Joliet Open: Quick Hits

By Illinois Staff

On Wednesday, the PBR Illinois team hosted its first-annual Joliet Open at DuPage Medical Group Field where over 30 prospects from the area gathered to kick off our fall circuit. We’re providing you with some instantaneous analysis from this showcase this afternoon, highlighting some of the event’s top performances inside of this Quick Hits post.

Keep an eye out tomorrow, too, when we analyze the top statistical performances of the day as well. For now, onto the Quick Hits.


+ RHP Matt Sauser (Normal University, 2023) is a picture of projection on the mound, standing 6-foot-2, 157-pounds with gangly levers. His arm is extremely loose and live working out of a high ¾ slot, producing an 82-85 mph fastball that averages a spin rate of nearly 2,500 rpm. His curveball spins just as efficiently, averaging roughly 2,600 rpm with tight 11/5 shape – a true separator for his age.

+ Incoming freshman RHP Ryan Kotara (Lincoln-Way Central) opened some eyes with his short, quick arm that produced a lively 80-81 mph fastball backed up by polished secondary stuff, especially for his age. His slurve-type breaking ball flashed over 2,400 rpm and he also utilized a deceptive changeup with plus-type arm-side action. Kotara also showed potential two-way abilities moving forward. The right-handed hitter has athletic hands, present bat speed, and he drove balls to both gaps during batting practice. He is a sure-handed defender on the infield, his arm played at 84 mph across, and he ran a 7.18 mark in the 60-yard dash. It was an impressive look into Kotara’s follow toolset as he’s become one of the 2024 prospects to know in the state’s freshman class.

+ Another live-armed ‘23 right-handed pitcher who landed on our prospect radar: Joliet Catholic’s Nathan Ciemny. Ciemny has short, quick arm action out of an over-the-top slot that gets some lively four-seam finish through the zone at 80-81 mph.

+ Standing in at a hulking 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, LHP Conner Hogan (Joliet West, 2023) brings an imposing presence to the mound. Hogan works with a long, loose arm action that plays with little effort out front while getting optimal extension, measured at a 6-foot-7-inch high recorded on his fastball, ranging at 77-78 mph. The secondary stuff is still a work in progress, but with that size and inherent arm characteristics, it’s easy to see his offspeed developing well down the road.

+ C Joshua Cunniff (Plainfield Central, 2021) put together an impressive defensive showing behind the dish, showing off a plus arm and the best pop times of the day. He’s a physical 6-foot, 190 pounds, and that size bodes well for his future at the position. Cunniff’s strength works well in the right-handed batter’s box, too, and he took an especially strong round of batting practice after recording a 92 mph high at the exit velocity station. He ran a sub-7.00 in the 60 as well, showcasing a versatile range of tools that should have him stirring some attention as an uncommitted catcher to know headed into the remainder of the fall.

+ There was another physical senior catcher from the Plainfield area in attendance Wednesday, Danny Nuccio (Plainfield North, 2021), who is also uncommitted. Nuccio is an athletic 6-foot, 205-pound, right-handed-hitting catcher who put up the top exit velocity mark measured by TrackMan in batting practice, at 96 mph on a line drive to left field. He did well to repeat that kind of contact in his session, too, leading the way with a 60 percent hard-hit rate, as well as the day’s fastest bat, recorded at 72.6 mph, according to Blast Motion.

+ INF Troy Vosburgh (Oswego, 2023) put up some impressive TrackMan numbers in BP as well. At a wiry 6-foot, 165-pounds, Vosberg opened some eyes after hitting the farthest ball of the day, according to TrackMan, measured at 341 feet. His lean strength was put to use in the outfield as well, where his arm topped at 89 mph on his throws home.  

+ INF Brek Baranoski (Joliet Catholic, 2022) did not get cheated in his round of BP. The right-handed hitter takes an aggressive, intentful swing, creating leverage and loft to the pull side. With that being said, he repeats it well and follows through contact under control.

+ SS Easton Harris (Washington Community, 2022) had a really solid all-around day, as expected. We’ve had the pleasure of viewing Harris’ game on multiple looks in 2020 and this was the latest impressive look. Harris ran a 6.84 mark in the laser-timed 60, down from a 7.18 measured in late June. He also topped at 91 mph across the infield (87 was his previous high), all while showing highly-athletic, fluid actions, fit for shortstop.

+ Parker Swanson (Prairie Ridge) is large-bodied unsigned senior right-hander who stands in at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. Swanson’s fastball topped 84.2 mph and played true to its line. His breaking ball flashed sharp action on a slurve-type plane while showing slight fade to his changeup.

+ Junior OF Luke Doty (Metamora) recorded impressive statistical marks throughout the event. He ran a 6.85 in the 60 and produced one of the hardest average exit velocities in batting practice. Doty swings loose, easy right-handed bat that repeated hard-hit contact into the right-center gap averaging a tick over 85 mph off the barrel. An outfielder, he also topped 84 mph on his throws home.

+ OF/RHP Jake Mackowiak (Lincoln Way Central, 2022) was at the top of several stat leaderboards Wednesday. A 5-foot-10, 160-pound two-way player, Mackowiak posted a 6.82 time in the 60, topped 84 mph on his throws home from the outfield, and recorded a 90 mph exit velocity from the tee – he showed that he can apply that bat strength in BP, too, after averaging the second hardest exit velo in front of TrackMan, at 94 mph. Once he took the bump, Mackowiak recorded an 83.2 mph high with his fastball, which placed him third overall in the category.

+ OF/1B Evan Foster (Maroa-Forsyth, 2023) is a left/left outfielder and first baseman who showed advanced bat control during BP that helped him produce a lot of hard contact in his round. The 5-foot-11, 150-pound, left-handed hitter has a simple, repeatable swing with quick hands that stay inside the baseball with the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Defensively, he is a natural outfield defender with fluid actions and a clean arm that played at 79 mph on his throws home.