Prep Baseball Report

Offseason Outlook: Class of 2012 has unprecedented depth behind the plate

By Mike Rosenbaum

One noticeable difference between last season’s Class of 2011 rankings and Prep Baseball Report Missouri’s current Class of 2012 rankings is the depth of catching prospects.  Of the seven catchers ranked with the Class of 2012 Top 50, four have already committed to Division I programs, and more are likely to follow suit.  Furthermore, while Matt Fultz is currently the only true draft prospect of the group, several of the players could see their stock rise over the course of the 2012 season.  One thing is certain: Each of the Top 50 Class of 2012 catchers have the potential to make a significant impact this spring.

No. 6 Matt Fultz, Lee’s Summit West; Committed to Kansas State

After a monstrous 2011 campaign in which he hit .446 with 14 home runs and 54 RBI and garnered Prep Baseball Report Missouri First Team All-State honors, Fultz will enter the 2012 season as one of the top position players in the state and a legitimate draft prospect.  The 6-foot-1, left-handed hitting backstop is strong in all facets of the game, and has the tools and make up to stick at the position. 

No. 13 Ethan Schlesener, Logan-Rogersville; Uncommitted

A veteran of Prep Baseball Report Missouri events, Schlesener will look to build upon a stellar junior season in which he batted .348 with eight home runs and 25 RBI while drawing 16 walks.  At the Unsigned Senior Showcase in December, the 6-foot-2 Schlesener showed off a 1.98 pop time, as well as an 84 mph arm across the infield.  Although he is currently uncommitted, Schlesener will be a steal for the school that eventually lands him.

No. 15 Adam Grantham, Kennett; Committed to Arkansas State

One of the driving forces for Kennett last season – a squad that finished third in the 2011 Class 3A state tournament – the Arkansas State recruit hit .531 with nine doubles, three triples, six home runs, and 41 RBI, which earned him Prep Baseball Report Missouri Second Team All-State honors.  The 6-foot right-hander’s durable arm also allowed him to serve as a key member of the Indians’ rotation, as he recorded a perfect 6-0 record with a 1.56 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 36 innings. 

No. 32 Kevin Phillips, University City; Committed to East Tennessee State

A varsity starter since his freshman year, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Phillips has put together an impressive career thus far: .431, 73 runs, 19 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 63 RBI.  He enjoyed his best season to date last spring, as the right-handed hitter paced the Lions’ offense with a .500 batting average, .611 OBP, 35 runs scored, eight doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI.  His compact, level swing generates considerable power that projects well at the next level.

No. 34 Trent Leimkuehler, St. Francis Borgia; Uncommited

Coming off of a strong sophomore campaign in which he hit .426 with eight doubles, four triples, two home runs, 10 stolen bases, and 34 RBI, the 5-foot-11 versatile catcher from perennial Class 3A powerhouse Borgia had an even better season in 2011, hitting .529  with 45 hits, 12 doubles, six triples, four home runs, 14 stolen bases, and 37 RBI.  Like Schlesener, Leimkuehler has yet to commit and will be a player to watch as Borgia looks to compete for a Class 3A title once again.

No. 37 Todd Hinkley, Liberty; Uncomitted

Hinkley’s bat carried Liberty to a Class 4A runner-up finish in 2011, as he shared catching duties with Class of 2011 standout Dylan Stevens.  The 6-foot-4, left-handed hitter posted a .493 average with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs, and 28 RBI.  He also demonstrated an advanced approach by drawing 28 walks.  This spring he will presumably inherit the catching duties, and is poised for another strong season at the plate. 

No. 40 Jake Henson, Francis Howell Central; Committed to St. Louis University

Of all the catchers on the list, Henson may be the best defensively.  He possesses a strong, accurate arm, smooth transfer, and quick release.  As a junior, the 6-foot-1, right-handed hitter batted .489 with eight doubles, two triples, four home runs, 32 RBI, 14 runs scored and a .562 on-base percentage.  If Henson continues to produce at a similar rate in 2012, look for his draft stock to steadily rise.