Senior Games: Catcher Analysis


By Illinois Scouting Staff

The Senior Games returned to Triton JC in River Grove, Ill., on August 7. Over 60 of the top remaining uncommitted prospects in Illinois' class of 2019 participated in a pro-style workout and a simulated game. Six prospects, and counting, have since made commitments to play at the next level following their final prep seasons this spring.

Today, we’ll break down the day’s backstops who participated in the invite-only showcase.

Ben Harris (Prairie Ridge), who also impressed on the mound, made a mark as one of the top catchers from the event. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound, catcher has natural defensive actions, a strong, accurate arm and recorded an event-low pop time of 1.97. Harris has loose levers at the plate and makes consistent hard contact. The PR product should be a high-follow unsigned senior moving forward.

Another catcher to highlight from River Grove is Jack Jonota (Stevenson). Jonota has highly-athletic feet behind the plate and a quick release. His low pop time of the day was 2.05, but he’s been as low as 1.96 in front of our staff in the past. Like Harris, he is also one of the state’s top uncommitted backstops within his senior class.

We previously published our Statistical Analysis from the event as well as our Quick Hits post, which you can find hyperlinked. Tomorrow we’ll break down the day’s outfielders but before then, check out full reports on this group of catchers below.

Top Prospects (Listed Alphabetically)

Paul Africano, C, Normal U-High, 2019
6-foot, 205-pound, catcher with a strong, durable frame. At the plate, right-handed hitter, balanced, tall setup, smooth load, pre-pitch rhythm and short stride. Stays short to the ball, uphill bat path, pull approach. Creates present bat speed and bat strength, 87 mph exit velocity from a tee. Reached base safely in all three plate appearances, singling twice and walking once. Defensively, behind the plate, arm works short and from a high ¾ slot. Throws topped at 69 mph from the crouch and pop times ranged between 2.11-2.22. Ran a 7.84 60.

Jeffery Biermann, C, Belleville West, 2019
6-foot, 170-pound, well-proportioned, switch-hitting catcher. Similar from both sides of the plate; starts tall, small hand load and leg-kick timing trigger. Flat bat, gets extension through contact at times, line-drive approach. 85 mph exit velocity from a tee. Defensively, tall setup, sure-handed, quick, clean release. Short arm action, over-the-top slot and throws topped at 72 mph from the crouch. 2.07-2.19 pop times. Ran an 8.02 60.

Ben Harris, C/RHP, Prairie Ridge, 2019
6-foot-3, 170-pound, athletically-built, two-way prospect with plenty of room for continued physical development. At the plate, right-handed hitter, balanced setup, pre-pitch load, leg-kick timing trigger and maintains balance. Fluid rhythm, loose hands, creates bat speed at times, gap-to-gap approach and registered an 84 mph exit velocity from a tee. Singled and scored a run in game play. 7.22 runner in the 60, laser-timed. Defensively, quick feet, athletic out of the crouch, stays on-line. Short, quick arm action, throws have life, clocked at 76 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged between 1.97-2.15. On the mound, right-handed pitcher, compact, repeatable delivery, works on-line and lands slightly closed. Short, loose, quick arm action from a high ¾ slot. Fastball, arm-side-run, sat 85-87 mph. Slider, flashed sharp action, 11/5 plane, 72-73 mph. Saw one changeup at 77 mph. Should be a high-follow unsigned senior moving forward.

Jack Jonota, C, Stevenson, 2019
5-foot-8, 165-pound, right-handed hitting, catcher. Defensive-minded catcher. Natural catcher actions, flexible, soft hands, quick feet, clean transfer. Short arm action, high ¾ slot and throws carry at times, clocked at 75 mph. Pop times ranged between 2.05-2.14. At the plate, balanced, quiet setup, short stride. Simple swing, level bat path and line-drive approach; 81 mph exit velocity. 7.72 runner in the 60, laser-timed.

Nathan Milianti, C/OF, Mount Carmel, 2019
5-foot-10, 185-pound, multi-positional prospect; frame carries strength well. At the plate, right-handed hitter, starts balanced, low hands and short stride. Uphill bat path, present bat strength, registered a 94 mph exit velocity from a tee. Doubled and scored a run during game play. Defensively, worked out behind the plate and in the outfield. Behind the plate, gains ground on transfer, soft block. Short arm action, high ¾ slot and topped at 74 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged between 2.18-2.29. In the outfield, throws topped at 80 mph. Also, ran a 7.44 laser-timed 60.

Jalen Ping, C, Glenwood, 2019
6-foot, 175-pound, athletically-built, right-handed hitting catcher. Offensively, starts from a tall, quiet setup, smooth loading action and big leg-kick timing trigger. Loose hands, level bat path and consistent, hard line-drive contact. 87 mph exit velocity from a tee. Defensively, methodical, clean exchange, works on-line and fundamentally sound blocking. Short arm action, over-the-top slot and throws topped at 75 mph. Pop times ranged between 2.25-2.32. 7.63 runner in the 60.

Logan Riley, C, Sycamore, 2019
5-foot-10, 165-pound, athletically-built, well-proportioned, right-handed hitting multi-positional prospect. Offensively, balanced, slightly crouched setup and short, leg-lift trigger. Bat works level through the hitting zone, line-drive approach. 87 mph exit velocity from a tee. Defensively, worked out behind the plate and on the infield. Behind the plate, soft, receptive hands, quick release, traditional catcher arm action, works short and over-the-top; 74 mph from the crouch and pop times ranged between 2.10-2.19. On the infield, athletic actions, sure handed, active feet, plays through the baseball. Loose arm action and throws topped at 79 mph across the diamond. 7.57 runner in the 60, laser-timed.

Austin Robinson, C, Mendota, 2019
5-foot-11, 165-pound, lean, athletically-built, catcher. Right-handed hitter, open, tall setup, smooth load and long stride. Aggressive swing, long bat path, looks to pull and occasional hard contact. 86 mph exit velocity from a tee. Defensively, clean, quick release, stays on-line and balanced. Arm works short and quick from a high ¾ slot. Throws topped at 74 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged between 2.05-2.15. 7.55 runner in the 60, laser-timed.

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