Midwest Region: Illinois,
Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
an Arms Race
the depth of position players in the Midwest may not be evident,
there’s no mistaking the amount of quality arms throughout the
region. Regardless of the state or graduation year, the Midwest
boasts pitchers that presently show big-time stuff and others who
will be premier arms in the not-so-distant future.
with Illinois, the Prairie State is led by Notre Dame commit Jake
Godfrey, who was joined by big righthander Brad Bass and lefty Jake
Latz on the Cangelosi team in Jupiter. Godfrey is
the jewel of the class, working in the low-90s with a feel for two
pitches that have potential to be plus offerings. Junior Trent
Johnson is as physically opposing as Godfrey and Bass, standing at
6-foot-4 with an easy arm action and comfortably sits in the
upper-80s, often touching 90 mph.
sophomore class has a chance to be a special one with two of the top
arms in the class in righthanders Anthony Holubecki (Notre Dame
commit) and Drake Fellows (Vanderbilt). Both pitchers have young,
projectable frames and show easy velocity, making it easy to envision
both throwing in the mid-90s by their senior years. Holubecki had a
strong performance at the Perfect Game Indoor Showcase earlier this
month, gaining strength throughout his outing and maintaining his
upper-80s velocity very well with frequent 90 mph readings.
is equally as strong on the mound, led by senior righthanders Brandon
Murray and Jonah Patten. Murray was a Perfect Game All-American last
summer and is documented in detail below. Jonah Patten is an Arkansas
commit who shows a fastball in the low-90s and demonstrates the
ability to repeat his mechanics very well.
2015 class in Indiana is as strong as any with big righthanded
pitchers Bryan Hoeing, Ashe Russell, and Noah Burkholder at the
forefront. All three pitchers are 6-foot-4 or taller and project
extremely well as they continue to fill out. They make a formidable
trio at the top of the rankings, and are joined by Florida State
commit Jarrett Montgomery and Virginia commit Grant Sloan in the top
2016 prospect Drake Fellows above, Reid Schaller of Lebanon Senior
High School is a projectable, low-90s righty committed to Vanderbilt.
Fellows and Schaller in the top 50 of the class of 2016 rankings are
Jack Weisenburger and Dion Henderson, both residents of Michigan who
show upper-80s fastballs and a strong feel on the mound.
and Ohio have hard throwers in Micah Miniard – who is 6-foot-7 with
plenty of projectability and a fastball up to 94 mph – Zack Shannon
and Cameron Varga, who are both mentioned in greater detail below.
2015s Riley Thompson, Samuel Bordner, Austin Havekost, and Chandler
Day have a similar profile to most of the pitchers previously
mentioned, as all four are long limbed, projectable and comfortably
top out in the low-90s at present. Sophomore Christopher Machamer is
an elite two-way talent who shines on the mound, having topped out at
91 mph last summer with a nice curveball.
state of Wisconsin returns last year's Gatorade Player of the Year,
Scott Schreiber, an athletic righthander with a fastball that breaks
into the low-90s. Bryant Jordan is a loose armed 2015 righthander who
produces easy velocity with excellent command to go along with a deep
12-to-6 curveball with tight spin.
arms are sure to emerge, but the names highlighted above are
certainly a strong start. The talent is strong and seems to improve
with each graduation class, making it exciting to see what is in
store for the future.
High School Dream Team
on present tools and position played for high school team
- Simeon Lucas, Sr. Grant Community (Ill.)
hitting catchers who project to stay behind the plate at the next
level are always a hot commodity, and those two traits are present in
Simeon Lucas. At the plate Lucas shows big-time strength, regularly
creating hard and loud contact, especially to his pull side. He has
an advanced approach at the plate with the ability to recognize and
adjust to quality off-speed offerings within an at-bat. The Illinois
State commit is just as effective behind the plate with his defensive
prowess detailed below in the Top Tools section.
- Cory Wright, Jr. St. Charles North (Ill.)
sum it up, Cory Wright is a high energy gamer that gives 100 percent
each time he steps on the field. He shows excellent defensive actions
around the bag with fluid footwork and soft hands. The Kansas State
commit continues to improve his overall game and has started to fill
out his 6-foot-1 frame, which has made an impact in the batter’s
box. A lefthanded batter, Wright owns a smooth stroke with sound bat
speed and has consistently shown the ability to get the barrel to the
ball. More power is expected to come as he continues to fill out with
strength, and he already shows exciting potential.
- Charlie Donovan, Jr. Westmont (Ill.)
leads the way in the middle infield thanks in part to the variety of
tools he brings to the game. To start, he shows smooth, athletic
actions with plenty of range to either side, and should be able to
stay up the middle at the next level as a result. His hands are soft
and sure with a very quick transfer of the ball, giving himself
plenty of time to make a strong, accurate throws. A lefthanded
hitter, Donovan projects as a top of the order line drive hitter who
runs very well. He shows a smooth, fluid swing with loose wrists and
solid bat speed.
- Daniel Neal, Jr. South Laurel (Ky.)
his tools may profile best at third base at the next level with his
big arm strength and power at the plate, Neal shows the ability to
play up the middle at present. He moves well on his feet in the
infield – he runs a sub 7.0 second 60-yard dash – and shows a
quick transfer on big throws that carry well across the infield. With
his 6-foot-3 frame, the Tennessee commit creates nice, loose
extension out front with leverage, and is able to drive the ball,
especially to his pull side. He uses his quick hands and good bat
speed to consistently get the barrel to the ball, resulting in hard,
loud contact. Neal shows big pull-side power presently and projects
for more as he continues to fill out physically.
- Evan Skoug, Sr. Libertyville (Ill.)
primary catcher, where he shows a strong arm and sound receiving
skills, Skoug usually played third base during the summer circuit
whenever teammate Simeon Lucas was behind the plate. No matter where
the Texas Christian University commit plays, he is sure to impact the
game with his bat. Skoug creates some of the hardest contact on a
regular basis in the batter’s box, regularly producing exit
velocities in the upper-90s, even against quality offerings. His
loose wrists and quick bat allow him to get the barrel to the ball on
the inner half of the plate, despite some length in his swing.
- Jeren Kendall, Sr. Holmen (Wis.)
Kendall possesses all of
the skills one would want in a center fielder, and profiles to play
there for quite some time in the future. The premier position player
in the Midwest this spring, the Vanderbilt commit covers ground in
the outfield with ease and shows big-time arm strength. His
lefthanded swing improved significantly throughout the summer as he
began to incorporate of his lower half and implemented more
aggressiveness in his approach. He shows elite, playable speed that
plays very well on both sides of the ball, as he frequently turns in
sub-4.0 second home to first times and swipes bases at will.
- Darius Day, Sr. Simeon Career Academy (Ill.)
Perfect Game All-American last summer, Day shows exciting present
tools that are only going to get stronger as he physically matures.
Equipped with a strong arm, Day has displayed his excellent arm
strength in games, throwing runners out at third base from deep right
field. The strength of his left arm suggests right field at the next
level, but he projects well as a center fielder with his 6.5 speed,
athletic actions and solid defensive instincts. The Arizona Wildcat
commit shows an aggressive approach in the box with quick hands and a
short bat path, allowing him to generate surprising pop to his pull
side with more to come.
- Jack Schaaf, Sr. Springboro (Ohio)
is a an outfield prospect that popped up late in the summer. A sound
all around athlete, the Florida International commit for baseball
also excelled on the football field as Springboro’s starting
quarterback. Schaaf is a strong runner – 6.5 60-yard dash times –
whose speed can impact a game defensively, showing strong closing
speed and sound defensive instincts. He is a lefthanded hitter with
present gap power, a tool that will only increase as he starts to
fill out his 6-foot-2 frame. He shows a short, quick swing and when
the ball is squared up, it jumps off the barrel of his bat.
- Zack Shannon, Sr. Anderson (Ohio)
Shannon is one of the premier two-way players in the 2014 class,
joining Alex Verdugo from Arizona, with the ability to excel in any
facet of the game. On the mound Shannon works with a mid-90s fastball
with the ability to get downhill and mixes in a plus slider with
sharp movement. His tools project best for right field where he shows
plus arm strength with online throws and very strong carry. Shannon
is a sound runner and should hit for plenty of power and average to
stay in right field at the next level. His bat is loud and he
consistently squares the ball up to all parts of the field.
- Jake Godfrey, Sr. Providence Catholic (Ill.)
gave scouts a taste of what they would be seeing from him all summer
at the National Showcase, and steadily improved upon that performance
in the months that followed. When he keeps his front side closed his
stuff is as good as any pitcher, topping out at 94 mph with his
fastball. The pitch shows excellent arm-side run and he commands it
well, locating it well to his glove side. Godfrey’s curveball is
one of the best off-speed pitches in the 2014 class showing severe
depth with tight spin and the confidence to throw it in any count.
Although not thrown often, his changeup is a solid third pitch as he
maintains his arm speed and generates late fading action to his
arm-side on the pitch.
- Cameron Varga, Sr. Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (Ohio)
finds himself near the head of a list of power-armed pitchers in the
2014 class after showing a consistent 93-95 mph fastball at the 2013
National Showcase. With a long, loose arm action, Varga attacks
hitters with his fastball, showing late sinking life while mixing in
a power 12-to-6 curveball which keeps hitters guessing. He has the
ideal pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-4, 205-pounds, and when he uses his
leverage and stays on top of his curveball it shows hard bite with
very good depth.
- Brandon Murray, Sr. Hobart (Ind.)
The arm strength with
Murray is obvious as he consistently shows a mid-90s fastball, and
similar to Varga, he has a strong frame with plenty of room to
continue to add strength. He flashes feel for both a slider and
curveball, with the slider being more advanced of the two presently,
and also throws a mid-80s changeup down in the zone. Although his
mechanics need some refinement, the South Carolina commit shows big
strength and will only improve with more time spent on the mound.
- Bryan Hoeing, Jr. Batesville (Ind.)
hopes to follow in the footsteps of his cousin, Alex Meyer, a first
round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2011, and he’s off to a
good start. An elite athlete that is also a premium basketball
prospect, everything Hoeing shows on the mound presently makes one
think he will easily be a mid-90s pitcher by the time he graduates.
Topping out at 91 mph with his fastball now, the pitch shows arm-side
run with occasional sink and will only improve with increased
incorporation of his lower half into his delivery. He controls his
long limbs well for his age and shows an advanced feel on the mound.
Hoeing is able to work downhill and hit his spots while mixing in
both a curveball and changeup to keep hitters on their toes.
- Noah Burkholder, Jr. Crown Point (Ind.)
out the staff is the ultra projectable, 6-foot-7, 190-pound Noah
Burkholder, a University of Louisville commit. Usually when a rising
senior (Keith Weisenberg) is throwing 95 mph on the mound in Jupiter
that player walks away as the talk from the game, but this was not
the case at last year's WWBA World Championship. Only a junior,
Burkholder out-dueled Weisenberg, showing some impressive velocity of
his own, topping out at 91 mph. With all of his intangibles it is
easy to believe Burkholder will see a nice velocity bump in the near
future. He uses his long levers well to generate downhill angle,
seemingly handing the ball to the catcher. His athleticism is evident
as he controls his long frame very well, which helps him to
repeatedly fill up the lower quadrants of the strike zone. His slider
shows tight spin in the low-80s and has a chance to become a plus
pitch in the future.
detailed above, there were plenty of options to choose from, from all
states and classes, in the Midwest Region to round out the pitching
staff. Seniors Jake Latz, Brad Bass and Micah Miniard, junior Ashe
Russell, and even sophomores Anthony Holubecki, Drake Fellows and
Christopher Machamer were all considered.
Region Top Tools
Hitter for Average: Evan Skoug, Sr. Libertyville (Ill.)
2013 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. was Skoug's coming out
party, bashing his way towards MVP honors. One defining moment for
Skoug occurred when he sat back on an outer half 80 mph changeup and
lined it to left field, registering 97 mph off the bat. His prowess
with the bat has been well documented, and he also has the ability to
create lift in swing, back spinning the ball over the fence.
Hitter for Power: Zack Shannon, Sr. Anderson (Ohio)
scariest part about Shannon is his age – he doesn't turn 18 until
mid-June – and how he would fit in with the 2015 class age-wise. He
has a very muscular frame but maintains looseness throughout his
swing, creating loud contact to all parts of the field. His power
shows best to his pull side, but he also shows plus hand speed and
the ability to drive to the opposite field gap.
Baserunner: Jeren Kendall, Sr. Holmen (Wis.)
speed impacts his game on both sides of the ball, but shines
particularly well on the bases. With home to first base times usually
less than four seconds, Kendall legs out infield singles regularly
and often forces infielders into making a rushed throw. Upon getting
on first, Kendall swipes bases with ease, turning a single or a walk
into a triple within a few pitches.
Defensive Catcher: Simeon Lucas, Sr. Grant Community (Ill.)
has a very athletic build and it shows in his movements behind the
plate, bouncing from one side to the other with quick footwork. He
handled Dylan Cease and his quality repertoire with ease at the
National Showcase, and squares his shoulders nicely on pitches in the
dirt. Lucas also shows top of the line arm strength, keeping runners
honest and thinking twice on attempted steals.
Defensive Infielder: Charlie Donovan, Jr. Westmont (Mich.)
would take this category based just off his defensive actions,
without even factoring his plus arm strength across. He’s light on
his feet with graceful, athletic actions, allowing him to show big
range to either side. His hands are soft and sure, and by possessing
a plus arm, Donovan is able to complete the play deep in the 5/6 hole
Defensive Outfielder: Jeren Kendall, Sr. Holmen (Wis.)
noted above, Kendall is very quick on his feet, allowing him to close
well on fly balls and cover ample ground in center field. His routes
are direct to the ball with no wasted movements, and his plus arm
strength keeps runners honest. Jack Schaaf was also in contention due
to his excellent speed and athleticism.
Infield Arm: Brenden Spillane, Jr. Wheeling (Ill.)
2015 commit and primary third baseman, Spillane projects to stay at
the hot corner where he shows impressive arm strength. Despite his
sturdy 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, Spillane moves very well on his
feet and delivers strikes to the intended target with plus carry. His
throws are in the low-90s and he shows the ability to maintain his
accuracy with multiple arm slots in game action.
Outfield Arm: Zack Shannon, Sr. Anderson (Ohio)
projects as a power hitting right fielder at the next level and shows
plenty of arm strength to make runners think twice about taking an
extra base. Up to 96 mph from the outfield at the National, Shannon
is able to generate such velocity due to an easy and loose arm
action. His throws also show plus carry along with accuracy throw
Fastball: Jake Godfrey, Sr. Providence Catholic (Ill.)
steadily improved on the mound throughout the summer and showed
bigger velocity each outing as well. When the 6-foot-3 Godfrey stays
on top of the ball he is able to create tremendous downhill plane
with his fastball and commands the pitch well throughout the zone.
His velocity has steadily increased, topping at 94 mph in Jupiter
last October, and is able to generate very good arm-side run on the
pitch. While there are plenty of other hard throwers in the region,
what sets Godfrey apart is his ability to effectively spot his
fastball which sets up the rest of his repertoire.
Off-Speed Stuff: Zack Shannon, Sr. Anderson (Ohio)
the off-speed category in addition to the other two categories speaks
to Shannon’s ability on the baseball diamond. His slider is one
reason that scouts are split on where the Ohio State commit will
spend the majority of his time at the next level. At present, his
breaking ball is a plus pitch with tight spin and late depth and
racks up a good amount of swings and misses.
Command: Jake Latz, Sr. Lemont Twp (Ill.)
think of Latz as a crafty, finesse lefthander who lacks velocity as
Latz regularly sits in the upper-80s with his fastball, topping out
at 91, and he projects for even more. He works downhill with his
entire arsenal, spotting well to all quadrants of the strike zone.
The curveball is his out pitch, showing big 1-to-7 break with depth
and very good command, displaying the ability to backdoor the pitch
to righthanded hitters. Latz remains balanced throughout his delivery
and mixes in a low-80s changeup as well.
Pitchability: Ashe Russell, Jr. Cathedral (Ind.)
he's a junior, Russell shows advanced pitchability on the mound and a
strong feel for three pitches. With a loose, quick arm, Russell pumps
his fastball up to 92 mph with strong command and projects for more
as his lean 6-foot-4 frame continues to fill out. The slider is a
plus present pitch with late, sharp depth in the low-80s, and he also
shows a nice feel for a low-80s sinking changeup. The Notre Dame
commit will certainly be an interesting follow throughout the course
of the next two years.