Great Lakes region boasts great arms
October, 31, 2011
By Chris Webb | ESPN.com
Vandalia-Butler Baseball /OtherTaylore Cherry is not only one of the top pitchers in the Great Lakes region, but in the nation as well.
In the second part of our look at the top players in the Great Lakes, we see the region is loaded in the outfield, on the mound, and home to elite two-way prospects.
Committed to Louisville, Nathan Mikolas (Kenosha, Wis.) is regarded as the region's top non-catcher positional prospect. Viewed as a potential top-100 draft pick, the 6'2, 205 left-handed hitter possesses a fluid and consistent swing with great bat speed, generating backspin while maintaining a selective eye. Mikolas has potential above-average power, including opposite field power with his ability to control and cover the strikezone, stay back on breaking pitches and snap through the zone with strong wrists. The 2011 Area Code Games particiant is a good athlete that runs a sub-6.9 sixty-yard dash with a projectable big league frame.
Though currently a third baseman, a move to the outfield is mostly likely in the future for Xavier Turner (Sandusky, Ohio) a toolsy 6'1, 205 prospect. Turner, who has committed to Vanderbilt, recently played the outfield for the esteemed Canes Baseball program. Though lacking repitions in the outfield, Turner held his own in making reads while displaying a good arm. Turner has above-average speed, registering a sixty as fast as 6.75. At the plate, Turner displays consistent gap-to-gap power with occasional pull power from an ability to recognize pitches early, square-up and drive the ball to all fields.
Mitchell Holtz (Plainfield, Ill.) stood out at the 2010 Area Code Games teamWhite Sox tryouts, when at 6'1, 210, running a 6.89 sixty. As Holtz's frame beging to slightly fill-out, now 215, his speed remains as he approaches being a 6.85-runner. Though not lacking in speed, Holtz top tool may be his arm where he can register up to 88 on the mound and from the outfield. At the plate Holtz is an explosive hitter, maintaining outstanding bat swing to and through the ball with a solid line-drive approach.
Taylore Cherry (Dayton, Ohio) is not only the top regional right handed pitcher, he is one of the best in the nation. At 6'9, 260 Cherry often appears a man among boys, backed by game that separates him from many peers. Gifted with outstanding arm speed, Cherry can reach 94 on his fastball, often sitting 89-91 from a low-in-effort and simple-in-mechanics 3/4 release. Cherry's fastball has late life, an offering that compliments a repeatable upper-70s change with sink. Cherry can command a curve, making him a three-pitch pitcher, but at the present time wthout tight spin his breaking ball is behind his devasting fastball-change plus-plus combo. Though big, is not an overly physical pitcher, carrying a body that is still a bit soft. Meaning there is more in the tank for the towering righty who has committed to North Carolina as he gains muscle and definition development.
Other notable Great Lakes right-handed pitchers: Karl Keglovits (Nazareth, Pa.; North Carolina State-commit) Jacob Post (Chesterton, Ind. Ohio State-commit), Luke Stephenson (Fairland, Ind.; Vanderbilt-commit) Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.; Louisville-commit), Mitchell Brown (Rochester, Minn.; San Diego-commit), Jared Price (Mohnton, Pa.; Maryland-commit)
Matt Smoral (Solon, Ohio) like Cherry, his Buckeye state counter part, Smoral is recognized as one of the nation's best. The 6'8, 240 Smoral is an imposing figure on the mound, an attacking and polished southpaw. Smoral comforably sits 90-92, reaching back to 94 when needed. Smoral is similar to Cherry as he has a smooth low-effort delivery, a very loose arm that sees him throw from a true ¾ slot. Smoral has the ability to throw three pithches for strikes for strikes working curve and change off his fastball. Though a bit slurvey in break, Smoral's curve displays above-average tightness that has the ability to be a big-league plus pitch. Smoral hides the ball well making a mid-80s change more effective than the separation from velocity in fastball suggest. The lefty works well in-and-out, to both sides of the plate, a heady pitcher who understands the game.
Other notable Great Lakes left-handed pitchers: Brett Lilek (South Holland, Ill.; Arizona State-commit), Jordan Minch (Highland, Ind.; Purdue-commit), Jake Drossner (Richboro, Pa.; Maryland-commit), Ryan Borucki (Mundelein, Ill.; Iowa-commit), Brent Strong (Andover, Minn.; Bradley-commit)
The Great Lakes is home to many outstanding two-way players, some previously highlight, but few have the ceiling both on the mound and in the field as Arizona-commit Ryan Koziol (Orland Park, Ill.). On the mound the right-handed pitcher throws four pitchers, led by a fastball that can reach 90, a low-to-mid 80s cutter, change and curve. At shortstop Koziol is great in anticipation and reads the ball well of the bat, aiding his range and allowing his quick hands and strong arm to make up for a slight lack in speed. At the plate, the long and loose 6'3, 185 left-handed hitter has a level swing and loose hips from a squared stance that produces line-drives to all fields.
Other notable Great Lakes two-way players: Jacob Bosiokovic (Delaware, Ohio; Ohio State-commit), Anthony Kidston (Defiance, Ohio; Louisville-commit), Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa.; Louisville-commit), Michael Hadden (Prior Lake, Minn.).
Chris Webb has covered Midwestern college baseball since 2009 for Buckeye State Baseball as well as in his own personal blog The Webb Log (ChrismWebb.com). Chris is in his second year of covering the area's high school baseball and recruiting for Prep Baseball Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @ChrisMWebb