Prep Baseball Report

Battle for The Arch: Illinois' Quick Hits

By: Diego Solares
Area Scout, Illinois & Missouri

On Tuesday, September 26th, the PBR Illinois and PBR Missouri staffs converged on the campus of Saint Louis University to host the annual Battle for The Arch showcase. This invite-only event featured 2024 and 2025 graduates from Missouri and the Metro East area as a whole, pitting participants in a pro-style workout, followed by a simulated eight-inning game.

For a list of all of those that attended, click HERE.

Yesterday, we posted our traditional ‘Stat Story’, highlighting some of the day’s stat leaders. You can find that HERE.

Today we’re recapping the day as a whole and shining some light on a multitude of standouts from this event. Below you’ll learn more about the names that popped at this year’s ‘Battle for the Arch’.


A pair of uncommitted junior arms came away from this event as arguably its biggest winners, heading into the off-season with an abundance of positive momentum behind them: LHP Cameron Appenzeller (Glenwood, 2025) and RHP Brandon Menser (Sesser Valier, 2025).

+ Appenzeller checks so many boxes, starting with a long, lean-limbed 6-foot-5, 165-pound frame. He’s an ultra easy mover that exerts little-to-no-effort as he works downhill, producing presently impressive stuff with plenty more to come down the road. In this look, Appenzeller ran his fastball up to 88 mph, pitching at 84-87 mph, from as loose and clean of an operation you’ll find in the state. He showed feel for a 73-76 mph breaking ball that flashed sweep from the same arm angle as his fastball, and it’s a pitch that should continue to rack up swings and misses at a high rate as he starts to throw it with more velocity. A natural pronator, Appenzeller did throw a firm, naturally fading changeup at 79-80 mph with the action to be an effective pitch at the next level, though he used it sparingly. Just starting to scratch his ceiling on the mound, Appenzeller has the potential to be the next big arm out of Chatham, a high school program that has produced countless upper-tier arms over the last few decades.

+ We’d heard plenty of positive things about Menser heading into the event and the 6-foot-4, 165-pound southeastern Illinois’ native rose even higher than our expectations. A quick-twitch athlete with loose, athletic levers, Menser pumped the day’s firmest fastball, touching 90 mph in his first inning of work and pitching in the upper-80s throughout, averaging 19 inches of vertical carry, too. It’s a fast arm with explosive arm speed that has the potential to really run it up there from a velocity standpoint, especially as he gains more comfort moving down the mound and adds more strength to his frame. Off his heater, Menser showed arguably the day’s best breaking ball; a power mid-to-upper-70s pitch with straight downer bite thrown with conviction and intent behind it, spinning at more than 2500 RPM. Presently, there’s plenty to like with Menser, and the upside itself is incredibly intriguing, too. He’s a high-end name-to-know arm in the state’s current junior group.

+ The youngest player in attendance, MIF Hunter Baugh (Edwardsville, 2026) more than held his own against an older crop of competition. Baugh, who is one of the state’s top-ranked sophomores, has all sorts of upside at the plate. He consistently works on the barrel from a short, rhythmic right-handed swing that effectively covers the hitting zone. Baugh’s quality of contact metrics aren’t there right now, but his natural barrel feel and pure feel to hit are, and his power tool should only trend up as he continues to mature physically. Aside from his talents at the plate, Baugh’s glove may be his biggest asset, with natural actions on the infield that should keep him there moving forward. He’s a smooth, savvy defender that’s comfortable and controlled on the move, working quickly and accurately to release from a loose, fluid arm stroke. Baugh has the skill-set to be an asset in multiple ways on the diamond and he looks every bit the part of a high-end prospect in the state’s 2026 group.

+ Another arm to know from this event is LHP Nathan Matoush (Hillsboro, 2025), who showed well at Creekside earlier this summer and pounded the zone over his two innings of work at this event. The strong, physically built 6-foot-2, 195-pound southpaw pitched at 84-86, touching 87 mph, with his fastball, and it played up too, working from a tighter, deceptive arm window. Matoush spun a 68-72 mph breaking ball for strikes and he turned over a firm 77-81 mph changeup, too.

+ Trending upward following this most recent look, OF Greyson Rathgeb (Edwardsville, 2025) stands at a loose, projectable 6-foot-1, 175-pounds with plenty of room to fill out further. He took the best, most polished BP round we’ve seen from him yet at this event, working uphill through the zone with gap-to-gap feel and balance through contact. Rathgeb’s hardest barrel (92.3 mph) and furthest batted ball (348 ft.) were both personal bests of his at our events, and both of those metrics are likely to keep trending upward as he fills out further. In game, Rathgeb jumped all over an inner-half, first pitch 88 mph fastball and drove it down the left field line for a double. Rathgeb’s proven to be an asset defensively too, starting in center field for the 4A state champions this past spring, as a clean, free-flowing mover with above-average arm strength, topping at 88 mph on his hardest throw home.

+ Making his PBR debut, INF Bo Gomric (Althoff Catholic, 2025) was a name that caught our eye during the IHSA season and at Creekside this summer, too. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound multi-sport (soccer) junior, Gomric ran the event’s fastest 60 time (6.75), reaching a peak speed of 21 mph during his sprint. It’s a loose, easy operation at the plate with a level right-handed swing that’s comfortable producing regular line drive contact, singling in-game at this event. Gomric plays with natural bounce on the infield, controlling his body on the move with soft, accurate hands and an arm capable of effectively working from multiple arm angles.

+ Still uncommitted, OF Collin Severson (Sycamore, 2024) is a wiry 5-foot-10, 165-pound athlete with quick twitch that showed in multiple ways in this workout. Severson ran the day’s second fastest 60 (6.78), reaching a peak speed of 20.5 mph with a 1.66 10-yard split. He showed an accurate barrel in BP, staying on it throughout his round while spraying line drives to all fields from a short, direct, and balanced right-handed swing. Severson’s speed plays naturally in the outfield - he’s a fast mover with athletic, tempo’d feet that work around the baseball, and he made a spectacular diving grab in left field during the gameplay portion of the event.

+ Another uncommitted senior that showed well at this event was INF Jake Stedman (Belleville West, 2024). A strong 5-foot-11, 185-pound athlete, Stedman has strong intentful hands that create noticeable bat speed, staying short and direct to the baseball while showing pull-side power throughout his round. Stedman cleared the left field wall twice, sending his furthest ball 360 feet, and he averaged 89.2 mph per batted ball, peaking at 93.1 mph. He worked on the barrel that way in-game, belting a double into the left-center gap. Stedman showed steady actions on the infield with a sure-handed glove and an accurate arm that touched 85 mph across, the highest mark of the event.

+ OF Camden Cox (O’Fallon, 2025) has consistently proven to our staff that he’s able to consistently hit, doing so yet again at this event. A 6.90 runner, Cox worked gap-to-gap in BP from a naturally leveraged right-handed swing, showing barrel accuracy (70%) throughout. Cox has above-average bat strength for his age too, impacting the baseball comfortably both at peak (93.7 mph, 343 ft. max) and on average (88 mph). He put together arguably the day’s most competitive at-bats from top to bottom, barreling a hard inner-half heater for a loud single down the left field line in his first at-bat. Cox singled again in his next trip to the plate, and he worked a deep count in his final at-bat, spoiling pitch after pitch before turning around his hardest ball of the day for a lineout to left field.

+ C Alex Kiefer (Mount Vernon, 2025) is a switch-hitting backstop with a simple, controlled and similar swing from both sides of the plate that favored the pull-side. His arm plays accurate from the crouch with a quick release that stayed on the bag both in his workout and in between innings.

+ CIF Cash Bailey (Columbia, 2025) led this event in a handful of batted ball categories. The strong-bodied 5-foot-9, 200-pound junior works short and direct to the baseball, generating easy bat speed both on average (73.6 mph) and at peak (79.5 mph). Bailey led the event in max exit velocity (98.8 mph), average exit velocity (91.8 mph), and average batted distance (319 ft.), finishing a few feet behind the event’s leader in peak batted distance (360 ft.), too.

+ OF/LHP Bryce Lemp (Collinsville, 2024) is a strong 5-foot-11, 195-pound uncommitted left/left senior to follow from this event. A 6.94 runner, Lemp works uphill through the zone with intent to elevate the baseball and a pull-side approach, screaming a loud barrel that way in game, too.

+ Two more uncommitted seniors to know from this event are C Noah Petersen (Civic Memorial, 2024) and INF Wil Harris (Breese Mater Dei, 2024). Petersen swung a strong, compact right-handed barrel that consistently worked to the middle of the field throughout his round of BP, recording the day’s second hardest hit ball (97.1 mph). Harris too worked direct to the baseball, flashing bat strength from an uphill swing that used the whole field throughout his round.

+ LHP Brady Phillips (Carterville, 2024) offers an intriguing look on the mound. Though Phillips’ fastball doesn’t have overpowering velocity, playing in the low-80s, he creates natural rise on the pitch, allowing it to play up from its velocity band. He naturally backspins the baseball from a lower release height on average and his fastball grabbed plenty of in-zone whiffs, most of them at the top of the zone. Phillips also landed a low-70s slider for strikes and flashed natural fade on a 73-74 mph changeup. 

+ INF Mason Taylor (O’Fallon, 2024) is a left-handed hitter with a lean, wiry 5-foot-10, 155-pound frame to pair. Taylor ran a 6.85 60 on our lasers, reaching a peak run speed of 20.3 mph with a 1.69 10-yard split. His athleticism shows on the dirt, where Taylor plays light on his feet and gets around the baseball, working in rhythm throughout, with above-average actions for his age. Offensively, Taylor works uphill through the zone and used the whole field throughout his round.

+ Two more arms from this event are RHP Brady Backes (Lasalle-Peru, 2025) and RHP Ryan Dunbar (Glenwood, 2024). The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Backes pitched in the low-80s, touching 85 mph with his fastball, and showed a 75-78 mph cutter too, to go along with a CB/SL/CH mix. Dunbar is a lean, loose-levered 6-foot-1, 155-pound athlete that threw all three of his pitches for strikes during his pair of innings on the bump.