Prep Baseball Report

PBR Midwest ProCase: Pitcher Analysis

By Sean Duncan

Executive Director

An impressive array of 2017 prospects from six states convened at Silver Cross Field in Joliet for the second-annual Prep Baseball Report Midwest ProCase on June 21. Although only time will tell if this year’s event will match the level of last year’s, when it had nine players eventually drafted, this class of rising seniors showed intriguing upside.

Throughout the week, we will roll out all reports from the event, starting with the pitchers. On a whole, the pitchers at this year’s event didn’t flash the sexy velocity like the previous year, but it was filled with high-ceiling projection arms. In terms as size and pure stuff, RHP Austin Marozas, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound Mississippi State recruit, and RHP Jackson Rutledge, another 6-foot-7 right-hander, stood above the rest. 

Here’s a look at the pitchers at the PBR Midwest ProCase, starting with the top three prospects from the event:

1. Austin Marozas, RHP, Plainfield South HS, IL, 2017
Mississippi State recruit. 6-foot-7, 230-pound right-handed pitcher, imposing presence on the mound, impressive physical specimen, athletic build with proportional strength, defined lower half yet still has room for continued physical development. Proved himself as the top overall prospect at the PBR Midwest ProCase; currently ranked No. 20 in the overall rankings. Continues to show improvement. For size, arm is athletic; works across his body from 3/4 slot, open-toe landing, minimal effort. Fastball has heavy arm-side sink when down in the zone, sat 89-90; more velocity likely to come. Slider has shown vast improvements over the last year; especially command, sat 76-77 mph, more lateral action but threw a few with sharp, late two-plane bite. With more refinement, could be a plus offering in the future. Threw a high-volume of strikes with fastball/slider combination. Breezed through his extended inning, recording two strikeouts, including the first batter on three pitches. Should be a high-level draft follow in the 2017 class.

2. Jackson Rutledge, RHP, Rockwood Summit HS, MO
Recently de-committed from Kansas State and is back on the open market. Judging by his performance at the PBR Midwest ProCase, Rutledge’s services should be in high demand. Highly projectable 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame, athletic build with plenty of room for continued physical development. For his size, his arm works quickly and cleanly from high-3/4 slot, uninterrupted arm action with good acceleration. Works slightly across his body, shorter stride for his length, hides the ball well; maintains rhythm and tempo throughout delivery. Fastball sat 89-90 with hard heavy sink and run when down in zone and mechanics in sync; more velocity likely to come. Breaking ball has slurvy inconsistent shape, in mid-70s. Also flashed an upper-70s splitter during warmups. Overall, Rutledge is a high-ceiling prospect who should generate draft buzz come next June. 

3. Konnor Ash, RHP, Plainfield South HS, IL, 2017
Connecticut recruit. 6-foot, 175-pound right-handed pitcher, solid build, average frame.One of the biggest overall risers at the PBR Midwest ProCase. Highly competitive mound presence, attacks hitters with advanced three-pitch mix. Quick arm, clean and loose, high-3/4 slot, athletic delivery and finish, works with some effort, repeats well. Around the zone with everything. Fastball sat 90-91 from the windup, 86-90 from the stretch; slight arm-side life. Slider can be go-to out pitch. Throws slider aggressively and confidently, short, tight, late-breaking action, 77-79 mph (have seen it up to 82 mph in the past). Has ability to throw slider for strikes and to bury it down. Didn’t need changeup in game action, but showed to be a quality offering in warmups. Throws changeup aggressively, 80-82 mph, with arm-side sink.

4. Ryan Hoerter, RHP, Indian Trail HS, WI, 2017
Oregon recruit. 6-foot-6, 185-pound right-handed pitcher, highly projectable frame, long, lean and athletic. Overall excellent athleticism for size, should become high-interest draft prospect if not next June, then in three years. Arm is athletic, quick and clean, high-¾ slot, works with minimal effort, present arm speed. Delivery has tempo and rhythm, lands slightly closed. Fastball sat 86-88 mph with downhill plane, around the plate but lacked consistency in the zone. Curveball ranged between 73-74, shows feel for pitch, good shape and late bite at times, can develop into swing-and-miss offering. 


Jack Anderson, RHP, Pulaski HS, WI, 2017
Illinois State recruit. 6-foot-6, 215-pound right-handed pitcher, athletic build, long arms, upside in the frame. High-ceiling potential as he continues to physically develop. Athleticism in the arm and delivery, high-¾ slot, gets down the mound well. Fastball sat 85-86, touching 87; more velocity likely to come. Fastball flashed occasional arm-side life and sink when mechanics in sync. Threw curveball for strikes, a few with late bite at 69-71. During game play, he worked a quick spotless inning.

Ryan Bader, LHP, Mukwonago HS, WI, 2017
Northwestern recruit. 6-foot-2, 160-pound left-handed pitcher, lanky build, longer limbs, plenty of room for continued physical development. Long easy arm action, high-3/4 slot, deceptively quick arm, three-pitch feel all with similar arm action. Fastball velocity was down significantly from the winter when we saw him at 85-88 mph. At the ProCase, fastball ranged between 81-83 mph. Curveball showed depth, 1/7 shape, at 68-69 mph. Changeup flashed fade during warmups. 

Marius Balandis, RHP, Lithuania, 2017
Uncommitted prospect; from Lithuania currently living in the states. Pitches for the Lithuania National Team. 6-foot-2, 191-pound right-handed pitcher, athletic, wiry-strong frame. Works out a high-¾ slot, quick, athletic arm, high front side creates some down angle. Fastball sat 88-90; has been up to 93 in the past. Breaking ball showed erratic shape and command, inconsistent release point, 68-69 mph. Changeup ranged between 77-78.

Ty Buckner, RHP, Ladue Horton Watkins HS, MO
Missouri State recruit. Solidly built 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed pitcher, athletic build, proportional strength. Loose, athletic arm action, high-3/4 slot, excellent rhythm and athleticism throughout full windup delivery, repeats well. Fastball flashed late arm-side life at 86-87 mph, topping at 88. Has feel for secondary, shows ability to shuffle three-pitch mix well. Changeup is advanced offering, thrown aggressively with fastball arm speed, 75-76 mph, with some arm-side fade. Curveball ranged between 69-71, with depth and 11/5 shape. With his athleticism and arm speed, Buckner should continue to see his velocity climb in the coming years.

Jimmy Burnette, LHP/OF, St. Laurence HS, 2017
Austin Peay recruit. Athletically built 6-foot-2, 185-pound two-way prospect. Can very well be a position player and a pitcher at the next level, but hard to deny upside potential on the mound. Has only been pitching for a couple years. Loose, athletic, easy arm action, high-¾ slot,  fastball topped at 88, sitting 86-87 (have seen up to 90 in the past) with some arm-side run. More velocity likely to come.  Feel for changeup, 80 mph with arm-side sink; throws the pitch with confidence. Curveball has erratic shape in low-70s. Positionally, a left-handed hitter, balanced swing, athletic hands, uses leg lift trigger; when on time, makes hard contact. Registered 89 mph exit velocity. In game, singled up the middle, walked and popped out. Defensively, moves with confidence, takes aggressive routes, tracks well, athletic tendencies. Strong arm, throws carry on line, clocked at 91 mph from the outfield. Ran a 7.00 laser-timed 60.

Justin Campbell, LHP, Bishop Foley HS, MI, 2017
Central Michigan recruit. 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame, highly projectable build with long limbs and plenty of room for continued physical development. For size and length, syncs up delivery and throws strikes. Arm works cleanly and freely out of high-3/4 window, shorter arm action, hides ball well, showed ability to work both sides of the plate, lower half of the zone, with 82-83 mph fastball. Throws both curveball and slider; 71-73 curveball showed consistent 12/6 action. Also flashed 73-77 changeup. As Campbell fills into his frame, he should see a significant velocity spike in the coming years. 

Bryce Davis, RHP/1B, Sparta HS, MI
Currently uncommitted. 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, strong athletic build, wide shoulders. Right-handed pitcher, works from over-the-top slot, sneaky fast arm, good hand acceleration. Fastball sat 86-87, mostly straight; has been up to 90 in the past. Curveball is go-to offering; shows potential of being true swing-and-miss pitch; flashes sharp, late 12/6 break at 67-68 mph, throws pitch aggressively. … Offensively, hits from right side, flashes raw pull-side power; registered 92-mph exit velocity with wood. Also ran a 7.22 laser-timed 60.

Mark Diluia, RHP, Marian Catholic HS, IL, 2017
Maryland recruit. 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-handed pitcher, long, lean, athletic build with plenty of room for continued physical development. High-ceiling prospect. Delivery is clean, athletic and repeatable; shows excellent rhythm and tempo throughout, works online. Arm works free and easily, loose, quick arm action, minimal effort, high-¾ slot. Fastball ranged between 86-88 with some arm-side life; more velocity likely to come as he continues to physically develop. Advanced feel for three-pitch mix. Slider ranged between 74-75 mph, more lateral action with some depth; occasionally gets underneath pitch and flattens out. Throws changeup with fastball arm action, 79-81 mph, with arm-side sink. 

Ben Dragani, LHP, Catholic Memorial HS, WI

Michigan recruit. 6-foot-5, 205-pound left-handed pitcher, athletic, well-proportioned, highly projectable frame. Fluid, balanced delivery, repeats well. Longer arm action, high 3/4  slot, works free and easily. Fastball sat 84-85 mph with arm-side run; tendency to leave up in game. Slider ranged between 75-76, more lateral action - have seen it previously in the 78-80 range. Changeup ranged 76-78, good feel for pitch. Overall has solid three-pitch mix. With his size and easy arm action, Dragani has intriguing upside.

Jesse Heikkinen, LHP, Holt HS, MI, 2017
Michigan State recruit. 6-foot-1, 180-pound left-handed pitcher, thin-athletic build. Confident mound presence, works fast, good tempo, challenges hitters with three-pitch mix that he seemingly can throw in any count. Consistent strike thrower, works both sides of the plate well. Athletic, compact delivery, repeats well, loose quick arm action, high-3/4 slot. Fastball topped at 85 mph, sitting 82-83, with arm-side run and occasional sink. Curveball ranged between 67-69 mph, downer action, throws pitch aggressively with similar arm action. Also flashed changeup in low-70s, similar arm action and window.

Brenden Lovell, RHP, Vicksburg HS, MI, 2017
Western Michigan recruit. 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame, wiry-athletic build with plenty of room for continued physical development. Quick athletic arm, 3/4 slot, drop-and-drive delivery. Fastball ranged between 86-88 mph, touching 89, flat with slight arm-side life. Breaking ball had erratic shape, flashed sharpness with two-plane break between 71-73 mph; throws pitch confidently. Shows potential to be go-to pitch when thrown more consistently. Also threw 79-mph changeup. At past PBR event, he ran a 6.92 60, and athleticism evident on the mound.

Keegan Watson, OF/RHP, New Palestine HS, IN, 2017
Nebraska recruit. Athletically built 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, proportional strength, longer limbs, plenty of room for continued physical development. Legitimate two-way prospect; shows significant upside on the mound and as a right-handed hitting outfielder. Currently listed as a primary outfielder, but athleticism and arm strength translate well on the mound. … Right-handed pitcher, works downhill well, high-3/4 slot, quick, athletic, uninterrupted arm action. Fastball topped at 88 mph, sitting 86-87, steep angle when down in zone, mostly straight. Slider shows potential of being go-to swing-and-miss pitch; sharp, late two-plane break at 73-75 mph. Also flashed 78-80 changeup. With more polish and repetition, Watson should see more velocity and consistency in the future. … Currently more advanced as a position player. Overall excellent defensive outfielder, right-field arm strength, 90 mph with carry and on target. Moves fluidly and with confidence, fields the ball in rhythm, gets good reads, works downhill well. Delivered two impressive plays in game action: made a sliding catch in left field, and also gunned down a runner in right field. Offensively, hits from a tall setup, high hands, balanced, simple approach; bat speed and strength in swing, longer path with arm bar. When extended, ball jumps off barrel with backspin carry. Maintains balance throughout swing, gets extension through contact. Registered 91 mph exit velocity with wood and ran a 7.21 laser-timed 60. Singled sharply during game play.

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