See also: Hitters Invite Assembles Midwest’s Best
The Hitters Invite was played at the Woodside Sports Complex in Mauston and the Wisconsin Dells. Five different organizations – the host Hitters, GRB, Stiks, Rake City and Cangelosi Sparks – brought teams from four different high school age levels to play in a round robin event. Each team played two games per day over the weekend for four games total giving a good look at each team’s entire roster. Below I will share some of my scouting takeaways from this event.
Crayton Burnett, RHP, 2021, Uncommitted
Listed at 6-foot, 170-pounds, Burnett isn’t overly physical but he really knows how to pitch. The Hitters 2021 squad saved him for their evening matchup against Stiks Academy, and similar to the last time I saw Burnett – when he threw a complete game shutout against the St. Louis Gamers at the GEICO City Series – he went the distance without allowing a run. He’s not overpowering, working in the mid- to upper-80s while mixing in a big, slow bender. The curveball is a tantalizing pitch and one he can drop in for strikes in pretty much any count/situation. He also threw a harder breaking ball at 77 mph, one I don’t remember seeing in his previous outing, that had more slurve-like break while also giving him a distinct third pitch. He struck out 11 in this outing, giving him 17 punchouts over 14 shutout innings the last two times I have seen him. I don’t think he’ll remain uncommitted for much longer.
The Hitters 2021 club has a handful of effective pitchers after Burnett. Tyler Peck, an Ohio commit, did a nice job alternating between his 80-82 mph fastball and 71-73 sweeping breaking ball. Minnesota recruit Seth Claussen sat in a similar velocity range as Burnett, 86-87, also throwing an effective curveball at 73 mph. Tommy Meyer, a left-hander committed to Northern Illinois, sat 79-81 mph and commanded his fastball well.
Noah Miller, SS, 2021, Alabama
Miller was covered in great detail from the GEICO City Series and he continues to shine defensively at this event, making numerous high-level plays from the shortstop position. The highlight was a play in which he ranged up the middle to make a diving stop on a bullet hit right up the box, popped up, spun and fired a strike to first base for the out. At the plate he appeared to be staying on top of the ball more rather than trying to loft it deep to the outfield. The result was some loud contact from both the right- and left-handed batter’s box.
Brady Marget has serves as the cleanup hitter for the Hitters 2021 squad, batting behind their 1-2-3 of Luke Nowak, Brady Counsell and Noah Miller. Marget is tall and angular with long, wiry strong limbs, making it easy to dream on what he could become physically at maturity. He gets good extension on his swing and displays a patient approach. Although he’s not overly physical at a listed 5-foot-9, 165-pounds, uncommitted second baseman Cole Smith does a lot of things well on the baseball field. A right-handed hitter, he has a direct, compact swing looking to make line drive contact to all fields. He displays good foot speed, nice range and soft hands and should be an asset for someone at the next level.
To read more on the Hitters 2021 top prospects view the report from the GEICO City Series Recap.
Mason Buss, RHP, 2022, Kansas State
Buss did what he usually does, sequencing well between his mid-80s (84-86) fastball and 76 mph breaking ball, exhibiting very good command while moving the ball around the strike zone. His fastball has good run, making it more difficult to square up, and he shows advanced command of his breaking ball in addition to being able to put his fastball where he wants. He was the Hitters 2022 Navy squad’s first starter of the event and allowed just one run in five innings of work. Buss committed to Kansas State roughly a week before this event.
Brady Banker, LHP, 2022, Uncommitted
Banker looks like a mirror image of Buss, a left-handed pitcher with almost the exact same physical profile. He doesn’t throw as hard as Buss, but Banker sat in the low-80s with his fastball and mixed in a promising upper-60s to low-70s curveball that he commanded well. It’s easy to envision him adding velo as he continues to add strength to his slender, athletic frame.
Luke Klekamp, RHP/C, 2022
With a few of the top players from the roster down south attending national-level showcases, the Hitters 2022 Navy squad turned to right-handed pitcher Luke Klekamp to handle some of their catching duties for them over the weekend. He showed pretty well at the position, including a 2.16 POP time. He took the mound on Sunday, throwing in the 79-81/82 range and has thrown harder than that in the past, with very good run on his moving fastball. He mixed in a breaking ball in the low-70s and appears to have some room to add strength, and likely subsequent velocity gains, as he matures.
Mitch Voit, RHP/OF, 2022, Michigan
On Saturday Voit really stood out for his athleticism, listed at 6-foot, 165-pounds on the Hitters roster, but he looks much more physical than what those numbers may suggest. With a tightly wound athletic frame full of quick-twitch fiber, Voit batter leadoff on the first day and showed a good approach at the plate, going with the ball while using his speed to reach base. It’s mostly a line drive swing but it’s easy envisioning him making a greater offensive impact as he continues to get bigger, as his body type suggests he’s not done filling out. When he took the mound on Sunday he threw one 87 mph fastball after the other, sitting at 84-87 during his outing while mixing in a sharp low- to mid-70s curveball. The arm strength is easy, and he has thrown harder at other events. With his physical projection it seems like he becomes an upper-80s hurler, touching the low-90s, in the not-so-distant future and that may not be the end of his eventual velocity gains. He’s committed to Michigan and has significant upside given his current talents and projection.
Jonathan Kim, OF, 2022, Uncommitted
Kim made hitting look easy from the left-handed batter’s box with a knack for getting the barrel of his bat on the baseball. He had somewhat of an inside-out swing with the ability to lace outside pitches the opposite way. Kim displayed solid foot speed and ran the basepaths well while also showing good range in center field and appeared to track the ball very well defensively. Physically there’s room to add strength in his 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame.
James Duncan, 1B/OF, 2022, Illinois State
Duncan certainly looks the part with a well-tapered 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame with broad shoulders that has a lot of room to add strength. He takes professional looking at-bats, working the count to get a pitch he likes and then has a smooth and direct, left-handed stroke he works well to the baseball. He has committed to play for Illinois State and it’s easy to see him developing more and more power production given his swing, approach and projection.
Boston Halloran, 3B, 2023, Uncommitted
The talent in the Hitters program continues with their 2023 team and Halloran stood out, particularly physically. Although he’s listed at 5-foot-10, 150-pounds, he looks like a football player with a noticeable, physical build. He took good swings at the plate and made loud contact creating good bat speed with the strength in his hands/wrights and forearms. He also displayed a strong arm and is a player to watch the next several years.
JT Kelenic, OF, 2023, Uncommitted
The younger brother of Jarred Kelenic, the sixth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, JT Kelenic is a different prospect physically, and has really started to come into his own. Listed at 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, Kelenic looks as though he could be a physical monster with very good size/strength already and a lot of room for more. In the team’s final game of the event he smoked a ball to left field that was caught for an out, but he really squared up the baseball and gave a glimpse of what kind of power could be coming during his sophomore year of high school.
Zachary Olson, RHP, 2023, Uncommitted
At 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, Olson screams projection, and it’s easy to envision a 6-4/185 physical profile during his senior year. He has a good arm, throwing 80-82 now with good feel for a 70 mph curveball, and those velocity numbers without a doubt are going to rise. More than anything else he needs experience, as he was getting hit a little hard despite throwing well for a high school sophomore. His individual pitches are good but an improved sequencing/command package will allow him to enjoy a lot more success.
Luke Schuyler (6-2/180) was another tall and lanky right-hander that threw for the HItters 2023 team with a similar overall package to Olson. Schuyler also played first base and showed some promise in the right-handed batter’s box.
Owen Murphy, RHP, 2022, Notre Dame
From a prospect perspective Murphy was the star of the Hitters Invite, especially considering he’s a high school junior from the class of 2022 playing with Rake City’s 2021 squad. He came out firing on the first day of the event, throwing 90-91 mph fastballs while touching 92 (with one scout saying they had a 93) while blowing the ball by batters. Murphy also mixed in a power 77 mph curveball giving him a true strikeout profile. He did get hit a little bit, as the command profile needs some work, but it’s a really exciting arm. Murphy also swung the bat and hit a few ball hard, including a rocket double to the gap in left-center, giving him some two-way upside at the next level. Considering he was throwing in the mid- to upper-80s a year ago it’s easy to envision Murphy throwing in the mid-90s, and possibly harder, during his senior year (if not sooner).
Estevan Moreno, SS, 2022, Notre Dame
Moreno gave the 2021 Rake City squad a pair of exciting young 2022 prospects. Moreno, like Murphy, is also a Notre Dame commit and shows well both at the plate and defensively at shortstop. He started the first game of the event at third base but really showed off his defensive talents in the second game at short. He made the “Jeter” play with a back-handed stop on a ball hit in the 5-6 hole and then fired a strike across the diamond to record the out at first base. The play was especially impressive considering his size, as he’s remarkably nimble on his feet despite a frame that resembles more of a third baseman. At the plate he has similar upside, with very good strength at impact. On the second day he clearly was locked in and waited for his pitch, driving a ball to the gap in left-center for a double with a simple flick of his wrists. Later in the day he launched an absolute bomb, almost hitting a ball “too high” for a big fly over the fence in left field, giving Moreno serious pull-side power.
Ryan St. Ledger, OF, 2021, Uncommitted
St. Ledger is an exciting player with a speed profile. He immediately opened eyes by hitting a laser back up the middle in his very first at-bat of the event an proceeded to swipe both second and third base. In Rake City’s second game of the day he made a really nice sliding/diving defensive play in center field to rob the batter of a bloop single. St. Ledger has recorded 6.4-second 60-yard dash times at other events with home-to-first times in the 4.10 to 4.15 range as a right-handed hitter. With broad shoulders and wiry strength currently it’s easy to envision him packing on some strength without losing speed. There’s some swing-and-miss and overall rawness to his profile currently, but he offers a high, athletic ceiling.
Ethan Glossa, C, 2021, Uncommitted
Glossa has a larger physical profile and certainly looks every part of a catcher. He has a strong arm with a quick transfer and moves pretty well. In the second day of action he hit a pair of hard-hit, line drive singles, really doing a good job to barrel up the baseball. Glossa provides a good presence in the batter’s box as a right-handed hitter and clearly has a plan at the plate.
Aidan Krupp, RHP, 2021, Notre Dame
Attending the Hitters Invite gave quite the preview to Notre Dame’s recruiting classes for the next two years, as Krupp is also committed to playing for the Irish. With a tall and sturdy 6-foot-3, 220-pound build, Krupp looks like the kind of pitcher Notre Dame develops. He settled into the 83-86 range with his fastball, touching 87. He also mixed in a 74-76 mph sweeping, slurvy curveball that showed good overall break, with solid command. The pitch could be tightened up and thrown better more consistently, but the foundation is there for it to be an effective second offering. He throws from a lower slot, falling off the mound a handful of times, with some funkiness to his delivery, which visibly created some deception and timing issues for opposing batters.
Rake City has two intriguing shortstop in Moreno and Jared Cortez. Cortez has some quick-twitch to his actions and overall physicality with great hands. His speed aids him well offensively and defensively and he could become a bigger threat at the plate with added strength. Krece Papierski quickly passed the eye tell with a strong and well-proportioned build and made loud contact on Sunday with a double he smoked to the gap. There’s intriguing physical projection in the frame of Matthew Michaels who took competitive at-bats from the left-handed batter’s box. He drilled a ball to the gap in left-center that kept carrying, showing strength to his swing and the ability to go with a pitch to the opposite field, with power. Right-handed pitcher Kade St. Ledger was able to miss bats with a 84-86 mph fastball and 73-77 mph breaking ball.
On the team’s 2022 squad right-hander Jack Niekrasz did a nice job changing speeds and missing bats over five innings in what turned out to be a hard-luck loss for Rake City. Niekrasz is clearly still growing with a tall and lanky, high-waisted build with long limbs. He was throwing 77 mph fastballs, but that’s going to change as he continues to fill out. He also showed good feel for a mid-60s curveball that he spun and commanded well. Rake City’s primary catcher on their 2022 team, Kyle Jannenga, drew attention with a sub 2.0-second POP in between innings. Third baseman Jake Munroe is built tall and strong, and like many of the 2021 Rake City players, he really filled out his uniform well.
The Rake City 2023 squad offered similar, intriguing talent. In the team’s first game of the event left-hander Evan Nieter took the mound and had success with an upper-70s fastball and a big-bending slow curveball that he did a nice job dropping in for strikes. With a tall, slender build he’s a player to monitor as he fills out as a junior and senior in high school. Again, similar to the program’s 2022 team, 2023 catcher Henry Wolfe showcased his big arm strength by gunning down a would-be base-stealer at third base by a wide margin.
Ryan Schneider, RHP, 2021, Evansville
Schneider was the first of several intriguing young arms to take the mound for an overall talented GRB squad. With a tall and slender, still-projectable frame, Schneider easily produced 86-87 mph fastballs and it’s clear there’s room for added strength and the velocity that comes with it. He also mixed in a 76-77 mph curveball, and the fact that he throws his curveball in the mid- to upper-70s also may suggest there may be more velocity gains to be made with his fastball. He shows good feel to spin his curveball, and commands the pitch fairly well. An Evansville commit, he’s definitely a name to watch moving forward.
Luc Fladda, LHP, 2021, Oklahoma
GRB had three St. Louis area natives on their 18u National roster – left-hander Luc Fladda, middle infielder Brock Daniels and catcher Shea McGahan – and both Fladda and Daniels are Oklahoma commits. Fladda took the mound to start GRB’s second game on Saturday and did a nice job commanding a low- to mid-80s fastball, that sat at 80-82 mph and had really good run to the pitch. He complemented his heater with a sharp 67 mph curveball that he consistently snapped off and commanded extraordinarily well, using both offerings to play off one another. His velos were down a hair from where he had been earlier in the summer, but that may simply be due to summer-long fatigue. Otherwise he had easy, repeatable mechanics and his arm worked well with a slender frame. It’s easy to envision him throwing in the mid- to upper-80s more consistently, possibly as early as the spring with a strong winter workout program.
Keagon Kaufmann, RHP, 2021, UW-Milwaukee
GRB’s third starter, Kaufmann has a stronger, more mature build that he used to produce 84-86 mph fastballs and an effective 78 slurvy curveball that he dropped in well for strikes. He used one such breaking ball to catch a batter looking and end the top of the first inning, otherwise he was efficient changing speeds and hitting his spots with his fastball while staying in and around the strike zone.
Andrew Brockwell, RHP, 2021, Western Kentucky
Brockwell was the second most intriguing pitching prospect to throw at the Hitters Invite after Rake City’s Owen Murphy, as Brockwell has an athletic frame and throws three distinct pitches for strikes. He came out firing 86-88/89 mph fastballs, doing a good job to command the strike zone and establish the strike zone early to set up his secondary pitches. His curveball was pitch No. 2, a sharp, short-breaking 73-75 offering that he could move around the strike zone while showing comfort throwing it just about anywhere he wanted to, and in any count. And then he pulled the string on a changeup, doing so a couple of times in the first inning, showing complete comfort with the pitch while providing the perfect change-of-pace off of his fastball to mess up the timing of the opposing hitters. With an athletic 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame there’s plenty of room for added strength and he could be throwing comfortably in the low-90s once he makes it to Western Kentucky.
Brock Daniels, SS, 2021, Oklahoma
Daniels certainly looks the part on a baseball with with rangy athleticism packed into his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame and an overall professional approach to the game. He wasn’t especially flashy on defense, but he made all of the plays with good range, soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. At the plate he’s a left-handed hitter with good bat control and took really good at-bats, squaring up the baseball. He looks to drive the ball up the middle and the other way on a line and did just that more than once. Daniels also has good quickness and foot speed doing a nice job getting down the line, even after stumbling out of the box, to hustle out an infield hit.
Carson Shepard, 2B/SS, 2021, Ohio
Daniels and Shepard formed an athletic double play combination for GRB’s 18u National team. Shepard’s profile is more of the shorter (5-9/160), scrappy, hard-nosed player that isn’t afraid to get his jersey dirty. He displayed quickness and soft hands on defense and hit a sharp line drive to left-center field for a base hit, showing the ability to barrel up the baseball and hit it hard to the gaps.
GRB had the luxury of three really good, strong-armed catchers to turn to as all three shared time. Indiana State commit Trett Joles had the biggest arm of the three, regarding a 1.94 POP time in between innings and a sub 2.0-second POP during game action. Missouri recruit Shea McGahan had one of GRB’s biggest hits on the weekend, opening the fourth inning of the team’s second game on Saturday by drilling a double to the gap in left-center field. Nebraska commit Josh Caron saw time behind the plate in the team’s third game, which was played on Sunday, and also displayed good lateral quickness with a strong arm.
Two more hitters to keep an eye on for GRB are first baseman Justin Hausser (UW-Milwaukee commit) and versatile athlete Nick Nowak (Madison College). Hausser swings and throws the ball left-handed and really got into one ball in particular in Sunday’s action, driving it down the right field line for a triple. Nowak has a very athletic, slender build with a high waist and broad shoulders, giving him significant physical projection, which makes it exciting to think about what he could become in 2-3 years. He’s listed as a C/IF on GRB’s roster and played some outfield at the Hitters Invite, where he may best profile moving forward.
On GRB’s 17u Green team (2022 grad year) right-hander Theo Zeidler pitched well leading his squad to a 5-1 win. At 6-2/185 he has the size to believe he’s just starting to scratch the surface of his potential, currently throwing in the low-80s (81-82) while mixing in a low-70s curve and showing pretty good command of both. Outfielder Aaron Jungers hit a two-run triple off of a pitcher with pretty good velocity (Stiks Academy’s Braydon Cooper), and hit it deep to the opposite field gap in right-center as a right-handed hitter. It was a good at-bat for Jungers who did a good job to wait for his pitch, going with an outside offering and driving it with power as it carried over the out-stretched glove of the right fielder. Iowa commit Addison Ostrenga needs to be followed for his size alone as a big and physical 6-foot-4, 215-pound athlete with broad shoulders and a high waist. It’s clear he has some tools to go along with his size, with good foot speed and a strong arm in center field, however, he didn’t do much at the plate in the at-bats I viewed making me hopeful I can get to see him again soon.
GRB’s 2023 class offered further promise, starting with right-hander Cole Selvig. Selvig comfortably worked in the 82-84 mph range, touching 85, with an upper-60s curveball. He has an athletic build and obvious arm strength. He got hit hard at times, more so than you’d expect given his velocity at his age, but experience to learn better feel to change speeds will go a long way to help in that department. Catcher Mason Armstrong really squared up a ball against another hard thrower at the 2023 age level (Cangelosi Sparks’ Grant Tenuta), pulling a double to the corner in left field. Armstrong is a strong, physical player with obvious bat speed to handle good velocity with authority.
Joey Spence, C, 2021, Notre Dame
Spence looks every part of a catcher with a strong and sturdy build. He’s a left-handed hitter with some power, somewhat reminiscent of Evan Skoug (an Illinois native who went on to play for TCU), and had a pair of hard-hit balls high and deep to the gap in left-center field in Stiks nightcap on Saturday. One of those hits just missed leaving the park for a double while the other hung up in the cool night air for a loud fly out. He added another similar, hard-hit ball on Sunday. Defensively he moves well out of the crouch and has a strong arm, although he did mishandle his glove-to-hand transfer on at least three different occasions when baserunners were moving.
Q Phillips, OF, 2021, Michigan
The results weren’t there for Phillips at the Hitters Invite but he still deserves mention. He was able to show off his speed a couple of times, registering home-to-first times in the 4.10-second range. He’s a switch-hitter with a near identical approach, and swing, from both sides of the plate and did a good job to work the count. He let some hittable pitches go early in the count which regularly put him behind, and overall he did a good job battling and fouling off pitches, but nothing was squared up into the field of play in the Stiks four games over the weekend.
Eli Hoyt, RHP, 2021, Uncommitted
An uncommitted right-hander, Hoyt displayed a really fast right arm with a high energy approach to pitching. He threw his fastball 83-86 mph at the Hitters Invite with the Stiks staff noting he has been up to 90 recently. It’s easy to see that with his arm, and it’s also easy to see him throwing into the low-90s, possibly as early as next spring or summer. Hoyt also threw a 74 mph curveball, a pitch with nice break and spin to it, although he’s not as comfortable/confident throwing the pitch right now, which will come with more repetitions. The foundation of his success comes off of his fastball and fastball command, as he still misses a fair amount of bats with his fastball alone.
Dayton Rozinski Hicks, RHP, 2021, Uncommitted
Rozinski Hicks was fun to watch given his natural arm strength, easily producing 85-87 mph fastballs while effectively mixing in a 77 mph slider. His command wasn’t the greatest, but he’s listed as an outfielder first, and his athleticism is so evident on the mound with a good build and the ability to miss bats with a somewhat raw approach to pitching. He worked effectively wild and he could continue to take a big jump with added size and improved command/velocity.
Listed as a primary outfielder, Anthony Gross took the mound opposite Crayton Burnett of the HItters on Saturday night and pitched well. He has an athletic profile, working his fastball at 84-86 mph, which is a fairly significant jump from the mid- to upper-70s he was throwing a year ago at the same time. Another right-hander, Kellen Short, also started for the Stiks 2021 team, displaying some arm strength by sitting at 81-82 with a 75-77 slurvy curveball. Corner infielder Jared Everson has an obvious physical presence in the left-handed batter’s box with a good approach. He covers the plate well and recognizes pitches well enough to make adjustments within an at-bat, going with pitches with power to the gaps.
Of the standouts from the Stiks 2022 team it was easy to instantly like Braydon Cooper’s profile as a right-handed pitcher with an athletic and visibly strong frame. He easily produced 81-83 mph heaters, touching 84, while also throwing a curveball clocked at 67 mph and what appeared to be a 77 mph slider. His current profile is on the raw side, with inconsistent pitching mechanics, but the foundation is there for a very intriguing package moving forward. The team’s primary catcher, Charlie Jarvis, also showed promise, with good size and athleticism behind the plate while squaring up the baseball as a right-handed hitter, one of which was a hard single hit back up the middle.
The entire Stiks program is on the rise, and this was most evident with their 2023 squad. Shortstop Ethan Hindle’s athleticism immediately stood out, as did the bounce in his step and overall rangy actions on defense. At the plate, Hindle, a right-handed hitter, drove a ball oppo to right field for a loud flyout displaying strength and bat speed. You won’t miss first baseman Tyler Butina on the field with a larger, hulking frame. He made really loud contact on more than one occasion, including a double he drove to the opposite field gap as a left-handed hitter. Physically he reminded me of Blaze Jordan at a similar age. Adam Schilz, another infielder who played one game at shortstop, is more of the tall, rangy athletic variety. He too is a left-handed hitter with great physical projection. Schilz showed off his strength and bat speed with a pair of hard hit balls, one of which was a double to his pull-side gap. There’s plenty of room for him to get bigger and stronger without losing the looseness to his athleticism.
Nolan Schopp is a right-handed pitcher who did a nice job filling up the zone with 81-82 mph fastballs, especially for a high school sophomore. He had more velocity from the windup, and with a big and strong high-waisted build already, there should be more velocity as he matures.
Jared Comia, OF, 2021, Illinois
The Cangelosi Sparks are another program I profiled in detail a couple of weeks ago at teh GEICO City Series. Comia is a big, physical corner outfield prospect that can seriously impact a baseball. In the Sparks first game of the Hitters Invite he smoked a line drive down the right field line for an RBI triple. He really has a knack for hitting the ball hard, and on a line, and seems to come up big time after time.
Eric Orloff, LHP, 2021, Arizona
Orloff showed really good pitchability in this outing, starting the Sparks first game of the Hitters Invite to get them off to a good start. He did just that, working consistently at 86-87 mph while ranging from 85-88 and mixing in a big, slow and tantalizing 70-72 curveball. Orloff is very consistent, he commands the strike zone very well and he’s always in or around the zone, pitching efficiently while working deep into ballgames.
Ty Batusich (Western Kentucky commit) continued to show his power/power profile with one of the stronger arms of any catcher in attendance, an event that had no shortage of strong-armed backstops. He also hit the ball hard, drilling a hard lineout to the first baseman in the team’s first game and lacing an RBI single to left field in game two as a left-handed hitter. Nate Voss, a 2022 committed to Michigan, is the Sparks’ second catcher. With a strong, compact build he looks like a catcher and showed an equally strong and compact right-handed swing in hitting a ball hard to the gap in left-center. Jack Lausch is another member of the 2022 class playing with the 2021 squad, a tall, athletic and well built center field who offers a lot ot like. In the first game he put his opposite field power on display, shooting a ball into the left-center field gap as a left-handed hitter for a double. Starting at shortstop for the Sparks is another 2022 prospect playing up, Jimmy Rolder. Built big and strong, Rolder definitely looks the part and gives the team yet another player to closely monitor the next two years. The team’s right fielder, Mark Brannigan, is a player you like the more you watch him. He’s rail thin but is clearly athletic with good foot speed and a strong arm. His brother Jack plays at Notre Dame and he demonstrated the ability to handle velocity by making contact with an Owen Murphy fastball and delivering it into right field for a single.
On the pitching side of things for the Sparks Grant Holderfield continued to do what he does best, filing up the strike zone with 83-85 mph fastballs and 76 mph sliders. It’s a high spin/command profile from the left side that allows him to get his fair share of easy outs, inducing a lot of ground ball contact. Matt Maloney, a right-hander from the 2022 class playing up, showed easy 83-84/85 heat while mixing in a 68 curveball an a harder 77 mph slurve-like slider. Julius Sanchez is another right-hander from the class of 2022 with intriguing velocity. He regularly sits in the 86-87 mph range with his fastball with a mid- to upper-70s breaking ball and a strong, sturdy build.
The Cangelosi Sparks talent continued with their 2022 team, and of their pitchers lefthander George Bilecki was of particular interest. While he didn’t throw especially hard, throwing his fastball right around 80 mph, he showed a really advanced ability to spin his curveball that hovered right around 70 mph. That pitch alone, from the left side, gives him promise. Jayden Comia, another member of the seemingly endless Comia family, is a versatile middle infielder and catcher that is very quick with soft hands.
Collin Barczi, C, 2023, Uncommitted
It seemed as though each time I watched the Sparks’ 2023 team catcher Collin Barczi was making a different in game with his arm strength. I didn’t get a POP time on his throws, but on way throw in particular he showed an absolute hose by gunning down a runner at second base with a throw on a line. He’s tall and strong already with long, wiry strong limbs and plenty of room to add strength. Offensively he had a laser to center field that the opposing team’s center field dove for and miss, allowing Barczi to hustle around the bases for a well-deserved inside-the-park home run.
Grant Tenuta, RHP, 2023, Uncommitted
Tenuta was the beneficiary of Barczi’s exploits on both offense and defense, and showed plenty of promise himself. There’s clearly more velo in the tank for Tenuta who currently throws in the 79-85 mph range, touching 86 while mixing in a 69-70 mph curveball. He’s a strikeout pitcher, one with a quick arm and some deception to his delivery that makes him very hard to catch up with.
Shortstop Cal Sefcik had a hard hit against the Hitters 2023 squad, drilling an opposite field gapper to right-center that he legged out for a triple. He also displayed good athleticism on the infield defensively as a high energy player. Krew Bond is a smaller, quick-twitch athlete that drilled a line drive single up the middle against good velocity. He displays good quickness and speed, following his hard single with a stolen base. 2023 outfielder Tommy Atkinson had another one of the Sparks’ loud base hits in their game against the Hitters on the final day (and in the final time slot) of the Hitters Invite, giving the Sparks a very deep batting lineup one through nine. Drew Zemaitis smoked a ball up the middle in that game and also threw earlier in the event, throwing an 80 mph fastball with a low-70s curve that he showed good feel for.