Underclass Invitational: Middle Infield Analysis



By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

The Prep Baseball Report’s Underclass Invitational for 2017 and 2018 prospects took place on Sunday January 18th at the Max in McCook, IL. 98 underclass prospects completed a pro-style workout for the PBR Illinois Scouting Staff, several of whom were new to the PBR.

Click Here to view complete statistics from the event in PDF format.

Click Here to view Top Performers from the event based on standard scouting terminology in our “Top Tools Breakdown”.­­­

Over the next few days we will rank the prospects by position, culminating in the Top Overall Prospects from the event. Today we’ll take a look at the top middle infielders.

Chicago Christian’s Zach Frieling takes the top spot due to his advanced middle infield actions. He’s impressed all winter long at college camps and workouts.

Edwardsville’s Kade Burns has arm strength both on the mound and in the middle of the diamond. His left-handed hitting, middle infield profile should be able to step in for the Tigers in a year when Jordan Hovey graduates.

Brother Rice’s Ryan Kutt is the top ranked player in the state of Illinois due to his pitching prowess. Kutt did not throw at the Underclass Invite, but did prove that there could be value in his bat as a two-way player at the next level. The Illinois commit showed arm strength in the middle of the diamond, and should provide pop in the middle of the order for the Crusaders this spring.

The talent was so deep at this particular position we split up the 2017 and 2018 prospects, with 10 2017’s and five 2018’s to keep an eye on.

Homewood-Flossmoor’s Zaid Walker was the top third baseman in the 2018 class when we highlighted middle infielders. Walker also impressed when he slid over to shortstop, showing middle infield actions and an advanced approach at the plate.

Mount Carmel’s Christian Lucio is a smooth, left-handed hitting middle infielder, and should develop well under the tutelage of varsity stars Jeremy Houston and Ako Thomas.

Top 2017 Middle Infield Prospects

1.Zach Frieling, MIF, Chicago Christian, 2017
5-foot-10, 155-pound middle infielder, athletic build with some strength, body moves well and projects. Defensively looks more developed than his peers, good actions, mechanically sound. Showed good body control, played well on the move, feet worked well. Arm action is athletic, high ¾ slot, loose arm action, 76 mph arm strength across the diamond. Offensively hits from the right side, balanced setup, short stride with minimal loading action. Good barrel control, made hard contact, showed bat speed with a gap to gap approach, line drive hitter to the middle of the field, 76 mph exit velocity, ran a 7.45 60.

2. Kade Burns, SS/RHP, Edwardsville, 2017
5-foot-9, 155-pound left-handed hitting SS/RHP hits from a slightly open stance, short stride, hands load smoothly, short, level path to the baseball, advanced feel for barrel, 81 mph exit velocity off the tee, produced several line drives from gap-to-gap during batting practice. Defensively, threw 81 mph across the diamond from short, over-the-top arm slot with carry and accuracy. Soft hands fielding the baseball, fluid footwork, clean exchanges, athletically plays through the baseball. Ran a 7.22 60. On the mound, fastball sat 78-81 mph with late arm side run for strikes. Short, quick, high ¾ arm slot, easy effort, tall/fall delivery, balanced throughout delivery, level shoulders, lands in line with home plate. Slows arm on 64-66 mph curveball, with gradual break, 12/6 shape. Threw 69-74 mph changeup for strikes with sinking action. Burns is a high follow prospect in the 2017 class.

3. Ryan Kutt, SS/RHP, Brother Rice, 2017
6-foot-2, 180-pound right-handed hitting 1B/RHP is currently ranked No. 1 in Illinois’ 2017 class, No. 21 overall. Kutt did not pitch at the Underclass, but did prove he may be able to swing the stick at the next level when he steps foot on campus at Illinois. Hits from a crouched setup, short stride (picks foot up), hands are held low, very little movement in load, simple/repeatable approach, short, level bat path, fluid rhythm, line drives up the middle in batting practice, 88 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 84 mph across the diamond from long, loose, quick, high ¾ arm slot, accurate arm with carry, gets rid of it quicker when on the move, showed soft hands fielding. Kutt may be one of the top 2017 arms in the Midwest, but he showed he’ll make a contribution all over the diamond for Brother Rice this spring.

4. Dominic Connolly, MIF, Lemont, 2017
5-foot-6, 140-pound middle infielder, small athletic frame. Defensively showed advanced action and arm strength for his age. Natural defender, moves athletically and plays through the baseball, hands play softly and cleanly. Arm action is short, over the top slot, accurate arm showed carry at 79 mph advanced arm strength for his age, occasionally winds up to release, athletic arm action when on the move, good body control. Ran a 7.65 in the 60. Offensively hits from the right side, open stance, stride dives, solid balance through contact. Line drive guy, showed the ability to spray the baseball to both gaps, repeats a level swing through the zone, contact type hitter. 77 mph exit velocity from the tee.

5. JD Villafuerte, MIF, Normal Community, 2017
5-foot-7, 150-pound middle infielder, solid build shows some strength. Defensively plays athletically and shows quicker actions, feet worked well. Arm action is short and over the top, accurate arm, carried across the diamond. Advanced arm strength, 80 mph across the diamond. 6.99 runner in the 60. Offensively hits from a closed stance, short stride, smooth loading action. Strong hitter, path is shorter, line drive type hitter. 79 mph exit velocity from the tee.

6. Nick Mayerhofer, MIF, Plainfield South, 2017
5-foot-7, 155-pound middle infielder, wide shouldered. Offensively hits from the right side, balanced stance, smooth loading action, short stride, slight dive. Line drive, gap to gap approach, level path some length. 79 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively showed solid glovework, fields out in front, mechanically sound defender. Arm action is short and accurate, high ¾ slot, athletic arm action when on the move. Advanced arm strength for age at 80 mph across. 7.40 runner in the 60.

7. Tommy Washington, C/MIF, Harlan, 2017
5-foot-9, 155-pound catcher, athletic build. Offensively hits from an open stance, short stride, good path, athletic. Gap to gap guy, took a solid round, hard contact, consistent hitter. Defensively showed soft hands, ability to catch and play the infield. Arm action is short, over the top slot, posted pop times at 2.12-2.18, arm played at 72 mph out of the crouch. 74 mph across the infield, hands are soft, transfers efficiently, athletic arm action, good body control, quick actions. Strong follow in the 2017 class.

8. Tavion Towers, MIF, Harlan, 2017
5-foot-9, 150-pound right-handed hitting MIF hits from a wide base, simple approach, hands start high, very little stride or hand load, short, level bat path, feel for barrel, drove ball to all fields, produced 78 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 76 mph across the diamond from short, over-the-top athletic arm action, with carry across the diamond. Soft hands fielding the baseball, fluid footwork, plays thorough the baseball, high level defender. Ran a 7.85 60.

9. Yaki Lee, C/INF, Harlan, 2017
Solid build, 5-foot-7, 157-pound switch-hitting catcher. Defensively showed above average catch and throw actions, posted a 2.12-2.18 pop times. Arm action is short, over the top slot, accurate to target, showed carry, worked online well, 74 mph arm strength. Hands showed softness receiving, clean transfers. Offensively hits from both sides, open stance, leg lift trigger from the left side, short minimal stride from the right. Showed similar abilities from both sides, 72 mph exit velocity from the right side, 75 mph exit velocity from the left. 7.42 runner in the 60.

10. Hunter Keim, SS/RHP, Rock Island, 2017
6-foot-1, 150-pound lanky right-handed hitting SS/RHP hits from an open stance, leg kick stride, dives slightly, repeats short, level swing, line drives from gap-to-gap during batting practice, loose wrists, fluid swing, 83 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 76 mph across the diamond from short, high ¾ arm slot, with accuracy and carry across the diamond. On the mound, fastball sat 78-80 mph from long, loose, high ¾ arm slot, tall/fall delivery, smooth, up-tempo rhythm, level shoulders throughout, stride direction is across his body, athletic finish. 65-68 mph spike curve flashed sharp, 12/6 action, also showed feel for 71-74 mph changeup with fading action. Keim has a projectable frame and continues to improve each time we’ve seen him. He has considerable upside on the mound thanks to his frame and sharp breaking ball.

Top 2018 Middle Infield Prospects

1.Zaid Walker, 3B/SS, Homewood-Flossmoor, 2018
6-foot-1, 180-pound athletic right-handed hitting 3B hits from a crouched, open setup, short stride, hands load back smoothly, lower half is aggressive, advanced approach at the plate, short, powerful, slightly uphill bat path, gets extension, drove balls to left-centerfield with authority during batting practice, 84 mph exit velocity. Defensively, threw 84 mph across the diamond from short, high ¾ arm slot with carry and accuracy, soft hands fielding the baseball, stays back could attack the baseball more. Ran a 7.51 60. Walker will be a high follow prospect in the 2018 class thanks to his bat, arm strength, and quality infield actions.

2.Christian Lucio, SS/RHP, Mount Carmel, 2018
5-foot-11, 150-pound lanky left-handed hitting SS/RHP hits from a balanced setup, elbows relaxed at sides pre pitch, hands load smoothly, short stride, leg kick short, level bat path, barrel whips through the zone, line drives from gap-to-gap during batting practice, 67 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 77 mph across the diamond from loose, high ¾ arm slot, carry across the diamond, soft hands fielding the baseball, fluid footwork, athletic middle infield actions. Ran a 7.5 60. On the mound, fastball sat 73-75 mph from quick, loose, high 3/4 , some effort to delivery, lands hard on front side. 68 mph breaking ball flashed 11/5 shape, also threw 68-70 mph sinking changeup, and a 69 mph knuckleball.

3. Cameron Robinson, SS, Champaign Central, 2018
6-foot-2, 155-pound lanky and athletic right-handed hitting SS hits from a wide, athletic stance, short stride, turns in front foot to load hips, hands load back smoothly, short, level, fluid bat path, line drives from gap-to-gap during batting practice, 80 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 74 mph across the diamond from short, loose, high ¾ arm slot, carry on throws, average hands fielding. Ran a 7.64 60. Robinson has a projectable frame and athletic actions, as he adds strength he could turn out to be one of the top prospects in Illinois’ 2018 class.

4. Andrew Wilhite, SS/RHP, Stillman Valley, 2018
5-foot-10, 150-pound left-handed hitting SS/RHP hits from a balanced setup, hands load back smoothly, short stride, loads/turns hips, short, slightly uphill bat path, feel for barrel and extension, 80 mph exit velocity off the tee, impressed with up the middle line drives during batting practice. Defensively, threw 79 mph across the diamond from short, high ¾ arm slot with accuracy. Hands are soft, fields the baseball out front, ran a 7.64 60. On the mound, fastball sat 77-79 mph touching 81 mph, missed glove side, pulling the baseball at times. Works from short, loose, high ¾ arm slot, easy effort, tall/fall delivery, smooth rhythm, level shoulders throughout delivery, lower half stays online towards home plate, lands athletically and square, great balance throughout delivery. Threw 11/5 breaking ball at 66-67 mph consistently for strikes. 72-73 mph changeup flashed sinking action.

5. Parker Aquino, RHP/MIF, Naperville North, 2018
6-foot, 135-pound lanky right-handed hitting RHP/MIF hits from an open setup, hands load smoothly, short stride, barrel whips through the zone, long, slightly uphill bat path, some lift to swing, feel for barrel, 78 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 80 mph across the diamond from long, loose, high ¾ arm slot with carry, average hands fielding, fluid footwork, winds up to throw the baseball taking some time getting rid of it. On the mound Aquino is one of the top prospects in Illinois’ 2018 class. Sat at 82-83 mph from short, clean, high ¾ arm slot, turns over rubber at balance point, rides lower half down the mound leading with front hip, smooth rhythm, lands square in line with home plate, athletic finish. 66-69 mph curveball flashed 11/5 shape, thrown for strikes. Also threw 74-75 mph changeup with advanced feel out front. Pitch is plus for his age, with arms side run and late finish. Aquino’s frame, loose arm, and feel for three pitches will make him a high follow prospect in the 2018 class.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Brenden Alsup, MIF, Jefferson, 2017
5-foot-10, 130-pound right-handed hitting middle infielder hits from a narrow, open setup, dives slightly during stride, gets wide after stride out, drops hands to load, feel for barrel, short, level bat path produced line drives from gap-to-gap, 74 mph exit velocity. Defensively, threw 71 mph across the diamond from short, stiff, over-the-top arm action, quick exchange getting rid of the baseball. Ran a 7.91 60. On the mound fastball sat 72-73 mph from over-the-top arm slot, hooks wrist in back of arm action, toe up at balance point, slow tempo, uphill shoulders, lands in line with home plate. 55-57 mph curveball broke gradually, 12/6 shape. Also threw a 68 mph changeup.

Ron Applewhite, MIF, Rich East, 2017
5-foot-10, 135-pound right-handed hitting middle infielder hits from an open setup hands load back, short stride, gets foot down early, too early timing wise at times, disrupts rhythm. 60 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 73 mph across the diamond from loose, high ¾ athletic arm action, fields the baseball out front, soft hands, clean exchanges. Ran a 7.31 60.

Evan Bodenschneider, MIF, Hanover Central, 2018
5-foot-4, 130-pound middle infielder. Offensively hits from a balanced stance, simple approach. Flat path, line drive type hitter, short level path. 67 mph exit velocity from the tee. Showed upside defensively, solid hands. Arm action is long, high ¾ slot, accurate arm across the diamond at 70 mph. Ran the 60 in 7.44.

Anthony DeConcilis, SS, Lake Park, 2018
5-foot-9, 155-pound lanky right-handed hitting SS hits from a balanced setup, hands load smoothly, high back elbow setup, short stride, short, flat bat path, line drives from gap-to-gap during batting practice, 80 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 75 mph across the diamond from short, loose, high ¾ athletic arm action with carry and accuracy. Ran a 7.55 60.

Andrew Erickson, C/SS, Tuscola, 2018
5-foot-8, 160-pound right-handed hitting C/SS hit from a balanced setup, short stride, hands load smoothly, simple approach, short, level, compact bat path, occasional extension, up the middle approach, feel for barrel, 78 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 75 mph across the infield from short from short, over-the-top arm slot with some accuracy. Impressed more behind the plate with blocking ability during bullpens. Pop times ranged from 2.23-2.28, 75 mph from the crouch. Ran an 8.15 60.

Corey Graham, OF/MIF, Crete Monee, 2018
5-foot-10, 150-pound right-handed hitting OF/MIF hits from a balanced setup, slightly open stance, short, quiet stride, hands load smoothly, fluid rhythm, short, level bat path produced 80 mph exit velocity, impressive bat speed for current size/strength. Defensively, threw 69 mph from the outfield from long, ¾ arm slot. Arm plays more in the infield, threw 70 mph from shorter, ¾ slot, soft hands fielding the baseball. Ran a 7.23 60.

Ryan Lin-Peistrup, SS/RHP, Loyola, 2017
5-foot-10, 155-pound two-way player, longer frame. Tall and fall delivery on the mound, short over the top arm action. Fastball is mostly straight, 72-74 mph, showed feel for the zone. Curveball has 12/6 shape, 61-65 mph, occasionally dropped for strikes. Changeup showed feel, 64-65 mph, some sink. Offensively hits from a narrow, open stance, dives to stride. Path is level, some length, 75 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively plays with a short over the top arm on the infield, 69 mph across the diamond. Hands showed some softness.

Steven Nguyen, SS, Alton, 2017
5-foot-10, 177-pound middle infielder, squared build. Left-handed hitter, offensively hits from a closed stance, wide setup, no stride approach. Short path, level approach to the baseball, 83 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively showed his hands work, took good routes to the baseball, arm action and body control can improve. Arm action is over the top, 76 mph across the diamond. Ran the 60 at 7.06.

Steven Pattan, C/SS, Alton, 2017
5-foot-8, 150-pound lanky right-handed hitting C/SS hits from a wide base, slightly closed stance, short stride, gets foot down early, hands load back, bars out, long level bat path, 76 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 71 mph across the infield from short, over the top arm slot, average hands fielding, quick and fluid footwork, handled all chances cleanly. Behind the plate, pop times ranged from 2.11-2.22 to second, 72 mph from the crouch, quick release, sits high in crouch. Ran a 7.46 60.

Malik Peters, MIF, Mount Carmel, 2018
5-foot-9, 135-pound right-handed hitting middle infielder hits from a wide base, short stride, knees point in towards one another before stride. Long fluid swing, gets extension, line drives to right center field during batting practice, natural lift to swing, 75 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 78 mph across the diamond from loose, high ¾ arm slot with accuracy. Long strides moving side to side, covers ground, plays through the baseball. Ran a 7.98 60.

Nathan Shapiro, MIF, New Trier, 2018
5-foot-7, 130-pound middle infielder, thin build. Offensively hits from the right side, balanced stance, short stride. Bat path has efficiencies, shorter to the baseball, downhill attack angle, 68 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively uses a short over the top arm action, 69 mph arm strength across the diamond. Plays with effort, 8.08 runner in the 60.

D’Eric Shenault, SS/RHP, Simeon, 2018
5-foot-11, 140-pound right-handed hitting SS/RHP hits from a balanced, square stance, no stride approach, hands load back slightly, long, level bat path, quick hands, 68 mph exit velocity off the tee. Defensively, threw 73 mph across the diamond from long, loose, ¾ arm slot, soft hands fielding the baseball, fluid footwork, plays through the baseball, athletic, middle infield actions. Ran a 7.52 60.

Tegan Woods, SS/RHP, Freeport, 2018
6-foot, 160-pound lanky right-handed hitting SS/RHP hits from an open setup, short stride, hands held up high, load back smoothly, long, level bat path, produced line drives during batting practice. Defensively, threw 67 mph across the diamond from long, high ¾ arm slot. Ran a 7.65 60. On the mound, fastball sat 69-73 mph from long, over-the-top arm slot, tall/fall delivery, regular effort, shoulders work uphill, lower half stride direction stays in line with home plate, lands square. 60-61 mph breaking ball called a slider, but acts like a curveball with 12/6 downward action. Also threw a 62 mph changeup, slows arm slightly on the pitch.

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