Prep Baseball Report

PBR at The Rock 17U: Quick Hits Day 3

By Wisconsin Staff

Today marked the first day of the 17U PBR at The Rock Championship in Franklin, Wis. The four-day tournament features 33 of the best travel programs at the 17U age level across the Midwest. Throughout this week, the PBR Wisconsin and Illinois teams will be compiling end-of-day notes in a Quick Hits format, to provide you with the most impressive takeaways from that day’s action. 

For a look at all of the best stuff from Thursday and Friday, click on Day One’s notes here and Day Two’s here. You can find Day Three’s notes below.


+ In the first slot of games, the Illinois Braves went back and forth with Pro Player Canes (Stewart), ending in an 8-7 final in favor of the Braves. Braves C/RHP Tanner Dreher (Covington, IN, 2020), a physical and strong C/RHP,  went 2-for-3 at the plate with a lead-changing two-run double off the left field wall. More impressively, Dreher took the gear off after five innings and toed the rubber, earning the final out of the game via strikeout with the tying run on second base. Dreher buried a curveball for the final swing-and-miss after spotting up his 83 mph fastball through the at-bat. At the plate, Dreher finished 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs, a walk, and found the barrel again with a hard line-out to center.

+ OF Dymitri Kanellakis (Cary-Grove, IL, 2020) had zero lull in his step in the early morning slot, showing his athletic, twitchy abilities at the plate for Pro Player Canes (Stewart). He sports a short, quick stroke at the plate and gets out of the box aggressively. Kanellakis finished 2-for-3 with two doubles, one down the third base line and the other lifted to his pull-side gap. The run tool is very present.

+ RHP Jimmy Fairley (Huntey, IL, 2020) earned the no-decision for Pro Player Canes (Belo), but he deserves recognition here. The athletic framed right-hander has deception throughout his delivery, tossing 4.2 innings of quality baseball. He hides the ball from hitters and runs his heater to both sides of the plate, while keeping hitters honest with a tight, sweeping slider. His fastball sat 80-82 mph, topping 83 mph with heavy feel for the zone and his slider had 10/4 shape thrown at fastball arm speed. He also had a change that played at 72-74 mph. 

+ OF Nicholas Gregory (Dundee-Crown, IL, 2020) had the big late-inning hit for Pro Player Canes (Belo) against Windy City (Herbert), sealing the victory in a back-and-forth game. With a smooth left-handed bat, Gregory had himself a solid day overall with two walks, two singles, two stolen bases, two runs scored, and the eventual game-winning RBI single over the second baseman’s head. 

+ RHP Zachary Ward (Lincoln-Way Central, IL, 2020) tossed a gem for Chicago Elite against Pro Player Canes (Belo). Ward stands at a chiseled 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and uses his height to create angle in his offerings. An arm strength-type pitcher, Ward sat his fastball at 82-86 mph with short breaking slider at 76-77 mph. He tossed five innings of scoreless ball allowing five hits, all singles, with three walks and four punch-outs. 

+ He’s had a productive tournament, and it continued on Saturday. Will Rogers (Mounds View, MN, 2021) had a 2-for-4 day with four RBIs including a two-run home run and a double. Great Lakes Baseball Academy overcame a seven-run deficit to post a 13-10 win over PBA and Rogers picked up the save in a one-inning stint, touching 87 mph on the last pitch of the game.

+ Mitchel Gutknecht (Hill-Murray, MN, 2020) is a long- and loose-framed left/left prospect who stands at an upside 6-foot-2, 160-pounds. Gutknecht found barrels each time up leading Great Lakes Baseball Academy from the leadoff role in the afternoon slotted games going 3-for-3 with a pair of hard-hit singles and a towering shot over Fenway’s left field monster. 

+ Cade Zalewski (Wheeling, IL, 2020) showed some opposite-field pop in the matinee games for the Illinois Indians barrelling up a single through the 3-4 hole and a lifted RBI double that one-hopped the right field fence. He also walked and manned a solid first base.

+ The No. 1-ranked prospect in the Wisconsin's 2020 class, A.J. Vukovich (East Troy; Louisville commit) earned some national headlines this summer for harnessing some of the best right-handed power of any prep prospect in the country. That pop was on display in Hitters Navy's contest against Wisconsin Impact on Saturday afternoon, when Vukovich turned around an 0-2 fastball on the outer half and casually smashed it over the right field fence for a grand slam.

+ STiKS Red cruised to a 5-1 win over Illinois Indians West, and the bats of Dylan Nevar (Wisconsin Dells, 2020) and Avery Owusu-Asiedo (Waukesha West, 2020) struck big, driving in four of the five STiKS runs on long balls. Nevar homered twice, on nearly identical swings and results leaving the yard to left-center and collecting three RBIs in the process. Owusu-Asiedo followed Nevar with back-to-back shots, hitting a moonshot to left over the monster on Fenway. Both Nevar and Owusu-Asiedo have been the subject of helium bats this summer. The two are set to make huge jumps in the 2020 rankings and carry next-level power potential, as well as other premium tools.

+ Speaking of red-hot bats, Brendan Tupper’s (Normal University, IL, 2020) is right up there with the two STiKS players mentioned in the paragraph above. Tupper, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, has rhythm in his swing with a little pull favoritism on this day, but nonetheless barrelled up two baseballs in Chicago Elite’s afternoon game. Hitting in the two-hole, Tupper went 2-for-2 with a pair of pull-side doubles, two RBIs, and a walk in the 2-0 Elite victory over Pro Player (Belo). Still uncommitted, he finished 11-for-12 on the weekend. Safe to say his arrow is trending upwards heading into his senior season.

+ 2020 RHPs Justin Rivera (Lake View, IL) and Martin Sosna (Fenwick, IL) threw Windy City (Herbert) into the win column in the afternoon crop of games, quickly pacing the contests while only allowing a total of six hits. Rivera stands at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, and uses his height through his delivery, extending down the mound. His fastball ranged anywhere from 80-87 mph, hitting 88 mph twice, with inconsistent cut and sink throughout. He showed a tight spinning slider at 73-74 mph, which he sparingly went to. Sosna, who stands complete opposite in stature at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, sports an athletic delivery with present arm speed out of an over-the-top slot that can deceptively jump on hitters. His heater ranged 82-86 mph, hitting 87 mph twice, with finish through the zone and a sharp biting slider at 72-75 mph.

+ GRB Rays Green on-the-market RHP Nick Smith (Waunakee, 2020) dazzled through five one-hit innings against Team Heat. He allowed just one hit and one walk and punched out 10 of the 18 batters he faced in all. Smith was effective for attacking the zone with his hard, heavy fastball with was especially live through the strike zone, sitting 86-89 mph, touching one 90 mph early on. He backed up his fastball with a swing-and-miss slider, 76-77 mph, that worked off a 10/4 plane with bite. Smith is firmly among the most intriguing right-handed arms left uncommitted in the state’s 2020 class.

+ Rhino (WI) deployed a 2022 southpaw to start its final game of the tournament against a talented Go Pro squad, and Ethan Cole (Winnebago Lutheran Academy) answered the call. We just saw the left-hander earlier this week at our invite-only Underclass Games event in Chicago and he looked sharp here against batters two years older than him. He pitched five shutout innings and only allowed five hits, two walks, and he struck out three. Once he was removed, Go Pro rallied right back, scoring six in the sixth to take a commanding lead.


+ No. 8 seed Pro Player Canes (Stewart) upset the No. 1-seed Chicago Elite, 7-1, on a gem of an outing by Jack Wenninger (Cary-Grove, IL, 2020). Wenninger scattered five hits and one run over six innings pitched, striking out six. He is an uncommitted right-hander standing 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and worked at 85-87 mph, touching 88 mph, in the first with a 70-72 mph curveball.

+ RHP Reece Lawler (Warren, IL, 2020) was a bulldog on the bump for GRB Rays Green in the slate of quarterfinal games under the lights. Lawler has a projectable build at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, which pairs very well with his moxie and feel for the dirt circle. He sports a clean delivery, works in-line to home and controls his finish. The arm plays a little long, looseness out front with present arm speed out of a high ¾ slot. He held runners close all game and continued to get big out after big out. Lawler’s fastball played with run and occasional tilt/sink at the bottom of the zone, elevated it when needed, ranging 83-88 mph and topping 89 mph. The breaking ball was electric generating numerous whiffs working on a 11/5 plane with late, sharp breaking action. Lawler finished with 6.1 innings of work, allowing seven hits, two unearned runs, while fanning 13 to help GRB Green defeat Central Illinois Outlaws in first-round action.

+ Cangelosi Sparks Black and the Naperville Renegades played a gutsy quarterfinals game that featured a few big-time arms. The Renegades got to the Sparks starter early, the recently committed RHP Will Tenuta (Sandburg, IL, 2020). Tenuta’s four-seam fastball was live-wired, sitting 87-89 mph in the first, touching 90 and 91 mph twice. But Renegades sprung on his two-seam offering a couple of times when it grabbed too much of the plate, helping them score two first-inning runs. Meanwhile, Naperville sent RHP Nolan Clifford (Neuqua Valley, IL, 2020) to the mound, a Creighton commit more known for his middle infield defense and left-handed bat. He stole the show with his 87-89 mph with hard, late arm-side run, mixing his timing with Johnny Cueto-esque shimmies. Clifford’s offspeed was just as good, a slow curve that fooled everyone when he landed it for strikes, and a changeup at arm speed with sink. He was in the driver’s seat until Tom Jurack (Hinsdale Central, IL, 2020) clubbed a no-doubt bomb to left-center that tied it, and Anthony Fornero (Lemont, IL, 2020) slugged a no-doubter of his own a batter later to give the Sparks the lead in the fifth. RHP Ben Vitas (Providence Catholic, IL, 2020) came on and earned some of the ugliest swings-and-misses of the weekend, with his dynamic running fastball that featured some enormous arm-side movement. Vitas’ hard late-breaking slider, coupled with that 83-85 mph running fastball, caught a few batters chasing balls in the opposite batter’s box. He pitched the final four innings of the game earning Sparks the 3-2 win, striking out six along the way.

+ And in the final quarterfinals contest, Go Pro (Daly) sent LHP Payton Hutchings (Coal City, IL, 2020), an Illinois commit and the top-ranked left-hander in Illinois’ ‘20 class, overwhelmed Pro Player (Belo). He struck out 15 batters in his complete-game win, shutting out Pro Player through the first five innings before errors helped get the Canes on the board in the sixth. Still, Hutchings gave Go Pro cause for concern, as he struck out the side in the seventh in order to seal the 4-2 win.