The second GEICO City Series recently took place in Milwaukee, Wis. at the new turf field for MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering) bringing four talent-laden squads with it. The teams that participated included the Hitters (Wisconsin), Indiana Bulls, Cangelosi Sparks (Illinois) and St. Louis Gamers. The four teams played in a round robin format, playing each other once before third-place and championship matchups were established. Those two games were televised nationally on ESPNU.

While several players stood out (as detailed below) there are two potential early-round candidates for next year’s draft, currently expected to take place in early June, 2021. Hitters shortstop Noah Miller and Indiana Bulls outfielder JD Rogers both displayed high-level tools, and not surprisingly both have committed to play for equally high profile SEC programs.

JD Rogers, OF, Indiana Bulls (Vanderbilt)

The hit tool stands out the most with Rogers, taking consistently competitive at-bats while serving as the Bulls’ leadoff hitter. He’s at his best making hard contact up the middle and to the opposite field with a knack for squaring up the baseball, giving him a true gap-to-gap hitting approach with a keen eye. In the championship game he just missed sending a ball over the right field fence, driving the baseball high and deep but falling just short. It was the most impressive ball he put in play during an event that he was pretty well dialed in, and overall in four games he went 6-for-13 (.462) with three RBI and three runs scored. He has good foot speed (4.12 home-to-first time) and quickness. Rogers also had the defensive play of the series, firing a strike to home plate to nail a runner well before he reached home on a sacrifice fly attempt, again during the championship game. It’s a near five-tool package depending on how much the hit tool develops and he could make an immediate impact at Vanderbilt if he doesn’t sign out of high school for the 2021 MLB Draft.

The above video Tweet refers to the defensive play/throw Rogers made in the championship game.

Max Clark, OF, Indiana Bulls (Vanderbilt)

A 2023 grad, making him a high school sophomore for the 2020-21 school year, Clark is already committed to Vanderbilt thanks to a wiry strong 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame, quick-twitch actions and whippy bat. He projects in all phases in the game and it’s exciting to think about what he could be two years from now heading into his senior year when he likely will be 20 (or more) pounds heavier, and stronger. The bat speed is evident, putting good swings on the ball with the ability to consistently square the ball up. He had a stolen base against a strong-armed catcher (Ty Batusich) and ripped a double in a 2-for-3 effort with two runs scored and three RBI against the Gamers. Clark is a very exciting prospect and one of the top overall prospects nationally in his class, making him a must follow between now and June 2023.

Carter Mathison, OF, Indiana Bulls (Indiana)

JD Rogers, Max Clark and Carter Mathison were all among the Bulls’ top hitters, and all three bat left-handed. Mathison has the best build currently, with a pro look to his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. He also took good at-bats every time he came to the plate, showing a good eye while taking some good hacks. He didn’t have an especially loud performance, but did record a few base hits, but the way he battled in the left-handed batter’s box and worked the count was notable. He’s committed in-state to Indiana where he could make an early impact with some middle-of-the-order run producing talents with a corner outfield profile.

Andrew Wiggins, OF, Indiana Bulls (Uncommitted)

Wiggins, like Clark, is a 2023 outfielder with some obvious athletic talent. He’s more of a work in progress as compared to Clark, but he also bats left-handed and took competitive at-bats. Wiggins has room to add a lot more strength with a slender and wiry strong 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame. He started the team’s second game in left field, giving Clark a break, and contributed in a big way by hitting a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth innings as part of a three-run inning in the Bulls’ 7-3 win over the Hitters.

Nate Dohm, RHP, Indiana Bulls (Ball State)

A still-projectable right-hander (6-4/210) with evident strength already in his frame, Dohm was one of the hardest throwers at the City Series, consistently throwing his fastball at 89 mph, sitting at 86-90, touching 91 a handful of times and he even grabbed a 92. His command wasn’t especially sharp in this game but he flashed moments of promise, grabbing a corner in the second inning with a 91 mph fastball while showing some feel for a curveball, a slider and a changeup. A couple of changeups, thrown at 78-79, dropped off the table while his 78 mph slider appeared to be the more promising of his two breaking pitches. His first inning in his start against the Cangelosi Sparks on the first day of the event went quickly, throwing a lot of strikes, but he started to get too much of the plate in the second inning leading to an abbreviate 1 2/3-inning appearance. He did throw another inning in the championship game on Saturday, giving up a run, and has some arm talent with a good frame making him an intriguing follow as a Ball State recruit.

Brady Linkel, RHP, Indiana Bulls (Ohio)

Linkel made a pair of relief appearances for the Bulls showing a strong arm, throwing 86-88 mph fastballs with a sturdy and strong 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. It’s easy to envision him throwing in the low-90s with some sink as he continues to add strength to his frame. He’ll need to tighten up his curveball, currently thrown in the low-70s, but there’s some definite feel to spin and he got some batters swinging over the top of it, including one for a strikeout. Added development, and more repetitions, should allow for that pitch to improve in time.

Ethan Bell, RHP, Indiana Bulls (Uncommitted)

Bell had one of the more impactful pitching performances for the Bulls, providing four key innings of relief against the Hitters in which he allowed just one run on four hits and a walk with five punchouts. His fastball ranged from 83-87 mph, throwing more at 85-86 in the early stages of his outing before settling in at 83-85, showing good run on the pitch. But the difference maker was his curveball. At first he didn’t appear to have much feel for the pitch, but when he did start throwing it well the opposing hitters took some ugly swings against it. He could vary the speed and shape on the pitch, throwing a harder, more slurvy version of the pitch in the mid- to upper-70s while throwing more of a true curve at 71-74. There’s some deception in his lower arm slot and created some timing issues by sequencing well between his fastball and breaking ball. He’s uncommitted, but that should change given how well he can spin it.

Andrew Dutkanych IV, RHP, Indiana Bulls (Vanderbilt)

The Bulls saved their hardest thrower, Dutkanych, for the championship game, and while it was only a two-inning appearance, he certainly set the tone early against a tough Cangelosi Sparks team. With an already strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, the sturdy right-hander is a 2022 grad committed to national powerhouse Vanderbilt. Physically he resembles another hard-throwing right-hander with ties to Indiana, Jack Perkins, and while he doesn’t throw quite as hard, his fastball was comfortably thrown in the 88-91 mph range touching 92. His fastball can flatten out, making it’s velocity more important, as he was hit around a little in his second inning of work before a big defensive play by center fielder JD Rogers got him out of the jam.

There’s a good foundation for a 70-74 mph curveball as his best ones appeared to be thrown as he was warming up, and he mostly stayed away from hitters with a low-80s slider rather than challenging them with it. He’s still young with an already strong frame and room for added strength. Combining that with the fact that he throws 3-4 pitches gives him considerable upside.

Eric Orloff, LHP, Cangelosi Sparks (Arizona)

Taking the ball in their first game of the City Series, Orloff is a well-built left-hander and Arizona recruit who provided five shutout innings as part of a 7-1 win over the eventual event champion Indiana Bulls. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds he has good size and worked between a 85-87 mph fastball that touched 88 and a 69-72 mph curveball to record outs, four of which were strikeouts. He commands the fastball well and his success is predicated off of the pitch. He moves the ball around and is always in or around the zone with his heater, effectively grabbing corners. He uses his curveball, a big, slow breaker, to drop it in for strikes. It hangs at times, and since it doesn’t have power velocity it can be hittable, but when he’s sequencing well, as he was in this game, he’s efficient and effective.

Grant Holderfield, LHP, Cangelosi Sparks (Indiana)

Holderfield got the ball to start the championship game against the Indiana Bulls and from the early going it looked as though the Bulls might be in for a long day until the wheels fell off in the third inning. For the first two frames he was sharp, a left-hander with a lower, slinging slot that produced 84-87 mph fastballs that peaked at 88. He also threw a 77 mph slider and showed the ability to spin both his fastball and breaking ball well. He commanded both pitches and showed an athletic, repeatable delivery, tunneling well and maintaining his arm action/speed making it that much more difficult to pick up his pitches. The slider, which had some slurve-type break to it, is a really sharp pitch when thrown well, with two-plane break that induced several weakly hit ground balls. He struck out three batters in his three innings with four groundouts and a fly out.

Jared Comia, OF, Cangelosi Sparks (Illinois)

With a strong, sturdy build, Comia offers an intimidating presence in the left-handed batter’s box and created some loud contact on more than one occasion. In the Sparks’ second game he hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field, just missing getting all of the ball for a big fly, and in the championship game he had a pair of hard-hit singles, one of which was off of hard-throwing Indiana Bulls starter Andrew Dutkanych IV to right field. His size limits his profile to a corner outfield spot or first base, but as a left-handed hitter (and thrower) he offers considerable offensive upside.

Jack Lausch, OF, Cangelosi Sparks (Uncommitted)

With a still-projectable 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame, it’s easy to dream on Lausch, a tall and angular center fielder who spent all four games as the Sparks’ leadoff hitter despite being a 2022 grad. He had two base hits in four games – one of which was a two-run triple – scored three times, drove in three runs with two walks and a stolen base. That’s a pretty good weekend for a high school junior, and there’s more power to the swing as he’s mostly a line drive hitter at this point in his career. He runs well and has long, graceful strides in center field. He’s currently uncommitted but that could change at any time and he could draw some Steve Finely comparisons given his stature and toolset.

Ty Batusich, C, Cangelosi Sparks (Western Kentucky)

Batusich was one of the more interesting players to watch at this event, built tall and strong with obvious strength throughout his frame. A left-handed hitter at the plate, he had a clear plan when he stepped into the batter’s box taking pitches until he got something he felt he could drive hard to the gaps and showed well in BP. Although he didn’t fill up the box score with gaudy offensive numbers, his biggest tool is his arm strength, recording a 1.94 POP time in the championship game to nail a speedy runner and he appeared to do a good job overall handling the Cangelosi pitching staff.

Nate Voss, C, Cangelosi Sparks (Michigan)

Voss gives the Sparks two strong-armed catchers, although he did spend most of the summer playing with the team’s 16u Black team as a member of the class of 2022. He more than held his own at this event, recording a 1.98-second POP time while showing good lateral movements. His biggest hit came against the Hitters, a booming double to left-center field that just missed clearing the fence, a pitch he really got a hold of and one of the hardest hits balls during the entire event. He added a sac fly in the championship game and showed an advanced approach at the plate with the ability to handle and adjust within an at-bat. There’s clear strength in his compact frame, using his lower half well into his swing. Voss is committed to Michigan a program that always keeps close tabs on Chicago area prospects.

The Sparks had several of their 16u players playing up for this event, including Voss, Lausch, Jimmy Rolder (who hit the only home run in the event), Julius Sanchez, Jayden Comia and CJ Byrdak, pointing to continued bright future for their 17u squad looking ahead to next year.

Mark Brannigan, OF, Cangelosi Sparks (Uncommitted)

Brannigan is the type of player you root for. Currently uncommitted with a very slender 6-foot-1, 160-pound build, Brannigan has some tools and clear skill in playing the game of baseball. His best pure tool is his arm, firing an absolute laser in the championship game while showing good wheels and a line drive swing path with a knack for making hard contact. He had four base hits in four games while playing right field. He’ll be playing in college somewhere, at some level, possibly as a walk on, but he’ll play.

Noah Miller, SS, Hitters (Alabama)

Miller certainly looks the part, with long, rangy limbs and somewhat of a look of an old-school ballplayer with athletic, lean proportions and easy, graceful actions. He moves well on his feet and especially stands out on defense. While his arm strength is average his accuracy is uncanny, consistently showing the ability to put the ball exactly where he wants to. That and the quickness of his transfer allows his arm to play up significantly. His creativity also stands out, twice making plays in the infield in which he changed directions, made 180-degree spins to throw a ball at a base the original throw was not intended, once doing so to get an unsuspecting runner and end the inning. His range, quickness and sure-handedness are all positive attributes.

Offensively Miller is a switch-hitter, and while he did not record a base hit in four games, he didn’t strike out and consistently took good at-bats while putting the ball in play. He hit two sacrifice flies deep to the gap in left-center field as a left-handed hitter and consistently showed that loft power the opposite way in game action. During BP he continued to hit the ball hard in the air, hitting a couple out completely, proof that that there is offensive upside to his game. He looked better swinging left-handed and obviously gets more at-bats from the left side of the plate. His brother Owen Miller was drafted in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Illinois State and has posted big numbers (.307-17-101) in two seasons in the minors, spending 2019 at the Double-A level.

Miller made two appearances on the mound out of the bullpen, once to end the bleeding in a rough game for the Hitters and the other time to close out a win in their second game against the St. Louis Gamers for third place. While his future is clearly as a shortstop his accuracy serves him well on the mound, using a lower, near sidearm slot to produce 82-84 mph fastballs with a sharp 75-76 mph curveball that has decent spin and downer shape.

Brady Counsell, 2B, Hitters (Minnesota)

Counsell, the son of Milwaukee Brewers Manager Craig Counsell, committed to Minnesota shortly after the event and it was interesting that he was previously uncommitted prior to that given his skill-set. Like his father, Brady has a slender build with a high waist, long, wiry strong limbs and makes all of the plays defensively. At second base he’s as steady as they come, giving the Hitters a really impressive middle infield tandem with teammate Noah Miller. There’s enough range and arm strength to believe he could play shortstop at the college level. At the plate Counsell employs an inside-out swing looking to shoot the ball to the opposite field gap in right-center field as a right-handed hitter. Saying that, his best hit in four games with a two-run double that he pulled to the corner in left field, showing the hand strength and bat speed to yank a hanging breaking ball down the third base line. While there isn’t much power to his swing he’s also not going to strike out very much while consistently taking competitive at-bats and swiping a handful of bases once he reaches.

Luke Nowak, OF, Hitters (East Carolina)

Nowak is tailor-made for the leadoff spot, going 4-for-11 in four games with a pair of walks, five stolen bases and three runs scored. He’s a left/left athlete, and has a clear understanding of what he’s capable of and maximizes his offensive potential with his approach. He looks to put the ball in play, with somewhat of a slap-and-dash approach, hitting the ball to the opposite field, and on the ground, using his speed to reach base. Once he reaches the first-step quickness is once again evident and he stole three bases in the Hitters’ third-place game on the final day of the event. There isn’t a lot of power to his profile but in BP he showed the ability to drive the ball to the gaps and with his speed and aggressive baserunning he can stretch extra bases. He’s an asset defensively in center field and gives the Hitters a really strong defensive profile up the middle with Noah Miller and Brady Counsell at shortstop and second base, respectively.

Crayton Burnett, RHP, Hitters (Uncommitted)

Taking the ball in the very first game of the GEICO City Series in Milwaukee, Wis. for the Hitters was 2021 right-hander Crayton Burnett. Burnett ended up coming out on the sunny side of a pitcher’s duel, delivering a complete game (7 innings) shutout, allowing just two hits without issuing a walk and striking out six. He was really in command all game, inducing a key double play ground ball in the one inning he faced the most adversity. He has broad shoulders with a well-tapered build at a listed 6-foot, 170-pounds, pointing to some possible strength gains and subsequent velocity gains over the next year or more. He threw his fastball consistently at 82-85 mph with good spin to the pitch, mixing in a solid low-70s curveball that he commanded well and sequenced nicely with his fastball. He threw a lot of strikes and was consistently in and around the zone. While the overall profile isn’t loud he clearly knows how to pitch and should get a chance to pitch somewhere at the college level.

Jayden Gonzalez, 3B, Hitters (Uncommitted)

Gonzalez stood out at the City Series for providing five base hits in 11 at-bats spanning four games for the Hitters showing a mostly pull approach and a knack for squaring up fastballs. He’s not overly big or physical (5-8/165) and appeared to be rather raw on defense, but did display a strong enough arm for the position. A right-handed hitter with the ability to hit fastballs consistently hard makes him an intriguing follow onto the next level. Gonzalez is currently uncommitted.

Tyler Macon, IF/OF, St. Louis Gamers (Uncommitted)

Macon’s energy for the game jumped out at me in the very first inning of the very first game played at the City Series in Milwaukee. At this point in time he’s an athlete with a good feel for hitting, showing good bat speed in his very first at-bat by smoking a double to the gap and letting his speed take him to second base. He added a stolen base in that first game and went 1-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and a walk in his second game, showing good speed out of the box to beat out an infield hit. There’s a bounce in his step with quick-twitch fiber to his frame, although he appears to play the game a little recklessly at times. He played left field and second base with the kind of athleticism that would allow him to play a few different positions as needed. He’s currently a high school sophomore and a name to watch.

Markell Dixon, RHP, St. Louis Gamers (Southern)

Dixon is a live-bodied, live-armed right-hander who came out firing 87 mph fastballs. He sat in the 86-87 range and touched 88 during his 4 1/3-inning start against the Cangelosi Sparks, striking out seven, and pitched well until the team gave up a five-spot in the fifth. His 72-77 mph curveball showed good promise, with good spin and break to hit, although it could use more shape and overall consistency. However, he was able to grab strikes with it at both the lower and higher velocity bands, giving the pitch promise. Dixon’s velocity should increase as he continues to mature physically and add strength.

Cam Loyd, RHP, St. Louis Gamers (Uncommitted)

Loyd was an interesting pitcher that caused a few scouts to ask one another who he was since his name/number didn’t appear on the Gamers event roster. He came on in relief in the first game of the event and tossed a scoreless inning as part of a 1-0 loss, striking out one of the three batters he faced. His fastball peaked at 87 mph but that almost seemed irrelevant considering Loyd threw almost entirely curveballs. And he really knows how to spin it, sitting at 73-76 with the pitch and throwing one after the other. It had sharp break, sometimes slurve-like considering the two-plane movement, but the opposing hitters were completely uncomfortable trying to put a swing on the pitch.