McHenry Preseason I.D: Catcher Analysis


By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

On Jan. 26, the PBR Illinois team made its way back to McHenry, Ill., to host its annual McHenry Preseason I.D. event. This was the fifth year the team has made the trip up to host the showcase at Pro Player Academy. Every year, we uncover more and more prospects from this event to add to our watch lists and the same can be said about this year, too.

At the end of January, we posted our rapid analysis on the event in our Quick Hits post and we broke down each of the measured statistics in our Statistical Analysis story.

Over 100 prospects made it out to Pro Player for this event, including 17 backstops. Illinois commit, C Camden Janik (Wauconda, 2021) is one of the top prospects in the class and would have favored heavily at the top of this list. However, Janik only ran and hit at this event, so he was not eligible to be ranked in this roll-out.

Three of the top five prospects were 2021s, but it was 2023 Ryan Bakes (Huntley), who took home the top spot. Bakes and 2021 Kyle Hayes (St. Charles East) both had impressive days but given that Bakes is only a freshman, he gets the nod.

Bakes is highly-advanced behind the plate with a strong arm and clean actions all-around. Offensively, he is a projectable right-handed bat with present bat strength and a repeatable swing. 

Hayes continues to make strides to his game, as he took one of the loudest rounds of BP on the day and showed off a strong arm that played true at 82 mph from the crouch. 

For complete reports on each of the catchers who took reps from behind the plate last month, continue on below. On deck is outfielder analysis, so keep an eye out for that until then.

TOP CATCHING PROSPECTS

1. Ryan Bakes, Huntley (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-9, 175-pounds. Strong, athletic frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced slightly open setup, short quiet stride and minimal load.  Simple swing, creates present bat speed, short uphill bat path, gap-to-gap approach, fluid rhythm and maintains balance throughout.
Power: 93 mph exit velocity from the tee. Advanced bat strength for age.
Arm: RH. C - 80 mph. Short clean, quick arm action, works from an over-the-top slot. Throws played true with carry.
Defense: 1.98-2.04 pop times. Advanced defensive actions. Square, flexible target, soft hands, quiet receiver, willing agile soft blocker; deadens the baseball. Clean and quick out of the chute, highly-athletic feet.
Run: 4.39 runner home-to-first. Advanced run time for position and age.

2. Kyle Hayes, St. Charles East (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-1, 210-pounds. Wide-shouldered, muscular, physical build.
Hit: RHH. Tall setup, long stride and overall quiet swing. Loose, strong hands, creates advanced bat speed and bat strength. Long path through the zone, natural lift, gap-to-gap approach, made consistent hard contact. One of the more impressive rounds of BP on the day.
Power: 99 mph exit velocity from the tee. Future power potential to all fields.
Arm: RH. C - 82 mph. Short, quick, strong arm from an over-the-top slot; Throws carried and were consistently around the second-base bag.
Defense: 2.01-2.07 pop times. Quick, athletic feet out of the crouch, clean glove-to-hand, works directionally. Steady hands, deadens blocks.
Run: 4.68 runner home-to-first. 

3. Daniel Contreras, Rockford Boylan Catholic (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C Emerging as a follow 2021 catcher.
Body: 5-foot-11, 205-pounds. Strong, well-proportioned frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced, slightly closed setup, short stride, slightly coiled load.  Swings with intent, quick, strong hands, short direct to the ball, consistent hard gap-to-gap contact and maintains balance.
Power: 93 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 77 mph. Short, loose arm action from a high 3/4 slot. Throws flashed carry and were consistently around the second-base bag.
Defense: 1.97-2.08 pop times. Highly-flexible behind the plate, soft, quiet receiver, strong hands, sticks pitches in and around the zone. Quick, athletic feet out of the chute; directional and repeatable.
Run: 4.65 runner home-to-first. 

4. Ryan Kelly, Huntley (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-11, 180-pounds. Well-proportioned strength throughout.
Hit: RHH. Balanced, wide setup, smooth load and toe-tap stride.  Athletic hands, fast bat, long path, works on top of the baseball. Consistent hard line-drive contact, worked the middle of the field and fluid rhythm throughout.
Power: 85 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. Short, loose arm action, over-the-top slot, consistently around the bag at second base and flashed carry.
Defense: 2.11-2.18 pop times. Sure-handed, fluid footwork, clean transfer.
Run: 4.8 runner home-to-first. 

5. Lucas Bolender, St. Charles North (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-10, 170-pounds. Thick build, strong durable lower half.
Hit: RHH. Open, relaxed setup, stride works back to square. Loose, strong hands, aggressive swing, occasional bat speed. Long path, gap-to-gap approach and fluid rhythm throughout.
Power: 88 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 72 mph. Plays short and from a high 3/4 to over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.11-2.22 pop times. Sure-handed, quiet receiver, sticks pitches in the zone, gets underneath pitch at the bottom of the zone. Easy, soft block. Clean and quick release out of the chute.
Run: 4.69 runner home-to-first. 

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Graham Brown, Harvest Christian Academy (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-3, 215-pounds. Physically-advanced, strong frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced, narrow setup, long stride and aggressive swing. Strong hands, pull-side approach and occasional leverage.
Power: 79 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 66 mph. Short, over-the-top arm action.
Defense: 2.29-2.34 pop times. Open setup, simple transfer, occasional high-front side.
Run: 5.12 runner home-to-first. 

Cooper Gillette, Harlem (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-7, 185-pounds. Physical, thick lower half.
Hit: RHH. Open setup, short stride and minimal load.   Flashed bat speed, level bat path and gap-to-gap approach.
Power: 77 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 68 mph. INF - 68 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 to over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.36-2.44 pop times. Worked out on the infield and behind the plate. Steady hands behind the plate.
Run: 4.61 runner home-to-first. 

Adam Guazzo, Huntley (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-11, 165-pounds. Athletically-built, room for continued physical development.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, minimal load and short leg-lift trigger. repeatable swing, level long bat path, line-drive approach.
Power: 84 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.05-2.10 pop times. Sure-handed, quick exchange.
Run: 4.62 runner home-to-first. 

Cooper Jaworski, Hampshire (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-8, 150-pounds. Lean, well-proportioned frame.
Hit: RHH. Open setup, minimal load and short stride.  Simple swing, long bat path, level through the zone at times.
Power: 79 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.11-2.29 pop times. Low setup, quick and clean release and steady block.
Run: 4.54 runner home-to-first. 

Charlie Johnson, Lane Tech (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot, 190-pounds. Strong, well-proportioned frame.
Hit: RHH. Open setup, pre-pitch load and short stride.  Quiet, fluid swing, loose hands, create whip through the zone and leverage.
Power: 85 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 76 mph. Short arm action works from an over-the-top slot. Throws play true.
Defense: 2.29-2.34 pop times. Directional out of the crouch, high-front side. Quiet receiver, soft hands.
Run: 4.84 runner home-to-first. 

Ryan Kempf, Crystal Lake Central (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-9, 160-pounds. Lean, athletic build.
Hit: RHH. Wide, crouched setup, minimal load and leg-kick timing trigger. Handsy swing, works level through the zone, line-drive approach.
Power: 84 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 71 mph. INF - 74 mph. Arm works short and from a high 3/4 slot behind the plate.
Defense: 2.11-2.22 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and on the infield. Catcher; clean, directional out of the chute, steady hands.
Run: 4.69 runner home-to-first. 

Brandt King, Stillman Valley (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-1, 194-pounds. Physical, well-proportioned build.
Hit: LHH. Balanced setup, toe-tap stride and maintains balance through contact. Simple quiet swing, utilizes lower half, strong hands, stays flat through the zone and line-drive approach.
Power: 84 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 70 mph. Short arm action plays out of a 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.26-2.34 pop times. Presents low target, stays quiet, clean repeatable release from the crouch.
Run: 4.51 runner home-to-first. 

Austin Leonard, Hampshire (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-10, 176-pounds. Present strength throughout.
Hit: RHH. Wide crouched setup, short stride and no load. Simple, repeatable swing, level bat path, woks gap-to-gap.
Power: 82 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 70 mph. INF - 69 mph. Loose arm action, plays from an over-the-top slot from behind the plate.
Defense: 2.18-2.25 pop times. Worked out at catcher and on the infield. Looked most natural behind the plate. Flexible setup, quick release. Willing blocker.
Run: 4.38 runner home-to-first. Advanced runner for position.

Leo Miller, New Trier (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-11, 210-pounds. Thick overall build, strong lower half.
Hit: RHH. Narrow, tall setup, long stride. Aggressive swing, fast bat, natural lift in swing, hard contact, works the middle of the field.
Power: 90 mph exit velocity from the tee. Present bat strength.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Long arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.22-2.33 pop times. Directional out of the crouch, steady hands. Active, agile blocker.
Run: 4.31 runner home-to-first. Well above-average run time for position.

Alex Nosalik, Notre Dame College Prep (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: RHP
Body: 5-foot-9, 150-pounds. Athletic frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, minimal load and toe-tap stride. Aggressive swing, stays on top of the baseball, flat path and line-drive approach.
Power: 78 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 60 mph. Short, loose arm action, 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.42-2.65 pop times. Squared, wide setup, directional transfer.
Run: 5.11 runner home-to-first. 

Noah Riley, Cary Grove (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-1, 160-pounds. Athletic, high-waisted frame.
Hit: LHH. Wide, balanced setup, quiet load and short stride. Short bat path, strong hands, level bat path and line-drive approach.
Power: 82 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.16-2.34 pop times. Steady receiver, clean out of the chute.
Run: 4.54 runner home-to-first. 

Connor Rodgers, McHenry (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-2, 180-pounds. Long-limbed, high-waisted, projectable build.
Hit: RHH. Tall, open setup, long stride. Gets off his backside, stays on top of the baseball, short bat path, pull-side approach.
Power: 83 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 72 mph. Short, over-the-top arm action.
Defense: 2.25-2.40 pop times. Reliable hands, clean transfer, agile block.
Run: 4.61 runner home-to-first. 



Nicholas Nielsen

Class of 2034 /

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2034
  • Primary Position:
  • High School: Joliet Catholic
    State: IL
  • Height:
    Weight: lbs
  • Bat/Throw:

Statistics

Pitching
90
Max FB
(08/28/21)
89 - 89
FB
(08/28/21)
Pitching
Max FB
90
FB
89 - 89
Position
6.85
60-yard
(08/28/21)

Scouting Report

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Nicholas Nielsen / Joliet Catholic, IL / 2034

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