PBR Ontario's Top Stories For 2014: The 2016 Catching Class



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By Chris Kemlo and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Ontario Director of Scouting and Ontario Editor in Chief

Top 12 Stories for The Year 2014


Although PBR Ontario started up just three months ago Chris Kemlo, PBR Ontario Director of Scouting, looks back at the year in review and put together a list of the top stories for 2014.

To start off the list, Chris chose a long running piece that has provided players and parents with valuable knowledge when it comes to recruiting.

To follow that up we looked at "The Recruiting Trail" which updates where all the prospects across the province have been visiting, who they are getting attention from, and who they have committed to.

Next up Chris chose to look two outstanding prospects who lead the 2017 class as the two top prospects in Canada. When watching them on the field, they could be called the "Hall and Davis Show"

For this story Chris looks at how talented the 2016 catching class is.

Each day we will reveal the next story on the list. A hint for the next story is the word "NABF".

A rundown of the stories: Note: We will be conducting a Twitter contest to vote on the top 12 stories for 2014 once the 12 stories have been posted.

2016 Catching Class


If you are looking for a left-handed hitting catcher, the 2016 class from Ontario might be a good place to start.

Four catchers who all swing it from the left side are ranked in the top ten for the Ontario class of 2016. Leading the way at the number one spot is 6-foot-2, 205-pound Luke Van Rycheghem. Van Rycheghem made big strides during the week of Tournament 12 and continued that throughout the fall with his travel team the Ontario Blue Jays. Van Rycheghem has been repeatedly clocked at a 1.95-2.00 pop time behind the plate with a clean transfer and online carry. It’s easy to think he will continue to improve his defensive skills as he is somewhat still new to the position as he was a third baseman and pitcher in years past. For his size and strength, Van Rycheghem moves well behind the dish and shows proper footwork when blocking and receiving. Offensively, he has a chance to be a real power threat at the plate, his hands are loose and generates good bat speed through the hitting zone. Right now he has power to his pull side, while putting together quality at bats. He may have had the at-bat of the tournament at Rogers Centre when he fouled off pitch after pitch in the bottom of the 7th against team BC. The outcome wasn’t what he would of liked, but he was able to show that he can bare down in big moments.

Right on Van Rycheghem tail for the top spot is 6-foot-3, 203-pounder Andy Yerzy. With his size, some people may think he can end up at first base but Yerzy has given no sign that he ready to make that move. His hands and body work well behind the plate, doing a good job of receiving and framing pitches. The arm works well with good carry as Yerzy is in the low 2.00 with his pop times. What excites most recruiters about Yerzy is the projection at the plate. Real good hands that work direct to the ball, Andy has the power potential to hit the ball out the park to all fields. He has tinkered with his mechanics  and now hits from a wide stance with little movement with his upper half. It allows him to involve his legs and generate more with his lower half. The Team Canada catcher looks to have a strong spring, and has the opportunity to be an early sign in 2015.

Next on the list at number four is Max Wright from the Great Lake Canadians. At 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, Wright may have the nicest swing in his class with a chance to be a pure hitter. He does a good job of not getting too big, and makes constant contact to all fields while still showing enough power to make him a threat to leave the yard. An athletic player, Wright runs a 7.09 in the 60-yard dash, and has also shown the ability to play left field and first base. Behind the plate he demonstrates a quick transfer and quick feet, allowing him to make strong throws on the bag. His arm strength will need to improve, he was clocked at 71 mph at our first event but has shown more in previous games and events. Sidelined last summer with a minor injury, Wright seems to have overcome that and continues to build his arm strength over the winter. We know Max will continue to hit a be a big contributor at the next level, and if he is able to fine tune a few things defensively, Wright could be in for a big year and continue to garner attention from top D1 schools.

The last catcher on the in the top ten may have the most electric arm of them all; Zach Fascia. Fascia has been to a handful of PBR events and his pop times have shown off his strong right arm as he is a 1.91-1.93 with his pop times. His velocity has been clocked at 81 mph behind the plate which is plus, while he is agile and shows proper mechanics receiving and blocking. Right now, he may be the most sound overall from a defensive standpoint. At the plate, Fascia does a good job of staying inside the ball, and created good rotation to contact. At times he may have too much movement, causing him to leak and struggle with some off-speed pitches. The ability to sow the game down offensively, and continue to get stronger will only add to his all around value. Fascia seems poised to have a big spring and will be a high follow for recruiters for the class of 2016.

Also in the mix are Ty Barclay and Mark Bernardi. Both right-handed hitters, Barclay is a sound catcher behind the dish with strong compete level. Added strength to his 5-foot-9, 155-pound frame will push him into elite level and help all aspects of his game. Bernardi may be Barclay’s opposite. Big and strong at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, Bernardi will look to improve his defensive side this winter, as that will be his biggest challenge as he has the makings of a power hitter from the right side.