By: Gary Randall – October 19, 2016
The wind-up of GRHL Week #5 saw the Falcons Black face off at Northwestern HS versus the Trojans in what proved to be an 8 inning contest. Now, only one regular season game remains – a make-up at York HS on Monday for Falcons Black & Cougars #1. Then, the GRHL All-Star Game breaks the ribbon at Winthrop U Ballpark on Wednesday night at 7:05pm. I hope to see a lot of you there.
The Falcons Black/Trojans game was neither the quickest nor the most well-played/pitched match-up this fall season with a combined 18 walks issued, 4 HBP’s & a number of errors, but I have found that, channeled correctly, struggles & defeats can serve as learning tools & impetus for harder work. These young players are…well…young, & they have plenty of time to work on consistency & improvement. Certainly a bright spot in this game was the first “tank” (HR) of the season quickly jumping off the bat of the Trojans’ Brandon Ashley. It was a legit shot to LF.
As for repetitions & experience serving to push development, 13 different pitchers earned mound time in the game. That can only be a positive in my book.
Brandon Ashley, 2017, Northwestern HS, C, Uncommitted: I’m not at all sure I noticed Brandon in my initial look at him in game one of the GRHL fall season, but he was “noticeable” this night. And, it wasn’t just the pitch he sent sailing over the LF fence. Where he also caught my eye was behind the dish. He was challenged most of the night with shifting to handling pitches well wide of the zone & blocking dirt balls well left & right & was solidly competent with these tasks. The only pitches he didn’t always glove cleanly & easily were pitches to his backhand requiring turning the thumb downward to receive. Between innings he was around 2.06-2.08 on throw releases to 2B with fair accuracy. At the plate he was quite successful, adding a double to the HR in three AB’s. Ashley employs a simple approach with limited load & trigger while using his very strong upper half to damage baseballs middle-in. There seems to be a hint of stiffness to his swing & perhaps a dead-red, pull mode mentality in his approach, both of which may prove problematic as he faces better pitching. However, the last stats seen on him state he has only one KO in 13 AB’s this fall season. Ashley stated that he has not verbally committed to a college for next season nor has he received any scholarship offers. In my opinion he has the tools/skills he should find a spot on a college roster sooner or later.
Bradley Bott, 2019, Nation Ford HS, LHP, Uncommitted: Another 1-inning look at Bott on the bump, reinforced my earlier look & thought of his future talent being easily college-worthy. His FB registered similarly as my initial look, 75-78, & again showed natural LHP tail/run/sink life from the ¾ slot & even carried more plane (downhill) than that slot normally delivers. In a more thorough look at the CB & CHG this time, both have the potential to be “average major league” quality in time. He was in/around the zone with all 3 pitches. The only difficult projection here is where the FB velocity will end up. He uses a bit of a one-piece arm action which could hinder arm speed & thus velocity, but it would really be a surprise if the FB doesn’t reach a working velocity of at least 84-86. Bott will be an interesting one to follow in the years ahead.
Top Game Performers:
Falcons Black –
Zander Sheldon – 2017, LF/1B, Nation Ford HS: Gathered a double & a single in three plate appearances.
Greg Izzo – 2017, 3B/C/RHP, Nation Ford HS: Had trouble getting pitches to hit this game. He walked twice & was hit by a pitch. He showed versatility in helping his team by playing 3B, catching, and then pitching the last inning.
Will Hagood – 2017, INF, Northwestern HS: Reached base in each of three AB’s while making loud contact all game collecting a double & a single.
Rob Hughes – 2018, 3B, Northwestern HS: A member of the strong 2018 pitching staff for NHS, Hughes proceeded to garner two singles on the night.
FB Velocities…This Date:
Falcons Black: Derek Sivec (2018 LHP) 74-78; Matt Levy (2018 LHP) 75-78; Jeffrey Maidhof (2019 RHP) 73-77; Bradley Bott (2019 LHP) 75-78; Greg Izzo (2017 RHP) 79-83.
Trojans: Kyle Perdue (2019 RHP) 74-77; Will Hagood (2017 RHP) 76-79; Ethan Martinez (2018 RHP) 74-78; Garrett Shillingburg (2018 RHP) 75-77; Andrew Shipman (2017 RHP) 71-74; Will Gardiner (2017 RHP) 77-81; Brandon Ashley (2017 RHP) 78-81.