Prep Baseball Report

Top Prospect - Milwaukee: Catcher Analysis

By Wisconsin Scouting Staff

On July 24, we visited The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, Wis., to host one of the state’s most important event of the summer showcase circuit: Top Prospect – Milwaukee. Nearly 80 of the area’s brightest 2019 graduates attended and, since the event, seven prospects on this event’s roster have committed, so far, to play ball the next level.

Today, we’ll break down the catchers who took the crouch behind the plate at The Rock.

There were over a dozen Illinois representatives at the Milwaukee-area showcase and C Ben Harris (Prairie Ridge; uncommitted) may have impressed the most. We’d seen Harris before display advanced traits defensively: a live arm with a quick catch-and-release skillset, one that produced that lowest average pop time at the showcase. Offensively, Harris certainly holds his own, too. The Prairie Ridge catcher also uses his gifted arm on the mound and he's added at least five ticks since we saw him pitch last in January –  but we’ll elaborate on that this Thursday.

The next couple backstops who made our top five below are of the offense-first variety, but they demonstrated the qualities it’ll take to become catchers in the spring of 2020, too. Ethan Toone (Brookfield East; uncommitted) and Trevor Gustafson (Webster; uncommitted) were a pair of right-handed hitters who generated some hard-hit contact; Toone worked toward the middle of the field while Gustafson provided more of a power profile.

Check out who joined these three on on the top five in the rankings below, as well as reports on each of the catchers who participated in the Top Prospect event. For a look at the previously published Quick Hits from the showcase, in addition to a Statistical Analysis, click the links.

Top Prospects

1. Ben Harris, C/RHP, Prairie Ridge (IL), 2019
6-foot-2, 170-pound two-way player, lean athletic frame. Plus arm strength defender behind the plate, carries well and accurate, quick release with short arm action, 77 mph out of the crouch. Posted pop times at 1.97-2.01. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, smooth load, leg kick trigger, good balance through contact. Hands are quick and creates bat speed, short path, slight pull tendency. 84 mph exit velocity form the tee. 7.04 runner in the 60. Arm plays well on the mound, short loose and easy arm action, high ¾ slot. Fastball runs to arm side, 85-87 mph, touched 88 mph. Slider is firm and thrown aggressively, 11/5 shape, some depth, 75-76 mph.

2. Ethan Toone, C, Brookfield East, 2019
6-foot-2, 185-pound catcher, lean upside frame. Right-handed hitter, tall setup, smooth loading action and leg kick stride, maintains balance. Loose hands with up the middle approach, level path some length, occasional top spin contact. 89 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively shows plus arm out of the crouch, 81 mph, carries well and can get to arm strength when off balance, short over the top stroke. Hands play soft, 2.04-2.12 pop times. Ran the 60 at 6.98.

3. Trevor Gustafson, C, Webster, 2019
6-foot-2, 190-pound catcher, strong athletic frame. Right-handed hitter, tall open setup, short leg kick stride, good balance through contact. Hits in rhythm, flashed easy pop, ball jumped off the bat at times. 91 mph exit velocity from the tee, bat played in game. Arm plays accurate out of the crouch, short and over the top, 76 mph. Flexible loose setup behind the dish, quiet and clean transfer, 2.12-2.19 pop times. 7.29 runner in the 60.

4. Kameron Laskowski, C, Sussex Hamilton, 2019
5-foot-9, 180-pound catcher, compact frame with strong build, above average athlete. Ran the 60 at 6.99. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, smooth loading action and short stride, on time and in rhythm. Compact stroke, generates line drive contact, 87 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm action is works from a ¾ slot, some length, 76 mph out of the crouch. Low quiet setup, 1.97-2.13 pop times, quick actions.

5. Beau Schumacher, C, Kimberly, 2019
Projectable frame, 6-foot-2, 175-pound catcher. Arm plays short, over the top, and accurate, 76 mph out of the crouch. Hands played with softness, clean exchange, gets into balanced throwing position. 2.09-2.19 pop times, played up with accuracy. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, leg lift stride. Gap to gap contact, path scoops at times, showed ability to find the barrel. 87 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.54 runner in the 60.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Max Bruff, C/OF, Indian Trail, 2019
5-foot-9, 190-pound catcher/outfielder, strong stocky build. Right-handed hitter with pop, open setup, slightly leg lift stride. Aggressive swing with strong hands, generates hard back spin contact, mostly to pull side with intent. 99 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm plays short and over the top, 77 mph out of the crouch and 82 mph from the outfield, accurate arm flashed carry out of the crouch. Pop times ranged 2.04-2.12. 6.98 runner in the 60.

Jack Fentress, OF/C, Eau Claire Memorial, 2019
6-foot-4, 200-pound outfielder/catcher, large frame with strength. 6.89 runner in the 60. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, leg kick trigger, average balance. Path works uphill with pull side power, aggressive swing looks to do damage. 87 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm action is long and firm, high ¾ slot, 80 mph from the outfield, 77 mph out of the crouch. Profiles best as a middle of the lineup corner outfielder. Pop times range from 2.11-2.15, hands worked behind the dish.

Connor Handel, C, Monona Grove, 2019
6-foot-1, 195-pound catcher. Strong arm out of the crouch, over the top slot, flashed carry, 80 mph, some effort. Fluid feet, 2.04-2.18 pop times. Right-handed hitter, slightly open stance, long stride, average balance. Path worked short and level through contact, showed quick twitch hands and bat speed. 97 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.20 runner in the 60.

Evan Henry, C, Wilmot, 2019
6-foot, 170-pound left-handed hitting catcher, lean frame with length. Arm played short and over the top out of the crouch, 75 mph. Soft hands and quick exchange, loose actions, 2.04-2.12 pop times. Slight open stance from the left side, short stride, loads hands back and up. Loose hands, 83 mph exit velocity from the tee, short path to the baseball, uphill finish. 7.46 runner in the 60.

Jack Jonota, C, Stevenson (IL), 2019
5-foot-8, 165-pound catcher, smaller frame with strong build. Arm plays short and over the top, 78 mph from the crouch, occasional carry. Athletic actions out of the crouch, blocks well, above average hands, active and energetic in game, plays with hustle. 2.10-2.26 pop times. Right-handed hitter, balanced stance, leg lift stride, good balance through contact, showed bat speed, drifts to front side at times, occasional pull tendency. 90 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.65 runner in the 60.

Hunter Olson, C, Oconomowoc, 2019
McHenry County JC commit. 5-foot-10, 180-pound catcher, Defensively arm action is short and over the top, 76 mph out of the crouch, played accurate. 2.04-2.12 pop times, short feet out of the crouch, gets rid of it. Right-handed hitter, wide setup, short stride, average balance. Path is level, flat through contact, 83 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.41 runner in the 60.

Sam Rogers, RHP/C, New Lisbon, 2019
5-foot-10, 185-pound two-way player, solid build. On the mound works from a short high ¾ slot, quick arm. Delivery is compact and balanced. Fastball plays with arm side action, sat 83-86 mph. Curveball had 10/4 shape, flashed occasional sharp action. 65-68 mph. Changeup sinks to arm side, 71 mph. Defensively arm plays similar, with carry, 82 mph out of the crouch. 2.11-2.22 pop times. Right-handed hitter, open stance, toe tap trigger gets to even. Gap to gap approach, 87 mph exit velocity from the tee. 7.61 runner in the 60.

Zach Schneider, C, Appleton East, 2019
5-foot-7, 173-pound catcher, strong stocky build. Right-handed hitter, open setup with short stride that gets to square, solid balance. Path is level with average bat speed, contact is mostly on a line in BP, pull side tendency, showed ability to go the other way. 84 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm action is short and over the top, played accurate at 74 mph. Posted pop times at 2.12-2.19, clean exchange, hands play, quiet receiver, inviting target. 7.38 runner in the 60.