Utah HS Team Preview: Crimson Cliffs HS

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

Utah HS Team Previews - Crimson Cliffs Mustangs

Opening Day is around the corner, try outs have been scheduled starting Feb 27th, and rosters are soon to be set. The Utah High School Activities Association has announced that opening day of the 2022 season will commence on Monday March 6th. Jeff Scholzen (Utah Scouting Director) begins the 2023 season coverage with our annual preseason team previews, where we will take notes from coaches, and highlight returning players, newcomers, and some sleepers. Over the next couple of weeks and leading up to opening day, we will be highlighting some of the top programs in the state with our team previews.

As our ardent readers are aware, Team Previews are answered by the Head Coaches of those programs and the scouting reports embedded in the PBR player profiles of the top players, are written by state scouting director Jeff Scholzen, the states only full-time MLB Area Scouting supervisor ever. 

With data partners Trackman Baseball, the leaders in measuring the ball flight and its characteristics off the bat for position players and out of the hand for pitchers. No one does it better. Blast Motion captures key swing metrics in evaluating the efficiency of the swing and where a player's swing is good or bad and what needs to be worked on. Swift Performance measures power output as an athlete with the EZ jump mat and collecting not only the 60 yard dash, but the 10 and 30 yard dashes as well. 3M technology measures key pitching mechanics and how the delivery through the body moves in sequence to produce and provide a more effortless and efficient delivery. 

This season as in every past season, stats are collected across the state at the end of that week's play, with input from coaches, assistant coaches and ultimately myself in putting together comprehensive player content on a weekly basis with the following. 

1. Weekly Utah Power 25 Overall Team Rankings (Monday)

2. Player and Pitcher of the Week, along with other notable player performances (Tuesday)

3. Player Spotlights throughout the spring of top players who are making their mark on the HS scene in capturing college recruiting looks. 

4. I will be scouting games throughout the state and posting player videos on Twitter for college marketing purposes on a weekly basis and in some cases where action is flowing and games are staggered, such as the preseason tourneys down south on a daily basis. 

Quick Footnote: Only 7% of all HS baseball players will play college baseball and the elite of that group, which consists of only 2% will play at the D1 level. These are the players I’m watching and gleaning information on. This is determined by objective data from events, as well as the subjective eye evaluations, honed from my 30 years at the college and professional level. 

Crimson Cliffs Team history and breakdown

In only their 3rd year of existence, the Mustangs have become a dominant force in the state, as they had a good handful of players who were elite youth players who decided to enroll as freshman and sophomores at the school, when its doors opened. They have become a college recruiting place to be if you can make it in their lineup, much like American Fork up north. 

These players were not only good, but like the entire 2023 class across the state, I had a rooting interest in the senior class across the state, and have been able to watch this class throughout the state, play with and against each other in-state and out of state and around the country since they were 9 years old. It was not surprising to see the Mustangs win the 4A title in dominant fashion, as they are the odds on favorite to win it all again. 

The talent doesn’t stop on the field, but the dugout is star studded as well. Head Coach Justin Abbott is a former SUU star pitcher and ex-Rangers farm hand, who is tough and expects excellence. The pitching coach is former Cardinals farmhand and a two time state title winning coach at Pine View in his own right with Mike Gargano. Gargano was also for two years the pitching coach at now Utah Tech, mentoring former Brewers 40 man roster pitcher, Dylan File, after his two state rings, that featured fire balling 4 time all-state RHP and current Angels minor leaguer, Dakota Donovan. The infield and hitting coach (3rd Base Coach) is former Dixie State star SS, Kyle Boyer, who played in the Cardinals system after being selected in the 4th Rd. Not to mention the Mustangs play in a hybrid bermuda paradise at Mustangs Field. 

There are a few other teams like this throughout the state and Prep Baseball Report will touch on them as well and give those teams their star studded shout outs as well. Needless to say Utah baseball and the coverage from PBR is off and running like never before!

With that said, we breakdown the players and their success, from the defending 4A Utah State Champions, the Crimson Cliffs Mustangs! 

Crimson Cliffs by the numbers

Head Coach: Justin Abbott (4th Year) 

Classification: 4A

Region: 10

2022 Win-Loss: 23-4

State Playoff appearances in last 4 years: 2

State Championship appearances last 10 years: 1

State Championships last 10 years: 1

Key Returners with Class/Position

Petey Soto Jr. SS / OF / Crimson Cliffs , UT / 2023



Committed: Utah Tech U

2 Time All-Region 10/2021 4A HM, 2022 1st Tm All-State 

2022 4A Utah State Champions!


The Utah Tech commit is one of, if not the smoothest defender in the state, regardless of class. I have seen this young man play since he was 10 years old. Gifted with "Dancy", educated feet with plus movement patterns to allow for his glove to be in the right place at the right time. Also can play CF, and shows off an avg arm at 92 from the OF and 86 from the INF. Soto doesn’t sell out for metrics, but just plays catch and throws K’s in all directions. Throws from multiple arm slots and does it EZ. From the plate, Soto has a quick twitch well synced up hitting stroke with good use of his lower ½ and looks the part of a young Francisco Lindor. A fringe to avg runner at 7.06 in the 60, yet his lateral quickness and instincts at SS, belies a player that moves within a circle of range, rather than a straight line runner. With an additional 15-20 lbs at maturity, this kid has a very high ceiling. 


Brexten Starley C / 1B / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2023


Committed: College of Southern Idaho

2021 PBR West Coast Games

The 4A 2nd ™ All-State catcher and CSI commit jumped in the box and banged ball after ball hard on a line, while posting his best bat speed mark of 79 on Blast Motion since posting 76 two years ago. Starley also posted his 2nd highest max EV of 97.2, while running a 7.17/60, which is an abv avg time for a catcher. Look for a big year from Starley as he continues to captain the Mustangs from Crimson Cliffs behind the plate, as they look to defend their 2022 4A State Championship. 


Starley has been a staple at all PBR events and has posted the highest or near high event pop times at all. A sub 2.0 pop is the norm as a physical catcher, he gets his feet into the throwing position quickly and his throws off and online with accuracy. Have seen Starley since he was 10 years old and have a really good feel for his ability. A power bat that posts high 90’s EV’s routinely and has hand and bat speed to go along with a LD bat and pull power. Able to reach the fences in all directions, when his man strength kicks in and he’s close to it, balls should be flying out to LF. Also a 7.0-7.1/60 runner for a catcher, Starley has surprising speed for the position. Hitting in the middle of a talented Crimson Cliffs order, look for Starley to have a big year. 


Jaiven Ross LHP / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2023


Committed: Salt Lake CC

2022 4A HM All-State

Beau Sampson LHP / 1B / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2023


Committed: Salt Lake CC

2022 1st Team All Region 10/ 4A 1st Team All State

2022 4A Playoff MVP


I've seen Sampson since he was 12-13 yrs old and this is one of the biggest transformation stories in the state. Where he was once a growing Lefty that lacked velocity and always had a tender arm growing up, as he was growing like a weed. Now with his father who played at Dixie JC/Utah and was a strong physical power bat, and with a mother that is tall, the bloodlines have kicked in and have they ever. Beau is now an imposing 6-5 200 LHP that reminds me of former MLB pitcher, Andrew Miller and when all is said and done, I can see a 6-5 230 workhorse. Sampson show a tall compact delivery and gets a solid hip load at the apex of his knee kick, and turns his knee inward, which closes off his hip, and allows him to stay over the rubber and give his arm time to catch up. The FB was 84-87 in March and is now 86-90 with the CB showing lateral plane and shape from his extremely difficult LTQ arm slot. Very tough on LHH's and can realistically see a 89-93 FB by spring of '23. Is drawing big interest right now and is a legit Division 1 / National JUCO powerhouse type arm. Stay tuned...


Trey Evans OF / Crimson Cliffs , UT / 2024



2021 1st Team All-Region 10 / 4A 1st Team All-State

2022 1st Team All-Region 10 / 4A 1st Team All-State

2022 4A Player of the Year


2021, 2022 PBR Future Games

2022 PBR Future Games - Player of the Game vs Tennessee

The reigning 4A Utah Player of the Year and 2 time 1st ™ All-State honoree, Evans who is also a two time PBR Future Games alum, once again showed in BP why he is one of the better hitters in the state! At the Preseason All-State, Evans put up a 100.1 exit velo, with one HR, high and deep to LF at 396’, followed by a 97.1 exit velo at the Future Games and another shot of 387’. One stat particularly stands out from LakePoint as he put up a sweet spot contact and hard hit % of 82 in both categories, as well as a 360’ shot at the recent All-State Games. The power is to all fields, as I witnessed a shot to deep RCF and gone during Crimson Cliffs run to the 4A State title, as Evans put up 4 HR and 18 RBI during the state tourney!! What makes Evans Trackman scores impressive vs his Blast metrics, is that he has abv avg swing data, but not crazy data to suggest his distance max’s. He creates his distance and carry due to accelerating the bat head at contact with a whippy barrel release at the last minute, along with a lofted plane of attack at contact, to get the ball airborne for present and future power potential. Look for another big year in 2023 as Evans is another strong contender for Region and State Player of the Year awards for the next 2 years!


The reigning 4A Utah MVP, got off to a slow start in game one, then showed why he’s the best hitter in the 4A class and one of the best in the state in game 2, with a 2-3 effort, with a 2 run 1B and a deep drive to LCF for a ground rule 2B and also stole a base. For his efforts in a 7-3 win vs Team Tennessee, Evans was named the Dicks Sporting Goods Player of the Game. Evans spreads out and controls the zone as he rests his bat on his shoulder and then rocks back and forth, into an early load and inward turn of the knee, with a lift of the heal and sets it back down and fires the know towards the baseball and lays his barrel into the hitting zone, to create a flat to slightly uphill fast stroke to impact the baseball with power to all fields. Evans does need to work on his OF defense and routes/angles to balls, as he is new to the OF since his freshman year. The arm is relegated to LF, but the bat is loud and will carry him to the D1 level, as he already has an offer on the table. 


Jayger Baldwin OF / 2B / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2023


Committed: Salt Lake CC

2022 1st Team All-Region / HM 4A All-State


Positional Profile: OF/2B

Hits: RHH.
Power: 92 max exit velocity, averaged 87.5 MPH. 312' max distance.
Arm: RH. OF-78 mph.
Run: 6.94 runner in the 60.
Vizual Edge: 72.64 Edge Score

Ty Maynard- 2023- C/INF

Aaron Morris- 2023- P (Cal State - Monterey Bay)

Tate Maynard- 2023-INF

Key players lost to graduation 

Logan West (CSI)

Jayz Estridge (Luther College)

Canyon Kutch (USU-Eastern)

Who is your X Factor to your success

The Pitching staff 

Returning players who were named All-Region / All-State 

*Petey Soto- 2023- 1st Team All Region/ 1st Team All State

*Brexten Starley- 2023- 1st Team All Region/ 2nd Team All State

Jaiven Ross- 2023- HM All State

*Beau Sampson- 2023- 1st Team All Region/ 1st Team All State

*Trey Evans- 2024- 1st Team All State/ 1st Team All Region (4A Player of the Year)

Ty Maynard- 2nd Team All Region

Aaron Morris- 2023- 2nd Team All Region

*Jayger Baldwin- 2023- HM All State/ 1st Team All Region

Player lost to graduation and College Baseball

Logan West- CSI

Canyon Kutch- USU-Eastern

Jayz Estridge- Luther College

List players you feel have college baseball potential

Brex Starley (CSI)

Jaiven Ross (Salt Lake CC)

Beau Sampson (Salt Lake CC 

Petey Soto (Utah Tech U)

Ty Maynard

Trey Evans

Aaron Morris (CS-Monterey Bay)

Tyler West

Chachi Pincock

Jayger Baldwin (Salt Lake CC)

Parker Andrus

Mckay Wright

Kyler Skinner

Coaches Summary and Outlook

We love our squad this year. Bringing back a lot of experienced guys and replacing some big parts of our lineup will be key for some younger guys to step up to the challenge. Consistency all around, staying healthy and staying focused on overall goals will help us get where we want again. Tough competition in the pre-season will help us in a competitive region once again.

  • Justin Abbott (Head Coach)




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.