Central Illinois Open: Pitching Analysis



By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

The Central Illinois Open took place on Wednesday, August 6th on the campus of Normal West HS.  The open showcase featured prospects from the 2015-2018 classes in Illinois.  The Central Illinois Open is a long standing event in the PBR schedule and has unveiled several high end prospect over the years including such names as Cole Daily (Sacred Heart Griffin, 2015, Notre Dame), Cole Bellair (Lockport, 2015, Illinois) and Connor Manous (Munster, 2016, Miami).  Several players impressed at this year’s event, and may see similar success over the next two years.  Over the next week we will reveal the top players at each position, and then finish with the top overall prospects from the event. 

CLICK HERE for the article on top statistical performers from the Central Illinois Open.

Today we’ll take a look at pitchers, where four left-handers dominated our top five overall prospects, led by Kewanee’s Colton Johnson.  6-foot-3 and taller left-handed pitchers don’t grow on trees, but the Central Illinois Open featured three of them leading off our list.  Johnson boasts a plus frame, and quick, loose arm action with a feel for three pitches.  Central Catholic’s Jacob Gilmore was not far behind, has a similar proto-typical pitcher’s build, and also worked in the low-to-mid 80’s with his fastball.  Edwardsville’s Tynan Zeller was yet another 6-foot-4 lefty scraping the low 80’s, with a smooth, repeatable delivery.

Let's take a look at the top overall pitching prospects at this year's Central Illinois Open.

Top Overall Pitchers

1. Colton Johnson, LHP, Kewanee, 2016
6-foot-4, 200-pound left-handed pitcher with a strong lower half impressed as one of the top arm at the Central Illinois Open.  Johnson works from a short, loose, high ¾ arm slot, tall and fall delivery, toe down at balance point, shoulders stay level throughout, stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands square, repeats delivery well with smooth rhythm.  Fastball sat 82-83 mph, touching 85 on his final pitch.  It features late, hard run and he commands it especially to his arm side.  Breaking ball at 69-70 mph flashed plus, late 11/5 break when he stayed on top/behind it, became slurvy when he got on the side.  Johnson also throws a split change/fosh with sink between 70-75 mph.  His feel for three pitches, present fastball velocity, clean arm action, and sturdy frame make him a high follow prospect, and potentially a high level Division-1 arm.

2. Jacob Gilmore, LHP, Central Catholic, 2016
6-foot-3, 185-pound left-handed pitcher with projectable frame impressed as one of the top pitching prospects at the Central Illinois Open, currently ranked No. 61 in Illinois’ 2016 class.  Works from a long, loose, high ¾ arm slot, simple delivery, picks leg straight up to balance point, arches back slightly at balance point, stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands slightly closed at foot strike.  Fastball sat 82-84 mph with sink, thrown for strikes consistently.  65-68 mph curveball flashed 12/6 shape with occasional late bit, other times pulled off the pitch a bit making shape erratic.  Showed plus feel of a 75-76 mph changeup with fade to his arm side thrown consistently for strikes.  Gilmore has gained nearly 10 mph on his fastball since we saw him in February of 2013, and he still projects to throw harder.  He will be a prospect to watch closely over the next two years in the class of 2016.

3. Tynan Zeller, LHP, Edwardsville, 2015
6-foot-4, 190-pound lanky and projectable left-handed pitcher currently ranked No. 193 in Illinois’ 2015 class.  Works from a short, loose, high ¾ arm slot, delivering fastballs on a downhill plane between 78-81 mph.  Loads lower half extremely well over the rubber, tall and fall type delivery, front side elevates, lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands slightly closed at foot strike.  66-69 mph slider, and 65-67 mph curveball blended together, each showing 11/5 shape with occasional depth thrown for strikes.  72-74 mph changeup was thrown with good arm speed and sinking action.  Zeller has a clean arm action and a plus frame.  He’s the type of candidate who could see a velocity bump in the next year or early in his collegiate career.

4. Jack Butler, OF/LHP, Tri-Valley, 2016
6-foot-1, 170-pound left-handed hitting outfielder/left-handed pitcher currently ranked No. 123 in Illinois’ 2016 class.  Impressed with explosive bat speed registering 89 mph exit velocity, tops at the Central Illinois Open.  Hits from a wide, open setup, utilizes a leg kick, gets extension with a high finish and line drives from gap-to-gap.  Defensively, threw 82 mph from long, loose, high ¾ to over-the-top arm slot with carry.  Showed average hands playing through the baseball and aggressively crow hops.  Ran a 7.05 60 and 4.50 seconds from home to first.  On the mound, fastball sat 78-81 mph from the same arm slot as in the outfield, with arm side run and above average arm speed.  Utilizes tall and fall delivery, uphill shoulders with front glove side elevated, stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands square with smooth rhythm throughout, glide steps from the stretch.  63-65 mph curveball backed up at times, shows feel for 65-69 mph changeup thrown for strikes with arm side run.  Butler is a prospect to follow closely over the next two years thanks to his athletic all-around game.

5. Cam Brown, MIF/RHP, Pontiac, 2016
6-foot, 150-pound lanky left-handed hitting MIF/RHP impressed more on the mound with long, quick, loose, high ¾ arm slot delivering 80-82 mph fastballs with arm side run and smooth, easy effort in delivery.  Utilizes tall and fall delivery, shoulders stay level, closed off at balance point, lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands closed throwing across his body.  66-72 mph breaking ball was best when it had 11/5 shape with slider like action.  Also threw a split at 67-69 mph with bottom, consistently down in the zone.  Hits from a balanced, wide setup, short stride, hands load smoothly, producing short, level bat path with extension.  81 mph exit velocity off the tee.  Defensively, showcased middle infield actions with soft hands, and same athletic arm action as on the mound with accuracy.  Hands work, but may be relegated to 2B or a corner infield position if foot speed doesn’t increase.  Ran an 8.28 60, and 5.10 from home to first.

5. Matt Richey, RHP, Sacred Heart-Griffin, 2015
6-foot-2, 230-pound right-handed pitcher, extra-large frame, wide shoulders, thick lower half, impressed with feel for three pitches.  Works from short, quick, high ¾ arm slot, gets over rubber at balance point, tall and fall delivery, up-tempo rhythm, rushing at times towards the plate.  Shoulders stay level throughout delivery, stride direction stays in line with home plate, but opens up lower half early.  Fastball sat 81-83 mph, touching 84 on his final pitch.  12/6 downer curveball sat between 68-70 mph and flashed occasional, above average depth.  Slows arm some on 66-69 mph changeup with arm side run.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Kyle Blunt, LHP/OF, Honenegah, 2016
6-foot-3, 185-pound athletic, strong, plus framed left-handed hitting outfielder/left-handed pitcher hit from a wide, crouched setup, backwards toe-tap load, hands move down and back in load, producing short bat path with pull tendencies and 71 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, threw 81 mph from the outfield from long, high ¾ arm slot with carry and accuracy.  On the mound, long, loose, high ¾ arm action delivered fastballs between 77-79 mph touching 81 once with arm side run.  Utilizes drop and drive delivery, collapsing on back leg, with regular effort, shoulders work slightly uphill, lower half stride direction opens up slightly towards third base side.  62-64 mph breaking ball showed 2/8 sweeping shape.  Underneath 65-67 mph changeup at times, with occasional cutting action. 

Jackson Bronke, RHP/MIF, Normal, 2016
5-foot-9, 165-pound two-way player. Projects more on the mound. Delivery is up-tempo, regular effort. Arm action is loose quick arm speed, high ¾ slot. Fastball has slight running action, 80-82 mph touches 83 mph. Throws two breaking balls, curveball has 11/5 shape, 62-66 mph. Slider has flatter action, throws from lower slot, 67-68 mph. . Defensively uses a short arm action from a high ¾ slot, showed occasional carry across the diamond, 78 mph. Showed the ability to play on the move, showed some body control, athletic arm action. Right handed hitter, closed stance, leg kick trigger, minimal lower half. Line drive type hitter, occasionally lunges, 82 mph exit velocity from the tee. Ran a laser timed 7.81 60.

Ricky Collins, MIF/RHP, Coal City, 2015
6-foot, 190-pound right-handed hitting middle infielder/right-handed pitcher hits from an open setup, utilizes a leg kick.  Swing works uphill hitting several line drives to the opposite field during batting practice with 76 mph exit velocity off the tee.  Defensively, threw 71 mph across the diamond from short, high ¾ arm slot with accuracy.  Ran a 7.76 60, 4.61 seconds from home to first.  On the mound, raises arm slot a bit to over-the-top, throwing slightly across his body.  Fastball sat 73-76 mph, 64-68 mph breaking ball was better out of the stretch with some lateral movement.  Changeup had cutting action at 68-70 mph. 

Kyle Comincioli, OF/RHP, Pontiac, 2016
6-foot-3, 180-pound lanky, right-handed hitting outfielder/right-handed pitcher hits from a tall, narrow, open setup, long stride, long, uphill bat path hitting several line drives up the middle with pop to his pull side.  76 mph exit velocity off the tee.  Defensively, throws 77 mph from the outfield from a short, over the top arm slot, playing through the baseball with an aggressive crow hop when fielding.  Ran a 7.53 60, 5.22 seconds from home to first.  On the mound, loose, over the top arm slot creates downhill plane on 77-79 mph fastball thrown for strikes.  Easy effort from tall and fall type delivery, with a slight pause at balance point when getting over the rubber, shoulders stay level throughout, lower-half stride direction is in line with home plate, lands slightly closed at times.  69-72 mph changeup cuts at times with downward action.

Jason Cross, RHP, New Berlin, 2015 
6-foot-2, 175-pound right-handed pitcher throws from a short, loose, high ¾ arm slot, pitching exclusively from the stretch.  Sets with lower half open, toe up at balance point, stride direction results in foot strike being slightly open.  Fastball sat 76-79 mph with occasional arm side run.  Threw a 65-67 mph curveball with 12/6 shape, but best secondary offering proved to be hard 71-74 mph cutter with lateral break.

Cole Dillon, OF/RHP, Normal West, 2016
6-foot, 165-pound right-handed hitting outfielder/right-handed pitcher hits from a tall, balanced setup, hands load back smoothly, short stride, lower half opens up early, leading to short, level bat path, hitting several line drives in batting practice with pull tendencies and 83 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, threw 75 mph from the outfield from long, over the top arm slot with some accuracy.  Ran a 7.40 60, 4.69 from home to first.  On the mound, fastball sat 73-76 mph, regular effort, shoulders stay level throughout delivery, lands slightly open, arm action is the same as in the outfield.  Slide steps from the stretch.  Slows arm and body on 58-60 mph curveball with 12/6 shape.  Curveball was more consistent from the stretch.  62-63 mph changeup flashed sinking action.

Nathan Earl, LHP/OF, Sherrad, 2016
6-foot-1, 150-pound lanky left-handed hitting outfielder/left-handed pitcher hit from a wide, balanced setup, front foot starts closed, utilizes short leg kick, high back elbow producing short, level bat path with 71 mph exit velocity.  Defensively in the outfield, threw 79 mph from long, loose, high ¾, to ¾ arm slot with accuracy.  Played through the baseball with soft hands and athletic actions.  On the mound, utilizes same arm slot as in the outfield, with a slight wrap/hook in the back of arm swing.  Delivery shows rhythm, tall-and-fall type, landing slightly close at front foot strike.    Fastball sat 72-75 mph touching 77.  Threw strikes with 62-64 mph sweeping slider.  Missed arm side and up with 68-70 mph changeup with arm side run and arm action similar to fastball.  Earl should have more in the tank with his fastball in the future, especially considering how athletically he throws the baseball from the outfield.  He could end up being an 84-85 mph lefty with a plus changeup.

Rylee Goodwin, RHP/OF, Georgetown, 2015
6-foot, 160-pound right-handed hitting outfielder/right-handed pitcher hit from a wide base, closed stance, hands drop during load, short stride, with short, level bat path with line drive and pull tendencies.  80 mph exit velocity off the tee.  Defensively, threw 82 mph from the outfield from long, loose, high ¾ arm action, shoulders work uphill with carry and some accuracy.  Ran a 7.15 60, 4.54 seconds from home to first.  On the mound, works from same arm slot, slight stab in back of arm, utilizes drop and drive delivery with some effort, lands closed throwing slightly across his body.  Slide steps from the stretch.  Fastball sat between 80-82 mph, touch 83 once.  Shortens arm action and really gets on top of 62-64 mph breaking ball with 11/5 shape that was inconsistent for strikes.  Showed better feel for his 68-70 mph changeup with occasional sink.

Eric Huizinga, RHP, Batavia, 2015
6-foot-1, 200-pound right-handed pitcher, strong build, muscular lower half, works from  a short, high ¾ arm slot with regular effort.  Delivery has some rhythm, lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands slightly open on front side, shoulders work downhill.  Threw strikes with all three pitches starting with fastball at 80-83 mph.  68-70 mph curveball showed 11/5 shape with late break at times.  73-74 mph changeup flashed sinking action.

Tyler Joaquin, OF/RHP, Normal West, 2018
5-foot-6, 150-pound two-way player. On the mound works from a high ¾ slot, regular effort. Fastball is mostly straight, 67-68 mph. Curveball has gradual action, 12/6 shape, 55-57 mph. Showed a splitter at 59-62 mph with sink. Right handed hitter, wide stance, crouched setup, lower half collapsed, leg kick trigger. 68 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively uses a long arm action, high ¾ slot from the outfield, 69 mph arm strength from the outfield.

Blake Kons, RHP, Niles West, 2015
6-foot, 175-pound right-handed pitcher impressed with a feel for three pitches throwing his fastball, slider, and changeup for strikes.  Works from a full overhead windup, easy effort, compact delivery, toe up at balance point short with a short, loose, high ¾ arm action.  Lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate.  Cuts down leg lift out of the stretch considerably, quick to the plate.  Fastball sat 77-80 mph, touching 81 mph.  68-69 mph slider had sweepy, breaking action with 10/4 shape and depth.  Showed plus feel for 72-74 mph changeup thrown at fastball arm speed with fade to his arm side. 

Andrew Kurdys, OF/RHP, Normal West, 2017
5-foot-10, 140-pound two way player. Defensively in the outfield uses a long ¾ arm action, some accuracy, 74 mph arm strength from the outfield. Right handed hitter, open stance, crouched setup, short stride. Bat path works uphill, slight pull side approach. 72 mph exit velocity from the tee. Ran a 7.82 laser timed 60. On the mound arm action is long, high ¾ slot. Fastball pitches at 71-72 mph. Curveball has gradual action at 59-60 mph. Flashed a changeup at 64-66 mph.

Alex Larson, RHP/1B, Hononegah, 2016
6-foot-4, 185-pound left-handed hitting right-handed pitcher/first baseman with wide shoulders and projectable frame.  Hits from a wide setup, short stride, drops hands down and back to load, wraps barrel slightly, uphill bath path with pull tendencies produced 78 mph exit velocity off the tee.  Defensively, threw 73 mph across the diamond from long, high ¾ arm action with some accuracy.  On the mound utilized same arm slot, tall and fall delivery, shoulders work uphill, throws across body falling off towards first base side.  Fastball sat 77-79 mph with running action thrown for strikes.  62-65 mph breaking ball backed up at times with 11/5 shape.  Had more success throwing his breaking ball for strikes from the stretch position.  Ran a 7.97 60, 5.08 from home to first.

Dentler Loschen, OF/RHP, Armstrong Township, 2015
5-foot-11, 155-pound right-handed hitting outfielder/right-handed pitcher hits from a tall, closed setup, short stride, slight leg kick, drops hands producing long, level bat path with up the middle tendencies and 73 mph exit velocity off the tee.  Defensively, threw 80 mph from the outfield from long, loose, high ¾ arm slot with some accuracy.  Fields position athletically, runs a 7.23 60, 4.83 from home to first.  On the mound, works from a short, loose, high ¾ arm slot, drop and drive delivery, lower half opens up early, lands open, falls off towards first base side.  Fastball sat 79-82 mph with lively arm side run.  Showed feel for 12/6 curveball at 65-68 mph thrown for strikes. 

Reid Rector, 1B/LHP, Bloomington, 2018
6-foot-1, 145-pound left-handed hitting first baseman/left-handed pitcher impressed at the plate hitting from a balanced setup with a short, leg kick stride, with a short, level bat path producing 74 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, threw 60 mph across the diamond from first from short, high ¾ arm action.  Ran a 7.44 60 and 4.75 seconds from home to first.  On the mound, utilized the same short, high ¾ arm slot, shoulders stay level throughout delivery, lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate, easy effort.  Arm action is clean, repeats delivery well and projects to throw harder in the future.  Fastball sat 64-67 mph with slight run, was underneath 52-56 mph curveball, but threw it for strikes from the stretch.  Showed feel for 60-61 mph changeup, throwing it for strikes with fade to his arm side.

Jake Rutkowski, 1B/RHP, Normal West, 2018 
6-foot-0, 150-pound  right-handed hitting first baseman/right-handed pitcher hits from a wide setup, no stride, hands start back already loaded, producing level bat path with 72 mph exit velocity. No stride and no hand movement/load limits momentum and rhythm in swing.  Defensively at first base, threw 61 mph across the diamond from long, high ¾ arm slot.  On the mound, utilizes same long, high ¾ arm slot, locks out arm at power position, shoulders stay level throughout delivery, lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands closed at foot strike, rotating on front foot, slide steps out of the stretch.  Fastball sat 61-63 mph, curveball sat 48-50 mph, changeup 51-53 mph, and cutter with lateral movement sat 57-58 mph.

Clayton Slifer, RHP, St. Joseph-Ogden, 2015
6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed pitcher with athletic build and a strong lower half, works from a long, high ¾ arm slot with regular effort in delivery.  Shoulders stay level throughout, lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate throwing fastball from 78-82 mph touching 83 mph with occasional sink.  Curveball flashed 11/5 shape at 68-69 mph and was thrown for strikes consistently.  74-75 mph changeup was thrown with fastball arm action and flashed occasional arm side run with some sink.

Rory Thayer, OF/RHP, Hauser (IN), 2015
5-foot-9, 160-pound two-way player. 7.13 laser time in the 60 yard dash. Right handed hitter, balanced stance, no stride approach, heel lift trigger. Uphill path, pull side approach, 83 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively plays with a short arm action, high ¾ slot, 82 mph from the outfield. On the mound, delivery has high leg kick, works from high ¾ slot. Fastball sits at 72-75 mph, touches 77 mph. Slider works at 64-69 mph. Changeup ranges from 51-63 mph.

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