Prep Baseball Report

2022 JUCO Season Preview: Salt Lake Bruins

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director



2023 PBR JUCO Preseason Rankings: Salt Lake Bruins #8

The defending 2022 NJCAA SWAC and Region 18 Champions, kick off the 2023 season on Friday and Saturday, Jan 27th and 28th in St. George, UT vs Arizona powerhouse South Mountain CC @ Pine View HS. Game times are scheduled for a 1:00 pm (DH) on Friday and an 11:00 am (DH) on Saturday. Jeff Scholzen, the PBR Utah Scouting Director will be there covering the players and all the action for Prep Baseball Report. Watch for player content on Twitter at @PBR_Utah and Jeff Scholzen's personal account at @utahscout1219

The Nelson File

Entering his 20th year as the skipper of the Salt Lake Bruins, is Head Coach - D.G. Nelson (BYU). "Deeg" as his baseball friends call him, Coach Nelson is a Mountain View HS alum in Orem, UT, and was an All-WAC middle INF at Brigham Young U in the mid 90's and after a brief stint in professional baseball (Independent), Nelson then ventured into his long college coaching career soon after. 

Prior to joining SLCC as an assistant coach in 2000, Nelson was an assistant at Dixie State College on its SWAC Championship and NJCAA National Runner-Up team. He also served as a hitting coach for the St. George Pioneerzz in 2002, a former independent minor league team and worked as a graduate assistant at Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1998 and 1999.

2004 was the start of the Nelson era at Salt Lake, and in his 19 years at the helm, the Bruin skipper has accumulated an impressive win-loss record of 633-359, which is the highest win total of any SWAC Head Coach of all-time. 

Coach Nelson comes from one of the most decorated baseball families in Utah state history, as he is the nephew of long time American Fork and Timpanogos Head Coach, Kim Nelson (42 years), who was an All-American INF at BYU, and played in the Minnesota Twins system, reaching as high as AAA. Kim Nelson is the all-time winningest high school baseball coach in Utah state history, and set a bench mark for wins, that it's safe to say may never be reach in any of our lifetime's. Last but not least, "Deeg's" biggest inspiration to carry the Nelson torch at the collegiate level, was his late father, Dave Nelson, who was the legendary Utah Valley U head coach in the junior college days of the program in the mid 70's to early 90's, before retiring to spend more time watching Deeg play HS baseball. Coach Dave Nelson, was also a former pitcher at BYU and was drafted out of Viewmont HS in Bountiful, UT by the "69 Miracle" New York Mets.

Side Note: Coach Dave Nelson was PBR Utah Scouting Director, Jeff Scholzen's college coach at Utah Valley and the two would face each other as competitor's in opposing dugouts years later, when "Deeg" was a player at BYU. Coach Nelson was a volunteer coach for the Cougars, when Scholzen was the Head Coach at Southern Utah U, so to say Scholzen knows the Nelson family is an understatement.  

Team Preview

Winning has become tradition for the Bruins, who haven’t had a losing season since 2009. They finished last season with 47 victories and won the Region 18 tournament before ultimately falling to national champion Central Arizona in the district playoffs. Salt Lake brings back some key pieces from last year, however, and a few additions have them poised for another big year. The Bruins’ season begins on January 27th against South Mountain CC in St. George, UT at Pine View HS, due to inclement weather in Salt Lake City.

Offensively, OF Jaxon Weatherly returns after a productive year in 2022, particularly towards the stretch run. He slashed .363/.450/.648 and has loud tools across the board packed into a physical 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. Another key piece is INF Chip Beck, as the first-year Bruin should serve as the team’s starting shortstop thanks to his highly advanced up-the-middle glove. CIF Daniel Gonzalez saw success in a brief sample last year, while sophomores C/OF Jarret Elmer, OF Preston Winget, and INF Dax Swenson are all names expected to contribute. Other names-to-know are INF Jack Bluth, CIF Jalen Seward, and OF Trey Gambill

WEST DISTRICT PREVIEW: No. 11 SLCC Baseball to host NJCAA Western District tournament

Pitching and defense are this team’s strength - they led all of NJCAA in team ERA last season (2.72) and had the third highest team fielding percentage (.972) as well. It starts on the mound with RHP Shay Timmer (Utah) and LHP Dax Purser, both of whom find themselves within our Top 150 ranking, at 81 and 83 respectively. At 6-foot-8, Timmer has a heavy, low-90s fastball and complements it with two effective offerings, especially a swing-and-miss changeup. Purser was an NJCAA 3rd Team All-American last year, pitching to a 1.70 ERA with a perfect 11-0 record over 74 ⅓ innings of work. He’s a tried-and-true strike thrower that gives the Bruins an opportunity to win each game he toes the rubber. RHP Kyle Keyes, an Oregon State transfer, really pounds the zone with his cutter. He’s expected to be a strong part of this pitching staff after an impressive fall. RHP Jordan Pace punched out 29 and walked only three over 25 innings of work last season, while 7-foot-2, 240-pound RHP James Boeree has made considerable strides throughout the fall. Two newcomers to note: RHP Dalton Smith and RHP Traton Staheli. Smith should compete for innings early on in his career, while Staheli is somewhat of an ‘X-Factor’, as he was a MLB scouted player in 2021 at Pine View HS, owning a loud fastball, that ranged from 90-95. Staheli turned down a huge offer out of HS to USC, to instead pursue a preferred walk-on spot at BYU. Staheli red-shirted a year ago, due to a prior injury that flared up, and subsequently had surgery, and took the mound for the first time a couple of weeks ago, to start his climb back in pursuing his ceiling. A loud arm with a 6-5 200 big league frame, Staheli still has some 20-30 Lbs of weight to add. There is inexperience here, but Staheli has been a diamond in the rough for quite some time now. If all things click, this is the reason for the "X-Factor" tag!



Players moving on to 4-Year schools from the 2022 NJCAA Region 18 Champions:

Bruer Webster   University of Utah (2022 NJCAA Gold Glove / 2021 National Defensive POY)

Karson Bodily     University of Utah

Ernesto Lugo   University of Utah

Derik Eaquinto St. Mary's College ('22 NJCAA National ERA Leader)  

Spencer Jones Washington State University

Zachary Blaszak Montana State University- Billings

Hunter Smith   Montana State University- Billings

Braden Winget Colorado Mesa University

Chase Taylor Hawaii Pacific University

Travis Johnson Hawaii Pacific University

Dalton Hodge   Southeastern University- Florida

Jordan Scott   Northwest Nazarene University




2023 In-State Players, that have committed or signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Bruins in 2024:

PBR Utah event participants w/an asterisk *

Name Pos Ht Wt B-T High School
* Avery Doezie 1B 6-4 200 L-L Cottonwood
* Kaden Hodson 3B 6-2 210 R-R Lone Peak
Aiden McMullin MIF 5-9 180 R-R Cyprus
* Gage Olsen RHP 6-1 165   Copper Hills
* Jake Olsen SS 6-0 160 R-R Lehi
* Jaiven Ross LHP 6-3 195   Crimson Cliffs
* Beau Sampson LHP 6-5 210   Crimson Cliffs
* Crew Schenk RHP 5-11 185   Skyridge
* Bridger Slade 1B/LHP 6-3 200 L-L Bingham
* Austin Taylor    RHP      6-1   160       Copper Hills  
    Chett Wilson       SS/OF   6-1   190 L-R Wasatch           

PBR JUCO Top 150 Prospects

#81 - Dax Purser

An NJCAA 3rd Team All-American in 2022, Purser was dominant as he compiled a won-loss record of 11-0 with a 1.70 ERA, to go along with 92 strikeouts to 30 walks in 74.1 IP. Pitching to wood bats in the mountain air, he limited opponents to a .196 batting average. With a big bodied, country strong build and a strong lower half that is similar in the look of a Mark Buerhle, the third-year sophomore shows deception, as he hides the ball well with a closed front side after breaking his hands and riding the slope with a downhill plane. His arm works well and features a three-pitch mix with a fastball in the 87-91 range, sitting comfortably at 88-89. He’s able to spot and locate to all four quadrants of the zone, and induces soft contact, while playing his home games on turf at an elevated mountain setting. His curveball has three-quarter tilt w/depth below the zone and can manipulate the pitch in creating sweeping action at times, creating chase help out of the zone to LHHs. The change of pace is a soft contact pitch vs RHHs with fading action in the zone.

#83 - Shay Timmer (Utah)

A towering man among boys type build that reminds of former MLB pitcher Jeff Niemann. An ACL injury kept Timmer out of action through the summer/fall headed into his senior campaign at Bingham HS and he was behind the 8 ball a bit headed into the 2021 season as one of the top uncommitted prep arms at the time. Pitching with a compact delivery that features extreme downhill plane from his towering height, Timmer breaks over the rubber in timing and sequencing his delivery, while coming at hitters with a short to medium takeaway in back. This action produces a short dart-like high three-quarter arm slot through release. His fastball ranged from 88-93 with ride and carry through the zone a year ago, but is now in the 91-95 range. He could add even more mph as he continues along in his college career. His 74-77 mph curveball shows slurve type action and his changeup 74-75 with feel to kill spin. Its fade and late sinking action creates swing/miss below the zone. Look for a big year out of Timmer in 2023 as he moves into the rotation for one of the better staffs out west.


Super 60 Pro Showcase NATIONAL 02/05 The MAX - McCook, IL
Utah Preseason ID UT 02/11 The Hive (Juab HS Fieldhouse) - Nephi, UT
Preseason All-State (Invite-Only) UT 03/04 Hurricane High School
Northern Utah Rising Stars ID UT 04/22 American Fork High School - American Fork, UT
Southern Utah Rising Stars ID     UT             05/06 Hurricane High School Hurricane, UT               




Scholzen was brought on as the Utah Scouting Director for Prep Baseball Report after serving 9 years as the Four Corners Scouting Supervisor with the Milwaukee Brewers (2011-2020). Prior to his run with the Brewers, Scholzen worked for the Los Angeles Angels for 11 years (1999-2010), serving in a similar capacity as the Four Corners Scouting Supervisor. In all, Scholzen served as a full-time scout for 20 years. Scholzen also received a 2002 World Series ring for his contributions as a scout. 

With the Angels, Scholzen created an Angels Scout Team, in which he coached the likes of current and former major league players: Kris Bryant, Kevin Gausman, Greg Bird, Tyler Wagner, Aaron Blair, Joey Rickard, Donn Roach, Johnny Field, Taylor Cole and Paul Sewald to name a few. During his run with the the Angels, Scholzen served as the hitting coach for the Angels rookie ball affiliate with the Pioneer League Orem Owlz, helping guide the Owlz to the 2005 and 2007 Pioneer League titles.

Prior to becoming a professional scout, Scholzen served as the head coach at Southern Utah University between 1993-1997. At the time, Scholzen was the youngest Division I head coach when he was first hired at 24 years old. The Southern Utah baseball program was dropped after the 2012 season. While coaching at Southern Utah, Scholzen served as the hitting coach for the Alaska Goldpanners in 1995, as they won the Alaska League Championship. 

A native of Utah, Scholzen played at Hurricane HS and was twice named 1st team All-State and an AAU HM All-American, before moving on to Utah Valley CC and Eastern Oregon University, earning All-Conference honors on three separate occasions. Scholzen played in the Angels’ organization from 1991-1992.