Preseason All-State: Catcher Analysis


By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

On Feb. 9, PBR Illinois hosted one of its biggest showcases on its annual calendar: The Preseason All-State. This invite-only showcase brings together the state’s best talent in its 2021 class, regardless if a player is committed or not. Over 110 of Illinois’ best juniors made it to McCook last month, many of whom remain uncommitted. Today marks the start of our position-by-position breakdown of the event with a look at the catchers.

The catchers could easily stake a claim to the deepest, strongest position group of the event. A trio of committed prospects led the way but a host of uncommitted talent was not far behind. Brian Rapanan (Warren), the top ranked uncommitted catcher, showed advanced defensive actions, a strong accurate arm, flashing sub-2.0 pop times and a repeatable right-handed swing.

Another uncommitted prospect who burst on the scene was Hunter Ryan (Minooka). Ryan, who was making his PBR-event debut, has a compact build with strength and was one of the top defensive catchers in the group. Ryan is athletic and quick out of the crouch and features a strong arm that played accurate at 82 mph from the crouch. 

The rest of the top-10 is full of high-level uncommitted talent, as well as a number of backstops who just missed the cut. Read on below for reports on all of the catchers from the event.

TOP CATCHING PROSPECTS

1. Ty Batusich, Joliet West (IL), 2021 (Western Kentucky)
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot, 186-pounds. Wide-shouldered, strong, well-proportioned frame.
Hit: LHH. Balanced, quiet setup, minimal load and wasted movement, short stride. Short and quick to the ball, natural lift, strong hands, advanced hand/eye, knack for the barrel and made a lot of hard contact. Works gap-to-gap and flashes big pull-side power.
Power: 98 mph exit velocity from the tee. Ball jumps off the barrel. Power potential to all fields.
Arm: RH. C - 78 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot. Consistently around the second base bag.
Defense: 1.93-2.02 pop times. Low setup, soft hands, sticks pitches at the bottom of the zone. Out of the crouch, quick glove-to-hand release.
Run: 6.86 runner in the 60. Well above-average runner for position.

2. Alex Calarco, New Trier (IL), 2021 (Northwestern)
Positional Profile: C Possesses some of the top raw power in the state.
Body: 6-foot-4, 232-pounds. Extra-large, physical, imposing frame.
Hit: SH. Tall, balanced quiet setup, smooth load and stays on balance.  Athletic, strong hands, repeatable swing, creates leverage and bat speed. Uphill path, extension through the zone, looks to lift and drive the baseball with authority. Uses the entire field.
Power: 103(R) 95(L) mph exit velocity from the tee. Advanced bat strength and power potential.
Arm: RH. C - 82 mph. Clean arm action, over-the-top slot; throws were consistently on the bag, plays true with late life.
Defense: 2.04-2.12 pop times. Flexible, low setup, sure hands. Clean out of the crouch, repeatable and directional.
Run: 7.38 runner in the 60. 

3. Emmanuel Scott, St. Ignatius (IL), 2021 (Xavier)
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot, 175-pounds. Athletic, high-waisted build with plenty of room for continued physical development.
Hit: RHH. Spread setup, confident look, hands separate and leg-kick timing trigger. Quick twitchy hands, present bat speed, swings with intent, consistent hard gap-to-gap contact.
Power: 88 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. Loose arm, works short and over-the-top.
Defense: 2.04-2.15 pop times. Athletic defensive actions, clean and repeatable from the crouch, stays on-line. Low setup, sticks pitches in the zone and advanced blocks; deadens ball.
Run: 6.94 runner in the 60. Above-average runner for position.

4. Brian Rapanan, Warren (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-7, 160-pounds. Strong lower half.
Hit: RHH. Quiet, balanced setup, short stride and maintains balance.  Compact, repeatable swing, utilizes lower half, quick hands, extension through contact and consistent hard line-drive contact to all fields.
Power: 86 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 80 mph. Loose, whippy arm, over-the-top slot, accurate throws.
Defense: 1.94-2.08 pop times. Athletic defensive actions, clean and repeatable from the crouch, stays on-line. Low setup, sticks pitches in the zone and advanced blocks; deadens ball.
Run: 7.24 runner in the 60. 

5. Mason Roehr, Granite City (IL), 2021 (Missouri State)
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-1, 2015-pounds. Strong, physical, powerful frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced, quiet setup, hands get separation, short leg-kick timing trigger.  Fast bat, short to the ball, natural lift in swing, repeatable, consistent hard gap-to-gap contact.
Power: 98 mph exit velocity from the tee. Advanced bat strength with power potential.
Arm: RH. C - 79 mph. Long arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.01-2.19 pop times. Clean footwork, directional and quick out of the crouch. Soft, quiet block.
Run: 6.91 runner in the 60. Advanced run time for position. Powerful runner.

6. Hunter Ryan, Minooka (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-9, 170-pounds. Strong, compact frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, pre-pitch load and short stride. Swings with intent, level bat path, pull-side approach.
Power: 86 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 82 mph. Short, quick arm action from an over-the-top slot. Throws carry and were consistently on the bag.
Defense: 1.93-2.04 pop times. Athletic and quick out of the crouch; repeatable and works on-line. Natural catcher actions, receptive strong hands, willing blocker.
Run: 7.07 runner in the 60. 

7. Tyler Pecson, Palatine (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot, 175-pounds. Well-proportioned frame with strength throughout.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, pre-pitch load and leg-kick timing trigger. Swings with intent, long bat path, fast bat, gap-to-gap approach.
Power: 99 mph exit velocity from the tee. Present bat strength with power potential.
Arm: RH. C - 76 mph. Short, quick arm from a high 3/4 slot. Accurate throws, consistently on the second base bag.
Defense: 1.93-2.09 pop times. Clean, easy, athletic and repeatable out of the chute. Flexible hips, steady hands.
Run: 6.85 runner in the 60. Advanced runner for position.

8. Daniel Contreras, Rockford Boylan Catholic (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-11, 205-pounds. Thick, strong, durable build.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, smooth load, short stride.  Aggressive swing, quick/strong hands, flashed bat speed and pull-side power.
Power: 91 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. Short arm action, plays accurately from a high 3/4 to over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.10-2.18 pop times. Athletic and natural catcher actions. Advanced receiver, soft receptive hands, strong wrists, sticks pitches in the zone. Flexible behind the plate, clean and repeatable out of the chute.
Run: 7.81 runner in the 60. 

9. Justin Cappis, Niles North (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-11, 175-pounds. Well-proportioned strength throughout.
Hit: LHH. Balanced, quiet, relaxed setup, smooth load and short stride.  Fluid rhythm, easy effort, loose athletic hands, natural lift in swing, pull-side power potential.
Power: 96 mph exit velocity from the tee. Advanced bat strength.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Loose arm, works short and over-the-top.
Defense: 2.07-2.16 pop times. Replaces feet, quick glove-to-hand release, soft hands.
Run: 7.62 runner in the 60. 

10. Sebastian Cabeza, Kaneland (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-9, 185-pounds. Durable frame, strong lower half.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, pre-pitch rhythm, load and leg-kick timing trigger. Fluid rhythm, loose, athletic hands, long uphill bat path looks to lift the baseball, gap-to-gap approach.
Power: 91 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Short, loose arm action, over-the-top slot, consistently around the second-base bag.
Defense: 2.03-2.11 pop times. Natural catcher actions, flexible hips, soft receptive hands, clean directional footwork and quick glove-to-hand release.
Run: 7.46 runner in the 60. 

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Chris Akers, Elmwood Park (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-1, 195-pounds. Athletic, strong frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, smooth pre-pitch load and short stride. Strong wrists, long bat path, leverage at times, pull-side approach.
Power: 95 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot. Consistently on the second-base bag.
Defense: 2.01-2.17 pop times. Quick exchange, advanced glove-to-hand skills, steady hands.
Run: 7.46 runner in the 60. 

Gavin Bennett, Libertyville (IL), 2021 (Illinois)
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-11, 175-pounds. Compact build. Strength in lower half.
Hit: LHH. Wide, balanced setup, quiet and comfortable in the box, minimal load and stride.  Simple, compact swing, repeatable, short and direct to the ball with feel for the barrel.
Power: 90 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.17-2.44 pop times. Advanced receiver. Wide/squared setup, stays extremely quiet, soft hands, strong wrists, sticks pitches in and around the zone. Clean and directional out of the crouch.
Run: 7.64 runner in the 60. 

Ben Hartl, Springfield (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-10, 190-pounds. Compact build, strong lower half.
Hit: RHH. Wide, balanced, strong base, quiet load, short stride and maintains balance throughout.  Compact swing, repeatable, strong wrists, path works uphill, gap-to-gap approach.
Power: 92 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 83 mph. INF - 84 mph. Arm plays short, quick and from an over-the-top slot. Throws play true.
Defense: 2.09-2.19 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and on the infield. Has the actions and ability to stick at both. Behind the plate, sure hands, sticks pitches, athletic actions, clean out of the crouch. On the infield, reliable defender, hands play soft and receptive, works through the baseball.
Run: 7.04 runner in the 60. 

Kyle Hayes, St. Charles East (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-1, 220-pounds. Physical, broad-shouldered, powerful build.
Hit: RHH. Narrow setup, long stride, hands get separation. Simple, powerful swing, creates leverage and bat speed. Flashed big pull-side power potential.
Power: 99 mph exit velocity from the tee. Advanced barrel strength. Some of the best raw power in the state.
Arm: RH. C - 78 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.11-2.20 pop times. Stays quiet behind the plate, wide/square setup, soft hands, strong wrists, presents pitches in the zone. Clean out of the crouch.
Run: 7.56 runner in the 60. 

Cain Headrick, Providence Catholic (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-11, 180-pounds. Athletic, muscular build.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, pre-pitch load, leg-lift timing trigger. Aggressive swing, strong hands, flat bat path at times and occasional hard contact to the pull side.
Arm: RH. C - 83 mph. Short, strong arm, plays from an over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.00-2.16 pop times. Wide and square setup behind the plate. Quiet, strong hands, directional out of the crouch.
Run: 7.02 runner in the 60. Above-average runner for position.

Brian Lensegrav Jr., Taft (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot-3, 202-pounds. Long-limbed, highly-projectable frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, pre-pitch load, short stride.  Short, uphill bat path, flashed quick-twitch, works the middle of the field.
Power: 86 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. Long arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.25-2.36 pop times. Sound receiver, stays quiet, soft receptive hands, presents well. Clean and directional out of the chute.
Run: 7.48 runner in the 60. 

Michael Rastrelli, Mundelein (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot, 160-pounds. Long-limbed, projectable frame with plenty of room for added strength.
Hit: RHH. Balanced, wide setup, short stride and minimal wasted movement throughout. Simple swing, loose hands, stays balanced, short to the ball and uses the whole field.
Power: 85 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 80 mph. INF - 80 mph. Short, loose arm action, over-the-top slot. True arm with carry.
Defense: 1.97-2.08 pop times. Worked out on the infield and behind the plate. Catcher looks to be the most natural position. Athletic actions behind the plate, light on his feet, quick and clean from the crouch. Flexible hips, low target.
Run: 7.69 runner in the 60. 

Jake Rybka, Providence Catholic (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 6-foot, 210-pounds. Compact, strong build.
Hit: RHH. Balanced, spread setup, smooth load and short stride. Controlled aggression, strong hands, creates leverage to the pull-side.
Power: 92 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot and throws were consistently around the second base bag.
Defense: 2.11-2.22 pop times. Flexible hips, presents low target, sticks pitches in the zone, sure-hands and directional out of the crouch.
Run: 7.90 runner in the 60. 

Ben Wellman, Bloomington (IL), 2021
Positional Profile: C
Body: 5-foot-10, 175-pounds. Well-proportioned frame.
Hit: RHH. Wide setup, smooth load and short stride. Short to the ball, flat through the zone, line-drive approach and works the middle of the field.
Power: 87 mph exit velocity from the tee.
Arm: RH. C - 79 mph. Short, loose arm action, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.04-2.15 pop times. Steady hands, quick and athletic out of the crouch, gains ground and works on-line.
Run: 7.43 runner in the 60. 

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