Prep Baseball Report

PBR at The Rock 16U: Day 3 Quick Hits

By Wisconsin Staff

The third and final day at The Rock helped highlight even more top Midwestern talent. In case you missed our highlights from Day 1 and/or Day 2, click on the aforementioned links. For notes on the final day of action in Franklin, Wis., keep on reading below.

+ The P2P Millers-Erzar had a big offensive output in their blowout win in the morning slot. The two biggest blows of the game came from Gavin Hookom (Anoka, MN, 2022) and Zachary Romans (St. Michaels-Albertville, MN, 2022). Both drove balls off the monster at the replica Fenway field, resulting in two-run doubles. 

+ Top Tier Americans went 2-0 on the final day of the event. In their first game they sent uncommitted LHP Shane Curtin (Lyons Township, IL, 2022) to the mound. Curtin did what we have become accustomed to seeing; worked quick, pounded the strike zone, mixed three-pitches throughout, showed a plus changeup and an athletic arm that will continue to see velocity jumps moving forward. Curtin went five innings of one hit ball, striking out eight and walking one. 

Despite the strong start from Curtin, ProPlayer Canes (Freund) made a late charge to make things interesting. INF Nick Model (Huntley, IL, 2022) and OF Eddie Synek (McHenry, IL, 2022) both hit doubles to help spark rallies in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Model, a left-handed hitter, drove his over the right-fielders head and scored a run. 

Offensively for Top Tier Americans, INF Jorgie Vazquez (Mount Carmel, IL, 2022) delivered one of the loudest swings on the day, a no-doubt, two-strike, home-run over the “green monster” in left field at Fenway. OF Alex Stanwich (Lincoln-Way East, IL, 2022; Tennessee commit), CIF Luke Adams (Hinsdale Central, IL, 2022) and 3B Michael Ascensio (Joliet Catholic, IL, 2022) paced the offense. Stanwich, the No. 1-ranked player in the state, went 2-for-3 with two stolen bases and two runs scored. Adams went 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. Ascensio finished 3-for-3 with a run scored.

In the second game of the day for Top Tier Americans, they went against another quality opponent, MN STARTERS. Once again the toolshed prospect Stanwich made his presence felt, this time on defense. Stanwich unleashed a cannon from center field, gunning down a runner trying to score from second on a base hit with relative ease. He also finished 1-for-2 with an RBI at the plate. Offensively, two left-handed bats, OF Brendan Summerhill (Whitney Young, IL, 2022) and C Ryan Louthan (Joliet Catholic, IL, 2022), led the way. Summerhill went 2-for-3 with a double down the left-field line and three runs scored.

RHP Zach Labrec (Cary-Grove, IL, 2022) and LHP Dylan Warda (Brother Rice, IL, 2022) both turned in solid performances on the mound for Top Tier. Labrec features a long, quick arm, touched 86 mph a couple of times and turned some heads with his aggressive slider that played at 74 mph and spun at 2,755 RPM. Warda has a clean, easy arm, works from an over-the-top slot creating angle to his fastball that topped at 84 mph. He also flashed a 12/6 downer curveball that plays out of the same window of his fastball at 72 mph. 

+ The STARTERS from Minnesota also played two games on Sunday, with their first coming against Americans. RHP Jack Kruger (Belle Plaine, MN, 2022) got the start in game one. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound, athletically-built right-hander worked 82-84 mph early on, settling in around 80-83 and was at his best when he was working downhill, creating angle to the fastball. He also went to a low-70s breaking ball often that showed 11/5 shape and occasional late bite. Kruger is an arm to follow moving forward. 

STARTERS had a number of hitters stand out throughout the day: 3B Noah Hanson (McDonnell Central, 2022) reached base in all three at-bats, finishing 1-for-1 with a hard single into left-field. Hanson puts together consistent tough at-bats and the ball jumps off the barrel at times. He also made a diving play to his glove side, got to his feet and made a strong through to first for a 5-3 putout. OF/RHP Joey Malecha (Northfield, MN, 2022) is another follow who showed well throughout the day. Malecha went 2-for-3 with an RBI double in game one and then hopped on the mound in game two and showed off an athletic, clean, quick arm. Malecha sat 84-86 mph in the early goings and challenged hitters throughout.

+ 5-foot-10, 165-pound center fielder Joey Nerat (Campbellsport, 2022) went 3-for-3 while also showing off his premium speed in their morning game against Central Illinois Outlaws. In his first plate appearance, Nerat barreled a line-drive single to his opposite field in left before pulling a hard-hit ground ball down the first base line in his next at-bat. He demonstrated his all-fields abilities by lining a ball to center field in his third and final at-bat in a two-strike count. Nerat has been among the biggest winners on the Wisconsin circuit, trending way up in the ‘22 class.

+ The Illinois Indians were one of the weekend’s top teams, clearly, and OF Jordan Skolmar (Stevenson, IL, 2022) helped the program end its time at The Rock with an exclamation mark. Skolmar possesses some of the loudest tools in his state’s 2022 class, and we’ve seen them first-hand a couple of times, including at The Rock where we hosted our All-State Games showcase a few weeks ago. He directly applied those tools in-game when he clobbered a three-run shot over the left field wall to increase the Indians’ lead in their first game Sunday. He followed this up by launching a two-run home run to nearly the same spot as the first one. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound right handed hitting outfielder has impressive bat speed and strength, and he showed off his current and projectable power.

+ GRB Rays MKE Green’s 6-foot-4, 195-pound Sunday starter, LHP Matthew Mueller (Brookfield Central, 2022) went 4.2 innings in their game against Schaumburg Seminoles throwing strikes well over half the time, including a first-pitch strike to 13 of the first 21 he faced. Mueller struck out seven while allowing just two hits and two earned runs. With minimal effort, Mueller fastball sat 79-81 mph, topping at 82, settling into a 77-79 range as his start went on. His curveball sat 66-68 mph with a 1/7 shape and depth, with a changeup at 73-75; the three-pitch mix complements his feel to locate, providing a steady, reliable profile as a starter long-term.

+ The GTS program from the Elkhorn area are rostering some upside prospects who were playing against older competition this past weekend. C Jimmy Athans (Badger, 2023) is a vocal backstop who captains the infield, built at a muscled-up 5-foot-6, 150 pounds. He’s mobile and athletic behind the dish with barrel feel from the right-handed batter’s box. He swung a hot bat this past weekend and tallied another couple hits on Sunday.

The left side of the infield on Sunday was also occupied by a pair of athletes to follow in the the 2023 class: 3B Nathan Huff (Delavan-Darien) and SS Dane Brost (Fort Atkinson). Huff didn’t look out of place playing a level above his age group, with a high-waist and athletic look that projects well. Brost, playing a level above, patrolled shortstop well, smoothly moving and funnelling groundballs on the go. He also took advanced left-handed swings in tough at-bats against a lower ¾ left-handed arm, something we’re sure he hasn’t seen a lot of.

+ PBA Gold’s offense was firing on all cylinders on Sunday, recording 33 hits in its two games. A 12-3 win over Prime 9 started their day, too. 3B Ethan Horon (Union Grove, 2022) and OF/C Joseph Lagina (Freedom Project Academy, 2022) were helpful toward the back half of the lineup, producing runs while turning it over to the top of the order. Horon recorded four hits Sunday and just as many barreled baseballs, including three doubles to his pull-side. Lagina’s bat is a follow – fast and short from the right side, he connects with loud, simple contact. Evidence of this came in game two when Lagina slugged a home run over the left field fence after launching a deep double to that same fence in game one.

+ ISA Stars Black and Phenom Wisconsin dueled in a narrow 4-0 contest that went Phenom’s way. LHP Jake Tubbs (Antioch, IL, 2022) was dominant in his work from the mound for Phenom, as he K’d 10 in the six-inning shutout, scattering six hits and three walks. Tubbs also helped his own cause with a couple hits from the middle of the order, including a double. For Stars Black, they received a big pitching performance from RHP Hunter Barlament (Green Bay Preble, 2023), who struck out 12 batters in 5.1 innings and allowed two earned runs over that span. Emerging as a name to know for his right-handed power potential is Stars’ OF Cameron Jackson (Ashwaubenon, 2022). He’s had a productive couple of weeks, and he notched another pair of hits, including a double, on Sunday.

+ From the Eau Claire area, Turn 2 Athletics put together an impressive weekend at The Rock, going 3-0-1 in their four games. Two wins on Sunday helped them head back home west with their heads held high. In game one on Sunday, they received an efficient and effective outing from RHP/SS Austin Baker (Eau Claire Memorial, 2022). Baker has two-way appeal, obviously, as the team’s lead-off hitter and one of its go-to arms. He held Silver Sluggers to just one earned run on four hits, two walks, and he struck out seven in the five innings of work. He sat 79-81 mph with some natural run coming from his ¾ slot, with a sweeping breaking ball at 69-71.

Following Baker in the batting order, Eau Claire North’s Ryan Robertson (2022) and Gabe Richardson (2022). Robertson is a left-handed hitter with barrel feel who added three hits in game one and was 1-for-1 in game two with two walks, setting the table for the physical middle-of-the-order bat Richardson wields. Richardson is a 6-foot, 180-pound force with some of the most intriguing right-handed power potential in the state’s 2022 class. He was constantly on the barrel on Sunday, with four hits, including three doubles.

+ For PTA Cardinal, the 6-foot, 165-pound RHP Evan Iwinski (Franklin, 2022) came in from the ‘pen in his squad’s game against Slammers-Illinois on Sunday, and he put out all fires after striking out seven of the 11 his faced in three quality innings of work. Sitting 80-81 mph, touching 82 multiple times, Iwinski was consistently hitting his spots, utilizing a sharp curve at 69-71 mph – the one-two punch helped him dodge bats his whole outing, as he prevented Slammers-Illinois from getting a hit or earning a walk off him. This outing, plus his work at the invite-only PBR All-State Games event, has Iwinski trending up in the state’s ‘22 class.

+ Another program under the Top Tier umbrella, Nationals, stood out in a multitude of ways on their own throughout this weekend, including on Sunday. Their last game featured a dominant tag team pitching performance by RHP Evan Eberle (Oak Park-River Forest, IL, 2022) and RHP Osvaldo Ballesteros Jr. (St. Laurence, IL, 2022). Eberle started on the bump, with a hard fastball sitting 83-85 mph, touching 86 early on. He showed excellent feel for his 11/5 curveball at 66-69 mph, throwing it for a strike at any point in the count. His final line on the mound was 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 3 BB. Ballesteros Jr. came on in relief and shut down opposing hitters. His fastball sat 82-85 mph and played heavy in the zone. He mixed in a breaking ball with 11/5 shape at 70-72 mph to help miss barrels. His final line was 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 K, 2 BB.

On offense, Matthew Tarr (West Aurora, IL, 2022) is looking more and more like a follow prospect after a huge weekend at The Rock. He complemented a strong performance on the mound on Friday with some natural barrel feel from the righty box the rest of the way, including Sunday’s 3-for-3 night with a hard-hit double and triple. The strength in the barrel is obvious and it comes from a repeatable swing that lifts the ball with ease.

+ Top Tier North was locked into a competitive late-night contest with Silver Sluggers to close out the weekend at The Rock. North deployed a pair of follow right-handers: Roger Simon (Loyola Academy, IL, 2022) and James McCarthy (St. Patrick, IL, 2022). The two are built similarly, with long, lean frames that stand in at 6-foot-2. Simon is still harnessing his loose and quick arm, though it was effectively wild against this lineup as he still managed to strike out seven batters in 2.2 innings. Simon sat 80-83 mph with short, over-the-top arm action with arm-side run and sink that flashed late, with carry through the zone. McCarthy’s arm action is a little longer, though still loose and fast out front from a high ¾ window. He, too, was earning some jump of the hand with hard arm-side action through the zone in the 80-83 mph range.

In the game itself, North got out to a big, early lead but Silver Sluggers battled back to tie it up 5-5. Time limit prevented this game from continuing past the fourth frame, so the last half of the inning was set to be the final, still tied. James Vargas (Arrowhead, 2022) had earned a shoutout previously from us for his work on the mound, and he’s also had his presence felt from the batter’s box. In the final frame of the game, Vargas stepped in with the bases loaded and smacked a hard-hit ball the other way down the right field line scoring the walk-off run.