Brown, Krenzel Enjoy Being In The Spotlight At All-American Game
September 28, 2023
Brown, Krenzel Enjoy Being In The Spotlight At All-American Game
MILWAUKEE - While Prep Baseball’s inaugural All-American Game turned into a 5-3 classic, there was more to come away with from the nine-inning contest than just the final score.
“It was a real special day,” related Matt Brown, the lone participant from Canada. “To see yourself on the scoreboard with all the pre-game stuff, that’s the most I’ve ever felt like I was in a big-league game. Maybe in five years I can actually be in one.”
That is the hope for all the participants in the matchup played at American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. There were 40 total players from across the nation competing in a game featuring the 2024 versus 2025 classes.
“The idea of an All-American Game has long been cemented in the mind of Prep Baseball founder and president, Sean Duncan, but it was never something that he was going to rush into,” explained Shooter Hunt, Prep Baseball Vice President of Scouting. “First, the commitment to the players and family, along with the trust of the industry, had to be built: hosting an All-American Game is a privilege, not a right. So as the company continued to grow and earn the trust of the amateur baseball space, an All-American Game became a goal to build toward, and it finally came to fruition with this inaugural event.”
Duncan was excited with how it all turned out.
“This All-American Game was long overdue for us, but we wanted to have a differentiated marquee game,” Duncan said. “Pitting the 2024s against the top 2025 prospects added an extra level of competitiveness between the classes, while providing the scouts an intimate look at the next two draft classes.
“I am grateful that our baseball partner, Mizuno, helped make this an indelible event for these athletes,” Duncan added. “We all gave these athletes the red-carpet treatment from start to finish. I'm very pleased by how it all turned out.”
The opportunity to be part of the inaugural game was a blessing to those involved, including Brayden Krenzel, the only player from Ohio.
“What an awesome experience to be part of this,” the Dublin Jerome senior related. “PBR did a great job putting it together and the sponsor was great providing what we needed on and off the field. Seniors vs. Juniors was a cool idea, there’s nothing like it.”
Brown was pleased to represent Canada in the inaugural game.
“What a cool opportunity to be the first Canadian to play in this,” the 17-year-old said. “I take a lot of pride in that. Playing on a big-league stage with the best competition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and was a lot of fun.”
So how were the participants chosen?
“The player selections rang true to the Prep Baseball mantra to ‘Be Seen,’” Hunt explained. “In identifying the best prospects in the country, relying on the 100+ boots-on-the-ground scouts in the Prep Baseball network was essential. Players evaluations came from events, practices, games and tournaments. Simply put, these were the best of the best.”
Representatives from major league organizations were in attendance helping the initial game won by the younger class flourish.
“The inaugural event was a ringing success,” Hunt proclaimed. “Thanks to the tireless work of many behind the scenes at Prep Baseball, the players and parents (hopefully) enjoyed a one-of-a-kind experience. It also helped that this group of budding prospects in the ’24 and ’25 classes were filled not only with outstanding talent, but outstanding character, and I'll say the same about the parents who were involved throughout the week, as well.”
Being in the dugout with so many standouts while also communicating with professionals during the event was extraordinary in the eyes of the players.
“It was awesome talking to guys that have worked their way through the minors and getting their feedback on it,” Krenzel noted.
There was a lot to take away from being a participant.
“Anytime you can be part of a group like this you can learn a lot,” Brown related. “I tried to pick up on what makes each player special. It’s a huge group of guys that are similar but also different in their own way. I just tried to see how everyone goes about their business.”
The 6-5 210-pound right-hander, who is moving to South Carolina in a week to play with P27 Academy, was slated to throw the fourth inning for the 2024 team but circumstances resulted in the top-ranked player in Ontario coming in a frame early with the bases loaded and nobody out.
“I was scheduled for the fourth, but obviously the third happened and I came in early,” explained Brown, a member of the Ontario Blue Jays the past two years. “I’ve been in that spot before, you just have to try and get a ground ball. The sinker is my best pitch so that made it easier for me.”
Brown did his job in impressive fashion.
“The first pitch was a ball but I threw a sinker with the next pitch for a double play,” the 24th-rated 2024 RHP in North America reflected. “The first pitch to the next guy was a sinker ground ball out.”
Brown proceeded to allow a lead-off single in the fourth before retiring three straight, leaving Hunt dazzled by what the Oklahoma State signee showed on the mound.
“Brown could very well have been named the MVP of the game,” Hunt pointed out. “He came into a rough spot in a rare relief appearance and was able to get three outs in two pitches before tossing another scoreless inning in the next frame. His 6-foot-5 frame is ultra athletic, and even after tossing at a big event in Canada several days before, he was up over 90 while showcasing command of a quality sinking fastball.”
The product of Carlisle, Ontario was happy with his showing.
“My arm was a little sore going in so I knew my velo wouldn’t be where I wanted it,” Brown related. “I just had to try and get outs and be efficient. I thought I did really well overall. The first guy up in the fourth who got a single took a lot of pitches and I thought I had him out a couple times.
“My sinker was really working to get ground balls and I mixed that in with a slider. I also tried a changeup.”
Brown believes he did enough to draw interest from the pro scouts.
“The biggest thing I think they saw was that I can come in the game when maybe there is some pressure on, maybe not,” Brown said. “The bases were loaded, that’s the hardest thing to come into. What they saw was I came in calm, cool and collected.”
KRENZEL DRAWS RAVES
While Brown prevented the 2025 team from getting out to a big lead, it was Krenzel who shut the door for the 2024 squad to keep the game close, throwing a perfect ninth inning.
“It’s really fun to come in at the end of close games,” the 6-3 195-pounder explained. “We brought it back to be closer in the bottom of the eighth, so I just wanted to come in and shut the door to give our team a chance.
“I feel I did pretty well,” Krenzel continued. “I got ahead in counts, used my fastball up in the zone to change eye level and came down with my offspeed to get weak swings. There really wasn’t any pressure, it was just going out there and being a competitor.”
To that the top-rated senior in Ohio gave credit to his father Craig, a former quarterback for Ohio State, who led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship and went on to play professionally with the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals.
“My dad helped prepare me well,” Krenzel said. “He helped me to trust the process, prepare before the game and then go out and compete in that moment.”
Hunt certainly liked what he saw in the Tennessee commit.
“Prep Baseball has long driven the hype train for Krenzel, but even that felt like not enough after his performance in Milwaukee,” Hunt said. “The frame, the arm talent, and the moxie should have him pushing for earlier Day 1 potential. He’s a frontline starter with one of the best three-pitch arsenals in the class, and I think scouting departments are going to be blown away when they start having in-home visits ahead of the Draft.”
The 13th-ranked 2024 right-handed pitcher in the country is confident he was able to make an impression on the scouts.
“I hope I showed that my stuff is good,” Krenzel said. “I also hope they see my mindset and mentality is of a higher caliber.”
ANOTHER BIG EVENT
Preparing for a big event is nothing new for most of the participants, Brown and Krenzel included.
“I was in a big event at the start of the summer that was similar in ways,” pointed out Brown, who also played in the 2022 Future Games with Team Canada. “I also had a showcase event in Toronto where I threw three days before this so I was on short rest. But I was well prepared. I think that helped me get those nerves out.”
Krenzel did not do “anything special” in his preparation.
“I kept going through my workload - long toss, bullpens and some live at-bats a week before,” Krenzel said.
The 41st-rated senior in the country believes the All-American Game is a great follow up to being part of the Future Games where he pitched for Team Ohio in 2021.
“Comparing this to the Future Games, I believe it’s a step up,” Krenzel said. “Both have top players but this is more of the top players, plus the players are older in their last years of high school.”
For Brown, just having the opportunity like the Future Games and All-American Game is memorable.
“Any time you can be part of a small group like this it’s special,” Brown concluded.
While the Canadian is now headed south for baseball, Krenzel is going to take a break.
“This was my last event of the year so I wanted to finish it strong,” Krenzel said. “My plans now are to get in the weight room and take time off from throwing, let my body recuperate and then I hope to have a good spring. We have a new head coach who’s bringing in a whole ’nother culture.”
MORE IN THE FUTURE
As for the future of the All-American Game, Hunt is thrilled with what lies ahead.
“I think the Prep Baseball track record is well established with regards to the fact that we are never willing to settle,” Hunt said. “If something can be made better, we are always going to look into it. No divulging secrets here, but you can count on us to have some new things in store for ’24.”
One thing for certain, Duncan, Hunt and company are in it for the kids while also expressing a love for the game of baseball.
“Hopefully they enjoyed a unique experience that was meant not only to celebrate their skills, but also to celebrate the sport of baseball in general,” Hunt concluded. “Because of their talent and the attention given to it, these players have a platform to continue pushing the sport of baseball to new heights.”
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