Hammond and the '25s upset the upperclassmen at the inaugural All-American Game
September 26, 2023
MILWAUKEE – Prep Baseball’s inaugural All-American Game staged a battle between the nation’s best high school seniors and an equally gifted junior class on Saturday inside a roofed American Family Field, and it was the younger class that bested their senior foes in Milwaukee, 5-3, in a competitive nine-inning contest.
While the game was an exhibition in nature, the talent inside both dugouts played with the same competitive edge that’s helped each of them garner attention from the professional scouting community, and the game itself featured representation from most all 30 Major League organizations Saturday.
The game was structured (mostly) as a typical baseball contest, though each inning deployed new pitchers from both bullpens, and the Class of 2024 team hit 11 players in its lineup, while the Class of 2025 had 12 batters in its order.
Following the traditional pre-game ceremonials, senior Cam Caminiti (Saguaro HS, AZ; LSU commit) toed the rubber for the home team ‘24s to warm up, while middle infielder Coy James (Davie HS, NC; Ole Miss) prepared to ignite a spark for his fellow juniors from atop the lineup. Instead Caminiti – who actually reclassified from the Class of 2025 to the ‘24s at the beginning of this past summer – fired a 94 mph fastball past James’ barrel as the first-ever pitch at the Prep Baseball All-American Game in a battle between the No. 2-ranked senior in the country and the No. 4-ranked junior.
Caminiti eventually coaxed James to swing through two more fastballs in the zone, reaching a 95 mph high in the process, and that mid-90s heat was also too much for the next two batters as Caminiti struck out the side in order to begin the ballgame, and the LSU recruit then swaggered off the mound and strutted into the third base dugout.
Games like this one have typically favored pitching, as the arms are allowed to go all out for their allotted inning, meanwhile batters don’t get the luxury of facing any pitcher more than once, preventing them from getting in any sort of rhythm in the batter’s box. This was the case on Saturday in Milwaukee as well.
Junior right-hander Seth Hernandez (Corona HS, CA; Vanderbilt) took the ball for the ‘25s with the added pressure of following up Caminiti’s spotless frame, all while facing the top of the seniors’ order. Hernandez himself is the No. 2-ranked prospect in the Class of 2025, and he would be tasked with opposing the seniors’ No. 4-ranked Carter Johnson (Oxford HS, AL; Alabama), a sweet-swinging left-handed hitter in the ‘24 class, who flared an elevated fastball out to shallow center field that landed for the game’s first hit on Hernandez’s first pitch. The Vandy-bound junior dug into the stretch with the leadoff man on and battled back from a 3-1 deficit while facing an intimidating Kale Fountain (Norris HS, NE; LSU), earning back-to-back whiffs on two 93 mph fastballs. He then got the hometown prospect J.D. Dix (Whitefish Bay HS, WI; uncommitted) to swing over a well-spotted changeup beneath the strike zone for his second strike out of the inning, and he got his third K a batter later on an 95 mph fastball above the zone to nearly match Caminiti’s efficiency from a half-inning prior.
The ‘24s next trotted out Ryan Sloan (York HS, IL; Wake Forest), a Chicago-area prospect who has been one of the biggest winners of the pivotal summer circuit. Sloan went on to show some of the most elite stuff of the entire day, sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball while mixing in a changeup that dives away from left-handed hitters as well as a sweeping slider that is also one of the class’ best breaking balls. He began his outing with a hard-earned strike out of Ethan Holliday (Stillwater HS, OK; Oklahoma State), the top overall prospect at the event, and he had another duel with California’s Brady Ebel (Etiwanda HS; uncommitted) which ended in a sound fly out to left, and became our first out in the field of play. A quick pop out ended the half-inning in which Sloan’s 97 mph heater went on to become the day’s firmest single pitch.
Southpaw Jack Bauer (Lincoln-Way East HS, IL; Virginia) traded places with fellow Illinois prep product Sloan and climbed all the way up to 95 mph in his half-inning attached to a trademark sweeper that earned whiffs both in and out of the zone. He navigated past a two-out walk to keep his ‘25s tied scoreless with the ‘24s headed into the top of the third inning, which wound up featuring the game’s first runs.
Senior lefty Jordan Stribling (Highland Park HS, TX; Texas) couldn’t quite find the strike zone in his outing, which was to the junior teams’ benefit. The juniors refused to chase out of the zone, forcing long at-bats that resulted in three straight walks that began the half-inning, and a wild pitch plated Billy Carlson (Corona HS, CA; Vanderbilt) to give the juniors the 1-0 lead. Two more walks scored a second run, pushing Class of 2024 head coach Jacob Turner to make a pitching change, tasking Canadian native Matthew Brown (P27 Academy HS, SC; Oklahoma State) with the enormous challenge of limiting the damage, inheriting a 2-0 deficit, no outs recorded, and the bases still jammed.
Brown was up for it, however, as he helped serve up a 4-6-3 double play ball that was slickly turned by Tyler Bell (Lincoln-Way East HS, IL; Kentucky) and the shortstop from Alabama, Johnson. The ‘24s traded those two outs for the now 3-0 score, and just a couple pitches later Brown got the inning’s third out on a routine ground out to third base, suppressing what could have been an even larger lead for the juniors.
Carlson took the ball next for the ‘25s, an excellent two-way player in the class and he's travel ball and high school teammates with Hernandez, who opened the game for the juniors, and both are committed to Vanderbilt. Carlson is a smooth shortstop defender with an athletic right-handed swing, but he can really pitch, too. He sat in the low-90s with a biting, downer breaking ball, and he used the combo to pitch over a lead-off walk and he forced a double play ball that still got him through the frame facing the minimum to end the third inning.
Brown retook the ball in the fourth and was unable to get Ty Peeples (Franklin County HS, GA; Georgia) out, which has been a growing theme for the UGA recruit. Peeples fouled off numerous quality pitches from Brown before he went down and lined a ball just under the zone into right field for a hard single. From there, Brown was able to settle back in and pitch around the leadoff hit, recording six outs in total for his seniors to keep them in the ballgame, still down 3-0.
The next two arms tallied clean half-innings; physical junior right-hander Mark Brissey (Batesville HS, AR), who’s committed to the Razorbacks, and spindly Texas lefty Dasan Hill (Grapevine HS, TX), a Dallas Baptist recruit, was impressive as well.
This set the stage for the dynamite two-way junior Josh Hammond (Wesleyan Christian HS, NC; Wake Forest), who snared a ton of attention from this point forward, and from the mound first. In his assigned inning, Hammond – a strong-bodied, athletic, right/right prospect who’s listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds – was parked at 95 mph on a riding fastball that he backed up with an 84 mph slider that he was plenty comfortable throwing to left-handed hitters, earning whiffs in the process, and in any kind of count. The Wake Forest recruit struck out the side in order, displaying some on-mound moxie as he walked off the bump, reholstering the slider that looked like the day’s most MLB-ready offering.
Have an inning, Josh Hammond — Prep Baseball Report (@prepbaseball) September 23, 2023
Bottom 5: Sit 94-95 w/ arguably the most electric stuff we’ve seen today ✅
Top 6: Rope an RBI double ✅#PBRAAG23 // @MizunoSportsUSA // @PrepBaseballNC pic.twitter.com/Cc4zbVLBzY
The ‘24s then sent Brayton Thomas (Bishop Dwenger HS, IN; Indiana), a sturdy and strong left-hander, who got in the way of Hammond’s breakout performance in Milwaukee. Following a lead-off walk, Thomas worked ahead into a 1-2 count on Hammond, but Thomas left a breaking ball out over the zone that allowed him to barrel up a line-drive that split the left-center gap and left Hammond’s barrel at an exit velocity of 100 mph. The double scored the juniors’ fourth run of the game, and helped raise the ceiling on Hammond’s prospect status. Hammond later scored on a wild pitch, further extending the juniors lead to 5-0 entering the bottom of the sixth.
All was quiet for the next couple innings, featuring solid performances from juniors Jordan Martin (Jefferson City HS, MO; Arkansas) and Luke Billings (Prosper HS, TX; Tennessee), as well as seniors Jack DeTienne (Verona Area HS, WI; Xavier) and Tomas Valincius (Baylor HS, TN; Virginia). DeTienne, namely, is a Wisconsin native who showed well for the seniors in a spotless inning, sitting 93-94 mph, with a hammer curveball that he trusted with the utmost faith.
In the bottom of the eighth, an infield single from Anderson French (Red Land HS, PA; Virginia Tech) and a one-out walk set the table for a walk and eventually an RBI single lined off the bat of Ty Southisene (Basic Academy HS, NV; Tennessee) to shallow right field with two strikes, scoring the seniors' first run in the eighth frame, finally. A hard-nosed at-bat with the bases loaded by Hunter Carns (First Coast HS, FL; Florida State) resulted in an RBI walk, requiring Class of 2025 head coach Matt Holliday to opt for Angel Cervantes (Warren HS, CA; UCLA) to secure the juniors’ victory from the bullpen.
The Cali junior is the No. 13-ranked prospect in his class, and he pitches with a quiet confidence and at a quick tempo. On a day when several individual pitches garnered ugly swings and misses that would illuminate social media feeds, Cervantes’ changeup parachuted over the plate and no senior bat could hang back long enough to make contact with it. A sac fly helped get the seniors a run closer, cutting their deficit to two runs, but Cervantes used a 93 mph fastball to queue a come-backer that he knocked down and flipped to first for the inning’s third out, reducing the potential damage, keeping the junior lead intact.
The momentum appeared to briefly swing back toward the seniors when their final pitcher, Brayden Krenzel (Dublin Jerome HS, OH; Tennessee), dominated his ninth inning, with 92-94 mph velocity that set up two swing-and-miss secondaries, a sweeping slider and a deceptive changeup, thus retaining the two-run deficit for his offense.
Onto the bottom of the ninth, Cervantes sauntered back to the bump and he was boosted by a tremendous diving play down the third base line by Ebel on a hard grounder off the bat of Fountain, who recorded a 6.70 time in the 60-yard dash just a day prior.
Ebel’s pro-grade dive, catch, and throw quelled the seniors’ would-be rally, as Dix was next up and he notched a hard ground ball between second and first base that forced a tough play and errant throw, getting him to second base with still only one out. Cervantes then earned a fly out, pinning the seniors’ hopes to the backstop French, but the UCLA recruit was unafraid, and he executed three straight changeups that earned three consecutive swings and misses, finalizing the juniors an upset victory, by a 5-3 score.
RHP Angel Cervantes (@PBR_California, 2025)— Shooter Hunt (@ShooterHunt) September 23, 2023
Athletic, loose arm with even more upside; 91-93 mph FB.
Supreme confidence in the CH; bottom falls out, 77-79 mph. Sweeping SL, 77-78 mph.
6-foot-1, 183 pounds #PBRAAG23 || #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/nOeNrTIHtE
The post-game handshake and celebration was capped by the selection of the first-ever Prep Baseball All-American Game Most Valuable Player award, given to Josh Hammond, the junior from North Carolina. The Wake Forest recruit pitched an explosive fifth inning, wielding arguably the event’s best pure stuff while on a mound that’s accustomed to hosting the sport’s best of the best. He also collected the game’s sole extra-base hit, a double that scored the juniors’ fifth run, creating the separation required for the juniors to fend off the seniors’ efforts at a comeback late.