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Kappelmann KSHSAA Covered Player to Watch in 6A

Brock Kappelmann - April 2, 2024 6:43 am

By: KSHSAA COVERED STAFF

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15 CLASS 6A BASEBALL PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2024
Blue Valley North’s Griffin Allen

GRIFFIN ALLEN, BLUE VALLEY NORTH

Allen earned All-State and All-EKL first team honors as a junior last year. The senior pitcher earned a 7-1 record on the mound a year ago, delivering 75 strikeouts and a 1.36 ERA. Allen helped propel the Mustangs, which reached the playoffs sitting two games under .500, all the way into the 6A finals, where the team lost 3-2 against Blue Valley West, which clinched a two-peat. Allen, who now has a career 12-4 record, lead a Blue Valley North squad returning this season with confidence and experience, although the Mustangs will need to replace 11 players from last year’s roster.
Olathe South’s Gavin Blachowicz
GAVIN BLACHOWICZ, OLATHE SOUTH

Blachowicz earned All-State and All-Sunflower first team honors as a junior last year. The senior pitcher earned 77 strikeouts and an 1.81 ERA across 50 innings a season ago. He also drove in 11 runs with 19 hits, including five extra-base hits. Blachowicz led a Falcons team that finished the regular season with a 14-6 record and entered the postseason as the No. 2 team in the East regional, only to suffer a 2-0 loss against upset-minded, 10-seed Blue Valley North.
Wichita Northwest’s Taccarri Brown
TACCARRI BROWN, WICHITA NORTHWEST

Brown, a senior center fielder and pitcher, has combined with classmate Brady Unrein to give the Grizzlies a strong 1-2 punch. He batted .369 last season with 11 extra-base hits, 25 runs scored. His 21 stolen bases last spring brought him within striking distance of Northwest’s career record for steals. Brown is a two-time All-Greater Wichita Athletic League first-team and All-Class 6A second-team selection.
Gardner Edgerton’s Dylan Butash
DYLAN BUTASH, GARDNER EDGERTON

Butash earned All-State and All-Sunflower second team honors as a junior last year. The senior pitcher/outfielder struck out 29 batters and had a 1.51 ERA across 37 innings pitched a year ago. At the plate, Butash led the team with 21 hits with a .313 batting average. Butash and his Blazers teammates finished 11-10 last year, losing in the opening round of the playoffs to eventual state runner-up Blue Valley North.
Olathe South’s Quinton Coats (center)
QUINTON COATS, OLATHE SOUTH

Coats earned All-State and All-Sunflower first team honors as a junior last year. The senior third baseman led his team with 28 hits, including 10 doubles, while driving in 15 runs and holding a .384 batting average a year ago. Coats and the Falcons finished the regular season with a 14-6 record and entered the postseason as the No. 2 team in the East regional, only to suffer a 2-0 loss against upset-minded, 10-seed Blue Valley North.
Wichita East’s Canon Cole
CANON COLE, WICHITA EAST

Cole, a senior, was selected as the All-Greater Wichita Athletic League first-team catcher last season for the Blue Aces, who finished 6-15. Also used in a utility role, Cole started the 6A regional on the mound for East, giving up 3 earned runs in 4.2 innings before Free State pulled away for the victory. Cole has signed to play next season at Coffeyville Community College.
Wichita West’s Robert Diaz
ROBERT DIAZ, WICHITA WEST

Diaz, the Pioneers’ leadoff hitter and everyday shortstop, was one of the best table setters around last season, batting .646 with 42 hits, 36 runs scored and 28 stolen bases. The senior’s solid two-strike approach led to just one strikeout in 65 at-bats and helped him earn All-Greater Wichita Athletic League first-team honors. A Cowley Community College signee and three-year starter, Diaz could see some time on the mound later this season with the newly expanded high school schedule.
Lawrence Free State’s Kyle Graves
KYLE GRAVES, FREE STATE

Graves earned All-State second team and All-Sunflower first team honors as a junior last year. The senior pitcher earned 49 strikeouts and held a 1.52 ERA across 46 innings pitched. He also gave his team 21 hits, including six extra-base hits, and 13 RBIs with a batting average that finished just shy of .300.
Olathe North’s Tyler Janssen
TYLER JANSSEN, OLATHE NORTH

Janssen earned All-State and All-Sunflower first team honors as a junior last year. The senior outfielder got 12 singles out of his 19 hits a year ago. That worked fine for Janssen, who often quickly turned those into extra bases with his 14 stolen bases, which gives him 29 for his career so far. He’s just two shy of the program’s all-time record in the category. Janssen likely would have already passed that mark if not for an injury last year that took him out of action for the end of April through the start of the state tournament. He played with a partial tear in his shoulder until finally having surgery in the fall. The Barton CC commit will trade to lead the Eagles back to state this year.
Shawnee Mission East’s Jack Jones
JACK JONES, SHAWNEE MISSION EAST

Jones earned All-State and All-Sunflower first team honors as a junior last year. The senior first baseman drove in 27 runs a year ago on the strength of an .966 OPS. He also hit three home runs. Jones, who is a University of Tennessee commit, has a started for the Lancers each year of his high school career. Jones is hoping to lead the Lancers back to state after doing so the past two years, only for the team to fall in the state quarterfinals both times.
Liberal’s J. Brooks Kappelmann  J. BROOKS KAPPELMANN, LIBERAL

Kappelmann is the reigning Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He was sharp on the mound, posting a 1.22 ERA in 45.2 innings with 75 strikeouts. At the plate, Kappelmann hit .397 with 4 doubles, 3 triples and a home run while driving in 20 and scoring 20 runs. Kappelmann, also a standout quarterback, will attend Seward Community College for baseball.   Blue Valley West’s Easton O’Keefe
EASTON O’KEEFE, BLUE VALLEY WEST

O’Keefe earned All-State second team and All-EKL first team honors as a junior last year. The senior outfielder racked up 28 hits, including five doubles, and 10 RBI on a .359 batting average a year ago. O’Keefe helped lead the Jaguars to a second straight state title as the team finished 20-5.
Topeka High’s Nate Plankinton
NATE PLANKINTON, TOPEKA HIGH

Plankinton helped Topeka High a nearly 80-year state tournament drought as the Trojans went 16-7 overall last year and reached the Class 6A state tournament, falling to Derby in the quarterfinals. Plankinton was the Trojans’ ace last year, going 5-1 with a 0.62 ERA and 71 strikeouts while walking only 10. He was a first-team All-Centennial League pick and finished third in the league’s player of the year voting. He also hit .392 playing in the outfield when not pitching.
Derby’s Colton Ruedy
COLTON RUEDY, DERBY

A standout wide receiver on Derby’s state runner-up football team, Ruedy was also a big part of the Panthers’ run to a fourth-place 6A finish in baseball last spring. The senior left fielder/first baseman/pitcher batted .439 with 36 hits, including 11 doubles, and drove in 19 with 7 stolen bases. Ruedy went 5 for 9 with a pair of doubles in the state tournament, and earned unanimous All-Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail Division I first-team honors and all-state honorable mention at first base.
Wichita Heights’ Carson Smith
CARSON SMITH, WICHITA HEIGHTS

Smith earned All-Class 6A and All-Greater Wichita Athletic League first-team honors as a utility player as he helped the Falcons finish 12-10 last season. He batted .450 with 16 RBI and 25 runs scored. The senior offers Heights the versatility to play any position. He was the Falcons’ center fielder as a sophomore, and alternated time at catcher and shortstop last spring.

 

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