Top 2014 Prospects from Ohio's Last Showcase of the Winter

By Chris Valentine and Cory Valentine
PBR Ohio Scouting Director and Assistant Director

Today, we break down the top Class of 2014 prospects from PBR Ohio's Last Showcase of the Winter at Owens Community College in Northwest Ohio. Later this week, we will break down the Best of the Rest from this event.

1. Butch Baird, LHP, West Holmes HS
5-foot-11, 175-pound lefty showed the quick arm that has already made him one of the top pitching prospects in Ohio’s junior class. His fastball sat 85-87 mph with good run (we saw him sit at 88 and touch 89 a few times in December). His curveball shows good depth at 65-67 mph and his changeup shows similar run to his fastball at 80-81 mph.

2. Austin Hancock, IF/OF, Defiance HS
Fresh off of Tommy John surgery, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound right-handed prospect reached 88 mph from the outfield and 86 mph across the infield. Combining his arm strength and speed (6.9 60-yardh dash), he is a versatile Division I prospect. Looks most natural in the athlete. Receives the ball well and plays through it. In the infield, he still needs to improve his hands and the fluidity of his actions. At the plate, the right-handed hitter starts from a slightly open stance. Shows rotational mechanics with a short stride. Line drive type production. Shows some bat speed (80 mph exit velocity off the tee)

3. Ben Hughes, RHP/IF, Tippecanoe HS
The 5-foot-11, 160-pound righty shows the ability to hit spots and change speeds. He showed command of four pitches, including a changeup, curveball, and cutter. He uses a quick tempo and repeatability delivery. Throws through a high ¾ arm slot with quick arm action. Fastball shows good sink at 82-84 mph along with a 79-80 mph cut fastball that showed some good late life. His breaking ball serves as an effective out pitch at 68-70 mph with good 11/5 break and depth. His changeup is thrown near fastball arm speed and shows similar movement to his fastball at 76-77 mph. Shows good athleticism in the field as well. Potentially a third baseman or second baseman type. Ran a 7.27 60. Uses short arm action and quick release. Reached top velocity of 82 mph across the infield. Needs to continuing improving footwork. Tendency to get flat. Continues to make good strides at the plate. Starts with wide, slightly open stance. Utilizes leg kick trigger, which creates some timing issues. Shows quick bat speed through the zone (87 mph exit velocity off the tee).

4. Ty Suntken, RHP/3B, Wauseon HS
5-foot-11, 180-pound prospect with a strong, solid frame. His fastball sat 87-88 mph with max effort. Needs to continue to create a repeatable delivery to help his consistency and command. Curveball shows late 11/5 break, but doesn’t locate it consistently in the zone. Shows a 73-76 mph changeup with some arm side run and a 77 mph spllt-finger fastball. While he shows the potential to play third base at the next level, his future may be on the mound due to his arm strength. If he shows consistent command of his fastball and develops an effective second pitch, he will gain plenty of attention this summer. Right now, he draws comparisons to 2013 Akron recruit Jonny Nottingham. In the field, he projects as a third base type. Uses short arm action with 88 mph arm strength across the infield. Quick exchange and transfer. Needs to continue working on glovework. At the plate, the right-handed hitter uses his physical strength. He is quick through the zone (90 mph exit velocity off the tee). Shows good balance. Shows definite power potential.

5. Axel Bueter, LHP, Wauseon HS
The 6-foot, 163-pound southpaw showed an 84-85 mph fastball with some run to it. He showed good command of a 67-69 mph curveball with late, 1/7 break. His changeup shows occasional fade at 73-75 mph. His delivery requires some effort, but Bueter will find his services in demand in a 2014 class thin on pitching. His delivery still requires some effort, but he continues to look better each time that we see him.

6. Jarrett Peters, C, Bloom Carroll
Posses a strong, durable frame. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound catcher registered consistent 2.00-2.06 pop times with a top velocity of 78 mph from the crouch. At the plate, he starts with a slightly open stance and utilizes his strong lower half. He showed quick hands (90 mph exit velocity off the tee), and solid, line drive production with good power for his size.

7. Wes Rickenberg, RHP, Napoleon HS
6-foot-2, 160-pound righty that starts with slow deliberate delivery. Speeds up at leg kick. Overall, his delivery requires some effort. Throws through high 3/4 arm slot with quick arm action. Fastball sits 82-84 mph with some cut to it. Curveball shows 10/4 break down in the zone at 71-74 mph. Tends to short arm his breaking ball. Changeup is thrown near fastball arm speed for strikes at 73-76 mph. Plenty of potential. Will benefit by keeping quick, steady pace from the beginning of his delivery. 

8. BJ Donathan, C, Tippecanoe HS
Continues to get better behind the plate. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound catcher has improved his athleticism over the off-season and his catching skills after spending time with former Ohio State catcher Brian Manino. Behind the plate, he showed good footwork and a quick transfer. His pop times ranged between 1.98-2.00 with accurate throws on the bag. He reached a top velocity of 74 mph from the crouch. At the plate, he shows quick hands into the zone (85 mph exit velocity) with a slight uphill path to the ball.

9. John Heckman, SS/2B, Hamilton HS
The talented infielder ranks among the top at his position in Ohio’s class.  He shows good range and softness in his hands. His transfer is quick and he reached a top velocity of 80 mph across the infield. At the plate, he is a contact type hitter. Shows some quick through the zone (86 mph exit velocity off the tee). Solid line drive production. Consistently squared up the baseball. Needs to continuing improving his foot speed (7.2 60).

10. Bryce Castilleja, IF/RHP, Oregon Clay HS 
6-foot-1, 175-pound two-way prospect. Likely projects best as a position player at the next level. Uses short arm action through high ¾ arm slot. Exchange and transfer will become quicker when he eliminates the glove tap. Some arm strength (81 mph) across the infield. At the plate, the right-handed hitter starts in a crouch setup. Uses short stride along with slight uphill bat path. Shows some quickness in his hands (81 mph exit velocity off the tee). On the mound, he uses slow deliberate delivery with big inward leg kick. Fastball sits 79-81 mph with straight action. Curveball has late 11/5 break at 70 mph and changeup is straight at 73-74 mph.

11. Dakoda Brown, LHP, Toledo Christian HS
6-foot-1, 170-pound southpaw. Throws through high ¾ arm slot with quick arm action. Showed good cutting action on his 80-82 mph fastball. His changeup, which sits at 71-73 mph, may be his best pitch as it is thrown near fastball arm speed and shows good fade. His curveball has 1/7 break, but doesn’t show consistent depth to it.

12. Jason Burkett, RHP/IF, Maumee HS
6-foot-1, 155-pound two-way prospect. Had one of the best raw arms at the event with 84 mph across the infield. With additional development, his future may be on the mound, where he showed quick arm speed while generating an 81-83 mph fastball with some sink to it. He uses long arm action through a high ¾ arm slot. Changeup showed similar actions. His slider tends to be flat at 72 mph. In the field, he projects as a third base type with good arm strength. Needs to continue improving footwork for consistent play. At the plate, the right-handed hitter uses a short stride with a level path to the ball. Registered top exit velocity of 75 mph off the tee. 

13. Noah Pierce, RHP/1B, Toledo Central Catholic
6-foot-3, 180-pound prospect with projectable body. Future is likely on the mound. Shows long, loose arm action through high ¾ arm slot with above average arm speed. Uses a repeatable delivery. Fastball is heavy at 79-82 mph. Will definitely see jump in the spring and summer. Curveball shows gradual 11/5 break at 64-65 mph. Good command of the out pitch. Shows good command of 61-65 mph changeup that has some sink to it. Needs to speed up his arm for deception. In the field, he shows decent footwork around the bag with short arm action. Reached up to 75 mph on his throws. Needs to quicken transfer. At the plate, the big right-handed hitter has a tendency to bar his arm in his load, which creates some length. Takes a level path to the ball. Shows line drive type of production. Reached top exit velocity of 83 mph off the tee.