Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 3 Bay Port


By Andy Sroka
Illinois and Wisconsin Assistant Director

The Wisconsin high school baseball season kicks off on April 27, opening day for regular season action under WIAA regulations. Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2021 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, leading into a countdown 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. These preseason previews are also assembled with the help of Joe Waite and his comprehensive Baseball Wisconsin Yearbook, and the 2021 edition will soon be available for purchase here.

Our 2021 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Bay Port
Preseason Rank: No. 3
2019 Record: 19-7
Conference: Fox River Classic
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Harvey Knutson

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
James Bornick OF 2021 Marian (WI)
Carl Cano RHP/INF 2021 St. Thomas (MN)
Eli Frank INF/RHP 2021 Wisconsin-Whitewater
Jacob Kleemann OF 2021 Lake County CC
Matthew Perry INF 2021 St. Cloud State
Gavin Rusch RHP/1B 2021 Concordia-St. Paul
Tanner Schmidt RHP 2021 -
Logan VanLaanen C 2021 -
Brandon Black 1B 2022 -
Isaiah Grimm C 2022 -
John Nickel OF 2022 -
Theo Zeidler RHP/INF 2022 -

OUTLOOK

While Bay Port technically does not return much varsity experience, they’ll be led by a tight-knit senior core who’ve been playing alongside each other forever. There are at least six seniors projected to earn starting roles on this team, with more capable of reinforcing the squad as the season goes.

The pitching depth is headlined by some exciting talent, including seniors RHP/INF Carl Cano and RHP Gavin Rusch. Cano, a St. Thomas recruit, is highly athletic and he spins an aggressive mid-80s fastball that can reach the upper-80s comfortably. The pitch jumps and features hard and heavy arm-side action, and his slider is one of the best offspeed pitches in the state. Rusch is an imposing 6-foot-5, 190-pound righty who’s been up into the upper-80s for us in the past, though spent 2020 working on his mechanics in an effort to repeat more often. He’s previously flashed a premium fastball and a complementary 12/6 curveball, and a productive offseason could turn him into an ace-type arm.

Carl Cano (9/20/20)

While both these seniors could operate as the go-to options on the mound for most other squads, Bay Port is also rostering junior RHP/INF Theo Zeidler, who truly is that No. 1 kind of talent. He’s a quality athlete, listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, who’s possessed interesting two-way potential that’s now ticked way up from the mound. He sat 89-90 mph in a ‘pen this winter, up to 90, reaching the mark without much effort. He lives in and around the strike zone and also utilizes a swing-and-miss breaking ball and deceptive changeup. Zeidler’s also a high-end middle infield defender with an upside bat. He propelled himself into one of the Midwest’s top uncommitted players this winter.

Theo Zeidler (3/6/21)

More seniors like 3B/RHP Eli Frank, INF Matthew Perry, OF James Bornick, OF Jacob Kleeman, C Logan VanLaanen, and RHP Tanner Schmidt provide Bay Port with arguably the deepest roster in Wisconsin. Frank’s among the strong and most physical players in the class, with brawny right-handed bat strength to fill the middle of this order – and his arm works on the mound, too. Perry’s an athletic middle infielder who should hit near the top of the order. Bornick and Kleeman are another pair of athletic seniors who both hit left-handed.

Eli Frank (9/20/20)

If there are any outlying holes on the roster, juniors 1B Brandon Black, OF John Nickel, and C Isaiah Grimm can help fill them. Black’s a physical right-handed hitter with a knack for the barrel, and Nickel’s an athletic outfielder with size who’s made some strides mechanically over the past year or so. Grimm just came off a strong performance at our Fox Cities I.D. to land on the radar.

And while it doesn’t appear like they’ll need it, Bay Port’s sophomores and freshmen have enjoyed a productive winter. There’s a handful of names here who could launch their way onto varsity sooner than later, though there’s quite a few upperclassmen ahead of them.

BOTTOM LINE

The Fox River Classic will be typically competitive, but we think the Pirates have the best shot to take the conference title on a run to Appleton for a chance to compete at state. Bay Port’s seniors stick out as one of the top class’ in Wisconsin, and the camaraderie the dugout shares will provide them with an intangible advantage this spring, especially as most other rosters will be looking to gel on the fly having missed out on experiencing the 2020 season together.

Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2021 season.

Find more information on the 2021 Pirates below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN