The right-handed Texas Christian recruit had electric stuff right out of the gate, striking out Austin Hendrick (West Allegheny, Pa.) on three pitches to begin his outing. He got Team Howard cleanup hitter Nolan McLean (Garner, N.C.) to ground out and struck out Michael Brooks (Palm Beach Central, Fla.) to end the frame. It was more of the same in the fifth, with two more strikeouts and a groundout to give him two perfect innings. He lost feel for the zone in the sixth after his fifth and final strikeout of his outing, walking three and giving up two runs (one earned) to get tagged with the loss.
Brown was up to 95 mph and sat at 93 mph with his fastball consistently, and he used a plus slider with tremendous success. He’s not afraid to throw it at any point in the count and got one strikeout by throwing two straight sliders, then climbed the ladder a bit with his fastball.
“The slider felt really good today, so I like to go out there and attack with it,” Brown said. “It makes my fastball look better when the slider is on. Just mix it up for hitters down the line, so they always have it in the back of their mind.”
Brown also threw a handful of changeups, giving him a third effective pitch, though he admits that’s a work in progress, a pitch he’s worked to develop with PDP coaches. That’s all a part of him learning to be a more complete pitcher and not just a guy who constantly tries to muscle it up on the mound.
“Being able to recognize [when I'm] overthrowing, being able to slow the game down mentally has been a big thing,” Brown said. “Just talking to the coaches through every inning, what I did well, what I can improve on for the next inning.”
That can be a challenge, especially for a young pitcher with a live arm. Looking up and seeing all the radar guns behind the plate makes it a bigger challenge for Brown to focus on his craft and not the miles per hour.
“Sometimes when I’m feeling it out there, I try to set a new PR [personal record],” Brown said. “I just need to learn how to throw to the game and get outs for my team. That’s something I need to work on, more consistently pitching to the game and letting my defense work instead of trying to strike everybody out or being greedy with the velocity.”
Dylan Crews (Lake Mary, Fla.) came into the PDP League as one of the most highly touted 2020 prospects in the country, a guy some feel could be a top 10 pick next June. But the talented outfielder was hitting just .188, albeit in a small sample size, heading into Saturday’s action. There wasn’t a lot to cheer about for Team Jeter, as they lost 14-3 to Team Larkin, but one bright spot was Crews picking up a couple of hits, including his first home run in league play.
“Coming out here, going 2-for-3, felt really good,” Crews said. “It took a big weight off my shoulders. I think it was timing early on and then I started thinking too much, instead of being myself and using my tools, what got me here.”
Facing Ethan Long (Mountain Pointe, Ariz.) in the eighth inning, Crews turned on a 92-mph fastball and hit a laser shot, 100 mph off the bat, that cleared the left-center-field fence. It felt even better for Crews because he has a history with Long.
“It felt really good off the bat,” Crews said. “I’m really familiar with the pitcher, we go way back. I didn’t think it had a chance to get out, but it just kept going. We grew up together, we know each other through showcases and stuff like that. We’re friends.”
Also for Team Jeter, starter Nate Wohlgemuth (Owasso, Okla.) put a so-so first outing behind him by throwing three hitless innings, walking just one and striking out two. The right-hander can crank it up to 95-96 mph, but stayed more at 91-93 mph in his outing on Saturday, resulting in better overall command. He mixed in a solid slider as well.
Team Larkin scored 14 runs on just 9 hits (Team Jeter pitchers issued nine walks and the defense made five errors). Not surprisingly, Hunter Haas (Tempe, Ariz.) had two of those hits. A very good defensive shortstop, he’s been making a lot of contact here and now has a .438 average with an OPS of 1.000.
Left-hander Kyle Harrison (De La Salle, Calif.) allowed a run on three hits, but also struck out five in his three innings of work. He’s now given up just the one run on five hits, walking one and striking out seven in six innings of PDP action.
Nolan McLean continued to impress on both sides of the ball. He singled in Austin Hendrick in the first inning to help Team Howard to an early lead, then came in to protect the 3-1 lead in the sixth and put up a pair of zeros, giving him three shutout innings in total in league play.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.