Prep Baseball Report

College Crosscheck, Week 4: Kentucky, Kennesaw State, Indiana, Troy & More

By David Seifert
Director of College Scouting

Our Director of College Scouting, David Seifert, opted for a trip to Kentucky with rain forecasted elsewhere in the country, which allowed him to watch the first-ever matchup between the Wildcats and the Kennesaw State Owls. This edition of the Crosscheck also includes insight from fellow D1Baseball staffers Aaron Fitt and Burke Granger, with evaluations on players from programs like Indiana and Troy; we’ve also got some draft-eligible sophomores to know from mid-majors Liberty, William & Mary, and Longwood.


Continue on to read Seifert’s College Crosscheck, Week Four:

Choosing between which raindrops to dodge in Week Four, I chose traveling to Lexington to see Kennesaw State and Kentucky over a few other options in that same region of the country. Adding interest to my look at several promising prospects, the Owls and Wildcats had never met before on the baseball diamond. 


Travis Smith, RHP: Tall, strong and physical-bodied at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Smith profiles as a starting pitcher at the pro level with good arm action and a repeatable delivery. An average athlete, Smith excelled early in the game, punching out four of the first six batters. He touched 97 one time in the first, before settling into the 94-96 range until the sixth when 92-93 was the juice he had left on a wet overcast day. There is some weight to his heater that he effectively moved in/out, while keeping down in the zone. The development and use of a riding four-seamer to his arsenal could be a weapon to also go above bats, on occasion. His higher spin 86-87 mph slider at 2500 rpm flashed plus at times and his cutter was a strong offering at 88-91. His fourth pitch, and one that has a chance to become pro average in the future, was an upper-80s change spinning in the 1700s. Overall, Smith pounded the zone, showed good feel for four pitches and pitched much better than his stat line of 7 innings, 4 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts on 104 pitches. At this point in the season, Smith slots into the third round on my draft board.

(Travis Smith; 3/8/24)

Ryan Waldschmidt, OF: Limited to DH only duties his first 11 games this spring from a knee surgery last fall, Waldschmidt was given full clearance and appeared in the outfield for the first time this season. Leading off and starting in leftfield on Friday night he banged out a pair of hits, and should have had another after laying down a perfect bunt his first at-bat, only to be thrown out on a bare-hand highlight play by Owl third-bagger Isaac Bouton. Waldschmidt ran a below average 3.97 H-1B on this bunt attempt. A bit rusty from game action in the field, he showed a below average arm during warmups and the game. His game throw from medium leftfield was well up the third base line on a play at the plate. In the box his bat speed was most impressive, unleashing it quickly explosively from his righthanded, rotational swing out of a spread stance. His top exit velocity on the weekend was 111 mph on a groundout to third. Overall, it wasn’t the best look at Waldschmidt’s toolset which was down across the board (other than his bat speed), but making a return from injury is never easy, and this one was especially a little more difficult with cool, rainy conditions. Regardless, Waldschmidt is one to keep an eye on, especially with the SEC season starting this weekend.

Junior righthander Robert Hogan inherited a bases loaded, no out jam in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game and pitched out of it with ease with a double-play grounder and fly out. His 89-90 mph played up, while his 81-84 above average breaker spun into the 2900s. In eight innings this spring Hogan has allowed no runs on just one hit and has struck out five, while holding opponents to a .043 batting average. Junior second baseman Emilien Pitre is likely to be included on many area scout draft lists. His high level bat to ball skills produced a .318 batting average with more walks (42) than strikeouts (35) as a sophomore and he’s off to a similar start to this season. Pitre is also fluid in the field with athletic actions and plus range at the keystone, especially on outfield bloopers. He ran average down the line (4.19 H-1B on a ground ball to the right side) and showed limited raw power, 30-grade on the pro scale. 


Blake Aita, RHP: The 6-foot-4, 220-pound righthander continues to show what caught the attention of pro scouts last summer in the Cape Cod League. He’s an analytics darling with a spin profile that very few very few in the college game can match. From a high three-quarter release point with above average effort he unleashes a tight, high-spinning (3000+ rpm) curve at 77-78 mph. The pitch also bites consistently with an elite 20-22” of horizontal break. He also works with a fastball that sits 90-92 mph with 2500-2600 spin rates and a usable 84-87 slider/cutter that spins in the 2700-2800 range. With his current velocity Aita is likely to spin his way into the top 10 rounds this summer, but any uptick in velocity over the course of this spring would bump him further up draft lists.

(Blake Aita; 3/9/24)

Senior third baseman Isaac Bouton played the heck out of the hot corner, highlighted by a jaw-dropping bare hand play on a bunt that recorded Kentucky’s first out of the series on Friday. Over the weekend he was flawless fielding at third and showed plus arm strength. Physically mature and strong at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds the righthanded hitter can hurt a baseball. He swung a loud bat out of the 3-hole for the Owls with a long rocket single his first at-bat and a line drive double his second. He finished the series 4-for-14 with three RBI and leads the Owls in home runs this season with four. Friday night ace Braden Osbolt is one to keep an eye on. Just a sophomore and not eligible for the draft until 2025, he’s super competitive, worked quickly and consistently missed barrels throughout his seven inning, 84-pitch start.

(Braden Osbolt; 3/8/24)

With compact arm action and a quick arm he relied on a low-90s sinker as his main weapon. It’s more control than command, but the life allows for barrel misses. He can also get to more juice when needed, as he pumped up to 94-95 with a runner on third early in the game. He spun two different breaking balls in a 78-79 curve and a more effective 84-85 slider. Also mixed an occasional mid-80s changeup with an 1850-1950 spin rate. Osbolt efficiently dispatched the Wildcats, throwing just 84 pitches in 7 innings, allowing six hits, just one run and struck out eight. Sophomore outfielder Jackson Chirello started Friday and Sunday, but did not play Saturday as a southpaw started on the mound for Kentucky. At 6-foot-6 he’s an easy mover and good athlete. He showed a longer swing with fair bat speed. After lining a single to the opposite field during his first at-bat of the weekend, the Wildcats attacked inside with fastballs, exposing his swing length. Freshman shortstop Shamaar McDuffie reclassed and graduated early from high school. He’s an advanced defender with smooth feet and actions. At the plate he has an easy swing and takes the bat to the ball, but will need strength gains. With time and more physical development he has a chance to develop into a top 10 round prospect. 


Connor Foley, RHP, Indiana: A draft-eligible sophomore who spent last year in the bullpen, posting a 3.72 ERA with 42 strikeouts, but also 21 walks in 29 innings, the scouts surely walked away with a positive impression of Foley after he made his first collegiate start during opening weekend at Coastal Carolina. A 6-foot-5, 235-pound Adonis who is still just scratching the surface of his potential, he was actually an Indiana football recruit before a more recent transition full-time to baseball. As a prep he was a three-sport guy, including great success on the hardwood. at mostly 92-96 and bumped 97 on Saturday — but it still has that special deception and life, with up to 26 inches of IVB on Saturday, a remarkable metric. That pitch remains his calling card, and he used it as the putaway pitch on most of his seven strikeouts through four innings against Coastal Carolina, but he has developed a useful short cutter/slider at 85-89 and a functional changeup at 81-83, giving hitters just a little more to think about to help keep them from being on top of the heater. Foley then touched 99 during Week Three to bump up the Heat Sheet. He’s currently a top three round talent who could jump into the second round for the club that envisions him as a future starter.

-Aaron Fitt, D1 Baseball

Nick Mitchell, OF: A transfer from Western Illinois, Mitchell was frequently on the barrel in the Hoosiers series loss against Troy. At 5-foot-10, 185-pounds with a compact lefthanded stroke, Mitchell draws comparisons to Adam Eaton in the box. He sprayed the ball all over the Bart Kaufmann field this weekend, pulling a 405-foot HR down the line in one game and legging out a triple in the gap in the next. The Hoosiers leadoff hitter showed the type of zone awareness and contact oriented approach this weekend one likes to see at the top of the order.

-Burke Granger, D1 Baseball


Will Butcher, 1B, Troy: Tied atop the national leaderboard with 34 RBIs, Butcher carried the Trojans on his back in the opening game of a road series against Indiana when he blasted three home runs. A senior first baseman with plenty of righthanded power, the Hoosiers tried to get him out with sliders off the outer corner, most of which were spit upon. He showed solid strike zone awareness on the weekend (drawing five walks after his three homer game), proving to be a tough out and punishing pitches that catch too much plate.

-Burke Granger, D1 Baseball

Jay Dill, RHP, Troy: At 6-foot-6, 250-pounds with a mid-90s fastball, Dill showed the most intriguing pro potential of the Trojan arms to throw this weekend, but he needs to harness the stuff to reach that potential. The Clemson transfer’s appearance came in a tight game with a runner in scoring position and Devin Taylor – Indiana’s best hitter – at the dish. He proceeded strikeout Taylor swinging at three straight changeups. He got up to 96 mph with his fastball but pitched more constantly in the 92-93 range. After seeing him struggling to throw strikes the following inning and run through six distinct pitches in warmups, he may be better suited to work on refining his top three or four best offerings.

-Burke Granger, D1 Baseball

Dylan King, RHP, Troy: Still developing consistency from outing to outing he was the grade-A version of himself. When he’s “on” he is electric with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and will touch 97. At other times he can be rather pedestrian. His 82-84 mph slider which is shaped and thrown more as a power slurve can be elite. At other times and at lower velocity it is below average. Oozing physical projection as 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, King has a higher than average ceiling for a college junior. At the end of the day the draft rewards tools and talent, and it also rewards consistency and performance. King has the former, but the latter is still a work in progress. At present he’s likely an early Day Three pick, but with continued development and consistency Day Two is not out of the question.

–David Seifert 

More 2024 Draft-eligible Prospect Reports

Trey Carter, RHP, Liberty: Senior righthander with a physically imposing 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame. Shorter arm swing and works from a slightly lower three-quarter arm slot. Carter’s first outing this spring was a great beginning to his ‘24 season. Three shutout innings where he showcased his advanced arm speed and arm strength. Sat 93-94, topping at 95 in his first inning, 92-94 his second, and finally 90-92 in his third inning of work. Worked with a two pitch mix with a fastball and slurvy breaking ball that sat 78-81. He did not use the breaker much in his first inning, but seemed more comfortable with it in his final two innings of work. Earlier in counts it was a softer gradual break and then he threw a couple put away sliders when he was ahead in two-strike counts.

-Jason Burton, Prep Baseball VA/DC Scouting Director

Kane Kepley, OF, Liberty: Sophomore outfielder was one of the few offensive highlights for the Flames. Kepley is a compact 5-foot-8 lefthanded hitting outfield that works the leadoff spot for Liberty. Started his night off with a homerun out of right field and would later double. He has some sneaky pop for his frame and is aggressive early in counts. Scrappy and tough out with some barrel feel from the left side. Average to slightly above average runner.

-Jason Burton, Prep Baseball VA/DC Scouting Director

Nate Knowles, RHP, William & Mary: Knowles is one of the best ‘24 potential draft arms in the state. In his first four outings he has worked 20 innings, allowed two earned runs, and struck out 33. While his fastball sat 90-91, topping at 93 during his outing at Richmond, it played a tick quicker at times. It is his heavy usage of his secondary stuff, especially the mid to upper 80’s cutter, that allows the fastball to get on hitters. It is a true four pitch mix with the fastball and cutter being the primary pitches and a curveball/changeup combo being three and four in the arsenal. The curveball also flashed above average a few times, sat 76-79 mph (2400 rpm) and several showed really nice depth. He struck one hitter out with the breaking ball and the others came via the fastball/cutter combos. The changeup was usable, but was definitely his fourth pitch.

-Jason Burton, Prep Baseball VA/DC Scouting Director

Aidan Major, RHP, West Virginia: Showed off the elite combination of arm talent and feel for pitches in the Big 12 opener against BYU. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound righty has a super quick arm with clean and compact arm action. Highly athletic and aggressive, he constantly pitches with something to prove. Working quickly, he flashed his entire arsenal to a steady BYU lineup that included a mid-90s fastball that touched 96 with some ride at the top of the zone. He also showed a plus changeup on both sides of the plate, consistently missing barrels with its depth. Major dealt a sharp 87-89 mph slider (2400+ RPM) that broke through multiple planes while inducing several off-time swings. After allowing two home runs to the middle of the Cougar lineup, Major rallied to strike out eight batters in eight innings, while walking just one.


-Pete Whitmer, Prep Baseball Ohio

Kevin Warunek, LHP, Longwood: Junior southpaw only worked one inning, yet is definitely an arm to get out and see again at some point. Six-foot-4, 200-pound frame. Long levers with proportional strength. Easy operation with a 90-91 mph fastball that worked to both sides of the plate. Created some angle in on right handed hitters while running it away from them to the arm side with some carry. Also showed ability to throw the bigger sweeping slider for strikes, hovering around 80 mph (2500 rpm). Intriguing arm to catch again at some point.

-Jason Burton, Prep Baseball VA/DC Scouting Director

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