Milwaukee Preseason I.D.: Catching Analysis



By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor – Wisconsin/Illinois

Over the next several days we will be rolling out our positional analysis of the Milwaukee Preseason I.D. on February 8. Starting with the catchers, Ben Rortvedt (Verona Area, 2016, Arkansas) led the way. Rortvedt has always been one of the top catchers in the state and has shown vast improvement receiving the baseball and has turned himself into one of the top catch and throw guys in the state to go along with his physicality at the plate.

Recent Western Illinois commit, Austin Emanuel (Mukwonago, 2016) also showed well along with underclassmen Jacob Campbell (Janesville Craig, 2018) and Garret Gilbert (Westosha Central, 2017).

Here’s a look at the top catchers from the event.

Top Catching Prospects

Scouting reports by Steve Nielsen and Matt Huck

1. Ben Rortvedt, C, Verona Area, 2016
Verbally committed to Arkansas. Physically advanced 5-foot-10, 175-pound left-handed hitting catcher, strong build, solid sturdy frame, excellent physical composition for the catching position. Defensively looks to be one of the top catch and throw guys in the 2016 class. Plus arm strength, plays from a short over the top slot, traditional catchers arm action, gets carry through the bag, 83 mph arm strength out of the crouch. Stays underneath the baseball, footwork is quick and direct, highly athletic catcher, posted pop times at 1.85-1.94. Hands are soft receiving the baseball, comfortable and confident behind the dish, agile blocker. 7.15 runner in the 60, advanced for position. Offensively hits from a slightly open stance, smooth loading action with short stride, athletic setup with strong balance through contact. Explosive bat speed, strong hands/forearms, line drive gap to gap approach, power potential. 92 mph exit velocity from the tee. Projects to be an interesting draft follow in 2016.

2. Austin Emanuel, C/3B, Mukwonago, 2016
Recently committed to Western Illinois. 5-foot-10, 175-pound catcher, young build, body still developing. Defensively receives well, good catch and throw prospect, hands are soft, showed arm strength out of the crouch (79 mph). Arm played from a shorter over the top slot, typical catcher’s arm path, accurate arm, played through target well with carry. Recorded pop times at 1.93-2.07. Also took it from third base, showed the ability to be more than serviceable at third base when not behind the plate, 85 mph arm across the diamond with carry, hands played well. 7.68 runner in the 60. Offensively hits from the right side, balanced stance, smooth loading action with short stride and proper balance throughout, overall good hitters setup. Quiet setup and attacks the baseball, line drive approach, uses the middle of the field, good bat path stays through hitting zone. Advanced overall approach with well above average bat speed for age. 88 mph exit velocity from the tee.

3. Jacob Campbell, C, Janesville Craig, 2018
Naturally strong build, solid lower half, 5-foot-10, 180-pound catcher, advanced physicality for age. Defensively showed advanced arm strength, 76 mph out of the crouch, short over the top slot, quick release, standard catcher’s arm action. Footwork is directional, gains ground, posted pop times at 2.05-2.18. Ran the 60 at 7.51, laser timed. Offensively hits from a tall setup, slightly open, short stride, can get more out of lower half. Strong, muscled swing, made loud contact, level path, bat speed present, 86 mph exit velocity from the tee. Present advanced strength puts him as one of the top catchers in Wisconsin’s 2018 class.

4. Garrett Gilbert, C, Westosha Central, 2017
5-foot-11, 165-pound catcher, athletic frame, lean build. Defensively arm played at 74 mph out of the crouch, short over the top arm action, works slightly uphill. Recorded 2.01-2.19 pop times. Solid blocking the baseball, overall strong defensive catcher. Right-handed hitter, tall open setup, short stride, lower half works well, good balance. Violent swing, attacks baseball, swing creates whip, good bat speed present. Path is short to the baseball, some extension, fluid hitter. Ran the 60 a 7.63.

5. Ben Cameron, C/3B, Waukesha West, 2018
5-foot-10, 185-pound, right-handed hitting, C/3B. Behind the plate has a short arm action, over the top arm slot, accurate throws, with average arm strength. Popped 2.07-2.19 and threw 74 mph from the crouch. At the plate hits from a crouched setup, with a heel lift trigger, and average balance. Opposite field hitter with a long swing path and average bat speed.  Showed strength with 83 mph exit velocity from a tee. Ran the 60 at 7.66. Will continue to improve with maturity.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Ricky Bergstrom, C, Warren Township, 2016
6-foot, 170-pound, right-handed hitting, catcher. Behind the plate showed a short, loose, whippy arm action. Popped 2.01-2.12 and threw 75 mph from the crouch. Slower transfer, with a quick release, solid receiver. At the plate hits from a balanced setup with a deep load to back side, short leg lift stride, with good balance. Average bat speed, short path, 86 mph exit velocity from a tee. Ran the 60 at 7.46.

Sam Devorkin, C, Grafton, 2017
5-foot-9, 180-pound, right-handed hitting, catcher. Strong, wide shoulder build. Behind the plate has a short arm action, over the top arm slot. Balanced, square setup, hesitation before release, popped 2.29-2.44 and threw 67 mph from the crouch. At the plate hits from a balanced setup, short stride, good balance. Gap-to-gap hitter with average balance and extended one arm finish. 77 mph exit velocity from a tee. Ran the 60 at 7.38. 

Kyle Hammitt, C, Muskego, 2017
5-foot-11, 161-pound, right-handed hitting, catcher. Behind the plate has a long arm action from a low ¾ arm slot. Good footwork behind the plate gaining ground towards second base on throws. Some softness in the hands receiving. Popped 2.12-2.19 and threw 73 mph from the crouch. At the plate has a balanced setup, with a smooth, short load, and good balance. Average bat speed, level path, with some rhythm. 77 mph exit velocity from a tee. Ran the 60 at 7.43.

Alessandro Kulutbanis, C/3B, Homestead, 2018
5-foot-11, 180-pound, right-handed hitting, catcher. Behind the plate has a short arm action, from an over the top arm slot, average arm strength. Popped 2.10-2.33 and threw 69 mph from the crouch. Low receiving setup with some stiffness. At the plate has a balanced setup, smooth load, long stride, and average balance. Up the middle approach, level swing path, and average bat speed. Showed present strength for age with 83 mph exit velocity from a tee. Ran the 60 at 7.87. Will continue to improve with maturity.

Ricky West, 1B/C, Homestead, 2016
6-foot, 175-pound, right-handed hitting, 1B/C. At 1B has a short arm action, over the top arm slot, with average arm strength. Slower action, with ok footwork around the bag. Threw 74 mph across the infield. Wide set up behind the plate, 2-handed receiver, popped 2.10-2.14 and threw 71 mph from the crouch. At the plate hit from a wide, spread out base and showed good balance. Fast bat, level path, with some stiffness. 83 mph exit velocity from a tee. Ran the 60 at 8.10.

Ryan Zakszewski, C, Franklin, 2017
6-foot-2, 180-pound, right-handed hitting, catcher. Long, lanky build. Behind the plate has a long, wind up arm action from a high ¾ arm slot. Rises out of crouch early receiving, popped 2.25-2.48 and threw 71 mph from the crouch. At the plate hit from a balanced setup, long stride, linear lower half, with average balance. Pull hitter with an uphill path, 75 mph exit velocity from a tee. Ran the 60 at 7.57.

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