The Scout #11: Jordan Castelli

Castelli (third from left) at the 2017 Wiffleball Bonanza in Ligonier, PA.

Castelli (third from left) at the 2017 Wiffleball Bonanza in Ligonier, PA.

Jordan Castelli might not have the same breadth of Wiffle Ball experience as others we have profiled, but few have as high of a ceiling. Along with Jake Davey, Mike Graziani, and Rob Licht, he is part of a strong core of high ceiling players in western Pennsylvania’s Wiff is Life League.

Castelli is a quarterback on the Division II California University of Pennsylvania football team.  The strong and accurate arm required for the quarterback position serves him well on the flat hill. Castelli has a smooth and easy motion. He generates plenty of power with his lower half and the plastic ball jumps out of his hand as a result. His go-to offering is a big breaking ball that better resembles a 12-6 baseball curveball than a traditional Wiffle Ball drop pitch. The pitch is a true plus offering with strong velocity and outstanding break. Jordan has demonstrated the ability to draw swings and misses on the non-scuffed pitch whether he challenges batters over the plate with it or buries it below the zone. At the Wiffleball Bonzana last July, Castelli befuddled opposing hitters relying almost exclusively on that one pitch. He is another young pitcher whom ball selection is not a big deal for. At the Bonzana, he was able to pick up any ball and throw it, without any decrease in velocity or break.

Castelli did not quite achieve the results he hoped for at his first NWLA Tournament last July, dropping a 1-0 game to the eventual champions the WSEM Dads and later suffering a second defeat at the hands of MNWA (4-0).  Walks appeared to be his undoing, although that might have been an anomaly. A week earlier at the Wiffleball Bonanza, the 6’1 right-hander pounded the zone with no issues. A third pitch to go along with the curve ball and overhand fastball would help Castelli take that next step on the rubber.

Jordan is one of the best hitters in hitter-friendly WILL. While a learning curve would be expected, there is little reason to believe he can’t turn himself into a strong hitter in an unrestricted speed environment with more reps. If Castelli plays in the MAW Canonsburg tournament this August, it will be interesting to see how he adapts in that environment both on the rubber and at the dish. The sky is the limit.


The Scout #10: Jarod Bull

Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 2.52.44 PM.png

As the lone rookie on an otherwise veteran team, Jarod Bull led the York Yaks to a regular season title in Mid Atlantic Wiffle in 2017.  The towering right-hander gained steam during the summer, including one three-tournament stretch where he allowed zero runs over four games (17 innings) with forty punch-outs. Bull is MAW’s best-kept secret and is more-than-ready to test himself against some of the game’s better hitters.

Bull brings a calm, business-like demeanor to the pitching rubber. His straightforward and smooth delivery belies the explosiveness of his pitches. His best and most consistent offering is a screwball that breaks down and in on right-handed batters. The pitch has enough movement – and is mixed in with his other offerings well enough – that he has been able to get away with throwing it down the heart of the plate. The Yaks’ ace also utilizes a hard slider and will drop down with sidearm action on occasion for a riser or drop. The side arm delivery is a particularly great weapon against right-handers and his ability to throw multiple pitches from the arm angle keeps batters guessing. The Yaks were judicious in their use of Bull last season, limiting him to 38 innings in MAW competition and another dozen innings outside of the organization. Their plan paid dividends as Bull stayed strong throughout the entire year and spearheaded a midsummer charge for his team that moved them from near the bottom of the standings to the top.

Similar to his pitching style, Bull uses a simplified approach at the plate. His no-stride swing is helpful in allowing him to stay back on high-movement pitches. Given his size, his lack of power last season in MAW – just one double, triple, and home run each – was somewhat surprising and might be related to the no-stride hitting approach. He still managed a respectable batting average and sprinkled in a few timely hits. Defensively, Bull fields his position very well, a by-product of finishing his motion in a solid fielding position.

Scout #9: Tommy Loftus


Tommy Loftus’ ascent to highly touted Wiffle Ball pitcher was swift. In 2016, the Ridley Park Wiffle Ball player threw just 4 2/3’s innings in league play and his numbers were far from impressive. Something clicked for him in 2017 or perhaps he was simply given a chance to show off his true talents. Last season in the Ridley Park league, Loftus broke out in a big way striking out 57 batters over 32 1/3 innings during the regular season. He followed that up by pitching his team into the NWLA tournament where he turned a lot of heads by striking out 44 batters over 15 innings of work. In February at the MAW Winter Classic, Loftus continued to shine and rack up the strikeouts against experienced hitters.

He has achieved all of this by almost exclusively throwing a clean ball. Loftus is another pitcher that proves that ball preparation is simply a matter of preference. He has a variety of offerings, the majority of which break away from right-handed batters. At the Winter Classic, he showed off a hard riser, a hard slider, a big bending slider/curve ball, and a more traditional drop pitch. A hitch in his delivery just before he releases the ball makes his already plus velocity play-up even more. Besides for the hitch, his delivery is smooth with a high leg lift and solid follow through. Although he receives the most accolades for his work on the rubber, Loftus has shown in himself to be a solid - if not a little underrated - hitter both in RPWL league play and at the Winter Classic where he picked up a couple of timely hits.

Unfortunately, Loftus’ quick ascent may have been too much, too fast for his arm. Ridley Park announced earlier this offseason that Loftus will not pitch in their league in 2018 as he recovers from what was described as a UCL injury. A UCL injury is never a good thing for a pitcher and raises concerns it may only be fixable via surgery (Tommy John). Loftus appears ready to rehab the injury for now. Hopefully he takes the necessary steps and precautions to get his elbow back to where it needs to be, even if that means a slower-than-ideal recovery process. It would be too bad for a pitcher with his talent and promise to succumb to injury just when his Wiffle playing career was taking off.

The Scout #8: Dan Haverty


Before he even entered high school, Dan Haverty was schooling hitters in Golden Stick Yard League. Now – still not even 20 years old – the Woburn, Massachusetts native has the tools and makeup necessary to be one of the game’s premiere pitchers.

In fast pitch competition, Haverty leans on a two-pitch combo of an overhand slider/riser and a sidearm drop. The former gets on hitters in a hurry. Due to its velocity, the pitch doesn’t move a lot but it also doesn’t need to in order to be effective. At the 2017 Fast Plastic Texas Open this past October, the pitch did lose some of its effectiveness as Haverty began to tire in the quarterfinals. The former standout high school wrestler brings that same bulldog wrestler mentality to the pitching rubber. Even as he tired in October, he found a way to gut through it and pitch Remember the Rookies into the semi-finals. His sidearm drop pitch serves as a great complimentary pitch and differs from his other main offering in arm angle, speed, and movement. Haverty has demonstrated a willingness to use both pitches in any count. The only downside to the combination is that the significantly different arm angles makes it easier for a hitter to pick up which pitch is coming. However, between the movement of the sidearm drop and the velocity of the riser/slider, Haverty is hard to hit even when the batter knows what’s coming. He handled the bulk of the pitching duties for the Rookies during round robin at the Texas Open and has the stamina to make it deep into tournaments. Although he has played and pitched for a while, concerns about an arm injury remain relatively low as most of his innings have come in a medium pitch environment and he is well-conditioned.

Haverty is built like a wrestler which has translated into rather prodigious power in GSWL Yard League. His swing was a tad long through the zone at times during the Texas Open but his power should make him a valuable hitter even if his batting average remains middle of the pack. After years of leading his team, the High Rollers, Haverty joined Josh Pagano on the Founders beginning in July of last season and later accepted an invite to play with Pagano and the Rookies in Texas. With GSWL looking like a full-time Yard operation these days, it would be great to see Haverty make a trek to a fast pitch tournament or two this year. He certainly has the tools and experience to succeed in such an environment.

The Scout #7: Chris Owen


When Alexandria, Virginia’s Barrel Bruisers first arrived in MAW last spring, most of the attention was on the team’s flame throwing ace Ryan Doeppel. This left the Bruisers’ second pitcher – Chris Owen – firmly in the shadows to the point of not even pitching in the first tournament. As the season progressed and Doeppel eventually left the Bruisers, Owen took on a more prominent role in the Bruisers’ rotation. Heading into 2018, he is poised to make the leap to dependable, multi-game tournament pitcher.

The tall right hander relies heavily on a big bending slider. The pitch improved steadily throughout the course of the 2017 MAW season and Owen continued to sharpen it during the CFOT Winter League. When commanded correctly, the pitch starts well behind the back of a right-handed hitter and sweeps all the way to the middle or even far-half of the target strike zone. Veteran Bill Owens – who has seen as many pitchers and pitches as anyone – commented last fall that it had been a long time since he had seen a big bending slider quite like Chris’. The movement and command of the pitch appear to improve when thrown at a moderate speed, but the athletic Owen has some velocity in reserve should he choose to call on it. In the CFOT winter league with a slightly shorter pitching distance, his velocity overwhelmed hitters on many occasions. Because of his size, he has a tendency to miss up with the pitch. If Owen can command the slider on a regular basis and move the pitch around the strike zone horizontally, he will be in line for a strong 2018. If he can find a consistent secondary offering, he has upper tier starter potential.

As a hitter, Owen feasted on lower level pitching last season but struggled at times against the mid-level and top-level pitchers in the region. Even when hits were hard to come by, Owen showed above average plate discipline and a willingness to take a free pass. His 49 walks last summer were third most in MAW behind his Bruiser teammate Jerry Hill (55) and the Stompers’ Paul Cooke (58). Although he only hit two homeruns in 2017, Owen has obvious power potential. Both of his homeruns last season came off Stompers’ left-hander Dan Isenberg. It will be interesting to see if that success translates to other southpaws as well.

The Scout #6: Blake Hoffman


Blake Hoffman might only have a couple of tournaments under his belt, but he is no newbie with the Wiffle Ball. The teenage southpaw spent years honing his craft by studying videos of the game’s best pitchers and applying what he learned to his backyard throwing sessions. That practice paid off as Hoffman more than held his own against some of the game’s better players at the MAW Winter Classic this February. The scary thing is he is likely only going to get better as he gains more tournament experience.

My Name is ERL’s lanky left-hander has a simple motion that he’s able to repeat with relative ease. He hides the ball well and he starts from the same general arm slot for most every pitch, making it difficult for batters to read what is coming. With left-handed pitchers being such a rare commodity in this game, Hoffman holds an inherent advantage over opposing batters. He adds to that advantage with a quality screwball/drop that comes right at a right-handed hitter before darting down and away. That pitch from a left-hander is not something hitters have to deal with often, which makes Hoffman extra tough to hit. At the Winter Classic, he mixed in an equally challenging low riser that drew a lot of looking strikes. By his own admission, Hoffman does not throw that pitch often but had it working in Medford so he leaned on it more heavily than he otherwise would. That is a clear sign of his pitching acumen.

This is no crafty lefty, either – Hoffman brings plus velocity and thus far has been able to maintain it deep into tournaments. The most popular upload on Hoffman's YouTube channel is not one of his pitching sessions, but rather a highlight video of Aroldis Chapman's 2012 season. Like Chapman, Blake combines plus movement with plus velocity for what amounts to a deadly combination. He has good control of his pitches but still has room to improve his command within the strike zone. His pitch selection is another area where he has room for improvement, which will likely come with more experience against quality hitters.

At the plate, Hoffman is more of a work in process. He has a smooth swing but at times it appears to be a little long through the zone which hurts his ability to make contact against higher velocity pitchers. His pitch selection can also be improved on, which again, is something that should improve with additional experience. The plan is for Hoffman to play in several Mid Atlantic tournaments this summer alongside his My Name is ERL teammates (the long commute from Ohio might limit the total number of dates he is able to make) and if all goes well, he’s going to get a lot of Rookie of the Year votes come September.

The Scout #5: Ben Stant

Ben Stant (RHP)

(Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

(Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Last summer, more than one high profile player identified Ben Stant as the best medium speed pitcher in the game. That’s quite the accolade to bestow on any player, given the large number of medium speed/breaking ball heavy pitchers that GSWL Yard League has helped cultivate over the past decade. The compliment might mean even more when applied to Stant, who played all of at last season at just 17 years old.

Fellow players marvel at Stant’s knuckle ball that – on a good day – flutters up and down with horizontal movement that a riser or slider cannot replicate. He compliments the knuckler with a plethora of other offerings, including a harder riser. His side arm drop pitch is an effective weapon in keeping both right handed and left handed hitters off balance, even if it is his third or fourth best offering. Stant – who is based out of Delaware – utilizes a variety of arm angles as an additional tool to keep opposing hitters off balance. Changing arm slots so often is sometimes a recipe for wildness, but not for Stant. Even with the different looks, he commands and controls all of his pitches very well. If there is any concern with his pitching style is that the reliance on breaking pitches and different arm angles undoubtedly puts a lot of strain on his arm. There is some concern that his arm already has significant mileage on it and that could possibly catch up to him sooner rather than later.

At the plate, Stant has a smooth left-handed swing that generates easy power. The downside to his swing is that it can drag through the zone from time to time making him susceptible to premium velocity.  His offensive numbers in Yard League have progressed significantly over his four seasons and he is a legitimate power threat in that environment.

Ben is a true student of the game. While his Yard league abilities have earned him the compliments of his fellow players, by no means is he “just” a medium pitch speed player. When he deems it necessary, Stant has the ability to dial up the velocity on his risers without sacrificing much in the way of command. Although he has the talent necessary to succeed in multiple environments, he might be best served in limiting his focus next season. In 2017, Stant bounced around quite a bit. Some of that – such as being traded from the Royals to the Brewers to the Giants in Palisades – was out of his hands. However, Stant still moved around a lot outside of Palisades as he played with two different teams in GSWL Yard tournaments, two different teams in Mid Atlantic, and yet another team for the Fast Plastic Texas Open. Sticking to a couple of organizations and finding himself a solid team for all of next season might enable him to settle in and really make his mark.

The Scout #4: Jeter Larson

Jeter Larson (RHP)


At just 17 years old, Jeter Larson is already considered by some to be the best all around player in JAL, Washington States top Wiffle® Ball League. The Lacey, Washington native made his pro debut as a late-season signing with the Castle Rock Rapids during JAL XV. Jeter signed too late in the season to turn around the fortunes of the cellar dwelling Rapids but proved his value by leading the Rapids to a title in JAL XVI this past summer. Jeter’s twin brother, Ryley, plays for the Kansas Lawman and together they are northernmost players currently signed with a JAL Franchise (Lacey is approximately one hour outside of JAL’s home base in Castle Rock).

Larson makes his living with a hard non-scuffed riser and pinpoint command. He works both sides of the zone horizontally while largely working up in the strike zone. His ability to hit the edge of the zone make Jeter particularly tough to hit, especially with JAL’s “one pitch per batter” rule. He appears to get more looking strikeouts than many of his JAL peers which is a testament to his ability to locate his pitches where he wants them. When he does miss over the heart of the plate, his slider has enough zip behind it that he can get away with the occasional mistake. Jeter employs a simple one step motion that is easily repeatable. While he would no doubt need a second and even third pitch to compete at a high level in a 4-2, 4-3, or 5-3 count organization, Jeter’s hard slider is clearly a plus pitch and a great base to build off of.

VIDEO: Jeter Larson Promo Video (JAL XVII)

At the dish, Larson’s swing has a slight uppercut action to it but that doesn’t necessarily hamper his bat speed. He has above average power, as demonstrated by his no-doubt solo homerun in the championship game of JAL XVI. Larson’s best tool at the plate might be his strike zone knowledge. Even in a one-pitch environment, Larson doesn’t swing at too many bad pitches. That discipline works for him in JAL and likewise would serve him well in a more traditional ball-strike count environment.

The Scout #3: Will Marshall

Throughout the 2017-2018 offseason, The Drop will be profiling and scouting the top players under 25 in the game.

Will Marshall (RHP)

(Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

(Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Will Marshall was a star player in his own Texas Wiffleball League for many years before breaking out on the national scene in 2017. Marshall’s velocity is his greatest and most obvious tool. A hard thrower to begin with, his pitches play up even more thanks to his deceiving frame and compact delivery. Marshall’s riser lacks the movement necessary to make it a plus pitch but the velocity allows it to remain an above average offering. His best pitch is a tailing dropper with a slight fade away from right handed hitters. He has command of both pitches and is able to locate them in and around the zone as needed. Marshall – who has plans to play semi-pro baseball in 2018 – is an excellent athlete and capable of getting three to four games deep in a tournament without any noticeable decline in stuff. The right hander from Frisco is still trying to find the best way to prepare the ball to achieve his desired results. A key to his future success may rest in his ability to find the ball and grip combo that gives him the most movement possible on his riser. In any event, Marshall can already stake a claim as one of the best active, full time pitchers outside of the northeast corridor. He has room to grow into one of the top pitchers in the nation.

As a timing device while at the plate, Will lifts his feet up and down in a stationary walking motion before the pitcher goes into his delivery. While his hands and the bat stay relatively quiet by comparison, the jittery set up makes him susceptible to both premium velocity and big breaking balls. Marshall has quick hands and a smooth swing, which would indicate significant power potential waiting to be unlocked. Marshall is already a disciplined hitter but like many young players he could use additional reps against high level pitching to improve his pitch recognition skills.

Given his athleticism, Marshall should be an above average defender. He is quick on his feet and has demonstrated the ability to make throws from the furthest parts of the infield with relative ease. At the Fast Plastic Texas Open, his defensive miscues were largely mental errors – the result of acclimating himself to the non-running version of the game. In all likelihood he will be an above average defender in the near future with his quickness and strong arm giving him the upside of an all-star caliber fielder.

The Scout #2: Connor Young

Throughout the 2017-2018 offseason, The Drop will be profiling and scouting the top players under 25 in the game.

Connor Young (RHP)


After taking the 2016 season off, Young came back in 2017 and was fantastic on the mound.  His 78 innings pitched lead MAW and he recorded every out for his team in the regular season.  He's got a plus-plus drop and a plus riser.  Connor keeps hitters off balance with an eephus like curveball but doesn't go to that well very often.  I worry a little bit about his violent delivery possibly leading to an injury but with ERL's recent pick up of Blake Hoffman, Young won't have to carry all of the pitching in ’18. The reduced workload should go a long way to keeping his arm healthy. It is a cliche, but when Young is on, he's almost impossible to beat.

At the plate, Young's quick hands provide him with really good power.  I'd like to see a little more patience because he could be an on-base machine but thus far into his career, his aggressive approach has netted him more positives than negatives.  Joe Schlindwein's growth at the plate should also provide Young with more protection.  If Blake Hoffman can hit at all, teams won't be able to pitch around Young as often, allowing him to get more pitches in the strike zone to hit and reduce the pressure to chase pitches off the plate. If he becomes a little more selective, Young could transform from a very good hitter into an excellent one.

Defensively, we haven't seen him anywhere else other than on the mound.  As a pitcher, he fields his position well, thanks to quick reaction times and soft hands. With Hoffman aboard next season, we will get a chance to see how Young takes to other positions on defense. He has plenty of arm strength to go with the range and accuracy necessary to handle any position on the field.

The Scout #1: Jordan Robles

Throughout the 2017-2018 offseason, The Drop will be profiling and scouting the top players under 25 in the game.


Jordan Robles - RHP
Robles is in the top 5 discussion for best all-around player in the country, so it's not surprising that he is on this list.  He can literally do it all.  

He's a great command pitcher who excels in 4-2, 4-3, and 5-3 pitch leagues.  A strike thrower, Robles locates his pitches to all four quadrants of the strike zone, which balances out his lack of a third pitch.  He had a 0.83 BB/5 innings in the Palisades WBL this season, the lowest among the top 25 pitchers with at least 23 innings thrown last season.  His motion is clean and easily repeatable. Rumor has it that he is working on improving his non-scuffed slider for the 2018 season.

At the plate, Robles checks all the prerequisite boxes of an exceptional hitter.  His ability to get on base (.227/.399/.487) adds value to his already above average power – 8 home runs in 2017 PWL season to go with an additional 5 in his first MAW stint with the Stompers – which I expect will continue to increase as he gets into his prime.  He has a short, compact swing and is not afraid to go the other way with the pitch even if it means choking up and shortening his already compact swing down even further.  

In the field, he is a plus defender with excellent instincts.  His first step on fly balls is the best in the game today and he would most likely light up StatCast when someone is able to develop it for Wiffle.  He has above average reaction skills along with his great arm, makes him extremely adaptable.  He can easily cover shortstop, second base, or the outfield depending on the teams need.  

Next Sunday: RHP Connor Young