Class of 2023: Winter Watchlist


By Tell Taylor
Wisconsin Scouting Director

Earlier this month, the PBR Wisconsin staff collaborated to produce its end-of-year update to the state’s Class of 2023 rankings. We published scouting reports on the ‘Risers’ who moved up the board, as well as the reports on the players who made their debuts on the rankings in this ‘Newcomers’ post. Today, PBR Wisconsin Scouting Director Tell Taylor is sharing his thoughts on nine need-to-know juniors in the state, as prospects who could break out of the offseason, thus they should be on your radar ahead of time.

WINTER WATCHLIST: Nine to know

Brayden Olson RHP / Saint Croix Falls, WI / 2023

Olson stands as a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed pitcher from northwestern Wisconsin. He’s an interesting athlete on the bump, moving down the mound with athleticism and proper sequencing. He’s a relaxed mover with a quick break, and a smooth hand path. Olson’s arm path is something to note for an amateur. He’s one of the few pitchers who has instincts for long-loop momentum capture and funneling out the frontside. It could be reasonably said that there’s a higher velocity floor and ceiling on the way for the way this athlete moves. He spins an interesting criss-cross pitch profile. He offers a low spin fastball (89 mph max) with a nice rise/run arm-side profile, a solid changeup with room for added action, and a large separation slider that profiles a large sweep for his slot. While Olson’s a top performing infielder in the state, he may trend as a valuable arm. What’s most interesting about this athlete is his drive to succeed, and his status as a great teammate.

(7/28/21)

Garrett Kay OF / RHP / Waterford, WI / 2023

Kay checks in as a moderately sized two-way athlete out of Waterford. He offers a traditional three-pitch mix on the mound with a mid-80s fastball, up to 87. That arm strength also plays up around the diamond as a positionally flexible athlete. In the box, the bat plays above size, offering sneaky pop and a great feel for the sweet spot of the barrel. Noticeably, matching the incoming pitch path with higher degrees of frequency than most of his peers. Kay is one of the top uncommitted names left in Wisconsin, and should have a number of suitors coming out of the spring if he’s still on the board.

Chris Calico OF / West Salem, WI / 2023

Calico’s a smaller utility man with high rates of force development in the box for his stature. While Calico may be an average runner, he’s pretty dynamic in small spaces. His footwork carries his arm defensively on the dirt, and his coordination plays above his speed marks. In the box, he offers repeated hard contact with low flights – player who understands his profile, and plays accordingly. He's one of the top uncommitted utility defenders in the state, and trending up in offensive capacity and performance measures. Surely, he's a gritty ballplayer to note in Wisconsin’s ‘23 class.

Noah Dreier SS / RHP / Brookfield Central, WI / 2023

While Dreier is an excellent defender on the dirt with a strong arm and growing bat speed, we’ll focus on his mound offering here. For an undersized righty, he really gets a lot out of his ability, leading with a mid-80s fastball from a drop-and-drive mound move. The fastball is a little sneaky from a shorter arm action, and he offers more precise locations. His hammer is a real pitch that offers swing-and-miss in-game action. It was managed well as a stopper pitch that put away the side at the PBR Future Games this summer. With a few ticks added to the fastball, and some time to mature the changeup, Dreier is a valuable two-way player flying under the radar.

(7/28/21)

Owen Bond OF / 1B / Kettle Moraine, WI / 2023

Bond is a long athlete with power in his frame. Offering an interesting power bat look for a OF/1B positional flex, and running well enough to cover a corner outfield spot. Bond provides good juice and fast hands in a long-levered left-handed swing. In games, he provides a degree of relative consistency when seeing fastballs and will produce enough to cover the scoreboard on his best days. We’ll be on the lookout for specific improvements to his ability to handle and drive offspeed.

(3/7/21)

Jake Schaffner SS / 2B / Janesville Craig, WI / 2023

Schaffner is a well-sized middle infielder with some speed. He's a fundamentally sound defender who you can rely on, while stacking the lineup with left-handedness. In the box, Schaffner offers a simple and quiet loading mechanism. Minimizing stride length, and prioritizing pitch tracking. He has a preference for seeing pitches deep, and remains stubborn to firing on good pitches to hit, scoring high on the Vizual Edge test at a 76 composite.

Ethan Brown 3B / RHP / Waukesha West, WI / 2023

Brown is a high academic two-way player with performance on both sides of the ball. In the box, he offers a solid hit tool that's better than most at the position. Handling all kinds of pitch shapes and offering enough juice to slug at the position. On the mound, he moves the ball around the zone with large movement and hits spots with frequency. Brown is a high academic with enough value to support a roster to whatever’s asked of him.

Roman Trapani RHP / Eau Claire Memorial, WI / 2023

Trapani has a strong build with power in his frame, currently a higher slot right-hander working in the mid-80s. He demonstrated notable improvements to his secondary stuff during this summer and fall circuits, showing larger degrees of pitch movement than we saw last winter. Sitting on his starts would leave an evaluator believing Trapani is a capable pitcher that understands how to manage his pitches, and his pitches continue to improve. He becomes a very interesting arm when his velocity spreads in the direction of his older brother’s offering.

Zachary Olson RHP / Muskego, WI / 2023

Standing as a strong and projectable right-hander returning from injury, Olson looks to make a splash this spring. Utilizing a patient drop-and-drive delivery with a higher hand break, and releasing from a ¾ slot. Olson has some feel for his fastball release with clear room for velocity upside. While the spin is under construction, it’s easy to be hopeful for the direction this offering can move with time to develop his throwing, and time to mature his spins. An interesting arm to monitor throughout the ‘22 cycle.

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