Tools of the Trade: Class of 2024 Defenders
September 11, 2023
Often times considered the "Florida of the north," Pennsylvania has surfaced as a known hot-bed for upper-echelon talent, and the class of 2024 is no different. The amount of frontline college-ready arms can steal the spotlight at times, but the athletes up the middle have been just as special heading into their senior year. When going through the evaluation process, we use the five tools (hit, power, glove, arm, and run) as a barometer for comparing players against one another. Obviously, these tools need to be honed properly and accompanied by in-game success in order for them to have full effect. Today we break down one of the top tools within an exciting class of prospects.
As the saying goes "defense wins championships," and having a strong core at the C, MIF, and OF spots can be suffocating for the opposition. Some of the more important commonalities among the pros are speed, footwork, tempo, posture, angles, arm-strength, transfers, and slot, however baseball instincts & feel also come into play. Take a look at some of the best 2024 defenders statewide who do most, if not all to keep zeros off the board.
Creed Erdos C / RHP / Seneca Valley, PA / 2024
Rankings StateRank: 42 / POS: 6
Broad-shouldered and physical at 6-foot, 185-pounds, Erdos made calling pitches a nightmare at the PA State Games. The advanced receiver repeatedly beat the ball to the spot with plus feel for the pocket, winning multiple 50/50's. Pop times have dipped below 1.90 seconds in showcase setting, up to 81MPH, but it's the ability to slow the game down that is rare to find.
Sammy Laux C / SS / Dock Mennonite , PA / 2024
Rankings StateRank: 36 / POS: 5
One of the more mature frames at 6-foot-1, 200-pounds, Laux has a chance to be a shutdown catch-and-throw guy behind the dish. The primary backstop gains ground on the exchange with effortless 83MPH arm-strength on 1.88-1.95 pops. A strong, but athletic lower-half allows for some hip mobility and range while blocking. He's an extremely quiet receiver who offers an easy target for pitchers.
Jonathan Holt SS / 3B / Malvern Prep, PA / 2024
Rankings StateRank: 25 / POS: 2
Both the size and ability to change angle on the move at 6-foot-3, 190-pounds point to Holt sticking on the left side of the infield long-term. An 87MPH throwing arm stacks as a bonus with a quick first-step in either direction. There's a deep route tree and he isn't afraid of using one-hand when outside the body. Showed his presence at the hot corner for the 2023 PAISAA state champs, Malvern Prep.
Notre Dame commit
Harry Carr SS / RHP / Bonner-Prendergast, PA / 2024
Rankings StateRank: 74 / POS: 10
The sub-7.00 runner was at the mercy of 2023 MLB Draft pick Kevin McGonigle at SS for Bonner over the past few years. Equipped with an upper-80's arm-strength and lateral quickness, Carr looks the part of a collegiate starting MIF. We've seen him make insane plays with a high degree of difficulty appear routine, able to drive off of either foot at release.
Jay Slater C / Downingtown West, PA / 2024
Rankings StateRank: 27 / POS: 3
Exhibit A of what raw strength is, Slater doesn't need many additional moving parts to get the ball in/out of the glove with an 82MPH catcher arm. Utilizes perfect direction towards the target from a H 3/4 slot, ranging 1.90-2.03 on the money. The imposing 6-foot, 198-pounder works hard to bury pitches in the dirt with soft walls and downward chest angles.
Alec Warden SS / 2B / Thomas Jefferson , PA / 2024
Rankings StateRank: 90 / POS: 15
Now a mid-80's arm across the INF with a 6.78 60-yard dash, Warden operates under 4.00s footwork and really picks it at short. The baseball IQ stands out at 6-foot, 180-pounds, as well as an accurate arm when off-balance. Though the body is smaller compared to other SS, he gets downhill with a purpose and finishes. If there is an eventual push to 2B, the range will be above AVG.
Gavin Kelly C / SS / Pittsburgh Central Catholic, PA / 2024
A legitimate "utility" player with a starting resume at catcher AND shortstop, Kelly is good enough to handle either. The 6.66 runner has been into the 1.88-1.97 territory at 80MPH with simple twitch from the crouch. Likewise, there's a methodical approach on the dirt, chopping the feet & breaking off the stem for an 86MPH INF arm; blessed with advanced hand-speed all over.
|2023 PA Last Chance: East||PA||10/07||Wilkes University - Wilkes Barre, PA|
|2023 PA Last Chance: West/WV||PA||10/14||Washington & Jefferson College - Washington, PA|
|2023 York-Adams League Scout Day||PA||10/17||South Hanover YMCA - Hanover, PA|
|2023 Northeast JUCO Sophomore/Transfer Showcase||PA||10/22||Heritage Financial Park - Wappingers Falls, NY|
|2023 PA Fall Top Prospect Games||PA||10/22||Fairchild Field / Shippensburg University|
|2023 PA Last Chance: Central||PA||10/29||Liberty Arena - Williamsport, PA|