High School : : Rankings
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Regional HS Preview: Midwest

Frankie Piliere        
Photo: Perfect Game
2013 Perfect Game High School Baseball Preview Index

Midwest Region: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin

Growing Depth In The Midwest

It can be seen on the college level as much as the high school level that baseball in this part of the country is becoming more prominent. Now, that isn’t to say baseball hasn’t been a popular sport in the region - of course it has - but this year in particular we are seeing more premium level prospects emerge that could be impact players coming out of the June draft. And, the 2014 draft class doesn’t look to be any further behind this year’s group.

Given the climate, it will always be difficult for teams in this part of the country to generate the perennial powerhouse programs of the south, but at least on an individual level, the Midwest has a large number of talented players to be proud of this spring. And, in spite of the odds, states like Indiana and Kentucky are home to some of the elite players in the country. Trey Ball and Clinton Hollon are elite draft talents that are near the top of every scout’s list on a national level.

For the most part, however, the talent is pretty well dispersed across the region. We aren’t likely to see many scouting destination type matchups. What professional scouts will be given, however, is a vast array of high quality arms in just about every state in the Midwest. There are projectable left-handers, flame throwing right-handers, as well as underclassmen that figure to be among the elite in the next year or two.

Take Cameron Varga and Austin Havekost as examples. Varga is a 2014 right-hander who touched 94 mph at last year’s Perfect Game Junior National Showcase. Havekost is a 6-foot-3 right-hander who pitched at 88-93 mph at WWBA Underclass last fall. Both pitchers go to high school in Ohio. Given the presence of elite 2014 bat, Zach Shannon as well, Ohio is shaping up to be somewhat of a hot bed in the near future for elite talent. And, here in the 2013 class, they have two players listed among Perfect Game’s Top 200 High School prospects - left-hander Zach Farmer, and righty, Cory Wilder.

The states of Illinois and Indiana can also boast similar depth. And, that’s the theme we’re looking at in the Midwest this year. We’re seeing a continued emergence of talent, particularly on the pitching side. We may not be seeing the marquee matchups between powerhouse programs, but the level of talent spread around the region is very evident.

Midwest High School Dream Team

Based on present tools and position played for high school team

C - Chuckie Robinson, Sr., Danville (Ill.)
Robinson brings a number of different skills to the table. He has a strong, durable frame that seems to profile well behind the plate, and he also shows outstanding present power. He’s a player that has “now” offensive ability, but has the bat speed and approach at the plate to also continue to get better.

1B - Chad Spanberger, Jr., Granite City (Ill.)
First base is not Spanberger’s primary position right now, but is an option for him down the road. More importantly, he’s a deserving player for this team so this gives him that spot. Spanberger continues to show improvement at the plate and his 6-foot-3, 210 pound frame produces outstanding present power.

MIF - Connor Heady, Sr., North Oldham (Ky.)
Heady is not just one of the most well rounded players in the region, but also in the whole nation. He hits, shows power, is an outstanding middle infielder defender and has above average speed. And, given his young frame he’s also a player professional scouts can dream on. He’s primed for a huge spring in his senior year.

MIF - Josh VanMeter, Sr., Norwell (Ind.)
VanMeter had a big summer in 2012 in terms of impressing scouts with his left-handed bat. He’s a consistent hitter with a short, quick stroke and some power potential. He’s an Illinois State commit, but has the type of offensive skills and athleticism to attract a great deal of professional attention this spring.

3B - Bryce Only, Sr., Huntley (Ill.)
The 6-foot-1, 205 pound third baseman is a Nebraska commit with a high upside right-handed hitter. He showed good power potential over last summer and intriguing bat speed. He’ll be a sleeper to watch closely in terms of draft attention this spring, and he should also be primed for a big spring in terms of performance.

OF - Zach Shannon, Jr., Moeller (Ohio)
OF - Corey Ray, Sr., Simeon Career Academy (Ill.)
OF - Trey Ball, Sr., New Castle (Ind.)
This was a difficult part of the Dream Team to put together. Trey Ball’s two-way ability gives him a home in the outfield, but he clearly could have been one of the first two pitchers named to the team as well. But, he does have very intriguing offensive upside and has the arm strength to land himself an outfield spot. Corey Ray and Zach Shannon were slightly simpler decision. Shannon is shaping up to be one of the elite players in the 2014 draft class on the strength of his impressive right-handed power and hit tool. He also shows solid athleticism and some ability in the outfield. And, Ray’s outstanding athleticism, range, and speed make him the best pure defensive player included on this team. Andrew Benintendi out of Madeira High School in Ohio was also under consideration, as was Jordan Getzelman from Prairie Ridge High School in Illinois.

UT - Jarrett Montgomery, So., Lawrence Central (Ind.)
It’s very difficult to make a squad like this as a sophomore, but Montgomery shows that type of future potential, and more importantly, present ability. While his future is likely on the mound, Montgomery is also a very good athlete, running a 6.85 60 yard dash at last year’s National Underclass Showcase. He’s already working at 87-91 mph with his fastball, flashing some ability to spin a curveball and mix in a changeup.

P - Clinton Hollon, Sr., Woodford County (Ky.)
P - Andy Honiotes, Sr., Geneva Community (Ill.)
P - Hunter Green, Sr., Warren East (Ky.)
P - Zach Farmer, Sr., Piketon (Ohio)
P - Cameron Varga, Jr., Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (Ohio)
Pitching is the strength of the Midwest in 2013, and as a result there were a number of elite arms that had to be left of the list. 2015 standout Austin Havekost and his 93 mph makes a strong case to be included already, but we should probably get use to seeing him over the course of the next two years. And, Zach Burdi of Downers Grove South in Illinois would be also be among the next pitchers listed if we went beyond five pitchers deep on this team. He’s the brother of Nick Burdi, one of the hardest throwers in the country at the college level. Corey Wilder and left-hander Daniel Ayers also jockeyed for spots on this team. There is now very legitimate depth in this pitching department in this part of the country.

Clinton Hollon and Trey Ball are the two draft eligible stars of the region. And, clearly ball is an elite pitching prospect, but is an outfielder on this team simply to accommodate other deserving players. Hollon seems to have proven he’s fully healthy for the spring, touching 94 mph this winter. Andy Honiotes is of the region’s more well rounded pitchers, touching 92 mph with his fastball and mixing two variations of a very good breaking ball. His projectable 6-foot-3 frame is also very intriguing to scouts. Green and Farmer represent the Midwest’s two best southpaws, and both are highly projectable and touch the low 90s with their fastballs. As for Cameron Varga, he is well set to be an elite 2014 draft prospect, considering his 94 mph fastball. If the UNC commit can show consistency this spring, that status will only be further solidified.

Midwest Region Best Tools

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