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Aurora Preseason ID: Quick Hits


By Illinois Scouting Staff

On Saturday, Feb. 5, the PBR Illinois team hosted the Aurora Preseason ID at the Sport Zone in Aurora, Ill. This open event featured players from the 2022 through 2025 high school grad classes, providing our staff with an ample opportunity to learn more about the area’s baseball talent. 

Today, we're kicking off our post-event coverage by sharing with you the biggest takeaways from Saturday's showcase in the form of this Quick Hits post. Stay tuned throughout the week as we continue to break down the event's top performers with the help of our tech partners TrackMan, Blast Motion, and Vizual Edge. For now, here's a look at the highlights from our Aurora showcase, the first Preseason ID event on the circuit.

QUICK HITS

POSITION PLAYERS

When breaking down the Aurora Preseason ID, one thing that sticks out, was the number of hitters who could drive the baseball with authority. In total, 18 hitters registered max exit velocities of 90 mph or harder during their rounds of BP; eight of whom registered a max distance of 340 feet, or farther. 

+ The Polubinski triplets, juniors from Oswego East – Josh (6-foot-3, 195-pound), Mike (6-foot-3, 185-pounds), and Zach (6-foot-2, 190-pounds) all made a strong impression at the event. Each has a physical, athletic frame and swung potent right-handed bats with intent to do damage. The trio landed in the top six in hard hit percentage (percentage of batted balls registering a 90 mph exit velocity or harder) from the event. All three registered a hard hit percentage of 40 percent or better, with Josh leading the event; eight of his 10 swings left the barrel at the 90 mph threshold or greater, and he also led the event in max exit velocity (99.2) and average exit velocity (94.5).

Defensively, Josh took efficient routes and showcased some life in the arm with his throws playing with carry at 85 mph. He also impressed on the mound, running his fastball up to 83 mph with ride through the zone and feel for two different breaking balls; a slider at 70-72 mph with slurvy 10/4 shape and a curveball at 68-69 with downer break and depth. 

+ CIF Jacob Buysse (Mundelein; 2022), a Wisconsin-Eau Claire commit, is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound, physical, long-levered, right-handed bat who starts in a balanced/wide setup and has a simple overall swing, while creating easy power. The swing and path is repeatable while looking to lift the baseball, complementing his raw strength, which he used to register a max exit velocity of 98.7 mph on a baseball that traveled 373 feet, the farthest of the showcase.

+ One of the top infielders from the day was left-handed-hitting SS/3B Jackson Bland (Batavia, 2023). Bland has a 6-foot-1, 170-pound, solid/athletic build and the ability to stick on the left side of the diamond at the next level. Bland plays with athletic, fundamental and easy actions; feet play with rhythm and tempo while staying balanced and controlled on the move. His 77 mph arm plays up due to the ease in his release and the way the ball jumps out of his hand. Offensively, he was just as impressive, standing in the box with a presence and intent throughout his round. Fluid, easy pre-pitch rhythm with a controlled leg-lift trigger and uphill, intentful swing. Bland worked on the barrel throughout his round while utilizing the middle of the field. Consider him a follow left-handed-hitting junior infielder in the state moving forward.

+ Listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with athleticism, right-handed-hitting INF Taylor Kujak (Plainfield Central, 2023) made a statement at this event with his round of batting practice. Kujak started the day by running a 7.05 in the 60 on what appeared to be a slower track, and he followed it up with one of the better rounds of BP on the day. Kujak starts in a wide setup and showed different styles of strides throughout his round. One thing that stayed consistent was his borderline explosive bat speed (averaged 71.7 mph) that he got to without exerting too much effort. Kujak routinely made hard contact back up the middle of the field with his best batted ball registering at 97.1 mph off the bat and 359 feet. Defensively, it remains to be seen where he is best suited, but Kujak features a potent right-handed bat and athleticism in his movement patterns and frame.

+ OF Ryan Coon (Freeport, 2024) played a key role on his varsity squad this last spring and was one of the top sophomores at the Aurora Preseason ID. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound, twitchy and strong left/left outfielder started his day running the fastest 60-yard dash time of the day (6.87), and he's been clocked at 6.76 in the past, supporting the claim that the track may have been a little slow on this day. Regardless, Coon is a quality athlete, and he takes aggressive, controlled swings from the left-handed box while showing a direct/repeatable path and feel for the barrel. Coon consistently drove hard line-drives to the whole field including a max exit velocity of 90 mph and driving the ball 242’ on average. Coon also showed reliable hands in the outfield, topping out at 77 mph from a crow-hop. 

+ 3B/RHP Beau Honeycutt (Knoxville, 2023) took one of the more notable rounds of BP on the day, recording a max exit velocity of 91.2 mph, and a max estimated distance of 321 feet. The right-handed hitter possesses present bat strength throughout his aggressive swing, remaining loose with extension after contact. On the infield, Honeycutt showed sound actions, athletic/quick feet, soft hands and a clean exchange. His arm plays short and quick with his throws flashing carry and topping at 81 mph.

+ C Cooper Gillette (Harlem, 2023) showed well yet again after an intriguing look earlier in 2021. The right-handed hitter starts in a crouched position and utilizes a smooth load and knee-knock stride. He has loose/athletic hands and a fluid uphill bat path with easy effort throughout. Gillette has intent to lift the baseball while recording a max exit velocity of 92.1 mph and max distance of 340 feet. He's a follow right-handed-hitting catcher in this junior class, still uncommitted.

+ Another catcher to keep tabs on from the event was Eric Lewis (Oswego East, 2023). Lewis proved to be one of the best defensive catchers of the event and his bat was equally as impressive. Defensively, Lewis possesses soft hands with a quick transfer, strong/accurate throwing arm (2.12 low pop time), athletic/directional feet out of the crouch and also showed to be an active/willing blocker throughout the day while catching bullpens. At the plate, the right-handed hitter starts with a wide/athletic base before moving into a short/controlled stride. Lewis creates hand-separation at foot-plant before transitioning into a level path through the zone, displaying present bat speed with an 83.2 mph average exit velocity (max of 88-plus mph) and his best struck ball traveled just over 300 feet.

+ Yet another potent right-handed bat to keep tabs on in the 2023 class belongs to C Nick Mardis (Bloomington Central). The 6-foot-1, 205-pound, broad-chested, wide-shouldered Mardis oozed physicality in the box and was on the barrel with authority, averaging a 91.3 mph exit velocity during BP, second best of the event. Mardis stays quiet pre-pitch with his hands set in a strong hitting position and stays direct to the baseball with uphill tendencies. Mardis launched a number of balls over 300 feet, and his best landed at an estimated 348 feet from home.

+ INF Daniel Paige (Plainfield North, 2025) showed one of the more upside swings out of the freshman in attendance. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound, high-waisted, upside freshman starts in a tall, relaxed setup with a direct, level path resulting in a number of backspinning liners to the big part of the field. The bat should only continue to ascend as he gains strength to his projectable frame. 

PITCHERS

+ An arm on the rise coming out of the event was RHP/INF Dominic Voegele (Columbia, 2023). The 6-foot-2, 180-pound, athletically-built, high-waisted right-handed pitcher worked out as a position player as well, but it was on the mound where he made his statement. Voegele works with a clean, easy delivery from an over-the-top slot. His fastball plays easy and lively out of the hand at 85-87 mph but it was his true 12/6 curveball (2,499 average rpm) that turned heads. He showed advanced feel for the 70-72 mph breaker, which featured an advanced depth, measured at an average of 17.4 inches of induced vertical break, and it looks capable of becoming an out-pitch for the junior moving forward. Voegele rounded out his repertoire with a upper-70s changeup that he was able to kill the spin on and land in the zone most of the time. Voegle is a high-follow uncommitted junior with more velocity to tease out as he continues to develop.

+ RHP Michael Belbot (Stevenson, 2023) is another right-hander who walked away from Saturday's showcase as a big winner. Belbot has a well-proportioned 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame with a clean arm that works from a high ¾ slot. Belbot’s running fastball never dipped below 88 mph, reaching an 89 high on his best bullet, cruising at 2,291 rpm on average. The right-hander opted for a sharp slider a as his go-to secondary, clocked in the 74-75 mph range while spinning at an average of 2,630 rpm, showing depth with 11/5 shape and kept primarily down in the zone and thrown with arm-speed. Belbot also showed some feel for a changeup in the 82-83 mph range, mostly straight, but thrown for strikes at times. The uncommitted right-hander should continue to make impressive strides in the coming years and is definitely an arm to follow this spring.

+ LHP Luke Brown (Plainfield North, 2023) was arguably the top left-handed arm in attendance on Saturday, and he entered the event with some pedigree behind him too. Standing at 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, the left-hander sat comfortably in the 85-86 mph range (2,405 rpm on average), reaching back for 87 on his last pitch of the day with noticeable arm-side life throughout his 'pen. He showcased a short slider with 1/7 action, thrown with intent and in the 73-75 mph range, complete with impressive feel for the zone. Brown went to a hard, darting changeup in the 76-77 mph range as a third offering, one that he kept down in the zone and maintained his fastball-like arm speed and action, profiling well alongside each other. Overall, Brown gave an intriguing look at his first event in 2022 and he'll be an arm to keep tabs on moving forward, no doubt.

+ RHP Cole Kratzberg (Orion, 2023) is yet another 2023 who showed some potential next-level stuff in Aurora. The compact right-hander works from an over-the-top slot with a clean arm action out of the glove. Down the mound, Kratzberg utilizes a drop/drive lower half while striding in-line to the plate, moving efficiently downhill. His fastball sat mostly 80-83 mph, reaching back for one 85 max with above-average spin traits behind it. The fastball is generally straight, but he showed feel for the zone, landing the pitch for strike over 85 percent of the time. The most impressive part of Kratzberg’s arsenal is his ability to spin the breaking ball, showing off a sharp breaking ball at 66-67 mph with high spin for that velocity, reaching highs of nearly 2,700 rpm. He also showcased a fading changeup at 70-72 mph, displaying feel for the bottom of the zone and natural arm-side life.

+ RHP Jackson Kottmeyer (Kaneland, 2024) is a young, upside arm to know moving forward. At his first-ever PBR event, the lanky 6-foot-2, 150-pound right-hander showed slight deception in his delivery, moving down the mound well while utilizing a drop/drive lower half, striding slightly across his body, which projects to make it difficult for right-handed hitters to stay in on. Kottmeyer lived in the 79-81 mph range throughout his 'pen with natural arm-side movement. He featured a slurve-y breaking ball at 67-70 mph, featuring some depth and feel to locate. The righty rounded out his arsenal with a changeup at 74-76 mph, showing arm-side fade and maintaining fastball-like arm speed.

+ One other upside 2024 right-hander to keep an eye on is AJ Davis  of Morton. Davis has a long-levered 6-foot-5, 185-pound stature, with plenty of room for continued physical development. Davis’ delivery still has some raw tendencies due to his long levers, but there is some whip in the arm and his fastball sat 80-82 mph despite that. Davis rounded out his three-pitch mix with a 66-68 mph curveball and low-70s changeup, creating the pieces of an arsenal that could mold him into a traditional starter's profile as he continues to improve and mature.

+ RHP Michael Scarpelli (Libertyville, 2023) tossed one of the more polished bullpens on the day. From his projectable and athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame, the righty wraps his wrist out of the glove before transitioning into a clean, high ¾ arm slot. He moves athletically down the mound with a drop/drive lower half, striding in-line to the plate. His fastball sat 82-83 mph, topping out at 84, featuring noteworthy sink at the bottom of the zone, fit with feel for the outer edges of the plate. He displayed a curveball at 67-70 mph, with slurve-type traits in an 11/5 shape along with impressive control of the strike zone. Scarpelli rounded out his impressive three-pitch mix with a fading changeup at 75-77 mph, thrown with fastball intent that he also kept down in the zone, helping paint a complementary picture of his profile as a pitcher now, and at the next level.

TWO-WAY PROSPECTS

+ OF/RHP Dominic Pisciotti (Lyons Township, 2025), made a strong first impression at his first-ever PBR event. As just a freshman, Pisciotti is physically mature at 6-foot, 174-pounds and he translates it to both the plate and the mound. The right-handed hitter starts with a wide base and minimal pre-pitch movement, transitioning through the zone with a level/direct path to the ball, creating consistent line-drives favoring his pull-side. On the mound, Pisciotti works from a clean over-the-top arm-slot while moving into an aggressive tall/fall delivery down the mound. His fastball worked comfortably at 78 mph throughout the duration of his 'pen, climbing to a 79 high, showing life through the zone. The Lyons freshman showed feel for two distinctly different breaking balls – a quality trait for a pitcher his age – a curveball thrown at 70 mph with gradual 11/5 shape and a slider with short 10/4 action in the 71-75 mph range, acting as a cutter at times while he landed it for strikes. Pisciotti rounded out his four-pitch mix with a diving changeup, kept low in the zone at 73-75 mph and thrown with fastball intent.

+ INF/RHP Sam Rohlfing (Harvest Christian, 2023) showed an improved overall skill set since our last look in the winter of 2021. Rohlfing’s frame continues to tick up, now standing 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, with plenty of projection left in the frame. At the plate, the right-handed hitter has an athletic look in the box, using it to get into a smooth load as his hands get into a strong position to unload. He swings with intent, flashing present bat speed (72.4 mph on average; fourth highest of the event) while staying flat through the zone, showing the ability to backspin the baseball. Rohlfing also showed well on the mound, working with a loose, athletic arm while throwing from multiple arm slots. His most intriguing combination appeared to be a true side-arm offering that he demonstrated confidence in by throwing each of his pitches from that slot without sacrificing pitch action. Rohlfing ran his fastball up to 81 mph while showing an advanced knuckleball that he repeatedly killed the spin on en route to the plate – and it knuckled consistently enough that made it difficult for the catcher to receive.

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