this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The state of Illinois is proving to be very fertile recruiting ground for Erik Bakich and company. After landing Nick Kowalczuk and Keith Lehmann in the 2013 class (see this roundup), the Michigan baseball staff has received nods from two more—highly touted—prospects from the Land of Lincoln, members of the class of 2014. Overall, Michigan now has eight 2014 commits—plus one from 2015.
EDIT: I forgot that Charlie Donovan, the one Michigan commit so far for 2015, is also from Illinois. PBR currently has him ranked #1 in the state (up from #2 at the time of his commitment) and #6 overall in their eight-state coverage area. I'm not sure where Perfect Game has him ranked, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's in their top 500. (His Hello post is here.)
Hello: Bryan Pall
RHP, Carl Sandburg H.S. (Orland Park, IL) — 6-1, 190 lbs.
Committed: November 2012
- Perfect Game: #343 nationally, #9 in Illinois
- PBR: currently #10 in Illinois; was ranked #47 overall in PBR's eight-state region at the time of his commitment
Scouting Report: from his PBR profile:
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-hander is one of the hottest names in Illinois’ Class of 2014. We first saw Pall come out of the pen early in his sophomore year last spring, pumping 83-85 fastballs with a hard and sharp 78-80 mph slider. As expected, Pall’s stuff continued to improve, and this fall he’s been up to 88 with a filthy 80-82 mph slider. The slider is a plus pitch, a true swing-and-miss pitch at the next level. Pall is yet another high-level arm in Illinois’ loaded 2014 class.
Hello: Rahman Williams
SS, Morgan Park H.S. (Chicago) — 5-11, 170 lbs.
Committed: March 2013
- Perfect Game: #139 nationally, #3 in Illinois
- PBR: #25 in PBR's eight-state region; #7 in Illinois
Scouting Report: from his PBR profile, dated 2/17/13:
Athletic build, shows some strength, body still shows projection, 5-foot-11, 170-pound switch hitting middle infielder. Feet work well, shows athleticism, 6.94 60. Defensively shows an advanced prowess with the glove, confident fielder. Soft hands, excellent body control, highly athletic defensive actions. Arm works well across the diamond, shows carry, stays true to target, 85 mph arm strength across infield. Offensively hits from both sides of the plate. Hits from an open stance, short stride. Bat speed is present, hands work well from both sides. Right handed, pull side approach, slightly more pop. Left handed swing shows good balance, works the middle of the field well. High level middle infield prospect.
This second part of a rundown of Michigan baseball’s 2013 recruiting class focuses on those hailing from outside Michigan. The first part covered the seven in-state players reported to have signed LOIs during the early signing period. While some of the in-state signees had been recruited to Michigan by the previous coaching staff, all seven of the 2013 recruits from outside the state committed to the Maize and Blue since Erik Bakich’s hiring. Most are from nearby states, including two from Illinois and one each from Indiana and Kentucky, but two are Californians and the final one was originally from South Dakota before spending three years at a junior college in Illinois.
While it’s difficult to assess baseball recruiting classes given the limited, non-paywalled information available, it appears that Bakich and company have done quite well given the limited amount of time they had to pull this class together. Two of the recruits from outside Michigan have been highly ranked/rated by the scouting service Perfect Game:
- Ethan Cohen, an outfielder from California, is ranked #448 in the nation and given a grade of 9.5, out of a 10-point scale.
- Trey Miller, a middle infielder out of Kentucky, garnered a grade of 9.
Prep Baseball Report, a scouting service covering eight mainly Midwestern states, has Keith Lehmann, a pitcher/third baseman from Illinois, ranked #5 in that state and #34 in their eight-state region. Along with in-stater Jackson Lamb, that’s at least four highly rated prospects in this class.
- Mac Lozer and Kendall Patrick were late commitments to the class and haven’t been noted on this site before. Patrick’s signing was reported about a week or so ago over at the B1G Baseball blog.
- For a few of the prospects, it wasn’t possible to confirm that they had actually signed an LOI during the early signing period. This is especially the case with Ramsey Romano, who was reported to have been seeking out a football scholarship but who now is apparently sticking with his Michigan commitment. Presumably, he and perhaps one or two of the others will be signing during the regular signing period, which begins on April 17. And there's always the possibility that others will join the class at that time.
Ethan Cohen — OF, Keystone Academy (Thousand Oaks, CA) — 5-11, 180 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: Perfect Game: #80 in California; #448 nationally; #86 at his position nationally (rankings are as of the date of his commitment—they may have since been updated). Perfect Game also gives Cohen a grade of 9.5 (on a 10-point scale); a 9 is a "potential top 10 round pick and/or highest level college prospect,." while a 10 is a "potential very high draft pick and/or elite level college prospect."
Committed: August 2012.
Offers: Not known.
LOI: Unable to confirm.
Latest Scouting Report: His Perfect Game profile includes the following from June 2012:
Ethan Cohen is a 2013 OF with a 5-11 180 lb. frame from Thousand Oaks, CA who attends Keystone Academy. Long lean athletic build, room to get stronger. 6.65 runner, aggressive in the outfield, shows his athleticism, long loose arm action, very good arm strength. Left handed hitter, smooth easy swing, has present bat speed with more to come with added strength, shows gap power, stays inside and drives the ball to left centerfield. Toolsy player with lots of projection, should continue to improve. Good student.
Nick Kowalczuk — 1B, Oak Park-River Forest HS (IL) — 6-3, 210 lbs.
Ranking: PBR: #87 in eight-state coverage area.
Committed: August 5, 2012.
Offers: Reportedly had "his choice of several Big Ten schools, as well as colleges from the Missouri Valley Conference." Michigan State was one of the Big Ten schools to offer him.
LOI: Signed November 14, 2012.
Latest Scouting Report: From PBR profile:
6/14/12 — Kowalczuk is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound first baseman who looks to be one of the premier right-handed bats in the Class of 2013. Kowalczuk starts from an open stance and generates impressive whip through the zone. Kowalczuk showed plus power from the right side, consistently barreling up the baseball to both power alleys. Defensively, Kowalczuk exhibited soft hands and good feet around the bag. He displayed an accurate arm (79 mph) across the diamond as well. Additionally, Kowalczuk ran a 7.42 60.
- OPRF baseball's Kowalczuk picks Michigan (oakpark.com, 8/22/2012)
Kowalczuk, a hard hitting slugger now heading into his senior year, made the announcement last week. As a junior last season, he batted .352 with a team-leading 36 RBIs. The first baseman scattered 32 singles, seven doubles and three triples in 39 games.
"My wife and I are very proud of Nick because of all the hard work that he has put into the game since he was 8 years old," said Peter Kowalczuk, Nick's father. "He could have taken a few other offers that were very tempting, but he decided that he would use the talent he had to maximize the scholastic opportunity that may be available. His choice of Michigan was a direct result of his desire for a great education."
- Oak Park’s Nick Kowalczuk and Lyons’ Keith Lehmann head to Michigan (Franklin Park Herald-Journal, 8/21/2012)
“I like their [Michigan's] whole philosophy,” said Kowalczuk, who hopes to study economics or finance. “It feels good for what I want. I know they want to win, but they are all good guys. The facilities were awesome.”
- Arrogance ‘in a good way’ helps Oak Park win first state baseball title since ’81 (Chicago TribLocal, 6/11/2012)
Notes: Kowalczuk will be participating in PBR's Super 60 Pro Showcase, a professional scouting event being held on February 3, 2013, in McCook, Illinois.
Keith Lehmann — RHP/3B, Lyons Township HS (IL) — 6-1, 170 lbs.
Ranking: PBR: #5 in Illinois; #34 in eight-state coverage area. Perfect Game: one of the top 1,000 prospects to watch.
Committed: August 14, 2012.
Offers: Reportedly had "a lot of offers," including from other Big Ten schools.
LOI: Unable to confirm.
Latest Scouting Report: From PBR profile:
7.7.12 — The only question surrounding Keith Lehmann is what will the multi-talented junior do for an encore? Already, the two-way standout helped lead Lyons Township to a Class 4A state championship as a sophomore, and nearly propelled the Lions to a repeat this spring, falling in the championship game, 4-3, to Oak Park. Lehmann certainly did everything within his power to get the Lions back to the title game. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder was equally as dominant on the mound as he was at the plate. The right-hander used his 87-90 mph fastball and sharp breaking ball to go 10-2 with a 0.86 ERA. In 80 innings, he struck out 83 and walked 16. Also a standout third baseman, Lehmann led Lyons Township in nearly every offensive category. He finished with 7 home runs, 13 doubles, 37 RBI and a .343 batting average. As a sophomore, Lehmann also hit 7 home runs during the Lions’ championship run.
- Lyons’ Keith Lehmann chooses Michigan (Chicago Sun-Times, 8/15/2012)
Lehmann can play multiple positions, though he has developed into an ace starter with a high-80s fastball. He was a catcher and third baseman for Lyons’ Class 4A state championship team in 2011, but played third base and pitcher for the 2012 state runner-up team, which lost to Oak Park-River Forest on a walk-off RBI single.
- Oak Park’s Nick Kowalczuk and Lyons’ Keith Lehmann head to Michigan (Franklin Park Herald-Journal, 8/21/2012)
Choosing Michigan might have been tougher on Lehmann’s father, Art, a Michigan State graduate.
“I think he’s proud of me,” said Lehmann, a Western Springs resident. “It does not bother him.”
Lehmann visited Michigan with his father two weeks before making a commitment to coach Erik Bakich, who was hired by Wolverines June 27 after coaching at Maryland.
“We checked the campus out. I knew they wanted me,” said Lehmann. “I fell in love with it. With a whole new coaching staff, I liked it. It felt comfortable.”
- Lyons baseball on quite a roll: Lehmann helps lead the Lions to summer state title (Chicago Tribune, 8/2/2012)
Notes: Like Kowalczuk, Lehmann will be participating in PBR's Super 60 Pro Showcase on February 3, 2013.
In a PBR report on "what makes a great breaking ball, and who has the best," Lehmann was among those singled out:
Whatever breaking ball a pitcher throws, it needs to be respected by opposing hitters. So how do you get a hitter to respect your breaking ball? Simple, throw it for strikes. A breaking ball that cannot be thrown for strikes is not a pitch that a polished hitter is going to have to worry about during an at-bat, therefore giving him a better opportunity to sit on one pitch.
However, if you are a guy like Michigan recruit Keith Lehmann (Lyons Township HS, IL, RHP, 2013) then you will always be able to keep hitters off balance. Lehmann has an uncanny knack for throwing his breaking ball for strikes and in any count. Lehmann’s ability to command his breaking ball makes him extremely hard to hit. Command of the breaking ball is something that will always transfer to the next level and will certainly make Lehman a factor next year at the University of Michigan.
Mac Lozer — RHP/SS, North Central HS (Indianapolis, IN) — 6-1, 185 lbs.
Committed: November 11, 2012.
Offers: Lozer (from Q&A linked below): "Other schools I considered were Virginia Tech, Wright State, Miami of Ohio, and Navy."
LOI: November 14, 2012.
- Q&A with University of Michigan Commit Mac Lozer (PBR, 11/12/2012)
PBR: Why did you choose Michigan?
Lozer: I chose the University of Michigan for many reasons. Most importantly is their renowned academic program. The second greatest factor was the baseball program. Coach Erik Bakich and his coaching staff are new to Michigan this year and I am very excited for what they bring to the Michigan baseball program. Other factors, such as distance from home, campus feeling, and becoming an immediate impact player also played a role in my decision.
. . .
PBR: Have you decided on a major, or narrowed it down?
Lozer: I would like to pursue the Ross School of Business at U of M.
Trey Miller — SS/2B, Lexington Catholic HS (Lexington, KY) — 6-0, 170 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: PBR: Unknown. Perfect Game: #14 in Kentucky; top 1,000 nationally. Perfect Game also gives Miller a grade of 9 (on a 10-point scale), meaning they believe he is a "potential top 10 round pick and/or highest level college prospect."
Committed: August 2012.
Offers: Miler (from Q&A linked below): "The other schools I was interested in were Ohio University, University of Louisville, Xavier, Western Kentucky, Ball St., Flagler College (St. Augustine, Fl), and Bellarmine."
LOI: Unable to confirm.
True shortstops seem to get more scarce by the week, but the 6-foot, 170-pound Miller showed that he has the feet and arm strength to do it. Aside from all the actiony things he does with his hands, Miller showcases an unquantifiable energy in his legs and feet as he played through the ball.
His Perfect Game profile offers this:
Medium athletic frame. Solid runner 6.64 in the 60. As an infielder, short arm action, smooth fielding actions, good transfer and release, ball comes out clean, can throw from all angles. Right handed hitter, slightly open stance, high hand set, pull approach, patient at the plate, short compact swing with good bat speed, line drive swing plane. Good Student.
- Q&A with University of Michigan Commit Trey Miller (PBR, 8/28/2012)
PBR: Why did you choose the University of Michigan?
Miller: I chose the University of Michigan because I felt great chemistry with the coaching staff there and I believe they can provide me the best future possible as a young student - athlete and a community leader.
. . .
PBR: What role do the coaches expect you to play throughout your first year?
Miller: The coaches expect me to come in as a freshman and compete for a middle infield spot, where I believe I can come in early and fit great.
PBR: What would you consider your biggest strength as a player?
Miller: I believe my biggest strength is my foot-work and the range I have at shortstop or second base. Also, I believe I'm a great team motivator, while making my teammates better everyday.
Kendall Patrick — C/1B, Black Hawk College (Moline, IL) / Mitchell HS (Mitchell, SD) — 6-3, 208 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: N/A—junior college signee.
Committed: November 2012.
Offers: The article linked below from May 2012 included this: "Both player and coach said there are roughly 10 DI schools interested. His home-state South Dakota is showing the most interest, but so are Virginia Tech, Missouri, Illinois State and a number of Big Ten schools." These were possible offers for the fall of 2012, but Patrick elected to stay at Black Hawk for a third season, having received a medical redshirt for his sophomore year.
LOI: Apparently signed during the early signing period, according to this paywalled article, published on January 8, 2013, in the Mitchell Daily Republic.
- Injury-prone Patrick seeks more from BHC baseball program (Quad-Cities Online, 5/12/2012)
Notes: The Black Hawk baseball team announced in October that Patrick would to play for the Ozark Generals of the MINK summer collegiate league in 2013.
Ramsey Romano — SS, Valhalla HS (El Cajon, CA) — 6-3, 185 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: Perfect Game: given a grade of 7.5 (on a 10-point scale) in June 2011; a 7 is a "college prospect, possible future draft pick with development," while an 8 is a "potential draft pick and/or excellent college prospect."
Committed: mid-August 2012.
Offers: Not known.
LOI: Unable to confirm. It seems unlikely that Romano signed during the early signing period as he was reportedly seeking a scholarship to play football, as was noted in this article from mid-December on his winning a local football award called the Heisboy. But the latest word, found in this article, indicates he's sticking with his commitment to Michigan:
Valhalla High QB Ramsey Romano played in an all-star football game last weekend in San Antonio and after the game tweeted, “Probably the last time I ever dress for a football game :( feels like a part of my life just ended.”
Romano threw for 3,415 yards and 30 TDs last season, but in part because he only started one year, has not drawn scholarship offers from Division I schools. He has accepted a baseball scholarship from Michigan.
Latest Scouting Report: His Perfect Game profile includes the following, although it's from June 2011:
Ramsey Romano is a 2013 SS/OF, RHP, C with a 6-1 165 lb. frame from El Cajon, CA who attends Valhalla. Medium sized frame, slender build, good hands defensively, some arm strength, quick arm, carry, good actions, square stance at plate, rotational swing, good extension, line drive path, simple swing, some bat speed, 3/4 arm slot, arm works, 11/5 CB, nice spin, very good student.
- Wolverines sign Romano (East County Sports, 8/17/2012)
“They recruited me as a shortstop,” Romano said. “This is going to be a great experience. There is no University of Michigan on the West Coast. That’s what makes me proud to be a kid from Southern California getting a chance like this.”
Bottom line is few athletes from SoCal get a crack at Big 12 competition in any sport.
“ Ann Arbor is a college town for a big school which is what I’ve always been looking for,” Romano said. “I want to play in the big time... where sports is of major importance.”
And so he will.
The early signing period came and went without Michigan issuing a press release on the signees; they perhaps will do so following the regular signing period in the spring. In any event, it appears that the new staff signed about a dozen prospects and did a great job of hanging onto several players who had committed under Rich Maloney, as well as getting LOIs from several others in the short time they had to work with. The focus here is on 2013, but Erik Bakich and company have already also secured several 2014 commits and one from 2015. Their success on the recruiting trail has led to talk about a faster-than-expected turnaround for the program. In a Q&A posted in November, B1G Baseball blogger Chris Webb got this response from Jordan Banfield, a Texas Rangers scout and coach of an Ann Arbor travel team:
CW: Under Bakich, Michigan has been extremely aggressive and in those early classes [meaning 2014 and 2015] they surged to the front of the conference. Being in that region, what have you noticed first-hand with the approach Michigan has led by recruiting coordinator Sean Kenny?
JB: Aggressive is certainly the right term. They locked up the top 2013 in Michigan within a couple weeks of being hired and haven’t stopped getting commits since. Having only been on campus for a few months now and with the sheer number of guys they’re getting it’s obvious those guys are really hitting the road.
I think the biggest difference I see with this staff is that they have three coaches who are always out seeing guys. When your entire staff recruits it makes an incredible difference in terms of how much ground you can cover. With the number of kids they’re bringing in from across the country and some 2012 guys who look like early contributors I think there’s the potential for a quick turnaround in Ann Arbor.
This post covers just the seven in-state signees as it proved unwieldy to include the entire class. The signees from outside Michigan will be covered in a separate post. Following the intro below are additional (mostly recent) links and quotes relating to the signees.
The In-State Signees and Their Rankings
Last month, Prep Baseball Report posted a nice summary of Michigan's in-state signees that includes a brief scouting report on each player and links to their PBR profile pages where further information is often available. Below is their list of the seven recruits with their PBR rankings. Michigan signed four of PBR's top 10 in-state prospects, including Jackson Lamb, who is ranked #9 overall by PBR (overall meaning the eight-state region that the site covers).
Brett Adcock LHP-6-1-190 (Bay City Western HS)
PBR State Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 31
Carmen Benedetti 1B/LHP- (Grosse Point South HS)
PBR State Rank: 20
Overall Rank: 150
Hector Gutierrez SS/RHP-6-0-165 (Detroit Western International HS)
PBR State Rank: 9
Overall Rank: 93
Jackson Lamb RHP/OF-6-6-196 (Temperance-Bedford, Mich. / Bedford HS)
PBR State Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 9
TJ Shook RHP-6-3-190 (University of Detroit Jesuit HS)
PBR State Rank: 5
Overall Rank: 38
Johnny Slater OF-6-1-170 (Southfield Lathrup HS)
PBR State Rank: 33
Harrison Wenson C-6-3-225 (University of Detroit Jesuit HS)
PBR State Rank: 17
Overall Rank: 192
Three of Michigan's signees figure in the top 10 of Michigan Baseball Prospects' 2013 rankings:
From MLive: Bay City Western's Brett Adcock signs with Michigan—includes a brief video; here's a quote from his coach:
Coach Tim McDonald: “It doesn’t take a baseball genius to figure out he’s very talented and very gifted in terms of natural ability. He’s dominating when things are right, and I’m sure that’s why Michigan is taking a chance on him. He has a huge upside.”
I couldn't find anything recent for Gutierrez, so instead here's a video of him pitching, from the Detroit Arsenal RBI site.
Mick McCabe wrote a nice feature on Lamb for the Free Press, focusing in part on his choosing baseball over basketball. Also, as the article mentions, Lamb is likely to be selected in the 2013 draft, so there's a possibility he won't end up playing for Michigan—maybe a good possibility given his choice of words when asked about it:
His shot at baseball is so good, he will likely be chosen in the baseball draft, but he might not be a high pick since signing to attend U-M.
"You can't really tell until it actually happens," Lamb said. "You don't want to get your hopes up too much and then you're disappointed. Worse case scenario, I go to Michigan, which is a great opportunity."
MLB Prospect Guide has Lamb ranked #223 on its list of the top 300 prospects for the 2013 draft. (Side note: Michigan junior outfielder Michael O'Neill is listed at #56.)
One last item on Lamb: In the B1G Baseball Q&A mentioned above, Banfield selected Lamb as one of the top Big Ten commits in the 2013 class:
CW: Not every standout participates in fall ball, Michigan commit Jackson Lamb, for example, was not in Jupiter. With all prospects on the table, as the fall concludes how would you rank the top five or so Big Ten commits out of the Great Lake states that you’ve seen?
JB: Assuming we’re talking strictly about the 2013 class, Farmer and Lamb to me are in a league of their own as prospects.
I talked quite a bit about Farmer earlier, Jackson Lamb is a guy that isn’t all that well known nationally because so much of his time has been spent playing basketball and not traveling the country attending showcases/tournaments. We’re talking about a talent that doesn’t come through the state of Michigan very often.
First off, he’s 6’7 and extremely athletic, a legitimate 2-way player in college, people don’t think guys that tall can hit, well I’m here to tell you he can. His swing is incredibly short for being as big as he is and he’ll be an above average defender in right. As a pro prospect he’s obviously a pitcher who is extremely raw right now but throws strikes and I have no problem projecting him to throw 95-98 with low effort. Everyone knows about Trey Ball who’s way more polished than Jackson but the tools really aren’t that far off. Presently Farmer is way closer to being a B1G contributor on the mound, but in the long run I can’t pass on Lamb.
Here's a quote from a U of D Jesuit signing day press release:
Shook did not disappoint in 2012 either. The number 5 ranked player in the state of Michigan according to Prep Baseball Report, Shook was named to the All League and All District teams in 2012.“I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a student-athlete at the University of Michigan. It has always been a dream of mine to play at a high level Division I university. I am really looking forward to playing under Coach Bakich and the rest of his staff.” Shook adds, “Go Blue!”
A MIPrepZone signing day article features a brief video and this:
“I’m very excited to become a Michigan Wolverine,” said Slater after penning his letter of intent. “I focused on improving my skills every year since I was a freshman and that focus paid off. I’ve made a big jump in my play and I intend to keep making further jumps over the next year, prior to getting up to Ann Arbor.”
Slaters’ versatility might be his most appealing attribute. A smooth and savvy lefty, Slater is a specimen, terrorizing opponents whether pitching, hitting, running the base paths or on defense in centerfield.
Last season, he sported a whopping .576 batting average.
Darren Mosley, the Chargers’ skipper, can’t say enough about his star player.
“Johnny is a great kid, a great baseball player and a great student, what more can you ask for?,” he said. “He’s incredibly humble and he leads by example. We’ve put a lot of pressure on him these past couple of seasons and he’s always delivered.”
Wenson, a teammate of Shook at U of D Jesuit, also figured in the press release linked above:
Wenson is coming off an All-State season, as well as being named to the Dream Team in 2012, after hitting over .400 during the spring.“I chose the University of Michigan because I have grown up in a Michigan house. My father played baseball there and I am proud to carry on that tradition,” Wenson said. “I feel honored to play at such an elite university and am excited to learn under Coach Bakich and his staff.”
Wenson's father, Paul Wenson, played baseball at Michigan in 1985–86 before spending three years in the Detroit Tigers minor-league system, including playing for the Mud Hens for part of the 1989 season (see his Baseball-Reference.com page).
Since putting together this baseball recruiting update, I discovered another Michigan baseball commit, and this prospect may be the most highly ranked in the 2013 class, other than perhaps Jackson Lamb. Ethan Cohen is a 5-11, 180-pounder from Thousand Oaks, California, attending Keystone Academy. He verbally committed to Michigan in August.
Cohen is a speedy outfielder with impressive rankings from Perfect Game: #448 nationally, #80 in California, and #86 at his position on the national level. His Perfect Game profile includes this scouting report from June 2012:
Report: Ethan Cohen is a 2013 OF with a 5-11 180 lb. frame from Thousand Oaks, CA who attends Keystone Academy. Long lean athletic build, room to get stronger. 6.65 runner, aggressive in the outfield, shows his athleticism, long loose arm action, very good arm strength. Left handed hitter, smooth easy swing, has present bat speed with more to come with added strength, shows gap power, stays inside and drives the ball to left centerfield. Toolsy player with lots of projection, should continue to improve. Good student.
PG Grade: 9.5
The 9.5 grade (out of 10) is impressive, as PG's rating system has a 9 as a "potential top 10 round pick and/or highest level college prospect" and a 10 as a "potential very high draft pick and/or elite level college prospect." The downside, of course, is the possibility that Cohen does end up being a high 2013 draft pick and goes pro right out of high school.
Hello: Jayce Vancena
Prep Baseball Repot (PBR) reported in mid-October the verbal commitment for the 2014 class of Jayce Vancena, a 6-4, 210-lb. right-handed pitcher out of Lake H.S. (near Millbury, Ohio, southeast of Toledo). His PBR profile has this scouting report:
Vancena is a big, projectable right-handed pitcher and definite follow over the next two years. On the mound, he uses an over the top arm slot and short arm action. With his delivery, he hides the ball well. His fastball sits between 79-82 mph. When throwing his 59-62 mph curveball, he tends to slow down his arm speed. His changeup, which sits between 69-72 mph, shows some fading action. At the plate, the right-handed hitter shows pull tendencies has he creates solid contact with power potential.
Hello: Oliver Jaskie
Also in mid-October, another 2014 prospect committed to Michigan: Oliver Jaskie, a 6-4 southpaw pitcher from Forest Hills H.S. (Ada Twp., near Grand Rapids). In addition his profile, PBR has this brief scouting report from a September scouting notes item:
Jaskie continues to show that he knows how to pitch and pitch effectively. His breaking ball was tighter than what he have seen in the past and his change up again was a really effective pitch. His change is advanced for such a young age.
An earlier rundown indicates that PBR had Jaskie ranked #12 in the state:
Jaskie continues to improve this summer. A Midwest Futures Games invitee, Jaskie is an intriguing lefty that is only going to get better. His velo might not jump off the page right now but he knows how to pitch. His changeup is his best pitch and he uses his height, 6-foot-4, to create good tilt. Jaskie is currently ranked No. 12 in his class.
Hello: Grant Reuss
Apparently the most highly ranked of this trio of 2014 commits is Grant Reuss, another left-handed pitcher, who's 6-5, 210 lbs., out of Cranbrook Kingswood in Bloomfield Hills. Reuss verbally committed to the Wolverines earlier today. PBR has Reuss as their #3 prospect in Michigan for 2014 and offered the following scouting report in this July rundown:
Reuss is one of the best lefties in his class and currently checks in at No. 4 [now #3] ] in the class of 2014. He has been up to 89 mph in the past and he was 86-88 mph on this day. Reuss continues to raise his stock. Standing at 6-foot-6 Reuss is long and loose. He also has the makings of a good breaking ball. Consistency in his delivery will be the key to Reuss' development.
MBP ranks Reuss #2 in the state, and they also have a profile page for him with several videos.
With the addition of these three commits, Erik Bakich now has six commits for the class of 2014, with the others being Jake Bivens, Brandon Hughes, and Drew Lugbauer (see the previous recruiting update for details).
Michigan's 2013 baseball class includes about a dozen commits, including Ethan Cohen.
When Erik Bakich made an appearance on WTKA a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned having a total of 12 commits for 2013. Here's a link to the podcast and an embed:
These 12 include several who have been noted here with Hello posts, including Jackson Lamb, Johnny Slater, Nick Kowalczuk, Keith Lehmann, Hector Gutierrez, and Trey Miller, as well as some earlier committed prospects such as Brett Adcock, T.J. Shook, and Harrison Wenson (listed in Michigan Baseball Prospects' 2013 rankings). (Adcock was the subject of this recent Prep Baseball Report interview.) Another 2013 Michigan commit is Carmen Benedetti, although he's not listed as such in his Perfect Game profile.
Here's one of the other 2013 verbals, who committed in mid-September:
Hello: Ramsey Romano
Romano is a 6-3, 185-lb shortstop out of Valhalla H.S. (El Cajon, CA). Here's his Perfect Game profile. Romano is also the QB on his school's football team, and there's now some speculation about him possibly switching to football at the college level:
Today, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior is the section’s leading passer, having thrown for 1,571 yards in five games, nearly 400 yards more than the No. 2 quarterback.....
He has already committed to play shortstop for the University of Michigan’s baseball team. That may change, though, as colleges study tape of his breakout football season.
“If something for football were to come up, I would obviously have to consider it, talk to my parents and make the best decision,” he said.
In addion to the long-committed Brandon Hughes (PG profile; Hughes is ranked #5 in the state of Michigan by both PBR and MBP), two more 2014 commitments have since come to light:
Hello: Drew Lugbauer
Lugbauer, according to his PG profile, is a 6-3, 190-lb. catcher from Arlington H.S. in Pleasant Valley, New York. Couldn't find much else about him.
Hello: Jake Bivens
Bivens, who just committed yesterday, is a 6-0, 175-lb. middle infielder from Battle Creek Lakeview H.S. He's ranked #7 in the state by PBR and #9 by MBP. Here's his PG profile and his PBR profile. PBR has this scouting report:
Battle Creek Lakeview HS, SS/2B, Class of 2014: Bivens is one of the top players in the Class of 2014 who has the ability to pick it in the middle infield. The 6-foot, 175-pound agile athlete displays smooth hands, superior glove actions and demonstrates the ability to turn two on either side of the bag. Bivens lateral ability is a plus which assists to define him as one of the top middle infielders in his class. At the plate, Bivens swings it from the left side. He has a balanced neutral stance and takes quality approaches allowing him to spray the field. Running home to first on a bunt Bivens is a speedy 3.8 and averages 4.1.
This PBR item also indicated the other schools he considered:
Bivens was a Midwest Futures Games participant and has seen his stock continue to rise. After taking visits to Michigan, Michigan State, and Wake Forrest, Bivens decided to stay close to home and attend Michigan.
Bivens is another strong middle infielder in the state of Michigan. He has flown under the radar but Bivens has good upside. Bivens is one of the premier middle infielders in his class. He runs well (6.73 60-yard dash) and uses his athleticism at short to display some smooth footwork. He was 78 MPH across the diamond but that is sure to improve over time. At the plate, Bivens has excellent balance with gap to gap power. He consistently displayed pop to the opposite field and showed a "get-on-base" approach.
Just a final note: Bakich is also off to a good start on the 2015 class with the previously noted commitment of Charlie Donovan, ranked #2 in Illinois according to PBR.
Update on Donovan: PBR released new rankings for the Illinois class of 2015 and have bumped Donovan up to the #1 position.