Joliet Open: Pitcher Analysis

By Illinois Staff

On Sept. 16, the PBR Illinois team hosted its first-ever Joliet Open event, at the DuPage Medical Group Field in Joliet, where over 30 prospects representing the 2021-25 high school graduating classes showed off their skills in front of our staff.

Shortly after the event’s conclusion, we provided you with some instant analysis from the day's top performers in our Quick Hits and Statistical Analysis posts. On Thursday, we published scouting reports from this event on each of the position players who made it out. Today, we’re wrapping up our analysis by publishing reports on the day’s arms.

Sitting at the top of the rankings below is RHP Matt Sauser (Normal University, 2023) who used this event to launch himself onto the state’s first edition of its Class of 2023 Rankings. Sauser’s live arm and highly projectable physique complement his high-spin stuff exceptionally well. He sat 83-85 mph here with jump, carry, and spin with a tight breaking ball featuring advanced action and swing-and-miss traits.

A freshman, RHP Ryan Kotara (Lincoln-Way Central, 2024), made a first impression at this event as an athletic infielder with a quick right-handed bat, but he’s also a follow arm. Kotara sat in the low-80s here with riding fastball that he spotted efficiently, and he showed an early feel to mix in a breaking ball and changeup.

Sophomores RHP Nathan Ciemny (Joliet Catholic, 2023) and LHP Conner Hogan (Joliet West, 2023) are on opposite ends of the physical spectrum – Ciemny’s a lean, wiry 5-foot-11 while Hogan is a durable 6-foot-6 – but both are follows in the class. Ciemny’s athleticism helps him generate arm speed and early velocity, while Hogan repeats well for his size, and he creates huge extension, allowing his upper-70s velocity to play way up.

All in all, this was a somewhat small, but talented collection of players worth examining more closely within.

For complete scouting reports on these three aforementioned players, as well as the rest of the event’s participating pitchers, continue reading below.


1. Matt Sauser, Normal University (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: RHP; Debuted on the first edition of the state 2023 rankings following this performance.
Body: 6-2, 157-pounds. Wiry, athletic frame; projects well.
Delivery: Rhythmic tall/fall type delivery, athletic sit into back leg before riding downhill, level shoulders, lands square to target, strong lead leg block. Gets in tempo and maintains it, repeats well.
Arm Action: RH. Long and loose arm action, high 3/4 slot; live arm speed.
FB: T85, 83-85 mph. Clean out the hand with natural jump; spun at 2,495 rpm while averaging 16.4 inches of induced vertical break. Straight action, consistent strikes.
CB: 70-72 mph. Consistent sharp spin off an 11/5 plane with depth; a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch. Thrown with conviction for strikes, averaged 2,591 rpm. One of the best breaking balls in Illinois' 2023 class.
CH: 75-78 mph. Near fastball arm speed, flashed cut and run.

2. Ryan Kotara, Lincoln-Way Central (IL), 2024
Positional Profile: SS/RHP; An emerging freshman follow.
Body: 5-11, 165-pounds. Strong, athletic frame; advanced for age.
Delivery: Simple front step rock to athletic, high-knee balance point. Drops and drives down mound at a good pace, high front side, lands square, toe open, athletic finish.
Arm Action: RH. Short draw, quick and compact to high 3/4 slot. Live arm.
FB: T81, 80-81 mph. Above-average spin rate for age and velocity (max of 2,200 rpm). Straight four-seam type with carry traits; averaged an induced vertical break of 18.8 inches. Consistently spotted it at the bottom of the zone.
CB: 64-67 mph. Decreases arm speed, but demonstrates an advanced feel for spin. An 11/5 shape with depth that flashed sharp. Spun at an average rate of 2,371 rpm.
CH: 71-72 mph. Mostly maintains arm speed; slightly lowers slot. Generates hard arm-side run/fade. Horizontal break averaged 14.8 inches. Feel for strikes, location.

3. Nathan Ciemny, Joliet Catholic (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: INF/RHP; An emerging sophomore follow.
Body: 5-11, 160-pounds. Lean, projectable build.
Delivery: Slow-tempo, rhythm to athletic balance point. Fluid balance in stride down mound; smooth momentum to landing. Lands slightly early, closed position, toe closed. Some effort and recoil in an athletic finish.
Arm Action: RH. Long draw down, abrupt and quick to high 3/4 slot. Loose, quick arm.
FB: T81, 80-80 mph. Above-average spin rate for age and velocity (max of 2,105 rpm). Some natural arm-side run, carry through the zone (18.3 inches of average induced vertical break).
CB: 63-64 mph. Breaks early, feel to spin and flashed an ability to spot it. Features some gradual action with depth off a 10/4 plane. Projects as he continues to develop.
CH: 69-70 mph. Decelerates arm and lower half. Noticeably lowers release point. Straight change type.

4. Conner Hogan, Joliet West (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: LHP/1B; An imposing look from the mound, and a follow arm in the state's 2023 class.
Body: 6-6, 230-pounds. An extra-large, durable build.
Delivery: Tall, staggered start from the right edge of the rubber; simple and direct to tall balance point, with hip turn/tuck. Strides far down mound with shoulders uphill, high front; creates huge extension (6.39 feet, on average),with low effort and fluid rhythm/balance from start to finish.
Arm Action: LH. Long, loose, clean arm action to a high 3/4 slot; large extension down the mound lowers average release height (4.76 feet), adding to optimal, increased perceived velocity.
FB: T78, 77-78 mph. Heavy, with arm-side; again, large extension allows this pitch to play up.
CB: 64-65 mph. Raw feel to spin; gradual depth.
SL: 66-67 mph. Similar profile to curve; favors horizontal, sweep projection.
CH: 69-71 mph. Matches traditional arm action well; spots it well under the zone, arm-side run/fade.

T-5. Evan Foster, Maroa-Forsyth (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: LHP/OF/1B; A sophomore two-way prospect to follow in the state's 2023 class.
Body: 5-11, 150-pounds. Well-proportioned frame; wiry, strong levers. Projects very well, physically.
Delivery: Staggered start from the middle of the rubber; slow side step, leg swings into tall balance point. Drops and drives with some reach out of the glove, closed torso, lands square to target, toe pointed to home. Low-effort finish, square.
Arm Action: LH. Long, clean arm action to a 3/4 slot. Loose, easy.
FB: T79, 77-77 mph. Slot creates some natural arm-side action; averaged -13.4 inches of horizontal break.
CB: 67-68 mph. Knuckle-grip; demonstrates an ability to spin it well. 2/8 shape with depth that flashed late lateral movement; 13.8 inches of horizontal break.
CH: 70-71 mph. Deceptive pitch, closely matching his typical arm action and release. Features fade and hard run, spotted well under the zone.

T-5. Parker Swanson, Prairie Ridge (IL), 2021; McHenry County JC commit.
Positional Profile: RHP
Body: 6-4, 215-pounds. Well-proportioned frame; room for added strength.
Delivery: Slight drop/drive type delivery, high leg kick into an athletic posture at balance point, lead leg swings to an open-toed landing at footstrike.
Arm Action: RH. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot.
FB: T84, 81-83 mph. Comes out clean with easy effort, mostly straight; works best east-to-west.
CB: 68-71 mph. 11/5 shape, flashed arm action with above-average feel to spin. Has the metrics to pair; averaged 2,311 rpm, maxing out at 2,488. Does flex wrist some at times.
CH: 73-76 mph. Decelerates arm action some, thrown from a higher release point than fastball. Plays with sink.


Wesley Blitz, N/A (IL), 2025
Positional Profile: 1B/RHP
Body: 6-2, 170-pounds. Lanky frame.
Delivery: Heavy front hip turn, closed front side, lead leg swings into early hip extension, lands square to target through release.
Arm Action: RH. Long arm swing, over-the-top slot.
FB: T74, 70-73 mph. Four-seam type, straight action and stayed up in the zone.
CH: 65-68 mph. Near fastball arm speed and intent, outfront finish creates natural downward action.

Samuel Cohen, Cary-Grove (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: RHP/OF
Body: 5-10, 140-pounds. Thin, projectable frame.
Delivery: Fluid drop/drive type delivery, athletic posture at balance point, rides lower half downhill efficiently. Strong front side, lands square and works in line. Low-effort, smooth rhythm throughout.
Arm Action: RH. Long and loose arm action, high 3/4 slot.
FB: T75, 74-74 mph. Two-seam type, flashed heavy horizontal action at times.
CB: 58-60 mph. 11/5 shape, loose spin at times.
CH: 61-64 mph. Pronated well at times to create sinking action.

Ethan Fleming, Plainfield North (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: SS/RHP
Body: 5-10, 145-pounds. Thin, wiry frame.
Delivery: Simple pace to level knee lift, big hip turn balance point. Separates into tall/fall down mound; uphill shoulders, high front side. Creates flexion in hip/shoulder separation at toe-open landing, square. Regular effort, athletic finish.
Arm Action: RH. Long swing to high 3/4 slot; looseness, shown in flexible elbow/forearm layback.
FB: T77, 75-77 mph. Straight four-seam type; averaged 2,072 rpm, above average for its velocity. Some carry through the zone.
CB: 61-61 mph. 10/4 shape with above-average spin and horizontal action; 2,179 rpm with -12.6 inches of horizontal break.
SL: 66-70 mph. Shorter action, more vertical. Minimal, gradual break.
CH: 67-69 mph. Mostly maintains arm speed; generates arm-side run.

Andrew Krause, Wauwatosa East (WI), 2022
Positional Profile: LHP/OF
Body: 5-10, 140-pounds. Lanky build.
Delivery: Tall/fall type delivery, high leg kick, tall at balance point, slightly closed-toe landing, upright finish through release.
Arm Action: LH. Long arm swing, high 3/4 finish.
FB: T72, 70-71 mph. Four-seam type, plays straight, occasional arm-side run.
CB: 55-56 mph. Spins more from a 2/8, slurvy axis.
SL: 55-57 mph. 1/7 shape, gradual action. Some feel to spin.
CH: 60-61 mph. Gliding arm-side run.

Jake Mackowiak, Lincoln-Way Central (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: OF/RHP
Body: 5-10, 160-pounds. Lean frame; wiry levers.
Delivery: Stretch-only; tall balance point, closed torso, leg swings into high, big hip turn. Strides down mound in a high front, lands open, toe closed. Finishes with low-effort, square to target.
Arm Action: RH. Compact and quick arm action to an over-the-top slot.
FB: T83, 81-82 mph. Steep plane to home; natural arm-side run and carry through the zone. Average spin rate of 2,167 rpm.
CB: 66-67 mph. Raw feel for spin; decelerates arm speed and lower half.
CH: 68-70 mph. Decelerates overall motion; straight change.

Nolan Pociejewski, Cary-Grove (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: INF/RHP
Body: 5-8, 155-pounds. Athletic frame.
Delivery: Methodical tall/fall type delivery, quick leg lift, upright posture at balance point, works out front and finishes towards target.
Arm Action: RH. Compact arm action, high 3/4 slot.
FB: T72, 70-71 mph. Sinker-type, lives in the lower quadrants of the zone.
CH: 64-66 mph. Near fastball arm speed, plays with sink.

Michael Zelko, Aurora Christian (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: RHP/1B
Body: 6-0, 200-pounds. Large build; sturdy lower half.
Delivery: Tall start from the center of the rubber; slow rhythm side step, hands go over head, rocks into low-knee balance pont, slight hip turn. Lands square, toe pointed to target.
Arm Action: RH. Long arm swing to a tall, over-the-top release point.
FB: T77, 76-77 mph. Heavy feel, some carry through the zone; arm-side run/sink.
CB: 65-67 mph. Short action; 11/5 shape.
CH: 66-68 mph. Mostly maintains arm action/speed; some arm-side run/fade.