Team Preview: Crimson Cliffs HS


Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

Team Preview: Crimson Cliffs HS

Players in Utah have been eager to compete for their high school programs and it feels as if we are getting close. 2020 saw the cancellation of the 2020 season, however as may approached, it began looking like Utah was going to be able to resume baseball activities  with the annual American Legion season. The UHSAA has announced that the first day of official team practice/tryouts will be Monday March 1st, with the opening day of the 2021 season on March 8th. Programs have been allowed to practice since the 1st part of January, with open field workouts, however there will be a two week moratorium of practices and coach involvement, between the dates of Feb 15-28. PBR Utah will begin its 2021 season coverage starting with our team by team previews, as we highlight some of the top programs statewide in our team previews. PBR Utah will also be publishing its state Power 25 rankings that will be updated every Monday once the season begins. Throughout the season, PBR will be pumping out coverage, highlighting individual players, games, rankings, scouting reports and nominating a player of the week. PBR looks forward to getting out there this spring to see some great baseball. 

Of Note: As we countdown to opening day with the team previews, we still have one big event to kick off the HS season with the PBR Utah Preseason All-State. This event will be the kick off to the season, as it's an INVITE only event of the top players in the 2021-2024 classes. 



School History: The school is appropriately named after the beautiful red rock colored scenery of St. George, Utah. With majestic Pine Valley mountain in the background with the foreground of the crimson colored “Red Cliffs” sprawling throughout the Valley, southern Utah is known for its lakes, rivers, mountains, national parks, hiking, biking and back road adventures. To the millions who visit this area of the country, it’s known as “Color Country” and “Utah’s Dixie”. 

Recent Coaching/Team History: Crimson Cliffs played a 7 game abbreviated spring schedule, before the CoVid pandemic shut down spring sports across our nation. The Mustangs went 5-2 in its inaugural campaign as a new school in the St. George, UT metro area. The school is headed by two very experienced baseball minds in Head Coach, Justin Abbott (former SLCC/Southern Utah U, RHP and Rangers farm hand) along with Mike Gargano (former Dixie College/Cardinals MiLB RHP). Abbott is also the former Layton HS head coach. The two coaches started the SBA Rebels, a well run travel ball organization years ago in the local area. The Rebels had teams ranging from 8U-14U. Gargano is also a former head coach at local Pine View HS as they won two 3A state titles in 2015-2016 with Dakota Donovan (current Angels minor league RHP) leading the efforts. Gargano then took his coaching abilities across town to Dixie State U, as their pitching coach and for one season tutored Dylan File, RHP, one of the Milwaukee Brewers top 30 prospects, who this year was placed on the Brewers MLB 40 man roster, and has a chance to make his major league debut in 2021. 

(A picture is worth a thousand words!)

(Crimson Cliffs - PBR Utah Fall Prospect ID)

(Crimson Cliffs - PBR Utah Fall Prospect ID)

Head Coach: Justin Abbott (2nd Year)

State Classification/Region: 4A / Region 9

Last Year's Record (When the season stopped) * 5-2

Number of State Tourney Appearance in last 10 Years: 0

Number of Final 4 State Tourney Appearances: 0

Number of State Titles games in the last 10 Years: 0

Number of State Titles in the last 10 Years: 0

Expectations for Upcoming Season: Compete in every inning in a tough region 9

Team Strengths:Deep pitching staff. Productive hitters at the top of our lineup that will see deep counts and get on for the middle guys. We can run and will defend with a strong OF and smart middle infielders.”

Team Weaknesses:Very young. We have the tendency to turn the switch off from time to time.” 


Top Returning Players: 

2022 Logan West, OF,  6-1 180 R-R 

.533 AVG IN 19 PA, 5 SB (7 Games) The #10 ranked player by PBR Utah in the ‘22 class. (Uncommitted)

2022 Canyon Kutch, C/OF/3B, 6-1 175 R-R

 .364 AVG IN 15 PA 1HR (7 Games)

2023 Matt McArthur, INF/P/OF, 5-11 165 L-R 

.316 AVG 23 PA 3 DBLS 7 R (7 Games)

2023 Brexten Starley, C/1B/P,  6-1 215 R-R (Transfer) PBR Utah Top 10 Player in ‘23 class 

2023 Petey Soto, SS/3B/P/OF, 5-10 150 R-R (Transfer) PBR Utah Top 10 Player in ‘23 class

Top Returning Pitchers:

2022 Chase Hansen, RHP/OF 6-1 200 

8 1/3 IP 1-0 10K'S 3.30 ERA

2023 Fox Challis, RHP  5-9 155  

8 1/3 IP 9K'S 4 BB 4.3 ERA

2023 Beau Sampson, LHP, 6-4 195  

4 IP 11K'S 2 SV 0.00 ERA

2023 Jaiven Ross, LHP, 6-3 175

3 IP 5K'S 4.80 ERA

2022 Jaxon Richey, RHP,  6-3 155 

4 IP 8 K'S 0.00 ERA

Who is your X-Factor? * Petey Soto

Summary: 

“Very competitive, a group of learners ready for challenges. Expectations are high for us. We know we're the under dog and that's the way we like it.”