Colorado Top 50 Countdown: No 5 Valor Christian Eagles

John Cackowski and PBR Colorado Staff


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Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage. 

Like any preseason ranking for any sport, last year our list created a lot of fun conversations, debate, and opinions among players, coaches, and families. To see what we got right, and what we got wrong in 2017 Click Here

What makes our list unique is it combines all classifications (1A through 5A), and leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage.

Factors that are considered when creating the Top 50 List are the following:

- How many current players are returning that are in PBR Colorado rankings
- How many overall players committed or non-committed are returning
- How many starting pitchers are returning
- Success the previous season
- History of success in the program

* We expect the teams in the Top 50 Countdown will compete for at least a district playoff spot in 2018

Team No. 5: Valor Eagles

2018 Preseason Rank: 5
2017 Preseason Rank: 4
2017 Record: 22-5
Conference: Jefferson County
CHSAA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Brian Bonn
2017 Playoff Run: Repeat win for the 4A State Title
2017 Final Rank: 2
Returning Offensive Starters: 7
Returning Pitchers: 5
Returning Innings on Mound:  142
RBI's returning: 145


STAT RAT: 229 runs = 8.5 a game in 2017.  This is a great luxury to have for a deep pitching staff.

X-FACTORS: How will the pressure of winning three state titles in a row play out in 2018?

BOTTOM LINE: Valor is loaded on paper, 142 innings of experience coming back on the mound along with 145 RBI returning makes this team look almost unbeatable.  Expectations are for a third state championship and looking the roster up and down, those expectations seem to be spot on.  Coach Bonn and the Eagles have been down this road before and will get everyone’s best shot, but they will be up to the challenge and we expect them to be playing once again deep into the playoffs.

Players to Watch

Luke Ziegler 3B / RHP / Valor Christian, CO / 2018

6-foot-3, 190 pounds. Bats and throw right. The Pepperdine commit has a wide athletic stance. Wiry frame with some more weight to add on top of 190 pounds. Nice level swing through zone with bottom hand finish but gets good extension through the baseball. Centers everything, gap to gap in live round. 93 mph exit velocity off the tee. Ranges well for tall 3B to glove and throwing hand side. Could play ss at high school level. Strong arm across diamond at 85 mph. Has a lot of potential at next level on the mound. Fastball sits 86-87 touching 88. Comes from a ¾ arm slot. Has good pace on mound. Gets the ball and goes. Arm is loose and works well with lower half. Lands inline towards plate with good leg drive towards plate. Solid prospect.




Noah Kuzma C / 3B / Valor Christian, CO / 2018

6-foot, 195 pounds. Thick, strong, athletic catcher. Bats and throws right. At plate has wide athletic stance. Barely a stride, and load is minimal. Looks strong at plate. Swing is slightly uphill. Good extension with bottom hand finish through ball. Hit a 3-run bomb off 85 mph fastball to put the game away. Good bat speed. Had a great year offensively leading the Eagles in batting average (.485), hits (32) RBI's, (29) and had 3 homeruns. 




Calvin Schonebaum OF / LHP / Valor Christian, CO / 2018

6-foot-0, 165-pound left hand hitting OF who ran a 4.40 home to first.  At the plate he hits from a narrow open stance with a long stride to come square.  Front foot gets down early with strong weight drive on the swing.  Uses the left side of the field well.  Swing path is slightly uphill and he is closed off on his finish.  Exit velocity was 87 MPH.  In the field he showed good athletic hands and feet.  He fields through the ball and stays in-line with his target.  Delivery is over the top and accurate.  Arm velocity was 81 MPH.  On the mound he starts angled towards first base.  He is smooth on his motion and lands closed off to the plate.  He delivers from a high ¾ arm slot and finishes in good position.  Fastball was 77 MPH with good command on the outer 1/3rd of the zone.  He added a 66-67 MPH curve with sweeping backdoor break and a 69-71 MPH change with sink as it crossed the plate.




Josh Danyliw RHP / OF / Valor Christian, CO / 2018

6-foot-4, 170 pounds. Bats and throws right. Tall, wiry frame. Has deception in delivery. In balance shows hips and back side, arm slot is long back, uphill, then comes from high 3/4 arm slot with good extension towards plate. Good leg drive with fall off to 1B. Good down angle. Fastball lived 82-83 touching 84. Curve had tight spin with 11/5 shape and was 74-76 mph. Change has late fade at 75-77 mph. Projectable. With added weight you could see the upper 80's potential. 




Tyler Dollahan OF / C / Valor Christian, CO / 2019

A 5-foot-9, 170-pound athletic left hand hitting OF/C/MIF.  At the plate he hits from a balanced stance with a slow load on the pitch.  Good lower leg drive on the swing.  Hands come through the zone and create good whip.  Exit velocity was 86 MPH.   In the field he showed good athletic actions and instincts.  He has soft hands and a good glove to hand transfer.  He throws from a long over the top arm slot.  Arm Velocity was 79 MPH.




Justin Estes C / 3B / Valor Christian High School, CO / 2018

Estes will see his role and expectations increase this year.  He gained valuable innings and was a contributor to the Eagles as they won their second title in a row.  Look for him to improve on his 2.33 ERA and .375 avg. in the 2018 season.