On September 25 and 26 I was up in New England to check out the Future Stars Series International Week, a preview of which can be found here.
Friday was a pair of games at Fenway Park, with a third game Saturday held at the home of the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. You can find a writeup of the teams here after getting a look at them, followed by a list of superlatives at the bottom.
I will say overall I was very impressed by the event. Every player involved proved they deserved their spot, including the guys who were under the radar coming in, in terms of status. I will give those in charge of the program a ton of credit, for not only filling the game with quality players but also for legitimately caring about each and every one of the kids involved.
This is part one of a two part article, and will focus on the hitters seen in the game with a writeup and at least one highlight clip from the weekend for each. The pitchers will come in a second article.
Christopher Bernal, C - Heading into this event I had Bernal as a solid catching prospect, but one a little ways down the list in what is a very strong year for prep catchers. Bernal turned in an eye opening performance, showing more athleticism than I had seen, impacting the game with his play on the bases, in defense(including some work in the infield), and especially with the bat. Bernal is now firmly in the middle of the pack with a chance to keep pushing his way up the list this spring.
2021 catcher Chris Bernal (@chrisbernal_21) puts this throw on the money gunning down a baserunner trying to steal during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @TxStateBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/YvyffvgvXi— (@Program15BB) September 25, 2020
Brady Christensen, OF - Christensen came in probably the least heralded player on the National roster due to missing time following a Tommy John surgery, but he didn’t leave that way. The large framed, projectable outfielder showed off a potentially big lefty bat as he continues to fill out. Everytime Christensen would come up, you started to expect hard contact. He’s firmly on the radar now.
2021 outfielder Brady Christensen (@Bradyy_1) generates plenty of quality leverage from his 6’4 - 190 lb physique crushing hard liners at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @ReiverBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/k6PrjQsihm— (@Program15BB) September 30, 2020
Cam Collier, 3B/SS - Cam Collier came in as a 15 year old sophomore, but that didn’t matter. The son of former big leaguer Lou Collier came in as one of the truly elite players in the Class of 2023, and left me saying this might be the best prep infielder I have ever seen and the early favorite to be the #1 overall pick in 2023. Collier is an infielder who played short and third here, showing off a good glove and huge arm from the left side of the infield- no surprise since he can touch 93 MPH off the mound(93 at the start of a sophomore year is a huge velocity). But it’s the bat that’s special- actually SPECIAL. Collier has an advanced feel for hitting, and turned in some of the best batting practice of everyone, regularly hitting homers out of a Double-A park. If you want to see what a potential top pick candidate looks like, go check out Mount Paran Christian this spring.
2023 INF/RHP Cameron Collier (@Cam_Collier16) put on a show today during batting practice launching several loud homers at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @LouisvilleBSB commit pic.twitter.com/4UZkrHfsls— (@Program15BB) September 27, 2020
Carson Crawford, INF - Carson Crawford is another guy who really helped his stock during the event. The infielder out of California may end up moving from short to third longterm, but he’s got a better feel for hitting and more juice in the bat than what I had believed going in. Crawford has the ability to be an intriguing third base prospect with the glove and bat, and is someone to watch going forward.
2021 infielder Carson Crawford (@carsonCraw12) showed easy power in live games and batting practice drilling a cardboard fan on the green monster during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @CalBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/aIUN6pw6mV— (@Program15BB) September 28, 2020
Josh Heath, 1B - The big Pennsylvanian showed off his lefty power bat at the event, regularly making hard contact. He’s definitely a bat first prospect, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good athlete for his size and a guy who may be able to handle a corner outfield spot despite playing more first base here due to all of the great athletes available to fill in the outfield spots.
2021 outfielder Josh Heath (@JoshHeath_) showing off his powerful lefty stroke during BP driving hard shots to all fields at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @WVUBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/a4SzVWIVX2— (@Program15BB) September 30, 2020
Ian Moller, C - This wasn’t the best I’d seen of Ian Moller, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t tell why this kid is special. Moller turned in some of the best batting practice rounds both days, nearly taking a ball out of Fenway Park completely- only to have it stay in because it hit hard off a sign behind the green monster. Moller is normally a very solid defender, but struggled with his receiving and blocking as well as making some throws that were offline. In game he had some swing and miss, more than what you would normally see from him- but he did impact a few balls well. Moller is a high character kid and a leader, and you could see that with his interactions with his teammates during the weekend. This performance does nothing to drop a kid who has consistently been among the top performers in the country against elite competition.
2021 catcher Ian Moller (@ian_moller24) showed off his premium power potential blasting loud shots to the fence during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @LSUbaseball commit pic.twitter.com/F6TWEVq6wn— (@Program15BB) September 27, 2020
Braden Montgomery, OF - Braden Montgomery went out and showed why he is an elite prospect with his performance here. He had a huge weekend at the plate, as well as showing he is a more than capable pitcher- even though his future is clearly with the bat. Montgomery has one of the best hit tools in the entire prep class, a high level of athleticism, and is just a fun player to watch. He came away with a first round grade for me.
Braden Montgomery OF/RHP quickly followed up the scoring w/ a two-run double for the National team.— Michael Marino (@MMarino31) September 29, 2020
A @StanfordBSB commit, clean swing, great feel for the game & big-time two-way skills, as the #1 MS recruit heads to the West Coast.@Program15BB @ftrstarsseries @Braden2baseball pic.twitter.com/VW9E7FC7z3
Josh Pearson, OF - The younger brother of former Angels third round pick Jacob Pearson, Josh Pearson is a similar caliber hitter with arguably more present pop in his bat. Pearson showed off that bat early on Friday with a strong BP at Fenway, including a homer off the famed Pesky Pole, and had one of the key hits of the day with the below double to the right field wall.
Roc Riggio, 2B - Roc Riggio isn’t the biggest kid or the one with the most tools, but once a game starts he is just making plays. Riggio played a very strong defensive second base(highlight below), has the ability to make things happen with his legs on the bases, and showed off his feel for getting a barrel on the ball. This kid is just a ballplayer, and he’s going to make one organization very happy when they draft him. It’s also worth noting that he gets very high marks for character.
Roc Riggio 2B/OF CA (@OSUBaseball commit) highlight-reel play showcasing his plus infield potential this past weekend at Fenway.— Michael Marino (@MMarino31) October 2, 2020
Shows off his plus athleticism, quick footwork & glove.
(Not the last of his highlights from the weekend!)@Program15BB @ftrstarsseries @rocriggio pic.twitter.com/H6QTxrSKwy
Eddie Saldivar, 2B - I didn’t know much about Eddie Saldivar until he showed up and played well back at the Area Code Games, so he was a guy I was looking forward to seeing more of. He didn’t disappoint. Saldivar has the ability to make hard, line drive contact with the barrel and shows a good feel for the strike zone. He’s more gap power at present, but he’s got the speed and base running ability to take an extra base, and should only continue to get stronger.
2021 infielder Eddie Saldivar (@EddieSaldivar3) ripped several loud liners over the right field wall and showed real 6.6 speed during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @LBDirtbags commit pic.twitter.com/baTcIv2vpk— (@Program15BB) September 27, 2020
Jonathan Santucci, OF/LHP - A late addition to the game, actually added as a pitcher, I had no idea he was going to be there until getting to the park on Friday. Santucci has been more highly regarded as a bat, but he was reaching 92 MPH off the mound to actually make me reconsider if he could be more intriguing option as a lefty pitcher. Of course that won’t be an easy call because his bat has significant power potential as he fills out his frame. I’ve included clips of both his impressive batting practice and his eye opening pitching performance.
2021 OF/LHP Jonathan Santucci (@JonathanSantuc5) has plenty of athleticism and power potential blasting loud shots to all fields at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @DukeBASE commit pic.twitter.com/WkOdCl7K5z— (@Program15BB) September 30, 2020
2021 OF/LHP Jonathan Santucci (@JonathanSantuc5) pounding the strike zone with his 88-92 mph velocity while working in a 76-78 mph breaking ball during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @DukeBASE commit pic.twitter.com/LdQjQM1ubU— (@Program15BB) September 26, 2020
Joey Spence, C - Joey Spence was another guy a little under the radar coming in. The power hitting lefty catcher from Wisconsin showed a better mix of tools than what I had previously seen, with the hit tool playing better against good competition and the defensive ability being enough to think he may be able to stick there as he continues to improve- though the bat would play at first.
Ryan Spikes, SS - Ryan Spikes came in pretty highly regarded, but by the end of the event I was completely convinced I wasn’t nearly high enough on this kid. Similar to Riggio in the lack of size, high character, and just being a great ball player, Spikes shined in every area. He played a very strong defensive shortstop, made plays with his speed, consistently put his barrel on the ball, and when he got to pitch made quick work of the International team including a pair of strikeouts- however his future is definitely with the bat as a pro, though he would be a two way guy should he decide to go to Tennessee. Spikes is a guy who deserves to be ranked much higher in rankings than where he is typically at now.
After the games I thought a good comparison for him is Ozzie Albies, even though their overall games aren’t completely similar. What I mean is Spikes is a little undersized, listed at 5’9’. Similar to another undersized guy in Albies, Spikes is very strong and there aren’t many as strong as he is pound for pound. Add in the athleticism and feel for hitting with surprising power for their size, and there is some Albies to his game.
2021 INF/RHP Ryan Spikes (@R_Spikes13) is one of the best pure right handed hitters in this class barreling balls everywhere with an effortless stroke during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @Vol_Baseball commit pic.twitter.com/RrHd4KlW1Z— (@Program15BB) September 27, 2020
Aidan Stewart, SS - Aidan Stewart is a rarity, a 6’5’ shortstop, as there just aren’t many shortstops that size. I liked what I saw out of Stewart defensively at both short and third, as he has the actions to potentially stick at short, and while he is projectable he shouldn’t fill in to the point that he outgrows the position. The bat is a work in progress for Stewart, and definitely requires some projection as his present lack of strength and a launch angle that wasn’t always consistent led to some balls hit into the ground. This isn’t something I’m too worried about as he will get bigger and stronger, and does have some natural power in there despite the lack of present strength as the below batting practice video will show why you can’t ignore the upside.
2021 infielder Aidan Stewart (@ASteww1) has real switch-hitting tools driving hard liners from both sides of the plate during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @MizzouBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/AL7E69j11v— (@Program15BB) September 30, 2020
Edwin Arroyo, 3B - The star of the Perfect Game All American Classic came to Boston and despite not being as loud with the bat, showed the basic tool set that has scouts excited. Arroyo projects as a bat first likely third baseman, and one with the ability to hit for both average and power.
Puerto Rico 2021 infielder Edwin Arroyo (@ZaedEdwin) with a beautiful swing to barrel up this 92 mph fastball into left field at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @FSUBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/WhPfxrwYK6— (@Program15BB) September 25, 2020
Jackson Clemett, OF - Jackson Clemett was a late addition to the game and came in under the radar, but he proved that he belonged on this stage with his play over the weekend. Clemett has the bat speed and athleticism to develop into an intriguing outfielder, and has some projection remaining on his body. He’s going to be a guy to watch over the next nine months to see where he is at before the draft,
Canada 2021 outfielder Jackson Clemett (@jackson_clemett) showed off his pretty lefty stroke with plenty of consistent bat-speed spraying hard liners during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @utahbaseball commit pic.twitter.com/PWShN2DlS8— (@Program15BB) September 30, 2020
Justin Colon, SS - The best defensive show of the weekend came from Justin Colon, who put on a show during infield practice. Colon is just so natural and smooth, with the actions to be an impact defender at short. That’s not all Colon can do, as he makes solid hard contact at the plate as well. Colon is a glove first shortstop, but he isn’t a guy that won’t be able to hold his own with the bat.
2021 infielder Justin Colon (@juuustin03) showed plenty of strength with his righty stroke driving hard shots to all fields at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @MizzouBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/jOTFMPOAUS— (@Program15BB) September 29, 2020
Nicholas Deschamps, C - Nicholas Deschamps had an eye opening performance here, showing off more pop in the bat and more overall athleticism than I was expecting. I would like to see him behind the plate a little more to get a better feel for that part of his game, but the bat and athleticism put him firmly on the radar going into the draft.
Jessiel Garcia Cruz, OF - One more under the radar guy who proved he belonged was Jessiel Garcia Cruz, who was hitting the ball hard regularly and showing some athleticism. He’s probably going to be limited to a corner in the outfield once he fills out, but the bat looks like it will be enough to carry him.
Puerto Rico 2021 outfielder Jessiel Garcia Cruz (@GarciaaaJessiel) showed some serious power potential smashing hard liners at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. #UNCOMMITTED pic.twitter.com/XG8j0PugRU— (@Program15BB) September 29, 2020
Sergio Guerra, C - I had no idea who Sergio Guerra was at the start of the spring, but upon watching PG Nationals I was immediately sold. The shortstop conversion is very athletic for the backstop position and brings high end defense, both in terms of his potential receiving skills and his arm- and those skills will only continue to improve with more work behind the plate. The bat also shows real pop to it as well. Guerra has a higher floor and higher ceiling than some of those catchers ranked above him on other sites, and with performances like these will only continue to move up. Arguably my favorite sleeper in the class since I first watched him at the start of the spring.
2021 catcher Sergio Guerra (@sergioG_02) spanks this ball to the green monster for a double at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @UTRGVBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/F6Waw2twzV— (@Program15BB) October 1, 2020
Angel Lassalle, C - Angel Lassalle was one of the small handful of guys I wasn’t familiar with coming in, but he made enough of an impression with the bat and defense to put his name in the conversation at a very deep catching spot.
Puerto Rico 2021 catcher Angel Lassalle turns on this pitch down the left field line driving in two at @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. #UNCOMMITTED pic.twitter.com/6KCkkF42Z1— (@Program15BB) September 26, 2020
Nate Ochoa, OF - A late add to the game, Nate Ochoa came in a bit under the radar as he is still younger for the class and not committed to Purdue until 2022 despite being 2021 draft eligible. That didn’t matter here as he showed an interesting tool set to grow into, especially as he matures into his frame. Below is a clip of Ochoa hitting a line drive off a talented lefty arm.
Canada 2022 infielder Nathanial Ochoa (@nate_fh13) rips this hard line drive into right center during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @PurdueBaseball commit pic.twitter.com/OZylwfmJ02— (@Program15BB) September 26, 2020
Daylan Pena, 1B - I had seen Daylan Pena a little going in but was excited to see more considering the fact I had heard a young Nelson Cruz comp from a scout. He didn’t disappoint here, as the hit and power tools showed up all weekend for Pena. It became easy to see exactly why the scout was as high on him as he was, and Pena has become one of the more intriguing slightly under the radar power bats in the class.
Down 0-2 in his first at-bat at Fenway, Daylan Pena INF connected on an RBI double down the RF line for the first score of the day.— Michael Marino (@MMarino31) September 29, 2020
Pena is a @TxStateBaseball commit. A top recruit from TX & staying in-state. Potential plus hit/power.@Program15BB @ftrstarsseries @daylan_pena13 pic.twitter.com/qr5ixA16R3
Orlando Pena, 3B - Orlando Pena came in as a sleeper, but left making sure scouts knew his name. The bat was his calling card, and he was hitting hard line drives all over the field in the games and in batting practice. Pena is a potential power hitting third base bat.
Also down 0-2 in his first AB at Fenway, Orlando Pena 3B/SS delivered a hard-hit RBI double down the LF line to put the World team up 2-0.— Michael Marino (@MMarino31) September 29, 2020
Pena is a @CoastalBaseball commit & one of NJ’s top hitters, consistent loud contact & barrels. Plus bat. @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries pic.twitter.com/2lUfK6Oxko
Jquann Smith, CF - Everyone knows Jquann Smith is possibly the fastest player in the entire 2021 MLB Draft, bringing legit 6.20 speed in the 60. Jquann showed that he brings more than just speed this weekend, showing an ability to make solid contact and a plan at the plate. He’s more of a gap power guy than a home run power type, but he’s projectable and could eventually be a 10-15 HR type. The speed plays well on the bases and in center field, though at present he’s more CF only as the arm isn’t very strong. He compares favorably to Enrique Bradfield from the 2020 MLB Draft class, but I actually like Jquann better than Bradfield because I see more present and future pop in the bat.
Jquann Smith showing off the wheels on a base hit to right against Sean Hard pic.twitter.com/m6fvUlzGLs— Matt Powers (@MattPowers31) September 25, 2020
Peter Vazquez, 2B - The biggest surprise of the weekend for me was this kid, Peter Vazquez. I hadn’t seen a ton of the USC commit prior to arriving in Boston, but was given a Carlos Baerga comp by a scout. Vazquez started out by consistently driving the ball as well as almost anyone in BP on Friday, a trend that continued on Saturday as well. It wasn’t just BP that was eye opening, as he had a solid approach at the plate in game and made more quality contact there. Vazquez is a solid athlete as well, though may be limited to second base or potentially the outfield. Vazquez is being slept on in a big way.
Puerto Rico 2021 infielder Peter Vazquez (@PeterVa83805116) showed off his pure lefty pop and true switch-hitting tools during @NB_Baseball @Program15BB @ftrstarsseries International Week. @USC_Baseball commit pic.twitter.com/ZVGVcKubXl— (@Program15BB) October 1, 2020
Superlatives from the Weekend
Best Batting Practice
Friday - Ian Moller
Saturday - Cam Collier
Best Defensive Showing - Justin Colon
Top Three Pitchers - Anthony Solometo, Erian Rodriguez, Jacob Miller
Most Interesting Two Way Potential - Jonathan Santucci
Three Biggest Surprises - Peter Vazquez, Orlando Pena, Brady Christensen
Future First Rounders* - Ian Moller, Braden Montgomery, Anthony Solometo, Cam Collier(2023)
* this is how things stand today and plenty could change in the next nine months before the draft, with these guys potentially moving down or other guys potentially moving up.