Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 4 Kimberly


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: Kimberly
Preseason Rank: No. 4
2019 Record: 22-3
Conference: Fox Valley Association
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Ryan McGinnis

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Thomas Ellisen RHP/INF 2021 Connecticut
Jake Huntington RHP/INF 2021 -
Cal McGinnis INF 2021 Bradley
Cameron Miller OF/C 2021 Saint Mary's (MN)
Kalen Vandenburg OF 2021 -
Brandon Carew OF/LHP 2022 -
Evan Johnson RHP/1B 2022 -
Colin Obermann INF/RHP 2022 -
Brayden Deering RHP 2023 -
Maxwell Kalk C 2023 -
Kale Twombly OF 2023 -

OUTLOOK

The Papermakers are covered by upperclass talent and depth across the diamond – deep even for Kimberly’s own lofty standards. Here we have another one of the state’s most effective and stacked pitching staffs, but Kimberly separates themselves from many of the other programs in the state with its athletic and competitive lineup, with quality at-bats operating in spots Nos. 1-9.

The seniors here are a foundational lead-by-example bunch, comprised of multi-sport athletes who are accustomed to winning on the diamond and elsewhere. Athletes like INF Cal McGinnis, RHP/INF Thomas Ellisen, and OF/C Cam Miller are each committed to play baseball beyond this spring at Kimberly, and the three should be among the top players on this year’s squad, expectedly.

McGinnis is the son of head coach Ryan, one of the tops across the WIAA, and he plays with the fundamental, inherent feel for the game that you’d envision. McGinnis is committed to Bradley, and he really turned him the recruiting dial in 2020, becoming one of the top uncommitted players in the state before announcing that verbal. He’s a high-energy, savvy middle infielder with a short and quick left-handed bat that should operate as the engine of the Papermakers order.

Cal McGinnis (7/24/20)

Ellisen was coincidentally another member of this 2021 class who boosted his prospect stock greatly last summer, and he eventually wound up with a commitment to UConn. He’s a highly athletic 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, and he’s also shown very well on the basketball court during his prep career, though Ellisen’s upside on the mound seems to be where his athletic future is brightest. The tall, wiry righty comes from a steep angle and high release point to home, with a fastball that features some carry traits, making it a particularly tough one to barrel up. He throws his breaking ball aggressively, and it flashes out-pitch potential. With another offseason under his belt, we’re eager to see how his work over the past six months progressed his arsenal.

Thomas Ellisen (7/14/20)

Miller’s another tools-y senior who will contribute to Kimberly in more ways than one. His versatility will offer the Papermakers some defensive options from game to game, as he can move athletically behind the plate, as well as the outfield, where he’s shown above-average arm strength attached to sub-7.00 speed. His loose right-handed bat should be one of Kimberly’s most productive as well. 

More seniors like RHP/INF Jake Huntington and OF Ryan Johnson will be called on plenty in their final prep spring seasons. Huntington will most likely have a starting role on this staff and/or at third base, while Johnson could see the field for his fair share in an outfield spot.

Among the juniors on the roser, INF Colin Obermann came away from our winter showcase circuit as one of the class’ biggest winners. He’s a 6.62 runner with an easy right-handed swing that looks prone to connect for hard-hit contact repeatedly. Obermann also moves well, naturally, on the infield and he brings above-average arm strength across.

Colin Obermann (3/14/21)

The 6-foot-6 RHP/1B Evan Johnson will be presented the opportunity to earn a healthy amount of varsity innings as a junior this season. He’s follow athlete, as he moves very well for his long, lanky levers – and he ran a 7.03 as evidence of this six weeks back. That athleticism allows for a highly repeatable delivery, featuring a 79-80 mph fastball with hard run/carry traits that projects to avoid barrels. Johnson also has above-average feel to land his slider, with good horizontal action, and his straight change molds an upside three-pitch mix worth monitoring. He’s also capable of becoming one of the team’s best bats, swinging a simple and timely right-handed cut that he can leverage hard contact with his size.

Another two-way junior to watch in this dugout is OF/LHP Brandon Carew. A left/left prospect with a motor who swings a compact bat and ranges around the outfield well. We’ve not yet seen him ourselves, and by the sounds of it he’ll reportedly play a sizable two-way role on Kimberly in 2021.

There’s a lot to like within Kimberly’s underclasses, though C Maxwell Kalk has managed to stand out amongst his peers early into his prep career, as an athletic backstop with a smooth left-handed swing. His athleticism presents itself best defensively, as he projects to earn a shot to start as the team’s catcher, though his bat can pull his weight on offense. Other sophs like OF Kale Twombly, RHP Brayden Deering, C Evan Olson, and INF Brayden Pleau have previously impressed us in live looks or at showcases, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see one or more of these players earn varsity action ahead of schedule.

BOTTOM LINE

The Papermakers have become the class of the historic Fox Valley Association, and a WIAA juggernaut. While they’re typically loaded this spring, Kimberly might also be rostering even more depth and talent than usual – and that’s really saying something. Quality coaching and a few key senior leaders should set the tone of the Kimberly spring that can lift them to another trip to state, provided the progression of their starting juniors and sophomores goes mostly as expected.

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

Find more information on the 2021 Papermakers below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN