Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 1 Whitefish Bay
March 29, 2022
The Wisconsin high school baseball season kicks off on March 29, opening day for regular season action under WIAA regulations. Over the next week, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2022 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, counting down through the official PBR Wisconsin Preseason Power 25 Rankings.
Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis.
Our 2022 preseason coverage continues today.
Team: Whitefish Bay
Preseason Rank: 1
2021 Record: 24-3
Conference: North Shore
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Jay Wojcinski
||North Dakota State (Football)
KEY PLAYERS LOST
Highly impressive showing from one of the nation’s top 2024 prospects at today’s #SouthMKEID: INF JD Dix (Whitefish Bay, 2024; Alabama).— PBR Wisconsin (@PBRWisconsin) March 6, 2022
6-foot-2, 175-pound frame. Switch-hitter with polish from both sides. Ran a 6.61 & reached a peak EV of 97+ mph. @ShooterHunt pic.twitter.com/VNxDmhdV7p
+ INF J.D. Dix (2024; Alabama commit): Dix is the top-ranked sophomore in Wisconsin’s Class of 2024, and he emerged from the winter looking like he made the most of his offseason. He’s a much stronger version of himself, standing at a much more physical 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, and at the South Milwaukee ID in early March, he looked more like one of the top players in the country, rather than just Wisconsin’s best sophomore. His scouting report from that day: “... started his workout off by running a 6.61 in the 60-yard dash, a number that’s greatly improved from the 7.17 we saw him run at this same event last year. He showed present polish from both sides of the plate in BP, working relaxed to delivery from inside the ball and showing a propensity for rewarding ball flights with authority. He repeatedly connected for hard gap-to-gap contact from the left and right side, averaging 91 mph off the barrel with a max exit velocity of 97.1, and a peak batted distance of 358 feet. Dix also looked the part of a high-end prospect on the infield. He traveled low to the ball with athletic feel and slowed the game down naturally with his glove actions… “
Dix played for Whitefish Bay as a freshman in 2021, and he hit .429 with five extra-base hits in 18 games, and somehow, it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to substantially boost those numbers to keep pace with his talented senior teammates’ offensive output.
+ INF Jack Counsell (2023; Michigan): Counsell was the prospect in Wisconsin who probably gained the most momentum from start to finish in 2021, capping that run with a commitment to Michigan, ultimately, before looking like one of the best players on the Team Wisconsin roster we took with us to the PBR Future Games in August. But even after that in the fall, Counsell continued to show his real progression to his game. His bat-to-ball skills are among the best in the state, regardless of class, as evidenced by a .393 average as a sophomore for Whitefish Bay in 2021. But he’s come so far in the time since that the Blue Dukes can really expect to see the latest member of the Counsell family generate a ton of its offense this season. He hit five doubles last year, but expect to see him turn more of those into homers, and more singles in doubles, in the process – just like he had in the fall.
Like the 2021 WIAA Division 1 champs, Sun Prairie, Whitefish Bay is headed into this season with a legendary senior class. The Blue Dukes’ Class of 2022 has been held in high regard, but some misfortunes that have been out of the program’s hands have prevented this group from representing Whitefish Bay much since their freshman season. But now, the 2022 season is taking shape, and these ‘22s are our odds-on pick to put together a memorable season that resembles the one Sun Prairie just completed last year. Last year’s Cardinals ran the table – from preseason to D1 champs – as our No. 1-ranked team on the state’s Power 25, and Whitefish Bay’s roster might be even more well-rounded than that one.
The program’s Class of 2022 is headlined by 3B/RHP Mitchell Voit (2022; Michigan), OF Michael Lippe (2022; Louisville), and RHP/OF D.J. Kojis (2022; Wisconsin-Milwaukee) – three players who have been considered three of the best in the state since they were freshmen, really. Voit is a genuine two-way prospect and an excellent athlete. On the mound, he wields a low-90s fastball, a slider, and change, and inside the right-handed batter’s box he has a balanced, simple swing and impacts the ball with strength on repeat. Voit participated in the prestigious Super 60 just this past February, too.
Lippe is exiting an offseason in which he’s been fully healthy, which should propel him back into the conversation as one of the state’s top players, where he belongs. He plays the game with an intensity and aggression that’s infectious and he starred as just a freshman for Whitefish Bay back in 2019. He’ll be a primary run-producer for the team, but he can also be called on to close games for the Blue Dukes, when required.
As for Kojis, he’d also been an intriguing two-way player, though mostly first thought of for his physical projection as an outfielder – listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds – but that’s really swung the other direction in the past year or so. Now, Kojis’ live and loose arm looks more like a long-term fit on the bump, where he’s been into the upper-80s for us routinely, but it’s plenty evident how much room there is for him to grow into more velo, even over just this latest offseason.
RHP D.J. Kojis (@WFB_Baseball, 2022) is showcasing some promising upside from the mound. A loose, fluid arm that reached an 88 mph high today – sitting 84-85, mostly. Listed at a long-levered 6-foot-2, 170 pounds.#PBRatTheRock | @hittersbaseba11 pic.twitter.com/QNaER28ifm— PBR Wisconsin (@PBRWisconsin) July 25, 2021
What’s particularly interesting about this roster is the Class of 2022 talent returning that did play last spring, because we were wrong to assume that, because the three seniors above did not play spring ball as juniors, that Whitefish Bay wouldn’t be able to compete. While, yes, the Blue Dukes were led by Class of 2021 staples like INF Brady Counsell (Minnesota) and 1B Brady Marget (Tulane) – who are each already making collegiate impacts and combined for 10 homers last season – last year’s juniors like OF Jack Nau (Wisconsin-Whitewater), INF Ryan Carew, and C Caleb Bowers (North Dakota State, football) are back to win 20-plus games again, maybe even 30, with the Class of 2022 now intact once more.
Nau returns 10 extra-base hits and a .456 batting average as a junior, with 26 RBIs, the most among returnees. That’s one more RBI than Carew, who hit .348 as a junior himself, and was an all-conference selection too. Bowers is a physical backstop who recorded 10 hits in eight games last year, and a full season both behind the plate and at it will make this Bay lineup that much more hostile to opposing pitchers.
Add in the ‘Impact Underclassman’ and ‘X-Factor’ from the sections above, sophomore J.D. Dix and junior Jack Counsell, and Whitefish Bay has assembled one of the most talented rosters we’ve seen on paper in recent memory. There are even a couple more juniors to name here, RHP Gavin Farnsworth (2023) and 1B Austin Weinke (2023). Farnsworth was up to 85 mph this winter with a hard sinker-type fastball, and he made seven appearances as only a sophomore last spring. Weinke is a strong 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-handed hitter who we also saw this winter. He averaged an exit speed of 89.3 mph and struck his best batted ball at 95.0, providing this lineup with even more juice, and no relief for opposing arms either which way in the order.
This group has the makings of igniting an historic season in Whitefish Bay. This memorable Class of 2022 is one we’ll look back to in future years, and they have one more run together, as a unit. They’re an obvious pick to open as the No. 1-ranked team in the preseason on our Power 25, but we’re interested in watching them coalesce, as they integrate players like Voit, Lippe, and Kojis back into the squad that won 24 games in 2021. Mix in one of the state’s top juniors and its top-ranked sophomore, and the Blue Dukes don’t have a hole on its paper roster, but we’ll see if they can hit the ground running in the North Shore, hitting their stride by the postseason, in time for them to complete their tremendous prep careers in storybook fashion.
Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2022 season.
Find more information on the 2022 Blue Dukes below:
PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 7 Pewaukee 3/29/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 2 Arrowhead Union 3/29/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 6 Milton 3/29/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 3 Franklin 3/29/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 5 Hortonville 3/29/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 4 Kimberly 3/29/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 1 Whitefish Bay 3/29/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 10 Catholic Memorial 3/28/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 13 Sun Prairie 3/28/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 14 Janesville Craig 3/28/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 8 Eau Claire North 3/28/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 12 Bay Port 3/28/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 9 Oak Creek 3/28/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 11 Eau Claire Memorial 3/28/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 16 Stevens Point 3/26/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 15 Hudson 3/26/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 18 Muskego 3/25/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 19 Greendale 3/25/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 20 Beloit Turner 3/25/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No 17. Waterford Union 3/25/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 23 Marquette University 3/24/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 22 Medford Area 3/24/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 21 Verona Area 3/24/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 25 New Berlin West 3/24/22
- WI Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 24 Brookfield Central 3/24/22