Prep Baseball Report

Future Games: Team Wisconsin Pitching Staff Highlights

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By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor

Getting a look at Team Wisconsin’s pitching at the Future Games has become almost of a must see every year to find that under the radar diamond in the rough. Last year it was RHP Nate Brown (Arrowhead, 2016) who absolutely exploded after the Future Games sitting 88-90 mph on two consecutive days, so impressive he caught the eye of several college recruiters in attendance and eventually decided on Florida after the event.

This year the pitching was impressive again for Wisconsin and several arms made in impact on the college crowd over 150 coaches deep. Here’s a look at some notable risers from the event.

Nathan Burns, RHP, West Bend West, 2017
No pitcher helped themselves more at the Future Games than Burns. The 6-foot, 155-pound right-handedNathan Burns pitcher has a lanky frame and wiry build that projects well. His young body composition is not even close to reaching its peak. He’s a lean athlete whose delivery repeats well, a high pitchability guy showing command of multiple pitches. Arm action is loose working from a ¾ slot, comes out of his hand with ease and his arm speed projects for more velocity as he matures. Burns showed the best fastball velocity we’ve seen from him, sitting 85-87 mph while touching 88 mph. He calls his breaking ball a curve, from the ¾ slot it shows two-plane break, more slurve type action ranging 72-77 mph while flashing swing and miss abilities. Also showed good feel for his changeup, using it primarily to left-handed hitters at 76-78 mph with fading action.  Burns allowed one hit in his two innings of work facing the minimum. Burns walked away from the Future Games as one of the hotter names going forward and should see his stock rise immensely.

Troy Hickey, LHP, Wilmot, 2017
Hickey is 6-foot, 180-pound left-handed pitcher with an average frame and build that has slight projection. Troy HickeyHis delivery is clean and repeatable while working slightly across his body, creating tough angles when going glove side. Hickey’s arm action makes him deceptive, its a short quick over the top slot that hides ball well. Opponents’ at bats is what separated Hickey from the rest.  His fastball was sneaky quick at 83-85 mph, getting on hitters quicker than the velocity suggests. He got more late swings and swing and misses with his fastball in game play than most of the 90 mph arms in attendance. His curveball has downward action on a 1/7 plane, occasionally getting 12/6 action. It showed good depth and feel at 71-72 mph, a good compliment to his fastball. Hickey showed swing and miss stuff in his two innings of work striking out four hitters and allowing just one hit.

Ryan Bader, LHP, Mukwonago, 2017
Bader caught the eye of several recruiters this weekend with his long limbed, gangly frame that has loadsRyan Bader of projection. His long loose arm action and deceptive delivery is a tough at bat for any hitter. His fastball reached 84 mph while sitting 81-83 mph on consecutive days, it shows run to his arm side and is a tough pick up for opposing hitters. His curveball works with good action at 70-73 mph and showed feel for the zone as well as the ability to expand it when needed.

Jacob Lindemann, RHP, Burlington, 2017
Lindemann was one of the more high profile arms in Wisconsin heading into the Future Jacob LindemannGames and he did not disappoint. At 6-foot-3, 195-pounds he has a typical athletic pitchers frame with room to go. Lindemann’s delivery is all arm, which is scary to think once he gets his lower half going. It’s an upright delivery with a short stride for his size. His high front side creates some deception to his release point but it’s his natural arm speed that is attractive to recruiters. Lindemann was one of nine prospects at the Future Games to reach the 90 mph mark with his fastball, a rare feat for a prospect his age. He sat 86-88 mph in his first outing on Day 2 and then backed it up by touching 90 mph multiple times in his second outing on Day 3. He is most likely suited best for a slider but he showed a 74-75 mph curveball with obvious conviction and also flashed a knuckle ball.

Ben Dragani, LHP, Catholic Memorial, 2017
At 6-foot-4, 190-pounds, Dragani has been the prototypical projectable lefty for a couple years now. Ben DraganiWe’ve seen him since early in his freshman year and love his upside, which is one reason why he came into the Future Games as the highest ranked available prospect in Wisconsin’s 2017 class. Dragani has one of the easier arm actions you’ll see producing an 80-83 mph fastball, touching 84 mph. He couples that with a hard darting slider at 75-77 mph, which we’ve previously seen up to 79 mph, so the hand speed is clearly there. In two innings of work, Dragani didn’t allow a hit and induced four groundouts. Dragani is already a hot commodity but once he makes that velocity jump, and he will, he could project as one of the top arms in the Midwest.

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