Springfield, Ill. —— Here are a few notable junior college baseball prospects that stood out from the five games we observed on Day One of the Midwest Fall Classic, hosted in Springfield by Lincoln Land Community College and the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Carl Sandburg College (IL)
Cacey O’Brien, 1B
Despite taking a year off baseball — and then returning by hitting nearly .500 across his freshman year — Cacey O’Brien stood out for Carl Sandburg College yesterday at the Midwest Fall Classic. He’s got size and length for days with some projectability and physical upside left in his frame, though he’s already strong enough drive the ball to all fields with authority. Good bat speed, mature approach, works pitchers and produces good at-bats, etc.; had him 4.51 up the line, so he’s not a burner, but the kid can hit. Will be interested to see his next stop after Carl Sandburg.
Ellsworth Community College (IA)
Alex Schneider, RHP
Alex Schneider didn’t wow with velocity — the righty worked just 80-83 with his fastball at the Midwest Fall Classic, pairing it with a 74-76 change and a 67-69 curve – but he worked two clean innings with efficiency, changing speeds at will and commanding the ball side to side down in the zone with authority. His curve is a tight, sharp little spinner with advanced feel and the ability to pinpoint it on and off the plate depending on count; similarly, his changeup will hunt against lower-division hitters at the four-year level. Don’t expect him to land in Division I with his current look/velocity, but Schneider could make the right small school very happy pitching like that.
Heartland Community College (IL)
Jonathan Burkhart, RHP
The Canadian righty threw the best inning of the day at Lincoln Land CC on Friday, and used the best, sharpest, hardest slider we saw out there to do it. In a perfect inning where he struck out the side on ten pitches, Jonathan Burkhart sat 85-88 with his fastball, and paired it with that impressive 78-81 slider. Speaking to a few coaches after, he turned quite a few heads. Honorable mention here goes to Burkhart’s Heartland teammate Garner Spoljaric who, while he didn’t have quite as clean an outing as Burkhart, also boasted an 85-89 fastball and a dominating 76-80 slider.
Jake Marti, IF/OF
Physically well-built with a very strong lower half, Marti stood out at the plate and on the bases on Friday. Reportedly the owner of a 6.47 60-yard dash time, Marti showed off the foot speed on a bases clearing triple late in Heartland’s early morning game, recording a 4.15 time on the turn at first base, a 7.76 time blowing through second base, and an impressive 11.02 split as he slid into third. Put simply, the kid can fly. Seems he can hit, too; we’ll have more on Marti pretty soon.
Andrew Zapka, RHP
Heartland’s starter in game one yesterday, Zapka worked two quiet innings and had the highest velocity of the day across every Midwest Fall Classic hurler at Lincoln Land CC; his four-seam registered 90-92, with an 86-89 two-seamer, a 79-81 changeup, and a 77-78 curveball. His fastball also showed good late, hard run back to his arm-side with some purpose; Zapka flashed a strong enough command profile that it seems he can purposely manipulate the run to his needs rather than risk having the ball creep back over the plate out of his control.
John A. Logan College (IL)
Ashton Creal, OF
Ashton Creal made the catch of the day diving for a ball in mid-shallow left-center field during John A. Logan College’s afternoon game against John Wood Community College. The athletic, punchy outfielder then calmly got up, jogged in at the end of the inning, stepped up to the plate, and knocked out a line drive single through the left side on an 88 fastball on the inner half. Creal’s got real speed — 4.08 up the line, 4.41 on the turn at first — and has the bulk and physicality to give him some room for at least gap-to-gap power, if not more. A couple real tools here!
John Wood Community College (IL)
Cristhian Cardona, RHP
Working entirely from the stretch in his inning opening John Wood’s game against John A. Logan, Cristhian Cardona sat 86-90 with some life to his fastball and great plane down in the zone. He paired it with a 74-77 slider that, while inconsistent, showed tilt and some late depth when he got out in front and released it right. Prototypical pitcher’s body here; strong lower half and core, explosive to the plate, durable with good size. Should make for an attractive recruit this year.
Kaskaskia College (IL)
Noah Pierce, LHP
A big, strong lefty with some deception in his delivery, Pierce sat just 84-86 with his fastball in an inning of relief work at the Midwest Fall Classic, but it was a hard 86, drawing repeatedly awkward swings from Triton College hitters on both sides of the plate. He paired it with a decent 75-78 changeup, and a very good, sweeping 77-79 breaking ball that particularly found use against lefties. Pierce may not light up the radar gun (yet), but seriously — it’s a hard 86 that really jumps on hitters with late life, deception out of the hand, and a real quirkiness ideal for an effective left-hander coming out of the bullpen in high-leverage situations.
Lake Land College (IL)
Brandon Puckett, LHP
The lefty starter for Lake Land College in game four of the Midwest Fall Classic at Lincoln Land, Brandon Puckett grew on me over his two full innings of work against Carl Sandburg. He flashed a fastball up to 86 mph with plane and some late life that was commanded well down to the corners, and paired it with a 73-76 changeup and a 75-79 slider that looked sharp, effective, and like a potential wipeout pitch when Puckett gets ahead. If he adds some velocity by the end of this coming spring (the end of his sophomore year), Puckett should get a long look from a solid four-year program.
Yusef Marseille, OF
The Chicagoland outfielder proved to be one of the best athletes at Lincoln Land for day one of the Midwest Fall Classic, showing off a 4.05 bunt time up the line to first base to go along with 4.22 and 4.24 run times to the bag and a 4.61 turn. More impressively, he used the hustle to track down a few balls off the bat in center field, and later sprinted all the way into deep right to back up his teammate in what turned out to be much-needed help on a dropped fly ball late in the game. Marseille competes, hustles hard out of the box, and has an impressive focus on the task at hand; just a freshman, but he’s worth a long-term follow for Division I programs seeking speedy outfield help.
Parkland College (IL)
Ty Rybarczyk, RHP
Parkland’s starter in game four on the day, Ty Rybarczyk sat 86-89 with a 77-81 slider and a 75-79 changeup in two clean innings of work. The righty has a high-energy, max-effort delivery that suggests a future relief profile, though he’s a remarkably good athlete and repeats the delivery pretty well. There’s real tilt to his slider with late break, and he’ll challenge hitters side to side with the fastball, working extremely quickly and pushing the pace enough to make Carl Sandburg hitters pretty noticeably uncomfortable in the box at times. A freshman enjoying success in his first fall of college ball right now, Rybarczyk is a must-follow as his junior college career begins in earnest.
Triton College (IL)
Nate Davis, LHP
Undersized at just 5’9″, 181, Davis nevertheless showed off a nice repertoire in his start for Triton at the Midwest Fall Classic, working up to 87 with a lively fastball (sitting 83-85) and showing off a good curve with bat-missing feel at 72-74. He got it up to 78 at one point, too, raising eyebrows with that sudden power breaking ball and effectively adding a new wrinkle to his arsenal as a two-strike wipeout look. Ended up speaking to him in the stands after his outing while he was charting pitches for his teammates; nice, polite kid who understands pitching and spoke in an advanced way about his arsenal, sequencing, etc. Just a freshman now, Davis has plenty of growth ahead in the next 18 months, but he’s worth following as an off-the-radar arm who could blossom soon and push his ceiling beyond what you’d expect on paper.
Reminder: these are just quick snippets and observations that scratch the surface on only a fews prospect. We publish each player’s full, in-depth scouting report page — including high-definition game video — behind our paywall exclusively available for subscribers to access. If you want to become a subscriber, click here.
For more junior college baseball scouting reports…
Baseball Census is an independent, subscription-based website that exclusively scouts junior college baseball prospects. Our work is specifically designed for four-year (NCAA and NAIA) college baseball coaches and recruiting coordinators. Every day, year-round, we publish new scouting reports for coaches seeking objective, reliable prospect notes, data, and high-definition game video on thousands of potential junior college baseball recruits.
And while we do share a certain low level of free scouting content here on our blog for all to see, four-year college baseball coaches and recruiting coordinators are highly encouraged to get the most out of our website as a recruiting resource by purchasing a subscription plan. You can view plans and learn more about that by clicking the button here:
Even without a show of your support via subscription, there are still other easy things you can do that will support us, and help us grow. The simplest way to do that is by following us and sharing our content on several social media platforms, all listed below:
Subscribe to us on YouTube:
Follow us on Twitter:
Like us on Facebook: