Pool play wrapped up on Saturday and the four pool winners emerged for Sunday’s semifinal and championship games. Building Champions (Group A, 4-0), GRB Rays Yellow (Group B, 3-1), GRB Rays Green (Group C, 4-0) and GRB Rays – MKE Green (Group D, 4-0) won the four pools. Building Champions will take on GRB Rays – MKE Green with the two GRB Rays 2023 squads, Green and Yellow, squaring off against one another. The remaining 16 teams will play consolation games.
Below are notes on Saturday’s standouts.
Logan Dunn, OF, GRB Rays 2024
A really good matchup between the event’s two 2024 teams made up of players all playing up a level kicked off Saturday’s action, and there was no shortage of talent on the field. A really good pitching matchup highlighted the contest, but we’ll start with one of my favorite players in the field, GRB Rays center fielder Logan Dunn. Dunn had an excellent at-bat just three batters into the game against hard-throwing Hitters righthander Nolan Buss (detailed below). Dunn has a plan each and every time he steps in the batter’s box and this time was no different as he worked the count and finally got a pitch he could drive, sending it over the head of the center fielder for a two-run double. Dunn has such good, quick hands that really serve him well as a hitter and one of the more mature approaches you’ll find.
Noah Wech, SS/RHP, GRB Rays 2024
Wech got the start for the Rays 15u squad, a high energy shortstop whose live arm also serves him well on the mound. His fastball was hard to catch up with at 83-86 mph and his 74-77 slider was no walk through the park, either. He aggressively attacked the opposing hitters and induced weak contact when he wasn’t striking batters out. Wech is an incredibly valuable asset to this team given his two-way talents and also serves as one of the team’s offensive catalysts towards the top of the order.
The Rays have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to infield talent, and when Wech takes the mound Tate Schmidt slides over from second base to take his spot and the team doesn’t miss a beat. Left fielder Wes Lindee also had a very good at-bat in the first inning and made a spectacular sliding catch in foul territory.
Nolan Buss, RHP, Hitters 2024
Although Buss didn’t carry the Hitters to a win against GRB he did show off the most high-powered arm at the event. He started the game throwing 86-87 mph fastballs as he worked himself up to 88-89, touching 90 a handful of times and even recording one outlying 92 that I’m not entirely sure was accurate since it was in the middle of a bunch of 88s. Regardless, the arm strength is legitimate and he’s only going to build off of that considering he’s still growing into his listed 5-foot-10, 155-pound frame. There’s some slurvy break to his 74-75 mph curveball, but when he snaps it off well it gives him a dangerous swing-and-miss 1-2 punch to contend with. The development of an effective changeup will be crucial in his development as the lack of that pitch to help neutralize lefthander hitters is what led to the big hit by Logan Dunn (he did try to throw one but spiked it off the turf). Nolan’s older brother Mason is on the Hitters’ stacked 2022 Navy squad, a K-State recruit known well for his stellar command.
JD Dix, SS/RHP, Hitters 2024
Dix was at it again on Saturday, driving a pitch with authority to the opposite field for a first-inning single, much like he did on Friday. And in addition to his hitting and defensive talents, Dix took the mound later in the game and showed easy arm strength, consistently throwing 83-84 mph fastballs while touching 85 a few times. He didn’t flash any secondary pitches at all, but he didn’t need to, as it’s always interesting from an evaluation perspective to see a primary position player take the mound to see how their athleticism and arm strength translates to the mound.
Aren Robinson, 1B, Hitters 2024
If you like big-bodied sluggers than Robinson is your man. And while he’s about to enter his sophomore year in high school, he is definitely built like a man, and then some, with a football-type frame that looks several inches taller, and several pounds heavier, than his listed 6-foot-3, 175-pounds. In this game he jumped all over a first-pitch fastball and drilled it to the opposite field gap for a two-run double, giving him three RBIs in the game. Since he may have peaked physically at an early age watching the rest of his game evolve will be especially interesting over the next 2-3 years.
Christian Bobzin, RHP, Inside Edge
On the opposite end of the clover Inside Edge was taking on GRB Green, and while GRB took this game to move to 4-0 in the tournament, Bobzin showed plenty of things to like on the mound. His frame is lean, lanky and loose, plenty projectable for him to add strength and more power to his arsenal. The fastball is currently 80-83 mph, and while his 66-71 mph curveball needs both power and greater consistently, he snapped off a few good hooks to show the potential is there for it to take a big step forward.
There were three batters in the Inside Edge lineup, batting back-to-back-to-back, that stood out. Cullen Kleinsasser stood out the most, literally, with a big, physical frame and not surprisingly plays first base. He started his day with a hard-hit single back up the box as shown in the video and later boomed an RBI double over the head of the right fielder. Versatile utility man Grant Lambeth has a really advanced approach in the batter’s box and did a nice job punching a base hit through the 5-6 hole of the infield as a lefthanded hitter. Shortstop Drew Dickerson passes the eye test the best with a taller, well-proportioned frame with strength throughout. He also took the mound where he threw upper-70s fastballs.
Braden Smith got the start for the GRB Rays Green and sat mostly at 78-81 mph with an athletic profile on the mound. He helped his own cause with a bat in his hand by hitting an RBI single. Jackson Hunley, another two-way performer, also had an RBI single in this game.
Trenton Roehler, RHP, Building Champions
Building Champions brought some quality arms with them to Wisconsin as they sent a pair of good ones to the mound on Saturday. Trenton Roehler was the first to toe the rubber, a well put together 5-foot-9, 175-pound righthander who sequenced really well between an 84-87/88 mph fastball and a 72-75 mph curveball. He maintained his fastball velocity deep into the game and showed really good command of the pitch while his curveball had sharp 12-to-6 break and dropped off the table at times.
Marco Dumsky, RHP, Building Champions
Dumsky got the nod in Building Champions’ second game of the day, notching a pair of wins on Saturday to earn a 4-0 pool play record and a spot in Sunday’s semifinals. At 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, Dumsky definitely looks the part of a pitcher ready to compete at the next level. He opened his start by throwing all fastballs in the first inning, sitting at 82-84 mph. By the second inning he started to throw more and more breaking balls, a low-70s (70-71) curve that showed promise when thrown well. The curveball wasn’t always consistent, and the fastball command wavered at times, but he pitched plenty effective in a rather convincing 11-0 win.
Gabe Fender, 3B, Building Champions
Overall, Build Champions has a big, strong and physical team, something I noticed of some of their other teams competing at previous Midwest Premier Baseball events this summer at all age divisions. Fender, a compact and strong 6-foot, 185-pound athlete, really took competitive at-bats, one after the other, and not surprisingly bats third for Building Champions. He started his team’s first game by hitting an RBI single down the left field line, a well-struck base hit that a diving third baseman couldn’t stop. Later in the game he added an RBI double to the opposite field gap showing his ability to go with a pitch with strength in his swing to impact the ball hard to all fields.
Daniel Darin, LHP, Team Illini
Team Illini had several pitchers, and players overall that have been interesting to watch this weekend. Lefthander Daniel Darin doesn’t have the ideal size as some of his teammates, but the 5-foot-8, 175-pound lefthander really proved he knew how to pitch and change speeds. His fastball came in aggressively on hitters at 79-84 mph, mixing in a short, sharp-breaking 76-71 mph curveball.
Catcher Alex Connoyer, outfielder Kamryn Link, infielder Gage Colyer and Ethan Smock are all well-built players that I’d like to get another look at. Smock had the biggest hit of this group in their game on Saturday, ripping a double down the left field line.
Team Illini was on the losing end of this game as the GRB Rays – MKE Green team kept battling back. Late in the game, Tyer Lusic hit a two-out, two-run double to the corner in left field that emphatically broke a 4-4 tie. Beau Martins followed with an RBI double of his own, this one poked down the line in right field to give the Rays – MKE squad a 7-4 lead.
Eddie Rynders, a good looking, high-waisted and long-limbed athlete, went the distance picking up the win. Rynders has an athletic and repeatable delivery and struck out a pair of batters in the seventh to close things out, sitting mostly in the 75-78 mph range with a really sharp upper-60s curveball that he dropped in well for strikes. It was their second win of the day allowing the GRB Rays – MKE Green to move to 4-0 on the event while claiming Pool D and advancing to Sunday’s semifinals.
The GRB Rays Yellow and Next Level Baseball met each other in the final time slot of the day with identical 2-1 records and the Pool B crown on the line. It was the Rays Yellow team that squeezed out the 4-3 win in a hard-fought contest for both squads.
A three-run first inning for the Rays was what stood out and it started with a booming opposite field double over the head of the right fielder by Jackson Hewitt that would have scored two runs had it not bounced over the fence. Branden Vandermoss made sure that didn’t matter with an RBI groundout and Caden Popp hit an RBI single up the middle to make it 3-0. Both Hewitt – a hard hit flyout – and Popp – a booming double – made more loud contact later in the game.
Miles Nelson, who hit a walk-off, game-winning hit on Thursday came into pitch to get his team out of a key jam in the bottom of the third inning. He ended up going the rest of the way to deliver yet another victory.