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Scouting Wisconsin 2006

on 02/07/2006


Two years ago I wrote a feature story that focused not only on a talented 2004 Wisconsin draft class, but also talked about some of the more notable players that have hailed from the state as well as factors that work against baseball in Wisconsin, most notably the weather:

While the Badger State didn't have much to offer in talent last year, this year's draft-eligible class has rebounded to provide some very interesting names from both the high school and college ranks. There is no Erik Cordier, a player that enters the spring season as a legitimate top first or second-round talent, but there are a few players that could find themselves selected in the top five to 10 rounds in the June Amateur Free Agent Draft.

High School
While the weather certainly doesn't help prep players in northern states showcase their stuff, particularly if those players happen to play for schools whose baseball season is held in the summer, showcase organizations like Perfect Game USA and travel teams like the Midwest Blazers have helped young players in Wisconsin play with and against not only the best players in the Midwest, but throughout the country, and in some instances, throughout the world. This year's prep talent is highlighted by a strong contingent of players from the Fox Valley.

Chad Pierce-Fond du Lac
Locally Pierce has gained more recognition as a pitcher. From a scouting standout, he draws more interest as a catcher. With an athletic and strong 6'1", 205 pound frame, Pierce has a very strong arm that serves him well on the mound, behind the plate and on the gridiron as Fond du Lac's starting quarterback. Behind the plate Pierce has quick feet, soft hands and his aforementioned strong arm that allows him to get the ball to second base in the hurry, regularly registering sub-two-second POP times with very good accuracy. He also has a very good line-drive bat with intriguing power potential. As a pitcher he throws in the mid-to-upper 80s, and mixes in a very good changeup that keeps hitters off-balance. If he isn't drafted high enough, Pierce likely will take his two-way talents to Arkansas.

Wes Munson-Fond du Lac
Pierce's teammate at Fond du Lac, which will likely be a hot destination for local area scouts this spring. Munson is the team's starting shortstop, with a Major League frame, built wiry and strong at 6'2", 185 pounds. He displays very good actions on the infield, with good range, soft hands and a very strong throwing arm that should allow him to stick at the shortstop position at the next level. Munson also has very good hitting mechanics, with quick hands and balance that gives him a line-drive, contact hitting approach with good doubles power. His younger brother Sam, a high school sophomore, also plays on Fondy's Varsity squad, rounding out the left- side of the infield at third base. Wes Munson has committed to play for the Missouri Tigers.

Chris Roberts-Oshkosh West
Roberts is a similar player to Munson, although Roberts brings more speed to his game and a line-drive bat from the left side of the plate. While Roberts has played shortstop and second base, he has been used in the outfield more and more the past year. He has a lithe and wiry frame at 6'1", 175 pounds and uses quick hands that produces good bat speed to smoke line drives from gap to gap. Roberts' actions are quick and rangy, which should allow him to play either the infield or the outfield, although his arm likely will prevent him from playing shortstop down the road. He has committed to play for Michigan State, another strong Division I commitment that will be hard for him to turn down unless he's drafted early.

Ben Ihde-Neenah
The fourth talented player that hails from the Fox Valley Association, Ihde also receives high marks for his hitting prowess. At this time he has more gap power than over the fence power, but scouts expect more power to develop as he continues to add strength to his 6'3", 195 pound frame that complements his smooth, left-handed swing. Ihde also exhibits good bat speed and balanced swing mechanics, which should allow for a smooth transition to hitting with a wood bat. While he has decent speed and runs the bases well, first base is his best position, where he exhibits soft hands and a strong arm.

Tony Butler-Oak Creek
Butler is a tall and athletic left-handed pitcher at 6'7", 205 pounds, that has had a lot of experience on the showcase and tournament circuits. He has led Oak Creek to three consecutive summer state championships, and has played against the best in the nation traveling with the Midwest Blazers, including recent impressive performances at the WWBA tournament in Jupiter, Florida. While Butler has very good size, his fastball tops out around 89 miles per hour, although he has been clocked as high as 91. He works comfortably in the 84-87 range, mixing in a very good, tight curveball and a solid changeup. His knowledge of commanding the zone, poise and confidence leads to much of his success, and he is also an accomplished left-handed hitter. Like Pierce, Butler has committed to Arkansas.

Scott Matyas-Kettle Moraine
Matyas probably has the best current professional frame of all of the high school prospects at 6'4", 205 pounds, with a body many think will max out in the 6'5", 225 pound range. He was named All- State after his impressive sophomore season, but regressed a little bit during his junior campaign. Matyas is an athletic player that also serves as his team's shortstop, but his future lies on the mound, where he has shown a high- 80s fastball with good movement, and a big slow curveball. His mechanics are sound and he exhibits good command on his pitches.

The Wisconsin natives in college offer a fairly strong group of prospects available for June's draft. Included are a couple of former Brewers draft picks, and a pitcher that has worked hard to recover from Tommy John surgery. Note the number of ranked teams that these individuals currently play for, while also noting that UIC is the best team in the Horizon League. Representing the junior colleges, no team has produced more professional players that past few years than Lake City Community College.

Ryan Zink-Illinois-Chicago
Zink was a 47th round draft pick in 2003 of the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school (LaFollette), and was named the 2003 Gatorade Player of the Year. Tall and lanky then, Zink has filled out his 6'5" frame to 225 pounds, and despite that powerful frame he is more of a control pitcher that relies on changing his speeds and hitting his spots. He enjoyed immediate success as a freshman, posting a 2.07 ERA with an impressive 92 to 15 strikeout to walk ratio in 95 innings of work. Zink then strut his stuff in the Northwoods Leauge, posting a 2.03 ERA for the Madison Mallards on his way to being named the league's third-best prospect according to Baseball America, behind Lance Broadway, a first-round pick in 2005, and Max Scherzer, who is projected to be an early first-round pick this June. Armed with a 88-91 fastball, a good slider and a changeup, Zink commands the strike zone very well with all three pitches. He didn't pitch during the summer of 2005 after a season in which he already tossed 119 innings of work. Zink didn't pitch as well as a sophomore statistically, but he is poised to have a big junior campaign. Look for him to creep up top prospect lists this spring and be among those drafted in the top three to five rounds.

Daryl Maday-Arkansas
Maday was also drafted by the Brewers out of high school (Westosha Central) in 2003, in the 43rd round, and like Zink he also pitched for the Madison Mallards during the summer of 2004. He hasn't enjoyed the success at Arkansas, or for the Mallards, that Zink has while in college. Maday enters the 2006 season as a valuable member of the Razorbacks bullpen, a team that entered the college season ranked 18th by Baseball America. Coming out of high school Maday was a big-bodied pitcher with a low-90s fastball. Inconsistency has led to sporadic playing time and mixed results, as he posted a 6.64 ERA as a sophomore. He is in line to take a weekend rotation spot should there be any injuries, but for now he would be better served learning the strike zone while honing his secondary pitches.

Jason Berken-Clemson
Berken missed the entire 2005 season after having Tommy John surgery in 2004. He entered that season as Clemson's ace, and pitched quite well (5-1, 2.53 ERA) before being shut down in May. Despite missing all of last year, his teammates still made him one of their team captains, a tribute to his makeup and leadership qualities. Like many pitchers that have undergone Tommy John surgery, Berken's arm has responded quite well, actually gaining a few ticks on his heater (now touching 94 instead of 92), with improved command of his changeup. While he already had a very good curveball, he has also picked up a slider that is now his second-best pitch, giving him a solid four-pitch repertoire. Berken attended DePere High School and was named Wisconsin's Gatorade Player of the Year following the 2002 season, and with a comeback year as the Friday starter for the second-ranked Clemson Tigers, Berken might just find himself taken in the top few rounds this June.

Tyler Beranek-Lake City CC
Beranek was a well-known commodity coming out of Waukesha South High School, and if it weren't for a lackluster spring in 2004, not to mention a poor showing at the inaugural Aflac All- American Classic during the summer of 2003 (in which he was just getting over mononucleosis), he might have been drafted in the top three to five rounds. With a powerful, athletic frame, Beranek has power potential to spare. His swing can get long and he is prone to strikeouts, as exhibited by the 41 whiffs he had last spring playing for UNLV. He did hit .335 with a .406 on-base percentage and a .534 slugging percentage with the Rebels, but has since transferred to Lake City CC, joining fellow Southeastern Wisconsin local Brandon Hall. With a big spring Beranek should re-establish his standing as a draft prospect, and if he doesn't, he will play for South Alabama for the 2006-07 season.

Brandon Hall-Lake City CC
Hall, like Beranek, was also a well- known player coming out of high school (Brookfield Central). Known for his powerful bat and patient eye at the plate, Hall has had some shoulder problems that may restrict him from catching down the road at the professional level. He may just hit enough to play almost anywhere on the field, although his body type probably restricts him to either first base or left field. Hall hit .386 last year to lead Lake City, slugging two home runs and 20 doubles over 184 at-bats. If he remains undrafted and unsigned after this summer, he has committed to play for former Brewers pitcher Jerry Augustine at UW-Milwaukee for the 2006-07 season.

Ryan Rohlinger-Oklahoma
West Bend East alum Ryan Rohlinger was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals last year in the 21st round following a big junior year in which he led the Sooners in nearly every offensive category including batting average (.345), on-base percentage (.449), slugging percentage (.563), runs (53), hits (79) RBIs (53), home runs (11) and walks (37). He played at Clarendon College his first year out of high school, and posted a big season there offensively before transferring to Oklahoma. Rohlinger also has shown that he can hit with wood bats on the Cape, as he was named the MVP in the Cape Cod League playoffs leading the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox to the 2004 title. A versatile infielder that can play shortstop, second and third base, he seems to be undervalued due to his smallish stature, as he's generously listed at 6'1", 180 pounds. With another big spring Rohlinger is sure to be drafted much higher than the 21st round this year.

2007 and beyond
Look for left-handed pitcher Nick Rice from Kenosha Tremper next season, who is similar in size and stuff to Tony Butler, although Rice is already throwing in the 88-89 range. University of South Carolina right-handed pitcher Dan Luczak actually is eligible for the 2006 draft, but he hasn't appeared in a game during his first two years with the Gamecocks, as he had Tommy John surgery his freshman year. Brookfield Central alum Ryan Schweikert was profiled in the 2004 feature, and has transferred to UIC for his redshirt freshman season (he had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow last year), joining junior Ryan Zink. As noted above, Wes Munson's younger brother Sam is a talented, athletic 2008 prospect with exciting power potential.

Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both and Perfect Game USA, and can be contacted via email at


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