Prep Baseball Report

Top 10 Stories of 2023: No. 5 Wisconsin Freshmen Leave Their Mark in First Year of College

By: Maddox Durst
Staff Writer

At the end of each calendar year, the PBR Wisconsin staff reflects back on the 10 most intriguing headlines that surrounded the baseball scene in the Badger State. Through the end of the month, we will break down the most impactful storylines from an eventful 2023 campaign, ending with our No. 1 story revealed Dec. 30.

The state of Wisconsin continues to produce prep athletes who have successfully transitioned to college baseball in their first year on campus. The area has become a hotbed for prospects – looking to follow in the footsteps of current MLB players who formerly resided in the Badger State.

Below are 11 athletes who made significant contributions to their college team in their first year at the new level.


Two 2022 graduates from Wisconsin made their way to Ann Arbor in the fall to take their shot at playing in the Big Ten Conference: RHP/INF Mitchell Voit (Whitefish Bay, 2022; Michigan) and OF Jonathan Kim (Brookfield Academy, 2022; Michigan). In just arriving on campus for a few short months, both prospects' actions on the diamond were heard throughout the program in a big fashion. Voit continued his stellar two-way showings as a Wolverine, as he batted .267 at the plate and held the lowest ERA amongst all pitchers at 3.25. At the plate, Voit tallied 50 hits on the season – including seven home runs and nine doubles. His skill set transitioned flawlessly to the Big Ten Conference, as Voit walked away from the 2023 season with All-Big Ten Freshman honors at both third base and on the mound.

Kim was more of the same for the Wolverines, as the left-handed hitter emerged as one of Michigan’s top bats by the end of the season. The former Brookfield Academy standout batted .325 in 44 games – starting in 39 of them. It marked the highest average on the team amongst the starting lineup. Kim notched 47 hits in his time at the plate – averaging over one hit per game started. His successful freshman season bodes well for the upcoming spring, as Kim established himself as an underclassman to watch after coming off All-Big Ten Third Team honors as an at-large.

INF Gavin Kilen (Milton, 2022; Louisville) continued to produce a high rate for his ACC program in his first year as a Cardinal – showcasing a consistent bat and prowess on the defensive end of the ball. Kilen – who locked in the second base position – inserted himself into the starting lineup for Louisville right away. He batted .265 and tallied 40 hits in 46 games of action. Kilen’s glove was nearly automatic in the middle infield, as he racked up 77 assists and 58 putouts while only committing two errors all year. The left-handed bat excelled in his role within the Cardinals’ program and shined in year one. Kilen has emerged as one of the captains for Louisville now in his second year, and looks to elevate his game to the next level in the upcoming season. He is joined by fellow Wisconsin prospects in OF Michael Lippe (Whitefish Bay, 2022), C Will Vierling (Homestead, 2022) and newcomer INF Alexander Alicea (St. Thomas More, 2023).

A few 2022 graduates fought their way to earning time on the mound for Division 1 programs, and developed into quality relievers and spot-starters as the 2023 season progressed. RHP Mason Buss (Arrowhead, 2022; Kansas State) was one of those – carrying an electric arsenal to pair with his noteworthy competitiveness in his first year as a Wildcat. The right-hander pitched in 50 innings for Kansas State – holding a 4-3 record by the end of the season. Buss struck out 42 batters and walked 18 in the Big 12 Conference in a relief role, for the most part.

RHP Nate Snead (South Milwaukee, 2022; Wichita State) – now a member of Tennessee’s program – put up some of the highest velocity numbers of the spring as a Shocker. Standing at a physical 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, Snead emerged as a high-leverage reliever in the back of the bullpen for Wichita State. The right-hander established himself as a trustworthy arm for the Shockers throughout the 2023 season – earning three saves by the end of the year. Snead struck out 53 batters in 42.2 innings of work, holding a 3.16 ERA. Snead clocked in at 100 mph in game action multiple times for Wichita State, and now looks to garner more national attention with his electric arsenal in the SEC.


Wisconsin prospects managed to contribute at all levels of college baseball in the spring of 2023 – demonstrating the 2022 class’ depth. A few under-the-radar athletes made noise within the Badger State, beginning with RHP Tyler Schmitt (Madison Memorial, 2022; Wisconsin-La Crosse). Schmitt arguably had one of the best years amongst all of the 2022 class, as he earned WIAC Newcomer of the Year for the Eagles. The right-hander finished 6-2 on the mound – tallying 52 strikeouts in 64.1 IP. Schmitt earned his biggest win of the year against Wisconsin-Whitewater in the WIAC Championship Game, where the true freshman threw seven innings and held the Warhawks to one run. Before that, the freshman twirled a no-hitter against Wisconsin-Platteville in conference play. Schmitt has blossomed into a dominant name in the WIAC this spring, now standing at a stronger 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame.

Schmitt's fellow teammate – LHP Owen Deprez (Luxemburg-Casco, 2022; Wisconsin-La Crosse) – also found success on the mound for Wisconsin-La Crosse as a freshman. The southpaw notched 55 innings in his first season as an Eagle – holding a 5-1 record with one save. Deprez started in 10 of his 13 appearances and struck out 56 batters. The left-hander and Schmitt combined to go 11-3 for Wisconsin-La Crosse this past spring, as their futures shine bright in the western portion of the state come 2024.

As for the offense, INF Sam Meidenbauer (Waukesha West, 2022; Milwaukee School of Engineering) took the NACC by storm this past spring. Meidenbauer – in a strong 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame – hit .372 in 33 games for the Raiders. The right-handed batter tallied six doubles, three triples and four home runs in the batters’ box – establishing himself as a middle-of-the-order power for MSOE. Meidenbauer was in the top-15 batting averages in the NACC, and earned All-NACC Honorable Mention honors at the season's conclusion. He looks to keep it up this spring after a strong summer in the Northwoods League.


LHP Christian Oppor (Columbus, 2022; Gulf Coast State College) has long been a highly touted arm from the Badger State, and took advantage of his one JUCO season to elevate his MLB Draft stock. Oppor – who was selected in the fifth round by the Chicago White Sox this past summer – turned heads with a fastball in the upper-90s toward the beginning of his 2023 campaign. The left-hander finished up a successful year at Gulf Coast State College, and transitioned right away into the White Sox Single-A affiliate. Oppor tossed 7.2 innings in his short stint there, and owned a 1.17 ERA. His electric arsenal continues to play at all levels – creating high strikeout numbers and swing-and-miss results as he works his way through the minor leagues.

LHP Michael Carpenter (Arrowhead, 2022; Madison JC) - was recently named one of the top JUCO players in the country slotting in at No. 53. The recent East Carolina recruit enjoyed one of the more successful seasons last spring as one of the top arms on a loaded WolfPack pitching staff, logging 62 innings pitched and allowed 66 hits with 16 walks and 59 strikeouts. The left-hander was equally as impressive throughout the fall seems to have taken a step up going into his sophomore season.

C/1B Will Johannes (Mukwonago, 2022; Madison JC) – who recently announced his commitment to Big Ten member Illinois, enjoyed a successful season at Madison JC this past spring. Along with his teammates that were highlighted last week, Johannes put up quality offensive numbers in his first season of college baseball. He played in 53 games and racked up 55 total hits for the WolfPack – driving in 50 teammates, too. The righty hit 11 home runs, and was one of the sparks that led Madison JC to another appearance in Enid, Oklahoma. Johannes hit .329 on the season and was named the N4C Player of the Year.

UTL TJ Williams (Racine Horlick, 2022; Heartland CC) – a scrappy defender with game-changing speed – showed well throughout the entirety of his 2023 campaign. Williams hit an impressive .421 for the Hawks as a top-of-the-order bat. He walked (23) more than he struck out (18) at Heartland, and scored 61 times. Williams was flawless on the defensive end – committing zero errors on 67 chances. He stole 30 bases as a member of the Hawks’ program – establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with. He helped win Heartland the NJCAA DII trophy in June, and made his official commitment to Kansas later in the fall to solidify his future.

On the mound, RHP Alex Breckheimer (Chilton, 2022; Bryant & Stratton College) separated himself as one of the top freshmen in Bryant & Stratton’s system. The right-hander continues to see his velocity rise, as our staff got multiple looks at the physical 6-foot-5, 240-pound pitcher this past spring and fall. Breckheimer struck out 61 batters in 48 IP for the Bobcats throughout 2023, and only allowed 16 earned runs – good for an ERA of 3.00. The to-be sophomore took on the Northwoods League over the summer and found success as an arm for the Wausau Woodchucks. His steady development excites for this upcoming spring in his second season with the Bobcats.

RHP Griffin Smith (Appleton North, 2022; Rock Valley JC) – who recently committed to Washington State – was one of the top arms to emerge from PBR Illinois’ Rock Valley JC Scout Day this past fall. Smith broke through that day, as his fastball touched 91 mph and sat in the upper-80s and low-90s throughout his bullpen. Smith stands at an athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, and presents a fast arm and quick-twitch movements in his delivery. The right-hander’s slider – in addition to the fastball – featured some of the nastiest spin of the event. Smith spun the pitch at an average of 2,588 RPM in the low-80s, as it showcased swing-and-miss material from the 2022 graduate. Our staff is intrigued to see how those two mature pitches play in a full season at Rock Valley JC, and at the Division 1 level in 2025.

Wisconsin baseball has prospects scattered throughout the college system who have helped contribute to each of their respective programs. Our staff is excited to witness how these athletes progress in college and beyond, along with future recruits who make their debuts later on this spring.