Draft : : State Preview
Monday, May 20, 2013

MLB Draft Preview: Wisconsin

Patrick Ebert        
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.

Wisconsin State-by-State List

Although Wisconsin typically doesn't produce impact level talent that factors into the early rounds of the draft, 2013 could mark the second year in a row in which a player from the state is drafted in the top five rounds.  Slugging outfielder Nathan Mikolas was taken in the third round a year ago by the New York Yankees, and live-armed Wisconsin-Milwaukee closer Josh Uhen looks to match that round this year.
With very good size and the ability to routinely peak at 97 mph, reaching triple digits at times, Uhen offers a rare power arm from the state.  After Uhen the talent thins out considerably, although it does offer future promise amongst its prep crop, which includes a quartet of players with commitments to prominent D-I baseball programs.  This is notable considering the state has sent some of its top high school players to schools in other states only to be drafted in early rounds three years later, the most recent example being Adam Brett Walker, who was also selected in the third round a year ago (Twins) out of Jacksonville University.

 Josh Uhen
WEAKNESS: Prospects
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 2


BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Wisconsin Connection:
 Brad Schreiber, rhp, Purdue (Kimberly High School)
Top 2014 Prospect: Jeren Kendall, of, Holmen High School
Top 2015 Prospect: Brendan Meissner, rhp, West De Pere High School


Draft History: Kevin Brandt, of, Nekoosa HS (1979, Twins/1st round, 11th pick)
2008 Draft: Adam Frost, ss, St. Norbert’s College (Tigers/21st round)
2009 Draft: Kevin James, lhp, Whitefish Bay HS, Milwaukee (Rays/9th round)
2010 Draft: Tyler Jones, rhp, Madison JC (White Sox/21st round)
2011 Draft: Cody Koback, of, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (Red Sox/10th round)
2012 Draft: Nathan Mikolas, of, Kenosha Bradford HS (Yankees/3rd round)


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: None
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 2/1


GROUP 2 (rounds 4-10)

1. JOSH UHEN, rhp, Wisconsin-Milwaukee (RS So.)
Uhen underwent Tommy John surgery almost two years ago during his freshman year in March of 2011.  That injury coincided at a similar time when Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg also had the same procedure, and Uhen was placed on almost the identical rehab and strengthening program.  The results were very encouraging, as Uhen responded by flirting with triple digits upon his return last spring, something he continues to do, although he tossed only 12 1/3 innings during his red-shirt freshman season.  With an incredibly live arm and good feel for his breaking pitch, Uhen routinely peaks at 97 mph during his relief appearances for Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He quickly passes the eye test as an athletic, well proportioned 6-foot-4, 205-pound righty that has no shortage of arm speed.  The biggest problem for scouts is having the opportunity to see him pitch.  He serves as his team's closer, and is used strictly in a short relief role with no set schedule as to when he's expected to take the mound, appearing once or twice a week for a team, and in a conference (Horizon League), that doesn't boast much draftable talent.  He has four saves in 20 appearances, all out of the bullpen, with a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings of work.  He has allowed only 14 hits, and he's struck out 18 batters, but he has also walked 21.  Most are willing to look past his control problems, hoping it resolves itself over time as he's fully recovered from surgery, given how seemingly effortlessly hard he throws.  His size and stuff are simply too good to ignore, and he's expected to be drafted in the top 3-5 rounds.


JACOB SPARGER, rhp, Memorial HS (Eau Claire)
While traditionally not a talent-rich state when it comes to the draft, Wisconsin has provided prominent D-I programs from across country with talent in recent years.  Jacob Sparger (Louisville), Nick Kanavas (Arizona), Tony Butler (Virginia) and Evan Kruczynski (East Carolina) aren't expected to be selected in a signable round this year, but could be names to watch three years from now coming out of college.  Sparger offers the most upside of this group.  At 6-foot-5, 180-pounds, he oozes projectability, with a very loose and clean arm action that makes it easy to envision an increase from his current upper-80s velocity in 2-3 years as he continues to mature physically.  In addition, Louisville has a knack for developing young arms which also plays in his favor.
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