Filling out this list was exhilarating and exhausting all in one. Thanks to the dozens of people who helped with their eyewitness opinions on this list. As much as I try I can’t get to all the games that I want to so I rely on coaches, players and fans to give me their two cents worth. That being said the toughest part of this list is leaving off about 15 pitchers who were under consideration but just missed the top ten. See the bottom of the article for the best of the rest.
10. At number 10… Peyton Zabel – He has been the break out star of the pitching scene this spring. He’s only pitched 5 and 2/3 innings but has only given up one baserunner and has 10K’s in that stint. He leads a group of Pierre pitchers that have several pitchers that could be in this top ten but Zabel has been elite this year.
9. At number nine… Cayden Veland – Sioux Falls Lincoln’s ace has been outstanding this season. The future DWU hurler is tall and has command of the strike zone with a unique knucklcurve that is hard to command, he is one of the few that can do it. His coach Jordon Johnson said,
“Cayden has been a great pitcher for our program over the years. He is a finesse pitcher who relies on his location and off-speed to get outs. He is not a big strikeout guy, but does a nice job of mixing up with slider and knucklecurve. With that being said, he does have 14k's in 18 innings.”
8. In at number eight is Brandon Valley’s Payton Livingston. His WHIP is under one and is one of the two aces for Brandon Valley. Livingston can come in relief to extinguish a threat or give you a quality start, he’s one of the most versatile pitchers around.
7. Another BV Pitcher is in a seven. Mitch Hoover is right beside Payton at the top of the rotation. Hoover’s control is mind-boggling. He has yet to yield a walk this year and his strike percentage always hovers around 75%. I don’t care if you’re throwing BP it’s hard to stay in the strikezone that often. Hoover is planning to go the JUCO route next season.
6. Another returner to my top 10 is Kelly O’Bryan of Winner/Colome. He has a 9-2 career record and a 0.00 ERA this season for Winner/Colome. Hard to get much better than that. He can throw in the low 80s and is another pitcher that can throw the knuckle curve effectively.
5. Time for the top five. Tanner Brown of Harrisburg is one of the top pitchers in the state yet is barely the best pitcher on his team. The future Augie pitcher is 3-0 so far this spring with a 0.34 ERA with close to two Ks per inning. His teammates Dillan Janak and Leif Thorson have also been dominant making the Tigers pitching staff very solid. But the lefty Tanner Brown is the most dominant of the bunch.
4. Number four is Spencer Koelewyn of SF Christian. Koelewyn has been the ace of the staff for the last three or four seasons. This tall lefty is pitching in division one next year with Nebraska-Omaha. While his numbers speak for themselves, his coach Nick Cobb says his mental game is what sets him apart. He is the most composed big game pitcher he’s seen. Spencer has worked hard to increase velocity and now tops out in the high 80s on his fastball and locates with the best in the state.
3. Speaking of locating a fastball, Chase Kortan of Bon Homme comes in at number three. The Tabor native mixes the fastball and slider between 82-85 mph regularly. Last season his 0.70 ERA and .47 WHIP against stout competition proved that he is the best class B pitcher in the state. His career ERA is under one and his 1.5 K/IP is astounding and he’s pitched since he was a freshman, in fact the legion team called on him as a freshman. That should tell you how special this kid is.
2. Gus Radel brings more heat than anyone else in the state. He’s just a junior and is already flirting in the low 90s. Radel is scary in the batter’s box but is just as scary on the mound. He is out to a 2-0 record with a 0.41 ERA against good competition this spring. Once he cuts some of his walks down he could be downright unhittable.
1. That brings us to number one. He made an appearance on my list last year as a sophomore and has made the leap to the top of the heap as a junior. Alex Bertram of the Washington Warriors. Alex has been a force since his freshman year, his career ERA is south of 1 and he’s averaging 1.5 Ks per inning in his career. Just seeing the command and confidence that Alex pitches with makes you trust that he will get the job done. He’s already committed to SDSU but will be dominating the high school scene the rest of this year and next season as well.
Best of the rest:
Next 10 in Class A
Dillan Janak, Harrisburg
Jed Schmidt, Mitchell
Joe King, Pierre T.F. Riggs
Brad Dean, Pierre T.F. Riggs
Louis Peterson, O’Gorman
Bailey Neuhauser, Watertown
Mason Townsend, Yankton
Justin Aldrich, SF Roosevelt
Kyle Gulbrandson, SF Roosevelt
Next 10 in Class B
Billy Mount, Vermillion
Braeden Wallenstein, Lennox
Brock Anderson, Lennox
Kyle Windeshausen, Dakota Valley
Alex Scott, Parkston
Steven Carreiro, St. Thomas More
Ty Bolton, Winner/Colome
Cole Gassman, Hanson County
Josh Roeman, Dell Rapids/St. Mary
Luke Schmitt, Dakota Valley
What do you think? Who did I leave out? Let me know on Twitter @AnderaMidcoSN, it’s always good to get the conversation going about spring baseball.