Prep Baseball Report

2017 Top Prospect Games: Pitching Analysis

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor – Illinois/Wisconsin

Wrapping up our positional analysis of the 2017 Top Prospect Games we conclude with the pitching prospects. LHP Ben Dragani took the top spot as he showed advanced command of his repertoire and pitchability. Dragani’s 82 mph fastball is about as easy as it gets and projects to have plenty more in the tank. Closely following Dragani was Glen Albanese who showed the strongest arm at the event topping out at 86 mph.

Here’s a look at the top ten pitching prospects.

Top Pitching Prospects

1. Ben Dragani, LHP/1B, Catholic Memorial (WI), 2017
6-foot-3, 175-pound lanky, projectable left-handed hitting LHP/1B currently ranked No. 2 in Wisconsin’s 2017 class.  Impressed as the top two-way player in attendance at the 2017 Top Prospect Games.  Hits from a tall, narrows setup, with slight leg kick, and short, smooth, level bat path producing 79 mph exit velocity.  Showed good feet around the bag at first, and feel for turning the double play.  Ran 4.63 from home to first. Projects well on the mound throwing from short, loose, high ¾ arm slot with easy effort.  Utilizes tall and fall delivery with level shoulders, keeping lower half in-line with home.  Fastball sat 79-82 mph with run, and late finish through the zone.  72-74 mph slider showed sweeping action, backing up/spinning at times.  76 mph changeup showed plus action with arm side run on a swinging strike three.  Dragani is a high level prospect on the mound, but showed he could handle the bat as well.

2. Glenn Albanese, RHP, Batavia HS, IL, 2017
Physically advanced 6-foot-4, 206-pound right-handed pitcher looks to be one of the premier 2017 prospects in Illinois we’ve seen thus far. Showcased the 2017 Top Prospect Games best fastball velocity, touching 86 multiple times in his second outing of the event. In the first day, Albanese sat 82-84, touching 85. In a brief second outing on Day 2, he was stronger, showing consistent 85-86 velocity with arm-side life down in the zone. Should see significant velocity spike in future when he begins to involve lower half more aggressively. Works from high three-quarter slot, stays tall, works downhill well. Upper-70s changeup shows excellent promise as well; threw a few in game play that had plus arm-side action. Pitch can evolve into power changeup. Also showed feel for curveball, in 69-71 range; showed ability to throw for strikes with gradual break. With his size and arm, Albanese should become one of the more coveted 2017 prospects in the coming years.

3. Antonio Saldana, LHP, Joliet Catholic, 2017
Physical presence, strong extra large build, 6-foot-4, 200-pound left handed pitcher, physically strong but yet to mature, highly projectable. Delivery works from the stretch only, toe lift to balance position, can load over rubber better, smooth rhythm, athletic finish. Arm action is long, loose, ¾ slot, strong arm. Fastball features running action, heavy feel, showed control of the zone, ranged 77-80 mph, touched 81 mph. Changeup is best secondary pitch, showed excellent fading action, plus potential pitch, 73-76 mph. Slider has lateral action, some slurve, 66-69 mph, softer action. Struck out five in two innings of game play.

4. Jacob Lindemann, RHP/1B, Burlington (WI), 2017
Long projectable build, 6-foot-3, 185-pound two-way player. Projects better on the mound, delivery is simple, tall and fall approach, works on line, little lower half involvement. Arm action is short and loose, quick arm, works downhill. Fastball has run, downhill plane, well above average action through the zone, pitched at 82-85 mph, showed feel of the zone. Curveball lacked shape, had back up tendencies, flashed a hard biter on a steeper plane, 68-72 mph. Offensively hits from the right side, balanced stance, short leg lift stride, stride opens, solid balance. Bat path is short, gets some extension, stays on top creates some back spin. 82 mph exit velocity from the tee. 4.72 runner down the line. At first base, showed a strong arm across the diamond, 81 mph, short arm action and accurate.

5. Nolan Rebernick, RHP, Union Grove, 2017
6-foot-1, 160-pound right-handed pitcher, average pitcher frame with athleticism. Works exclusively from the stretch, delivery is online, shows the ability to repeat, compact loading position. Arm action is loose, short draw, high ¾ slot, minimal effort. Fastball has running action, 80-82 mph, touched 83 mph, showed control. Curveball has 11/5 shape, later action in the zone, 67-70 mph. Showed a splitter at 68-73 mph, flashed occasional tumbling action.

6. Konnor Ash, RHP, Plainfield South, 2017
5-foot-9, 150-pound right-handed pitcher. Delivery is clean, athletic, directional and efficient, works off of firm front leg. Arm action is clean and quick, high ¾ slot, arm works loosely, above average arm speed, more velocity down the road. Fastball shows run, slight sinking action, 77-80 mph, showed the ability to command and pound the zone. Showed two breaking balls, similar action on both curveball and slider, 68-72 mph on both, slurve action, flashed sharp bite.

7. Christopher Zak, RHP, Shorewood HS, WI, 2017
5-foot-9, 140-pound right-handed pitcher, wiry, live-bodied frame. Quick, athletic arm, high three-quarter slot, shorter arm action; repeats delivery, excellent tempo, athletic finish. Throws three pitches for strikes; curveball shows advanced action for age. Curveball has true 12/6 action, tight spin, sharp, late break in 67-70 range. Throws curveball with conviction; has potential to be swing-and-miss pitch. Fastball topped at 81 mph, sitting consistently at 79, with arm-side run. Changeup is also solid offering, in 68-70 range; throws pitch with fastball arm action, and shows occasional arm-side fade. Mixes pitches well in game; keeps hitters off balance; good overall mound presence. With his athleticism and mechanics, Zak should continue to add velocity as he physically develops in the coming years.

8. Evan Spry, RHP, Janesville Craig, 2017
6-foot, 160-pound right handed pitcher, thin build with projection. Clean repeatable delivery, works consistently on line, maintains strong balance through release. Arm action is long and loose, slight wrap on back side, ¾ slot, easy effort. Fastball sat 75-76 mph, touching 77 mph periodically, fastball played well with run and command, strike thrower. Changeup had advanced action for age, fastball arm action, worked with sinking action, showed the ability to command 70-71 mph. Flashed occasional breaking ball, 64-66 mph. Spry shows a good projection on the mound, arm working easily from ¾ slot makes for his well above average fastball changeup combination, excellent arm side action.

9. Ryan Bader, LHP, Mukwonago (WI), 2017
Thin slender build, long limbed, high waisted, 6-foot, 145-pound left-handed pitcher. Tall and fall delivery, minimal effort, works with rhythm, high leg lift, stays closed, crossbody delivery. Arm action is loose and quick, long draw, high ¾ slot. Fastball has run, slight sink, showed above average control, 75-77 mph, touched 78 mph. Curveball worked on 11/5 plane, sweeping action, showed some depth, big bender, 65-66 mph, feel for pitch continued to improve later in outing. Bader projects well and will be an intriguing prospect to follow, high follow in Wisconsin’s 2017 class.

10. Blake Begner, LHP/OF, Peoria Heights HS, IL, 2017
5-foot-8, 140-pound two-way player. Showed well on the mound at the 2017 Top Prospect Games, demonstrating ability to throw three pitches for strikes. Works from over-the-top slot, quick, clean arm action, hides the ball well. Fastball topped at 79 mph, sitting 76-78, with arm-side run. Athletic delivery, stays tall on backside well. Throws changeup with conviction at 67-68 mph, occasional sink. Also throws curveball in 62-66 range. Offensively, hits from a balanced, wider setup, athletic hands, line-drive approach; 79 mph exit velocity. Moves athletically in the outfield, shows natural outfield instincts, arm plays, recorded 76 mph with consistent accuracy.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Casey Barr, SS/RHP, Francis Parker HS, IL, 2017
6-foot-1, 160-pound two-way player. On the mound, worked three quick, clean innings, throwing consistent strikes. Works from over-the-top slot, short arm action, regular effort, has tendency to fall off to first base side. Fastball sat between 71-75 mph. Curveball ranged between 59-63; recorded two strikeouts with pitch. Also threw a 67-68 mph changeup. Defensively, showed reliable hands at shortstop; was clocked at 71 mph across infield. Registered 64 mph exit velocity and ran a 4.88 home-to-first time.

Jonathan Butler, OF/RHP, Minooka HS, IL, 2017
6-foot-1, 150-pound two-way player, projectable, athletic frame; left-handed hitter, right-handed pitcher. Was one of the top athletes at the 2017 Top Prospect Games; ran an event-best 4.33 home-to-first time from the left side. Offensively, has a balanced, square setup; currently a handsy type hitter, potential for more power potential down the road with more lower-half involvement. Has level, flat path, quiet mechanics, line-drive approach; registered 73 mph exit velocity. From the outfield, throws from over the top slot, made accurate throws at 76 mph. On the mound, works from high three-quarter slot, repeats athletic delivery well, arm works with ease. Fastball topped at 75 mph, sitting 72-73. Showed solid feel for changeup, at 68 mph, with some arm-side sink. Also throws 58-61 mph curveball.

Zach Campbell, OF/LHP, Burlington, 2017
5-foot-10, 152-pound left-handed two-way prospect, athletic build, projectable. Left-handed hitter, open stance, short stride, maintains strong balance. Efficient bat path, stays on top of the baseball, loose athletic hands, pull side approach in BP, 77 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively showed natural actions in the outfield, plays through the baseball well, clean exchange, with softer hands. Arm action is loose, high ¾ slot, accurate arm plays well to bases, showed carry, 75 mph from the outfield. On the mound fastball sat 70-74 mph, flashed cutting action. Curveball has 11/5 shape, 65-67 mph. Showed good feel for multiple pitches.

Mason Coon, OF/LHP, St. Joseph-Ogden, 2017
6-foot-2, 165-pound lanky left-handed hitting OF/LHP hits from a wide, crouched setup  with a long stride and long, level bat path looking to pull with 74 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, threw 76 mph from the outfield from a long, high ¾ arm slot with some accuracy.  On the mound, works from same arm slot with level shoulders and lower half staying on-line with home plate.  Shows some rhythm in tall and fall delivery, producing 71-75 mph fastballs with erratic location.  Throws slider with 2/8 shape hard at 66-68 mph and notched a strikeout wit it..  Straight change was thrown at 67 mph.

Ryan Finnel, RHP/3B, Waunakee (WI), 2017
6-foot-1, 160-pound lanky right-handed hitting RHP/3B hits from a wide, slightly closed setup with a short stride and short level bat path producing 75 mph exit velocity.  Took an opposite field approach, staying inside the baseball hitting several line drives to right center during batting practice.  Defensively, moves slightly hunched after the baseball, throwing from a loose ¾ arm action with some accuracy at 69 mph across the infield.  Ran 4.72 from home to first.  Had two hits, including a double in first game.  On the mound threw 72-74 mph fastball from high ¾ arm slot with a wrap, slightly higher than in the infield.  Slowed arm on 60-62 mph curveball with 11/5 shape.  62-64 mph changeup showed some fade.

Sam Fradin, RHP/3B, Deerfield HS, IL, 2017
5-foot-11, 165-pound two-way player. On the mound, right-hander operates from high three-quarter slot, short, clean arm action; loose, athletic arm, minimal effort; stays tall on backside. Fastball ranged between 75-78 mph, touching 80 once.  Curveball ranged between 59-61 mph, 12/6 shape, showed ability to throw pitch for strikes. Also threw changeup at 68 mph. Positionally, plays third base, some carry across infield (75 mph). Offensively, hits from tall, narrow, open setup. Inconsistent swing mechanics, occasionally incorporates more pronounced leg kick; when synched up, showed some lift and backspin carry during BP. Ran a 4.76 home-to-first.

Alec Hartsell, LHP, Joliet Catholic Academy HS, IL, 2017
6-foot-4, 185-pound left-handed pitcher with projectable frame. Works from high three-quarter slot, short arm action. Opens lower half early. Fastball topped at 79 mph, sitting in 75-77 range, with erratic action. Fastball showed more cut action, though occasionally demonstrated arm-side run. Showed better feel for curveball, in 64-65 range. Also threw a 66-68 mph changeup.

Hunter Keim, RHP, Rock Island HS, IL, 2017
6-foot, 145-pound right-handed pitcher; wiry, athletic frame, plenty of room to physically develop. Arm works free and easily, high three-quarter slot, long on the backside. Athletic delivery, good rhythm and tempo, works slightly across his body. Fastball topped at 79 mph, sitting mostly in 75-76 range, with arm-side run and occasional sink. More velocity likely to come as he fills into his frame. Showed ability to throw three pitches for strikes, including 66-69 curveball. Also threw 70-74 changeup with erratic results.

Cooper Kelly, RHP/OF, Edgewood (WI), 2017
5-foot-9, 142-pound two-way player. On the mound delivery works with regular effort, longer arm action, high ¾ slot. Fastball ranged from 74-77, touched 79 mph. Curveball ranged 63-66 mph with steeper plane. Slider is harder at 68-72 mph, more lateral action. Offensively hits from a balanced stance, slightly closed stance, slightly dives, high finish. 78 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively plays from the outfielder with a longer arm action, feet work well, fluid with above average actions. 80 mph from the outfield, 4.54 runner.

Noah Konie, 1B/LHP, Huntley, 2017
Big build, 6-foot, 200-pound left handed hitting first baseman, present strength. Offensively hits from an open stance, smooth loading action, short stride, good balance through contact. Pull side power approach, shows the ability to go opposite field, impacts the ball well with repeatability. Well above average bat speed, 78 mph exit velocity from the tee. Showed similarly in game, several hard hit baseball, including a double. Defensively shows natural actions around the bag, longer arm action, high ¾ slot, 73 mph arm across the diamond. Softer hands, advanced defender at first base. On the mound fastball pitched at 75-77 mph, showed feel. Curveball had control of the zone, near fastball arm action. Showed a good mix of fastball curveball.

Connor McCormick, C/RHP, Manteno HS, IL, 2017
6-foot, 140-pound multi-positional player, thin frame. Defensively, shows above-average arm strength behind plate, registering 76 mph from crouch with top pop times of 2.03, 2.04. Accuracy varied, effort in throw. Shows athletic feet behind plate. Offensively, hits from balanced setup, bars arm on load, some length in swing, recorded 80 mph exit velocity. On the mound, has short, quick arm action, over-the-top slot. Fastball ranged between 77-78 mph, while curveball sat between 65-68.

Blake Munch, MIF/RHP, Joliet Catholic, 2018
5-foot-10, 140-pound athletic right-handed hitting MIF/RHP hits from a balanced, slightly open setup, with a short, toe-tap stride, with a short, level, bat path getting extension producing 84 mph exit velocity.  Took impressive batting practice spraying line drives from gap-to-gap with good barrel whip through the zone.  Defensively, throws 72 mph across the diamond from short, loose, high ¾ arm slot with accuracy and carry.  Stayed back on balls at short, with slower feet, but possesses soft hands and clean exchanges.  Looked more comfortable at second base during games, and made a few good run through type plays.  Singled sharply up the middle staying back on a curveball during games, also stole second and third.  Ran between 4.69-4.83 from home to first.  On the mound, fastball sat from 73-76 mph from same arm slot.  Mechanics are clean and repeats, showing feel for three pitches.  Threw 11/5 curveball for strikes consistently, with slowed arm action between 60-65 mph.  Changes arm action slightly on curveball, pre-setting it early.  Changeup was thrown near fastball arm speed at 68-70 mph. 

Jacob Passow, 3B/RHP, Germantown, 2017
6-foot-2, 180-pound two-way player, larger frame, projectable body. Right handed hitter, has some power projection, balanced stance, shorter stride. Bat path is flat, spray hitter, showed the ability to work both gaps, easy swing, 80 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm played at 74 mph across the diamond. Corner infield type defender, high ¾ arm with long draw. On the mound fastball ranged 70-73 mph. Curveball ranged 59-63 mph.

Jake Pomykalski, RHP/1B, Lincoln-Way East, 2017
Large frame and build, 6-foot-3, 195-pound two-way player. On the mound delivery works on line, lower half opens early. Operates from a high ¾ slot, shorter arm action. Fastball has sink, slight run, 76-78 mph showed occasional feel. Slider has sweeping action, ranged from 65-70 mph. Straight change sits between 68-71 mph, occasional deceleration. Showed the ability to throw all pitches for strikes, sinker slider type guy, produced many groundballs in game action. Offensively hits from a slightly open stance, toe tap double stride, erratic timing. Flashed raw pop, longer path with strength, 84 mph exit velocity from the tee.

Max Rimac, LHP/1B, Niles Notre Dame HS, IL, 2017
6-foot-3, 170-poundtwo-way player; athletic, projectable frame with plenty of room for continued physical development. Left-handed pitcher with clean, easy arm action, high three-quarter slot, works across body, maintains good tempo and rhythm throughout athletic delivery. Fastball ranged between 74-77 mph with significant arm-side run. More velocity should come with few minor mechanical tweaks. Changeup ranged between 69-72, while curveball registered 60-61; recorded a strikeout with each secondary pitch. Also showed well offensively. Has athletic left-handed swing; hits from open setup and demonstrated good rhythm and timing in box. In game action, took several highly competitive at-bats, including one in which he fouled off five pitches before singling sharply up the middle to drive in two runs. Recorded 78 mph exit velocity and was clocked at 72 mph across the infield at first base. High follow prospect in the 2017 class.

Gabe Schimpf, OF/LHP, Herrin HS, IL, 2017
5-foot-7, 140-pound two-way athlete. High-energy, high-motor player; arguably the best athlete at the 2017 Top Prospect Games. Moves fluidly, natural outfield instincts, gets good reads off the bat. Accurate arm, 78 mph, works downhill well. Offensively, hits from right side; has balanced, simple approach, quiet mechanics, repeats swing. Has athletic hands, level bat path, allows ball to travel deep, maintains excellent balance through contact, line-drive approach, good barrel control. In game play, made consistent hard contact and recorded several hits. On the mound, left-hander throws three pitches for strikes. Athletic delivery, high three-quarter slot, has good tempo and rhythm. Changeup shows advanced action, 63-65 mph, with arm-side sink; throws pitch aggressively and for strikes. Fastball topped at 77 mph, sitting in 75-76 range, with sink. Curveball ranged between 68-70 mph, more sweeping action. Throws all three pitches with similar arm action; attacks hitters with repertoire.

Michael Stupinski, RHP, Fenwick HS, IL, 2017
Highly projectable 6-foot-3, 165-pound right-handed pitcher; lanky, athletic frame, long limbs with plenty of room for physical development. Works from high three-quarter slot, short arm action, quick, loose and athletic. Fastball topped at 80 mph, sitting in 77-78 range, with occasional arm side run and sink. As he fills into frame, should develop more natural velocity. Breaking ball flashed 11/5 shape, ranging between 68-72 mph. Also threw a changeup ranging between 66-69 mph. Overall, Stupinski looks to be one of the more projectable 2017 pitchers we’ve seen thus far. High-follow prospect.

Max Van Boxel, LHP/OF, Green Bay East (WI), 2017
6-foot-1, 190-pound left-handed hitting OF/LHP hits from a balanced setup, with a short stride, and short, uphill bat path, collapsing on backside at times producing 83 mph exit velocity.  Showed loose arm in the outfield throwing 78 mph from high ¾ slot with carry.  Ran 4.63 from home to first.  Impressed on the mound with 75-79 mph fastball with arm side run thrown for strikes.  Arm action is long and loose, high ¾, from a tall-and-fall delivery.  Upper half gets out ahead of lower half at times, toppling, but rhythm is smooth and repeats delivery with closed shoulders and slightly closed landing on front foot.  62-65 mph curveball backed up at times, while also showing 11/5 action when thrown for strikes.  66-70 mph changeup showed sink and was also thrown for strikes.

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