Prep Baseball Report

Western Wisconsin Open: Quick Hits

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer, Associate Scout

On July 8, the PBR Wisconsin team made the trek to Eau Claire for our annual Western Wisconsin Open showcase, held at Carson Park, home of the Northwoods League’s Eau Claire Express. Every year we’re able to uncover the state’s top prospects that reside in the northwestern part of the state and this year was no different – and none of the near-50 prospects in attendance are yet committed.

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be diving deeper into more detailed analysis from this event, but today we’re going to publish our rapid post-event thoughts on Monday’s showcase of the day’s top highlights.

So, keep an eye out for videos to be uploaded, stats to be inputted, and scouting notes to be reported, but check out our Quick Hits below in the meantime.


+ One of the biggest follows to come out of Carson Park was Mondovi’s lean and lanky right-hander, Jackson Falkner (2020). Falkner’s 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame is thin/wiry which helps his impressive present stuff project for even more. On Monday, he sat 83-85 mph, touching 86 mph once, in his ‘pen, which was actually the top velocity of the day. Falkner’s arm works long, quick, and loose out of a ¾ slot, but it’s the ease in which Falkner was able to get into the mid-80s. You have to imagine, as he tacks on muscle and weight entering his senior year, he healthily projects for even more.

+ There were a few standout two-way prospects to follow, but Beloit Turner’s Preston Viens (2020) was among the top in attendance. We just saw Viens over the weekend at the Badger State Battle in Mauston and the Dells, where he stood out for a Silver Sluggers 17U squad, and he shined again in Eau Claire. Viens, a right-handed hitter, repeatedly peppered the middle of the field with line-drive contact and is an athletic defender on the dirt with above-average actions. On the mound, he’s equipped with a loose and easy arm that helps his fastball jump from his hand, sitting in the 80-83 mph range. The offspeed is a work in progress, but Viens is an all-around competitor who should be followed as the Turner Trojans attempt to replicate all of 2019’s success in 2020.

+ RHP Steven Kleyheeg (2020) made the trip from Franklin to participate in Monday’s showcase where he stood out, physically, for his projectable 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. His over-the-top arm slot helped his low-80s fastball create some downhill tilt.

+ Badger’s LHP Addison Hocheaver (2020) worked a really solid, efficient bullpen in front of our staff, sitting in the 80-81 mph range with heavy run. His changeup has some real potential, too. It’s occasionally firm, but he mostly maintains his typical arm speed and it features the same kind of run as his fastball. Hocheaver works in some rhythm and he demonstrates feel and athleticism throughout on the bump.


+ Local product Mason Bauer (Regis, 2020) has a simple left-handed stroke with an innate feel for the barrel. The short and level path to the ball helped him line balls mostly to his pull side. Defensively, he looks like a fit at second base with above-average actions for the middle of the infield.

+ We had seven catchers make it out and Preble’s Hunter Petska (2020) really stirred some of our attention. Petska has a prototypical catcher’s build, complete with a sturdy/durable lower half which helps him erupt from the crouch quickly, and his throws featured some carry and were regularly on the bag. At the plate, he hits right-handed with a smooth, level swing that’s geared for line-drive contact.

+ We saw Anthony Pogodzinski (Eau Claire North, 2020) at this same event last summer, and in between then and now we were also able to see him win a state title with the Huskies, but we were glad to get another look at the big, strong prospect again up close. Pogodzinski hit .429 entering the state tournament for North, hitting squarely in the middle of the Huskies’ order day in and out. He has a quick left-handed bat and, despite his size, is built more for gap-to-gap doubles power rather than over-the-fence contact. Still, he routinely hits the ball hard and has advanced barrel feel. Pogodzinski plays pretty light on his feet, especially his size, and it could make him a next-level fit at first base where he showcased all of the actions on Monday.

+ Minnesota’s Kyler Reps (Saint Charles, 2020) was one of two players to run a sub-7.00 mark (6.91) in the 60-yard dash and he demonstrated some hard-hit contact in batting practice with maybe even some power potential at the next level.


+ Also from Minnesota, Mason Dado (St. Croix Central, 2021) sat in the low-80s for the majority of his session on the mound but reached back and dialed up two 84 and 85 mph fastballs to close his bullpen. His feel for offspeed and spin was advanced, too. He threw a slider that flashed late 10/4 shape and his changeup featured some fade and arm-side run. Another quick and loose arm to follow coming out of the Eau Claire event.

+ Colten Schillinger (Stratford) could very well have been the top 2021 backstop in attendance. He has above-average bat strength and arm strength with solid actions coming out of the crouch. It’s our second look at Schillinger in the last six weeks or so, going back to Stratford’s appearance in the state tournament last month, on a team in which Schillinger hit .364 from the middle of the order for the Tigers, the same Tigers that went on to win the Division-3 state title.

+ Sheboygan North’s Ryan Traas (2021) had one of the best all-around days in Eau Claire, regardless of age or class. His simple and smooth right-handed swing allowed him repeatedly barrel baseballs in batting practice into the gaps. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect has an athletic frame which helps him produce bat speed and gives him an above-average feel in the outfield on defense.

+ Baldwin-Woodville’s 2021 two-way star, Blaine Guthrie, utilizes his advanced strength in all facets of his game. He recorded the quickest pop times at the event because of his big arm out of the crouch, topping 75 mph at the position, and he showed some real juice from the right-handed batter’s box, too. When Guthrie took them mound, his big arm worked just as you’d expect, with hard downhill tilt, topping 84 mph once. He has a lot of tools here, and if he can sharpen them going into his junior year he’ll become a hot commodity.

+ RHP Samuel Wilson (St. Croix Falls, 2021) is built at a strong and durable 6-foot, 200 pounds, and he uses his size to produce a fastball that touched 82 mph a couple of times on Monday. His feel for offspeed is an early separator for him. Wilson mixed in a 10/4 breaking ball that flashed late and sharp with a straight change thrown at arm speed.

Joe Kroeger (2021), from Rice Lake, had a great day from the plate, demonstrating some of the biggest power potential from those in attendance. He’s a good athlete, too, and it makes helps make him a quality defender at first base where his bat fits just fine.


+ We’ve had the pleasure of watching Eau Claire North’s Gabriel Richardson several times already in the last month-plus, at the WIAA state tournament, our PBR at The Rock 15U tournament, and again last weekend at Badger State Battle. After a phenomenal spring season as a freshman on the Huskies’ title-winning team, Richardson has continued to impress along the summer circuit for SHB Kards and again on Monday. He was arguably the best bat in attendance, no matter the age. He has a quiet and powerful right-handed swing with natural barrel feel and lift. Richardson has also been considerably improving as a defender, where his hands play soft and his arm is packed with the strength to project at third base for the foreseeable future.

+ Richardson’s club ball teammate Austin Baker (Eau Claire Memorial) has also impressed our staff along the same busy summer stretch. He’s a true two-way talent right now, one with a loose and easy arm on the mound that was up to 80 mph at Carson Park. He’s also a smooth defender who plays with bounce and has only been getting better from the right-handed batter’s box.

+ One other talented 2022 two-way prospect to watch is Ragan Pinnow (River Falls). In Eau Claire, Pinnow used his strong/athletic 6-foot, 175-pound frame to batter baseballs into the gaps with a swing that features bat speed and barrel feel. He also looked the part on defense, with the actions and footwork fit for the left side of the infield and his arm has more than enough strength in it for him to safely fit into the hot corner. On the mound, Pinnow had a quick, short arm and his fastball sat 77-80 mph with occasional hard run.

+ Southpaw Kale Hopke (Amery, 2022) has some serious arm strength. The 6-foot-1, strong left-hander sat in the 80-82 mph range with his hard-running fastball. His offspeed feel is still raw, but this kind of arm strength is rare. Hopke’s velocity is up a few ticks from this same event last year, and given the kind of projection his frame contains, it’s a wonder if a big jump is coming in the not-too-distant future.


+ Three prospects from Hudson made it out on Monday, and they performed well enough to wonder just how well the Raiders will look next spring. Matteo Bonnin (2021), Teddy Donna (2020), and Owen Anderson (2021) all had big days. Bonnin ran the fastest 60-yard dash time of the day (6.87) and showed the ability to find the barrel with line-drive contact on the regular. Donna is a two-way prospect with an athletic build who looked great during the infield defense portion of the event and showed feel for three from the mound. And Anderson may have the biggest upside of the bunch from his projectable 6-foot-1, 180-pound build. He has a low-80s fastball and a feel to spin a breaking ball, and his knuckle-change – whatever you want to call it – lacked a feel for strikes but still showed late movement that could make for a swing-and-miss pitch one day, if he can harness it.