This past weekend over the course of three days (Friday, September 29 through Sunday, October 1), some of the best prospects in the country congregated in New England to take part in the Future Stars Series Main Event. This invitation-only 3-game series featured the best and brightest high school players from around the country who have been identified by Future Stars Series National Scouting Staff through the National Combine and Partner Scout Days. By many accounts, it was one of the richest collections of talent the event has seen in its seventh rendition.
At times, arms stole the show. The event featured pitchers that pounded the strike zone and showed a willingness to pitch backwards. RHP Josiah Romeo (Caledon, Quebec) walked away as one of the big winners from the week. Romeo showed considerable starter traits with a repeatable, athletic delivery, a low-effort approach to pitching and a slow heartbeat. Romeo ran it up to 95 and put hitters away with a frisbee slider in the upper-70s. Romeo also flashed a few changeups, though his one-two fastball-slider combo did most of the damage.
One scouting director in attendance summed it up succinctly.
“There’s some 7-figure kids out here today,” he said referring to potential signing bonuses in the MLB Draft. “That one out there might be one of them.”
RHP Josiah Romeo (Mayfield, ON, Canada) may end up the top prospect from the @ftrstarsseries Main Event. Up to 95 w/life. Sweeper locked up both LHH & RHH. 8 whiffs in 3 IP. Tremendous command. Loose, easy, repeats, slow heartbeat, feel to pitch, confident, strike-thrower.
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) October 3, 2023
Romeo was hardly the only arm that impressed. RHP Connor Shouse (Ball Ground, Ga.) ran it up to 98 with a loose, whippy arm action. He chopped right-handed hitters off at the knees with a buckling front-door slider. RHP Eli Crecelius (Jonesboro, Ar.) showcased a 93 mph fastball with considerable ride through the zone, coupling that with a slurvy breaking ball featuring more depth that sweep. He wiped away the competition, punching five tickets in three scoreless innings. RHP Alex Hernandez (Cumming, Ga.) was also impressive, battering the strike zone with sinkers, changeups and sliders. He showed considerable polish pitching backwards and throwing all three pitches to both-handed hitters. It was some of the most refined work shown all weekend. A couple other righties who impressed scouts this past weekend include Lance Davis (Jonesboro, Ar.), Jason Flores (Wylie, Tx.) and Landon Scilley (Maysville, Ky.).
Southpaw Jason Barfield (Pearland, Tx.) threw a ton of big breaking balls, showing arm-side and glove-side command, locking up most hitters that stepped into the box. The Oklahoma commit figures to get stronger this winter and push his velocity into the mid-90s in due time. Fellow lefty Bryce Navarre (Montgomery, Tx.) rivaled Romeo for the most dominant outing from the weekend, spinning 3000-rpm bender in and out of the zone, generating plenty of ugly swings in the process. He gave hitters absolutely nothing to work with dotting a low-90s fastball on the top rail over and over. His heater features natural cut and carry through the zone, tunneling beautifully off his already plus breaker. Navarre figures to be another one of those names with 7-figure upside.
LOUD showing from LHP Bryce Navarre (Montgomery, TX) today. I had 11 whiffs in 3 IP, 8 on the FB. Cut and carry, 88-92. Can spin the breaker north of 3200 rpm. Flirted with a few low-80s CH. Low slot. Hides it. Short-arm action. Fills it up. Starter traits. Dynamic arm. pic.twitter.com/Jd9BeVhE9E
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) September 30, 2023
At the plate, it was a tall order for hitters, though there were plenty of barrels on display. 3B Robbie Demetree (Altamonte, Fl.) was the only player to put one off the Green Monster, a hanging breaking ball he punished halfway up the wall. Demetree worked good at-bats all weekend and put several loud balls in play showing an advanced approach. Speaking of mature at-bats, SS Derrick “DJ” Layton (Fort Mill, S.C.) put together some of the most lengthy plate appearances, his best being an 8-pitch battle with the bases loaded. He’d eventually shoot a stinging liner up the middle for a 2-run single. Layton showed well in the field and at the plate and appears to be a name on the rise in scouting circles.
Some good swings out of SS DJ Layton (Fort Mill, SC) in early BP. Switch-hitter. More juice from the left side. Hitterish from the right. 6.4 runner. On the rise. pic.twitter.com/uS6u8tCKGm
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) September 30, 2023
1B/LF John Pearson (Downsville, La.) showcased some of the biggest bat speed of the event hammering multiple balls into the gaps. Pearson, an LSU commit, has drawn comparisons to Billy Butler and has a chance to pummel his way into strong draft consideration next summer. OF Murchael Turner (Mableton, Ga.) did a little bit of everything all weekend. He drew a couple walks, stole a handful of bases, and punched a few balls into the gaps with authority. I threw a Marcell Ozuna comparison on Turner after the outing. He’s got super-quick hands and impressed with his overall athletic ability.
Other bats that impressed throughout the weekend included IF Jake Downing (Redwood City, Ca.), OF Matthew Scott II (Spring, Tx.), 1B/OF Paul Jones II (Burnsville, Mn.) and C Sir Jameson Jones (Blue Island, Il.)
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