Prep Baseball Report

Utah Fall Prospect I.D: Catcher Analysis

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

The PBR Utah Fall Prospect I.D. took place on November 28th at Crimson Cliffs High School. The event featured over 60+ prospects with all high school classes represented. 

Today, we begin to release our position-by-position analysis with scouting reports on the catchers in attendance. 

Top Five Prospects

Listed Alphabetically

Austin Ellis C / 1B / Westlake , UT / 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 Iverson C / SS / Pine View, UT / 2022

A small package, but can really catch and throw with a switch hitting catchers profile. A “Swiss Army Knife” type player that can handle multiple positions all around the diamond and play them well. As a catcher he fired the best pop times of the event from 1.89-1.94 and didn’t cheat. He has quick feet with a clean exchange and the arm is fluid fast and quick. The arm plays to the naked eye and what he lacks in big arm strength, he makes up for with technique and throws online ropes to 2B. At SS he has educated feet and measures his feet with some dance and is on his toes while fielding out front with comfort to the backhand. The throws have something on them and are accurate. The bat from both sides of the plate are a mirror image of each other. He leans back with a tilt into a leg lift and holds for a split second to gauge the pitch and location, then makes his approach to the baseball with a compact slightly uphill stroke with length out front, into a full two hand finish. A student of the game and colleges need to get on this kid, as he brings versatility.  Can out catch most guys with bigger frames and move around the field to keep his athleticism in play moving forward. 

Brexten Starley C / 1B / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 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.  

Luke (LT) Taylor C / 1B / Skyline, UT / 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. 

Dane Thorpe C / 3B / Dixie, UT / 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.


Best of the Rest

Listed Alphabetically

Jackson Collett C / 3B / Wasatch, UT / 2021

Collett has a prototype catchers build, with even props throughout. His pop times range from 2.10-2.15 and his feet work online towards his target and his throws are in the area. He shows a clean exchange, but needs to tighten up the accuracy. Shows avg bat speed and a LD stroke with a linear path. Hits from a still hand position and needs to get better separation. He does find the barrel with solid hand/eye. 

Canyon Kutch C / 3B / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2022

A transfer from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Kutch is part of a strong catching tandem at his school, and shows comfort to receive and frame pitches, while being quick to drop and keeps balls in the dirt in front. Have seen a number of times live and works with pitchers and leads from behind the plate. His pop times of 2.05-2.08 have been better live and with added focus to his footwork, he can cut that in time. As a hitter, he pre-sets his hands at a 45 and rocks back with a med knee lift and sets the foot down soft and takes a short compact stroke with a one and two hand finish, depending on pitch location. He works the big part of the field and can steer balls the other way on a line. A fundamentally sound player with 2 years of HS left and look for even more progression as the base skill set is in place. 

Cade Nalder C / 3B / Jordan , UT / 2023

A young 15 year old sophomore catcher that also can play the OF and looks comfortable there. His primary is behind the plate and he receives well for his age and blocks and keeps balls in front. The arm looks to be stronger than shown, as he just needs to not rush and get better exchanges, but he has time on his side. The arm from the OF is the indicator, as he moves into fielding position with comfort and has a fluid exchange with a proper fluid quick arm. Gets good ext out front and the ball exits his hand clean with strong one hop online accurate throws. Really like the arm from the OF. As a hitter, he really pops his hips with strong rotation, though he glides with the body and needs to stay back more, his bat stays on plane with a linear path and has fast hands and releases the barrel with strong hands to hit and the ball jumps on a line. Has some pull side power to develop down the road and will be interesting to watch as he plays a lot of baseball and his work ethic is strong. Plays for a powerhouse program with a former elite college hitter as his coach. 

Maxton Peck C / 1B / Bingham, UT / 2022

Built like a catcher with a strong overall muscular build. The pop times are avg in the 2.0 range with quick feet and a solid exchange from glove to hand. His throws have something on it with accuracy, but needs to get better ride and carry through the bag. He is quick to drop and block balls in front. The bat has some potential as he has above average bat speed at a max of 75 mph. The EV of 95.26 is solid and should carry more thump as he continues to mature. With 2 years of HS remaining, he should be near 100 MPH with focused work. With an inward turn with his front knee, he gets loaded into his back hip and creates solid separation with his load and lower ½. The ball jumps with a LD fluid hitting stroke and a slightly uphill path at times. For the most part is linear and stays on plane. While he does have abv bat speed, he creates it out front and with focus on accelerating his hands from the load to the release of his hands, his bat speed should increase further. Has the base to build off and should be interesting to see where he ends up over time. 

Hayden Smith C / SS / Snow Canyon, UT / 2024

A young 14 yr old with plenty of room for growth, weight and physical development moving forward. The base is there to develop into a solid baseball player. The catching end shows potential and his pop times are in the 2.2 range and should improve to avg as he continues to add strength with years on his side. The exchange is clean and he’s accurate with carry at times. The intriguing part is he showed some glove actions with proper footwork at SS and fields from the ground up and out front. He has some educated feet and sets up nicely to get off strong accurate throws across the diamond. The bat shows solid potential as he gets quality separation with his load and lower ½ synced up. The bat is fluid and has some uphill to it, and should develop some pull side power potential as he matures. Will be interesting to follow and see his development over the next 4 years. 


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