2017: A Look Forward

By Steve Nielsen and Matt Huck
PBR Wisconsin Staff

2016 is in the rear view mirror and every year we like to put together a preview of sorts to the new year. As we kick off 2017, we take a look ahead at some of the top things to watch for in 2017. Players, story lines, predictions, you name it - here's a few thing to keep your eye on for 2017.

WIAA implements New Pitch Count

New years always bring new laws into effect and 2017 brings changes to the WIAA rule book regarding pitch counts. Many states across the country have jumped on the initiative to protect pitcher's arm health by way of pitch count regulations. States have implemented different versions of the pitch count regulations, in Wisconsin no pitcher will be allowed to throw over 100 pitches in a game.

Per WBCA website: CLICK HERE for complete pitch count rules.

The new rules will undoubtedly effect every team across the state, some more than others. Obviously smaller schools with smaller rosters will be challenged. Weather will inevitably change the schedule to postpone more games towards the end of the year, navigating the challenge of possibly five games a week. But at the heart of the rule, the main objective is to protect pitchers from being abused on the mound.

Looking ahead to 2017 it will surely change the way games are managed, for the better or worse, I'll let you be the judge of that. Will coaches take their ace out earlier in games knowing they have a big double header coming up on the weekend? Will they start to use their better arms essentially as closers, knowing they can have them every other day if they keep them under 50 pitches? How will opposing coaches manage knowing the pitcher in the other dugout is nearing his pitch count limit? Will they take more pitches?

All questions to see played out on the diamond in 2017.

Another Wisconsin First-Rounder in 2017

Jeren KendallGavin Lux brought the baseball world to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2016 as one of the more high-profile prospects to come out of the state, capping his year with a historic first-round selection by the LA Dodgers.

2017 could bring similar if not more hype to a Wisconsin rooted stand out. Former Holmen HS OF Jeren Kendall passed on a 30th round selection by the Boston Red Sox in 2014 in order to attend Vanderbilt. His time in Nashville has been well spent working his way up draft boards and is in talks as a possible first overall pick this June. As a true freshman he started 56 games hitting .281 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases. Following his freshman year he played 20 games for Cotuit in the prestigious Cape Cod League hitting .253. He had a breakout sophomore year starting all 62 games for the Commodores hitting a team leading .332 with nine home runs and 59 RBIs, while stealing 28 bases.

This past summer Kendall earned a spot on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and led the team in hits, RBIs, and stolen bases. Kendall is a true center fielder with all five tools grading out at least average with speed being his best tool. Kendall's name is already atop several national mock drafts and could hear his name called first overall.

How can Kelenic follow up 2016?

No. 1 ranked 2018 Jarred Kelenic had a monster 2016 season that was highlighted by winning gold with the USA Baseball 18U National Team and being named MVP of the Pan American Games. 2017 will see Kelenic move even more so into the national spotlight starting this summer as MLB teams begin to prepare for the 2018 Draft. Kelenic will likely criss-cross the country this summer along with the rest of the top 2018 high school draft prospects, hoping to prove he's worth a 2018 first-round draft selection. With his play and work ethic, look for Kelenic to continue climbing towards the top of 2018 draft boards.

Badger State Battle: Moving and Expanding

After a two year run in the Fox Valley area, the Badger State Battle will be moving in 2017 to the Woodside Sports Complex in Mauston, WI. The all turf field complex adds more fields, allowing more teams to participate and have all games played at the same location. The move is poised to bring a more intimate feel to the tournament and easier on scouts and recruiters to see more talent in one location, giving the ultimate benefit to the player.

For more on the 2017 Badger State Battle > CLICK HERE.

2017 Showcase Schedule

Showcase State Date Location
Unsigned Senior Showcase WI Jan 22 The MAX - McCook, IL
Kenosha Preseason I.D. WI Jan 28 Fielder's Choice Training Facility - Kenosha, WI
Fox Cities Preseason I.D. WI Feb 18 Players Choice of the Fox Cities - Appleton, WI
Milwaukee Preseason I.D. WI Feb 26 Hitters Baseball Academy - Caledonia, WI
Madison Preseason I.D. WI Mar 12 GRB Academy - DeForest, WI
Future Prospects Showcase - Madison WI Apr 2 GRB Academy - DeForest, WI