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Top Prospect - St. Louis: Quick Hits


By Ryan Cooper and Drew Locascio
Illinois/Missouri Staff

On June 15th, PBR Illinois and Missouri scouting staffs hosted the annual Top Prospect - St. Louis event in St. Louis, MO, at the Lou Brock sports complex on the Lindenwood University campus. This invite only event fielded a total of 35 athletes from Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas that primarily represented the 2022 graduating classes, although a handful of 2023s also attended. 

The 35 prospects went through a multitude of metrics tests, which includes some of the most up to date data technology in the baseball industry; Blast motion, Trackman, Visual edge and laser-timed 60’s  With strong metrics across the board, the pitchers during the live session brought out some of the top prospects from the event. Below is an early look at some of the top performers from the day.

QUICK HITS

2022 RHP Joseph Swanson (Pekin, IL) was arguably the top prospect from the entire event. The long-limbed 6-foot-2, 175-pound, right-hander, showed presence on the mound and struck out three of the four batters he faced during game play. Swanson’s fastball sat mostly 87-88 mph, T89 which he complemented with a sharp, late breaking slider at 74-77 mph. Swanson received a number of uncomfortable looking swing-and-misses on both his slider and fastball. Loose-armed, upside right-handed pitcher in the Illinois’ 2022 class.

2022 LHP Gavin Sitarz (St. Charles East, IL) was another high-interest arm from the day. Sitarz, who threw two innings of live action, works with good tempo and confidence on the mound. His fastball has late arm-side-run and topped at 85 mph, while he flashed one of the better breaking balls on the day; an advanced slider at 72-77 mph, with sharp spin, 2/8 shape and a max spin rate of 2262 rpm. Sitarz also showed a feel for a changeup, lived at the bottom of the zone and struck out three over his two innings of work.

Two other 2022 right-handed arms of note from the event were Christopher Bieniek (Notre Dame College Prep) and Luke Wickenhauser (Calhoun), both from Illinois. Bieniek has a strong, durable, 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, a presence on the mound and slow/methodical, smooth delivery down the mound. Bieniek ran his fastball up to 87 mph and tunnelled an 82-84 mph cutter off of his fastball as his out-pitch. The cutter is thrown aggressively with late action, short wrinkle and plays well off the fastball, inducing a number of swing-and-misses. Bieniek worked two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Wickenhauser put together one of the more consistent two innings of work. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound right-hander ran his fastball up to 85 mph but it was the feel for his curveball that opened eyes. Wickenhauser landed his curveball for a strike in any count and had the ability to manipulate it as a strikeout pitch as well. Wickenhauser struck out three in his two innings of work. 

2022 RHP Jackson Chu (St. Charles, MO) was the last arm of the day and showcased a clean, quick arm while running his fastball up to 88 mph. Chu sat mostly 84-86, touching 88 with late run and sink at times and feel for the mound. Chu also worked out as a position player where he was 83 mph across the diamond and registered a max exit velocity of 93 mph. 

When looking at position players, there were a number of follows from the day.

2022 Aidan O’Connell (St. Charles North, IL) took one of the more consistent rounds of BP on the day. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound, right-handed hitter, flashed a quick bat, was consistently on time and drove balls with authority to the pull-side of the diamond. O’Connell also showed natural infield actions, a strong arm and recorded pop times behind the plate ranging from 1.96-2.12. 

The top runner from the day was 2022 C/OF Hunter Moser (Williamsville, IL). Moser ran a 6.76 laser-timed 60 and then showed off a quick release and strong arm behind the plate (77 mph from the crouch), recording a low pop time of 1.87. Moser also has the athleticism to go get it in the outfield where he topped at 83 mph. He also recorded a max exit velocity of 91 mph.

Former PBR Missouri Future Games, 3B Ian Wolff (Wright City, MO), is a physical, switch-hitting infielder to keep an eye on from the event. Wolff showed a simple, strong right-handed swing with some jump off the barrel and topped at 80 mph across the diamond. Wolff collected two-hits during live game action.

Left/left, 6-foot-2, 190-pound, OF Nick Neal (Pattonville, MO) is another 2022 to follow from the event. Neal Neal showed a gap-to-gap approach with loose hands and confidence in the box.  He also roamed the outfield with ease showing a long loose arm and throws that flashed carry at 81 mph.

2022 INF Zach Fruend (Lutheran St. Charles, MO) had one of the more intriguing frames in attendance at 6-foot-3, 180-pounds. Friend has long-levers that play well in his swing, creating lift and leverage to the pull-side of the diamond. Fruend swing works long and uphill with a max eit velocity of 92 mpH.

Stay tuned for plenty of more coverage from the event over the coming weeks.

CLICK HERE for the event roster.

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