Prep Baseball Report

North Texas Underclass Games: Catching Analysis

Toby Bicknell
Texas Scouting Director

Twitter: @PBR_Texas
IG: pbr_texas

FT. WORTH, TX - Some of the top talent in Texas converged on TCU’s campus to compete in the North Texas Underclass Games on July 22, here is the catching analysis from that event. Included in this list are five players from our most recent update to the 2019 Ranking

Catching Analysis

+ Cole Marler, C, College Station HS, 2019
Marler burst onto the scene at our Houston Area Open event, earning an invite to both the North and South Texas Underclass Games where he put together standout performances. 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, with a strong, athletic frame and muscular lower half. He is an elite level catcher with excellent carry in his arm, throws strikes through the bag at second base with pop times ranging from 1.88-2.0 and a top velocity from the crouch of 76 mph. Soft hands behind the plate, easy reciever, great hip mobility, athletic blocker. Offensively, Marler is a confident right-handed hitter with an athletic setup, aggressive approach, and loose easy finish of the barrel. Ball jumps off his bat during batting practice with gap power and more to come. Multiple at-bats with hard contact, including a triple he smoked to left-centerfield that one-hopped the wall. He ran a 7.1-second 60-yard dash, and had an exit velocity of 92 mph off the tee. Marler is a hard-nosed player with high skill set that would be a great addition to a recruiting class.

+ Joey Crisci, C/3B, Allen HS, 2019
6-foot, 185-pound, strong, sturdy frame. Behind the plate, Crisci has an excellent defensive skill set, with soft hands, quick transfer, and a clean, elbow dominant arm stroke behind the plate which translated into accurate throws. Crisci put his throwdowns on the bag with pop times ranging at 1.91, 1.96, 2.01, and 2.01, with a velocity from the crouch of 77 mph. Offensively, the right-handed hitter has a simple, balanced stance. Loads easy with a short leg kick, average bat speed with strength at contact. Drove the ball to the pull side during batting practice. Exit velocity 80 mph off the tee. During the game, Crisci tanked a moon shot foul ball deep down the left-field line.

+ Kamden Kelton, C/3B, Stony Point HS, 2019
Kelton has a strong lower half and a sturdy frame at 5-foot-11, 195-pounds. A right-handed hitter with a tall, relaxed stance and easy rhythm. Simple rock back to load as he walks away from his hands with a short stride, landing athletically. Slight front arm bar, loose hands, rotates hips to contact, strong hands, good extension with high finish creates lift and middle-to-pull side carry. During the game he smoked a single deep down the left field line. Behind the plate, Kelton has quick, directional footwork, and quick exchange. Throws from a natural, high-¾ slot, average accuracy with pop times ranging from 2.08-2.15, and 76 mph velocity from the crouch. Average hands and receiver during game play.

+ Blake Benavides, C/OF, Sweeny HS, 2019
Benavides is hard-nosed, aggressive player with life in his body and a strong, muscular frame at 5-foot-8, 145-pounds. The right-handed hitter has an aggressive approach and does not get cheated. Starts from a wide, crouched stance, big leg kick to load with rhythm, lands with athleticism, explosive lower half transfer as he rotates his hips with leverage and bat speed. Short, uphill path creates lift with a high finish, strong hands, hard contact, and an exit velocity 87 mph off the tee. Behind the plate, he has average hands, quick transfer, quick footwork into his short arm stroke with effort. Posted pop times of 1.92-2.07 with average accuracy and carry. Ran a 6.88-second 60-yard dash.

+ Luke Ely, C/1B, Franklin HS, 2019
At 5-foot-10, 195-pounds, Ely has a sturdy, still developing frame with a strong lower half, that should be able to add much more strength in the coming years. The young, left-handed hitting catcher starts slightly open at the plate in a minor crouch. Loads his weight back with a reverse leg hang before striding out long, and utilizing his strong bottom hand to get through the zone on a level plane. Line drive hitter with future gap-to-gap power potential. Behind the plate, Ely has quick footwork and soft hands to go with a quick, clean transfer. Accurate throws on the bag with average arm strength and a clean release out front with good extension and 72 mph velocity from the crouch. Pop times ranged from 2.0-2.1 at this event. Solid receiving skills during the game, did a nice job on the low pitch. At first base, he has smooth footwork with soft hands and rhythm as he plays through the ball. Accurate throws across the diamond at 78 mph.

Best of the rest (alphabetical)

+ Davis Blake, C/OF, Johnson HS, 2019
Blake has a muscular, athletic frame at 5-foot-10, 172-pounds. A right-handed hitter with a balanced setup, Blake has an early, simple load with rhythm, long stride and strong hands with above average bat speed (88 mph off the tee). He drove the ball well during practice with gap power and carry, showed excellent barrel awareness and quick hands, gets good extension through contact. Behind the plate, Blake has directional footwork, average exchange, bow-and-arrow arm action with some effort, and average arm strength. Pop times ranged from 2.14-2.25 with a velocity from the crouch of 75 mph. In the outfield, Blake threw 81 mph from a long, over the top arm stroke with effort. Average feet and hands as he plays through the ball. 

+ Kyle Brett, C/3B, Crandall HS, 2018
5-foot-10, 145-pounds. The right-handed hitter has a tall, open stance, coils inward to load with a slight, knee-to-knee leg kick, lands square with a short stride. Short path, contact approach with line-drive power and average bat speed. Behind the plate, Brett has quick, directional footwork, average hands and low exchange into his high-¾ arm stroke to second base. Average accuracy to second base with pop times ranging from 2.05-2.16 and a top velocity of 73 mph.

+ Hudson Hefner, C, Highland Park, 2020
Hudson has a still developing, long-limbed frame at 6-foot, 160-pounds. The young, right-handed hitter has a balanced setup with a simple load and relaxed trigger of his hands. Lower half works well to contact as his hips rotate to get into his front side. Clean path to the ball, slight arm bar, barrel is on plane with a high finish, and still developing bat speed (77 mph). Behind the plate, Hefner had consistent pop times ranging from 2.25-2.28. Soft hands, clean exchange, fluid footwork with a 67 mph velocity from the crouch. Hefner also plays infield and with his potential with bat and ability to play multiple positions, he will be a fun player to follow in the coming years.

+ Jose Hurtado, C/OF, Montwood HS, 2019
5-foot-9, 165-pound frame. The right-handed hitter starts from a tall, athletic stance. Smooth load back as he coils his hips with a knee-to-knee, low-hanging leg kick to replace his stride foot. Quick, explosive hips as he rotates to contact with a front arm bar and a high finish, creating lift and carry. Although he has a longer path, Hurtado used the whole field during batting practice, producing hard contact from the right-center gap to pull side with an exit velocity of 85 mph off the tee, and more potential power in the future. Behind the plate, Hurtado has average hands with quick footwork, average exchange into a long arm stroke with some effort from a ¾ slot. Pop times were 2.13-2.22 with a 74 mph velocity from the crouch.

+ Creed Willems, C/RHP, Aledo HS, 2021
5-foot-10, 195-pound, strong frame for his class. The two-way player is a switch hitting catcher. From the left side, Willems starts with his hands in front of his midline, smooth load back with his upper body into a short stride. Quick hands to contact with a short, clean path, barrel works well out in front. Simple weight shift through contact with some lift and above average bat speed for his class (86 mph off the tee). On the right side, Willems has a similar hand position, smooth-early load back. Throws the barrel with his top hand, hard contact during batting practice, cuts himself off at finish. Overall, Willems has strong hands, good barrel awareness and made hard contact from both sides of the plate. Defensively, behind the plate, he has a quick exchange with average footwork and soft hands. Accurate thrower with pop times ranging from 2.11-2.23 and a 70 mph velocity from the crouch.


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