Eastern Wisconsin Open: Quick Hits


By Andy Sroka & Diego Solares
Wisconsin Staff

On Monday, Aug. 17, the PBR Wisconsin team made the trip north to Sheboygan to host the final showcase on the summer docket: the Eastern Wisconsin Open. This annual showcase typically provides us with an opportunity to evaluate some of the state’s prospects we’ve not had the chance to see before, or have not seen enough of. Today, we’re breaking down the biggest takeaways from the showcase inside of our rapid analysis, our Quick Hits post.

QUICK HITS

PITCHERS

+ RHP Benjamin Lee (Amherst, 2022) strung together arguably the most impressive bullpen of the day. We saw him a handful of times this summer and got some impressive looks, most notably at the Badger State Battle up in Mauston. Lee boasts a highly projectable 6-foot-6, 195-pound frame that he uses well downhill, creating an uncomfortable at-bat for opposing hitters. He pounded the zone, especially the lower quadrant, with an 85-86 mph fastball, touching 87 mph a few times. His most impressive pitch is a sharp, biting curveball with depth and that plays in the 70-73 mph range. It’s a swing-and-miss offering that’ll progressively play up as Lee continues to refine his other pitches, but already gives him a go-to putaway pitch. There’s a lot to like about Lee and the tremendous upside he brings to the mound.

+ We mentioned RHP Tyler Hug (Waukesha West, 2021) in our preview story going into the event and we were excited to see what he would show in our first live look of the summer. Hug looked the part, routinely pumping his 86-88 mph fastball into the zone for strikes. He’s an impressive athlete that stars on Waukesha West’s track and field and football teams, too. Hug remains one of the state’s top overall uncommitted prospects, and one of its top athletes.

+ Muskego RHP/OF Adam Balcerak (2022) was one another one of the day’s best athletes. As a 6.82 runner, with quick-twitch from the right-handed batter’s box, Balcerak offers upside as a position player but he may even be a better prospect from the mound. He sat 82-83 mph, topping 84, from a long arm circle that was especially quick out front. His fastball generates some hard, late arm-side action and its velocity plays up from his big extension down the mound. Balcerak uses a firm changeup that closely mimics his fastball’s characteristics, as well as a tight (if presently inconsistent) slider that flashed some tight bite.

+ The 6-foot-5, 190-pound right-hander Gavin Rusch (Bay Port, 2021) has immense upside, given his frame, and he’s clearly striving to hone his electric arsenal to throw strikes with greater consistency. We’ve seen Rusch climb into the upper-80s in the past, though he was more consistently 81-82 mph, touching 83, on Monday. His stuff and size offer some huge upside worth unlocking at the next level.

+ RHP Charlie McChesney (Verona Area, 2022) made his PBR event debut on Monday and exited the showcase as a prospect to know inside this 2022 class. He throws a low-80s fastball that comes out of a deceptive slot with running action, complemented by a viable three-pitch mix. The curveball flashes tight, sharp action with above-average spin (averaging 2,220 rpm, per TrackMan). The changeup also tunnels well off the fastball to complete an arsenal to know for the future.

+ The 6-foot-2, 160-pound RHP Jacob Sankey (Stevens Point Area, 2021) is a lanky, athletic arm who works at a quick tempo while pounding the zone. Up to 82 mph, Sankey has a loose, easy arm with fluid and rhythmic actions from the rubber. He spins the breaking ball at an above-average rate (2,100 rpm), paired with a well-spotted changeup that features some notable arm-side run and horizontal break.

+ RHP Jackson Trudgeon (Madison Edgewood, 2022) put together one of the cleanest bullpens of the day. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Trudgeon utilizes a fastball that topped 81 mph from a steep slot that carries through the zone with some excellent Induced Vertical Break, topping 20.4 inches. It’s a pitch that should be tough to square up as he continues to progress. The changeup features some big horizontal break from that same steep angle that should be a go-to offering for him, while the curveball benefits from the arm slot too, with tumbling 12/6 action that flashed sharp.

POSITION PLAYERS

+ A prospect on the rise in Wisconsin’s 2021 class after several noteworthy looks this past summer is C Nicklas Williams (Union Grove, 2021). Williams kicked off our BP session by taking some aggressive hacks and barreling the ball to all fields. He’s a switch-hitter with more comfort and power from the right side, but the bat speed and barrel feel from his left-handed stroke suggests there’s some upside there, too. Williams showed well behind the dish in his workout too, leading the event in max catcher velocity and working quick to release with no wasted movement. Williams remains uncommitted and continues to climb up our prospect radar as he prepares to enter his senior year. 

+ OF Cameron Miller (Kimberly, 2021) has a wiry, athletic frame at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, and his build suggests he has some next-level upside to untap. He ran a 6.93 and his loose levers helped him produce an athletic swing that consistently connected the barrel on plane. Miller ranges around the outfield with athleticism with quick footwork that funnel short, loose throws with accuracy and carry to home.

+ One of the top left-handed hitters at Monday’s event, OF Jacob Kleemann (Bay Port, 2021), should be a follow the rest of this calendar year and next spring. He’s an above-average runner who swings a fluid, easy bat that finds the barrel with relative ease. Kleemann stepped up to the batter’s box for the first round of the day and left a sizable impression as one of the day’s best.

+ Kleemann’s high school teammate, 2B/SS Matthew Perry (Bay Port, 2021), offers a noteworthy combination of athleticism and strength. He swings a compact right-handed bat that produces some hard-hit line-drive contact that favors the opposite way. Perry is also a sure-handed middle infielder, fit with the necessary actions and range to dependably defend up the middle, though projects best at second base.

+ OF Bailey Prevost (De Pere, 2021) is a lean 6-foot athlete who swings a fast right-handed bat with loose, athletic hands that help him find the barrel. He connected for one of the day’s farthest hit baseballs in BP, a 353-foot fly ball to straight center that left the bat at 90 mph.

+ OF/RHP Dylan O’Connell (Eau Claire Memorial, 2022) made a strong first impression at his debut PBR event. With fast hands and an athletic rhythm in the right-handed box, O’Connell was able to sharply pull line-drives in his round of BP. He hit a couple liners above 90 mph, a notable mark for his 5-foot-9, 150-pound stature, all while taking one of the day’s smoothest rounds of infield defense.

+ It’s possible that the day’s loudest and most impressive round of BP came from incoming sophomore OF Owen Bond (Kettle Moraine, 2023). The 6-foot-3, 170-pound left-handed hitter slugged four baseballs over 320 feet to his pull side, and he topped 96.1 mph in live batting practice on a line-drive to shallow right. His power potential and barrel feel have him breaking out as a follow inside the state’s 2023 class.

+ Brookfield Central’s SS/2B Noah Dreier (2023) showed well on multiple occasions this summer, and here he is making a strong first impression in a showcase setting. As arguably the top infield defender of the day, Dreier shows natural actions and moves especially well on the go, fielding grounders comfortably to his left and right. He hits with quick hands from a line-drive approach up the middle, too.

+ Another follow round of batting practice from a 2023 was delivered by C/3B Andy Nordloh (Waunakee). Nordloh repeated smooth and easy line-drive contact during his round, and was on the barrel with a greater consistency than almost anyone else in attendance. He’s a smooth right-handed hitter to keep an eye.

+ RHP/1B Easton Zempel (Middleton, 2022) came away as a follow two-way athlete in his 2022 class. He moves well for his 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame, and he leverages hard-hit contact from the batter’s box with his long levers. He landed barrels up the middle on repeat during his round of BP, recording a 92.5 mph high from the plate. Zempel was also up to 82 mph off the mound, with some usable and upside offspeed, with the size that projects well from the rubber.

+ 1B/OF Jack Baretz (Franklin, 2022) hit several baseballs 330 feet in his round of batting practice, from a strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound stature that clearly offers some obvious power potential. His bat strength and above-average athleticism make him a player to know in the state’s incoming junior class.

+ And one of the youngest prospects in attendance showed as one of the day’s best: C Hayden Jamison (Union Grove, 2024) took a very sharp round of batting practice, and his feel for the barrel has him on high alert in the state’s incoming freshman class. He sprayed hard-hit line-drive contact to center field with ease and balance.

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