The GRB (Greg Reinhard Baseball) program is on the rise and growing rapidly in the state of Wisconsin. With a state-of-the-art indoor facility located in Windsor, just outside of the state’s capitol in Madison, GRB has also dramatically increased their presence in the Milwaukee area the past few years. They continue to expand their reach into the Eau Claire area in the Northwest corner of Wisconsin to take advantage of the amount of baseball talent located in the Chippewa Valley.

Their 18u National team was especially loaded this past year, and while GRB does a very good job securing some of the very best players from the Badger State, this year they supplemented their roster with three key additions from the state of Missouri. Most recently they were crowned co-champs with Hitters Baseball at the Midwest Premier Fall Classic in Parkside, Mo., and played a very competitive brand of baseball at every stop along the way during a challenging year, both on and off the field.

Although those three Missouri players – shortstop Brock Daniels, catcher Shea McGahan and left-hander Luc Fladda – opted not to make the team’s most recent trip to Kenosha, Wis., for the Hitters Round Robin, it gave other opportunities for players on the GRB National team roster the opportunity to shine.

One of those players is from GRB’s own backyard, hard-hitting third baseman Liam Moreno of Sun Prairie, one of four Sun Prairie High School players (Carson Shephard, Josh Caron and Jason Starr are the other three) on the National roster and the team’s three-hole hitter. Whenever there’s a big inning, or the need for a clutch hit, it’s usually Moreno that is coming up big at the most opportune moment.

“To start the summer we struggled a little bit,” Moreno recalled before games were played Saturday at the Hitters Round Robin. “We went to a five-game showcase and went 1-4 there. I talked to my team and we focused really on communicating, trusting each other more rather than just playing for ourselves. I think that helped us overall this summer.”

Not surprising the Sun Prairie High School team is one of the best in the state year after year. They have won eight state championships, including a back-to-back-to-back run from 2012-2014, and finished as the Division 1 runner-ups in both 2017 and 2019.

The summer that followed 2019 didn’t go as planned for Moreno, one of the more important stretches for young ballplayers when it comes to putting themselves on the radar of college recruiters and MLB scouts. Considering the whole COVID-19 pandemic followed before Moreno’s junior year season could even get underway, it made his own baseball path a little more difficult despite the torrid pace he’s been on this year.

“I struggled a lot last year so I went back to the basics,” Moreno said. “I basically started over, re-structured my swing and that’s where my own (recent) success has come from.”

It’s clear that Moreno is eager to play professional baseball, and like almost every member of the GRB 18u National team, he has a commitment to a prominent Division I school, Missouri State. It wasn’t too long ago that The MSU Bears were in the postseason picture year after year, making it to the Super Regionals in three straight years from 2015-17, finishing the 2016 season one game away from Omaha.

Missouri State has developed numerous hitters since the turn of the millennium, none more well known than Ryan Howard but also including current Yankees slugger Luke Voit and infielders Jeremy Eierman and Jake Burger. Moreno cited that Missouri State’s commitment to its facilities and advanced technology, much like the GRB program, led to his commitment with the Bears.

“Great players obviously came out of (Missouri State), Ryan Howard, Luke Voit (etc.),” Moreno said. “There’s great coaches everywhere around the country and I think a lot of the GRB coaches took aspects of other coaches’ coaching, which helped me a lot over the summer. Ryan Howard helped build a couple of the (new) facilities and they’re really nice so that’s why I’m going to go there.”

Both of Moreno’s parents are from Venezuela, and as a result he spends a lot of time studying the swings of some of the game’s more prominent Venezuelan players. There are some pretty good ones to choose from, including one of the game’s greatest hitters, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

“I got a lot of my baseball (talents) from my dad,” Moreno said of his heritage and desire to play baseball. “I’ve been playing ever since I was four and when I watch baseball games I look up the Venezuelan players and try to follow their actions.”

With the summer season coming to a close for GRB, Moreno recognizes there’s a lot of work ahead of him to gain the exposure he’s looking for. He knows the amount of work he puts in during the winter months will translate into a strong performance during the spring. And after the 2020 spring season was lost, he doesn’t want to lose another opportunity to play his best when the opportunities present themselves.

“I’m looking to get some pro exposure. I’ve been trying to do that all summer (amidst the COVID pandemic) which makes it important to really hit and show the scouts what I have. … Just doing what I have to do, helping my team and hopefully somebody will see me and give me an opportunity for the future.”

Hitters Round Robin GRB Player Reports

After watching the GRB 18u National team a month earlier at the Hitters Invite in the Wisconsin Dells area I realized I didn’t get as good of a look as I wanted to at several of their hitters. As a result I did not take detailed notes on the starting pitchers after seeing them a month earlier. For reports on Ryan Schneider and Keagon Kaufmann, who threw on Saturday, visit the link just below.

Feature: Hitters Invite Player Reports

In the feature linked above additional reports are available on Luc Fladda, Andrew Brockwell, Brock Daniels and Shea McGahan – who didn’t participate at the Hitters Round Robin – as well as Carson Shepard, Trett Joles, Josh Caron, Justin Hausser, Nick Nowak and a handful of the program’s 2022 and 2023 players.

Liam Moreno, 3B, 2021 Missouri State

Moreno has a shorter/stockier build at 5-foot-10, 195-pounds, but he’s light on his field and fields his position well at third base. On one way on a slow roller, he charged in, scooped up the ball, transferred to his throwing hand and fired a strike to first base, all in one motion, to get a good runner at first base. He also runs well with good quickness and could find some value as a utility player as he continues to move up. As the team’s No. 3 hitter he has a simple, no-nonsense approach and really does a good job taking his hands directly to where the ball is pitched and serving it to all fields. In the second game on Saturday at the Hitters Round Robin he used this very approach to deliver a single that dropped in in front of the left field and another base hit that dropped into shallow right. Earlier this summer I saw him drive the ball with authority to the gaps with some extra-base pop and the ability to get the ball into the air. He clearly has a plan at the plate.

Cal Fisher, SS/2B, 2023, Notre Dame

A member of the class of 2023 playing two years up, Fisher looks right at home, both in terms of his physicality and his play on the field. He looks bigger than his listed 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame may suggest, and it’s easy to envision him becoming even more physical between now and when he’s draft eligible over two years from now. He moves very well for his size, both defensively and on the basepaths, and shows very good instincts. As a right-handed hitter his barrel stays in the zone a long time and he can drive the ball with intent to the opposite field. At the Hitters Round Robin he put six balls into play, the biggest hit being a two-run triple that he drove oppo to the corner in right field, showing strong hands and the ability to impact the ball where it’s pitched.

Cuyler Zukowski, OF, 2022, Creighton

Zukowski has been providing some big hits for GRB in recent weeks and not surprisingly recently committed to Creighton as a result. He looks a little bigger than his 6-foot, 180-pound listing and definitely looks the part with a well-proportioned build and wiry strength. You can tell he’s starting to fill out some with plenty of room left to add even more (it will be especially interesting to see how he looks physically after a couple of years at Creighton). A right-handed hitter, he has a nice, fluid swing and swings the bat hard looking to make loud contact to his pull side. He barreled up a few balls while also showing a good arm in the outfield. A high school junior, Zukowski is a name to keep a close eye heading into next spring and summer.

Gabe Roessler, OF/IF, 2021, Uncommitted

Physically Roessler is somewhat similar to Cuyler Zukowski, and while Roessler is a year older, he has a lot more room physically to add strength. Built tall and lanky with long, wiry strong limbs, broad shoulders and a well-tapered build, he’s currently rail thin with a lot of room for physical development. He took several good swings at the Hitters Round Robin on Saturday, stinging the ball hard and showing good speed, as well as a really strong arm from the outfield. He started the first game on Saturday in center field and the second game at shortstop, showing his athleticism and versatility. Currently uncommitted, it would be hard to imagine him not ending up on a college roster by this time next year.

Josh Caron, C/1B, 2021, Nebraska

Built big and strong, Caron looks to impact the baseball hard with power in his swing and a big arm behind the plate. He wasn’t tested in game, but he recorded POP times just a hair above 2.0-seconds from behind the plate. He made loud contact, mostly to his pull side as he looks to drive the baseball while swinging hard. With a taller frame he has good athleticism showing good lateral movements defensively behind the plate and a body that would fit well at first base in games he’s not catching.

Trett Joles, C, 2021, Indiana State

GRB has an embarrassment of riches behind the plate with Caron and Joles, and over most of the summer they had another in Shea McGahan, who did not participate at the Hitters Round Robin. Joles has the strongest arm of the three, recording sub 2.0-second POP lines with consistent throws online and to the base. He’s built a little more bulky of the three GRB catchers with a bigger, broad-shouldered build yet with good range an overall athleticism. At the plate he doesn’t get cheated, looking to take big swings to hit the ball hard, although his defense appears to be ahead of his offense at this stage of his development. He’ll be an asset at Indiana State.

Austin Bestul, RHP/OF, 2021, Uncommitted

A smaller athlete, Bestul may not stand out on a baseball diamond physically but he possesses some valuable versatility. Playing the outfield in both games of the Hitters Round Robin on Saturday, Bestul took the mound late in their first game and showed a good feel for pitching. His fastball wasn’t overpowering, sitting in the 82-86 mph range, but the ball got in on hands quickly and he clearly was confident enough with it to challenge batters. He didn’t throw any breaking balls during his first inning (of two frames), but he did throw a couple as he warmed up, and then during his second inning of work, an upper-60s offering that he really showed the ability to spin and command while dropping it in nicely, either for strikes or down in the zone as a chase pitch. An uncommitted prospect, he’ll find somewhere to play at some level of college baseball.