High School : : General
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Regional HS Preview: Great Plains

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game



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2018 Perfect Game High School Preview Index


Top 10 Great Plains Region High Schools

Rk. Nat'l School '17 Rec. '17 Finish
1 45 Jefferson City (Mo.) 31-2 MSHSAA Class 5 State Champs
2 NR Christian Brothers (Mo.) 12-15-1 No Playoffs
3 NR Waconia (Minn.) 26-0 MSHSL 3A State Champs
4 NR Pine Creek (Colo.) 13-7 CHSAA 5A Region 2 State Semifinals
5 NR Lakeville North (Minn.) 23-7 MSHSL 4A 3rd Place
6 NR Paonia (Colo.) 25-0 CHSAA 2A State Champs
7 NR Millard South (Nebr.) 28-6 NSAA 1A State Finals
8 NR Westminster Christian (Mo.) 35-2 MSHSAA Class 4 State Champs
9 NR Cherry Creek (Colo.) 19-7 CHSAA State Playoffs
10 NR Norris (Nebr.) 24-5 NSAA Class B State Finalists

Nat’l denotes rank on the Preseason National High School Top 50

Great Plain Region (Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota)

The Great Plains Region encompasses huge amounts of real estate but not all of it is normally producing many baseball players. That doesn't seem to be the case this year, as every state, except the Dakotas, have players mentioned below.

Minnesota's PG All-American Seth Halvorsen is the best prospect in the region, although it may be a while before before scouts and coaches decide if he's a better pitcher or infielder, but he may not even be the best player in his state by the end of the spring. Precocious Minnesota sophomore Mac Horvath is a similarly talented two-way athlete and is already ranked sixth nationally in the 2020 class. Missouri junior catcher Kurtis Byrne is another young player who could make a big jump this spring and into the summer based on his early 2018 showing.

It should also be noted that the region lost one of its top players when Perfect Game All-American righthander Ian Bedell from Iowa graduated early to take his mid-90s fastball to Missouri, where he's already contributing for the Tigers early this spring.




Great Plains Region High School Dream Team

C – Kurtis Byrne, Jr., Christian Brothers HS, Chesterfield (Mo.)
An exceptionally strong athlete at 6-foot-1, 210-pounds, Byrne is the fifth-ranked catcher in the 2019 class per the PG rankings and the 75th-ranked player overall. He stands out on both sides of the ball, with a short and powerful righthanded swing at the plate and rapidly improving catching and receiving skills on defense and projects firmly to stay behind the plate as he matures. Byrnes is verbally committed to attend Indiana but will likely get plenty of interest from professional scouts.

1B – Justin Olson, Sr., Pine Creek HS, Colorado Springs (Colo.)
Olson has been a three-year starter for Pine Creek and led the state of Colorado in home runs with nine as a sophomore before hitting .396-5-19 in 15 games as a junior. He's a big and strong 6-foot-3, 215-pound lefthanded hitter who shows good barrel and strike zone control despite taking a very aggressive, power-oriented swing. Olson has also been a big standout at WWBA events, including hitting .375 with a pair of home runs at October's WWBA World Championship and hitting three home runs and driving in 10 runs at the 2017 PG 17u World Series. He is signed with Kentucky.

MIF – Mac Horvath, So., Century HS, Rochester (Minn.)
Horvath had a dominant freshman season on both sides of the ball, hitting .378-3-18 while going 5-1, 1.64 on the mound for Century High School. He's a potential five-tool player who already runs a 6.6-second 60-yard dash and throws in the upper-80s both from the mound and from shortstop and is sure to get better in every category as he matures physically. A North Carolina commit, Horvath is the sixth-ranked player in the PG 2020 national prospect rankings.

MIF – Will Duff, Jr., Springfield Catholic HS, Springfield (Mo.)
Duff is a very athletic middle-of-the-field player with big arm strength from both shortstop and from the outfield in addition to 6.81 speed in the 60-yard dash. He's a righthanded hitter with a simple, rotational swing with good bat quickness through the zone and solid gap-to-gap power. Duff was a second team All-State pick as a sophomore and already has a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. He's also a standout in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA.

3B – Brett Hammit, Sr., Nixa HS, Nixa (Mo.)
Hammit plays shortstop at Nixa High School and ran a 6.85 60-yard dash at the 2017 PG National Showcase but he projects as a third baseman at the next level defensively. His big tool is his righthanded bat speed and power potential, as he combines a very aggressive swing with plenty of lift with very solid barrel skills and pitch recognition. Hammit hit .451 with four home runs and 13 stolen bases as a junior and is signed with Nebraska.

OF – Christian Franklin, Sr., Rockhurst HS, Overland Park (Kan.)
Franklin is a quick-twitch athlete with very good strength in his firm 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame. While Franklin has plus running speed, his best tool is probably his righthanded bat, which is an aggressive high average line drive swing with plenty of bat speed. He is signed with Arkansas and is the 136th-ranked player in the PG 2018 class rankings.

OF – Levi Usher, Sr., Prairie HS, Fairfax (Iowa)
Usher is an exceptional raw athlete who is just beginning to learn the game and get more repetitions against high-level competition. He ran a scorching 6.24 60-yard dash at the 2017 PG Spring Top Prospect Showcase while throwing 96 mph from the outfield to highlight his base athleticism. Usher has good raw bat speed from the left side and as a lefthanded hitter he should be really able to take advantage of his speed when he hits the ball on the ground. A Perfect Game All-American, Usher is signed with Kirkwood CC.

OF – Tanner O'Tremba, Sr, Cherry Creek HS, Parker (Colo.)
O'Tremba has been a dominant three-year starter for Cherry Creek High School and hit .515-10-31 as a junior, running his three-year totals to .471-21-86 in 72 games. A tremendously strong 6-foot, 215-pound righthanded hitter, O'Tremba is a good athlete who runs a 7.0 60-yard dash, but will be limited to left field at the next level due to his throwing arm. He is signed with Texas Tech.

UT – Seth Halvorsen, Sr., Heritage Christian Academy, Plymouth (Minn.)
Halvorsen was a Perfect Game All-American last summer and is the top-ranked prospect in the region at 30th nationally. He came into the summer more as a primary shortstop in most evaluator's minds, with 6.64 speed in the 60-yard dash and middle-of-the-field athleticism, but improved significantly as a pitcher over the summer, ending it by striking out the side in the ninth inning to close out the PG All-American Classic. He is signed with Missouri but will be heavily scouted on both sides of the ball this spring.

SP – Riley Cornelio, Jr., Pine Creek HS, Monument (Colo.)
Cornelio is teammates with fellow All-Region standout Justin Olson, both at Pine Creek High School and for the Colorado Slammers travel team. He's a very athletic 6-foot-3 righthander who also is a standout middle infielder and hit .415 with nine doubles as a sophomore. Cornelio's works between an upper-80s fastball that has topped out at 91 mph to go with a mid-70s curveball and does a very good job for his age of throwing strikes. He is verbally committed to Texas Christian.

SP – Hayden Juenger, Sr., Christian Brothers HS (Mo.), O’Fallon (Ill.)
Juenger is a two-way player in high school with an athletic 6-foot, 170-pound build who hit .349 with 23 RBI for Christian Brothers High School along with going 7-2, 2.20 with 62 strikeouts in 63 innings as a junior. He worked in the 90-93 mph range at the recent PG National Indoor Showcase and showed a sharp breaking and deep slider in the low-80s as well. Juenger has the advantage of having All-Region catcher Kurtis Byrne behind the plate at Christian Brothers to handle his stuff. He is signed with Missouri State.

SP – Aidan Maldonado, Sr., Rosemount HS, Rosemount (Minn.)
Like fellow All-Region pitcher Hayden Juenger, Maldonado isn't a big athlete but he has a powerful right arm and an already advanced feel for the strike zone. The 6-foot righthander had his national coming out party at last October's WWBA World Championship when competing for the Reds Scout Team, working in the 89-94 mph range in a highly scouted game against Team Elite while showing a hard low-80s breaking ball. Maldonado is signed with Illinois and is the 166th-ranked player in the PG 2018 national rankings.

SP – Kayden Seriani, Sr., Paonia HS, Paonia (Colo.)
Seriani is a very athletic 6-foot-3, 190-pound two-way talent who has very limited exposure nationally but is well known and very well liked by four corners scouts. He lives well off the beaten path in a small town of less than 2,000 residents in Western Colorado and completely dominates the competition in that region. Serefini went 10-0, 0.75 on the mound last spring, with 125 strikeouts in 56 innings, featuring a fastball that will touch 92-93 mph to go with an upper-70s sharp curveball. He also hit .553-9-40 after hitting .537-13-47 as a sophomore. Seriani is signed with Grand Canyon.

SP – Sam Wibbels, Jr., Hastings HS, Hastings (Neb.)
Wibbels did an outstanding job last summer of learning to repeat his delivery and command the strike zone while also seeing his fastball consistently move into the low-90s to go with a hard slurve-type breaking ball and a firm changeup. He also has significant deception to his delivery and hitters don't see the ball well. At his last three PG tournaments, including the January WWBA MLK event in Arizona, Wibbels has struck out 31 hitters in 17 innings while allowing only four hits. He is an outstanding student who is verbally committed to Kentucky.


Great Plains Region Top Tools 


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