High School | General | 4/7/2020

Chadwick shined bright at GRB

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Tyler Chadwick (Perfect Game)

It is the ancient Greek philosopher Plato who is credited with first putting the words “Necessity is the mother of invention” to papyrus some 25 centuries ago, and those words still ring true, maybe even more than ever during these trying times.

Take Wisconsin 2020 right-handed pitcher Tyler Chadwick as an example. Chadwick lives on his family’s farm just outside of Marshall, Wis. With both the Perfect Game Spring League and his training center, GRB Academy in Windsor, shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, he was forced to be a little innovative when it came to getting his workouts in.

“I built a pitching mound that I’ve been working off of here at home,” Chadwick said during a recent telephone conversation with PG. “I’m just using it to throw into a net. None of my family members, they can’t catch it. They can warm me up playing catch but nobody wants to get down there (as a catcher).”

That’s certainly understandable. The 18-year-old Chadwick stands 6-foot-5 and weighs-in at 210 pounds and is armed with a fastball that generally sets in the low 90s; it touched 96 mph at last year’s PG WWBA 17u National Championship in the north Atlanta suburbs.

A West Virginia signee, Chadwick is ranked the No. 109 overall prospect nationally in the 2020 class and the No. 3 overall prospect in Wisconsin. Once a multi-sport athlete (football, basketball, wrestling, track), he really blossomed over the last several years since getting hooked up with Greg Reinhard Baseball (GRB) and playing with Reinhard’s top-tier GRB Rays squad; he left those other sports behind after his sophomore year at Marshall High School.

“He’s made drastic improvements in the last two years,” Reinhard told PG during a separate phone conversation last week. “Two years ago everyone saw the body, the frame, the arm … and he’s worked really hard to clean up the arm action, the repeatability in his motion has been really good and the off-speed has followed.

“He’s got a chance to throw a real sinker at 95, 96, 98; I would not be shocked if that guy throws 100 miles an hour one day. And he’s going to do it with sink, which is crazy. … He’s turned into one of the best arms I’ve ever witnessed in my time doing this.”

That’s high praise coming from Reinhard, a former right-handed pitcher himself who was a sixth round pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2005 out of Division III UW-Whitewater; Whitewater won the D-III national championship in 2005 and Reinhard was named the D3 Pitcher of the Year. He went on to play five seasons (2005-09) in the minor leagues and one (2010) in an independent league before ending his playing career.

GRB Academy, located in Windsor, just northeast of Madison, features a 52,000 square-foot facility that is complete with 14 batting cages, a full-size turf infield, a 6,000 sq. ft. weight room and a pro shop. The state of the art building, which opened in early 2017, has been shut down now for several weeks due to the global health crisis, but Reinhard and his staff are trying to assist their players in any way they can.

As an example, they’ve been sending out lists of different drills the players can work on at home, which makes the mound Chadwick built in his yard all the more valuable. He also said people have been stopping by his facility to borrow batting tees and hitting nets that they can take home with them.

“I’m sure that every business is different and every program is going to look different but we’ve always been really careful financially and we’ve prepared for the worst,” Reinhard said. “We’re in a position that when this all ends, we’re going to open up and we’re going to be fine. It stinks right now without baseball for a lot of us – for me personally, I’ve never had baseball not be a part of my life.”

The GRB facility hosted the inaugural PG Midwest Indoor Showcase on March 1, an event that attracted 72 prospects from the prep classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023, most from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

“We’re excited to bring in events like that that benefit our kids,” Reinhard said. “I think that our facility is built for (those events), where they can run smoothly, there can be live action. If I’m not mistaken, that was the first one in Wisconsin that’s really been a big-time hit for PG and I’m not short on expectations that next year it will sell-out again.”

Chadwick didn’t attend the PG Midwest Indoor but his relationship with GRB has been long and fruitful. He played in six PG WWBA tournaments with the GRB Rays in 2018-19 and earned all-tournament recognition three times including at the 2019 PG WWBA 17u Prospect Meadows National Championship in Marion, Iowa, where the Rays claimed the title.

It is Chadwick’s firm belief that he wouldn’t be anywhere near the pitcher he is today if he had not joined GRB. He praised the coaching staff, specifically mentioning Reinhard, Trevor Burmeister and pitching coach Zach Ransom.

“The big thing that they stress is arm care; they’re super smart about it,” he said. “The pitching coach (Ransom), he always tells me that you’ve got to compete, you’ve got to want it more, you’ve got to keep working hard.”

In each of the last two Octobers, Chadwick jumped on board with Andy Stack and the Reds Midwest Scout Team to play at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., an event that annually draws close to 1,000 scouts over its five-day run.

With hundreds of golf carts zipping around the Roger Dean Chevrolet Complex in Jupiter, the scene can be a little overwhelming even for the hardiest of competitors, but it was an experience Chadwick embraced whole-heartedly.

“Being around that many scouts, it’s just mind-blowing,” he said. “And when they’re there to see you, it’s just crazy. But when I’m on the mound I don’t even notice them; I don’t see past my catcher. It doesn’t bother me once I start throwing.”

Chadwick was also in attendance at last June’s PG National Showcase at Chase Field in Phoenix, which is one of amateur baseball’s most heavily scouted showcase events. He took in as much as he could during his time in the desert in an attempt to gather information that he could use to his own benefit.

“I really tried to watch (No.1-ranked RHP) Jared Kelley and figure out why he throws so hard and how I can try to get there; I watched his off-speeds, too,” Chadwick said. “I always want to look at people who are considered better (than me), I guess, and then try to figure out how I can get there.”

George Klassen is another highly regarded pitcher that threw for GRB in 2019 and who, like Chadwick, was with the Reds Midwest Scout Team in Jupiter last October; he was also slated to throw in the 2020 PG Spring League.

Klassen, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound PG All-American right-hander from Port Washington, Wis., and a Minnesota signee, is ranked No. 78 overall in the class of 2020 and No. 2 in Wisconsin, one slot ahead of Chadwick.

“They’re both hard workers but they’re both different,” Reinhard said of the duo. “George has this super whippy action and super high-spin breaking ball that he can throw at 82 miles an hour and I think that came easier to him than maybe the breaking stuff came to Tyler at first. But they’re both premium arms, they’re both two of the arms in the country in my opinion.”

The PG Spring League did get one Sunday of play in before the season was suspended, and it was a good day. More than 30 scouts were in attendance to watch the league’s top prospects perform, a group that included Chadwick, Klassen and PG All-American Carter Baumler out of Iowa.

“I was really excited,” Chadwick said. “I was a little bit nervous, obviously, just because it was something new but I was super excited for it, to play around with some of my friends and to get to meet some new people and to get to be seen around good competition. I was really looking forward to it and I was pretty bummed that it got pushed back and pushed back.”

There is more uncertainty surrounding this year’s MLB Amateur Draft then ever before in the event’s 56-year history. No firm date for the draft has been set and it may consist of as few as five rounds instead of the usual 40.

A limited draft will have a profound impact on college rosters at every level, but especially at D-I where more juniors may go undrafted and will return to school for their senior seasons. It will also mean more high school seniors will go undrafted so they will end up on campus instead of in minor league camps.

“I try not to worry about it too much, really,” Chadwick said of the questions surrounding the draft. “If I keep getting my schoolwork done I’ll be perfectly fine going out to West Virginia, or if I keep putting in the work at home on the mound we built and just keep trying, nothing but good things are going to come out of it.”

Reinhard felt like both Chadwick and Klassen would have benefitted greatly by playing a full PG Spring League season.

“I thought for both of their sakes the more people saw them the more their draft stock was going to improve,” he said. “Now, where they get drafted, I don’t know. I think they’re both million dollar arms and if that happens for them I think they’ll each have to look at their college situation and what they’re going to do.”

Reinhard then continued with his thoughts on Chadwick’s place in the pecking order if the draft is conducted: “I think it would be a mistake by any team to let him get below round three – he oozes upside and potential. … There’s a lot of growth to happen but there’s some electric things happening when he throws a baseball and there’s a long ways up to go. He’s going to be really, really, really good long-term.”

In the meantime, Chadwick will continue to work off of his homemade mound – even without a catcher – and with the helpful hints arriving from GRB’s coaching staff, he’ll make every attempt to continue his development.

He’s confident that if he keeps working out and working on his mechanics his fastball velo will continue to rise and he’s even prouder of the way his changeup and breaking ball continue to come along.

There’s another thing that Tyler Chadwick should be proud of, as well, and that’s his positive outlook during this new pandemic-induced reality that we’re all living in. Baseball is a game, after all, and should be treated as such.

“I always try to make the most fun out of any situation,” Chadwick said. “We can be down runs and I’ll be cheering and hollering like it’s a tie ballgame. I enjoy going everywhere and seeing new people, seeing new things and having fun playing the sport that makes me happy.

“I’m not going to let this little setback hold me down from anything,” he concluded. “I’m going to come running out of the gates as soon as it’s over.”

Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention, and Chadwick will continue to be creative right up until he can run through those open gates.

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