Prep Baseball Report

PBR at The Rock 15U: Quick Hits Day 1

By Wisconsin Staff

Today marked the first day of the 15U PBR at The Rock Championship in Franklin, Wis. The four-day tournament features 34 of the best travel programs from across the Midwest. Throughout this week, our scout team will be compiling end-of-day notes in a Quick Hit format, to provide you with the most impressive takeaways from that day’s action. You can find Day One’s notes below.

+ Two of the most prospect-laden teams in this tournament are local: Hitters Baseball Navy and STiKS Academy Black. The two also combined to produce one of the game’s more competitive and exciting games. A pair of Classic Eight Conference freshman arms took the mound in this one to start: Mason Buss (Arrowhead, Hitters Baseball Navy, 2022) and Rory Fox (Catholic Memorial, STiKS Academy Black, 2022). Both low-80 mph right-handers are going to be frequent intra-conference foes for the next three years.

+ Michael Lippe (Whitefish Bay, 2022; Louisville commit) looks like one of the top 2022 prospects in the country – and he plays like one, too. Lippe has an advanced frame with proportional strength built in, and he runs hard with plus speed, which he uses well on the basepaths. In what might have been the game of the day, Hitters Navy against STiKS Black, Lippe consistently found the barrel and let his legs manufacture runs from base to base. It probably won’t be the last time we write about Lippe this weekend, so let this be his reintroduction.

+ Later in the day, Top Tier Nationals’ RHP Zack LeBrec (Cary-Grove, IL, 2022) showed one of the better fastballs of the day out of the ‘pen, sitting 82-84 mph with relative ease and feel, pairing it with a sweeping slider – good for five strikeouts in just two innings pitched.

+ C Heath Venne (Muskego, 2022), and the Hitters Baseball White squad, split their two games on Thursday, but Venne had himself a nice day at the plate. He lined a hard single the opposite way in game one and pulled a homer to straightaway left in game two. Venne has a loose barrel in the right-handed box and has all of the actions from behind the dish, including a strong arm and quick catch-and-throws down to second.

+ One of the most impressive overall athletes playing at The Rock on Thursday belongs to Ohio's NEO Baseball Club Elite: RHP/SS Andrew Jones (Burch, OH, 2022). He's a wiry 6-foot-2 and is highly projectable. In NEO's first game of the tournament, Jones led the game off with a homer to left, lagging his barrel through the zone. He also started the game on the bump for his squad where he stole even more attention, sitting at a live 80-82 mph, hard and downhill. Jones regularly mixed in an aggressive slider, 73-74 mph, working off a 10/4 plane, with above-average break and bite. He took over at shortstop after tossing a couple of innings of work on Thursday, too, where his premium athleticism fits right in.

+ Northstar Navy brought with them one of Day One’s most impressive arms from Minnesota: RHP Easton Richter (Rosemount, MN, 2022). The 5-foot-11 righty took the mound to start against Naperville Renegades on Thursday and came out working 80-82 mph, touching 83 mph, with a quick, easy, and loose arm. Richter’s low-80s fastball played up, featuring late life and carry through the zone, and he also dodged bats with an above-average breaking ball, 63-64 mph, and a changeup, 72 mph. He also came up big for Northstar at the plate, too, by going 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs.

+ RHP Abram Wills (Coal City, IL, 2022) had an impressive one-inning stint out of the bullpen for Rhino Baseball. Wills has a loose, clean arm action and went right after hitters. Wills worked both sides of the plate with a fastball that sat 83-84 mph, touching 86 mph twice. On top of the live fastball, Wills showed feel for a sweeping breaking ball at 68-72 mph. He’s become a high-follow 2022 arm moving forward.

+ Ysen Useni (Maine South, IL, 2022) set the tone for Prairie Gravel in their 5-0 win over Rhino. Useni, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound, strong-bodied, physical right-handed pitcher twirled a complete-game two-hit shutout. Useni ran his fastball up to 82 mph in the early innings and used a three-pitch mix throughout.

+ RHP Jake Swartz (Normal University, IL, 2022) started on the mound for BNBA Gold HawkPax and showcased one of the livelier arms of the day. Swartz, a 5-foot-10, 145-pound, quick-armed right-hander sat 83-85 mph early in his outing. Swartz paired his live fastball with a hard-biting curveball, 71-72 mph.

+ The Illinois Indians (Pugliese) also received a stellar outing from RHP Bruno Pallan (Barrington, IL, 2022) in their afternoon win over SHB Kards. Pallan went 5.2 innings and allowed just one hit and two walks while punching out 10 batters – his first six outs of the ballgame were via the strike out. He topped 80 mph in the first but the Kards clearly had trouble throughout touching his mostly upper-70s fastball with downhill tilt. He kept his opposition way off balance by dropping in his curve for strikes, burying it away to righties, too. That breaking ball lived in the 63-65 mph range, working off a 10/4 plane.

+ Last but definitely not least, in the nightcaps, Northstar Navy’s backstop Drew Berkland (Wayzata, MN, 2022) launched not one, but two long grand slams (!) – and the second included a big-time bat flip. He also demonstrated some advanced catch-and-throw traits, including a big arm from the crouch. Berkland will be a close follow throughout the rest of the tourney.