GPA Games: Catcher Analysis


By Illinois Staff

On Aug. 9, PBR Illinois hosted this annual showcase for academically-minded prospects seeking opportunities to play at the next level: GPA Games. We previously published a post in the days after the event, highlighting the top statistical performers. Today, we’re rolling out our position-by-position analysis of this showcase, starting with the day’s catchers.

From Hononegah, Dylan Sales (2022) has some follow athleticism attached to a fluid left-handed bat. There’s room to grow defensively, as he’s shown some quickness from the chute, recording pop times at this event in the sub-2.15 range. Another 2022 left-handed hitting catcher who deserves a follow is Sam Gladd (Columbia City, IN). Gladd took a polished round of BP; consistently on time, on the barrel and working gap-to-gap with a top exit velocity of 90 mph off the tee. Gladd also showed athletic, quick feet that played directional out of the crouch. 

Uncommitted senior Nathan Sommerfeld (Plainfield Central) has a compact, simple right-handed swing that produced low line-drives to all fields; he led all catchers with a 78 mph high to second, too.

Sophomore Jack Novak (Lincoln-Way Central) has some upside athleticism in a thin 6-foot frame. He ran a 7.09 here all while swinging a loose righty bat with an up-the-middle approach. His throws were consistently accurate to the bag at 75 mph, so there’s a well-rounded profile to build off of here.

For full scouting reports on these three, as well as each of the backstops who performed at this event, continue on below.

ALL PROSPECTS (LISTED ALPHABETICALLY)

Sam Gladd, Columbia City (IN), 2022
Positional Profile: C/OF
Body: 6-0, 175-pounds. Well-proportioned frame.
Hit: LH. Tall setup, slight bend in knees, arm bars at load.  Short and level path, line drive approach, hits in rhythm.
Power: 90 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot. Arm plays accurate to the bag.
Defense: 2.08-2.11 pop times. Works quick out of the crouch, athletic feet, directional and quick to release.
Run: 7.64 runner in the 60.

Connor Janik, Peotone (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: 3B/C
Body: 5-9, 165-pounds. Strong, athletic frame.
Hit: RH. Tall slightly open setup, smooth load with a slight bat wrap, strides to even.  Short and simple stroke, bat travels on a level plane with elevation at times, gap-to-gap approach.
Power: 85 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 68 mph. INF - 75 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.29-2.35 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and in the field. Comfortable setup behind the dish, loose actions with feet that work in line to target, clean to release. Plays with active feet on the dirt.
Run: 7.47 runner in the 60.

Ethan Kobylinski, St. Charles North (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: 1B/C
Body: 6-0, 175-pounds. Athletic frame, strong lower half.
Hit: RH. Balanced slightly open setup, bat tip at load, steady leg lift trigger, strides to even.  Uphill path, gap-to-gap approach, repeats.
Power: 85 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 71 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.19-2.26 pop times. Feet shuffle in line to the bag, quick and clean hand transfer.
Run: 7.14 runner in the 60. 

Noah Kuchler, St. Francis (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: OF
Body: 5-11, 180-pounds. Athletic build.
Hit: RH. Balanced setup, bat rests high over back shoulder, short stride.  Level path, middle-away approach.
Power: 87 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Short arm path works from a tight window; over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.11-2.15 pop times. Wide base, some length to release.
Run: 7.49 runner in the 60.

Austin Leonard, Hampshire (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C/3B
Body: 5-10, 180-pounds. Lanky, high-waisted frame.
Hit: RH. Balanced setup, open base, minimal load, quick stride to even.  Simple swing, level path, steady line drive contact with a pull-side tendency.
Power: 85 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 69 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.17-2.25 pop times. Wide base, feet gain momentum towards the bag, some length to release.
Run: 7.31 runner in the 60.

Jack Novak, Lincoln Way Central (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: OF/C
Body: 6-0, 165-pounds. Lean, athletic frame.
Hit: RH. Tall setup, rhythmic pre-pitch movement in hands, smooth load, short stride to even.  Short and level path, sprays line drives to all fields.
Power: 82 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. OF - 78 mph. Arm plays short and over-the-top behind the dish, accurate throws. Works more from a high 3/4 slot in the outfield.
Defense: 2.10-2.23 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and in the outfield. Feet work in line out of the crouch, quick transfer at times. Patient to the baseball on the grass, slight crow hop pre-release, plays through at times.
Run: 7.09 runner in the 60. 

Dylan Sayles, Hononegah (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/OF
Body: 5-11, 170-pounds. Athletic frame, clear strength in lower half.
Hit: LH. Quiet in the box, tall setup, hands load straight back, strides to even, controlled balance at times.  Loose hands with some bat speed, long and level bat path, gap-to-gap approach. Feel for the barrel, pull-side juice, fluid rhythm throughout.
Power: 83 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot. Some accuracy to the bag.
Defense: 2.08-2.12 pop times. Soft hands, athletic feet that gain ground in line to the bag, quick hand transfer, clean to release.
Run: 7.06 runner in the 60. 

Nathan Sommerfeld, Plainfield Central (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C/RHP
Body: 6-0, 165-pounds. Lean, wiry frame that projects.
Hit: RH. Crouched setup, weight shifts onto back leg, quick leg lift trigger, strides to even.  Quick hands, short and uphill path, middle-away approach, steady line drive contact.
Power: 79 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 78 mph. Long arm action, over-the-top slot. Accurate throws from the crouch.
Defense: 2.08-2.18 pop times. Athletic out of the crouch, fluid footwork, clean hand transfer leads to a quick release, plays through the baseball.
Run: 7.38 runner in the 60. 

Cainan Squibb, Springfield (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: 3B/C
Body: 5-10, 170-pounds. Wiry, athletic frame.
Hit: LH. Open setup, two-part load, quick leg lift trigger.  Long and uphill bat path, gap-to-gap approach.
Power: 83 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 77 mph. INF - 78 mph. Long arm action, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.28-2.33 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and in the infield. Active defender, two-hand gather on the dirt. Winds up to release from the crouch.
Run: 7.54 runner in the 60.

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