Prep Baseball Report

Utah Fall ID: Quick Hits

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

The first ever PBR Utah event kicked off this past Saturday at 2nd year high school Crimson Cliffs. 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”. 

With northern Utah, it's cold temperatures and nearing snowfall, St. George with its southern location and sunny days (although chilly this time of year) made for the perfect location (my hometown) for the introduction of Prep Baseball Report to the aspiring baseball players of the Beehive state. With a staff of state champion head coaches, with 3 of them former professional baseball players, the staff was eager to welcome a sold out event of players to showcase their talent and support their baseball dreams. The players, ranging from the classes of 2021-2024, were run through a pro workout style event and planning had taken place for 7 weeks leading up to the event. Originally scheduled for the week prior, the event had to be pushed back, due to a surge in CoVid cases throughout the state. When the cooling off period of no extra curricular activities was lifted, we were given the green light to hold the Fall Prospect I.D. and the event was a raving success! Many of the players who will dot the Top 10 rankings in each class were on hand and made a strong impression on the staff. 

Below is a snapshot of some players who stood out at the event and we look forward to seeing each of them and others at future open and invite-only events. 

Cameron Day, RHP, Layton HS, 2021

Day is a recent U Utah signee, who has a very bright future and a potential big arm, when all is said and done. With a FB up to 93-94 all summer/fall, Day didn’t disappoint at the Fall Prospect ID. A loose, flexible NWU med kick delivery that’s online and his arm is above his back shoulder at foot strike, getting into a power slot. With good ext. out front and a near “flat” back to finish, Day’s FB 90-94 with a spin rate high of 2219 on his best bolt at 93.6 MPH. The CB 71-73 had tight sweeping horizontal action vs vertical depth. The CH 79-81 had solid arm speed and the variation of his 3 pitch speeds, creating a lot of ground for a batter to cover. With good size, arm speed/strength and a FB up to 94 w/solid hand, eye to hit the mitt, Day’s 3 pitch mix has a starter’s role written all over him. He is not as squarely on area scouts radar as of yet, but based on talent throughout the region, he should and will be in time. This is the kind of arm that would’ve been my type in my past MLB scouting career, to take and watch him exceed expectations. 

Chandler Reber, CF, Desert Hills HS, 2021

The quick twitch Reber, a recent BYU signee, is built like a mini Mike Trout, with thick defined quads and chiseled calves. A powerfully built upper body w/thick well defined forearms, Reber has present and future strength. There’s some Brett Boone physically in him, as he displayed an event best 101 exit velo, as well as a 6.54/60 yard dash! With a power/speed combo and the ability to get on base, and pressure the defense, Reber is a multi faceted player, that has well above avg big league speed with base stealing pot, as well as being able to drive the ball to the big part of the field and leave to the pull side with ease. Covers ground in the OF and ranges in all directions, the only part of his game that doesn’t project to avg is his BA arm strength. Reber will be fun to watch develop in the spring and it will be interesting to see the kind of attention he attracts from scouts. 

Traton Staheli, RHP, Pine View HS, 2021

Staheli is oozing with physical projection with the best is yet to come type w/the FB velocity. A recent BYU signee w/a tall loose and lanky build Staheli has broad shoulders with long arms and legs, with a pitchers rear, which lends to added lower leg development in time. At 6-6 190, the frame suggests 25-30 more Lbs in due time, and it’s easy to see the FB climbing into the mid 90’s in the near future. The second best arm at the Fall Prospect ID, Traton showed a compact high kick from a NWU delivery. The delivery stretches out with some length, and his arm action from a HTQ slot is loose and live. With a FB up to 92 all summer/fall, Staheli was 88-90 at the event with a CB 74-78 and a CH 78-82. There’s solid spacing of his 3 pitch mix, and with another foot added to the FB in time, his spacing will be ideal. 

Michael “Mic” Paul, CF, Olympus HS, 2022

Paul was the player I was anticipating seeing the most, after being made aware of him, I hadn’t seen him live, except on video and “Mic” didn’t disappoint. A U Arizona commit, Paul had the second best 60 time at 6.64 and produced top 5 exit speeds of up to 92 MPH. A quick twitch med strong build with another 15-20 Lbs of added muscle to pack on in time, at 5-11 170 Paul is wound tight and has an engaging personality as well. The overall hitting package to go along with his game changing speed, will be carrying tools to the next level. He starts from a crouched square stance with a flat bat into and inside his back shoulder. He starts to shift into his back side, while turning the bat into a high elbow and gets into his load with the bat at a 45 degree angle. He takes a soft yet avg stride length and is soft at foot strike. The bat takes a slight uphill path, from a short compact stroke, with length out front and gets some launch effect into a strong powerful two hand finish. It was a strong showing from the best 2022 hitter in the state. 

Luke Anderson, OF, Snow Canyon HS, 2022

I have known Luke from the beginning of time. A former next door neighbor for 15 years, I have seen his baseball playing progression for years now, and what he does is perform. Anderson committed to BYU in the winter of his sophomore year, and was off to a strong start to his season, before the pandemic shut the season down. Luke had a strong showing at the Fall Prospect ID, with a class best 95.6 exit velo, while displaying solid avg bat speed. A Semi wide, open stance, Luke takes his body back and into the load phase, with a med knee lift and balances while turning the bat into the 45 degree position, allowing for a powerful base, that creates good separation. The path is short and quick with a direct path to the ball and gets length out front and whips the bat into a two hand finish. The arm from the OF is clean and pure with a solid stroke and shows an avg arm with solid one hop carry and is accurate. Not a toolsy player, but does have bat speed and strength and has performed all throughout his young amateur career. 

Payton Gubler, SS/RHP, Desert Hills HS, 2022

A two way multi faceted “baseball player” that can beat you 3 ways as an amateur, with his glove, his arm and the bat. The Desert Hills SS also takes his turn in the rotation and has created a name for himself over the past year, playing for the powerful Team Utah ‘22, and the Mets Scout Team ’22 in AZ. Gubler showed at the Fall Prospect ID, why he will be a very strong player at the next level. A recent BYU signee, Payton had the 2nd best exit velo in his class at 95.4, and produced another at 95.1 and 94.3. A strong BP session, with a classic RHH stance and starts with the bat at a 45, and rocks back to load and fires his hands in a short compact manner, with length out front and whips the bat into a strong and high one hand finish. At SS, he showed dance to his educated feet, and showed actions and is fluid in his approach to the baseball. As he gathers and separates the hands, he gets his arm up quick and gets off a strong and accurate throw across the diamond. An all around player that also produced 90 MPH FB’s in his pen session, Gubler profiles in the MIF, but could be a strong two way type at BYU and provide roster flexibility for a nationally ranked program. Doesn't show big tools, but is schooled in the fundamentals and knows how to play the game. A sum of all his parts type, which is what a “baseball player” is. Plays the game the right way!

Dane Thorpe, C/RF, Dixie HS, 2022

The top uncommitted bat in the state. It won’t be long before Thorpe is committed and schools need to jump on this kid, as he is a brute strong 6-1 190 and can frame and receive the ball well. With an arm velo of 80 and have seen better, Thorpe shows off an avg arm in the OF, and produced exit speeds as high as 95.6 in BP and there I’ve seen better as well. The bat has been on fire all summer/fall, and at the Fall Prospect ID, he showed a semi wide open stance, and his front knee/foot is synced well with his hands as he lifts his front foot and from a flat set of the bat, he turns the barrel to a 45 into the load phase, then softly lands the front foot and takes a short powerful compact stroke into a powerful two hand around the back shoulder finish. Athletic for a catcher and can play multiple positions, to get him out of the crouch and keep him athletic. The bat is the carrying tool and one to watch as I believe he’s gonna have a big junior year for the Flyers of Dixie High. 

Brexten Starley, C/1B, Crimson Cliffs HS, 2023

Starley, the top power bat in the ‘23 class, had as good a BP as I’ve seen from him. I have known Starley since he was 8-9 yrs old, as he lived in my hometown and has played with my son since they were young. But it’s his bat that gets your attention and not the connection to me, which does give me more time to evaluate him and provide a strong track record for colleges to follow up on. The bat is live, with a smooth fluid fast stroke. Brex shows bat speed and natural lift into a whippy high two hand finish. A class best and 3rd highest overall event exit velo of 95.5, Starley has the ability to not only hit for power, but can make AB-AB in game adjustments to breaking balls and use the whole field, while hitting for straightaway to pull power. Strongly built with a powerful linebacker type build, the sophomore C/1B will be a strong recruit for any D1 program. Any program that hasn’t started conversations with him, better hurry, as he is not only gonna be a name in Utah, but the entire region as well. 

Grant Scholzen, SS/2B, Hurricane HS, 2023

A strong game player that’s the best pure hitter in the ‘23 class. With a fluid smooth LH stroke, that’s performed at a high level vs older competition, in and out of state. A LHH middle INF’er with strong D1 interest from a handful of schools on the west coast over the past year. Baseball bloodlines, with his father a former MLB scout/MiLB player and his uncle a former MIF in the Rays system. A quick twitch energetic leadoff/2 hole hitter with an advanced approach to hit for his age. A LD hitter with quality takes, works a count, in looking for a FB, to spray barreled up balls line to line. At the Fall prospect ID, he showed a top 3 exit velo of 82.1 for his class and displayed top 5 hand speed. Showed educated feet with some dance and overall glove actions. Can pick and throw, while making the tough in between hop, a short hop and getting off accurate throws.

Myles Topham, RHP, Cedar HS, 2023

Topham has the type of frame and build to highly proj on, at 6-3 175, as his grandfather is a JUCO Head Basketball Coach, and has been in the same role at the D1 level as well. Lean and athletic, the arm speed and quality of the arm stroke, lends itself to further development and future velocity to come. With a med to high kick of delivery, Myles needs to repeat his delivery better, as he tends to misfire and can pepper the K zone, but is raw and with further quality coaching, he should be able to improve vastly. With a FB 82-85 (Spin 2064) at the event, he shows the arm speed to be a 90 in time guy by his senior year. The CB 68-72 has more sweep and horizontal action over depth and just needs some tweaks to getting his fingers on top of the baseball, which will aid in his CB development. An athlete with a proj build, loose arm and loose wrist to finish pitches and only a sophomore, lends itself to proj nicely into a solid arm at the next level. 

Cole DeCastro, SS, Desert Hills HS, 2023

A lean thin athletic build that projects more weight and strength gains with maturity. Cole has performed up to this point and has taken a step forward over the past summer/fall. For a kid that looks like there isn’t strength, he generated a high exit velo of 85.3, which with physical maturity you can see another 10 MPH over the next 3 spring seasons. Features a spread out semi crouched square stance with his bat on his back shoulder and times up a pitcher's release and rocks back and turns the barrel into the launch position with a slight lift of the foot and sets it down into a soft short stride. He shows a very short compact stroke on a linear plane with the ball and finishes with a tight two hand follow through. With tweaks to create length out front, driving the ball to the pull side will happen quickly. Defensively as a SS, he shows educated feet and moves fluidly toward the ball and plays from the ground up with his hands out front. He catches balls clean and shows an EZ fluid release without selling out for velocity. His throws are accurate across the diamond and makes the routine play routine.

Austin Ellis, C/3B, Westlake HS, 2024

Ellis is  a young good looking RHH catcher that has yet to take a HS at bat, and it will be fun to watch his development over the next four years. Ellis moved to northern Utah at the age of 12 from Texas and started playing for various Mountain West Baseball teams. This past fall, Austin was a stalwart for the national power USA Prime Baseball. Austin’s bat is the carrying tool right now, and all you need to do is watch him take BP and see the mechanics of the stroke to see that the base is there to build off, plus he’s performed at a young age with an elite group of players in Texas. Austin recently represented the state of Utah at the Power Showcase in FL. With a class 2nd best exit velo of 87.4 MPH, Ellis shows an even props square stance from a semi squat position, Ellis features a knee lift and maintains balance over his back side, then coils into his load with a solid 45 at launch, while stepping to stride and gets a good stretch/separation, which allows for leverage. He takes a short direct path through the baseball with length in front and whips the bat into a one hand high finish. The defense is adequate, but for a 14 yr old kid, we have time to improve and strengthen that part of the game, but make no mistake, he can hit!

Luke Taylor, C, Skyline HS, 2024

Taylor came as advertised from his HS coach, and former D1/D2 recruiting coordinator Eric Morgan. Taylor has good size for a young 14/15 yr old kid at 511 170. With an already semi developed lower ½ with big feet and hands, and a build that looks to carry another 30 Lbs at maturity, Taylor should develop the size of a next level prototype catcher. What’s interesting is that being a ‘24, he has yet to play a HS game, but you can see this kid contributing to his varsity team this next season. With a class best 88.5 MPH exit velo, Luke featured an even props square stance with a conventional setup to hit with the bat at a 45 over his back shoulder. He turns his hands as he loads the bat and then lifts his foot and sets it down into a short soft foot strike. He keeps his back hip hinged, so he maintains balance and stays back throughout the swing. The swing is a short, quick inside/out stroke and buries his nose to the ball. He buggy whips the bat through a flatter plane and into an around the back shoulder two hand finish. 

Cooper Hansen, LHP/OF, Riverton HS, 2024

Hansen has the look and mannerisms of a ball player, as he showed well both as a hitter and as a LHP. Unlike some good freshmen that are over developed at a young age and stand out physically over their peers, Cooper has an athletic even props build and carries himself well. From a good HS program that has produced quite a few D1 and college level prospects, although his velo was 79-81, you can project steady increases over the next 4 calendar years! What he did was show the ability to feature a balanced high compact kick to delivery with a short HTQ arm stroke that he repeats and hits the mitt with. The CB had some depth and TQ shape with depth. As a hitter, he displayed an exit velo of 86.6 with the ability to drive the baseball deep to the big part of the field on a line. Will be a good one to watch moving forward.