Utah Preseason All-State: Quick Hits


Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

Utah Preseason All-State: Quick Hits

The first ever PBR Utah Preseason All-State kicked off this past Saturday at Hurricane HS. The school is appropriately named because of the mini wind gusts that envelope the small town, as it sits down in a valley and can have swirling winds, that can knock the top off a horse and buggy! With majestic Pine Valley mountain in the background, along with the foreground of the crimson colored “Red Cliffs'' sprawling throughout the Valley, southern Utah is known for its lakes, rivers, mountains, national parks, hiking, biking and back road adventures. To the millions who visit this area of the country, it’s known as “Color Country'' and “Utah’s Dixie”. But what makes the scenery of Hurricane standout above the rest of Southern Utah is the backdrop of one of America's favorite national parks - the majestic canyon walls soaring into the sky of Zion National Park. 

          (Sand Hollow Reservoir - Red Cliffs Reserves and Pine Valley Mountain in the Background)

Hurricane with its southern location and sunny days made for the perfect location (my hometown) for the preseason All-State. We were fortunate that we had gorgeous, sunny 75 degree weather and the atmosphere was top notch. The event was INVITE only and was loaded with talent. With a staff of state champion head coaches, two of whom played professional baseball and one coach's son is a top 30 MLB prospect. The players, ranging from the classes of 2021-2024, were run through a pro style workout event and planning had taken place for a few winter months, with phone calls, emails, social media posts, leading up to the event. The vetting was extensive and the players were of high caliber. Many of the players who will dot the updated Top 10 rankings in each class (coming soon) were on hand and made a strong impression on the staff. 

Standouts 

Below is a snapshot of some players who stood out at the event and we look forward to seeing each of them and others at future open and invite-only events. 

Known Players who Stood out along with new players that caught my attention. The snapshots are used with metrics along with the “eye test” as this is my specialty being a former 20 year MLB scout. The metrics support the eye test or back up what my eyes are “seeing.” Some metrics are just that and don’t always translate to games. Of Note, the difference between Trackman and Blast Motion is: Blast Motion bat sensors are a tool to analyze the mechanics of the swing and the efficiency of the swing, whereas Trackman measures different data once the ball has left the bat. Blast Motion can capture what your strengths and weaknesses are in the swing mechanics and also help you design a development program to get better in those areas of the metrics, which will lead to better data in Trackman, once the ball impacts the bat and the data that is measured in exit velocity and distance outcomes. But one thing is always CONSTANT, and that is: you have to be able to put these metrics to use in games, with stroke zone discipline, pitch recognition, eye hand coordination and the ability to be on time with the baseball and have an APPROACH in different counts. Knowing a pitchers repertoire and what he’s trying to do to get you out and staying with your approach and also having the ability to adjust pitch to pitch and AB to AB. Some players are just metrics hitters or 5:00 BP hitters and can’t put the metrics to use once the national anthem is played. Some of the hitters below have each of these traits I’ve talked about and are better at some of these than others. But the overall theme is metrics give you a true sense of where you stack up for good or bad and let you know where you need to improve. But in the end, college coaches get intrigued by numbers and it peaks their interest in wanting to get on a plane or in a car, to now come see you play. If you can’t perform and show the physical traits to project these numbers and get better at them, it doesn’t matter in the end. You can either hit or you can’t!

2021’s

 Hudson Manwaring, SS/OF, 6-1 175 R-R, Skyline HS

Skyline Coach Eric Morgan, put out a post on social media about Hudson, saying that it was time to get him back on the radar. Well I saw the post and was intrigued and sent out an invite for him to attend, and I was glad I did. Manwaring is a lean ripped athletic kid, that’s a SS by trade, yet I see him as a CF at the next level. A two sport star, as he is an All-State WR in football, as well as baseball in 2019. Manwaring ran a 6.72/60 yard dash and had an event best max exit velocity of 101, along with 85 mph arm strength from SS, as well as 87-90 from RF. Hudson also showed solid raw BP power, and not the kind of loft power you typically see, but it was line drive power with distance, as he back spun 3-4 balls over the LF/LCF wall and into the tennis courts. It was a solid showing and this is a kid that colleges should pounce on, based on the metrics, athleticism and lean proj build. Will be fun to see him play this spring.

Mason Strong, C/OF, 6-0 185 R-R, Snow Canyon HS

Have seen this young man since he was 12 years old and he has steadily improved every year, into a solid college prospect, as he is signed to play his college baseball at BYU, but he will also draw MLB scout attention this spring as well. Mason had an event 2nd best exit velo of 99+ and was in the top 3 average exit velo. Strong also finished with the top Blast Motion rotational acceleration score of 24.7, which is really impressive, as it measures your trunk and core rotation into your swing. Showing his versatility, Mason showed 1.85-2.0 pop times behind the plate w/clean exchanges and an event best 82 mph arm. Strong also was 86-90 mph in the OF and ran a personal best 6.67/60, which is impressive, but for a catcher it's elite. It was a good showing by Strong.

Cayden Clark, OF, 6-1 190 R-R, Stansbury HS

Clark, the Dixie State commit was as advertised, and looks the part of a next level player physically. At 6-1 190, and showing a smooth and fluid yet easy hitting stroke, Clark sets up and has a classic RH stance with proper balance, timing and stays on plane with an easy finish. The ball jumped off the bat and he didn’t sell out for metrics such as exit velo or distance, but posted high marks. He just hit steady line drives to all fields. Cayden ran a 6.69/60 and was 84-88 from the OF with proper throwing mechanics. He finished with top 5 scores in exit velo and distance, along with an event best 79.6 mph bat speed. Not only did teams miss him on the recruiting trail due to CoVid, but Dixie State landed one of the best bats in the state and if I was still an MLB scout, I would be all over him!

Jackson Moeller, OF, 6-2 205 R-R, Alta HS

Found on social media and doing a good job of promoting himself, an invitation was extended to attend the event and he showed really well. An event 2nd best bat speed of 77.7 mph, while launching balls to all parts of the field with the 6th best exit velo and top 5 max distance and avg distance. Miller is big and strong and also 84-87 mph from the OF and has some things to continue to work on, but the bat speed and hand speed through the zone were impressive. A ton of JUCO’s are on him and 4 year schools should also take note, as there are definite tools to project on as he reaches his man strength. 

Jackson Bird, C, 6-0 175 R-R, Timpanogos HS

A medium sized athletic catcher that showed a pop time of 2.02 with a fast bat, resulting in the 10th best bat speed of 72.8, while posting the 7th best exit velocity of 97 mph and one of smashed one ball at 355 Feet. Has some things to iron out with some movement patterns, but the base strength and tools are there. Tools are ahead of the skills right now, but comes from a baseball family and plays for the winniest HS coach in Utah State history. 

2022’s

Mic Paul, CF, 5-10 175 L-L, Olympus HS

Paul was our standout at our last event and showed at the All-State why he is highly ranked and thought of so highly. The U of Arizona commit posted the 3rd highest 60 of the event at 6.61 and was 87-88 mph from the OF with a clean fluid fast arm stroke and good ext. Was worked away in BP and didn’t get the type of pitches to drive straight away to the pull side to get the kind of exit velo and distance he showed last event. What he did was take what was given and lined balls over the SS head into the LCF gap with a controlled fluid stroke. He showed a 25 mph rotational acceleration score, which was the 2nd best in that metric, despite not being able to pop his hips fully, as he worked the opposite field gap. Looks the part of a high next level table setter playing CF. With 2 seasons of HS ball left, it will be fun to see where this all ends up!

Luke Anderson, OF, 5-10 165 R-R, Snow Canyon HS

Anderson didn’t show the big exit velos and distance metrics that he put up at the last event, but still showed top 10 exit and distance data at the All-State. The BYU commit did however produce the 2nd best OF velo of 89 mph and ran a personal best 6.95/60 yard dash. A small in stature OF, who is a strong game player and has consistently produced and has been named MVP at a couple of high level national events. Also a pitcher that didn’t throw at the event, Anderson has touched 89-90 at times coming out of the bullpen for state power Snow Canyon HS. 

Luke Iverson, C/SS, 5-10 145 B-R, Pine View HS

From an athleticism standpoint with actions, quick twitch and arm stroke, Iverson can catch and throw with the best of them. Although slight of build and not built like a catcher, he does show the tools and skills to play all over the diamond and posted a 2nd best event 81 mph arm behind the plate and also showing a 2nd best INF arm of 84 mph with easy glove actions. The pop times are some of the best and although not in a game, where pop times slow down and you don’t know you are throwing like a showcase, Luke still generated 1.82-1.94 pop times. Along with being a switch hitter, an interesting side note, is this past winter, Iverson achieved his Black Belt in Karate!

Jace Carroll, RHP, 6-6 175, Stansbury HS

A tall drink of water that reminds me of former MLB pitcher, Brandon McCarthy at the same age and with the same velocity. When McCarthy was in JUCO, he was topping at 89 and when he was fully mature in the big leagues, he would sink the ball at 94. I believe this kid has the same type ceiling. An eye test type arm, that had an event best 87 mph max FB with a CB 67-71 and an event best CB spin rate of 2457. The FB needs added spin, but he doesn’t create all that is wanted, as it doesn’t need to be as high as one would like, as his FB sinks, thus the lesser spin. He has some deception with a tall, steep plane of attack and angle to the plate, making for a ground ball type pitcher that will be tough for hitters to elevate and get the ball in the air. 

Jett Meine, C/OF, 6-2 200, Corner Canyon HS

This is what they look like getting off the bus. A lean ripped and chiseled specimen that is also a 3 star football player and 1st team All-Region WR, catching passes from USC QB commit Jackson Dart. A key member of the 3 time state undefeated state champions, Jett is a bit raw and an eye test type as well, but passes some metric tests, as he posted a 2.05 best pop time, along with a top 10 exit velo of 95.53 and also ran a 6th best 6.77/60 yard dash. A player that is receiving numerous Ivy League football scholarships, and has stated he wants to play baseball. This is the type that a school gets and turns a raw athlete into a baseball player with added focus on the diamond and as he gets further from Football. 

Blake Stanger, LHP, 6-2 180, Woods Cross HS

When you are a 6-2 LHP and have a mid 80’s max FB, along with a spin rate of 2121 and a CB spin of 2065, coupled with 2 HS seasons and two summers sandwiched in, you get some love. The arm is loose and quick thru the slot with some late finish. Needs to harness his FB control and add some depth to the CB, yet flashed one to the back foot of the RHH box. Arm strength along with projectable size and strength gains to come, this is an arm that colleges need to explore and pay attention too. 

Canyon Kutch, C, 6-0 175 R-R, Crimson Cliffs HS

An advanced receiver with soft hands, sets up well and understands the catching part of the game. A below average arm with a best pop time of 2.05, Kutch sticks pitches and works under the ball and blocks and keeps balls in front. The ability to play around the diamond and also plays the corner OF spots and holds his own, but has the ability to to hit and showed a 10th best exit velo of 95.43. Have seen in live action quite a bit, so there is some feel with him. Grinds AB’s and is a tough out. 

Ashton Johnson, LHP/OF, 6-0 175 (R-L) Olympus HS

A two way talent, with the rare trait of hitting RH’ed and throwing LH’ed. Has been a performer throughout with Team Utah ‘22 in the summer/falls ove the past couple of years, however has had success as both a pitcher and hitter, but the metrics and eye test, are trending in the direction of being a hitter, but as a two way player and the ability to get outs, despite limited stuff, he shows value for the right college fit. With the bat, his EV jumped exponentially in the past 3 months, from 84 mph to 93 and his EV avg from 78.5 to 89.04! The Blast data was good, as he was 2nd in Rotational Acceleration at 23.3 and in overall score of 75 on the 20-80 scale. This means he really fires his lower ½ and core through the baseball, and thus explaining his big jumpin exit velocity. But he also passes the eye test offensively and performs with these traits and has a feel to play the game. Colleges need to jump on this kid. Diamond in the Rough, with offensive upside and an arm out of the pen for the right college fit!

2023’s (The deepest talent pool of the event)

Cole Kershaw, 1B, 6-2 225 L-R, Jordan HS

The biggest jump of all the players from the previous event and Cole put on a show with the bat. This is the kind of bat that draws attention from events like this. Will be on the radar in short order. Hits from a semi open and wide stance and waggles and bounces the bat for rhythm and timing over this back shoulder. Brings the bat to a stop from a high elbow and hits from a semi dead hand position, but it doesn’t take away from his power or the ability to get the bat started and whistle it through the zone. Scoring in the top 5 of bat speed, and rotational acceleration, as well as the 3rd highest exit velo of 99.23, Kershaw also had the events best avg distance of 342 ft and blasted one ball 405 ft over the RCF monster net. It was one of 3-4 he hit over the net during BP, and only one ball has been hit in a game over the net, since the ballpark was built a handful of years ago. Was a good day for Mr. Kershaw!

Crew McChesney, OF, 5-10 170 L-R, Lone Peak HS

Another new player that jumped on the scene and one that will be in the top 10 rankings for the ‘23 class when our rankings come out within the next month. A quick twitch CF with above average athleticism and not only are some of the metrics and measurables elite for a sophomore, but he also passes the eye test and his hitting mechanics are there to be an above average college level hitter. Tied for the top spot with an event best 6.55/60 yard dash, while showing a fluid fast arm from the OF, topping out at 87 mph, which was tied for 4th. The bat will take him far and his exit velo of 88 is solid for his age, but the way he moves in the field and the ability to swing the bat will take him far in this game. Really like this one!

Jacob Faust, OF/RHP, 6-1 185 R-R, Olympus HS

A two way player with 3 years of developing and has a solid ceiling and while it’s too early to tell whether he’s gonna be a bat or an arm on the mound, he does possess next level college ability with the bat and the arm. As a hitter, he stands upright with a slight crouch and his feet together and open, and brings his front foot back to square, then loads the bat at a solid 45 degree angle. He does drift with his hips somewhat, but keeps his hands in the ready position and fires the hands inside the baseball and shows a fast bat for his age at 72.7 mph, with a 95.06 EV. What’s intriguing is that he also ran a 6.94/60 and touched 83 with a semi quick arm from the mound. Definite one of the top ‘23s in the state. 

Brexten Starley, C/1B, 6-1 215 R-R, Crimson Cliffs HS

Starley improved his exit velo as well as his pop time from the last event and will be a top 10 ranked player in the class, when we put the ‘23 class out. The bat is the calling card and he whistles the bat with a fluid fast bat and the ball jumps. One of the top 2 power bats in the class, and is a big time performer in games, as he routinely squares up balls and drives the ball to the big part of the field. The pop time improved to a 1.98-2.05 and he was on target for the most part. The ball comes off the bat with ease and doesn’t have to sell put for power, as he posted a 5th best 98.06 EV, coupled with 73.3 mph bat speed. Also ran a 7.16/60 for a big kid and as a catcher that will do. But the bat is the tool. 

Grant Scholzen, SS/2B, 5-9 150 L-R, Hurricane HS

Talking with a number of schools for the last year +. His calling card is advanced defensive actions with educated feet and soft hands and makes the routine play and can leave his feet to make uncanny diving plays and bounce up to throw runners out. A sum of his parts type that has an advanced baseball IQ. The other thing he does is hit and has performed against competition at a high clip at 3-4 years above his class. A smooth efficient LH stroke that improved his EV from 82 to 85 and was in the top 5 Blast data for plane and plane efficiency, while also in the top 15 in distance max of 333. Just barrels balls to all fields on a line with an advanced approach to hit for his class. When breaking down by class, this is a bat that will continue to hit in his class for the next 3 years. 

Cole DeCastro, SS, 5-11 150 R-R, Desert Hills HS

Also not a metrics type player and is a sum of all his parts type, that knows how to play and does it gracefully. A smooth fielding defender with soft hands and gets into position to make throws with above avg accuracy. Doesn’t sell out for arm velo in showcase or game conditions, but shows a low heartbeat, which I call a slow game clock. A line drive hitter that uses the whole field, but it’s the defense that’s steady Eddy and makes all the plays. 

Stockton Mathis, CF, 5-11 155 L-R, Jordan HS

Not a metrics player with Trackman, but what he does is hit and perform in games with a Blast plane score of 70 on the 20-80 scale, which was #1 at the event and a plane efficiency of 80%, also #1. He takes an unconventional approach to leaving the bat in the cocked and ready position and just takes a medium high kick and fires the bat inside the baseball, allowing for the bat head and path to square the ball up on a line to all fields. Have seen him play live a handful of times and all he did was hit and come up clutch in any situation. A contact hitter that will be a high average and high on base type and reads balls off the bat and runs’em down. Has a chance to get significant time on the varsity as a sophomore on a state title contending type 5A club that should be bolstered by a group of high caliber sophomores that should make a deep run for the next 3 years. 

Cade Nalder, C/OF, 5-11 170 R-R, Jordan HS

Another bat that you have to watch in games, to get a true sense of his worth. In the top ½ of all the Trackman metrics. With a EV of 94.3 and max distance of 342, Nalder does it with an unconventional pinky below the knob grip and does maintain his load and hits from his front side at times, but does have quality hand/eye coordination to recognize pitches and is a strong game player. He hits it hard and can also receive well and stick pitches, working underneath the ball, to steal K’s. The arm is accurate and on the money, though he needs to be quicker with his feet. Versatile and can play the OF corner and shows off a 85 mph arm with good ext. He will see time and get AB’s as a varsity player on Jordan’s state title contending team, as he is part of a high impact sophomore class. 

Brayden Marx, RHP, 6-0 160, Pleasant Grove HS

A talk with Coach Henry at Pleasant Grove and he recommended Brayden to be invited to this event, and I am glad he attended. He’s a two way kid, but it appears with the eye that his future is on the mound. With a Zach Davies type build and a medium fluid HTQ arm stroke, Marx gets solid ext. and has a loose wrist to finish pitches. Works with a 3 pitch mix and has feel for all 3 in the FB/CB and CH. The FB 83-85 has late firm hop and doesn’t sell out for max velo. Just threw and hit the mitt with all 3 pitches. The CB 69-71 had a spin of 2357 and showed proper shape and late avg tilt and depth. The CH 74-76 showed the feel to land with late arm side life. 

Evan Atkinson, SS/3B, 5-10 170 R-R, Jordan HS

Another sum of his parts type that is strong and produced an EV of 92.48 with a max distance of 352, hitting a few bullets out to LF. A strong game player that I witnessed a tough nose moment, when playing SS, with the bases loaded and two outs and in a close game late, a one hop bullet was hit his way and he blocked it and kept it in front and recovered to make the final out at 2B to end a threat. A high energy player that produced extra base bits and hard stingy liners, as well as a one handed off his front foot HR to left. A really good teammate and an igniter, while showing the ability to look the zone over and has good AB’s. 

2024’s

Zach Carlson, OF/LHP, 5-10 165, Juan Diego HS

A talented two way player with the bat and on the mound. It’s tough to crack metrics boards as a freshman, and this is an eye test baseball player with advanced skills for a 15 year old. He ran a 6.93/60 yard dash while showing a smooth fluid arm stroke from RF at 78-83 mph, with online one hop accurate throws. He produced an EV of 85.65 which is good for his age. The arm on the mound is fluid and loose with a long whippy clean arm stroke. The delivery is sound for his age and one that with a FB topping 80 is where most freshmen are from the left side that project as his physicality suggests. Has a feel for the CB 67-69 and the CH 66-68. I look for his arsenal to jump 3-4 mph in 6-9 months as he continues to grow and get stronger. One that colleges should have on their radar at a young age. 

Luke Taylor, C, 5-11 170 R-R, Skyline HS

“LT” has become one of my favorite players in the state. The kid has a demeanor that creates a leadership type attitude, and is a good teammate, along with being very talented. The arm has a ways to go, and he does run like a catcher, but the receiving and mechanics for a 15 year old are advanced and the metrics are out on this part of the game, as the eye test is used. He sticks pitches and works underneath the ball and steals K’s. He blocks and recovers well for his age. But the bat is advanced for a freshman with 88 mph EV’s and his longest drive of the day was at 347 ft. He shows a demeanor and aura about him in the box and behind the plate and exudes confidence and has an engaging personality. All qualities that will make him a next level college player. 

Easton Barrett, LHP/OF, 5-10 155 L-L, Springville HS

An athletic two way type, that impressed with not only where his metrics are for a freshman, but his movement patterns and his mechanics on the mound and the quality of the arm stroke along with a feel for 3 pitches. As a hitter, he has a classic upright square stance and gets loaded, along with a short fluid stroke. He needs to fire his hips a bit more, using his core, but he is 14/15 years old. He generated an EV of 90.45 mph, and on the mound, he was 79-82 with the FB, showing arm side life and had an event 2nd best FB spin rate of 2332, which is above average on a big league scale! The CB 66-69 is a drop in type and needs to be tighter, but it has the potential to be a pitch in time, as it has shape and definition, along with medium depth and controls for K’s. What separates him now, is the advanced feel for the CH 72-73 with deception and maintains FB arm speed with it and it fades with late sink and dive at the plate. He throws it with conviction and has confidence in it. Intriguing young player!

Austin Ellis, C/3B, 5-11 185 R-R, Westlake HS

Another young player that I like in November at our Fall Prospect ID and invited to the Preseason All-State event and didn’t disappoint, as he improved his hitting metrics across the board, while showing the same slightly uphill approach and path to the baseball, that will lend itself to hit and hit for power throughout his HS career and into college. The EV of 87, improved to 90 this go around, and his max distance from 303 to 330. Still young and raw behind the dish, but has tremendous potential with the bat and also just came out of the gym basically with limited time to get ready, as he was a contributing member of the 6A State Championship Hockey Team last week. Look forward to following Austin and his HS career moving forward.