16u MPB Day 1 Notes

Tre Grignon, RHP, GRB Rays 2024

It was another big day for the GRB program as each of their four teams emerged victorious on Friday. For their young 2024 squad it started with their starting pitcher, Tre Grignon, a physical, well-built, high-waisted righthander who created easy 79-81 mph velocity. He was at his best locating on the corners, showing good command of his fastball which had noticeable running action. That also allowed him to induce some weak contact along the way, mixing in a 73 mph curveball to keep the opposing hitters honest.

Tyson Mann didn’t throw especially hard (75-77) for Dawgs Baseball but he matched up well opposite Grignon for the early part of their game, an eventual 4-1 win for GRB. Mann commanded his fastball well, a pitch that had some dip to it, and he effectively moved it around the zone to keep it off barrels. Mann is a lean and lanky, long-limbed righty that also mixed in a floating mid-60s curveball. Dawgs third baseman Jelani Mast stands out on the baseball field for his physicality and he drilled an elevated fastball from Grignon to the opposite field gap in right-center for a triple. The strength is easy and the ball really jumped off his bat. Mann helped his own caused and followed Mast with a hard RBI single shot back up the middle.

It looked like the Dawgs were putting together a rally before GRB Rays center fielder Logan Dunn fired an absolute strike to nail a runner at home plate on a sac fly attempt, holding the Dawgs to just the one run.

GRB Infielder Eason Hurd had a nice piece of hitting to bring home two of GRB’s four runs, going with a pitch to poke a single down the right field line, advancing to second base on the throw home.

One field over the GRB Rays Yellow squad was taking care of business against the BLG Replacements, leading to a 7-1 win. Righthander Keegan Schlichting was the primary story in this one as he was in complete control from beginning to end. Although he’s not especially physical in stature with a slender stature, he has a live arm that produced easy 80-81 mph fastballs. His 72-73 mph curveball set him apart and he paired the two pitches very well with one another, getting quite a few hitters to swing over the top of his breaking ball. Outfielder Hudson Turner had arguably the loudest hit in this game, an RBI double he ripped down the line to the corner in left field, advancing to third on the throw home.

Lefthander Lucas Lendosky got the start for BLG, throwing a lot of strikes with a moving 77-78 mph fastball.

Ian Brown, LHP, Team Illini

Brown played a big role in Team Illini going 2-0 on the day (moving to 2-1 in the tournament) thanks to his mound effort in an 8-0 win over the ISA Stars in the early time slot. A 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefthander, Brown really uses his lower half well to drive off the mound to produce 81-82 mph fastballs. He mixes in a short-breaking 70-72 mph slurvy curve and induced a lot of weak contact when he wasn’t missing bats completely.

One of Team Illini’s runs came when catcher Alex Connoyer smoked an RBI single to left field Connoyer has very good size with strong proportions and room for even more strength as he continues to mature physically. He scored from first when Tucker Tollerton yanked a triple down the right field line.

In the next time slot the Illini won their second game over the Hitters 2023 squad with a 2-0 victory. That game featured a solid pitching matchup between Illini righthander Caden Bish and the Hitters’ Adison Tevz. Bish did a nice job sequencing between a mid- to upper-70s fastball and mid- to upper-60 curve while Tevz displayed a promising three-pitch mix that included an 81-82 mph fastball, a 70 mph curveball and a mid-70s changeup. Tevz has a compact build with a repeatable delivery, pounding strikes in the zone to induce bad swings and weak contact.

Back to the 10:00 a.m. time slot, Owen Nowak went the distance in an 8-3 win for PBA (Puma Baseball Academy). A tall and lanky lefthander, Nowak created some timing issues from a crossfire delivery despite not being overpowering (73-75 mph fastball) and did a nice job keeping his composure to pitch himself out of a few jams. PBA picked up a second win later in the day, an 8-4 victory over Inside Edge, to move to 2-1 on the tournament. In that contest Vincent Sacchetti performed admirably on the mound and Jack Nottingham put PBA on the board early with a hot shot RBI single back up the box in the top of the first inning.

Cole Selvig, RHP, GRB Rays Green

Taking the mound during the 12:15 p.m. time slot was GRB Rays Green righthander Cole Selvig. Selvig has already committed to Texas which tells you just about everything you need to know about his national reputation as a prospect. He has definitely added some strength to his frame since the last time I saw him last fall and looks the part of a power pitcher. He came out firing strikes at 86-87 mph and sustained that velocity well. He touched 88 and 89, but was more effective pounding the zone right at 87 miles per hour. Once he established that pitch he started to put batters away with his big-breaking 76-78 mph curveball. And once he established that offering he used an 81-82 mph changeup to sit down a lefthanded batter. It’s easy to envision success considering he has made his previous peak velocity his new sustained velocity, meaning, at this point next year when he has entered his own draft cycle it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sitting at 88-91 mph while touching higher with a dynamic three-pitch mix.

The GRB Rays Green team won this game rather convincingly, 10-0, to move to 3-0 in the tournament with a 22-to-2 run scoring differential. Jackson Hunley kicked off the scoring in this game by lacing a base hit through the gap on the first base side of the infield. Hunley added another RBI single in the fifth. Lefthanded hitting slugger Logan Frank had a pair of run-producing base hits in this game, the first on a single and the second on a double pulled down the right field line.

Smooth and easy are fitting words used to describe Edge Baseball lefthander Riley Peterson who started opposite Selvig. Although he got touched up a bit he looked pretty good early on, commanding a 79-81 mph fastball well with the confidence to climb the ladder with the pitch to record punchouts. He also mixed in a 64 mph curveball to change speeds, and eye levels, showing advanced pitchability with plenty of room physically for added strength and subsequent velocity.

Mike Schoon, RHP, Hitters 2024

On the opposite side of the clover leaf the Hitters 2024 team was facing a strong Building Champions squad. Mike Schoon is another pitcher I had seen in Nebraska a month ago at the 15u Midwest Premier Baseball Top Prospect series. The stuff was about the same, maybe down a tick, as he threw consistently 80-81 mph fastballs while mixing in a sharp 68 mph curveball. He got hit around at times but also looked in complete control at other points of the game in a 9-3 win for Building Champions.

It took a while for the Hitters 2024 bats to get going on Friday after getting held in check in their first game and for the first few innings of their second game against the Silver Sluggers. They then exploded for seven runs in the fourth on their way to a 9-3 victory. RJ Thomae had one of the bigger hits, a two-run single, and after Cade Palkowski followed Thomae with a walk, JD Dix plated another run by hitting an opposite field line drive RBI single. Dix offers a physical presence on the field and looks bigger than his listed 6-foot-1, 150-pound frame and yet he still has room to fill out and add more strength. He’s a switch hitter that also is solid defensively at shortstop, yet another promising hitter from the Hitters program.

Jackson Brewer is another physical lefthanded hitter who takes consistently competitive at-bats while Aren Robinson is a man among boys at a listed 6-foot-3, 175-pounds that seems about 1-2 inches and 20-30 pounds light. While at a different field I glanced over to see Robinson drill a double to the gap as he’s the type of player that you stop what you’re doing when he steps into the batter’s box given his obvious power potential. Keeping the Hitters in their second game was live-armed righthander Grayson Flugaur who gave up three runs in the first but settled down from there maintaining low-80s (80-81) velocity and keeping hitters off balance with a sharp upper-60s to low-70s curveball.

Keegan Fleischman, RHP, Silver Sluggers

After botching Fleischman’s name on Twitter on Thursday I’m glad I got a chance to redeem myself and give him the proper attention he deserves. A lean, rangy athlete, Fleischman has plenty of room to fill out his listed 5-foot-10, 140-pound frame, and might have already since the Silver Sluggers program was printed. He also serves as the team’s No. 3 hitter and shows a line drive stroke as a righthanded hitter with a knack for barreling up the baseball. On the mound he produced easy 80-83 mph heat, and while his 68 mph curveball will need some development, the foundation is there for improvement, especially should he focus more energy on the pitching side of things. He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on moving forward.

Hitting behind Fleischman is fellow middle infielder Aidan Keyes, who has a similar build (5-11/155) and overall physical upside. He also has a similar line drive stroke from the right side of the batter’s box and hit a two-run single in the bottom of the first that gave the Silver Sluggers and early lead. An RBI groundout pushed that lead to 3-0, holding a lead until the Hitters’ seven-run fourth.

Brady Thompson, RHP, Building Champions

Thompson’s performance really set the tone in Building Champions’ win over the Hitters, similar to Thursday’s win when Parish Beagle did the same. In doing so Building Champions moved to 2-0 in the tournament with two more pool play games to play on Saturday. As for Thompson, he’s a big-bodied 6-foot-2, 220-pound lefty with a thick lower half that he uses well to drive off the mound. There’s some deception out of his hand as he seems to flick the ball at the point of his release, making it a little more difficult to pick up while producing 80-82 mph fastballs and a low-70s breaking ball.

Ian Boal, LHP, Pro Player Canes

STiKS Black and the Pro Player Canes battled to a 3-3 tie during the day’s second time slot. Boal stood out for the Canes, a high-energy 6-foot, 160-pound lefty with somewhat of a slinging delivery. That delivery allowed his 79-82/83 mph fastball to jump out of his hand and he did a good job to keep the STiKS batters guessing thanks to his 68-72 mph high-spin slurvy curveball.

EJ Kuster did his job opposite Boal for STiKS, pounding the zone with 76-78 mph fastballs.

DJ Helwig, RHP, Pro Player Canes

The Canes had another hard-fought battle, this time against Next Level Baseball, in their second game, a 4-2 loss. They did get a strong pitching performance from Dennis (DJ) Helwig, a super long-limbed righthander with obvious wiry strength and plenty of projectability at 6-foot-6, 175-pounds. He produced easy 79-83/84 mph heat and really spotted the ball well at times. The arm speed is obvious as the ball jumps out of his hand, meaning a velo jump, or two, is in his not-so-distant as he adds more muscle.

Next Level Baseball’s top three hitters are all intriguing prospects, with the speedy Isaiah Kincade setting the tone at the top of the order. He yanked a double down the left field line to lead off Thursday’s game and is an active, high-energy player patrolling center field. No. 2 hitter Kaleb Wellshear has a strong upper half at a listed 6-foot, 160-pounds and plenty of room to add strength to his lower half. He took a really good at-bat looking to shoot the ball to the opposite field in left, which he did successfully, showing his strength at the point of impact and the ability to handle increased velocity. Catcher Elijah Kincade is built nothing like Isaiah with a strong and sturdy 6-foot, 190-pound build. His reputation clearly preceded him as he got pitched to differently than anyone else in the NLB lineup.

Penner Unruh delivered the win on the mound for Next Level. A 6-foot-4, 175-pound righthander, Unruh didn’t throw especially hard (76-77 mph fastball), but created a fair amount of late, sinking movement on the pitch with a lot of arms and legs coming at the opposing hitters. He also threw a big, slow curveball that hovered right around 70 mph.

The GRB Rays – MKE squad got off to a 2-0 start at the 16u Midwest Premier Top Prospect Series with an 11-5 win over Velocity Baseball. They now have a 19-to-5 run-scoring differential with a pair of games to be played on Saturday. Righthander Max Collicot set the tone early for GRB MKE mixing between a 76-77 mph fastball and a big, slow mid-60s curveball that he dropped in well for strikes