Springfield, Illinois —— Here are a couple quick blurbs on just a very few of the notable junior college baseball prospects that stood out on day three of the Midwest Fall Classic at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield…
Danville Area Community College (IL)
Riley Hershberger, RHP
Sat 84-88 with his fastball; the pitch is relatively straight without a ton of arm-side run, but it gets on hitters quickly and really gives the impression that it explodes to the plate; that, plus good off-speed stuff helps his velo play up. Speaking off off-speed stuff, Hershberger showed off a 77-79 changeup with tumble and fade; he also flashed a plus curveball during warm-ups but never got in enough trouble to use it in a clean inning of work on day three of the Midwest Fall Classic, opting instead to pound the zone with the fastball.
Indian Hills Community College (IA)
Luis Rivera, RHP
Working two innings out of the bullpen, Luis Rivera sat 83-86 with his fastball, once touching 88, while showing off great downward plane and the ability to pound the bottom of the zone. Command is a little ahead of control at this point, and so he may profile best long-term as a bullpen arm, where he also showed off a 74-76 firm changeup and a breaking ball that appeared to have two trajectories: a more feel-based slow breaker at 69-73, and then a sharper wipeout look at 75-77. He’s not an overly physical kid, but he’s got some arm strength, so I wonder if there’s more velo to squeeze out as his frame fills out a bit.
Dave Janssen, C
A freshman catcher for Indian Hills, Dave Janssen showed out in a few different ways against Morton College in the final game of the day at the Midwest Fall Classic. For one, he ran 4.32 up the line out of the RHH box in one at-bat, later pounding a triple and recording a 4.68 turn, an 8.45 time to second, and a 12.08 time full speed into third; not burner speed there, but contextually impressive for a catcher and it speaks some to his athleticism. He showed out with the bat, flashing barrel control and oppo feel by smashing a line drive into the gap with a simple swing rather than trying to do too much to an 84 running fastball and risk getting jammed or rolling over. Behind the plate defensively, he popped a 2.08 at one point during the Morton game with pinpoint accuracy to the bag.
Lincoln Land Community College (IL)
Talon File, SS
Four different college coaches asked me what I thought about him, unprompted, throughout the day on Sunday at the Midwest Fall Classic. This kid can really play the infield; his actions are clean and smooth at short, and he’s got a good arm with good accuracy to his target. Long-term if he’s a Division I guy, he may slide over and fit more naturally at second or third base, but take nothing away from him in the six-hole right now; the kid can field his position and range side to side to pick it with ease. At the plate, he hit two doubles today — one in the left-center gap, and one to right — showing off the ability to go gap-to-gap to all fields, too. Also had him 4.28 up the line from the RHH box, and 4.69 on the turn at first base for one of his doubles.
Beau Atkins, OF/RHP
Atkins played left field during Lincoln Land’s first game on Sunday at the Midwest Fall Classic and did fine, even hitting a ball to the warning track for a double in one at-bat, but it was his time on the mound during the second game which really turned heads. There, the lanky righty sat at an easy, smooth 86-89 while touching 90 once, pairing that great fastball (which showed serious plane and downhill life!) with a 76-78 changeup and a 77-80 slider with tilt. He also hopped off the mound to field a difficult bunt and toss out a very fast runner (4.08) at first base. Much of the college coaching contingent was either heading home or at the other Midwest Fall Classic field at UIS by the time Atkins pitched, and they missed a show. There’s a lot more velo in this kid’s lean, long frame, and somebody ought to buy low on him and watch it flourish in a year.
Austin Chapman, RHP
I’m always skeptical when an amateur pitcher shows off FIVE pitches in pre-game warm-ups, but Austin Chapman did it on Sunday at the Midwest Fall Classic for Lincoln Land, and then damn if he didn’t go out and back it up in two solid innings of work. The righty went 83-87 with his fastball, 79-80 with his changeup, 78-81 with the slider, 71-73 with the curveball, and 75-77 with a splitter. Better yet, he threw all of them in virtually any count (changeups while behind in the count, first pitch curves, 1-1 sliders, etc.) with serious, advanced command of the entire arsenal down and to the corners. One college coach half-jokingly told me Austin Chapman looks a little like Kenny Powers and pitches a little like Greg Maddux, and while there’s some hyperbole there, the point holds: Chapman can really dot the ball when he’s at his best, and even without high-level velo, he’s got an arsenal that’ll give him a chance to play for a four-year program if he can put it all together consistently.
Austin Troemper, RHP
Very similar to Chapman but pitching to begin Lincoln Land’s second game on Sunday at the Midwest Fall Classic, Austin Troemper showed off a deep arsenal and the ability to throw any pitch at any time in an afternoon win against Vincennes University. The righty sat 80-84 with his fastball, pairing it with a 74-76 changeup, a 64-66 curveball, and a 74-76 slider, all of which he used to pound the zone. Troemper is liable to throw any pitch in any count, as he proved to me by breaking off a filthy curveball in a 2-1 count to draw a swing and miss in the zone. Tough to game plan against a guy like that when all his stuff simply sits knees with regularity. Furthermore, that ability to change speeds not only makes him a kind of right-handed lefty who has the ability to be crafty, but it also plays up his fastball considerably; when you throw a couple above-average fading changeups back to back only to suddenly come back with an 83 mph fastball well placed in on a hitter’ hands, like Troemper can do, that 83 suddenly feels like about 101.
North Iowa Area Community College (IA)
I’m headed up to NIACC for their JuCo showcase next weekend in Mason City, where I’ll get to see them play a handful of times in what’ll be my first-ever trip to Iowa, so I’ll hold off in this space from pointing out too many stand-outs; stick here next week for a lot of scouting notes, and reports and videos (for subscribers!) on a very strong NIACC program. Just a couple mentions: Ryan Swanson impressed, working 85-89 with his fastball (down slightly, to 83-87, from the stretch) and pairing it with a 76-79 slider. Tyson Tucker also sat 85-89 in his relief work on Sunday at the Midwest Fall Classic, pairing it with a 74-76 slider and what appeared to be a splitter. Brodie Paulson picked up where Swanson and Tucker left off, sitting 85-89 as well, but showing off a slightly deeper arsenal: a 75-78 cutter, a 69-72 curveball, and a 75-79 change with fade and some feel.
Finally, Fox Leum is an absolute monster at the plate really trying to do damage every at-bat with the big, physical body to back it up, but he’s also a sneaky good first baseman. On Sunday at the Midwest Fall Classic, he made a couple nice saves on errant throws around the bag while also firing a perfect strike across the diamond to nab a runner trying to take an extra base at third during one sequence.
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