Utah HS Team Preview: Desert Hills

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

Utah HS Team Preview: Desert Hills

Opening Day is around the corner, try outs have been scheduled starting Feb 28th, and rosters are soon to be set. The Utah High School Activities Association has announced that opening day of the 2022 season will commence on Tuesday March 7th. The PBR Utah staff begins its 2022 season coverage with our annual preseason team previews, where we will take notes from coaches, and highlight returning players, newcomers, and some sleepers. Over the next couple weeks and leading up to opening day, we will be highlighting some of the top programs in the state 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 Utah will be pumping out coverage, highlighting individual players, games, rankings, scouting reports and nominating a player of the week. PBR Utah looks forward to getting out there this spring to see some great baseball. 

We now break down the Thunder with our team capsule below:
The Thunder are led by two way elite D1 BYU commit in RHP/SS-Payton Gubler, who was a 1st Team All-Region and All-State honoree in 2021. Gubler also participated as one of four Utah players, at the recent PBR Super 60 pro showcase, where he smashed balls from the plate and touched 91 on the gun across the infield. On the mound Gubler shined with his 92-94 mph FB, 84-86 mph SL, with a spin rate high of 2647 rpm’s, which is above MLB averages. 

From the plate, in addition to Gubler, the Thunder boast two next level bats in SS/2B-Cole DeCastro and CF-Karson Irvin. DeCastro, who has an offer to a top JUCO program, was a 2nd Team All-Region and HM All-State award winner as a sophomore in 2021, also played in the prestigious PBR Future Games in Atlanta, as well as the PBR West Coast Games in Las Vegas last summer. DeCastro will man SS, when Gubler is on the mound and hold down either 2B or 3B otherwise. Irvin, a Dixie State commit, boasts the speed for CF, to go along with a mid to high 80’s arm from the OF and hits hard line drives to to all fields. One of my picks to click is freshman catcher and LHH in Andrew Wilson, who already has an in-state D1 offer, before stepping on the field as a high schooler! 

There will need to be some young players step up and break through and gain their footing, but one thing is for certain, with Irvin, DeCastro and Gubler on the mound once a week in a 14 game region schedule, Gubler has the firepower on the mound to possibly secure seven wins by himself! It will be a fun season, as major league scouts will frequent D-Hills games on a weekly basis!

Desert Hills by the numbers
Head Coach: Kevin Cave (2nd Year)
  • 2021 Co-Region 10 Champions

Classification: 4A

Region: 10

2021 Win-Loss: 25-5 *

State Playoff appearances in last 10 years: 9

State Championship appearances last 10 years: 4

State Championships last 10 years: 1

2021 Final PBR Utah Ranking: 4

2022 Preseason PBR Ranking: Stay Tuned!!

Key Returners with Class/Position

2022 Payton Gubler, SS/RHP (BYU)

2022 Karson Irvin, CF/RHP (Dixie State)

2023 Cole DeCastro, MIF (JC offer)

2022 Kyle Fox, 3B/1B

2022 Jake Bean, C

2022 Taylor Mosher, UTL/RHP

2022 Eric Olsen, OF/RHP

Young players who have College potential down the road

2022 Payton Gubler, SS/RHP (BYU)

2022 Karson Irvin, CF/RHP (Dixie State)

2023 Cole DeCastro, MIF (JC Offer)

2022 Kyle Fox, 3B/1B

2025 Andrew Wilson, C (D1 offer)

Who is your X Factor to your success

  • Payton Gubler, RHP/SS (BYU)

Player lost to graduation and College Baseball

  • Chandler Reber, CF (BYU)

Returning All Region / All-State players

  • 2022 Payton Gubler (1st Team All State & All Region)

  • 2023 Cole DeCastro (HM All State & 2nd Team All Region)

  • 2022 Karson Irvin (3rd Team All Region)

Coaches Summary and Outlook

With several starters graduating last year, D-Hills will likely be trying out some different lineups and defensive positions in the first few weeks of the season. We hope to begin playing good steady baseball by early to mid April.