Wisconsin Class of 2021 Rankings: Risers & Newcomers


By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer, Associate Scout

On Wednesday, we unveiled our most recent update to the state’s Class of 2021 Rankings. Inside, we covered our findings from the late summer and fall and discussed the top of the board, which remained very much the same to our August update. We touched on the top-10 prospects, discussed the latest in commitment news, and shared three of the prospects on the board who have made the biggest leaps up the charts in this update.

Today, we’re going to elaborate on the prospects inside this junior class with the most helium headed into the offseason, as well as highlight the new names making their rankings debuts in this fall update, the final one of 2019.

MORE RISERS

In case you missed it from the post from Wednesday, we touched on these three uncommitted right-handers who each climbed way up the board in this update: Keagon Kauffmann (DeForest; No. 20), Carl Cano (Bay Port; No. 27), and Bryce Leedle (Markesan; No. 36). Today is reserved for the prospects a little further down the rankings, so to learn more about this trio, click that hyperlink above.

  • The tooled-up, versatile Austin Bestul (Elkhorn) moved six spots up the board, just inside the top-40, in this fall update. In a camp setting for his travel team earlier this fall, Bestul showed off that same athleticism we’ve come to know – sub-7.00 speed with quality actions both on the infield dirt and in the outfield. He swings a rhythmic right-handed bat and looked a little more balanced and in control, which helped him square up baseballs on the barrel with authority, off a mostly level plane. Fast, loose hands help him in the batter’s box, too. Bestul also has some on-mound upside, with a low-80s velocity and solid-average offspeed.

  • LHP Reece Piontek (Denmark) is about as projectable as they come. At a high-waisted 6-foot-2, with sloped, athletic shoulders and lean levers, Piontek shined at our final event this fall, where he reached back and touched multiple 85s on the radar gun to close his bullpen. After sitting in the low-80s, his ability to tap into and touch 85 mph shows just how much ceiling there’s left in Piontek’s left arm. He’s really only just scratching the surface as he continues to polish off the rest of his arsenal, a big 1/7 breaking ball and a sinking changeup. He’s the new No. 52-ranked prospect in the state.

NEWCOMERS

There are nearly 20 fresh faces making their Class of 2021 Rankings debuts in this update. We’re separating the position players and pitchers who’ve made significant strides this fall, as well as offering quick notes on the rest of the group under these two categories.

POSITION PLAYERS

Justin Hausser 1B / DeForest Area , WI / 2021

Kauffmann’s DeForest teammate Justin Hausser flew under some radars this summer and fall and earned his way into a verbal commitment with Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He’s a thick 6-foot, 220-pound first base prospect who uses his size well from the left-handed batter’s box, which helps him profile into the middle of the Panthers’ order one day down the road. It’s a quiet, quick, and aggressive bat with excellent feel for the barrel. Debuting at No. 40 in the state, the highest debutant on the ‘21 board.

Nick Nowak C / 2b / Waukesha South, WI / 2021

Nowak is a do-it-all type, a versatile athlete who can help his team win in a multitude of ways. He’s an above-average runner and he uses that athleticism especially well from the behind the plate, where he’s regularly in the low-2.00 range on his pops down to second. His soft hands and quick feet play well at second base, too. At the plate, Nowak swings a right-handed bat with some twitch off a fast, level plane, geared toward hard line-drive contact. The tools and versatility helped him earn a debut inside the class top-70.

Colin Dailey 2B / SS / Cedarburg, WI / 2021

It’s hard to think of another prospect who improved so markedly from June to October. Dailey landed on our radars earlier this year but become a prospect to circle and know at the Southern Wisconsin Open back in October. There, he looked like a next-level infielder who moves well and with arm strength, but it was his bat that really evolved in that short period of time. Dailey swung a loose and level bat and his lean strength helped him produce some surprise pop – he topped 91 mph off the tee at the showcase.

Charlie Bogue C / 3B / Mount Horeb, WI / 2021

Be it at third base or from behind the plate, Bogue has a surprising amount of actions at either spot. Especially down in the crouch, the Mount Horeb backstop receives with soft hands and is a confident blocker. He recorded pops in the 2.02-2.14 range back in October. At the plate, Bogue creates consistently hard gap-to-gap contact from the right side with a simple, balanced approach.

Darryl Jackson 2B / SS / MILWAUKEE King, WI / 2021

Built at a lean and athletic 5-foot-8, Jackson is a twitchy middle infielder with some real upside as he continues to polish his game. He moves particularly well and in control on defense, with athletic and accurate arm action that helps him land throws on target while on the move. At the plate, he swings a right-handed bat off a long path, but it’s fluid and with rhythm geared for line drives.

Natanael Pinet SS / 3B / Milwaukee King, WI / 2021

Jackson’s high school teammate, Pinet has an intriguing frame, at 6-foot-1, with natural strength. His bat is raw but he has a knack for the barrel – loose hands and jump from the sweet spot. Similarly, he’s raw on defense, but he defends with some natural actions: soft hands, gathers with some rhythm, plays through the ball. His long-term home might be at third base, but the bat is what can carry him through high school and beyond.

PITCHERS

James Schutte RHP / New Richmond, WI / 2021

The Southern Wisconsin Open was a huge success at providing our staff with a list of names deserving of a spot on the 2021 rankings. Debuting at No. 81 is RHP James Schutte, from New Richmond. A 6-foot-3 righty with a thick trunk and a workhorse’s build that sat 83-84 mph at last month’s showcase. His breaking ball, an 11/5 curve, worked well beneath the zone and his changeup matched his regular arm speed with sink.

Kellan Short RHP / C / Catholic Memorial, WI / 2021

Short has long been on our radar for his barrel chest and strength, but the leap he made on the mound this fall has elevated him to ranked status. Catholic Memorial’s pitching staff looks to be, on paper, one of the deepest in the state and Short’s emergence only reinforces that claim. In October, he sat 83-85 mph with jump and a hammer 12/6 curveball that he’s still harnessing control over, but his feel to spin it with tight, late break is excellent.

Jason Starr RHP / Sun Prairie, WI / 2021

No matter what, it seems as if Sun Prairie will always have an influx of names to confidently fill new roles each spring. While the Cardinals graduated a couple of their arms from last season, RHPs like Starr on their way. At a camp this fall, Starr showed 82-84 mph velocity and filled up the zone with relative ease, flashing a solid-average breaking ball and firm changeup. At a lean 6-foot-1, Starr still projects for more as he continues to mature and develop. 

Evan Jackson RHP / Milton, WI / 2021

The 5-foot-10 Jackson was invited to the summer’s All-State Games in Illinois where he sat in the low-80s with some average offspeed. In a camp this fall, Jackson was more consistently touching 84 mph all while mixing in a sharp slider we’d not yet seen – one that was flashing legitimate plus, late break. The tick up has him landing on the rankings inside the top-90.

Gavin Rusch RHP / Bay Port, WI / 2021

While we haven’t seen Rusch since February, his profile from back then is well worthy of a spot toward the back of the rankings. Standing at a lanky 6-foot-4, Rusch was up to 83 mph then with a long arm circle and downhill fastball that played well off a 12/6 curve. If he’s progressed at all since, there’s a good chance he’s already too low on the board.

Carson Possehl RHP / Lodi, WI / 2021

From Lodi, the 6-foot-3 Possehl might only sit in the 81-82 mph range right now, but he clearly knows how to use it. The fastball features heavy, hard sink and he expertly weaves in an aggressive breaking ball, 70-71 mph, with a firm changeup. A clean and easy righty who knows how to pitch.

MORE NEWCOMERS

  • Brady Counsell, 2B/SS, Whitefish Bay: Counsell defends up the middle beyond his years, as expected with his Wisconsin baseball bloodlines. He’s a young-looking infielder who’s really growing into his thin, lean 6-foot stature. He’s progressed well throughout this year and is starting to catch up from the batter’s box, too.

  • Wyatt Fischer, LHP, De Pere: It’s hard to make it look as clean and easy as Fischer does. At a high-waisted 6-foot, 155 pounds, Fischer very obviously has room to fill out and grow, but he’s already in the 77-80 mph range, and was up to 81 in Sheboygan last September. Clean, easy, loose, long are all synonymous with his arm action and he’s already showing above-average feel for his offspeed, too.

  • Tyler Bittman, RHP/OF, Arrowhead: Bittman is a highly athletic prospect, and not just in baseball. He looks like a commodity on the gridiron for his thunderous right leg which was a legitimate weapon for Arrowhead this fall. On the diamond, he’s shown best on the mound, with a low-80s fastball that’s been up to 84 mph with feel for a 11/5 breaking ball.

  • Joe Giricz, RHP, Catholic Memorial: Giricz is a luxury the Crusaders will be excited to have this coming spring. It’s a loaded staff with some real heat at the top, and Giricz will be premium depth. In his own right, he’s an athletic 81-83 mph strike-thrower with a loose, quick arm and a sharp breaking ball. He’s going to be a reliable piece for Catholic Memorial and enhances one of the state’s best staffs.

  • Evan Long, RHP/C, Tomah: Long shows best on the mound, as a 6-foot righty with a short, compact, quick arm that has topped 82 mph in front of our staff. His ability to repeat and stay balanced throughout helps him locate well, all while mixing in a solid-average changeup and curveball.

  • Andres Kleinsek, RHP, Verona Area: Verona’s staff is looking like it can carry them deep this spring, too, and junior right-hander Kleinsek is very much a part of that equation. He’s a low-effort, 5-foot-11 strike-thrower who utilizes a heavy sinking fastball in the 82-83 mph range with a deceptive changeup that plays off his sinker really well.

  • Dylan Lapic, LHP, La Crosse Central: We have yet to see Lapic at a showcase, but we were able to catch him this summer at The Rock. There, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound southpaw sat 77-79 mph with some feel all while mixing in a curve, 70 mph, that flashed above-average depth. His size and loose lefty arm help make him a follow inside the state’s junior class.

RELATED CONTENT