Prep Baseball Report

Metro East Open: Pitching Analysis

By Ryan Quigley              
Illinois Scouting Director

The Prep Baseball Report Metro East Open Showcase held on July 9th at Blazier Field in O’Fallon, Illinois featured many top prospects in the Metro East Area of Southern Illinois outside of St. Louis.  The open showcase included players from the 2015-2018 classes.  Alton’s Bryan Hudson took home top honors with a fastball touching 89 mph from a lanky, projectable 6-foot-7 frame.  He also showcased a nasty slider, easily the top two pitches at the event.  Waterloo’s Tyler McAlister was a revelation to PBR, and received an invite to the PBR Future Games based on his performance at the Metro East.  Althof’s Austin Keen showcased a firm fastball and slider from a slight frame,

Here’s a look at the top pitching prospects at the Metro East.

Top Pitching Prospects

1. Bryan Hudson, LHP, Alton, 2015
6-foot-7, 200-pound lanky left-handed pitcher currently ranked No. 10 in Illinois’ 2015 class, No. 45 overall.  High waist, extremely projectable with long levers.  Fastball sat 86-88 from windup, and 88-89 out of the stretch.  Tends to rush body forward out of the windup, with his arm failing to catch up.  Does a better job of gathering over the rubber out of the stretch, and velocity played up as a result.  Works with a short, quick, high ¾ arm slot, with smooth rhythm, level shoulders, and lower half staying in line with home plate.  Stride length is short for height, but gets good down-hill plane on pitches.  Breaking ball was 71-74 mph out of windup, but 74-76 out of the stretch with plus slider action.  Lower velocity looks more like a rolling curveball.  77-80 mph changeup was thrown at fastball arm speed with some occasional cutting action.  Hudson is a high level Division-1 prospect and should garner significant attention from pro scouts as well next spring.

2. Tyler McAlister, RHP, Waterloo, 2016
6-foot-4, 175-pound lanky, athletic, right-handed pitcher impressed with easy, loose arm action and feel for four pitches.  Currently ranked No. 38 in Illinois’ 2016 class.  Works from a long, high ¾ arm slot, with a slight wrap in back, but still shows the ability to get extension out front, especially with his two breaking balls.  Utilizes tall-and-fall delivery, with level shoulders, foot below knee at load over the rubber, throwing slightly across his body landing slightly closed on front foot.  Works from the extreme first base side of the rubber, so his direction towards home plate stays in line.  Lively fastball sat 84-85 mph with run to his arm side, and cut to his glove side, most likely not on purpose.  Threw both a curveball and slider with similar shape.  Curveball showed 12-6 action at 70-71 mph, slider was slightly harder at 71-73 mph, both showing downward action.  Slows arm and body tempo slightly on 71-73 mph changeup for strikes.  McAlister has a high ceiling, projectable build, and is a high level prospect to watch closely over the next two years. 

3. Austin Keen, RHP, Althoff, 2015
6-foot, 160-pound athletic, small-framed right-handed pitcher impressed with his quick arm and  fastball/slider combination, easily one of the top arms at the Metro East Open.  Keen works from a ¾ arm slot, with considerable length in back, and utilizes an extremely high leg kick, throwing slightly across his body.  Fastball sat 84-86 mph with run to his arm side, and occasional cut when going to his glove side.  Slider was thrown hard between 74-76 mph with lateral break across the zone, flattening out at times.  Slowed arm on 69-71 mph changeup.  Also threw a 69-72 mph curveball that showed similar shape to his slider, only slower.  This was the first time we had laid eyes on Keen, and although he has a smallish frame, his fastball/slider combination and excellent arm speed make him someone to keep an eye on over the next year.

4. Austin Christ, RHP, Mascoutah, 2015
6-foot-7, 225-pound huge framed right-handed pitcher impressed controlling his extra-large frame.  Works from a long, loose, high ¾ arm slot with a tall-and-fall delivery.  Fastball was straight at 81-83 mph with little effort.  Stays in line with lower half towards home plate.  Fails to load lower half over the rubber from the stretch.  Threw both a slider and a curveball.  Slider was 70-73 with sharp, late break.  Tilts shoulders more on curveball with more 12/6 action at 67-70 mph for strikes.  Changeup flashed arm side run at 70-73 mph.  Christ has a great pitchers frame with broad shoulders.  If he can firm up his body a bit velocity gains could be in his future due to his clean delivery and arm. 

5. Bradley Harrison, OF/LHP, O’Fallon, 2016
6-foot-3, 190-pound left-handed hitting outfielder/left-handed pitcher impressed with lanky, athletic frame and two-way ability.  Was the top two-way prospect in attendance at the Metro East Open.  Hits from a balanced, open setup with hands loading back smoothly with a short stride, and a fast, short, level bat path.  Fluid rhythm in swing produced 88 mph exit velocity, second highest at the event, with power to his pull side.  Defensively, showed fluid, clean actions in the outfield, aggressively attacking the baseball and throwing 83 mph from a long, loose, high ¾ arm action with carry.  Ran a 7.45 60, and 4.82 seconds to first.  On the mound missed arm side several times with 77-80 mph fastball, which exhibited arm side run when down in the zone.  Falls off towards third base landing open at times, but loads well over the rubber and arm is long and clean.  73-76 mph slider was firm, with late breaking 2/8 action.  71-74 mph changeup also showed arm side run.

6. Ty Buckner, RHP/MIF, Ladue (Mo.), 2017
5-foot-11, 165-pound lean and athletic right-handed hitting RHP/MIF impressed both on the mound and with athletic shortstop actions as the top 2017 prospect in attendance at the Metro East Open.  Hits from an open stance, with a short, balanced strides.  Hands load smoothly producing a level bat path with line drives from gap-to-gap, one of the best live batting practice rounds at the event.  Posted 80 mph exit velocity.  Threw 79 mph across the infield from short, high ¾ arm action with accuracy.  Showcased soft hands and smooth, clean infield actions playing through the baseball.  Ran a 7.84 60.  On the mound, utilizes classic over the head windup to delivery 77-79 mph fastballs from a long, loose, high ¾ arm action.  Arm is a little longer on the mound than in the field, and hit 82 mph on his last pitch.  Shoulders are slightly uphill, and throws slightly across his body.  Showed a solid feel for three pitches, with 59-61 mph curveball with gradual 11/5 break and 68-71 mph changeup with fade.

7. Caleb Dahn, RHP, Pinckneyville, 2015
6-foot-4, 230-pound wide shouldered right-handed pitcher with ideal pitcher’s frame.  Fastball sat 83-84 mph touching 85 mph from long, ¾ arm action with considerable effort.  Shoulders are closed at balanced point, getting rotational at times, spinning off towards first base.  Lower half stays in line towards home plate.  69-71 mph curveball showed 11/5 action, and at times showed some slider tilt, which fits his arm angle.  72-74 mph changeup showed occasional fade, but erratic location.  Dahn shows surprising athleticism for his size, and with clean arm action could see velocity gains in the future.

8. Chris Robinson, RHP, Edwardsville, 2015
6-foot-2, 180-pound lanky right-handed pitcher impressed with feel for three pitches throwing from a long, loose, high ¾ arm slot with downhill tilt on 81-83 mph fastball.  Slow tempo delivery with a short leg lift, shoulders stay level, and lower half stays in-line towards home plate, landing slightly closed at times.  Utilizes a slide step from the stretch.  Slowed arm on 62-66 mph curveball with 11/5 action.  Also slowed arm on 67-70 mph changeup thrown down in the zone for strikes. 

9. Grant Robinson, RHP, O’Fallon, 2015
6-foot-6, 230-pound large framed right-handed pitcher works only out of the stretch from an up-down-and-out delivery, utilizing a hand bump as well.  Falls off opening up lower half towards first base, landing with front foot slightly open.  Works from a short, high ¾ arm slot with some downhill angle at 79-82 mph with fastball.  Curveball showed 11/5 gradual break at 63-65 mph.  71-75 mph changeup was thrown with a palm ball grip and showed occasional arm side run. 

10. Benjamin Shore, RHP, Marion, 2018
5-foot-8, 135-pound right-handed pitcher flashed impressive velocity for a 2018 sitting 76-78 mph with fastball from long, over the top, quick arm action.  Delivery is slow and controlled to balance point, then rushes to home plate, throwing slightly across his body.  Also threw 69-71 mph changeup for more consistent strikes than fastball, with slight arm side run.  Shore has an extremely quick arm for a little guy, and will be intriguing to follow as he physically progresses the next several years.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Blake Beckmann, RHP, Mater Dei Catholic, 2016
6-foot-2, 170-pound projectable, right-handed pitcher currently ranked No. 130 in Illinois’ 2016 class.  Works from a long, over the top arm action with significant uphill shoulder tilt, making it tough to get back downhill at times.  Fastball sat between 79-83 mph exhibiting some arm side run.  12/6 breaking ball showed occasional plus, sharp, late action between 67-70 mph.  73-75 mph changeup showed sink and was thrown at fastball arm speed.

Nicholas Boone, 1B/RHP, O’Fallon, 2018
5-foot-11, 155-pound right-handed hitting first baseman/right-handed pitcher hit from a slight crouch with a no stride/heel lift.  Showed average bat speed and a slightly uphill bat path producing 75 mph exit velocity.  Threw 66 mph across the diamond from a short, high ¾ slot.  Ran a 7.34 60.  On the mound, threw fastball between 69-71 mph with erratic command.  Had more success throwing 63-65 mph curveball for strikes.  Works with regular effort, throwing slightly across his body from short, high ¾ arm action.  Also threw a 63-67 mph splitter with tumble that was consistently down and out of the zone.

Zachary Chapman, 1B/LHP, Highland, 2014
5-foot-11, 195-pound left-handed hitting 1B/LHP hit from a balanced setup with a short stride and a long, aggressive swing with power to his pull side producing 87 mph exit velocity.  Over swings at times, getting out front selling out for power.  Defensively, showcased average hands at first base with a long, loose, ¾ arm slot at 73 mph across the infield.  On the mound, fastball sat 75-76 mph from long, clean arm action.  Showed some rhythm in tall and fall type delivery with regular effort.  Threw a 62-63 mph curveball with gradual, 1/7 break, and a 71 mph straight changeup with an aggressive fastball arm action.

Zack Dieters, RHP, Breese Mater Dei, 2015
6-foot-4, 214-pound right-handed pitcher impressed with three-pitch feel. Works from a long, clean, high ¾ arm slot, tall and fall type delivery, slight pause at balance point. Good rhythm throughout delivery, drops hands to start delivery, picks up hands with leg creating a hand bump for rhythm. Straight up down and out leg lift, stride direction is slightly across his body, lands on heel, slightly closed at foot strike. Fastball sat 77-81 mph, with occasional arm side run and sink, kept at the bottom half of the strike zone consistently. 70-72 mph changeup was thrown for strikes with fading action. 62-64 mph curveball showed gradual 11/5 shape, also showed command of this pitch landing it for strikes. Dieters has a workhorse frame, should draw interest based on his strike throwing ability with all his pitches.

Christopher Dye, RHP, O’Fallon, 2015
6-foot-2, 185-pound right-handed pitcher throws fastball 70-72 mph from a funky, stiff, low ¾ arm slot.  Drops arm down and back and almost pushes the baseball to the plate, but throws strikes with three pitches.  Shoulders stay level towards home plate, and lower half stays in-line.  Also threw 57-58 mph curveball and 63-65 mph changeup for strikes.

Justin Dye, OF/RHP, O’Fallon, 2017
6-foot, 170-pound right-handed hitting outfielder/right-handed pitcher hits from a balanced setup, with a short stride, starting hands forward, dropping them down and back to load.  Uphill bat path shows opposite field tendencies and exit velocity up to 71 mph.  Defensively, threw 76 mph from the outfield from a low ¾ arm action.  On the mound, worked from a short, over the top arm action at 72-74 mph with fastball.  Flips 58-60 mph 12/6 curveball over, which was consistently up in the zone.  63-65 mph changeup showed cutting action but was thrown down, out of the zone.  Ran a 7.87 60.

Mitchell Harlan, RHP, Belleville East, 2015
6-foot, 175-pound right-handed pitcher works from long, high ¾ arm slot, landing slightly closed, spinning on heel, with regular effort and some rhythm in delivery.  Threw 74-76 mph fastball with occasional run.  Slows arm on 62-64 mph curveball with 11/5 action.  70-72 mph cutter showed sweeping action.  Slowed arm on 65-68 mph splitter with some tumble.

Jacob Hill, SS/RHP, Columbia, 2015
5-foot-9, 145-pound right-handed hitting shortstop/right-handed pitcher hit from a wide setup with smooth hand load, and short stride producing 78 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, threw 74 mph across the infield from loose, high ¾ arm action, showing fluid footwork and clean exchanges, athletically playing through the baseball with soft hands.  On the mound, threw 76-78 mph from long, loose, high ¾ slot.  Utilizes tall and fall delivery, with smooth rhythm, level shoulders, with lower half staying in line towards home plate.  Consistently threw strikes with fastball and 63-65 mph curveball with occasional 12/6 action.  Also threw 70-74 mph changeup at fastball arm speed.

Josh Little, RHP, O’Fallon, 2015
6-foot, 165-pound right-handed pitcher works from a long, over the top arm action, with a slight hesitation in rhythm after reaching balance point.  Lands slightly closed, throwing fastball 80-82 mph.  70-72 mph curveball was erratic and not thrown for strikes.  Also threw a 69-71 mph changeup.

Noah Mussatto, LHP, O’Fallon, 2018
5-foot-9, 115-pound left-handed pitcher works from a high 3/4 , shorter arm action.  Tall-and-fall delivery, opening up lower half early, and landing slightly open.  Sat 62-64 mph with fastball thrown for strikes.  51-53 mph curveball showed slow, gradual break.  Also threw a 58-59 mph changeup.

Jackson Penrod, OF/RHP, O’Fallon, 2015
6-foot, 180-pound outfielder/right-handed pitcher impressed with the Metro East Open’s top outfield velocity at 84 mph.  Showed average hands defensively, throwing from a short, high ¾ arm slot with accuracy and some carry.  Hits from a slightly open setup, with a short stride, dropping hands down and back in load.  Level bat path produced line drives from gap-to-gap and 80 mph exit velocity.  On the mound, exhibited a feel for three pitches with 77-81 mph fastball from same arm slot as in the field.  Works from a tall and fall delivery, with slow tempo, landing closed, with a short leg lift, short stride, and throwing across his body.  66-67 mph curveball showed 12/6 shape, and 67-70 mph changeup was thrown consistently down in the zone for strikes.

Hayden Schaefer, SS/RHP, O’Fallon, 2017
5-foot-11, 165-pound shortstop/right-handed pitcher hits from an open stance with a short stride, high back elbow, and long, uphill bat path hitting several line drives in live batting practice with 72 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, threw from a short, high ¾ arm action up to 72 mph across the infield.  Ran a 7.18 60.  On the mound threw strikes with 68-73 mph with fastball from short, high ¾ arm slot.  Shoulders close off and lands closed, throwing across his body and picking up the target late with is eyes.  55-58 mph curveball was erratic missing out and up with gradual break.  Threw strikes with 63-65 mph changeup.

Holden Schaefer, 3B/RHP, O’Fallon, 2015
5-foot-11, 175-pound right-handed hitting third baseman/right-handed pitcher hit from a balanced, crouch setup, with uppercut bat path producing exit velocity up to 80 mph.  On the mound, works from a long, high ¾ arm slot, toe pointed down during leg lift, landing slightly across his body.  Threw more strikes from the stretch with and harder with 71-75 mph fastball.  62-65 mph curveball showed inconsistent shape, and missed with 66-67 mph changeup to his arm side and in the dirt.

Jack Strieker,LHP, Breese Central, 2017
6-foot-3, 165-pound lanky left-handed pitcher threw fastball 71-74 mph from long, loose, high ¾ arm slot breaking hands extremely early in delivery.  Opens up early in delivery, landing with front foot open towards third base side.  63-64 mph curveball showed gradual 1/7 break, backing up at times.  65 mph changeup flashed arm side run.

Matthew Toohey, LHP/OF, O’Fallon, 2017
5-foot-11, 155-pound switch hitting left-handed pitcher/outfielder hit better from the right side.  Hits from open setup with short, leg kick stride.  Hands move back to load, producing long, uphill bat path with 76 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, threw 76 mph from the outfield from a short, ¾ arm slot with some accuracy, showcasing fluid footwork approaching the baseball.  On the mound, utilized tall and fall delivery, and similar arm action used in the outfield (possibly a tick lower) throwing fastball 72-74 mph with erratic command.  Front foot lands slightly open, and does not utilize front glove side, clearing out early.  Dropped elbow on 60-61 mph curveball that backed up.  63-66 mph changeup showed promise, thrown consistently down with some fade.  Ran a 7.20 60.

Brendan Wilhelm, RHP, Columbia, 2015   
6-foot-2, 174-pound lanky right-handed pitcher threw from a long and loose, high ¾ arm action with average arm speed.  Showed some rhythm with level shoulders and lower half staying online towards home plate.  Utilized a slide step from the stretch.   Fastball sat 78-80 mph with occasional run.  Slowed arm on 68 mph curveball with 12/6 action.  72-73 mph changeup exhibited sink and was thrown for strikes consistently down in the zone.

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