Prep Baseball Report

Future Games: Team Illinois Position Player Highlights

By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

The Prep Baseball Report Future Games took place this weekend at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana outside of Indianapolis.  The Future Games is comprised of ten teams from different states in the PBR coverage area.  Day one featured a showcase format for the positional players, while days two and three gave each team the opportunity to play three games.  Team Illinois finished 1-1-1,  winning their first game over Team Missouri 4-3 on day one.  On day two, Illinois dropped a game 6-2 to a talented Team Ohio, and tied 1-1 in the final contest of the Future Games against Team Indiana.  Due to each pitcher being limited to one inning, the contest was unable to continue into extra innings.  Several Illinois players made their mark on the over 100 college coaches in attendance.  Today we will highlight position players, with pitchers to follow tomorrow.

Here’s a look at some of the position player highlights from Team Illinois, in no particular order:

Team Illinois Position Player Highlights

+ Jeremy Houston, SS, Mount Carmel, 2016Jeremy Houston
A late addition to Team Illinois saw his stock rise on a national level, and quite possibly was the top overall true shortstop at the 2014 Future Games.  From day one, Houston showed smooth, athletic shortstop actions, and did not make an error over three games.  He makes tough plays look easy, with plus range in the hole and up the middle.  In game three against Team Indiana, Houston made one of the top defensive plays of the Future Games on a run through ball in the sixth inning.  He also has lightning hands turning the double play, and the Houston/Matt Burch double play combination was one several college programs would like to have in a couple years.  At the plate, Houston showed off his speed with a 4.0 time to first on a drag bunt in game three, that could have been faster had he not hit the back of the bag.  He did not record a hit in three games, but showed a solid, contact orientated approach, walked three times, was hit by a pitch, scored two runs, and stole two bases.  During the combine portion of the event on day one, Houston ran a 6.69 60, and threw 82 mph across the diamond, though his arm plays up due to his quick transfer from glove to hand and feel for the runner’s speed to first.

+ Cooper Johnson, C, Carmel, 2016Cooper Johnson
Immediately following the Future Games, Johnson made his college commitment to Ole Miss, and no doubt several national powerhouses lamented due to the show he put on over the three days.  Johnson's pop times ranged between 1.79-1.94, at 81 mph from the crouch.  He showed the same ability to catch-and-throw during games, nabbing a Team Indiana runner in game three with a 2.0 time down to second.  He showed several 1.87 times between innings.  At the plate, Johnson went 2-for-7 with a double, and a barreled single, hitting several other balls hard.  He needs a little work receiving, but catching several pitchers you aren’t familiar with is no easy task for any backstop.  Johnson should see considerable MLB draft interest with his rocket arm and approach at the plate in the spring of 2015.

+ AJ Lewis, C/3B, Mount Carmel, 2016AJ Lewis
Lewis impressed both at third base and behind the dish during Thursday’s workout, but his future most likely lies behind the plate due to his advanced catch and throw skills.  What’s most impressive about his 1.94-2.0 pop times is his ability to consistently put the ball on the bag at the infielder's knee.  Lewis shows advanced athleticism for a catcher, running a 7.02 60, and 4.18 on 4.2 on two separate ground outs during game play.  He has above average bat speed and quick hands at the plate, going 3-for-5 with three singles and a stolen base on Saturday.  He needs work on his receiving, but has plus makeup and was a pleasure to be around over the three day event.  Lewis will also start at running back for the Caravan this fall, and his physical build won’t be fun to bring down for Catholic League defenders.

+ Joe Santoro, RHP/LHP/OF, Carmel, 2016Joe Santoro
While Santoro is a legitimate recruit as an outfielder, he created a buzz among college coaches in attendance when he broke out his switch-pitching routine on day three against Team Ohio.  Despite allowing two runs, he showed identical pitching prowess from both sides, sitting 83-85 mph right handed, touching 86, and sitting 84-86 mph from the left side as well.  He invoked comparisons to former Creighton University All-American, and current New York Yankee AAA-farmhand Pat Venditte, who has found success as a late-inning bullpen weapon and may see a big league call up at some point this year.  Santoro racked up a strikeout from the left side with a sharp breaking 67 mph slider, and if he can improve his breaking balls from both sides, he becomes a valuable recruit for Division-I programs, as he is essentially three players in one.  At the plate, the left-handed hitting Santoro impressed in batting practice hitting from a wide setup spraying line drives, particularly to the opposite field gap.  During games, he ran 4.29-4.44 on several ground outs.  He shows a contact orientated approach, and did not strikeout over three games.  He added an RBI on a HBP in game one, and also walked in game two. 

+ Cal Coughlin, 3B/RHP, Carmel, 2016Cal Coughlin
Coughlin put on a show during batting practice on day one, showing legitimate switch-hitting ability, and leaving the park from both sides of the plate.  He possess a physically advanced, plus frame at 6-foot-1, 200-pound, and impressed in all three games at third base with his soft hands and arm strength at 86 mph across the diamond.  He was susceptible to strikeouts during game action, but also barreled two singles, and played errorless baseball at third, with several put outs.  On the mound, Coughlin worked from 83-86 mph touching 87with a hard 76-77 mph slider/cutter.  He walked three and struck out two.  Coughlin is a legitimate two-way threat at the next level, and no doubt focusing on one or the other would improve either his hitting or pitching, but the overall package is hard not to like and it’s a decision he’ll likely not have to make until college/professional baseball.

+ Matt Burch, SS/2B, Warren, 2016Matt Burch
Burch is a 5-foot-9, 155-pound shortstop, with the ability to play second base as well.  He, along with Jeremy Houston, formed the top double play combination at the Future Games, as the duo flip-flopped throughout the three games.  Burch has advanced arm strength, throwing 87 mph across the diamond, and handled all his defensive chances cleanly.  He runs well, with a 6.96 60, and gets down the line between 4.30-4.44 on several ground outs during game play.  He led off game one with what looked to be a line shot double to deep right, but was robbed by a great defensive play from Team Missouri’s right fielder.  Burch did not record a hit during three games, but did not strikeout, and hit several balls well, showing a quality approach at the plate.  I’ve seen him several times this summer at the plate, and he will hit at the next level with his line drive, up the middle approach.  He surprises you at times with his pop and ability to drive the ball in the gaps.  Burch already has offers and should see significant recruiting interest following the Future Games.

+ Brandon Bossard, SS/RHP, Nazareth, 2016Brandon Bossard
Bossard impresses both on the mound and in the infield, though his bat and fielding prowess are most likely ahead of his pitching abilities currently.  He went 3-for-8 at the plate over three games, with an RBI ground-rule double to right center field in game three vs. Team Indiana.  Bossard was quite possibly the MVP for Team Illinois in game three, as he preserved the tie on the mound, stranding a runner at third base with a fly-out to center and a looking strikeout on a 12/6 curveball to end the game.  Bossard worked at 83-85 mph on the mound, with a 67-69 mph curveball with true 12/6 shape.  He competes, and could throw harder down the road if he lengthened out his stride, which currently is extremely short, but keeps him on top of his plus curveball.   

+ Andrew Dyke, OF, Brother Rice, 2016Andrew Dyke
Dyke impressed throughout the three games with his advanced, patient approach at the plate, with three walks and a hit by pitch.  He scored three runs, and stole a base as well.  He singled up the middle in his last at bat in game one, and also ran 4.4 down to first in a ground out in game three.  He does not possess a rocket arm in the outfield (80 mph from a crow hop), but Dyke is a heady player who will play a solid defensive right or left field, and will see his bat and approach carry him to the next level.

+ Dylan Gilbert, OF, St. Ignatius, 2016Dylan Gilbert
Gilbert put on a show in batting practice with several towering shots to deep left field.  In the spring, he hit from a closed stance, with a right center field approach, and there were concerns over his ability to pull the baseball.  Gilbert utilized a leg kick over the three days, and he definitely looks to pull now, with a deep double to left in game three vs. Team Indiana.  He showed advanced arm strength from the outfield in the showcase and during game play at 88 mph, but he is a raw baseball player, due to also being a varsity starter as a frosh in football and ice hockey.  His 6-foot-1, 210-pound powerhouse frame is advanced for his age.  He also ran a 6.89 60, and will benefit from the more baseball he plays.

+ Jack Molnar, OF, Fremd, 2016Jack Molnar
Molnar ran a 7.25 60 yard dash, threw 80 mph from the outfield, and produced 86 mph exit velocity on Thursday’s workout day.  We’ve seen his outfield arm up to 86 in the past, and this event marked the end of a long summer for all players on the travel ball and showcase circuit.  What’s most impressive about Molnar is his young, projectable appearance and frame.  He walked twice in game one vs. Missouri, and showed a patient approach throughout the three day event.  He’s a prospect to keep a tab on over the next two years at Fremd HS.

+ Bobby Seymour, 1B, Mount Carmel, 2017Bobby Seymour
Seymour impressed as one of the few 2017 prospects in attendance, and his advanced, physical 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame with room to add will be scary for opposing pitchers once he completely fills out.  Seymour’s arm will limit him to 1B or LF duties, but he possessed soft hands and good feet around the bag during game play, saving a few infielders from throwing errors with his ability to stretch around the bag.  He hits left-handed and barreled several baseballs with little to show for it during game play, recording a single in game three.  He hits from an open stance with a leg kick, and impressed during batting practice with his ability to drive the baseball from gap to gap, especially to opposite field.  Seymour, AJ Lewis, Jeremy Houston, and Ako Thomas will give the Caravan quite possibly the best infield defense in Illinois during the 2015 high school season.

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