Prep Baseball Report

TOS: Day 1 PBR Area Notebook

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Ben RortvedtCARY, NC – Over the last year we’ve written a lot about how strong the 2016 catcher class is in the Midwest. That became abundantly clear during the first day of game play at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars on Wednesday. Competing against the nation’s top prep prospects at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex, Cooper Johnson (Carmel HS, IL) and Ben Rortvedt (Verona Area HS, WI) established themselves as two of the best catchers at the entire event.

Johnson, a solidly built 6-foot, 200-pound Ole Miss recruit, is arguably the top catch-and-throw prospect in the country. He certainly showed the best arm, receiving abilities and footwork on Wednesday, firing consistent 1.80-1.90 pop times between innings with little effort. The big question surrounding Johnson was if his bat would catch up to his elite defensive abilities. He has showed significant improvements in the last year, demonstrating more rhythm, balance and lower-half explosiveness.

In his final at-bat of the morning game, Johnson tanked a 91-mph fastball that one-hopped the centerfield wall for a RBI double. Johnson, the No. 5 overall ranked prospect in the Prep Baseball Report’s coverage area, also walked, grounded out and struck out, finishing 1-for-3.

Then there’s Rortvedt, who was one of the top offensive performers of the entire day.  The left-handed hitting Arkansas recruit went 3-for-4 with a triple, double, single and three RBI while also showing off his strong arm behind the plate. In his first at-bat, he back-spinned a missile to centerfield that kept carrying and carrying. He similarly barreled a ball to left-center for a two-run triple, and also had a RBI single up the middle ...

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