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Puma Classic Standouts


David Seifert & Tad Slowik

With a full house of professional scouts and college coaches the 2021 PUMA Classic was once again a huge success, providing unrivaled exposure for JUCO players in the Midwest. Below are just a few of the standouts from the recent action at Grand Park.


While a new face for
WABASH VALLEY caught everyone’s attention, it was a couple of familiar faces who did the majority of the offensive workload for the Warriors. Picking up where they left off this past spring, middle-of-the-order bats 1B Ryan McCoy and OF Jon Hogart slugged it out. McCoy, a premium left handed bat who stood out like a sore thumb at the Wabash Valley Scout Day last fall and also starred in the MLB Draft League this summer, found barrels all day with a home run and double among his four base hits. He also continued to show plate discipline and control of the strike zone with a walk. He’s a no doubt Power 5 talent with Top 10 round draft potential.

 

Hogart, who can just flat out hit a baseball, continued to build off his impressive freshman campaign when he slashed .443/.542/.816 with 13 home runs and 19 stolen bases. On Friday he had a big game against Parkland, going 2-for-3 with a home run. As a JUCO left fielder his draft value may be limited, but make no mistake, Hogart rakes and will eventually end up swinging a pro stick for someone. On the mound for Wabash freshman RHP Kaleb Applebey impressed everyone in attendance with a three up, three down, two punchout relief outing. His plus slider went under bats at 84-86 mph, while his fastball touched 96 and sat 94-95. Another big arm for the Warriors, Josh Timmerman filled the zone with strikes while repeating an athletic delivery. With a longer arm action to a high three-quarter release point, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-hander worked his fastball downhill in the 87-90 range, showed a short, sharp slider at 77 and mixed a straight change at 82-83. At 6-foot, 185 pounds LHP Jacob Bimbi is lean with a strong build. He impressed against Parkland with a 90-93 mph fastball thrown with a repeatable delivery and clean mechanics through a high three-quarter release point. Sophomore RHP Beau Coffman also contributed an inning of strike throwing for the Warriors working his 88-89 mph fastball down in the zone while showing a sharp 78-80 mph slider. Athletic with a quick arm, Tennessee transfer Brock Lucas was up to 92 mph with fair life and below average command. He also flashed an average-quality changeup at 83.

ST CHARLES right-hander Braden Nett provided more mid-90s heat to the Puma Classic. Up to 95 mph with his fastball, he struck out four and walked two in one inning of work. Teammate Bryce Mayer worked 88-90 with his fastball, while showing a 78-80 slider, 75-76 curve and 80-81 changeup. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound right hander was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year this summer, making nine starts and recording a 1.36 ERA over 33.0 innings of work with 59 strikeouts. The Cougars 3-hole hitter and Xavier transfer, Justin Congiu, went hitless, but consistently found the barrel throughout the day. A plus-plus runner, UTL Justin Massingale was the offensive star for St Charles with a triple, single and stolen base.

As they seem to do every year, KIRKWOOD rolled out arm after arm on the mound and athlete after athlete in the batter’s box. They look reloaded and are literally armed for the mission of a return trip to the JUCO-D2 World Series. On the day, they rolled out eight pitchers who touched 90 mph or better. Leading the way was strong-bodied RHP Graysen Drezek who was 91-93 with good late life on his fastball. His tight hard slider at 83-85 was sharp and deceptive to hitters. He showed good mound presence and was able to repeat his delivery and pound the strike zone with two quality pitches.

 

Equally as impressive was Tyler Tscherter. The athletic righty has good upside at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds. Featuring an 87 mph sinker (1740 rpm), a 90-92 mph 4-seam fastball with late life and a sharp, above average slider at 83-84, his pitches got on hitters quickly. He was able to find the zone with both pitches and worked quickly with an athletic delivery that had some effort. The full depth of the Eagles’ pitching staff was apparent with the continuous carousel of strong arms. RHP Brandon Laux has good upside with a loose, live body. He showed a quick arm and clean delivery, landing on-line and working down the hill. He’s a strike thrower, working consistently down in the zone with an 89-90 mph sinking fastball (1950-2000 rpm). Laux showed a good feel for change with good arm speed and deception.

 

RHP Blaine Harpenau showed arm strength with an 88-90 mph fastball and tight slider at 80-81 with sharp, late break. RHP Bryce Schares is strong with an 89-90 mph fastball with good late life and good spin on a sharp 80-81 slider with deception. Additionally, strong bodied RHP Noah Van Heldhuizen was 88-91 with some life and a sharp downer curve with late bite while Tucker Christensen is another strike thrower with a repeatable delivery. The right-hander worked 89-90 with his fastball and showed an above average 76-78 mph slider from the same release point as his heater. With all the depth on the mound you can’t overlook SS Ryan Nelson who is athletic with good actions and a strong arm with a quick release. He also showed strength at the plate with the ability to barrel up balls with some pop.

KELLOGG once again brought some arms to the PUMA. First on the bump was Wabash Valley transfer RHP Keegan Batka. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has always shown arm strength and his one inning outing at the Puma Classic was no different. His fastball touched 92, sitting mostly 89-91. He also mixed in a power curve at 78-79 and a change at 86. Next up was Sean Knorr. Listed at 6-foot-5, 150 pounds, the long-bodied, super slender righty ran his fastball up to 87 on a downhill plane with spin into the 2400 rpm range. His 7-foot-plus extension on his fastball is at an elite level and he also mixes in a well-shaped 69-73 mph curveball. His best pitch was a plus changeup. RHP Nathan Ross relieved Knorr. Ross showed a quick arm from a high three-quarter release point that produced 87-90 mph fastball and a 74-75 mph slurve. Six-foot-4, 215-pound RHP James Geshel was next with an 89-91 fastball and 78 mph slider. Finishing off the parade of arms for Kellogg was RHP Kane Elmy with a Bronson Arroyo-like leg lift. Elmy worked his fastball downhill into the zone at 87-90, while mixing in a 76 mph breaking ball.


With a loose arm from a high three-quarter slot
ILLINOIS CENTRAL right-hander Jake Jacek worked his 84-86 mph fastball downhill into the zone. His low-70s breaker lacked much bite, but it showed good shape and he repeated the pitch for strikes.

The Statesmen from LINCOLN TRAIL continue to unearth under the radar talent. This time the bat of Will Richter caught the attention of many coaches and scouts at the PUMA. An intriguing talent with buggy whip bat speed, the left-handed hitter possesses a package of hit ability and plus run speed, all packaged into a 6-foot-1, 190-pound strong, athletic frame. Richter went 3-for-3 with two doubles in Trail’s game against South Suburban. On the mound, Ohio U transfer Logan Jones worked his fastball in the 89-91 mph range while showing an above average curveball for consistent strikes from a high three-quarter slot. With a large, durable frame at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, there looks to be more in the tank and his FB/CB combo provide potential pro value. His confident attitude and good mound presence only add to his potential upside.

Positionally for DYERSBURG STATE, the top-tooled talent was SS Lukas Cook and CF Kameron Johnson. The fleet-footed Johnson is a near 80-grade runner who can track down fly balls from gap to gap with ease. He also showed above average left handed arm strength. At the plate the righty hitter and MTSU transfer showed some pop despite his backwards R/L status. Cook, a sophomore transfer from Walters State, played in the MLB Draft League this summer. With power potential and a plus arm, Cook also showed good body control on a slow roller against Lincoln Trail. He also blasted a double to center field in his first at-bat.

 

On the mound LHP Aidan McEvoy got the start for the Eagles against Lincoln Trail. With high effort, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Longwood transfer grunted his tailing fastball into the 85-87 mph range while showing an average to better quality curveball in the low-70s with solid shape. He also flashed an average changeup for strikes that was thrown with good arm speed. True freshman RHP Preston Martinez closed out the Eagles first game, showing a disgusting 86-88 mph fastball from a submarine slot.

A pair of right-handers stood out for DES MOINES AREA in their opening game against Kellogg. Jacob Draeger was up to 91 mph showing good arm speed through a high three-quarter slot, while Jacob Norris worked a 87 mph two-seamer down in the zone with a 89-90 heater up and a high spinning 76-78 mph slider (2700+ rpm).


PARKLAND won both of their ball games at the PUMA by the same score of 5-4. The top Cobra arm was Mitch Mueller who went two innings with four strikeouts and no walks against Wabash Valley. The right-hander sat 91-92, topping at 93. Closing out the same game with a 1, 2, 3 was RHP Tucker Shalley. He worked in the 90-91 range during his perfect inning. Parkland’s top bat on the day was Cole Evans, whose RBI single up in the middle in the 5th inning against Wabash tightened things up, while true freshman C Tyler Herron had the biggest hit of the day with a two RBI single in the 6th to give Parkland the lead. Much more can be found out about all of the Cobras with results from their Sept 1 Scout Day.

SOUTH SUBURBAN showed its consistency to perform at a high level behind sophomore RHP Harrison Dubois and freshman SS Donovan Noble. Dubois pounded the strike zone with a 88-89 mph heater and a tight deceptive late breaking slider. Dubois will likely be the anchor of the staff this season. Noble brings energy and athleticism to the lineup. He plays well on both sides of the ball with solid defensive skills and a strong arm on defense. Offensively, he makes consistent hard contact and can be disruptive on the bases.


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