National Classic Notebook


Les Lukach

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PLACENTIA, CALIF. - We are just past the midpoint of the season in the CIF Southern Section and with that comes spring break tournaments. The National Classic is a staple in Orange County and annually attracts some of the better teams from the section along with out of state teams looking to elevate their competition level. 

The 2022 rendition of the tournament drew another quality field with California, Arizona, Nevada and Washington represented. Hosted by El Dorado High School, the National Classic has a history of being a proving ground for southern section teams as they march towards the playoffs and this tournament was no different as a handful of state ranked teams participated along with teams just on the cusp of those rankings. 

In this notebook I’ll take a look at some standout players from the first three days of action at El Dorado’s beautiful on campus field. Beginning on Monday and through Wednesday I took in nine games at El Dorado that featured many teams that will very likely find themselves in the mix come playoff time because of the quality of the players on their rosters. Because I was at El Dorado I didn’t see teams - Cypress, Santa Margarita - who also hosted games. 

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THE PLAYERS

Josh Pugh RHP / El Dorado, CA / 2022

The best pitching performance I saw in the tournament belonged to Pugh. The senior Concordia Irvine commit was at times dominant, and brilliant throughout his outing finishing with eight strikeouts, a walk, while scattering 6 hits and allowing a run. Working 85-87 and touching 88 mph several times with his fastball, Pugh aggressively attacked hitters -- particularly in - getting plenty of whiffs with a heavy fastball that got on hitters in a hurry making the perceived velocity much higher. Pugh showed command of a slider at 72-74 mph that he commands down in the zone, generally at the knees or below. It’s a sharp, late biting slider that induced plenty of whiffs and weak contact throughout the outing. Pugh’s changeup is an effective pitch as well with some late fading action that tunnels well off the fastball. Also a standout basketball player, Pugh is athletic down the mound with a repeatable delivery that adds to his projectable 6’4” frame.

Daniel Marquez RHP / OF / Bishop Amat, CA / 2022

The senior righty was fantastic for the Lancers in their opening round matchup against Palos Verdes, going six strong innings and scattering seven hits while allowing one earned run with six strikeouts. He attacked hitters by showing command of the fastball. He moves the pitch black-to-black and will elevate in an effort to get hitters to chase, which they did on more than one occasion. Up to 86 with the fastball, Marquez lived 84-85 mph for the majority of his outing dipping as low as 83 mph. He paired it with a sharp, late biting curveball at 72-74 mph that played well off the fastball coming from the same arm slot. It was difficult for hitters to pick up the spin out of the hand. Missed down with curveball inducing plenty of chasing whiffs.

Alex Forman RHP / 2B / Palos Verdes, CA / 2023

Currently uncommitted, Forman showed the type of stuff that should change that in short order. Working 84-86 mph with the fastball, Forman aggressively attacks hitters with the pitch, particularly on the inner half regardless of the hitter's handedness. His changeup may have been his best pitch on his day at 73-77 mph as it tunneled off the fastball making it difficult on hitters to read spin with misses down in the zone and a high whiff rate early in his outing. Forman’s slider was electric all afternoon with sharp, late action down in the zone. He missed up with it on a couple of occasions that were hit hard. Finished with five strikeouts in six innings pitched.

Hunter Friedberg OF / LHP / St. John Bosco, CA / 2023

The uncommitted outfielder continues to be a bright spot offensively for the Braves and that carried over into the National Classic going 5-for-8 with a home run, starting in three of the four games. Friedberg uses a simple yet aggressive approach at the plate that he pairs with speed for days. Has shown he can go get it in the outfield with a strong, accurate arm too. Back to the offensive side though, in addition to having the ability to hit the ball over the fence, Friedberg shows the ability to play the skill game as well. The hands are fast allowing him to get and keep the barrel on plane through to his high finish. Good mistake pitch hitter.

 

Frankie Peralez SS / 2B / Bishop Amat, CA / 2022

Whether at the dish or on the dirt, the Hawaii Pacific commit was a walking highlight reel. Peralez hit .385 in the tournament, but his value on the bases and defensively cannot be underestimated. Play after play, Peralez showed that his baseball instincts and IQ are off the charts good. In three games viewed, he had no fewer than a dozen chances, making all of them. There was one throwing error after a tough backhand play deep in the 5.5 hole. A prototypical leadoff hitter, Peralez worked counts, spoiled pitches, and put the ball in play.

Nathan Huy LHP / 1B / El Dorado, CA / 2023

The uncommitted senior looked as good as ever working the fastball up to 88 mph and living in the 85-86 zone throughout his outing. The fastball showed some late life in-and-through the zone commanding black-to-black with some arm side run. While it can come out flat, the fastball shows characteristics of a cutter at times with the late movement through the zone. He pairs the FB with a sharp, late biting slider that served as an out pitch in this outing. Tunneling off the fastball, Huy’s slider was difficult to pick up out of the hand for hitters resulting in a high amount of whiffs throughout the outing. The pitch has a chance to be an above average pitch. Later in his outing Huy showed his feel for the changeup that flashed late fading action that he threw to hitters on both sides. Big upside pitcher who has more in the tank.

 

 

Noah Andrunas RHP / 1B / Gahr , CA / 2023

Andrunas is one of the better uncommitted pitching prospects in SoCal. While the velocity isn’t eye popping, he works 84-87 mph with the fastball that he commands to all quadrants of the strike zone with late life as it enters the zone. He pairs it with what is now an above average changeup that not only induces a high whiff rate, but also weak contact when not being taken for strikes. Andrunas also features a tight spinning slider that he works down in the zone - every miss was below the knees. Begins his delivery with a high leg kick and hands at the chest before using a short circle path in the back through to a high 3/4 arm slot that he repeats. There’s some deception with a significant back turn that allows him to hide the ball while the slot makes it appear as though the ball is coming out of his ear.

 

 

Landon White 3B / San Dimas, CA / 2024

White has proven that his bat is as good as it comes in his class. White shows a violent/aggressive swing that he manages to keep under control through the zone. Consistent barrels with loud contact are the result of said swing. There’s quickness in the hands and enough strength to muscle jam shots to the outfield. There’s projectable power on his strong frame while his footwork/arm strength play way up at third base as he demonstrated on a backhand play that saw him throw a missile across the diamond. 

Sean Suriyaniel RHP / OF / Bishop Amat, CA / 2023

The uncommitted pitcher put together a huge outing for the Lancers that propelled them to semifinals going six innings scattering six hits with a pair of strikeouts. Pitches to contact with a fastball/changeup combination that he commands low in the zone. Working 84-86 mph with the fastball, Suriyaniel has clean mechanics with a full circle path in the back through to a high 3/4 slot that he’s able to repeat consistently. His changeup at 73-75 mph shows the signs of being at-worst an average pitch with late fading action and a hint of bite through the zone. He tunnels it off the fastball very well, inducing plenty of whiffs with it. At 6’2” 175-pounds, Suriyaniel has the makings of a desirable pitching prospect as he finishes off this season and moves into what will be a big summer for him. 

Evan Rolbiecki SS / 2B / El Dorado , CA / 2023

Playing first base, Rolbiecki showed excellent defense where his footwork really stands out. At the plate he’s aggressive and hunts fastballs. There’s present bat speed and strength in a compact frame. Had the biggest hit of the tournament for El Dorado in a quarterfinal game where he launched an opposite field home run to give the Hawks the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning and propelling the Hawks to the semifinals. We have seen Rolbiecki at shortstop as well where his footwork is an asset while also showing quick, soft hands with clean exchanges. 

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
NorCal Rising Stars: Delta Region CA 04/24 McBean Stadium
SoCal Rising Stars: Inland Empire CA 04/24 Corona High School
NorCal Rising Stars: Bay Area CA 05/08 Canada College
SoCal Rising Stars Games CA 06/04 O'Malley Field
Orange County State Games ID CA 06/11 Hart Park
Orange County Top Prospects ID CA 06/21 Hart Park
Inland Empire Top Prospects ID CA 07/06 Corona High School
LA Top Prospects ID CA 07/12 O'Malley Field
California State Games CA 07/30 Hart Park

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