Underclass Invitational: Catching Analysis



By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor – Illinois/Wisconsin

The winter Underclass Invitational is one of our favorite events because it always brings the most unseen talent to the forefront. This year was no different as several prospects put their names on our big board and over the next week we will break down the top prospects at each position. Starting with the catchers, there were several highlights to mention and here’s a look at the top guys at Underclass Invitational. It was a difficult position to rank as many of the catchers are advanced defensively but some bats are yet to be determined.

Top Catching Prospects

1. Jacob Kapers, C/3B/RHP, Mount Carmel, 2018
6-foot, 165-pound two-way player, projects best behind the plate, athletic frame with strength, younger brother to 2015 graduate Scott Kapers (Valparaiso). Defensively showed advanced catch and release skills, quick efficient transfer, clean with soft hands, good actions receiving the baseball. Arm action is short, over the top slot, typical catchers arm action, flashed carry, 73 mph out of the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.01-2.15. Also flashed some abilities on the infield, arm played at 80 mph across the diamond. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, smooth loading action. 79 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.49 runner in the 60. On the mound, arm played similar, over the top slot, loose arm, regular effort. Fastball is mostly straight with slight action, 77-80 mph. Curveball has 12/6 gradual action, showed feel for the zone, 66-68 mph. Slider has 10/4 action, 72-73 mph. Changeup sinks, 69-70 mph, near fastball arm speed.

2. Mason Crews, C/3B, Manteno, 2018
6-foot, 175-pound catcher/third baseman, solid strong build, projects well, durable frame to stick behind the plate. Showed best actions as a catcher, quick clean exchange, soft hands, athletic defender, gets out of the chute well. Showed playable actions at third base as well. Shows arm strength, 73 mph out of the crouch, 77 mph across the diamond.  Pop times ranged 2.07-2.11. Offensively hits from the right side, balanced setup, short stride, good balance through contact. Shows bat speed, strong hands/bat, gap to gap approach. 82 mph exit velocity from the tee. 8.05 runner in the 60.

3. Josh Rose, C, Geneva, 2018
Solid build with strength, 5-foot-11, 175-pound catcher, flashes fast twitch. Defensively showed advanced arm strength out of the crouch, highly projectable defender, arm carried well, short over the top arm slot, 77 mph out of the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.10-2.17, clean exchange, athletic defender. Offensively hits from the right side, balanced stance, leg kick trigger. Fast bat, aggressive swinger, strong bat, slight uphill path. 82 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.45 runner in the 60.

4. Cam Redding, C, New Trier, 2018
6-foot, 180-pound catching prospect, strong sturdy build, projects to continue to add strength. Physically strong bat, right-handed hitter, balanced stance, short stride, line drive gap to gap type approach. God balance through contact, fast strong bat. 84 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively showed good actions behind the plate, quick clean exchange, soft hands, loose athlete, blocks the baseball well. Arm action is short and over the top, showed carry, 73 mph out of the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.11-2.19 out of the crouch, well above average receiver. 7.93 runner in the 60.

5. Luke Fitzgerald, C, Oak Park-River Forest, 2019
Projectable frame, 6-foot-2, 170-pound right-handed hitting catcher, athletic shape, longer torso. Long levers behind the plate, well above average catching actions, softer hands, longer exchange. Pop times ranged 2.26-2.32. Arm flashed carry, long and loose arm action, 76 mph out of the crouch. Right-handed hitter, tall setup, smooth loading action, leg kick trigger. Easy bat speed, showed ability to back spin the baseball, repeats swing, gap to gap type. 81 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.73 runner in the 60.

5. Julio Cajigas, C, Romeoville, 2019
5-foot-7, 135-pound switch-hitting catcher, smaller frame. Showed a big arm out of the crouch for his age (76 mph), short, over the top slot with carry. Pop times ranged 2.05-2.14. Offensively showed the ability to hit from both sides of the plate, showed more strength from the right side. 86 mph right-handed exit velocity, 76 mph from the left side. Leg kick trigger, balanced setup. Fluid hitter, pull side tendencies, showed strength in swing. 7.28 runner in the 60.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Connor Bauer, C/3B, Hinsdale Central, 2018
5-foot-10, 160-pound catcher/third baseman, solid lean frame. Defensively looks the part behind the dish, good hands, shows the ability to receive the ball well, sits tall. Exchange is clean, short over the top arm slot, 72 mph out of the crouch, 73 mph across the diamond at third base. Pop times ranged 2.18-2.25. Ran a 7.75 60. Right handed hitter, balanced stance, short leg lift stride, solid balance. Level path with length, average bat speed, 83 mph exit velocity from the tee.  

Braden Cox, C, Illini Bluffs, 2018
Large projectable frame, advanced physically for his age, 6-foot-4, 195-pound catcher. Right-handed hitter, tall narrow stance, short leg kick stride. Occasional lunge, easy rhythmic approach. 73 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively has a quick rushed transfer out of the crouch, pop times ranged 2.10-2.22. Arm played short, high ¾ slot, 73 mph arm strength. 7.89 runner in the 60.

Henry Del Valle, C, St. Laurence, 2018
5-foot-9, 160-pound catcher, average build. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, average stride. Path works uphill, pull side approach, hits off backside, lifts the baseball. 71 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm played short and over the top, 69 mph out of the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.19-2.32 out of the crouch. 8.00 runner in the 60.

Mitchell Hundley, C, Fremd, 2019
5-foot-9, 140-pound catcher. Defensively arm plays at 72 mph out of the crouch, long stride out of the chute, can cut down footwork, pop times ranged 2.26-2.31. Right-handed hitter, narrow open stance, leg kick trigger. Path has some length, 73 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.80 runner in the 60.

Grant Leader, C, Lyons Township, 2019
Smaller frame, athletic shape, 5-foot-8, 130-pound two-way player. Projects best on the mound, electric arm speed for his age. Delivery has rhythm, stride works slightly open, athletic finish with regular effort. Arm is quick, clean action, high ¾ slot. Fastball is lively, topped at 87 mph, ranged 82-86 mph. Curveball has 12/6 shape, 67-68 mph. Changeup sinks to arm side, 68-70 mph. Also flashes a slider at 70-73 mph. Shows plus fastball velocity for his age, highly advance arm speed. Defensively showed similar arm strength out of the crouch (78 mph). Pop times ranged 2.06-2.12. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, short stride with good balance. Flashed occasional hard contact, line drive type, mechanically sound approach, 81 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.35 runner in the 60.

Danny Machaj, OF/C, Lyons Township, 2019
5-foot-9, 140-pound outfielder/catcher, slight lean build. Defensively arm is loose and works well, over the top slot, works best from the outfield, flashing carry. 79 mph from the outfield, 69 mph out of the crouch. Pop times recorded at 2.19-2.26. Offensively hit from a balanced stance, short stride, good balance. 72 mph exit velocity from the tee. 8.17 runner in the 60.

Nathan Milianti, C, Mount Carmel, 2019
5-foot-11, 175-pound catcher, lean frame. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, short stride, good balance through contact. Average bat speed, path has some length, uphill plane, topspinning contact. 87 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively sits tall, longer levers out of the crouch. Arm played from a high ¾ slot, 73 mph out of the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.19-2.26. Ran the 60 at 7.62.

Bryce Parish, C, Mount Olive, 2018
Larger build, strong lower half, 6-foot-1, 225-pound catcher. Defensively sits tall receiving the baseball, gets out of the crouch early, pop times ranged, 2.18-2.30. Arm action is short and over the top, 68 mph out of the crouch. Right-handed hitter, open stance, short lifting stride, average balance. Path works uphill, opposite field contact, 82 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.84 runner in the 60.

Trey Torain, C, Loyola, 2018
6-foot, 175-pound catcher, athletic frame. Offensively hits from the right side, open stance, leg kick stride. Showed the ability to find the barrel, slight pull side approach, uphill path, 82 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm played over the top, average arm strength, clean exchange, gets tall out of the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.07-2.19. Showed good foot speed for his position, 7.17 runner in the 60.

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