Prep Baseball Report

Underclass Invitational: Catcher Analysis

By Steve Nielsen and Sean Duncan

The Underclass Invitational brought some of the top 2015 and 2016 graduates from around Illinois. Today we will break down what we saw out of the catchers.

There were a number of solid receivers, led by Andrew Shadid of Peoria Notre Dame HS, who showed advanced athleticism for the position, and should end up being one of the top-ranked prospects in his class.

Bryce Gray (Homewood Flossmoor HS) and Cal Elvers (Sacred Heart Griffin HS) stood out amongst the Class of 2016 participants. The two young catchers held their own behind the plate while both of them displayed excellent bat speed and a presence at the plate. Justin Kelly (Wheaton Warrenville South HS, 2015) showed a lot of projection as his lanky 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame produced a strong arm and solid bat speed.

Here’s a look at the catchers in both classes.

Top Class of 2015 Catchers

1. Andrew Shadid, Peoria Notre Dame HS, C, Class of 2015
Projects to be a high-level catching prospect. Mature 6-foot, 180-pound frame with strong lower half and developed shoulders. Plus athlete for position; ran an event-best 6.82 60 at the Illinois Underclass Invitational on Jan. 20 as a sophomore. Advanced receiver. Handles velocity well; adept blocker with athletic, active feet. Registered consistent pop times ranging between 2.01-2.08 with carry and on the bag. Clocked at 77 mph from the crouch. Offensively, showed bat speed through zone, making consistent hard contact. Hits from balanced, wide setup with quiet, no stride approach. Remains balanced through contact with gap-to-gap power potential. In all, Shadid should be one of the most coveted catching prospects in Illinois’ 2015 class.

2. Justin Kelly, Wheaton-Warrenville South HS, C, Class of 2015
Long-limbed 6-foot-2, 190-pound catcher. Showed potential to be one of the better catchers in Illinois’ 2015 class. Demonstrated solid catching fundamentals. Registered pop times ranging between 2.08-2.11, all on the bag. Good direction, solid footwork. Clocked at 74 mph from the crouch. Offensively, showed pull power potential; ball jumps off bat with carry and loft. Barrel whips through the zone. Swing path can get long at times. Good extension after contact.  Ran a 7.82 60.

3. Jamary McKinney, Simeon HS, C/RHP/1B, Class of 2015
Physical, athletically built 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect. Has strong legs and barrel chest. Showed impressively athletic feet with quick transfer behind the plate. Throws were on-line with carry, with top pop times of 2.00, 2.02 and 2.07. Clocked at 76 mph from the crouch. Needs to improve receiving skills. Has an aggressive approach at the plate. Generates bat speed and barrel whip through zone from aggressive lower half. Showed some pull side power potential when mechanics are aligned. On the mound, fastball sat at 81-83 mph, topping at 84, with little movement. Secondary stuff is work in progress. Located changeup in 63-64 mph range.

Top Class of 2016 Catchers

1. Bryce Gray, Homewood Flossmoor HS, C, Class of 2016
Solid frame, strong body, 5-foot-10, 165-pound catcher. Offensively shows advanced hitting tendencies for age, wide stance, no stride, quiet approach, excellent bat speed, line drive gap to gap hitter, projection for pull power, 82 mph exit velocity. Defensively shows solid receiving actions, setup tends to be high, consistent pop times 2.19-2.28.

2. Cal Elvers, Sacred Heart Griffin HS, C, Class of 2016
Average build, 5-foot-10, 160-pound catcher. Offensively, hits from balanced stance, short stride, smooth load back, exhibits rhythm; showed excellent bat speed, short bat path with extension; ball jumps off bat. Very projectable at the plate. Defensively shows quick arm, arm carries, strong arm (77 mph). Pop times 2.19-2.28.

3. Nick Price, Waubonsie Valley HS, C, Class of 2016
5-foot-10, 160-pound catcher. Pop times ranged 2.11-2.25, long arm action, quick feet, advanced defensive setup, blocks well. Offensively hits out of balanced setup, flat bat path, easy swing, moderate bat speed, lacks explosiveness.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Matt Brown, Champaign Central HS, C, Class of 2016
5-foot-10, 170-pound catcher. Offensively hits from balanced setup, smooth load, short stride, lower half is involved, good balance throughout, gets extension, top hand works well, flashes signs of power. Defensively, stands up quickly out of crouch, sits high, arm shows effort.

Jackson Dvorak, Providence Catholic HS, 3B/C, Class of 2016
5-foot-11, 180-pound catcher/third baseman. Offensively hits from balanced setup, no load, no stride, line drive hitter, lacks lower half, not on time. Defensively shows max effort arm across infield, lacks accuracy, hands play well. Behind the plate shows receiving skills, pop times 2.25-2.42.

Mitchell Fairfield, Normal West HS, C, Class of 2016
Average build, 6-foot, 160-pound catcher. Pop times range 2.33-2.47, arm shows carry, stays on line. Hits from balanced setup, slightly wide, smooth load, short stride, lower half works well, flat bat path, line drive hitter, creates some extension, moderate bat speed, 74 mph exit velocity.

Nick Nalewanski, Rockford Boylan HS, C, Class of 2015
Athletic 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. Registered pop times between 2.20-2.28 with 74 mph velocity from the crouch. Footwork needs refinement. Offensively, hits from narrow, hunched position. Showed some whip through the zone. Has potential to develop power if improves balance. Ran a 7.51 60.

Sam Nozicka, Grayslake Central, C, Class of 2016
Average frame, 5-foot-10, 145-pound catcher. Defensively shows quick feet behind the plate, arm shows carry and stays on line (71 mph), solid receiver, blocking skills will catch up. Pop times ranged in the 2.3’s. Offensively showed some extension, arm bar tendencies at load.

Look for more positional breakdowns and news from this event throughout the coming weeks.

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