A year ago I found myself at the Woodside Sports Complex in Mauston, Wis., during the final weekend of August – just a handful of days before public schools start in the state of Wisconsin – for the Hitters Invite. The Hitters Invite returned to its usual home at Nash Park in Kenosha this year, and taking its place in Mauston was the GRB Invite. GRB brought a handful of teams with them at the 15u/16u, 16u, 17u and 18u age divisions and welcomed teams from the Minnesota Starters, Great Lakes Baseball and Northstar programs in addition to the Reds Scout Team.

The Reds Scout Team is always full of talent, but this year the roster is especially packed with talent, from both the 2022 and 2023 classes thanks to the wealth of talent in the Upper Midwest. This squad is put together to not only compete at numerous prestigious fall events in the Midwest but also on a national level in Jupiter, Fla. in mid-October. A few of the players who normally suit up with the GRB and Northstar teams are with the Reds for the all, and the Reds’ scouting staff isn’t afraid to extend its reach past the Midwest as players from Alabama, Kentucky and Texas also grace the roster.

The teams played in a round robin format on Saturday and Sunday. I took the action in on Saturday and have shared my scouting observations on the players that stood out below.

Ryan Bakes, C, Reds Scout Team

I had seen Bakes earlier this summer at the Ro Coleman Memorial leading up to the Fourth of July and he continued to stand out at the plate. He’s a shorter yet compactly strong 5-foot-10, 190-pound athlete who is really well put together. His arm is strong behind the plate with a quick release, and he took a beating behind the plate in the second game for the Reds Scout Team getting hit three different times: first in the shoulder, another time in the knee and finally in the jaw/throat area. He removed himself from the game on the last hit and already exhibited his toughness to hang in there as long as he did.

The strength at impact is obvious, as is the bat speed, with a knack for squaring up the baseball. He does have an aggressive swing, looking to hurt the baseball when the bat leaves his shoulder, but overall he has a disciplined approach and has a clear understanding of what he can drive. The strength in his hands and wrists is also obvious and in the bottom of the third inning of the Reds’ first game he drilled a line drive that bounced off the turf and over the fence in left-center for a ground-rule double. Bakes is going to be at all of the major, national events next summer and an impact player at the college level at South Carolina, if he makes it that far.

Cal Fisher, SS, Reds Scout Team

I wanted to start with Fisher and Bakes because they are truly two special 2023 grads from the area and both are more than holding their own on the Reds Scout Team. Fisher consistently gets the barrel on the ball looking to drive it from one gap to the other. I saw him earlier this summer hit doubles to both gaps on the same day and make it look rather easy in the process. He’s now listed at 6-foot, 185-pounds, but he keeps getting bigger, faster and stronger and with that some of those doubles are going to start sailing over the fence. His bat-to-ball skills are advanced, he understands the strike zone and he’s strong enough to go with pitches and drive them with authority.

On Saturday in his first at-bat (shown in the video/tweet) he hit a rocket back up the middle to the right field side of center. On Sunday he added a three-hit game with a pair of doubles. He didn’t stand out defensively but in previous viewings he makes all of the players with ample range and arm strength. Like Bakes, he’s going to get a lot of attention at national events next summer. Fisher is a Notre Dame recruit.

Tommy Specht, OF, Reds Scout Team

Specht is a 2022 and he’s already getting loads of attention this summer with a five-tool profile from an athletic 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. He checks a lot of boxes, and showed a few of those tools in one swing, yanking a pitch down the first base line past the out-stretched glove of the first baseman only to turn on the jets and wind up on third base. He runs really well underway with long, graceful strides and clearly has the strength to drive the ball with authority. The bat didn’t seem leave his shoulder much, other than that hit, at least during the Reds’ first two games on Saturday. Specht’s upside is about as high as they come and he’s an Ole Miss recruit that could get taken in the first round of next year’s draft.

Brendan Summerhill, OF, Reds Scout Team

Summerhill can really hit and is another player I saw earlier this summer giving me a good idea of what he’s capable of. He certainly passes the eye test physically at a well-proportioned 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, the same listing at Tommy Specht. He may not have Specht’s high-level athleticism, but he can more than hold his own and has impressive strength in his lefthanded swing. He hit sharp single to right field in the second inning of the first game and added a few more base hits during Sunday’s action; he’s not afraid to swing at the first pitch if it’s something he can hit hard. Summerhill recently decommitted from Kentucky and re-committed to Arizona, clearly a sign of a player that has his choice of schools to play for.

Estevan Moreno, SS, Reds Scout Team

During this same weekend a year ago I saw Moreno drive the ball with authority on the fields of the Woodside Sports Complex and he picked up where he left off this year. Another physical player with an athletic build (6-2/200) with room for added strength, Moreno is an offensive-minded infielder that plays both shortstop and third base and routinely hits the ball hard to all fields. In this look he hit a two-run single to right field, and while he was thrown out on the play it came with the second run crossing home plate. On Sunday he hit a three-run home run in a four-RBI performance. Moreno is a good overall athlete and shows good speed and rangy actions on the left side of the infield with a strong arm. He’s committed to play for Notre Dame.

Luke Adams, 1B, Reds Scout Team

Adams stands out for his imposing stature at a listed 6-foot-4, 215-pounds that looks as though he’s not quite done filling out yet. His big hit came towards the end of the second game, going down and sending a ball with easy strength to the opposite field gap for a double, giving onlookers a sense for his ability to extend and impact the ball with power. Adams is committed to Michigan State.

Catcher Evan Gustafson had a bloop two-run single to shallow left field in the bottom of the third in the first game and added a two-double, four-RBI game on Sunday morning. Brayden Bakes, the twin brother of Ryan, has a different profile from his brother as a left/left outfielder with an intriguing blend of power, speed and arm strength from a similar compact yet strong 5-foot-10, 180-pound build.

Wyatt Danilowicz, LHP, Reds Scout Team

Traverse City, Mich. native Wyatt Danilowicz took the mound first for the Reds, a sturdily-built  6-foot-1, 200-pound lefthander that’s heading to Louisville. He wasn’t overpowering but certainly effective moving his 87-89 mph fastball around the zone and complementing it well with a 74 mph curveball that he drops in well for strikes. If you have image in your mind of what a lefthander that attends Louisville looks like that likeness likely fits Danilowicz pretty well. He struck out four in three innings of work.

Cole Selvig, RHP, Reds Scout Team

A month earlier at the same complex I saw Selvig pitch an impressive complete game in which he sat in the upper-80s and really commanded his three-pitch arsenal well. In a shorter outing during this look (two innings) Selvig was able to open things up a bit, sitting at 89-90 mph while touching 91 and moving the pitch around the zone effectively. He dropped in his 77 mph breaking ball well, including one looking strikeout shown in the tweet, as well as pulling the string effectively on a low-80s change to lefthanded hitters. He looks like a Texas commit with a strong, 5-foot-11, 185-pound build and he’s still only a junior in high school. Given his continued, improved development, by this time next year Selvig likely will be sitting in the low-90s and touching the mid-90s while adding more power to his breaking ball.

Christian Oppor, LHP, Reds Scout Team

Oppor was the last of three pitchers to throw in the first game for the Reds Scout Team, and athletic lefthander with obvious arm talent that is still a work in progress. He came out bringing heat, sitting in the low-90s (90-92) and proving his stuff is really hard to catch up with. His command was really inconsistent as he’s more of a thrower than a pitcher at this stage of his development, and by his second inning of work he was throwing in the 85-87 mph range looking to throw more strikes. He did battle well during the process to get out of his two innings of work without allowing a run to score, striking out two and walking two with only one base hit allowed. Oppor’s secondary pitches will also need to be developed, but he’s a live-armed lefty which likely means he won’t remain uncommitted for much longer.

David Lally, RHP, Reds Scout Team

I could keep this brief and simply state that Lally can really pitch and tossed the most impressive outing that I saw all year. He commanded his three-pitch mix so incredible well, and started his outing with a well-placed 84 mph changeup on the outside corner against a lefthanded hitter. He moved his 89-90 mph fastball that touched 91 (and 93 on one radar gun) inside and out, busting a few batters in on the hands once he established the outer half. He went to his changeup a handful of times, sitting at 81-84, and dropped in his 73-75 mph curveball well, again, once he established he could put his fastball wherever he wanted. He got strikeouts, swinging, with all three pitches. He’s a 6-foot-4, 205-pound righthander committed to play for Notre Dame, again, if he gets there, and struck out five batters without allowing a base hit in three innings of work.

Brayden Riesdorph, RHP, Reds Scout Team

After Lally carved up GRB batters for three innings Riesdorph came in and blew them away for another two frames. His first fastball was 93, his second 94 and then he fired across a few 95s that the opposing hitters had no chance catching up with. In his second inning of work he worked in the 89-92 mph range, so he clearly was amped up, but it wouldn’t be surprisingly to see him working the upper-90s and flirting with triple digits. Possibly more impressive was the 83 mph changeup he pulled the string on a handful of times, proving that he had another effective pitch in his arsenal. At 6-foot-3, 235-pounds he is well built with a strong lower half and looks every part of either a workhorse with more refinement or a late-inning closer that doesn’t have to worry about pacing himself. Riesdorph is committed to Parkland CC.

Noah Samol, LHP, Reds Scout Team

Samol, like Christian Oppor the game before, is an intriguing lefthander who has some work to do to reach his lofty potential but is already showing plenty of signs of promise. At 6-foot-7, 220-pounds he’s an impressive physical specimen, and while he doesn’t consistently use his size to throw downhill you could tell on some pitches he used that size well to his advantage. What he did do well was create extension out of his hand from a slightly lower arm slot, as it looked like on a couple of his strikeouts that he was reaching out and handing the ball to the catcher. His fastball sat at 87-91 mph, striking out the side in his only inning of work, two (back-to-back) with elevated fastballs, swinging, clocked at 87 and 89. He also threw a 74 and a 76 mph secondary pitch that looked like a changeup but didn’t do much. The command needs greater consistency but it’s an exciting overall profile. Samol is a Georgia Tech recruit.

Zander Mueth, RHP, Reds Scout Team

It was hard to miss Mueth, even when congregated with his teammates, an impressive collection of physical players. Standing at 6-foot-5, 185-pounds, Mueth defines projection with slender proportions, long limbs and an effortless delivery. In this game he produced low-90s (90-92) heat and made it look easy, putting batters away with a wiffle-like upper-70s (78-79) slider that had sharp two-plane break. Mueth is ranked among the top prospects nationally for the class of 2023 and has already committed to play at Ole Miss. He, like Ryan Bakes and Cal Fisher, will be traveling from coast to coast next summer playing at all of the major scouting events.

Tyler Phelps Hemmsch, RHP, Northstar – Kvasnicka

An impressive overall athlete with a rangy and loose, 6-foot, 165-pound build, Phelps Hemmesch sequenced well between a fastball that sat in the low-80s early and ranged between 78-82 later in the game and a sharp, 68-72 mph curveball. He commanded both pitches well, showing particular comfort throwing his breaking ball in just about any count, including when behind.

Jake Berkland is another athletic-proportioned righthander that pitched for Northstar – Kvasnicka this weekend with a high-waisted yet smaller stature (5-9/145) that looks as though he hasn’t quite hit his physical peak. His fastball sat at 81-82 mph with a big, slow curveball.

Cooper Smith, RHP, Northstar – Crawford

Showing good arm strength for Northstar – Crawford was another athletic righthander, Cooper Smith. At 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, Smith isn’t overly physical but he repeats well and consistently delivered 82-84 mph fastballs while mixing in a 72-75 mph curveball that he showed very good feel for. Smith has been up to 88 mph at other events and looks as though he could add another tick or two to his velocity band in time.

Cade McGraw, OF, Northstar – Crawford

Sparking the Northstar – Crawford offense was 5-foot-11, 170-pound outfielder Cade McGraw. He showed strength in his hands by reaching out and drilling a high fastball to the opposite field gap in right-center before turning on the jets to leg out a triple. He scored on an RBI single up the middle by Drew Benson. Brayden Hellum followed Benson with an RBI double that was smoked.

Will Kent, RHP, Minnesota Starters

Kent was fun to watch pitch as he was in command of multiple pitches and clearly knew what he was doing. Built tall and lanky with room left to grow, fill out and add subsequent velocity, he’s effective now working in the 82-85 mph range, touching 88 once and showing really good arm-side run to grab the outside corner against righthanded hitters. His 73-75 mph curveball is also an effective pitch and he also threw one 79 mph changeup that I saw. Kent is committed to play at South Dakota State.

Ethan Coyer, RHP, Minnesota Starters

Coyer had a tough assignment taking the mound to face a loaded Reds Scout Team lineup. He pitched well, at least early, as he did give up six earned runs in four innings but struck out four, including a few swinging punchout against Ryan Bakes in the first inning. He established his fastball early at 85-86 mph but really liked to throw his 72-75 mph curveball that he dropped in well for strikes. He had a lot of confidence throwing the breaker and often pitched backwards, particularly when he was in a jam. He has a sturdy and strong 6-foot-1, 200-pound build.

Tyler Froland, IF/OF, Minnesota Starters

Froland wasn’t phased by the level of competition he was facing in the Reds Scout Team, really doing a nice job to put easy swings on elevated velocity with positive results. He went 2-for-3 in the game, hitting a double to the gap in left-center off hard-throwing righthander Cole Selvig, and added a loud flyout to the opposite field in right-center off lefthander Christian Oppor. At 6-foot-1, 200-pounds there’s natural strength to his frame. He plays both corner infield and outfield positions and that versatility gives him added value as an intriguing, uncommitted talent that can swing the stick.

Nolan Klug, RHP, GRB Rays Green (18u)

The Reds Scout Team faced a pair of formidable arms on Saturday with Klug starting the second game for the GRB Rays 18u Green team. Although his final numbers weren’t pretty, with seven walks and seven earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 inning of work, he started off strong, which included back-to-back punchouts in the first inning, one swinging on a high fastball and the second looking on a curveball. The fastball sat at 84-87 mph in this looking, touching 88, and he’s been up to 90 recently. His overhand curveball showed good downer break in the low-70s (70-72). Klug definitely looks the part at 6-foot-5, 225-pounds and looks as though he could add velocity over the next 2-3 years with continued development. Klug is uncommitted.

Aaron Jungers came on in relief of Klug and helped cool off the Reds bats by sequencing well between a mid-80s fastball and a mid-60s curveball. Showing good command of both pitches. Junger is an uncommitted two-way talent that throws lefthanded and bats righty. He allowed only one hit in three innings, walking three and striking out three. Shortstop Dylan O’Connell has a big arm at the shortstop position and the athleticism to make plays on the move. Vincent Gohlke showed intriguing velocity for a lefthander earlier in the day, sitting at 82-86 mph while showing some feel for a 67-70 mph curveball and a 73-74 mph changeup. He appeared to run out of gas in his second inning of work but is an uncommitted name to monitor. Catcher Howie Rickett recorded an in-game 2.09 POP time against the Reds with a strong, online throws.

Noah Wech, SS/RHP, GRB Rays Green (17u)

Wech, who’s about to begin his sophomore year in high school, had been playing with the 15u team this summer, and when the travel calendar flipped heading into the fall he was bumped up a level to play with the 17u squad. Wech is an athletic, well-built prospect who isn’t done growing into his frame while showing exciting tools already. At the plate he muscled a single to right field, showing good strength to go with the pitch and drive it oppo. He also took the mound on Saturday and fired low-80s (80-83) fastballs down in the zone in his first inning of work, settling into the 77-80 mph range in his second frame of action. It’s a live arm that serves him well defensively, too, as he’s a name to monitor heading into next spring and summer.

Garrett Kay, RHP, GRB MKE

Kay had a smaller stature, listed at 5-foot-9, 150-pounds, but that makes his 85-86 mph fastballs all the more impressive. He’s about to beging his junior year in high school and it looks like his frame is starting to fill out now so more velocity is likely on its way. In this outing he mixed in a solid curveball at 70-72 mph, inconsistent but overall showing a pretty good feel for the pitch; it could use more bite but he did snap off a few good ones. Kay exhibited a good pace early, throwing strikes while inducing ground ball contact for a quick 1-2-3 first inning. He started to get hit around as his fastball was elevated and straight catching a lot of the strike zone. There’s some effort to his delivery too, but again, the arm strength is what his profile so intriguing.

In the “things that don’t show up in a box score” category, two-way talent Noah Dreier smoked a ball to right field for a very loud out caught by the right fielder. It was an impressive piece of hitting barreling the baseball up as well as he did. Dreier stood out about a month earlier at the Woodside Sports Complex at the Midwest Premier Baseball 16u Top Prospect Series and continued to show well in Mauston.

A handful of players from GRB’s 16u team had strong, albeit brief showings on the fields at Woodside. Logan Dunn continued to barrel up the baseball, hitting a single up the middle showing his advanced bat-to-ball skills and knack for hard contact. Eason Hurd has a strong, physical build and yanked an RBI single down the left field line, following Dunn’s single. Anderson Hayes is a tall drink of water at a listed 6-foot-5, 170-pounds with a lot of room for added weight/strength. He followed Dunn and Hurd with a two-run single poked to right field that gave GRB an early lead.

In GRB 16u’s first game on Saturday Craig Kabat didn’t have his best stuff, working his fastball at 76-80 mph without much feel for his breaking ball, but he did a great job to battle through several innings of work to give his team a chance to win. I had seen him earlier this summer throw consistently harder with a sharp curveball and no doubt the long summer had likely taken its toll. Fellow 2024 righthander Josh Steger came on in relief and spotted his 78-79 mph fastball well, showing good feel for a 68 mph curveball to strikeout the side in his first inning of work.