Metro East Open: Top Overall Prospects

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 used his solid performance at the Metro East to earn an invite to the PBR Future Games this past weekend at Grand Park in Westfield, IN where he also impressed.  Mascoutah’s Jeff Hightower had a plus frame behind the plate with advanced catch-and-throw skills.

Here’s a look at the top ten overall prospects at this year’s Metro East Open Showcase.

Top Overall 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. Jeff Hightower, Catcher, Mascoutah, 2015
6-foot-3, 180-pound right-handed hitting catcher impressed as the top catch and throw prospect at the Metro East Open.  Defensively, fired off pop times ranging from 1.95-2.0 with accuracy and carry down to second base from a short, quick, high ¾ arm action.  Showed soft hands receiving during the pitching portion of the showcase, and possesses a large frame/target to throw to.  Hits from a narrow, balanced setup with a short stride, whipping bat through the zone with a short, level bat path producing 86 mph exit velocity and line drives from gap to gap.  Ran a 7.78 60 and 4.75 from home to first.

4. 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.  Currently ranked No. 33 in Illinois’ 2016 class, No. 129 overall, committed to Southern Illinois.  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.

5. Aaron Jackson, 3B, Edwardsville, 2015
6-foot-1, 180-pound right-handed hitting third baseman currently ranked No. 124 in Illinois’ 2015 class.  Committed to SIU-Edwardsville.  Impressed during live batting practice with above average bat speed and pop.  Hits from a tall, narrow, closed setup with a long stride at times producing 85 mph exit velocity and natural lift.  Hit an opposite field home run to right center field and several line drives from gap-to-gap.  Defensively, plays through the baseball with clean, fluid actions and average hands.  Throws 81 mph across the infield from a short, high ¾ arm slot with accuracy and carry.  Ran a 7.55 60.

6.  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.

7. Fahd Shakeel, OF, Edwardsville, 2015
5-foot-11, 160-pound athletic, right-handed hitting outfielder started for Edwardsville HS’s 4A Sectional Championship team and impressed with one of the Metro East Open’s top outfield arms.  Threw 83 mph from long over the top slot, with accuracy and carry.  Aggressively attacked the baseball, and became more tentative after a couple tough outfield hops and missed balls.  Offensively, hits from a balanced setup with short stride and smooth hand load.  Short, level, bat path with quick hands produced several line drives during live batting practice with exit velocity up to 75 mph.  Impressed running the event’s third fastest 60 at 6.88 seconds.

8. Merrik Eddington, C, Mount Zion, 2017
5-foot-10, 190-pound strong, barrel-chested right-handed hitting catcher advanced with one of the more advanced bats we’ve seen out of a 2017 prospect.  Eddington’s first swing during live batting practice was a towering homer to deep left field over the batting cages at O’Fallon’s Blazier Field.  He subsequently left the yard in foul territory two more times.  Hits from an open athletic setup, hands loading back smoothly, with a long stride and lower half/hips moving explosively to the baseball.  Showed advanced bat speed for any age, producing 87 mph exit velocity from slightly uphill bat path, looking to pull mostly.  Was the starting catcher on Mount Zion’s varsity as a freshman.  Defensively, throws from a short, over the top arm action with carry to second, producing pop times between 2.11-2.19.  Possesses plenty of arm strength at 78 mph from the crouch, so needs to quicken up feet and speed up transfer.  Ran an 8.00 60.

9. 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.

10. Bradley Snyder, 1B/RHP, O’Fallon, 2016
6-foot-2, 180-pound lanky right-handed hitting first baseman currently ranked No. 74 in Illinois’ 2016 class, hits from an open setup with a leg kick trigger, and long, uphill bat path producing lift and several line drives from gap-to-gap.  Exit velocity up to 82 mph.  Moves well defensively at first base, throws 72 mph across the diamond from a short, over the top arm action.  Ran a 7.13 60.  On the mound, threw 75-77 mph from long, high ¾ plunging/stabbing arm action that effects his ability to be on time/get out front.  Shoulders are closed at load, and lands slightly closed throwing across his body.  62-64 mph curveball showed 12/6 action but was erratic with location.  69-70 mph changeup showed cutting action.

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