Metro East Open: Catching Analysis

By Ryan Quigley              
Illinois Scouting Director

The Prep Baseball Report Metro East Open Showcase held on July 9th at Blazier Field in O’Fallon, Illinois featured many top prospects in the Metro East Area of Southern Illinois outside of St. Louis.  The open showcase included players from the 2015-2018 classes.  Mascoutah’s Jeff Hightower took home the top honors at the catching position, firing off the events top pop times between 1.95-2.0.  Mount Zion’s Merrik Eddington impressed with advanced power at the plate hitting several balls out of the stadium during live batting practice. 

Here’s a look at the top catching prospects at the Metro East.

Top Catching Prospects

1.Jeff Hightower, Catcher, Mascoutah, 2015
6-foot-3, 180-pound right-handed hitting catcher impressed as the top catch and throw prospect at the Metro East Open.  Defensively, fired off pop times ranging from 1.95-2.0 with accuracy and carry down to second base from a short, quick, high ¾ arm action.  Showed soft hands receiving during the pitching portion of the showcase, and possesses a large frame/target to throw to.  Hits from a narrow, balanced setup with a short stride, whipping bat through the zone with a short, level bat path producing 86 mph exit velocity and line drives from gap to gap.  Ran a 7.78 60 and 4.75 from home to first.

2. Merrik Eddington, C, Mount Zion, 2017
5-foot-10, 190-pound strong, barrel-chested right-handed hitting catcher advanced with one of the more advanced bats we’ve seen out of a 2017 prospect.  Eddington’s first swing during live batting practice was a towering homer to deep left field over the batting cages at O’Fallon’s Blazier Field.  He subsequently left the yard in foul territory two more times.  Hits from an open athletic setup, hands loading back smoothly, with a long stride and lower half/hips moving explosively to the baseball.  Showed advanced bat speed for any age, producing 87 mph exit velocity from slightly uphill bat path, looking to pull mostly.  Was the starting catcher on Mount Zion’s varsity as a freshman.  Defensively, throws from a short, over the top arm action with carry to second, producing pop times between 2.11-2.19.  Possesses plenty of arm strength at 78 mph from the crouch, so needs to quicken up feet and speed up transfer.  Ran an 8.00 60.

Chase Hackstadt, C, O’Fallon, 2017
6-foot-1, 180-pound right-handed hitting catcher hit from a tall, open setup with hands held high, short stride, and uphill bat path producing 73 mph exit velocity.  Impressed behind the plate with soft hands receiving, and a stiff wrist on balls down in the zone.  Throws accurately down to second with pop times ranging between 2.10-2.25 from short, loose, over high ¾ arm action at 71 mph from the crouch.  Ran a 7.93 60 and 4.94 from home to first.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Zach Bellflower, C, O’Fallon, 2018
5-foot-11, 180-pound right-handed hitting catcher hits from a balanced setup with very little, to no stride.  Hits off back side, leaning back, with slightly uphill bat path and 74 mph exit velocity.  Pop times to second base ranged between 2.47-2.61.  Ran an 8.02 60.

Seth Boschert, C, Alton, 2016
5-foot-10, 172-pound left-handed hitting catcher hit from a wide, closed stance with no stride, utilizing a heel lift to load hips.  Level bat path produced 74 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, throws from short, over the top arm action standing up early out of crouch.  Threw 66 mph down to second with pop times ranging between 2.28-2.37.  Ran a 7.87 60.

Jacob Holl, C/OF, O’Fallon, 2015
6-foot, 185-pound right-handed hitting catcher/outfielder hit from a crouched, open setup with a short stride and hands moving back smoothly in load.  Showed a short, level bat path with some lift to his pull side and 82 mph exit velocity.  In the outfield, threw from a long, high ¾ arm slot with average carry at 71 mph.  Shortens arm action behind the plate, with better arm strength at 74 mph from the crouch, with pop times ranging between 2.08-2.19.  Ran a 7.72 60.

Boomer Johnson, C, O’Fallon, 2016
5-foot-9, 165-pound right-handed hitting catcher hit form an open stance with a long stride utilizing a leg kick.  Showcased a level bat path with opposite field tendencies producing 74 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, throws from short, over the top arm slot with pop times ranging between 2.39-2.61, and threw 63 mph from the crouch.  Ran a 7.86 60.

Adam Jones, C, Century, 2016
6-foot-2, 200-pound left-handed hitting catcher hits from a tall setup with a leg kick and short level bat path producing 83 mph exit velocity.  Sprayed several line drives during batting practice, but fails to utilize lower half in swing.  Defensively, threw 2.11-2.26 down to second base, 70 mph from the crouch.  Ran a 7.75 60 yard dash.

Seth Nast, C, Wesclin, 2018
5-foot-8, 172-pound strong right-handed hitting catcher impressed as one of the Metro East Open’s top 2018 prospects.  Hits from a wide balanced setup with smooth hand load, short stride, and a plus, short, level bat path to the baseball producing 79 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, showcased a short, over the top, accurate arm on throws to second base with pop times ranging between 2.33-2.40 at 65 mph from the crouch.  Ran a 7.61 60. 

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