Prep Baseball Report

Inside the Rankings: 2021 Risers

Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor - Wisconsin/Illinois

Last week we updated Wisconsin’s 2021 Rankings list, expanding it to 125 including all the data and analysis we saw from our preseason showcases. Today, we took an inside look at the biggest rising stocks on our 2021 list. Twenty-nine prospects in the junior class moved up at least one spot from their previous rank. We’ll highlight some of the top risers across the board and why we we're so bullish on their games, while also listing all 29 risers and a snapshot of their trends.


He was mentioned at length in our rankings release story, but it warrants mentioning again, LHP Tommy Meyer (Wauwatosa East) was the highest ranked riser on our list. Holding the No. 8 spot on the 2021 board, Meyer jumped nine spots, from Nos. 17 to 8, to crack the top-10. The Northern Illinois commit took a big step closer to his ceiling with an uptick to 85-88 mph with his fastball. 

Next on our list is SS Carson Shepard (Sun Prairie, 2021). Like Meyer, Shepard was already a top-25 prospect on our list but moved up nine spots to No. 14 after bumping up all of his stat categories at the Madison Preseason I.D. 







Madison Preseason ID





2019 Future Games




In just one short offseason, the slick fielding shortstop made major strides across the board, while at the same time looking physically stronger and confident in every aspect of his game. Moving up to No. 14, Shepard is now the top available prospect on the Wisconsin 2021 board, but at this rate, may not be for long.

Fellow Sun Prairie teammate, RHP Jason Starr made the biggest numerical leap, jumping 57 spots from No. 85 to No. 28. Last preseason, Starr was a 6-foot, 160-pound two-way player still figuring out his skill set between the bound and as a catcher, at that time he was a low-80s arm on the mound while showing above-average arm strength out of the crouch. Since then he’s up to 6-foot-1, 170-pounds and has ditched the efforts of receiving the baseball to focus on delivering the baseball, and the focal shift has clearly paid off. 

Jason Starr (3/15/20)

Starr possesses clean, efficient arm strength from a compact over-the-top slot that appears to play with better than average ride through the zone. His secondary stuff is still developing but if he can make similar strides with it in the coming year as he did with the fastball in the year previous, watch out. He is clearly athletic enough to do so and when his spin catches up to his fastball, Starr could see another jump up the 2021 board.


Five more names who caught our attention enough to move up in the top-50: RHP Eli Hoyt (Waukesha South), SS Colin Dailey (Cedarburg), RHP Bryce Leedle (Markesan), SS Austin Bestul (Elkhorn) and RHP Aaron Rice (Brillion). 

Eli HoytWaukesha South’s Hoyt is next highest riser behind Shepard in the 2021 update. Hoyt has been high on our radar for a while with one of the sharpest curveball’s in the class. It’s an 11/5 bender thrown with conviction and tight spin at 71-74 mph with well-above-average ability to locate it. His fastball velocity ticked up as well sitting 86-88 mph in his bullpen session in February. He’s not a big presence on the mound at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, but his stuff plays up and he throws everything with a purpose. He’s a natural, quick-twitch athlete who will surely continue to see growth on the mound.

RHP Bryce Leedle sits right behind Hoyt at No. 24, a 12-spot upgrade from last update. Leedle has a mature arm that showed above-average stuff across the board in Madison. He touched 89 mph this March and throws a firm breaking ball at 73-75 mph that looked vastly improved since our last look at him. 

RHP Aaron Rice is another right-hander who saw a velocity jump this offseason. Rice improved three ticks on his fastball, topping at 87 mph. His 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame is athletic and highly intriguing and bodes well for his future, one that could exponentially explode as his breaking ball improves. Rice jumped 10 spots this update but may have more in his future.

On the infield side of things, a pair of shortstops saw substantial upgrades. Elkhorn’s Austin Bestul jumped seven spots to No. 31 after an exciting showing in Madison last month. Bestul looked especially advanced on the infield where his hands played clean and soft while showing off his trademark arm strength (89 mph). He’s a compact 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, and carries good strength for his size. His projection is a premium defender at shortstop with a solid two-hole type bat.

Not far behind Bestul is Cedarburg’s Colin Dailey. Dailey has made a quick ascent up the 2021 board after being unranked just six months ago. Our last update in November highlighted Dailey as one of the top newcomers to the rankings. Since then he’s made even another jump in his raw toolset. From October to March, Dailey went from a 7.34 runner to 7.10, an 85 mph arm across the infield to 92 mph; and a 91 mph exit velocity to 97 mph off the tee. On top of that he took his fastball from a max of 83 mph to 87 mph. His numbers speak for itself and his game will be on close watch this summer to see how well it will all play on the field. 

Colin Dailey (3/8/20)


Looking just outside of the top-50, a trio of names we're bullish on jumped at least 20 spots each. INF Brady Counsell (Whitefish Bay), RHP Gavin Rusch (Bay Port) and SS/RHP Jacob Hartlaub (Martin Luther). 

Counsell and Rusch both jumped 36 spots each to Nos. 51 and 52, respectively. Counsell’s biggest asset comes in the sheer size he has gained. He has always shown signs of an advanced skill set, but last year, at 5-foot-9, 140 pounds, his strength was an issue. A year later, Counsell is carrying a lean 6-foot, 160-pound frame that has clearly shown work in the weight room. The added three inches and 20 pounds has done wonders for his game as he improved in all stat categories, most notably in his 60-yard dash and arm strength. The ball is now coming off his bat with much more authority and his arm can now play on the left side of the infield. 

Brady Counsell (3/1/20)

On the topic of bodies, Gavin Rusch is how you would draw up your dream pitcher at 6-foot-5, 190-pounds he is long and lean with gangly levers that have plenty of room to fill out. He’s jumped five mph since this time last year, now topping at 88 mph. As he continues to work and sync up his lanky levers, there’s nothing but upside in his future. 

Jacob Hartlaub is an intriguing prospect in many ways – he has a rangy frame at 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, that shows well when he move on the infield. His soft hands, actions, and advanced arm strength makes the case for him to stick at shortstop at the next level, too. However, he also brings a dynamic arsenal to the mound that cannot be ignored. He shows the same athletic and loose arm across the diamond that he does on the mound and topped at 87 mph this past February. 


+ Catcher Brigs Richartz (Menomonie) jumped 16 spots mostly due to the thump he showed in his left-handed bat. Richartz is a compact 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, which plays well behind the plate and his swing mimics his size with a short-to-the-ball approach that makes consistent hard contact.

+ RHP Owen Anderson (Hudson) jumped seven spots after topping out at 86 mph at the West Milwaukee Preseason I.D. in February.

+ INF Darryl Jackson (King) has been steadily climbing our list and made a 24-spot jump this update. He’s a raw athlete that impressed with a plus arm across the infield at 91 mph. 

+ LHP Wyatt Fisher (De Pere) is one to keep an eye on going forward. He’s lean and projectable with a clean and loose arm, presently sitting 80-83 mph from the left side. Fisher made a 16-spot climb this update.

+ Another LHP with upside is Dylan Lapic (La Crosse Central). He showed us a bump in velocity early this winter sitting 81-82 mph topping at 83 mph and his long limbs make him an attractive project.