BRADENTON FL- The debate for the top prep arm in this year’s class is pretty much a two horse race right now between Daniel Espino and Brennan Malone. Espino impressed in his debut a couple of weeks ago, showing four pitches while touching 96. Now it was Malone’s opportunity to turn some scout’s heads. And he did just that in the match between his number two in the nation ranked IMG Academy squad took on another stacked team in TNXL Academy.
50 radar guns pointed directly at the imposing 6-foot-4, 210-pound righty as he took the mound. Malone would finish tossing three innings, punching out four, while walking none. The fastball sat 92-95, touching 96. Malone pounded the zone with his heater and used a two seam that bored in on righties. The curveball, flashing plus, was 75-76 with consistent 11-6 shape. He also showed a slider at 84 that flashed plus with 2-plane tilt.
Malone has the mold of everything you want in a frontline starter. He has the body of a workhorse and supreme athleticism. The delivery is fluid with good extension and elite arm speed. Malone’s FB-CB sequencing did become a bit predictable at times. Don’t expect this to be much of an issue going forward with continued development from transition from a “thrower” to a pitcher. Especially if he can develop a change and continue to harness and mix in the slider, this guy is going to be fun to watch.
Joseph Charles - RHP, TNXL Academy
Average build, athletic. 2-way player. On the mound, FB sat 93-95, touching 97. Struggled pretty severely with control. Poor FB command. Inconsistent release point with sub-optimal extension. FB straight. Curve showed tight spin but inconsistent shape. At the plate, plus bat speed. Turned around 96 off Malone. Played CF where his arm profiles as plus. Made highlight reel catch against the wall. Would benefit from college where he can hone his trade as a 2-way player and maximize value. Want to see a few more looks.
Kendall Williams - RHP, IMG Academy
Tall, slender frame with loads of projection. Build similar to Forrest Whitley. Long legs and levers. Efficient, fluid delivery with good extension. FB sat 87-91 with run and serious downward plane. Curve can be deadly at 75-76 with slurvy feel flashing more tilt and horizontal break than vertical. Change-up 75-76. Easy to dream on with more velocity coming due to size and athleticism.
Brady McConnell - SS, Florida
Athletic build, with loose actions. Room for added strength and power. Showed easy loft and power in BP. Upright set up with hands close to body, open stance. Hands start low, minimal load with pull approach. Runs out of bat on outer half due to front shoulder and hips opening early. Last AB stayed short and inside the ball, leading to a solid contact single up the middle. Smooth, athletic defender than can stick at SS. Quick release. Strong accurate throws. Could move up boards with strong spring.
Austin Langworthy - OF, Florida
Stocky, strong build. Thick lower half. At the plate, sets up with a wide base of support and hands low. Struggled with syncing weight shift, often times lunging and neutralizing lower half at point of contact. Appears to have a pull approach and often opens up early. Bat looks slow but is more likely due to early season struggles, trying to do too much at the plate. Power projects as gap power at the next level. Bat will have to carry the profile. 4.56-4.62 run times - neither were max effort.
Wil Dalton - OF, Florida
Big strong power hitter. Strong, athletic frame that can add more weight. Sets up in the box with a slight crouch. Bat starts on shoulder and wraps during swing. Above-average bat speed. Bat speed is more from upper body strength than quickness in wrists. Swing and miss concerns. Struggles on pitches away and will expand the zone against offspeed. Uses hands well on inside pitches. Started to heat up in last ABs. Pulled hands in tight and roped a double down the line and then let the ball travel deep before going to RCF gap for a triple. Line drives have carry and contact is loud when ball is squared. Average defender in RF with strong throwing arm. Plus runner.
Nelson Alvarez - RHP, South Florida
Tall, physical build. Hides ball well and explodes at batters utilizing hips and strong legs well. Plus arm speed with loose arm action. Fastball sat 93-95, touching 96 with good natural cut. Slider flashed plus at 73 with 2-plane break. Also showed a change at 82. Potential high-leverage reliever.
Nelson Maldonado - OF, Florida
Short frame but thick and strong. DH in both looks. Aggressive hitter with good bat control. Hands start at shoulder height before transitioning into leg kick and load. Lets the ball travel deep before swinging, struggling to square up high fastballs. Appears to be a guess hitter that looks for breaking pitches. Line drive gap hitter with strong hands. Bat has to carry the profile. Below average athlete.
Joe Genord, 1B, South Florida
Strong, thick build. Confident hitter that goes to the plate looking to do damage. Medium base with high back elbow. Plus raw power. Punishes mistakes. Hit an absolute moonshot. Well below-average runner. Busy hands and drop during load could lead to strikeout issues.