Eastern Wisconsin Open: Catcher Analysis

By Wisconsin Staff

On Aug. 17, the PBR Wisconsin team made the trip north to Sheboygan to host the final showcase on the summer docket: the Eastern Wisconsin Open. This annual showcase typically provides us with an opportunity to evaluate some of the state’s prospects we’ve not had the chance to see before, or have not seen enough of. We published our rapid analysis inside of our Quick Hits in the days following the event, and we took a deeper dive into the data we gathered at the showcase inside this Statistical Analysis.

Today, we’re beginning to roll out our position-by-position analysis of the Sheboygan-area showcase, starting with the day’s catchers.

Within this group is top-50-ranked senior Nicklas Williams (Union Grove, 2021). We’re used to seeing Williams excel offensively, as we’ve see him exhibit some of the best bat-to-ball skills among the state’s right-handed hitters, but he provided us with a couple new takeaways at this event. Williams took swings from the left side here, showing more feel to switch-hit than we might have expected, while also taking some seriously impressive reps from behind the plate. We’re more accustomed to seeing him as a reliable second or third base type, but given his feel for hitting, he can further improve his prospect stock while at Wabash Valley JC if he can show that he can stick behind the plate.

Sophomore Andy Nordloh (Waunakee, 2023) also earned some added attention for his sound round of batting practice, as did freshman Hayden Jamison (Union Grove, 2024). Both underclassmen made the most of their first-ever PBR events in Sheboygan. Hunter Abitz (Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 2023) is another sophomore to watch following a well-rounded performance at this event.

For full scouting reports on each of the catchers who attended the Eastern Wisconsin Open, continue on below.


Hunter Abitz, Kettle Moraine Lutheran (WI), 2023
Positional Profile: C/INF
Body: 5-9, 190-pounds.
Hit: RH. Wide base, hands set high; weight-shift load back, leg kick stride even. Long path to the zone, extension through contact; above-average strength on impact, allowed him to produce some hard, far batted balls.
Power: 90 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 72 mph. INF - 72 mph. Short arm action from a 3/4 slot. Throws were typically on target. Short throws from a high 3/4 slot on the infield.
Defense: 2.13-2.26 pop times. Can get tall at reception; slow but efficient actions through exchange. On the infield, tall at gather, quick exchanges.
Run: 7.97 runner in the 60.

Ethan Bennett, Oshkosh North (WI), 2022
Positional Profile: C/INF
Body: 5-8, 170-pounds. Some strength in compact build; sturdy lower half.
Hit: RH. Balanced/open setup, hands set low, weight on back foot. Loads back with slight wrap, long stride that lands slightly open. Repeats a long, simple swing well; level, long path. Demonstrated some barrel feel during BP.
Power: 88 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 69 mph. INF - 66 mph. Short arm action from a high 3/4 slot. Similar arm action on the infield; short from a high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.22-2.41 pop times. Tall at gather, efficient through exchanges. Slow, controlled footwork. Sits back some on the infield, simple and efficient funnel through release.
Run: 8.49 runner in the 60. 

Jonah Bixby, Fox Valley Lutheran (WI), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-10, 175-pounds. Strength in lower half.
Hit: RH. Wide/balance setup; coils into load, bat wraps some. Quick leg kick stride to even. Long, steep plane to the zone. Level through contact.
Power: 84 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 69 mph. Short from a high 3/4 slot. Consistent accuracy.
Defense: 2.29-2.40 pop times. Clean exchanges, works on line; slow but efficient actions.
Run: 7.55 runner in the 60. 

Aiden Drotzur, Port Washington (WI), 2022
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-10, 150-pounds.
Hit: RH. Wide base, open front foot; minimal load, toe-tap to even. Long bat path, uphill through contact.
Power: 77 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 68 mph. Short throws from a high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.33-2.62 pop times. Shows some flexibility as a receiver; works directly to target, fundamental actions.
Run: 8.52 runner in the 60. 

Hayden Jamison, Union Grove (WI), 2024
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-10, 175-pounds. Strong, well-proportioned frame.
Hit: RH. Tall setup with some knee bend, hands load back, quick leg kick timing trigger.  Short and level bat path with a flat attack angle into the zone, line drive approach, pull-side tendency.
Power: 80 mph exit velocity from the tee. Above-average bat strength for age; max exit speed of 88.87 mph with a max fly ball distance of 331 feet in BP, per TrackMan. 
Arm: RH. C - 64 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.28-2.45 pop times. Upright posture, feet shuffle in line to the bag, some quickness on the transfer.
Run: 8.09 runner in the 60. 

Neil Janssen, Delavan-Darien (WI), 2024
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-8, 150-pounds. Some strength in long levers.
Hit: RH. Balanced setup, hands set out, front foot slightly open. Simple load back, small leg lift and short stride, lands with toe open. Simple swings, long path, uphill with finish through contact.
Power: 78 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 67 mph. Short throws from a lower release height, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.29-2.43 pop times. Tall at reception; quick feet, above-average overall actions.
Run: 8.25 runner in the 60. 

Ian Merry, Sheboygan North (WI), 2022
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-11, 180-pounds. Strength in stout build.
Hit: RH. Tall setup, hands set out at shoulder height. Fluid weight-shift load back, slight bat wrap in load, leg kick stride to open landing. Long bat path to the zone and through it, off an incline. Good balance throughout.
Power: 77 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 68 mph. Short throws from an over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.15-2.26 pop times. Quiet receiver, showed soft hands during bullpens. Quick feet, efficient lower half actions. Works on target.
Run: 7.90 runner in the 60. 

Andy Nordloh, Waunakee (WI), 2023
Positional Profile: C/3B
Body: 5-11, 170-pounds. Lanky levers, broad shoulders; wiry strength with upside.
Hit: RH. Tall/balanced setup, hands high, elbow raised; subtle load, short stride, lands toe open. Short path to the zone, long through it. Barrel feel, repeated line-drive contact well.
Power: 84 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 69 mph. INF - 71 mph. Short throws from a high 3/4 slot. Arm is action in the same on the infield.
Defense: 2.11-2.37 pop times. Demonstrated some flexibility as a receiver, soft hands around the zone. Lunge/leaps into reception and exchange on throws down. Feet work fluid. On the infield, fluid and fundamental footwork that gets into proper position at gather.
Run: 8.05 runner in the 60. 

Caleb Salm, Oostburg (WI), 2023
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-0, 150-pounds. Thin, wiry frame.
Hit: RH. Tall, pigeon-toed stance, hands set high, bat rests on shoulder. No load, short and direct stride, lands toe open. Arm bars, long bat path to the zone and through it.
Power: 82 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 71 mph. Short throws from a high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.29-2.52 pop times. Slow, but fluid, actions; works toward target, repeats actions well.
Run: 8.54 runner in the 60. 

Jackson Schmitz, Manitowoc Lincoln (WI), 2021
Positional Profile: C Recently committed, but was previously one of the top-ranked players in the state still on the market.
Body: 6-1, 175-pounds. Athletic frame with some strength in the lower half.
Hit: RH. Balanced setup, minimal hand movement at load, toe-tap trigger.  Level bat path, line drive approach.
Power: 88 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 77 mph. Short arm path, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.11-2.35 pop times. Starts upright behind the plate, jumps out the crouch, clean exchange at times, quick to release.
Run: 7.40 runner in the 60. 

Hunter Steger, Sheboygan North (WI), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-2, 205-pounds. Strength in compact stature.
Hit: RH. Extra wide base, pigeon-toed front foot, hands set low. Demonstrable weight-shift load back, big toe-tap stride back to even. Long bat path, strength on impact.
Power: 82 mph exit velocity from the tee. Showed greater strength during BP; max exit speed of 91.4 mph.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. Short throws from an over-the-top slot
Defense: 2.20-2.41 pop times. Confident receiver, soft hands. Simple, fluid, direct actions to target. Efficient exchanges and transfers.
Run: 7.84 runner in the 60.

Nicklas Williams, Union Grove (WI), 2021; Wabash Valley JC commit.
Positional Profile: INF/C
Body: 6-0, 180-pounds. Strong, athletic frame with some physicality.
Hit: SH. Balanced setup from the right side, stands taller from the left, high hands, bat wraps at load, short stride to even.  More natural and consistent from the right side. Strong hands with bat speed, short and level bat path, elevated attack angle at times. Gap-to-gap approach, consistent hard contact on the barrel; average exit speed of 88.06 mph in BP, per TrackMan.
Power: 93 mph exit velocity from the tee. Averaged an 88.1 mph exit velocity; the third highest at this event.
Arm: RH. C - 78 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot. Some accuracy on throws to the bag.
Defense: 1.97-2.08 pop times. Athletic base, quick feet that gain ground out of the chute, soft hands, clean transfer, short to release.
Run: 7.07 runner in the 60.