Prep Baseball Report

2024 Utah Power 25 Rankings: Preseason Edition

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

2024 Utah Power 25 Rankings: Preseason Edition

With the high school season now upon us, we will continue our preseason team previews throughout the rest of the week, with top teams and eventual state champions from a year ago. With the official start of season today, with some non league matchups in the Southern Utah area, coming up this weekend, schools up north are fighting snow and weather, with very cold conditions. With over 30 schools descending on the St. George area for the annual pilgrimage of preseason tournaments. The opening weekend, will be a sun splashed Dixie tradition, with temperatures forecasted for the low to miod 60's in Utah's Dixie, the sunshine and baseball will be a plenty. 

As the rankings below suggests, it is always difficult to gauge rankings outside of the top 10-12 teams in the state. With the traditional powers, who consistently put up 20+ win seasons and produce talent at the college level more so than others, by and large they get the nods and spots above others. But to be clear, I’m sending out preseason coaches QA’s for team previews, and the coaches are asked to rank the top 5 teams in their region, as well as the top 5 teams in their classification. Coaches opinions are weighed heavily and this is a 50/50 coaches poll, in combination with the 16 showcase events ran by Prep Baseball Utah throughout the state, in viewing the top players in showcase settings. In addition my subjective as well as objective view of how that top talent will play out on the field in leading their respective teams during the spring. So far over the past month, myself along with my staff has seen 188 top uncommitted and committed players come through the two Utah Preseason ID events (78 players) and invite only Utah Preseason All-State (110 players). Also another factor is last summers prestigious regional and national level events with the Top Prospect Games, West Coast Games, Future Games and ProCase-West. The vast majority of the top talent is spread throughout the top 20 ranked teams. On a larger note, 89% of all the college committed players in the state, have been to at least one PBR Utah event, with 72% coming multiple or 4-5 times throughout their HS careers. 

With personally attending close to 50 games throughout each of the past two spring seasons, the top players are seen at a rate, that fans, schools and coaches are limited to in scope. These players have been seen and tracked throughout the entirety of their HS careers. It’s easy to say one's catcher is the best catcher in the state on a social media post or team QA, but when that individual is limited to the talent they see only in their region and when that catcher is not even in my top 10 and the #1 player in the class is a catcher, I tend to question the evaluation. As a former scout, the network that has been built and opportunities to see players are vast, top players are the ones that for the most part carry a team to a high standing. Now gelling that talent together is on the coaches and cohesiveness of the team members.  

I will always lean towards top producing coaches and their track records, regardless of that years talent on the club. Of note, more 4A/5A/6A teams make up the top rankings, because of the amount of teams in those classes, but a 2A/3A team that has a deep college talent pool or a stud ace or two that are committed to a college, that has to be considered. Because on any given day a top pitcher, such as Oklahoma State RHP-Janzen Keisel (Gunnison HS) will shut down any team in the state 8-10 times over the course of a season, regardless of his teams classification!

One of the other separators I look at, not only in ranking players in our Top Prospect rankings and posts, is the history and strength of a REGION. I do not care whether a team is a certain classfication. Just becaue the UHSAA slaps a class size number on a school, based on enrollment, 4A-6A class on a school, doesn't mean anything to me. Talent is talent, and on any given year a 4A school down south will beat any 5A/6A school up north, outside of a handful of powerhouse team or two, two-thirds of the time. The top 3 college talent producing regions in order, are Region 9 in the St. George area (4A), Region 4 in the northern Utah county area (6A), and Region 3 in the south and southwest Salt Lake county area (6A).

For example, last years 3A state champion, Juab Wasps were 7-1 vs 5A/6A schools and 10 runned a 19 win 6A school, baseball unlike as I said with football and basketball, is a completely different animal.

Another example is BYU who a year ago had 3 of their top 4 hitters were from St. George schools (4A) in their daily lineup and all 3 were former Gatorade Players of the Year and Deseret News "Mr. Baseball's." One was also the WCC Player of the Year and drafted in the 10th Rd of the MLB draft by the Houston Astros. This is not the author being a homer, it's just fact! In this years D1 Baseball conference previews, 9 Utah players were mentioned as either impact freshman or top 20-25 draft prospects for their respective draft year and 6 of the 9 were from down south. Baseball is cyclical and it could reverse on any given year, but as of right now, Region 9, formerly Region 10 is leading the state in college commits/signings over the last 4 years, post-CoVid...

DISCLAIMER: A big separator, is the PLAYERS themselves. MaxPreps, the Deseret News, DO NOT know the teams, they just know algorithims and that's it! I can't stress enough, that OUR rankings are the real deal, and I know the teams, who their top players are and also their up and coming players as well, that are younger and even pre-high school players from our Rising Stars ID event.

Also factored in, is the strength of a particular region and how many winning teams are in that region and how many patsies are there as well. If a region has a team or multiple teams that fail to win even 10 games and are routinely giving up absurd amounts of runs to other teams, a quality team can’t control this, but it does have to be factored in as to why a win total can be padded and stats altered in a negative light as to their validity. As I’ve pointed out, many can put a list of teams together based on stats and what they’ve heard, but players and teams have to be seen by someone credible and no one does it better than Prep Baseball. I have a vast network that I trust to gather intel, on top of my own looks, which is the ultimate source!   


1. Mountain Ridge (6A)

The Sentinels have steadily built one of the better programs in the state and are a perennial 20+ win program over the past 5 years, however they haven't taken that next step, as other programs such as Desert Hills and Crimson Cliffs down south have done in their first few years of existence. Opening in 2019, this is only the 4th full year for the school, and Head Coach - Brock Whitney now has a roster that not only made the 6A final 8 last spring, but this team has all the makings of not only taking that next step, but making a very deep run at a state title. The Sentinels are the only team in the state with "four" D1 commits/signees, as well as similar or close to type talent, that are still uncommitted, but won't be much longer, and that makes this team very dangerous. 

Players to Know

2025 Dylan Singleton, LHP ~ Yale commit (2022-2023 Prep Baseball Future Games)

2024 Jaxson Reiser, RHP/OF ~ Oklahoma signee (2022 Prep Baseball Future Games)

2024 Austin Ellis, C ~ Northwestern State signee (2021-2022 Prep Baseball Future Games)

2025 Ethan Iacono, RHP ~ Uncommitted (FB 88-91 ~ 2023 Prep Baseball Future Games)

2025 Tucker Norris, OF 

2024 Remington Edwards, OF ~ (2023 Prep Baseball West Coast Games)

2025 Stockton Fowlks, 3B 

Young Guns 

2027 Cooper Goff, OF ~ TCU commit

2027 Josh Draney, 1B/OF 

2027 Brody Buck, C/UTL (Son of former MLB All-Star catcher and Utah native, John Buck)

2. Snow Canyon (4A)

The Warriors for the past decade plus, have been the standard barrier for how a program is built and produces next level players. With 3 Gatorade Players of the Year to their credit, the Warriors have made the 3A or 4A State tourney every year for 10 years, as well as playing for the state title, more than a handful of times, while winning the ultimate prize 3 times! Legendary Snow Canyon "Skipper" Reed Secrist and Pitching Coach and former 12 year MLB pitcher, Brandon Lyon, have 25 years of professional baseball on their resume, and have now played for the 4A state title, the last 3 years in a row! The 2021 sqaud ran roughshod over every one, on their way to winning it all, and have finished runner-up to cross town rival Crimson Cliffs, the past two years! With a loaded D1/JUCO committed lineup, that featured 7 position players on the field at any one time, who were committed, the '21 squad was nationally ranked at one point. This years group is not as loaded with tools as that club, but it's depth is impressive, and I count 12 players that are either committed right now, or who I believe will be moving forward in their HS careers. There are 7 current college commits for the "Warriors" right now and this senior group, has a chance to return and play for the state title for the 4th time in their HS careers!

Players to Know

2024 Crew Secrist, SS ~ CSI (2022 West Coast Games)

2024 Talan Kelly, 3B/RHP ~ Utah Tech

2024 Hayden Smith, C ~ Glendale CC (2023 West Coast Games)

2024 Ryder Harrison, OF ~ Salt Lake CC (2022 West Coast Games)

2024 Makaio Swensen, OF/RHP ~ Salt Lake CC (2022 PBR Future Games, 2022-2023 West Coast Games)

2024 Andrew Lyon, RHP (2023 PBR Future Games)

2024 Jackson Kirby, RHP ~ Glendale CC

2024 Kyson Goates, RHP ~ Lassen CC

2024 Damon Ence, 2B

2025 Dewy Gibb, 1B 

2026 Trey Vaughn, 1B

Key Newcomers

2024 Darius Henderson, RHP/OF

*** Darius Henderson is a transfer from Hillcrest HS in Salt Lake City. His FB registers 87-90. He has an older brother (Damian Henderson) that played at Salt Lake CC as an All-SWAC Outfielder, before being drafted and converted to the mound by the Cincinnati Reds Org.

3. Dixie (4A)

The Flyers are another iconic southern Utah program and state powerhouse, along with Snow Canyon, Dixie is a top 5 producing school in the state at churning out college talent.

One of the richest histories of Utah HS Baseball, along with the many rich traditions of Northern Utah baseball. But as far as Southern Utah Baseball, Snow Canyon has the richest tradition of the past 20 years with 4-5 state titles in that span, but the Dixie Flyers have 2 titles in the past 5 years, along with the longest and richest tradition of any Southern Utah baseball team of the past 45 years!

The Flyers will have a tall task in replacing, though he may not be replaceable in current BYU RHP-Cayson Bell, who as a junior was a finesse style with a pitchability type approach and over night with hard work and determination, saw his FB jump from 83-86 to 90-94 and what was a Glendale commitment at the time, turned into a recruiting war for Bell's right arm. The arm that will step in and look to fill that role, will be recently offered (by a national powerhouse JC) junior RHP-Jake Andreas, a Basic HS, NV move in a year ago, who came out of the pen and showed flashes of brilliance. LHP Braxton Yates, the brother of former Utah/UVU SS/RHP-Kayler Yates (2019 31st Rd Dodgers draft pick) and his competitive fire and high pitchability IQ, can sit hitters down on a consistent basis, but ultimately along with those 2 arms, this team goes as far as the 4 big bats of next level players in senior 3B-Logan Leavitt, SS-Boston Vest, C-Ridge Erickson and 1B-Cooper Batholomew... 

Players to Know

2024 Ridge Erickson, C ~ BYU (2022 PBR Future Games, 2023 West Coast ProCase)

2024 Boston Vest, SS ~ New Mexico State (2022 PBR Future Games)

2024 Braxton Yates, LHP ~ CSI (2023 West Coast Games)

2024 Logan Leavitt, 3B ~ Glendale CC (2022-2023 West Coast Games)

2024 Max Orton, 2B

2024 Jake Andreas, RHP ~ (2023 PBR Future Games Invite)

Cooper Bartholomew - SR 1B ~ CSI

Key Newcomer

2025 Carter Turley, C/UTL ~ (2023 PBR Future Games) Transfer from Brighton HS, who will share the catcher responsibilities with Erickson early when 4-5 games occur over a 2-3 day period in pre-season tourneys, but will give way in region play and move around the diamond to get his AB's. Turley will take over the catching responsibilities full-time once again in 2025, as he did before at Brighton HS!




Scholzen comes to Prep Baseball 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 the same capacity as the "Four Corners" Scouting Supervisor (UT, WY, So-ID, Las Vegas, AZ, CO, NM and El Paso). Scholzen received a 2002 World Series ring for his contributions as a scout with the Angels. 

With the Angels, Scholzen created an Angels Scout Team, in which he coached the following MLB players: Kris Bryant, Kevin Gausman, Greg Bird, Tyler Wagner, Aaron Blair, Joey Rickard, Donn Roach, Johnny Field, Taylor Cole, Andy Burns and Paul Sewald to name a few.

During his run with the the Angels, Scholzen also served as the hitting coach for the Angels rookie ball affiliate in the Pioneer League, the Orem Owlz, helping guide the Owlz to the 2005 and 2007 Pioneer League titles, which earned Jeff two more championship rings.

In Scholzen's 20 year scouting career, he was credited with the signing of 6 MLB players starting with: Brandon Wood, SS, Angels 2003, 1st Rd ~ Efren Navarro, 1B, Angels 2007, 50th Rd ~ Donn Roach, RHP, Angels 2010, 3rd Rd ~ Tyler Wagner, RHP, Brewers 2012, 4th Rd ~ Payton Henry, C, Brewers 2016, 6th Rd ~ Ryan Aguilar, 1B/OF - Brewers 2017, 31st Rd ~ Scholzen also had an additional 3 players added to various clubs 40 man MLB rosters over the years. Currently 2019 (14th Rd) draft pick, RHP-Paxton Schultz from Utah Valley U, is currently in AAA with the Toronto Blue Jays, and former 40 man Brewes rostered RHP (Utah Tech) just recently returned from Korea and signed with the NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks and will most likely start the year in AAA and once stretched out after an injury plagued 2023, File will move up to AAA!

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 in the country, 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. Scholzen also recruited and coached World Series RHP-Ryan Jensen of the San Francisco Giants, who would earn a top 5 finish for NL Rookie of the Year in 2022. Scholzen and Jensen had the unique opportunity, to be on opposing sides of the ledger, when Scholzen's Angels and Jensen's Giants squared off in the 2002 MLB Fall Classic.

Scholzen also had the pleasure of coaching Jensen's roommate and back up catcher, Kyle Turner who has worked in professional/major league baseball for 24 years. Kyle currently is in his 14th season with the big league Kansas City Royals and serves as the clubs Head Athletic Trainer. Turner was instramental, while a young player for Scholzen at Southern Utah, in introducing Scholzen to his first wife, the late Heidi Dalton Scholzen, who passed away in December of 2014. 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 in 1991.

Scholzen was married to his late wife Heidi for 20 years and their union produced four children - McKyla 27, Miranda 24, McKenzie 22 and the couples only son, Grant Scholzen 19, who is a freshman 2B at D1 WCC school, the U of the Pacific (Pacific Tigers) on scholarship. After Heidi's passing in 2014, Scholzen married Cami Macias Scholzen, a widow herself and the same age as Heidi and the couple now have been married 8 years. Between both families, Jeff has 3 grandchildren and 5 step grandchildren (8 total) and the Scholzen's reside in Hurricane, UT in the bottom left SW corner of the state near the most iconic and scenic national parks in the country.