Milwaukee Preseason ID: Catching Analysis

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Director – Wisconsin/Illinois

As we previewed last week, we will be rolling out our analysis of the Milwaukee Preseason ID and today we start with the catchers. Regardless of class our positional analysis will rank the top prospects at each position from this event. Later we will break down the event according to class and see how players stacked up against their respective class.

The catchers were led by clear favorite Ben Rortvedt who has been nothing short of impressive all winter. As just a sophomore Rortvedt had the strongest arm (82 mph) and posted an event best 1.86 pop time which puts him in an elite class of receivers in our coverage area. Freshman Jamie DeWitt has the biggest upside of the group, at 6-foot-2, 185-pounds DeWitt already showed a strong arm (79) out of the crouch and advanced bat speed at the plate. Marshall Gilbert had a strong showing at the plate and showed vast improvements since last seeing him, putting him in the mix of the top backstop in the Class of 2015.

Top Catching Prospects

1. Ben Rortvedt, C, Verona Area, 2016
Physical left handed hitting catcher, 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, chiseled build, highly athletic, carries advanced strength for age. Defensively has one of the best arms out of the crouch in the 2016 PBR coverage area (82 mph). Arm carries well and is on target, short over the top arm slot. Rortvedt has immensely improved his receiving skills in the last year and showed softer hands and mechanically sound blocking skills. Posted pop times of 1.86-1.94. Offensively hits from the left side, balanced setup, short stride, arm bar load. Bat path produces advanced bat speed, 92 mph exit velocity from the tee. Line drive gap to gap type hitter with gap power. Athletic hitter with loose hands, makes consistent hard contact. Rortvedt is one of the most highly sought after catchers in the 2016 class.

2. Jamie DeWitt, C, Waukesha, 2017
Long frame, high projection, athletic make up, 6-foot-2, 185-pound catcher. High level Class of 2017 prospect. Offensively hits from a balanced setup, short stride, excellent setup. Loose hands, generates bat speed with hands, highly athletic. Path is short, stays through the baseball with extension, rhythmic hitter. 85 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively has a short loose arm action, quick arm, over the top slot, some accuracy. Posted pop times at 2.15-2.19 with a 79 mph arm from the crouch. Advanced arm strength, transfer will improve, quiet receiver. 4.68 runner down the line.

3. Marshall Gilbert, C, Westosha Central, 2015
Strong build, 6-foot-1, 190-pound catcher. Offensively impressive, hits from an open stance, taller setup, short stride, maintains strong balance. Advanced bat speed, short path to the baseball, gap to gap approach with power. Makes hard contact, ball jumps off bat, loose hands generate whip through the zone. 90 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively uses a short over the top arm slot, creates carry and accuracy, 79 mph arm strength from the crouch. Efficient footwork, above average hands, hands transfer the baseball well. Posted 2.03-2.07 pop times from the crouch. Gilbert is a high level receiver with a strong bat that shows the ability to impact the game on both ends.

4. Nicholas Cafaro, C, Marquette University, 2015
6-foot, 155-pound right handed hitting catcher, above average frame. Defensively posted pop times at 2.10-2.20, 76 mph arm strength out of the crouch. Short arm action out of the crouch, over the top slot. Offensively hits out of a wide stance, short stride, rigid setup. Bat path has length, produced 78 mph exit velocity from the tee.

5. Garret Gilbert, C, Westosha Central, 2017
5-foot-10, 150-pound catcher, lanky build, projectable frame. Offensively hits with a slightly open stance, short stride, excellent setup, maintains solid balance. Athletic swinger, loose hands, works well, makes hard contact. Generates above average bat speed for age, still has room for strength. Short path with line drive tendencies. Behind the dish posted 2.22-2.26 pop times. Over the top arm slot, occasionally long arm action, 73 mph arm strength from the crouch. Mechanically sound blocking skills. Gilbert has the ability and tools to be a high level catcher. His approach at the plate projects well and has a high ceiling.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Ricky Bergstrom, C, Warren (IL), 2016
5-foot-10, 160-pound catcher with an athletic body. Defensively, showed solid hands with clean exchanges. Arm works short from high ¾ at 75 mph with some carry. Pop times were 2.11-2.19. Ran a 4.5 home to first time. At the plate he hits from a balanced stance, with a short leg kick trigger, maintains balance through contact. Swing has stiff rhythm with a level bat path and above average bat speed. Exit velocity off a tee was 91 mph.

Austin Emanuel, C/3B, Mukwonago, 2016
5-foot-9, 165-pound catcher/third baseman. Offensively uses a short stride, good balance, hands work well. Bat path is short and stays through the zone, above average hands at the plate, produces some barrel whip. 84 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively showed solid actions behind the plate, short arm action, over the top slot. Posted pop times at 2.11-2.19 at 74 mph out of the crouch.

Michael Houdek, C, Brookfield Central, 2017
Solid build, well above average strength for age, 5-foot-11, 187-pound catcher. Offensively showed bat speed, 75 mph exit velocity, strong hands. Hits from a balanced stance, short stride, two-piece swing, longer path. Defensively used a long high ¾ arm action from the crouch, 72 mph arm strength. Posted 2.23-2.59 pop times.

Joshua Schwechel, C, Menomonee Falls, 2016
5-foot-9, 150-pound athletic catcher. Offensively he hits from a tall, open stance with a short stride. Has a line drive swing with a slightly uphill bat path with above average bat speed. Exit velocity was 75 mph. Defensively, was a sound receiver with quality catch and release tools. Arm works long, from over the top at 77 mph from the crouch. Pop times were 2.19-2.22. Ran a 4.52 home to first.

Ricky West, C/1B, Homestead, 2016
Athletic frame, 6-foot, 185-pounds, catcher/first baseman. Offensively hits from a wide stance, balanced setup, no stride approach. Flashes advanced bat speed, level path, occasional length, hard swinger. 94 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively behind the plate is long strided out of the crouch, 72 mph arm strength from the crouch. Posted 2.25-2.32 pop times. Across the infield arm played at 69 mph with a long arm action.

Michael Wojcik, C, Richmond Burton, 2017
5-foot-9, 155-pound catcher. Defensively used a typical catchers arm action, short over the top, 70 mph, arm strength will improve with maturity. Showed fundamentally sound blocking mechanics. Posted pop times at 2.32-2.41. Offensively hits from a balanced stance, slightly open, hands load into a higher position. Hits with rhythm, fluid one piece swing, occasional lunge. Line drive type hitter, 76 mph exit velocity from the tee. 4.61 runner home to first.

More Event News

3.16.14 Madison Preseason slide