Utah HS Team Preview: Desert Hills HS

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

Utah HS Team Previews - Desert Hills HS

Opening Day and the weekend has arrived! Jeff Scholzen (Utah Scouting Director) continues 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. 

Desert Hills by the numbers

Head Coach: Kevin Cave (3rd Year)

Classification: 4A

Region: 10

2022 Win-Loss: 15-14

2021 Win-Loss: 25-5

State Playoff appearances in last 10 years: 9

State Championship appearances last 10 years: 2

State Championships last 10 years: 1

2023 Preseason PBR Ranking: 23

Alumni Report

 Drew Thorpe, RHP, 6-4 215 (Cal Poly SLO) 2022 MLB Draft, 2nd Rd - #61 Overall



Dylan File, RHP, 6-1 200 (Utah Tech U) 2017 MLB Draft 21st Rd - 40 Man Roster Brewers 

Currently playing in the Korean Baseball Org. (KBO) (Drafted and signed by Jeff Scholzen)


Karson Irvin, OF, 5-9 160 (Utah Tech U)

Payton Gubler, RHP, 5-10 185 (Brigham Young U) 2022 PBR Super 60

Trey Winget, OF, 6-1 190 (Saint Mary's College)

Player Analysis 

Cole DeCastro SS / 2B / Desert Hills , UT / 2023


Committed: College of Southern Idaho

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


2022 PBR Future Games

2022 PBR West Coast Games

The 4A 1st ™ All-State SS and CSI commit took a clean efficient BP, by lining back spun shots from the LCF alley to straightaway LF. The metrics were his best yet at a PBR event from a Blast Motion standpoint, as he put up hand and bat speed metrics of 25.9 and 76.6 with an EV max of 91.3 in taking a clean crisp BP. Defensively the round was clean and crisp as the BP, showing athletic educated feet in sync with his glove work and firing EZ accurate throws across the diamond, while running a 7.20/60 on a slow wet track, with his best being a 6.93 at the Top Prospect Games in July. 


Positional Profile: SS/2B

Hits: RHH.
Power: 90 max exit velocity, averaged 87.4 MPH. 338' max distance.
Arm: RH. INF-80 mph .
Run: 6.93 runner in the 60.
Vizual Edge: 79.12 Edge Score



DeCastro is as sound defensively as they come at SS in the entire state. A true SS, that doesn’t show flash, but picks everything left to right and comes in on the run well. Reminds me of Pirates SS, Kevin Newman. Steady Eddie with the glove. You hit it to him and you’re out. With the bat, DeCastro works counts and sprays LD’s in all directions with a high contact approach. A 6.9-7.0/60 is plenary for the next level, but what he lacks in pure speed, he makes up for with a high baseball IQ and + instincts for the position. A 2nd Team All-Region and HM All-State player as a sophomore, look for even further steps as he climbs to his ceiling. 


The Future Games alum, is one of the best defensive SS in the state and shows educated feet and a plus feel to receive the ball out front and make plays from all angles. Is as steady as they come and was an All-Region performer last spring. The bat, which is a contact type bat, is now driving the ball with something behind it and it’s evident with his hand speed and bat speeds of 25.8 and 73.6! The EV was 91.2 and the swing has more finish and length out front, which attests to his added strength over the last 3-4 months of hard work! Look for a good spring from DeCastro!


A Future Games and West Coast Games participant, Cole had his best BP to date, as he jumped from the 87 mark in EV to 91.2 and is squaring the ball up on a more consistent basis, the more of these high profile events he has earned. One of the better defensive SS in the state and in the 2023 class, DeCastro shows consistency at SS, and has solid avg range and athleticism to stay in the dirt. Sure handed and smooth, but not flashy, he is substance over flash, and this enables him to make and finish plays vs other MIF’ers in the state. The type that if you hit his direction, you’re out! The leadoff hitter on the 25-5 Desert Hills squad that finished this past spring as our #4 ranked team in the PBR Power 20, Cole hit near .400 with a high contact rate, and was an on-base candidate every time he stepped to the plate with a patient eye and zone recognition. I look for Cole to make additional strength gains over the next 6 months leading up to the 2022 season and will be a catalyst for the “Thunder” for the next 2 years, as he is now drawing college attention. 


A Future Games participant with a fundamentally sound game on the defensive side as he showed well as he has throughout his youth and into HS, as he plays technically sound with his feet and hands synced up at SS. Plays well on the move vertically/horizontally and if you hit it to him in a stationary position, he’s steady Eddie and you are out. His hands are soft and his arm is crisp and fluid and doesn’t have big arm strength, yet he is online and accurate with his throws. He’s a consistent defender. Offensively he has above avg hand and slightly abv bat speed, and is a singles and gap to gap type that could grow into more power as he matures, he just needs strength and barrel release to get there. An open bat head at launch prevents the leverage and torque needed to drive the ball and can cut off after contact, cutting down on his hard hit %. There are things to tweak and he has the aptitude to make adjs. A baseball player type!



Andrew Wilson C / 3B / Desert Hills, UT / 2025




2022 PBR Future Games Alum

2023 PBR Future Games Invite

Another Future Gamer and exciting young LHH catcher that should take over behind the plate full time for state power Desert Hills of St. George, UT. The son of former Dixie State catcher, Bryan Wilson, who was a member of the 2024 NJCAA National Champion team, “Willy” has a solid baseball IQ and avg to abv avg instincts. The #2 ranked catcher and #6 overall prospect in his class, features a flatter swing path, that keeps the bat head in the zone a long time, and is tough to K out, as he has a solid eye for the zone and spoils pitches to lengthen out AB’s. Wilson put up a personal best 96.4 exit velo and put up more personal best hand and bat speed data with 25.5 and an astounding 83.6. These are elite numbers for any class or at the next level. His bat speed has jumped 9 mph since last March at the Preseason All-State. Defensively “Willy” blocks and recovers well and still has some growth as a receiver, but has a quick exchange for pop tones in the 2.05-2.16 range and I believe he can cut that down to 1.95-2.05 over the next couple of years. He also scored well in the peak vertical jump at 29.6, suggesting there is spring in his lower ½ for a catcher. Really look forward to following his progress and having him once again at the PBR Future Games next summer!


Wilson, who already had a D1 offer headed into the Future Games, left with a few schools interested in his LHH catcher profile and the ability to play 1B equally well. His father was a catcher on the JUCO National Championship Dixie College team in 2004 and has schooled “Willy” well in the fundamentals. A varsity starter at Desert Hills as a freshman, features a strong eye at the plate, with zone and pitch recognition. A strong LH swing from a spread out and leaned back setup, and hold the bat semi flat over his back shoulder w/a raised back elbow. Wilson drives the knob at the ball, with a flatter swing plane and sprays LD’s to all fields with backspin carry. Behind the dish, he receives well for a young kid, and just needs to get added reps at the varsity level after making way for a senior this past spring. Most likely the job is his moving forward over the next 3 years. A strong arm for his age, and displays 2.05-2.16 pop times, that improve as he continues to fill out and gain added arm strength at maturity. Had some good AB’s at the Future Games and worked deep counts in making pitchers work. 


A strong LHH catcher and especially at a young age, captures attention. Much so, that he already has an early extended D1 offer on the table before playing HS baseball. Playing at state power Desert Hills HS will be a plus for his development as he will receive good coaching. A 2.1 range pop time is really good coming from a 15 yr old at present time. A 93.6 EV suggests strength is evident and present as well. With hand and bat speeds of 22.9 and 74.7, there are fast hands to work with at the plate. The swing is a lay it into the zone from a knee kick and the bat stays in the zone on a linear path, smashing LD’s to straightaway CF and to the pull side. One thing is for certain, his bat belongs in the lineup and his development will be aided by an early entry into varsity baseball. 



Cooper Cluff OF / RHP / Desert Hills, UT / 2024




The bloodlines in tact with brother Jackson (former BYU star SS) and a Nationals Top 30 Prospect, to go along with his father Paul, who was a 3 time college All-American. Cooper's strong suit is his defense, as he is an abv avg route runner and takes solid angles to the baseball, while showing instincts and good reads off the bat, to track down balls in all directions. The arm is BA w/avg accuracy to 3B and needs better alignment to the plate. The arm action is clean and fluid with good ext. The speed will relegate 7.36/60 will relegate to a corner OF spot, with LF most likely. The bat and overall mechanics to the swing are sound and gets to the launch phase and syncs his lower ½ well. The path is short and compact to the ball, with a whippy fluid high two hand finish. The focus and emphasis to improve his offensive game is really working on firing his core and lower ½ more on approach to the ball. The bat speed and hand speed are well below avg with limited rotational acceleration. This with a lack of lower ½ twitch limits the impact of the ball off the bat w/an EV max of 88. Core strength movements should be addressed to counteract these deficiencies. The swing is in place with a need for added strength. Still has 2 years of HS to address and improve. But comes from knowledge based high level experience in the home.



Crew Christensen RHP / Desert Hills, UT / 2025



2023 PBR Future Games Invite

Key Returners with Class/Position

  • Cole DeCastro (2023) SS

  • Kyler Terry (2023) 3B

  • Landon Musgrave (2023) LHP

  • Cooper Cluff (2024) OF

  • Andrew Wilson (2025) C/1B

  • Crew Christensen (2025) RHP

  • Jace Fillmore (2025) MIF/RHP

Key players lost to graduation 

Payton Gubler

Karson Irvin

Players who graduated in 2022 and are now playing college baseball*

Payton Gubler (BYU)

Karson Irvin (Utah Tech)

Who is your X Factor to your success

Pitching Staff

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

Cole DeCastro (2023) 1st Team All-State

Kyler Terry (2023) 2nd Team All-State

List players you feel have college baseball potential*

Cole DeCastro (2023) SS

Kyler Terry (2023) 3B

Landon Musgrave (2023) LHP

Tytan Tate (2023) RHP/OF

Cooper Cluff (2024) OF

Andrew Wilson (2025) C/1B

Crew Christensen (2025) RHP

Jace Fillmore (2025) MIF/RHP

Beau Wall (2025) UTIL

Haigen Reed (2025) OF

List players in your region you feel have the potential to play professional baseball, either out of HS or College*

2024 Ridge Erickson, C (Dixie)

2024 Trey Evans, LF (Crimson Cliffs)

Coaches Summary and Outlook

Desert Hills will have a deep pitching staff with lots of potential but that is largely unproven at the VAR level. The D-Hills hitting lineup will likely feature at least 5 bats with plenty of VAR experience. If those elevating into the VAR lineup for the first time have immediate success, team offense could be a strength. The Thunder will look to hustle, dirty their uniforms, play solid defense, have a lot of fun, and make a run back to the final round of 8 teams.

  • Kevin Cave (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.