The priority for Day 2 at the 2021 15u Midwest Premier Baseball Top Prospect Series was for all teams to get two games in so bracket play could begin on Saturday. After Thursday’s storms, game times were pushed back at most locations, and one field continued to be unusable, so a little better fortune in the weather department Friday would be welcomed, not just for the MPB games but also the nearby College World Series contests that many of the participants are attending.
The first game I checked in on had Inside Edge squaring off against the Illinois Indians. Both teams were shut out by Perfect Timing Baseball on Thursday and battled to what finished as a 12-8 win by the Indians. While there was some shaky pitching in the early innings that led to quite a few bases loaded walks, two early bright spots included a leadoff double to left-center field in the bottom of the first by the Indians Dennis Mandala and some 74-77 mph fastballs from a crossfire delivery out of the left hand of Isaac Stanley of Inside Edge.
The Arlington A’s and Pro Players Canes played on the second diamond of Densmore Park in Lincoln. Pro Player Canes emerged with the 5-0 win thanks to a really strong pitching performance by righthander Ryan Nagel. Nagel tossed six shutout innings, striking out eight and allowed just four hits while mixing between a 73-74 mph fastball and a sharp 63 mph curveball. While the velocity itself isn’t especially notable, the way he sequenced between those two pitches and really commanded his breaking ball were evident. Most impressive was his competitiveness, as he went right after hitters with a fearless, bulldog approach.
There were a few hitters in the Canes’ lineup that stood out, most notably infielder Colin Hart and Sean Kempf. You couldn’t miss Hart at third base thanks to his tall, lean and lanky stature that has a lot of room for added strength as he continues to mature. He had a sharp infield hit to second base that he was able to out-run and came around to score his team’s second run of the day. Kempf hit a hard liner to left field to bring home another run in the third inning and showed good infield actions with rangy athleticism.
Lefthander Matthew Taylor looked the part physically for the Arlington A’s with a well-proportioned frame. His fastball was thrown consistently around 76 mph with a good foundation for a curveball. It’s easy to envision him throwing harder in the not-so-distant future.
Hudson Byrd, Building Champions UA 15 Kisner
With a tall and slender build, Byrd certainly looks the part of a young player that just finished his freshman year in high school with some positive attributes moving forward. He has a live arm, producing easy 77-81 mph fastballs and touched 82 a couple of times. He threw almost exclusively fastballs in this look but it was enough to make sure he’s a follow moving forward.
After watching the Building Champions teams two weeks ago at the 17u/18u age level, as well as the program’s Cope team on Thursday, it’s obvious that the program has some success producing big, physical players. For the Kisner team it was outfielder Gage Ilges that best fit this description and who opened his day on Friday by hitting a loud double to the gap in left-center in the top of the first inning. He added a hard-hit single through the 5-6 hole on the infield later in the game. He’s listed at 6-foot, 170-pounds, but he has likely added to both of those numbers. In speaking with Building Champions staff leading up to the event they made me aware of their team’s middle infield talent. Both Collin Guerra, who played shortstop in this game, and Drew McConnell, who played third, stood out in this game for their footwork, quick hands, lateral movements and overall athleticism.
Blizzard Elite Baseball sent a pair of mid- to upper-70s hurlers to the mound against Building Champions. Finn Furcht got the start, and while he got touched up a little early in the game, he proved that he knew how to sequence his pitches and move the ball around the zone. Alex Boston was up next and his athleticism was evident in his high energy delivery. The Blizzard have long been known for the power arms they have developed over the years.
Riley Leatherman, MASH
The most exciting arm of the day, and possibly the tournament to this point in time, belongs to MASH righthander Riley Leatherman. At 6-foot-2, 155-pounds, Leatherman screams projection with a very lean and long-limbed frame. He produced easy 82-85 mph fastballs, sitting mostly in the 82-83 range during his outing, easily missing bats with his fastball while showing a promising mid-70s breaking ball. The overall command profile will need to improve, as will the consistency of his breaking ball, but his stuff was good enough to be effectively wild, although his stuff was always around the zone, if not in it. This is a high upside player to follow.
MASH has some serious athletes on their team and there doesn’t appear to be an easy out in their lineup, one-through-nine. Ryan Vosper and Jack Anderson got the team on the board early, first with an RBI single that dropped in to shallow center and next on a two-run double pulled down the left field line. Vosper added his own double later in the game in a 2-for-2, four-RBI day at the plate.
Eddie Peters is another player that stood out on the MASH squad for his athletic and well-proportioned 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame. The righthanded hitter made very loud contact with a scorching line drive to left field. Second baseman Alex Hendrickson had some good at-bats and made a highlight play up the middle on defense, showing very good range, and Caleb Koskie also enjoyed a productive day at the plate.
While MASH cruised to a 10-1 win, Braden Campbell at least made things interesting early in the game, bringing home a run – which turned out to be the only one for Rawlings Arkansas Prospects Elite – on a booming double that looked like a home run off the bat. Campbell didn’t miss on an elevated fastball out of the hand of Riley Leatherman showing his overall strength, particularly in his hands and wrists to jump on that ball with so much force. Arkansas Prospects’ starter Luke Lorence had challenges holding back the MASH offense, but he showed a live arm with 74-78 mph fastballs and a sharp upper-60s curve.
Kade Durnin, GBA
In a game between 1-0 teams fighting for a chance to make it to bracket play out of Pool I – a game that Minsky’s Orioles bested GBA (Gators Baseball Academy) 4-3 – Kade Durnin showed promise on the mound later in the game and proved to be a bright spot despite his team taking the loss. Durnin has an athletic profile with a tall and still-projectable frame and some existing strength, particularly in his lower half. He uses his legs well to drive off the mound to produce 77-82 mph fastballs and 65-67 mph curveballs. There isn’t a ton of feel right now but the athleticism and easy arm strength are evident.
With the win the Kansas City-based Minsky’s Orioles secured the event’s No. 4 seed heading into bracket play.
Nate Langbehn, GRB Rays
Pool H had the most uncertainty entering Friday, as only one game out of three had gotten underway on Thursday, a contest between the Iowa Sticks and Ft. Worth Cats 15u Black that had to be finished on Friday. GRB took care of business in both of their games, the day’s two nightcaps at J.J. Isaacson Field in Omaha. Righthander Nate Langbehn got the start in game one against the Sticks and set the tone early for a 15-0 win. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound righthander has good present strength with room for more and mixed effectively between an 80-83 mph fastball and a 64-67 mph curve. He could be even more effective as he continues to trust his stuff and evolve as more of a true power pitcher. The curve has good spin and break but could improve in the sharpness department.
Craig Kabat, GRB Rays
Kabat got the ball in game two and clearly employed an attack approach in his five-inning start as part of a 10-5 win for the Ft. Worth Cats. Listed at 5-foot-8, 165-pounds, Kabat is still growing into his frame and easily produced 80-82 mph fastballs with an inconsistent yet promising low- to mid-70s breaking ball. While there’s some effort to his delivery, the overall arm action is clean and the arm speed could lead to more velo down the road.
Logan Dunn, GRB
There was no shortage of base hits from the deep GRB lineup, but Dunn enjoyed the loudest day at the plate, hitting a pair of doubles in the first game and opening game two with an RBI single to right field in the bottom of the first. His first double in game one also came in the first inning, drilling a ball down the right field line that brought home a pair of runs. It was part of a good at-bat overall as he fouled off several tough pitches to get a pitch he could drive. He drove in another run with his second double of game one in the top of the third. Having seen Dunn before, I know what kind of hitter he is and he didn’t disappoint in this look. His overall approach, plate coverage and bat-to-ball talents are all evident. He is also expected to take the mound on Saturday during bracket play.
Infielder Gage Bishop, another two-way player who is expected to start in bracket play, followed Dunn’s first double in game one with a sharp RBI single up the middle. He also hit his own RBI double to the gap in left-center in the top of the third and made a really nice play defensively at second base showing off his range up the middle. In the second game he moved over to third base where he continued to show well and added a sharp RBI single through the left side of the infield. Noah Wech, the team’s primary shortstop, make several impressive plays on the move in game two, showing off his athleticism and arm strength. He also made a nice backhanded pick on a hot shot hit right at him and proceeded to make a strong throw across the diamond to nail the runner. Wech also had some hard contact spraying a couple of line drives to the outfield. A third middle infielder, Tate Schmidt, collected a pair of base hits back up the middle in game two and also showed well at second base. Steffen Mello, who came on to pitch in game one in relief of Langbehn, crushed a ball that looked like a no-doubt home run off the bat. Instead, if fell at the warning track for a booming double.
In the game one loss righthanded starter Lucas Moore did a good job to settle down after a rough start. A 2025 grad, Moore delivered 77-79 mph fastballs from an athletic and still-growing stature. His curveball was inconsistent, sometimes looking more like a floater, but the feel to spin is there. He also hit a hard single as a righthanded hitter, displaying his overall athleticism. Sean Gamble, one of the top national prospects in the high school class of 2025 as a tooled-up shortstop for the Iowa Sticks, had a pair of groundouts in this game.
Into the fifth inning of GRB’s second game it looked like the Rays may just shut out both the Iowa Sticks and Ft. Worth Cats in an attempt to claim the event’s top bracket-play seed. It wasn’t meant to be, as the Ft. Worth Cats scored a pair of runs with two outs against starter Craig Kabat in the fifth inning and added three more in the sixth to make the game interesting. Patrick Zaino, Sam Coleman and Gavin Brandstetter made hard back-to-back-to-back contact off of GRB righthander Eason Hurd, who came into the game in the sixth inning. Brandstetter’s hit was the biggest of the three, a two-run double to the gap in left-center. Brandstetter also pitched in this game, throwing 75-78 mph fastballs while flipping in mid-60s curveballs.