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Aurora Preseason I.D.: Catcher Analysis


By Illinois Staff

On Feb. 27, the PBR Illinois team hosted the second annual Aurora Preseason I.D. at the Aurora Sports Dome in Aurora, Ill. The event featured nearly 100 players from high school graduates in classes 2022-25, from across the Chicagoland area.

Previously, our staff collaborated to highlight the biggest takeaways and highlights from this showcase, and published them within our Quick Hits piece. We also shared the event's traditional leaderboards, published inside this Statistical Analysis. Later on, with the help of the state-of-the-art technology we had on-site, we dove a little deeper into the data to see what we could find within our TrackMan Files and Blast Motion Board stories.

Today, we’re beginning to roll out our position-by-position analysis, starting with the day’s catchers.

TOP CATCHer PROSPECTS

1. AJ Gaca, St. Charles East (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/1B
Body: 5-11, 210-pounds. Strong, sturdy frame - defined lower half.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, smooth pre-pitch hand rhythm, bat wraps slightly at load, strides short and maintains athletic posture through contact.  Strong fast hands with noticeable bat speed supported by our Blast Motion metrics: averaged 23.53 mph of hand speed and 76.24 mph of bat speed. Long bat path with an uphill attack angle, showed gap-to-gap barrel feel, fluid rhythm throughout.
Power: 93.64 max exit velocity, averaged 84.9 mph. 322’ max distance. Took one of the louder BP rounds of the day.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Arm plays short and finishes from an over-the-top release point.
Defense: 2.02-2.07 pop times. Athletic actions behind the plate, feet work quick from the crouch and gain ground towards target, soft hands at gather, clean exchange to a short trigger release. Received the ball well in his pens, working underneath and presenting with confidence.
Run: 7.61 runner in the 60. 

2. Lorenzo Rios, Joliet Catholic (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/SS
Body: 6-1, 195-pounds. Athletic, well-proportioned frame that projects.
Hit: LHH. Tall setup, smooth and simple load, short stride, easy balance through contact.  Fast hands, loose wrists, short and level bat path. Ball jumps off the barrel in a hurry, strong presence in the box, fluid rhythm throughout.
Power: 94.39 max exit velocity, averaged 90.82 mph. 343’ max distance. One of the highest average exit speeds of the event; routinely worked on the barrel.
Arm: RH. C - 79 mph. INF - 85 mph. Long arm action, high 3/4 slot. Accurate throws to the bag throughout regardless of position.
Defense: 2.08-2.22 pop times. Took reps at catcher and on the infield. Balanced lower half in the crouch, feet gain ground direct to the bag, steady hand transfer, long to release. Feet attack on the infield, glove-hand works out front of body, plays through the baseball with strong body control.
Run: 7.49 runner in the 60. 

3. Anthony Edge, Jacobs (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C/SS
Body: 5-8, 165-pounds. Strong, athletic frame. Looks the part.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, hands load back in a tempo'd rhythm, short stride.  Quick hands with strong wrists/forearms. Uphill bat path, rotates well and whips the barrel head through the zone, loud contact off the barrel.
Power: 92.42 max exit velocity, averaged 88.15 mph. 314’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 80 mph. INF - 85 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.03-2.10 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and on the infield. 
Run: 7.65 runner in the 60. 

4. Mark Wagner, Neuqua Valley (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C/1B
Body: 5-11, 185-pounds. Thick, sturdy frame; strong wrists/forearms.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, quiet and smooth hand load, rhythmic leg kick trigger, controlled balance through contact.  Strong wrists generate some bat speed, barrel head works underneath the baseball on an uphill trajectory, gap-to-gap approach, swings with intent. 
Power: 92.56 max exit velocity, averaged 86.91 mph. 323’ max distance. Advanced raw power for age.
Arm: RH. C - 71 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot that showed some accuracy to the bag.
Defense: 2.15-2.28 pop times. Athletic actions behind the plate. Loose lower half, quick hip turn at gather, feet work direct to target with balance throughout. Soft hands, clean hand transfer, quick trigger release and plays through the baseball.
Run: 8.23 runner in the 60. 

T-5. Tyler Vasey, Prairie Ridge (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C/SS
Body: 5-10, 153-pounds. Lanky frame with wiry strength attached throughout.
Hit: RHH. Starts tall in the box with an open stance, active pre-pitch hand actions, bat wraps around head at load, toe-tap trigger to stride.  Loose fast hands with whippy hand speed; averaged 25.95 mph of hand speed per Blast Motion. Short and flat bat path, simple line drive approach, maintains a fluid rhythm throughout. Rotates exceptionally well for age, averaged 21.85 g of rotational acceleration, per Blast Motion - upside offensive profile.
Power: 96.21 max exit velocity, averaged 83.23 mph. 329’ max distance. Generates power from whippy hands/wrists and wiry strength.
Arm: RH. C - 79 mph. INF - 80 mph. Short arm action, high 3/4 slot.
Defense: 2.11-2.26 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and on the infield. Balanced start from the crouch, works upright at gather, feet stay in line to target, clean transfer with some length to release. Stays back on the baseball in the infield, lower half works around on an angle at times, hands field under center of body.
Run: 6.86 runner in the 60. Above-average foot speed for age. 

T-5. Owen Anderson, Geneva (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/SS
Body: 6-0, 180-pounds. Athletic, well-proportioned frame. Strong lower half.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, smooth hand load, short stride, controlled through contact.  Quiet in the box, simple swing, short bat path, hits in a fluid rhythm.
Power: 88.6 max exit velocity, averaged 78.64 mph. 305’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. INF - 78 mph. Short loose arm action, high 3/4 slot. Throws played accurate to the bag from the chute.
Defense: 2.08-2.10 pop times. Took reps behind the plate and on the infield. Advanced defender behind the plate. Athletic in the crouch, loose flexible lower half, quick feet work direct to target, soft hands, lean and easy release. Defends with a comfortable rhythm on the infield, feet work around the baseball, hands play out front and low to the ground, clean funnels inward to release.
Run: 7.73 runner in the 60. 

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Byron Blaise, Sycamore (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/1B
Body: 6-2, 215-pounds. Large, broad-shouldered frame. Some strength in the lower half.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, slight hand drop at load, steady leg lift trigger to a short stride.  Bat travels on a long and uphill path to contact.
Power: 89.04 max exit velocity, averaged 76.97 mph. 317’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 75 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.07-2.29 pop times. Starts tall some from the crouch, upright stance at gather, feet shuffle in line to target, long to release.
Run: 8.25 runner in the 60. 

Quinn Butera, Jacobs  (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/2B
Body: 5-11, 165-pounds. Lanky, high-waisted frame that projects; some strength in the lower half.
Hit: RHH. Open stance, hands start rested on shoulder and load backward, utilizes a leg lift timing trigger.  Short and level bat path, line drive approach.
Power: 85.42 max exit velocity, averaged 69.77 mph. 247’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 68 mph. Short arm stroke, over-the-top arm slot.
Defense: 2.37-2.48 pop times. Upright posture at gather, feet work in line to target, quick hand transfer, long windup release. Presented the ball well in his pen work.
Run: 7.52 runner in the 60. 

Johnny Carter, Belvidere (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: RHP/C
Body: 5-9, 175-pounds. Athletic frame, room to add strength in the lower half.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup with some crouch in the lower half, active pre-pitch hand actions, bat wraps at load, quick front foot hover to landing.  Short bat path with some twitch in the wrists, flat barrel head through the zone, worked back up the middle.
Power: 89.47 max exit velocity, averaged 78.75 mph. 284’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 77 mph. Long loose arm action, high 3/4 slot. Above-average arm strength from the chute.
Defense: 2.19-2.29 pop times. Sits deep into hips in his stance, lower half stays in line with the bag, clean hand transfer, athletic block.
Run: 7.23 runner in the 60. 

Mac Eccher, Marmion (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/1B
Body: 5-11, 185-pounds. Strong, athletic frame. High-waisted lower half.
Hit: RHH. Athletic posture in the box, balanced setup, hands start high with minimal movement at load, controlled leg kick trigger.  Loose strong hands/wrists with quality Blast Motion metrics: averaged 25.54 mph of hand speed and 77.25 mph bat speed. Uphill plane through the zone, line drive feel to all fields, consistently made hard contact on the barrel.   
Power: 94.93 max exit velocity, averaged 90.22 mph. 321’ max distance. Produced one of the highest average exit velocities of the event; ball jumps off the barrel with ease.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.18-2.29 pop times. Starts tall from the crouch, upright posture at gather, feet work in line to the bag, long hand exchange.
Run: 7.79 runner in the 60. 

Josh Efflandt, Wauconda (IL), 2024
Positional Profile: C/OF
Body: 5-10, 145-pounds. Lean, lanky frame; upside levers.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, front toe starts pointed inward, slight bat wrap at load, short stride.  Long and uphill bat path, hits out front.
Power: 76.46 max exit velocity, averaged 68.14 mph. 258’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. OF - 77 mph. Short and loose arm action works from an over-the-top angle. Accurate throws to the bag from the crouch, comes out clean.
Defense: 2.07-2.12 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and in the outfield. Starts upright from the crouch, tall posture at gather, soft hands receive the baseball in rhythm. Quick feet from the crouch, loose clean exchange with a quick trigger release. Plays around the baseball on the outfield in a tempo'd rhythm.
Run: 7.86 runner in the 60. 

Jackson Griegel, Oswego  (IL), 2024
Positional Profile: 3B/C
Body: 5-9, 165-pounds. Lean athletic frame that's capable of adding strength as physical maturity continues.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, simple hand load with some drop, quick leg lift trigger, controlled through contact.  Simple swing without much added movement, uphill path to contact.
Power: 87.19 max exit velocity, averaged 79.08 mph. 288’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. INF - 78 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top arm slot.
Defense: 2.37-2.54 pop times. Took reps at catcher and on the infield. Loose lower half from the crouch, feet gain ground in rhythm towards target, steady hands, some length to release. Hands play low to the ground on the infield, two-hand gather. 
Run: 7.82 runner in the 60. 

Ashton Morris, Union Grove (WI), 2023
Positional Profile: C/SS
Body: 5-9, 175-pounds. Well-proportioned frame with some strength attached.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, slightly closed front foot, minimal hand load, quick leg kick trigger.  Bat travels on an uphill plane through the zone.
Power: 82.12 max exit velocity, averaged 67.9 mph. 266’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 66 mph. INF - 70 mph. Long arm swing, high 3/4 finish.
Defense: 2.58-2.67 pop times. Worked out as a catcher and infielder. Narrow stance from the crouch, hips hinge forward, long to release. Feet attack the baseball on the infield, glove works under center of body, hands funnel inward.  
Run: 7.48 runner in the 60. 

Francis Muraida, Reavis  (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/OF
Body: 5-10, 160-pounds. Athletic, proportional frame that projects.
Hit: LHH. Stands tall in the box, open stance, active pre-pitch hand rhythm, bat coils at load, leg kick trigger.  Long and uphill bat path, extends through contact.
Power: 92.53 max exit velocity, averaged 81.48 mph. 321’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 74 mph. OF - 80 mph. Arm plays short behind the plate and finishes from an over-the-top angle. Travels on a longer path to release in the outfield.
Defense: 2.04-2.12 pop times. Worked out as a catcher and outfielder. Loose athletic lower half, quick feet that gain ground out of the crouch, clean hand transfer, short trigger release. Active defender in the outfield, athletic feet that work around the baseball, steady hands, plays through at release.  
Run: 8.33 runner in the 60. 

Tyler Patton, Waubonsie Valley (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/1B
Body: 6-0, 220-pounds. Large, physical frame.
Hit: RHH. Balanced setup, hands load back in a smooth rhythm, short stride, stays balanced through contact.    Short bat path, hands work on an uphill trajectory through the zone.
Power: 87.62 max exit velocity, averaged 72.18 mph. 305’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 71 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.18-2.22 pop times. Balanced lower half, works in line to target, quick and clean hand transfer, plays through the baseball.
Run: 8.48 runner in the 60. 

Andrew Platt, Batavia (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C/3B
Body: 6-0, 165-pounds. Lean build.
Hit: RHH. Crouched balanced setup, hands elevate slightly at load, short stride to even.  Hands work short to the baseball, barrel head stays flat through the zone, line drive approach, works on top.
Power: 81.62 max exit velocity, averaged 73.65 mph. 267’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 63 mph. INF - 64 mph. Short compact arm action, finishes from a tight high 3/4 window.
Defense: 2.36-2.43 pop times. Worked out behind the plate and on the infield. Quick hand transfer at gather from the crouch, lower half works in line to target, recoil finish. Plays with some active pre-pitch actions on the infield, hands work out front of body, two-hand gather.
Run: 7.83 runner in the 60. 

Michael Sakalas, Romeoville (IL), 2023
Positional Profile: C/OF
Body: 5-10, 165-pounds. Thin, wiry frame.
Hit: RHH. Open setup, hands start slightly elevated and load back, short leg lift trigger to footstrike.  Long and uphill bat path favored the opposite field.
Power: 75.82 max exit velocity, averaged 63.74 mph. 239’ max distance.
Arm: RH. C - 60 mph. OF - 65 mph. Short arm action, over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.48-2.52 pop times. Took reps behind the plate and in the outfield. Athletic stance from the crouch, some flexibility in the lower half, soft hands, feet work in line to target. Attacks the baseball in a stable rhythm, plays through release.
Run: 7.61 runner in the 60. 

Ben Wisniewski, West Aurora (IL), 2022
Positional Profile: C/3B
Body: 5-10, 200-pounds. Thick, strong lower half.
Hit: LHH. Athletic posture, balanced setup, steady pre-pitch hand rhythm, smooth load, short stride.  Strong hands and wrists produce above-average bat speed, short path, intentful line drive approach - repeats.
Power: 93.54 max exit velocity, averaged 88.62 mph. 325’ max distance. Consistently made hard contact off the barrel.
Arm: RH. C - 73 mph. Arm travels on a short, compact path and finishes from an over-the-top slot.
Defense: 2.26-2.37 pop times. Stands tall at gather, secure exchange, long to release.
Run: 8.50 runner in the 60.

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