Tournaments | Story | 9/2/2019

Midwest Labor Day Scout Notes

Nate Schweers         Taylor Weber         Ben Milks        
Photo: Hayden Christiansen (Perfect Game)

The 2019 WWBA Midwest Labor Day Classic took over Prospect Meadows in Marion, Iowa, and the Sophomore division featured home runs, no-hitters and plenty of notable performances. Here are some of the prospects that stood out over the four days of action.

Sam Harris (2023, Urbandale, Iowa) has had one of the more impressive weekends at the plate, showing off some present bat speed and a well-rounded hit tool. Harris opened eyes immediately on Friday night, collecting a pair of extra-base hits. After showing some present power to and through the opposite gap with a three-run triple, the lefthanded hitter stung a ball deep to the center field wall for a double. A recent attendee of the 14u National Showcase, Harris is a name to keep an eye on in the 2023 class.

Hitters 2022 Navy collected a pair of wins Saturday morning, large in part to the excellent pitching performances of Mason Buss (2022, Pewaukee, Wis.) and Hunter Schmidt (2022, Grafton, Wis.). Buss tossed a five-inning complete game in the opener, collecting eight strikeouts and allowing just one hit. Buss showed excellent command of the fastball at 79-81 mph and mixed speeds well with a sweeping curveball at in the upper-60s.

In the second game, Schmidt tossed an impressive five-inning, no-hitter and the righthander struck out nine batters. Schmidt attacked hitters with a fastball at 79-83 mph and worked exclusively off that impressive fastball for the majority of the outing. Schmidt has a slender frame that has plenty of room to fill out and add strength, with the development of a breaking pitch being a key to long-term success.

Mason Behn (2022, Cedar Rapids, Iowa) showed a lot of things to like in a start for Iowa Select 2022 Gutwiler on Saturday, scattering four hits while striking out nine batters. Behn has a physical frame, creating good linear direction down the mound before throwing from a deceptive mid three-quarters slot. Behn sat in the low-80s topping at 82 mph with the fastball. The righthander has good feel to spin a sweeping curveball with big shape and break and locates both pitches with consistency.

Hayden Christiansen (2022, Spring Grove, Ill.) is another name to watch at the plate and the Xavier commit has showed some excellent bat-to-ball skills throughout the entire tournament. Christiansen put an impressive swing on a fastball in his first at-bat of the weekend, driving a ball to wall in right field for a three-run triple. Christiansen has a strong build with some impressive power to the opposite field and the Top 1000 player in the 2022 class has been a staple in the middle of the order for what is a great Hitters 2022 Navy team.

Marcus Beatty (2022, Independence, Iowa) has had a strong Labor Day Classic, collecting three hits, including a rocket double to the wall in left field in one of his first at-bats of the weekend. Beatty has some present strength in the 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame and uses a direct path to contact to get the hands extended and drive the ball to the pull side. Beatty shows some present bat speed and the power when squared makes him a great candidate to hit in the middle of the order.

Keegan Knutson (2022, Janesville, Wis.) is another player that has impressed at the plate, highlighted by a 3-for-4 effort in a quarterfinal victory for Hitters 2022 Navy. Knutson shows a high motor, collecting a hustle double in his first at-bat. The righthanded hitter and South Carolina commit has quick hands and a line drive barrel plane, showing excellent bat-to-ball skills at the top of the order. However, Knutson’s value to the game can be found on the basepaths as well. Knutson is constantly looking to take an extra base and that effort leads to defensive mistakes and increased run production out of the leadoff spot. A primary third baseman, Knutson is currently ranked as Perfect Game’s 181st-best player in the 2022 class.

Michael Lippe (2022, Whitefish Bay, Wis.) continues to show why he is one of the more high-level talents in the 2022 class. A Louisville commit and Top 30 player in the 2022 class nationally, Lippe turned heads with a roped single through the middle of the field on Sunday.  Lippe has a physical and athletic frame, swinging with intent to drive the baseball. A primary center fielder, Lippe has a looming and strong presence in the box, showing excellent discipline and barrel control.

Justin Hackett (2022, Winterset, Iowa) was impressive in his start on Sunday, allowing just two hits and striking out eight batters over five scoreless innings. Hackett has an athletic frame with plenty of room to add strength, and has a clean arm path from a high three-quarters slot. Hackett featured excellent command of the fastball at 80-84 mph and used a heavy dose of it to attack hitters in the zone. Similar to Hunter Schmidt, the development of a breaking ball can be a large key to increased success and Hackett is a name to follow in Iowa’s 2022 class.

Dillon Kuehl (2022, Urbandale, Iowa) was arguably the most impressive hitter statistically this weekend, collecting five hits, three extra-base hits, including a home run, and six RBI. Kuehl has a physical frame with present strength in the lower half, and showed an impressive ability to drive the ball the other way with a double off the wall in left field. Kuehl was the MVP of the Iowa Sticks Scout Sorge quarterfinal victory, highlighted by a three-run home run in his second at-bat.

Kuehl also flashed some projection on the mound in the playoffs. Kuehl attacked hitters with a low-80s fastball, topping at 85 mph. With a 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame, Kuehl gets down the mound with authority, showing a clean arm path and the ability to locate to both edges. Kuehl also flashed developing feel for a breaking ball at 69-72 mph and that mix of speeds was a good wrinkle to keep hitters off-balance.

– Nate Schweers

There were quite a few new faces attending the Freshman WWBA Midwest Labor Day Classic out at the Prospect Meadows Complex over the extended weekend. For many players this was their first Perfect Game appearance. The tournament got started on Friday night with four games to open the event.

Gage Mollendor (2023 Johnston, Iowa) had a solid weekend for Iowa Select 2023 Oberthien and it started in game one. He scored a key run in the second inning to tie the game. Mollendor is a solid 6-foot, 160-pounds and projects well as a righthanded hitter. He employs a naturally elevated swing path through the zone and really looks to get the barrel head out and turn, driving the ball well to the pull side of the field. He drove a ball deep into the left field corner for a double. Two hitters later he came across to score.

In their second game of the tournament Mollendor drove in a run and scored a run in their 16-9 victory to move 1-0-1. Although Iowa Select would drop a game in their playoff appearance, Gage had another solid game. Finishing the tournament with four hits in 11 trips to the plate, including a walk, Mollendor was able to add a couple of RBI in their lone loss of the event.

Pierce Anderson (2023 Johnston, Iowa) took the mound for the same Iowa Select team on Friday night. Anderson has a large 6-foot, 190-pound frame with plenty of Perfect Game experience on the bump. He employs a simple and fluid delivery down the mound with a clean arm action and into a three-quarters slot at release. His fastball generates solid downhill plane at 79 mph and he’s able to mix in a curveball with depth. As he continues to mature he will develop more feel for the zone as well as a jump in velocity. Anderson went just a couple innings to control his pitch count and would get a no decision.

Korver Hupke (2023 Independence, Iowa) was a dominant force in Iowa Select’s 16-9 victory. He really manipulates the barrel well and was finding hard, squared contact throughout each and every at-bat. Hupke single-handedly won the game for the Select team as he drove in five total runs, going 3-for-4.

The Minnesota Starters 15u announced themselves early in the tournament and would be a force all the way up to the semifinal game. They grabbed an early 9-6 victory in game one with the help of their two- and three-hole hitters. Jaden Case (2023 Shakopee, Minn.) was a key factor in the long run over the weekend. He ended the tournament with a .500 on base percentage and collected five hits in 12 trips to the plate. He has a short and compact hand path into contact with strong feel for controlling the barrel and squaring up the ball with consistency for a high contact approach. Case got things going early in the first game with a single and would later come around to score.

Driving Case in was strong hitting Nolan Eischens. Eischens was very good in the game grabbing three hits in three trips to the plate with a pair of doubles. He drove in two runs in the game and scored one himself. Eischens utilizes a long and linear drift into looking to drive the ball in the air with a lot of strength generating off the back-side. As he continues to mature and add strength he should become a solid impact hitter with an already fluid swing at the plate.

The Iowa Sticks 2023 moved into the second round on the back of seven-hole hitter Jack Lilla (2023 Waukee, Iowa), who had an outstanding game when they needed it most. Lilla is an athletic 5-foot-11, 190-pounder with a solid lower half. He works well into contact with rotational style actions and looks to create lifted contact out in front. He’s aggressive early in counts and really wants to get something he can pull. Lilla ended 2-for-3 with a couple singles and two runs driven in.

Elijah Rambo (2023 Hudson, Wis.) was a big factor in the Sandpipers 2023 success over the weekend. He really shined in their playoff game on Sunday where he went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. Rambo has a good mix of athleticism and strength at 6-foot-1, 190-pounds. Rambo is a solid prospect at the plate who really impressed throughout the weekend. He swings the bat with intent generating high-end barrel speed through the zone. He currently has some barrel feel and when he’s able to find solid contact he creates very loud contact with a lot of carry to the deep parts of the field.

The Hitters 2023 team was one of the favorites coming into the event and they didn’t disappoint, taking home the gold with a 5-0 record. Heading into their first playoff they tossed a solid righthander in Evan Shapiro (2023 Wauwatosa, Wis.). Shapiro has a very projectable 6-foot-4 frame with plenty of room to fill out. He works through a smooth and easy-paced delivery into a tall and high three-quarters arm slot creating good angle to the plate. His fastball runs up to 81 mph while sitting mostly 76-79 with more to come moving forward. He struggled with his feel for the zone early but really settled in and worked both edges of the plate well adding nine strikeouts through his five innings of shutout baseball while not allowing a single hit.

– Taylor Weber

Working four innings for 17u Millers-Mossey was Gunnar Goodwin (2021 Orono, Minn.), and in those four innings of work Gunnar was able to scatter six hits while striking out seven batters. The lanky 2021 grad showed a smooth delivery down the mound with good arm speed from a three-quarters slot. He flashed a fastball with late arm-side run up to 86 mph complemented by a 11-to-5 breaking ball with sharp break and good depth creating swing-and-miss up to 68 mph.

Recent Kirkwood commit Reece Beuter (2020, Cedar Falls, Iowa), an athletic 2020 grad, continued his quick rise this fall with an impressive 3 1/3 innings of work for Iowa Select 2020 Nordgren/Brune. Reece was able to fan eight batters while only allowing two hits. Beuter features a fastball with good control of both sides of the plate up to 87 mph to go along with a sharp 11-to-5 breaking ball creating empty swings at 75 mph. He also showed the ability to run the fastball by hitters when thrown up in the zone.

Andrue Henry (2020, Dubuque, Iowa) enjoyed a big weekend at the plate and on the mound. The Kirkwood commit put together a tournament-long batting average of .533, collecting eight hits with two doubles to go along with seven RBI and three runs scored on his way to being named the MVP of the Upperclass division. Henry features a naturally elevated barrel path with present power to all fields showing the power multiple times throughout the weekend with loud contact. On the mound Andrue tossed a five-inning complete game shutout while striking out 11 batters and scattering two hits.

Caden Stoffer (2021, Fairfax, Iowa) is a long and lanky 2021 grad that showed present arm speed from a high three-quarters slot to go along with an athletic, smooth delivery down the mound getting extended out front well while creating deception to the hitters. The Hawkeye commit worked four innings while only allowing five hits and striking out four batters. Stoffer showed a fastball with a sharp downhill plane up to 85 mph complemented with a polished 11-to-5 breaking ball creating swing-and-miss up to 69 mph.

Tyler Tscherter (2020, Reinbeck, Iowa) was impressive on the mound Monday working three innings while only allowing three hits and striking out five. The recent Kirkwood commit uses an interesting low three-quarters slot with present arm speed creating a lot of movement on all three pitches. Tscherter features a fastball with heavy arm-side run up to 86 mph complemented by a sharp slider creating swing-and-miss at 78 mph and a fading changeup at 74 mph. Tyler also showed smooth fielding actions in the infield and outfield making impressive plays consistently throughout the weekend.

Luke Nowak (2021 Menomonee Falls, Wis.) enjoyed a loud weekend at the plate. Nowak collected seven hits on the weekend on his way to a .538 batting average and tournament MVP honors of the Underclass division. Nowak employs a gap-to-gap approach with good barrel control and present power. The 2021 grad collected five extra-base hits on the weekend including three doubles, a triple and a loud home run in the third game of the weekend.

– Ben Milks

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