Florida State Games (2022-2023)


Shooter Hunt
National Crosschecker

BRADENTON, FL-- Kicking off the summer season, PBR Tournaments presented the “Florida State Games” from Bradenton/Sarasota with four age groups competing over the course of four days. Posting up at IMG Academy for the first two days of the event, On the Hunt was able to lock-in on some of the top 2022 players in the state (and country) along with getting acquainted with the newly-graduated to “2023” players. The tournament was stock-piled with premium talent, especially at marquee positions, and the names/notes gathered were many. Below are a collection of players that stood out in games that were viewed (there are even more that will be featured in coming days/weeks) with reports along with a large group of names for college coaches to follow when they see these teams this summer:

Colby Shelton SS / 2B / Bloomingdale , FL / 2022

No player stood out more in the entire tournament than Shelton did over the course of three games that I watched him play. He first caught my eye from afar with a left-handed stroke that .looked much more mature than a normal 2022. As I honed in for a large collection of at-bats, I couldn’t help but be impressed by everything about the swing: the approach, the balance, the pitch recognition. It was all there. And combining that with a willingness to stay within himself without getting cheated, Shelton was able to drive balls to both gaps with ease. One of the few players using a wood bat (the tournament was metal), there was a glimpse of his future power potential as he banged a ball loud off the 375’ sign in right-center field. With a noticeably uphill path, Shelton’s barrel lags impressively long in the zone providing for plate coverage, and he never looks sped up or rushed. Listed at 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, Shelton still shows signs of more growth with some strength present in the upper-half. He moves very well underway, and has a quick first step at his shortstop position. Defensively he is confident in his abilities with a quick release and strong arm that should allow him to stick there in the future. Besides his stellar play, Shelton’s leadership abilities stood out as well. Not that he was loud and boisterous, but that fact that he picked up his teammates and was the first player on the field each inning, even after finishing on the base paths. There is much to like about his performance over the weekend, and I look forward to watching him progress over the course of the next few years. 


Brandon Barriera LHP / 1B / Westminster Academy, FL / 2022

Barriera, the number two overall player in the 2022 rankings, got the start in the first game (8:30AM) for the Cannons Baseball American team, and while he wasn’t his sharpest self, he still showcased his elite stuff including a fastball that touched 89 mph. The wiry, long-limbed left-hander worked 85-87 with runners on base throughout, and was able to make big pitches, including multiple swings and misses on fastballs to get out of jams. The arm works freely through a medium-sized swing with quickness and normal effort out front, and it seems likely that he will add even more velocity in the future as his frame continues to fill out. His slider was seldom needed, but worked across the plate at 72-74 when he threw it with varying results.There is some late life to the fastball in the zone, and he throws each pitch with conviction, athletically working through a repeatable delivery. Cannons Baseball was not tested in the game, so it lacked some of the energy that might have helped elevate Barriera’s stuff. That stuff will likely play up much higher throughout the summer when he is sent to the mound in bigger games, and it will be paramount to follow the shape of the slider as he continues to craft it.


Michael Perazza OF / N/A, FL / 2023

Perazza, just a 2023-grad, was featured prominently in the 3-hole for a strong Florida Burn 2022 Platinum team as a left-handed hitter, and did not disappoint. Broad-shouldered at 6-foot, 160-pounds with room to continue filling out, Perazza squared up multiple balls on the day, and showed no issue hitting from behind in the count. Taking quality at-bats throughout, he worked uphill through the zone showcasing some ability to lift the ball. While he is still developing strength, and the arm bars through the load to allow for a flatter path, his ability to connect for firm contact stood out. He gets solid use of the lower-half, and the hips exhibit signs of clearing even more aggressively in the future as he matures. His actions in a corner outfield position were athletic and smooth, and only help accentuate the idea of quicker progress coming.


Brice Montiel OF / 2B / Cardinal Gibbons, FL / 2022

Montiel’s athleticism did not take long to discover, as he covered all sorts of ground from his centerfield position, and stood out making plays from side to side. He’s a downhill runner who plays the game with confidence, and set the tone at the top of the order for the Cannons Baseball American team. He had multiple bunt singles including going 4.1 down the line on a drag, and his speed was a constant threat on the basepaths as he swiped multiple bags. He sets up slightly open with the hands held at the back shoulder with a higher back elbow. Rocking the weight back with minor separation, his quick hands work the barrel slightly uphill through the zone with a high, loose finish. There is plenty of twitch to his all-around game, and with an athletic, 5-foot-10, 155-pound frame that is still maturing, Montier could make an even bigger jump in coming years.


Raymond Bermudez / West Broward, FL / 2022

Bermudez, a Miami recruit, has a thin, wiry 6-foot-1, 155-pound frame, and utilizes an uphill path through the zone with surprising strength. Still very much maturing physically, he stands to add much more strength in coming years, and with that should see continued power increase. Already possessing quick hands and barrel awareness, Bermudez looks to do damage in all counts, and showcases the ability to get the ball in the air. The hands get minor separation throughout the load, and drive the barrel through the zone with surprising speed/strength given his young frame. Look for Bermudez to continue making quick progressions moving forward, and given his current ability to hit, he could rise quickly as one of the better players in the class.


Zachary Crawford SS / 2B / JW Mitchell, FL / 2022

There was nobody who brought more energy to the tournament than Crawford did on day one where he was all over the field making his presence felt without saying a word. Playing second base, the 5-foot-9, 150-pounder had a bounce in his step moving side to side with adequate arm strength to play any spot on the dirt. It was his attention to detail, and always being in the right spot that stood out. A right-handed hitter, Crawford sits deeper in a crouch with an athletic base, utilizing a toe tap to set up early as his weight and hands rock back. His hands are quick as he takes a direct path to the ball with some strength through the zone that produces current line drive power to all fields. His balance throughout and confidence hitting behind in the count stood out to me throughout the weekend, and he appears to have the instincts and drive to continue getting better.


Aidan Miller 3B / RHP / JW Mitchell, FL / 2023

Miller has made quite a name for himself at a young age on the mound, but it was his work at the plate that stood out to me. The right-handed hitter is advanced in all aspects of the game, and blasted a double off the left field fence against the wind while hitting out of the three-hole for the Kangaroo Court Roos. Listed at 5-foot-11, 165-pounds with wiry-athleticism, Miller uses a deeper load of the hands down and back with a hitch, and he is able to whip the barrel through the zone on an uphill path getting more aggressive use of the lower-half. He had strong instincts in centerfield, and showed no hesitation showing off his arm, which is impressive, at any time, even when attempting to throw hitters out at first base. 


Stone Russell SS / 2B / IMG Academy, FL / 2023

Russell, just a 2023, was the driving force for a talented group playing for 5-Star National Jones. Having built a strong name for himself at the youth level, he showed no signs of slowing down over the course of two days. The 6-foot, 170-pounder features a future durably-built frame with some natural strength present now, especially in the upper-half. He played shortstop for three games where his soft hands stood out, and he was not timid when attacking slow rollers before making strong, accurate throws on the run. Though his frame and footspeed may push him more towards third base in the distant future, he is more than capable of sticking at shortstop right now. His ability to find the barrel stood out, especially against some of the better arms, and he found good results hitting the ball with some authority to all fields. He utilizes his hips well, especially at such a young age, and combined with fast hands and strong wrists the ball seems to carry differently off his bat. Interesting to note: he also got a save on the mound where he showcased a quick, strong arm that delivered fastballs in the low 80s. He pounded the bottom of the zone and showed feel for a changeup. An athlete, Russell would have a solid chance of developing quickly on the mound should he stick with it over simply being a position player...or he could just do both for as long as he can.


Roger Vergera / St. Thomas Aquinas, FL / 2022

Vergara looks the part as a shortstop, and being that he is a left-handed hitter, he will likely have plenty of eyes on him from college coaches this summer. Listed at 5-foot-9, 145-pounds, he looks taller in uniform, and still shows signs of maturing further in the future. He showed promise without results at the plate on day one, and exploded for two games on day two. The hands are relaxed throughout the load, and he is never sped up at the plate. He rocks the weight back with a leg hang, working the hands naturally down and back into a power position before working the barrel flat through the zone. There is some twitchiness to his hands on the infield, and he played shortstop throughout the weekend, although a shift to third base is possible depending on how the frame matures. Either way, his hands play, and he also possesses a quick, strong arm with the ability to make throws from multiple angles as well as on the run. He is a player that college coaches will want to see consistently to get a better feel for his all-around game.  


Colton Wombles C / OF / Russell County , AL / 2023

Coaches won’t need to watch long to figure out which player is Wombles as he impacts the game in all facets, and does it with intense energy. Just 5-foot-6, 150-pounds, he plays much bigger, and with some compact strength throughout, he is able to produce some surprising gap to gap power from the right side. He started the weekend in right field where his plus arm for the age group stood out. He looked to let throws fly at all times, and hunted both fly balls and ground balls without fear including gunning down a runner at home. He shifted to his listed position of catcher later on in the tournament, and exhibited the ability to receive and block as well as letting his arm play. Hitting in the leadoff spot, the right-handed hitter sets up open, squaring with a large leg kick that flows the hands down and back. Using his strong wrists and quick hands, he works the barrel through the zone on a flatter path with some aggressive use of the lower-half through the finish.


Anthony Cole 3B / SS / NA, FL / 2023

Long and lean at 6-foot-1, 165-pounds, Cole immediately stands out in uniform amongst his 2023 FTB Select teammates for his size, and even more so after watching his game. Wiry with plenty of room to fill out, Cole does not have the awkward, unaware movement patterns that most adolescents have early on in high school. Instead, he remains balanced with a mature approach from the right side at the plate, and showcases the makings of an above average defender at third base. There is some whip to the barrel through the zone as it works slightly uphill, and his naturally-strong wrists provide the force through the zone. On defense he exhibits a strong arm across the diamond with the athleticism to make slow-rollers look easy. His bat projects for even more power in the future, and given the frame and his current ability to track pitches, he could make quick strides forward sooner rather than later.


Marek Houston SS / Venice, FL / 2022

Still very young-looking with legs that appear to come up to his chest on a 5-foot-9, 155-pound frame, Houston was one of my favorite players of the weekend playing for the Florida Burn 2022 Orlosky team. Showcasing natural confidence and feel for the shortstop position, he also exhibited crisp footwork, a quick release, and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. At the plate, he squared up three balls for three hits, showing now issue hitting from behind in the count. There is an easy rhythm to his approach, as he sets up in an athletic crouch before rocking his weight back with a short stride that connects to free-flowing hands, down and back. His direct, flat path produces current line drive power to all fields, and he will likely see a significant boost in the near future as his body matures. The best is certainly ahead for Houston though the foundation that he presents right now will be more than enticing for college recruiters.


Jack Owens 2B / RHP / Bloomingdale, FL / 2022

Owens blasted a deep home run to left field, and followed it up with multiple hits as I watched him play for the Ostingers 2022 squad where he was slotted in the two-hole. The right-handed hitter is quiet pre-pitch before rocking his weight back with still hands before driving noticeably uphill through the zone with some surprising strength. Athletically-built at 5-foot-10, 160-pounds, Owens presented himself as a winning ballplayer who looks to make things happen on the diamond. At second base, he made multiple good plays including a bare-handed play on a slow roller. Coaches that come out to see this Ostingers team on multiple occasions will likely be rewarded with Owens opening their eyes, especially if they see him on a consistent basis.


Cade Kurland SS / RHP / Berkeley Preparatory, FL / 2023

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better defender at shortstop in the 2023 class than Kurland, and he put his defensive prowess on full-display throughout the entire tournament. Competing for two of the Kangaroo Court teams only meant more opportunities for the young shortstop to showcase his skills. Ranging side to side with ease, Kurland appeared to take joy in fielding each ground ball hit his way, and he showed no hesitation making throws on the run or from any angle. Athletically built with some lean strength throughout his 5-foot-11, 165-pound frame, Kurland looks the part of a shortstop at the next level, and should continue adding strength to both his frame and arm in the future. At the plate, the right-handed hitter has a relaxed approach that includes loose hands with a late, pronounced barrel-tilt before pulling the barrel flat through the zone. He didn’t have the results while I was watching, but the approach was more mature, and there was some strength through the zone. Definitely a player that college coaches are going to want to remember for the future.


Nevin Hernandez 3B / SS / NA, FL / 2023

Hernandez, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound infielder is already impressive physically with lean strength and plenty of athleticism. Featuring strong forearms and quick hands, the right-handed hitter produces impressive exit velocities with a short, direct path to the ball. He remains compact throughout a simple approach getting more aggressive use of the lower-half to drive the ball from gap to gap. Given his age, Hernandez should continue progressing steadily with more at-bats against high-level pitching, and with the tools that he already showcases, he could make a big jump in the future.

 

Players to Follow:

Christian Parrish, OF, (2022) FL Burn Platinum
Scott Edwards, CF, (2022) FL Burn Platinum
Michael McAloose, SS, (2022) FL Burn Platinum
Brody Donay, C, (2022) Ostingers
Fulton Lockhart, RHP/3B, (2022) Ostingers
John Barreto, SS, (2022) Top Tier Roos National
Joel Tapia, SS, (2023) FTB Select
Jose Ayala, SS, (2023) 5-Star National Jones
Andres Natera, SS, (2022) Cannons Baseball American
Sammy Mummau, INF, (2023) Florida Burn Platinum
Cameron Burleson, C, (2023) Kangaroo Court American 2023
Joe Massa, SS, (2022) 5 Star Jones
Sam Hernandez, C, (2022) 5 Star National Jones
Matt Kautz, C,  (2022) Cannons Baseball National
Aidan Hernandez, INF, (2022) Cannons Baseball National


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