Hitters Headline Day 1 of Future Games Pool Play


Shooter Hunt
Vice President, Scouting

EMERSON -- Thursday marked the start of pool play at the 2021 PBR Future Games, with 16 games being played across four fields. There were plenty of young, projectable arms on display throughout the day, though it was the event’s hitters that ultimately stole the show.

Below, Vice President of Scouting Shooter Hunter breaks down all of Thursday’s action, identifying some of the prestigious event’s early standouts as well as other notable themes from a jam-packed first day of gameplay.


Home Turf

Georgia’s prospect-laden roster looked more than comfortable at the friendly confines of LakePoint as the team made a LOUD statement with a monster victory in Game 1. Seemingly, the entire lineup hammered baseballs, with SS Rustan Rigdon (Metter HS, GA) setting the tone. The wiry 5-foot-10, 150-pound switch-hitter was a favorite during the workout day and continued to shine in the first game. Unassuming in size but unafraid, Rigdon gets off quality swings with a smooth stroke from both sides of the plate and is quickly becoming a must-watch player. Beyond Rigdon, two-way player 3B/RHP Ethan Sutton (Allatoona HS, GA) delivered multiple loud barrels with eye-opening exit velocities. RHP Mac Huer (Home School, GA), a big, 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, was part of a four-headed monster on the mound for Team Georgia, showcasing a power-arm with a fastball up to 91 mph.


Sunshine State Standout

2023 1B/OF Rhyder Poppell (Florida State University School, FL) posted a 6.68 60-yard dash time and took a strong BP in workouts, producing a 94-mph exit velocity while doing damage with each swing from BOTH sides of the plate. There is uphill intent through the zone and he remains compact through impact, with the ability to turn the barrel and show present pull-side power. Poppell’s 2-for-2 day featured two doubles and three RBI. Team Florida has a fun team to watch with a little bit of everything for coaches to recruit: athletes, multiple future power-bats, and up-the-middle defenders who can stick at premium positions.


Utah Explodes

Led by four hits from OF Ryker Schow (Pleasant Grove HS, UT), Team Utah exploded for double-digit runs in its first game action. Schow, a 6-foot, 165-pound right-handed hitter, looked the part in center field and at the plate, where he was joined by a top-to-bottom lineup that took advantage in key situations. Utah also rolled out a trio of power-armed right-handers in 2023 Brayden Marx (Pleasant Grove HS, UT), 2023 Nolan Miller (Salem Hills HS, UT), and 2023 Myles Topham (Cedar HS, UT), all of whom showcased big arm strength and upside. Team Utah was also a standout during workouts on Wednesday and is quickly becoming a favorite to watch for scouts.


SS Tristan Salinas (NC)

After a quality workout day, Salinas announced himself with authority in game play by hammering three baseballs from the left side, including a double and towering home run. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound left-handed hitter has some present natural strength throughout an athletic frame. He uses his legs well at the plate, where he starts from wider, crouched stance. Working uphill with the ability to turn the barrel, Salinas was on EVERYTHING. The 6.6-runner looks hitterish at all times, and his start to the week is reminiscent of what INF Peyton Stovall (LA, 2021) did during the 2019 event.


SS Jace Norton (AL)

Norton’s athletic, 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame is high-waisted and projectable. He posted a 6.85 60-yard dash time with an 88-mph arm across the diamond in workouts and looked even better when gameplay started. The right-handed hitter got off impressive swings in which he exhibited controlled aggression with quality rotational acceleration and quick hands. He fell behind in each of the at-bats that I watched early on, but still showed comfort tracking and was robbed of a two-strike hit in his first at-bat before driving one into the gap in his next trip to the plate. Norton definitely is a player to follow the rest of the week thanks to his bat and smooth actions on the infield.


LONESTAR State

Although I was stationed on a couple of other games, the loud noises coming from Team Texas kept drawing me over, and they are an emphatic follow the rest of the week. The lineup is deep with physicality and athleticism all over, and there is a little bit of everything for college coaches to watch. Strong up the middle, shortstops Ethan Mendoza (Southlake Carroll HS, TX) and Wyatt Sanford (Frisco Independence HS, TX) took great swings, showing well as up-the-middle prospects.



OF Griffin Cooley (LA)

Cooley (Kinder HS, LA) was one of the players that I was looking forward to seeing heading into the event. An athletic 6-foot-1, 175-pounder, Cooley posted a 6.94 60-yard dash time and showed off a simple, level stroke in batting practice during workouts. His left-handed swing looked even more fluid in-game as he smashed multiple extra-base hits including a double and home run as part of a Team Louisiana that is impressively physical and fun to watch.


RHP Buddy Brands (OR)

It was a hot one with plenty of humidity, but Brands (Tigard HS, OR) showed no ill effects in his two-inning outing for the Pacific Northwest squad. Brands is one of my favorite uncommitted arms in the class on account of his impressively athletic and efficient delivery and quick arm. A TrackMan data darling throughout the preseason, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder pumped fastballs at an effortless 86-88 mph, commanding it to both sides of the plate. He paired his heater with a 79-80 mph cutter and low-70s slurve. The fastball shows some ride/run through the zone, and there is a strong chance he continues to make jumps in the future. Brands finished his two-inning stint with four strikeouts.


3B Evan Blake (MA)

Blake’s explosive grand slam to right-centerfield in his first at-bat set the tone for a stellar first day and should make him a name that every coach in attendance will want to take a glance at moving forward. Sturdily built with some thicker strength, at 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, the right-handed hitter exhibited one of the best swings/approaches at the event, looking to do damage with each swing while maintaining balance throughout. There is quickness to the hands as he whips the barrel through the zone on an uphill path, and the noticeable torque that he creates with the hips highlights his power potential. In his second at-bat, hitting with the bases loaded once again, Blake nearly added a second grand slam as he top spun a ball to the warning track in left field.



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