Underclass Invitational: Catcher Analysis


By: Adam Panayotovich
Area Scout

The Underclass Invitational is one of Illinois’ most highly anticipated events on the PBR Illinois showcase calendar. The invitation-only event for the state’s top 2021 and 2022 prospects was held on Feb. 17, at The MAX in McCook, Ill. Over 115 of Illinois’ best freshman and sophomores represented themselves at the sold-out event last month.

Today marks the start of our position-by-position analysis, beginning with the event’s robust crop of backstops. Of the 22 catchers who took reps from behind the plate, we narrowed the rankings to a top ten listed below.

Nate Voss solidified himself as a top catcher not only at the event, but in the 2022 class. The athletic Marist produces hard contact while controlling the barrel in the zone and has all the tools to stick behind the dish moving forward.

St. Ignatius 2021 Emmanuel Scott continues to improve on his all-around game showing fluid catch-and-release actions behind the dish with easy gap-to-gap pop at the plate. Scott also ran an impressive sub-7 60-yard-dash.

Marist has an ace in the hole with 2021 Jonny Crowel. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-handed catcher is confident in his actions. He showed advanced defensive abilities, possesses loose hands with bat speed and has a clear-cut approach that will play at the varsity level.

We previously published our Statistical Analysis from the jam-packed event, which you can find here. Also, keep an eye out tomorrow when we examine the day’s outfielders. 

TOP CATCHING PROSPECTS

1. Nate Voss, C/INF, Marist, 2022
5-foot-11, 170-pound right-handed hitting multi-positional player, highly athletic actions with room for added strength. Rhythm in all around game. Defensively, advanced catch and release actions, pop times ranged 1.97-2.05. Quiet receiver, soft hands, sticks pitches with ease, fluid feet, transfers are quick and clean. Short and loose arm action, high ¾ slot, throws carried to bag at 76 mph from the crouch. Confident and easy actions on the infield, fluid feet, hands work, funnels into sternum, clean to release. Short and loose arm action, varied slot, throws topped 81 mph across the diamond. At the plate, open setup, smooth load, leg lift stride to even, maintains control. Advanced approach for age, controlled the barrel with fluidity in swing, created hard contact and leverage to all fields. Easy bat speed, exit velocity topped 84 mph from a tee. 7.34 runner in the 60. High upside 2022 follow.

2. Emmanuel Scott, C, St. Ignatius, 2021
6-foot, 165-pound right-handed hitting catcher, lanky and athletic frame, room for added strength. Quick and easy strides, 6.93 runner in the 60. Defensively, natural and athletic actions, soft hands, plus receiver, quick and clean out the chute, pop times ranged 2.01-2.10, rhythm involved. Short, loose and easy arm action, over the top slot, ball carried 76 mph from the crouch. At the plate, quiet pre-pitch, balanced setup, smooth load, leg lift timing trigger. Quick twitch in hands, short, fluid path, line drive ability to all fields. Fast bat speed, exit velocity topped 82 mph from a tee.

3. Jonny Crowel, C, Marist, 2021
6-foot-1, 180-pound right-handed hitting catcher, well-proportioned frame, athletic build and actions. At the plate, balanced setup, smooth loading action with slight bar, knee lift timing trigger, engaged lower half, maintains control. Confident in the box, loose hands with strength, direct to the ball, extends through contact, fluid line drive hitter. Quick bat speed, exit velocity topped 90 mph from a tee. Defensively, quick out the chute, pop times ranged 2.01-2.12. Soft hands, advanced receiver, athletic, plus footwork, fast transfer to release, gets shoulders turned to throw, deadens blocks. Short and loose arm action, high ¾ slot, 79 mph from the crouch, an event best. 7.37 runner in the 60.

4. Mason Roehr, C, Granite City, 2021
Missouri State commit. 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-handed hitting catcher, defined and chiseled build with strength in frame. Advanced actions for classification, fleet footed runner, 6.76 runner in the 60. At the plate, hits from an open stance, hanging leg lift stride to even, hands bar back, high elbow. Strong hands, direct to the ball, showed hard contact to all fields with ability to create leverage, true power potential. Generates quick bat speed, exit velocity topped 97 mph from a tee. Defensively, rhythm in hands, advanced receiver, quick transfer to release, stays low, feet get in position to throw. Arm plays loose and over the top, throws one hopped to the bag at 77 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged 1.97-2.07.

5. Sebastian Cabeza, C, Kaneland, 2021
5-foot-9, 185-pound right-handed hitting catcher, athletic, strong build. Defensively, live actions, quick footwork, clean transfers, gets rid of it, cushioned blocks. Short and quick arm action, high ¾ slot, 75 mph from the crouch with carry and effort. Pop times ranged 1.98-2.10. At the plate, even setup, short load and stride, good balance. Strong hands, level path with extension, gap to gap pop. Repeated hard contact with above average bat speed, exit velocity topped 96 mph from a tee. 7.30 runner in the 60.

6. Ty Batusich, C, Joliet West, 2021
5-foot-11, 175-pound left-handed hitting catcher, well-proportioned athletic build with strength. Moves well, 7.21 runner in the 60. Sets up even at the plate, hands load low, quick leg lift stride. Strong hands, short to the ball, creates lift through swing. Hard contact to the pull side, jumps off,  exit velocity topped 91 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.15-2.19. Athletic feet, quick transfer, steady block. Short arm action, speeds through an over the top slot, 76 mph from the crouch.

7. Jayden Comia, INF/C, Sandburg, 2022
5-foot-8, 145-pound right-handed hitting multi-positional player, average size with room to grow, all around athletic feel. In the infield, active feet, ranges with ease, soft hands funnels the ball clean, plus body control for age, left side projection. Short and loose arm action, multi angle slot, true ball and accurate throws topped 84 mph across the diamond. Behind the plate, plus footwork, gets in position to throw, quick and clean to release, soft hands, cushions blocks. Short arm actions, traditional catcher slot, 72 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.19-2.26. At the plate, quiet/simple pre-pitch, even setup, smooth load, short stride, maintains balance. Advanced approach for age, short, fluid path with extension, line drive hitter, fluid rhythm. Exit velocity topped 84 mph from a tee. 7.40 runner in the 60. High upside 2022 follow.

8. Brian Rapanan, C/RHP, Warren 2021
5-foot-7, 150-pound right-handed hitting two-way player, durable frame. Athletic, natural catch and release actions defensively, sticks pitches, feet and transfers work quick and clean, cushioned blocks. Short and loose arm action, high ¾ slot, 86 mph from the crouch with accuracy. Event best pop times, ranged 1.94-2.10. At the plate, sets up even, short stride and load, excellent balance throughout. Fluid path with extension, works uphill with lift, repeated hard contact to pull side. Exit velocity topped 86 mph from a tee. 7.47 runner in the 60. On the mound, simple delivery, low hanging leg balance, stays over rubber, short, open toe stride in-line, smooth rhythm. Arm plays short and loose, speeds through a clean, high ¾ slot, effort seems easy. Pounded the zone with three. Fastball, slight run, 81-84 mph. Curveball, sharp 11/5 break, can spin it, 65-67 mph. Changeup, faded with fastball arm speed, 73-76 mph.

9. Tyler Pecson, C, Palatine, 2021
6-foot, 160-pound right-handed hitting catcher, live and athletic actions. Quick runner, light on his feet, 6.77 runner in the 60. At the plate, tall setup, slight bar load, hanging foot timing trigger. Fast hands and fluid path, line drive hitter, hard contact to all fields. Generates quick bat speed, exit velocity topped 93 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.01-2.06. Stays tall, active feet, two-handed funnel to quick transfer. Loose arm action, high ¾ slot, 73 mph from the crouch.

10. Noah Jouras, C, Lyons Township, 2021
5-foot-11, 185-pound right-handed hitting catcher, strong build. At the plate, rhythm in pre-pitch, crouched and even setup, smooth load, leg lift stride. Strong hands, aggressive swing on uphill plane, looks to lift. Quick bat speed, exit velocity topped 86 mph from a tee. 7.32 runner in the 60. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.07-2.15. Steady hands, clean transfer, long to release. Full arm action, ¾ to high ¾ slot, 72 mph from the crouch, effort involved.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Jackson Bessette, C, South Elgin, 2022
6-foot-1, 170-pound right-handed hitting catcher, lean and athletic build. Hits from tall stance, hands bar back, short toe lift stride, maintains balance. Bat path works uphill with some length, lifts the baseball, fluidity in swing, exit velocity topped 84 mph from a tee. Defensively, quick out the chute, pop times ranged 2.01-2.10. Steady hands, solid receiver, quick transfers, cushions blocks. Arm is loose with some length, clean high ¾ slot, accurate throws to second, 77 mph from the crouch. 7.21 runner in the 60.

Justin Cappis, C, Niles North, 2021
5-foot-11, 175-pound left-handed hitting catcher, thicker build with some strength. At the plate, balanced setup, smooth load, short stride. Strength in hands, path works uphill with some length, looks to lift, flashed power potential to pull side, some rhythm involved. Present bat speed, exit velocity topped 88 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.04-2.12. Steady hands, quick transfer to release. Short, loose arm action, speeds through high ¾ slot, slight recoil, 75 mph from the crouch. 7.83 runner in the 60.

Dominic Ferrari, C, Alleman Catholic, 2021
6-foot-2, 180-pound right-handed hitting catcher, well-proportioned, athletic build. At the plate, tall and open setup, barrel wrap at load, long knee knocking stride. Path work uphill with some length, looks to lift the baseball, some rhythm involved, exit velocity topped 89 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.17-2.26. Feet gain ground, low funneled transfers, full arm action with some arm strength, high ¾ slot, 79 mph from the crouch, an event best. 7.58 runner in the 60.

Cain Headrick, C, Providence Catholic, 2021
5-foot-11, 170-pound right-handed hitting catcher, well-proportioned, athletic build. At the plate, tall setup, bar load, toe tap trigger. Aggressive swings, long bat path with effort, flashed line drive ability, rocks back at finish. Present bat speed, exit velocity topped 86 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.12-2.18. Feet work quick with recoil at release, long arm action, some arm speed, 77 mph from the crouch. 7.24 runner in the 60.

Matthew Hunzinger, C Dieterich, 2021
6-foot, 150-pound left-handed hitting catcher, thin, long-limbed frame. At the plate, sets up even, minimal load, short stride to even. Path works uphill, ball gets deep, some rhythm involved. Exit velocity topped 79 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.18-2.25. Fluid feet, gets in position to throw, short and loose arm action, high ¾ slot, 74 mph from the crouch. 7.33 runner in the 60.

Kannon Kleine, C Galesburg, 2022
5-foot-8, 170-pound right-handed hitting catcher. At the plate, tall and open setup, short toe lift stride, hands bar back. Path works uphill with some length, high finish, exit velocity topped 84 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.19-2.29. Quick actions, somewhat rushed, funnels transfer at waist, full arm action, high ¾ slotm, 69 mph from the crouch. 7.87 runner in the 60.

Ryan Louthan, C, Joliet Catholic, 2022
5-foot-9, 170-pound left-handed hitting catcher, chiseled and athletic build, present lower half strength. At the plate, crouched setup, slight load, short stride. Strong hands, level bat path, short to the ball with occasional lift, cuts off at finish. Present bat strength, exit velocity topped 97 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.19-2.26. Tall setup, quick block and recover, clean transfer, strong wrists, gets shoulders turned to throw. Short arm action, over the top slot, 74 mph from the crouch. 7.96 runner in the 60.

Matthew Merk, C/INF, Lockport, 2022
5-foot-10, 160-pound right-handed hitting catcher/infielder, compact frame, lower half strength. At the plate, sets up open, hands load back with slight drop, leg lift stride. Strength in hands, bat path level through the zone, pull side tendencies. Present bat speed, exit velocity topped 93 mph from a tee. Behind the plate, some rhythm in hands, gains ground, funnels the ball high, longer to release. Short arm action, high ¾ slot, 73 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.26-2.32. Profiles at the corners on the infield, steady hands, sits to field, packs at exchange, short arm, high ¾ slot, throws topped 74 mph across the diamond. 7.35 runner in the 60.

Jeremiah Powell, C, Brother Rice, 2021
5-foot-10, 165-pound right-handed hitting catcher, upside, athletic frame. Long, easy strides, 7.16 runner in the 60. Defensively, rhythmic actions, moves well out the chute, quick feet and transfer, cushioned blocks. Arm plays short and quick, high ¾ slot, 77 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.08-2.19. At the plate, balanced setup, pre-load, short stride, front foot hitter. Hands work quick, level path with some length, line drive ability, cuts off finish. Exit velocity topped 84 mph from a tee.

Michael Rastrelli, C, Mundelein, 2021
5-foot-10, 150-pound right-handed hitting catcher, lanky build. Fluid footwork behind the dish, gains ground, quick and clean transfer to release, cushioned blocks. Hands work soft, short and loose arm action, over the top slot,  accurate throws with carry, 77 mph from the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.03-2.12. At the plate, balanced setup, smooth load, short stride, keeps it simple. Level path with some length, favored pull side, rhythm involved. Exit velocity topped 82 mph from a tee. 7.95 runner in the 60.

Kyle Smith, C, Warren, 2022
5-foot-11, 195-pound right-handed hitting catcher, thick, sturdy build. At the plate, balanced setup, smooth load, short toe lift stride. Handsy hitter, level barrel path, upright finish, effort is easy.  Whippy bat speed, exit velocity topped 92 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.15-2.26. Physical backstop, funnels ball along waistline, full and loose arm action, over the top slot, 70 mph from the crouch. 7.94 runner in the 60.

Carter South, C, Oswego East, 2022
5-foot-9, 125-pound right-handed hitting catcher, thin and lanky frame. At the plate, sets up even, hands load back, short knee lift stride. Bat path is level, all fields, some rhythm through contact, exit velocity topped 83 mph from a tee. Defensively, pop times ranged 2.32-2.43. Clean transfers, long to release, slight hand drop, full arm action, ¾ slot, 68 mph from the crouch. 8.25 runner in the 60.

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