Prep Baseball Report

Colorado Top 50 Countdown: No. 36 Cherokee Trail Cougars

John Cackowski and PBR Colorado Staff
Director of Scouting


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Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage. 

Like any preseason ranking for any sport, last year our list created a lot of fun conversations, debate, and opinions among players, coaches, and families. To see what we got right, and what we got wrong in 2017 Click Here

What makes our list unique is it combines all classifications (1A through 5A), and leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage.

Factors that are considered when creating the Top 50 List are the following:

- How many current players are returning that are in PBR Colorado rankings
- How many overall players committed or non-committed are returning
- How many starting pitchers are returning
- Success the previous season
- History of success in the program

* We expect the teams in the Top 50 Countdown will compete for at least a district playoff spot in 2018

Team No. 36: Cherokee Trail Cougars

2018 Preseason Rank: 36
2017 Preseason Rank: 1
2017 Record: 8-11
Conference: 5A Continental
CHSAA Class: 5A
Head Coach: Steve Eaton
2017 Playoff Run: N/A
2017 Final Rank: 42
Returning Offensive Starters: 3
Returning Pitchers: 6
Returning Innings on Mound: 83
Returning RBI's returning: 29

Last year the Cougars hit 20 homeruns as a team, but only 2 are coming back. 

The Cougars graduated a lot of offense in 2017, offense that seemed to be around forever with most starting for 3 years which helped lead them to at 5A State Championship in 2016. The talent is still in the program. There will be some players in 2018 that will rise to the occasion. The pitching staff coming back is strong, and will be the strength of the team. 

The Cougars could never get on track in 2017. Coming off a 5A State Championship with a lot of players returning, the Cougars went 8-11, starting the year off with a 3 and 8 record, and 4 losses by only one run. One of reasons was an injury to their top pitcher and Washington State commit Connor Nantkes, but after returning late in the spring the hole was two big. Coming out of retirement, head coach Steve Eaton takes over, and coach Eaton is as experienced as it gets in the position. The Cougars will look for a new identity with many players graduating who started for 3, and in some cases 4 years. Expect the Cougars to get back to the 5A playoffs, and be a team no one will want to face at that time.  


Key Player Lost


Eric Cox OF / RHP / Cherokee Trail , CO / 2017

Cox was an offensive force for the Cougars over the last 3 years. Last year Cox led the team in homeruns with 7, while also driving in a team 25 RBI's while hitting .388. His presence in the lineup will be missed. 




Key Players Returning


Jake Barber 2B / Cherokee Trail, CO / 2018

5-10, 150 pounds. Bats and throws right. Good athlete. Hit .426 for the Cougars in 2017 with 4 doubles, a triple, and a homerun while driving in 10. Was second on the team with 20 runs scored. 


Blake Mackintosh RHP / SS / Cherokee Trail, CO / 2018

5-foot-11, 160 pounds. Bats and throws right. Tall, wider base in stance. Bat stays in hitting zone through contact. Bottom hand finish. Showed gap to gap power in live round. Line drive hitter. 85 mph exit velo off the tee. Has a strong arm for SS. Light on his feet, good range, and gains good ground throwing to 1B. Looks natural. Have had as high as 87 mph across the diamond. On the mound has moxy and composure. Arm slot is short on back side, then comes from high 3/4 arm slot. Pitches primarily from stretch. Fastball sat 82-83, have had at 85 spring games. Good down angle on ball. Curveball lived 67-69 mph with 11/5 shape. Ran a 7.5 60 time. 



Gavin Bell OF / Cherokee Trail, CO / 2018

5-foot-10, 190-pound right hand hitting OF who ran a 4.19 home to first.  At the plate he hits from a balanced stance with a slow load on the pitch.  Good lower leg drive on the swing.  Hands come through the zone and create good whip.  Exit velocity was a showcase best 94 MPH.   In the field he showed good athletic actions and instincts, he comes through the ball and stays square on his delivery.  Arm is accurate to the bag.  Arm velocity was 84 MPH. Hit .322 last spring with 20 RBI's. 





Isaac Hayen RHP / 1B / Cherokee Trail, CO / 2018

6-foot-4, 175 pounds. Throws from a high 3/4 arm slot, and is square and inline to the plate. Good presence on the mound. Fastball touched 85, but was a different velocity every time which make is hard to lock in. Every pitch is a different velocity. 68, 79, 81, 75, 83, 85, 76, 69. Also has good pick move to both 2nd and 1st. Projectable. Last year went 4-2 on the season with a 2.65 ERA. In 39 innings pitched gave up 32 hits and struck out 36 batters while only walking 11. 




Ethan Leisge RHP / 3B / Cherokee Trail, CO / 2018

Rankings  StateRank: 100 / POS: 31Enter Analysis Here

6-foot-3, 175 pounds. In 39 at-bats last spring hit .324. Look for him to get more innings on the mound in 2018.