1.19 Underclass Invitational: Middle Infielders Analysis

By Sean McCann and Shon Plack
Prep Baseball Report

The Prep Baseball Report Underclass Invitational took place on January 19, 2015 at 68’s Inside Sports Indoor Training Facility in Overland Park, Kansas. The event featured several of the top class of 2017 and 2018 prospects from Kansas and Missouri. 

Over the next several days the PBR scouting staff will roll out position-by-position analysis articles with scouting reports on each player. Two-way players will be included in the position feature articles as well as pitching analysis.

Click here to view the article on the top statistical performers from the event.

Today we take a look at the middle infielders that participated in the event. The talent in this group was strong with players that both stood out at the plate and defensively.

 St. James Academy's (KS) Jacob Owens showed a strong, aggressive right-handed swing during batting practice and has fast-twitch athleticism that translates well defensively to both center field and the middle infield. Garrett Clark, of Blue Valley Southwest (KS) made consistent hard, flat contact during hitting evaluations and has easy, athletic actions in the infield. Raymore-Peculiar's (MO) Andrew Houston, another athlete with strength, made hard middle of the field contact in batting practice, ran well and showed a very accurate arm. Physical Ryan Ferger of Blue Valley Northwest HS (KS) has a strong presence in the box with an aggressive swing and showed himself to be a solid defender. 

The class of 2018 prospects in this group also made an impression including Caleb Marquez of Blue Springs HS (MO), a 6-foot-2, 225-pound athlete that showed bat speed at the plate and is one of the more physical freshmen in high school you will see.  Nevada's (MO) Branden Harder is an athletic switch-hitter that ran very well and showed solid across the board skills.

Top middle infield prospects

1. Jacob Owens, SS/OF, St. James Academy, KS (2017)
Owens is a very athletic right-hand hitting outfielder that worked out as a primary shortstop today. Kansas class of 2017. Attends St. James Academy in Lenexa, KS. At the plate showed a balanced set-up, leg kick, smooth load, short path, bat speed, extension through the baseball. Hard contact in the gaps. Strong, aggressive swing. Recorded an 86 mph exit velocity, plus runner. In the outfield attacks the ball. Quick, clean exchanges, high three-quarters arm action, fast arm, accurate throws. In the infield showed quick feet. Quick, clean exchanges. Short, high three-quarters arm action. One strong, accurate throw after another. Impressive class of 2017 prospect whose fast-twitch athleticism is on display in all phases of the game. 

2. Garrett Clark, RHP/SS, Blue Valley Southwest HS, KS (2017)
Clark is a right-hand hitting infielder and right-handed pitcher. Attends Blue Valley Southwest HS in a Southwest suburb of Kansas City, athletic 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame. Athletic set-up at the plate, strong presence in the box, leg kick, minimal hand load, short path, maintains balance, finishes with extension. Simple swing with bat speed. Consistent hard, flat contact in batting practice. 81 exit velocity, ran a 4.51 home-to-first. Showed athletic infield actions, soft hands, high three-quarters arm action, arm works, 77 mph throwing velocity, very accurate throws. On the mound works under control early, tall to fall delivery, medium length arm action, three-quarters slot, rhythm, athletic finish, repeats. Fastball with arm side running action, 77-79 mph. Controllable breaking ball with 11/5 shape, 64-65 mph. Change-up 68-70 mph. Overall has solid across the board skills and athleticism. Carries himself with confidence.

3. Andrew Houston, SS/2B, Raymore Peculiar HS, MO (2017)
Houston is a right-hand hitting middle infielder from Raymore-Peculiar HS in Missouri. 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame, class of 2017. Hits right-handed, open set-up, leg kick to stride, short path, back side works, flow. Delivered middle of the field line drives during hitting evaluations. Simple swing with bat speed. Exit velocity clocked at 75 mph. Ran well, 4.25 home-to-first from the right side. In the infield showed sure hands, quick exchanges, high three-quarters arm action, throws had carry, throwing velocity 78 mph, made very accurate throws. Strong athlete with tools.

4. Ryan Ferger, SS/3B, Blue Valley Northwest HS, KS (2017)
Ferger is a right-hand hitting shortstop and third baseman with a physical 6-foot, 195-pound frame. Attends Blue Valley Northwest HS in Kansas. Athletic set-up, minimal load. Short, early stride. Aggressive upper half dominant line drive-oriented swing, hand strength, maintains balance. Exit velocity 81 mph. Strong runner, 4.39 home-to-first.  Athletic footwork in the infield, quick exchanges, three-quarters slot, accurate throws. Physical class of 2017 infield prospect.

Best of the rest (alphabetical order)

Connor Demo, 2B/OF, Lee’s Summit West HS, MO (2017)
Demo is a middle infielder with a 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame. Class of 2017. Attends Lee’s Summit West HS in Lee’s Summit, MO. Bats right-handed, at the plate showed an athletic set-up, level path out front, hands work, finishes with extension, maintains balance. Easy line drive swing, middle approach, repeats. Recorded an exit velocity of 77 mph, ran a 4.52 home-to-first. During defensive work in the infield fielded everything cleanly, quick exchanges, low three-quarters slot, throwing velocity 63 mph, very accurate arm.

Branden Harder, RHP/2B, Nevada HS, MO (2018)
Harder is an athletic 5-foot-8, 145-pound middle infielder and right-handed pitcher from Nevada HS in Missouri. Class of 2018. Switch hitter, from the left side has a balanced set up, level bat path, simple line drive swing with flow, repeats, exit velocity 74 mph, good runner (4.15 home-to-first). From the right side balanced set-up, gets foot down early, simple and aggressive swing, uses whole field, squared the ball up well, finishes with extension, exit velocity mark of 79 mph. Showed athletic actions in the infield, clean exchanges, short high three-quarters arm action, arm works, very accurate arm. Talented, young switch-hitting middle infield prospect that has some swagger about him. On the mound showed an athletic delivery with rhythm, simple, repeats, three-quarters slot. Fastball with early arm-side run, 72-75 mph. Feel for a 11/7 breaking ball, 64-66 mph. Threw 56-60 mph change up for strikes, arm side fading action.

Grant Lathrop, 2B/3B, Olathe East HS, KS (2017)
Lathrop is a 5-foot-10, 145-pound infielder that attends Olathe East HS in Kansas. Class of 2017. Bats left-handed, open set-up, smooth hand load, strides square, short bat path, middle-oppo approach. Consistent hard, flat contact. Exit velocity clocked at 81 mph, ran a 4.29 home-to-first base. In the infield feet worked well, quick exchanges, clean three-quarters arm action, accurate throws, 75 mph throwing velocity. Class of 2017 left-hand hitting infield prospect that has made steady improvement over the last several months.

Evan Madrid, RHP/2B, Staley HS, MO (2018)
Madrid is a 5-foot-4, 120-pound middle infielder and right-handed pitcher that attends Staley HS in Kansas City, MO. Right-handed hitter that showed a balanced set-up, smooth hand load, strides in place, keeps hands inside ball, middle-oppo approach, 65 exit velocity, ran a 4.77 home-to-first. Quick footwork in the infield. Quick, clean exchanges. Solid position player skill set. On the mound has a high three-quarters arm slot, 65 mph throwing velocity. On the mound deliberate and under control early. Turns at balance, hides ball, high three-quarters slot, natural delivery. Fastball consistently in the 62-63 mph. Breaking ball with 12/6 shape, gradual action, 57-59 mph. Change-up 55-57.

Caleb Marquez, RHP/C/IF, Blue Springs HS, MO (2018)
Marquez is a strong, athletic 6-foot-2, 220-pound right-handed pitcher and catcher that also plays in the infield. Class of 2018, attends Blue Springs HS in Missouri. Balanced set-up at the plate, short stride, level bat path, some bat speed, hand strength. Aggressive swing. Line drive, gap-to-gap approach. Exit velocity 82, ran a 4.56 home-to-first. In the infield showed athletic footwork, quick exchanges, high three-quarters slot, arm works, 74 mph throwing velocity, ran a 4.56 home-to-first. On the mound showed a deliberate delivery early with little wasted movement. Throws from a tall balance point, high three-quarters arm slot, easy arm. Fastball with arm-side life, 74-76 mph, 77 tops. Split-fingered grip on change-up, tumbling action, strikes, 65-66 mph. Physically-impressive class of 2018 prospect with easy, athletic actions and an aggressive swing at the plate.

Noah Phipps, 2B, Nixa HS, MO (2017)
Phipps is a right-hand hitting middle infielder that attends Nixa HS in Soutwest Missouri. Class of 2017. 5-foot-6, 125-pound frame. At the plate has a slightly closed set-up, strides in place, smooth hand load, works inside the baseball, middle oppo approach. Simple, easy swing, good round of batting practice. Exit velocity clocked at 69 mph, ran a 4.84 home-to-first.  During defensive work at short fielded the ball cleanly, quick exchanges, high three quarters arm action, 67 mph throwing velocity, all accurate throws.

Brant Schaffitzel, 2B, Hillcrest HS, MO (2017)
Schaffitzel is a class of 2017 middle infielder in the class of 2017. 5-foot-11, 183-pound frame. Attends Hillcrest HS in Southwest Missouri. Bat left-handed, showed a balanced set-up, knee in to stride, minimal hand load, short path, simple middle-oppo approach. Recorded an 80 mph exit velocity, ran a 4.40 home-to-first. In the infield fielded everything cleanly, high three-quarters arm action, 75 mph throwing velocity, very accurate throws.

Nick Wagoner, C/IF, Grain Valley HS, MO (2017)
Wagoner is a class of 2017 right-hand hitting catcher and middle infielder that attends Grain Valley HS in Grain Valley, MO. Athletic 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame. At the plate showed a wide set-up, slight crouch, minimal hand load, short bat path, hands inside the ball, maintains balance, middle-oppo approach. Recorded a 78 mph exit velocity, ran a 4.41 home-to-first. Behind the plate showed simple footwork, clean exchanges, short high three-quarters arm action, 2.15-2.20 pop times, 68 mph throwing velocity, accurate throws. During defensive drills at shortstop showed athletic footwork, quick exchanges, three-quarters throwing motion, clean arm, 68 mph throwing velocity, mostly accurate throws.

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