Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 17 Muskego


By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

The WIAA high school baseball season opens on March 26, the opening day for prep baseball in Wisconsin.

Leading up to the opening week of action, we’ll be rolling out team-by-team previews, counting down to our state’s preseason No. 1-ranked program for the 2019 season. We’re combing over all classifications and corners of the state to determine our top-25 ranked teams ahead of what’s sure to be an historic campaign, with the merging of the spring and summer divisions into one single WIAA season.

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 analysis.

Our 2019 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Muskego
Preseason Rank: 17
2018 Record: 22-12
Conference: Classic Eight
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Jacob Paige
Playoff Run: Summer State Champions
2018 Final Rank: NR
Returning Starters: 5
Returning Pitchers: 2

TOP PLAYERS

Name State School Class Pos Commitment

Steve Jamroziak

WI

Muskego

2019

OF

Minnesota

Cooper Tamblyn

WI

Muskego

2019

C

Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Hunter Frederick

WI

Muskego

2019

C/DH


Wesley Kwapick

WI

Muskego

2019

OF


Jacob Leszczynski

WI

Muskego

2020

LHP


Scott Bulski

WI

Muskego

2020

OF/RHP


Blake Read

WI

Muskego

2021

LHP



KEY PLAYERS LOST

Frankie Cistaro, INF (Minnesota-Duluth)
Rob Zolecki, OF (Wisconsin-La Crosse)

NEWCOMER TO WATCH

Sophomore Blake Read is among the top pitching prospects in the state’s 2021 class. The 6-foot-2 southpaw is a lean, loose, and competitive arm who sat in the 83-85 mph range, and was up to a PBR personal best 86 mph at the South Milwaukee Preseason I.D. last month. His fastball also features some hard arm-side run and he’s getting more and more comfortable with his curveball-changeup offspeed.

It’s hard to tell exactly the size of the impact Read’s going to have on this staff, but he certainly has the stuff to lead a rotation one day. He won’t need to lead Muskego as a sophomore, but his progression could make the Warriors genuine state contenders if he’s able to throw strikes and get outs in his first season of high school ball.

Blake Read (3/319)


X-FACTOR

For the last four years, Steve Jamroziak has been one of the most talented prospects in the state’s Class of 2019. His elite athleticism pushed him to compete on the travel ball circuit during the last three summers, rather than suit up for the Warriors, but with the merging of the spring and summer ball seasons, Jamroziak should be able to don the Muskego red for the first time as a senior.

The 6-foot-3 Minnesota commit is capable of barreling baseballs into the gaps with regularity and has the speed and instincts to entrench himself in center field this spring. He has loud tools across the board and is going to help Muskego generate runs from the middle of the order, one of the areas this team struggled with during the 2018 regular season.

Steve Jamroziak (7/10/18)


OUTLOOK

For 53 years, the WIAA facilitated a high school baseball tradition, an organized summer baseball season. Many programs across the state opted to partake in summer ball, rather than the spring season, in an effort to play more games in better weather. The 2018 season was Wisconsin’s final organized summer ball campaign, and for 50-plus summers, the Muskego Warriors program attempted to claw its way to a state title. The Warriors earned five state tournament appearances but had never been able to capture the ultimate award, and they had their best chance and final opportunity to do so in 2018.

Head coach Jacob Paige, nine years into the Muskego job, juggled the lineup last season and the team got hot at the perfect time. The Warriors hadn’t been known for their offense all summer long, and the up-and-down regular season had them place fourth in the summer’s Classic Eight Conference. But a couple of big wins in the early playoffs spurred Muskego all the way to a championship game against Pius XI, a storied summer program.

Scoreless after seven frames, the Popes scored the game’s first run in the top of the eighth on a sac fly after previously denied the opening run on a play at the plate on a ground ball. With three left in their season, the Warriors’ Cooper Tamblyn and eventually scored on a clutch suicide squeeze to tie it up. Back-to-back walks with two outs put to state-title-winning run on second and senior lead-off man and captain Frankie Cistaro at the plate, who singled through the middle of the infield to score pinch-runner Richard Wauer to win the state’s last-ever summer ball championship.

While last year’s captain Cistaro is graduated and playing at Minnesota-Duluth these days, many of the faces on last year’s squad are back – and they’ll be injected with a load of talented prospects who had been spending their summers on the travel ball circuit rather than in Muskego’s dugout.

Jacob Leszczynski started the championship game and was predominantly used as this team’s go-to arm last spring is back. He was just a sophomore last summer when he took on that role, too. He one-hit the Popes in five innings of work and groomed a 1.16 ERA in 2018 and is going to help make this Warriors pitching staff a formidable force, one capable of helping Muskego become summer and spring ball champions in consecutive seasons.

Seniors Tamblyn, Hunter Frederick, and Wesley Kwapick are all back and all three started the game against Pius XI. Tamblyn, a Wisconsin-Stevens Point commit, should return to his role as the team’s starting backstop.

As for the 2020 class, Scott Bulski returns – a two-way player who pitched a ton for Muskego in 2018, and finished the summer with an ERA of 2.32. We just had the chance to see him from the right-handed batter’s box last month, too, where he showcased some bat strength. Otherwise, the junior catcher Wauer, infielder Nathan Faust, and lefty Jacob Tyczkowski should all be able to pitch in, in various roles.

What could make Muskego a state contender come May and June is its sophomores. We mentioned the kind of upside Read brings this staff, but he isn’t the only member of this 2021 class with next-level skill. Alex Jamroziak was up to 87 mph last month on the mound. Lefty Alex Hayes has a clean arm with a heavy low-80s fastball. Outfielder Josh Lewitkze and first baseman Joseph Lawrence Jr. both have the ability to barrel baseballs from opposite sides of the plate. And then there’s Corey Plahuta, Peyton Seebacher, and Anthony Tomczak, who all have some early feel at the plate.

Now, it’s hard to imagine all of these sophomores taking to varsity waters out of the gate, but if two or three of these 2021s are able to acclimate themselves to the pace of varsity play early, then, all of a sudden, the Warriors look as if they’re rostering the kind of depth that leads to lengthy state title runs – depth featured on both sides of the ball.

BOTTOM LINE

Muskego’s 2019 team is exciting. While they’re missing a couple of contributors who made last year’s summer title possible, the talent they’re inheriting from the summer-to-spring switch is going to make up for it. The Warriors 2021 class is jam-packed with genuine, everyday contributors, but there’s bound to be some growing pains associated with that kind of youth and inexperience.

Still, it’s not like this team is going to lean on its sophomores – they’re here to serve as capable depth pieces who set the table for its seniors, new and old, as well as its juniors. Muskego is in an enviable position in which it has the squad to dodge a state title hangover all while becoming an authentic threat for its first-ever spring ball state title.

Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the season.

Find more information on the 2019 Warriors below:

+ Full Schedule
+ Team Website
+ Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN