Week One (March 8-14) Player and Pitcher of the Week


Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

PBR Utah | Player and Pitcher of the Week


Week one of the Utah high school season kicked off, after most teams lost their season to the CoVid pandemic a year ago, and it was nice to get out and see high school games this past weekend. Many games were going on throughout the state, but many of the top teams and various northern Utah teams were involved in pre-season tournaments in the St. George and Hurricane areas. We had 75 degree weather over a week ago at the Preseason All-State event in Hurricane, but the massive weather front that moved into the four corners, dumped more snow at this time of year throughout the mountain states than at any other time. You get snow in the north and rain down south, albeit the mountains get snow in southern Utah, however the St. George/Hurricane Valley's woke up to snow on Friday and Saturday morning, cancelling all JV games and making fields a swimming pool, to salvaged the varsity contests throughout the area. With coaches, parents and players working hours on fields with shop vacs to pump out water and using drying agents, most teams got 3 games in, instead of their planned 4 games. Snow Canyon was one of the lucky ones to get all their games in. Now the Desert Hills tourney, waited out rain and didn't get the type of snow fall across town and 20 minutes away, but what they do have is what 95% don't have and that is a full size field tarp!
With the background from the first weekend of the season behind us and our 1st ever PBR Utah Power 15 team polls released yesterday, we now release last weeks PLAYER and PITCHER of the WEEK.
We take a look at the two Snow Canyon players that swept the awards for the week ending March 14th, and we also give recognition to those that were in the running. I also give mention, notable performances, as many were deserving and we could have named Co-Players in each category.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Mason Strong C / OF / Snow Canyon, UT / 2021

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 a (Preseason All-State) 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.

Mason had an eventful early spring through MLK and President's Day tournaments with dominating performances, and has taken that into the 1st week of the season. With an impressive showing at the Preseason All-State event on March 6th at Hurricane HS, Strong put up big numbers this past week to lead the offense, as Snow Canyon starts the season 4-0 and Mason was behind the dish to catch 3 shutouts. His numbers for the week were: 

AB 15  R 2  H 9  Avg .600  /  HR 1  2B 5  BB 1  RBI 10

Strong was on base 10 times over 4 games and factored into 12 of his teams runs on the weekend.

Other Notable Performances

Cole Kershaw 1B / 3B / Jordan, UT / 2023

The biggest jump of all the players from the previous event and Cole put on a show with the bat at the Preseason All-State! 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!

The “Baby Bull” Kershaw had a big week and it was a tough call between Cole and Mason Strong for the weekly honors, but expect more of the same from Kershaw. The young Sophomore 1B, had a huge week with the bat as he went:

AB 5 R 6 H 5 Avg .1.000 | 2B 2 HR 1 BB 4 RBI 

Cole was on base all 9 times he stepped to the plate in his two games and factored in 10 of his teams 2 games on the week, which both resulted in wins for Jordan!

Zac Dart RHP / 3B / Spanish Fork, UT / 2022

 

8-12, 8 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 5 RBI. 
Zac was on base 11 times and factored in 13 of his teams runs. Spanish Fork went 3-1 for the week.

 

Austin Ellis C / 1B / Westlake , UT / 2024

Ellis is  a young good looking RHH catcher that has yet to take a HS at bat, and it will be fun to watch his development over the next four years. Ellis moved to northern Utah at the age of 12 from Texas and started playing for various Mountain West Baseball teams. This past fall, Austin was a stalwart for the national power USA Prime Baseball. Austin’s bat is the carrying tool right now, and all you need to do is watch him take BP and see the mechanics of the stroke to see that the base is there to build off, plus he’s performed at a young age with an elite group of players in Texas. Austin recently represented the state of Utah at the Power Showcase in FL. With a class 2nd best exit velo of 87.4 MPH, Ellis shows an even props square stance from a semi squat position, Ellis features a knee lift and maintains balance over his back side, then coils into his load with a solid 45 at launch, while stepping to stride and gets a good stretch/separation, which allows for leverage. He takes a short direct path through the baseball with length in front and whips the bat into a one hand high finish. The defense is adequate, but for a 14 yr old kid, we have time to improve and strengthen that part of the game, but make no mistake, he can hit!

4-5, 2 R, BB, 2B, HR, 5 RBI (Varsity)

In Ellis’ first two varsity games and getting his first start, of his young HS career, he had some advanced beyond his years AB’s. The HR was captured on social media and traveled high over the LF embankment and up into the parking lot. This is a name fans, coaches and players will be getting familiar with for the next four seasons!

2024 Trey Evans, SS/2B, Crimson Cliffs

Avg .556 2 2B 2 3B, 6 RBI and 2 SB (Varsity)

The young freshman has been a name Coach Justin Abbott has been telling me about since the winter time and we are looking forward to having him showcase his tools this summer, but in the meantime we’ll just enjoy following his young career and his advanced baseball tools and skills at one of the up and coming programs in the state, that is loaded with too young college talent.

2023 AJ Johnson, 1B/OF, Crimson Cliffs

Avg .375 8 ABs 3 2B, 5 RBI

The sophomore transfer from Green Valley HS in Las Vegas on Jan 1st, has given a young talented Crimson Cliffs club another young stud in their stable of sophomore and juniors and I was able to witness one of the 2B’s as it was a bullet into the RF corner, off junior and potential MLB prospect, Garrison Sumner who was sitting in the low 90’s on Saturday night. 

Jayz Estridge RHP / 1B / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2022

Avg .375 3 2B, 6 RBI for the week

One of the many underclassman that Crimson Cliffs will be counting on to provide offense to a young, but talented team.

 


Logan West OF / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2022

12/22/20

Lg frame with a wiry lean athletic build and has some twitch. Logan is one of the better ‘22 players in the state. Was off to a superb start to his sophomore season when the season was shut down. A former catcher that’s made the move to the OF with his athleticism and speed. Plays for the elite Team Utah ‘22s and faces good competition and excels. With 6.9/60 speed and long galloping strides, he fits well in the OF. The offensive side is his calling card, as he took a really good round of BP. He starts with a slightly wider than shoulder width square stance and rocks back into his back hip with his back knee flexed and lifts his foot and strides into a soft foot strike. The bat is flat and then lifts to a 45 and has quality hand and lower 1/2 separation. He fires the hands inside the baseball and takes a short path with contact out front and whips the bat through the zone with a one hand high high finish. In the OF he fields out front and then takes his body toward his target and his arm stroke is long and arching, which he needs to find a happy medium between a longer vs short stroke he once had behind the dish and blend to the two. This is fixable as the arm action is in there to correct, which isn’t easy. But he brings speed, athleticism, projs size and strength with the ability to hit potentially at the D1 level.

Avg .395 2 2B, 2 3B, 3 RBI

The top 10 ranked CF in the ‘22 class just hits and hits good pitching and velocity, as one of his 3B’s was off the LCF fence vs Garrison Summer and was smoked! A pure swing from a 6-2 build and the CF’er can motor as well, as he runs a 6.7/60!

 

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Carston Herman LHP / OF / Snow Canyon , UT / 2021

A Dixie State signee, Carsten had a good summer playing for CBA Summit, UT and the NV/UT Braves Scout Team this fall. Med even prop 600 LHP with athleticism, controls his body and repeats his delivery. Not a velo guy or one that has a carrying pitch, yet what he brings to the table is that of a crafty deceptive LH’er that gets outs and knows how to pitch. FB 84-86 and spots up and uses all the quadrants of the zone. Features a high kick to delivery with solid glove side direction, coupled with a late shoulder turn out front, that creates late reads by the hitter, out of a long HTQ arm stroke with proper arc and acceleration. Gets S/M’s to FB as he locates and uses a big TQ/OH CB 72-74 with solid shape and quality depth. Feel to spin and it will be a tough pitch vs LHH’s. Crafty, deceptive and missed bats with a feel to change speeds.

Carston came out of the gate for week one’s #1 team in the state and had a dominating outing as the Dixie State commit went:

IP 6 H 2 R 1 ER 1 BB 1 SO 13

Other Notable Performances

Ashton Johnson LHP / OF / Olympus , UT / 2022

Med frame and solidly built ‘22 LHP with a simple clean delivery. A classic north/south approach and steps back at a 45 degree angle and gathers with a compact flexible NWU high kick and coils well up top and breaks his hands over the rubber. He lands on his toe and slightly closes with the toe on foot strike. The arm is a medium to full circle arc with a HTQ arm stroke and gets enough ext. out front, yet is somewhat upright. Would like to see him bend his back out front and get to an ideal flat back to finish. This would asd another couple of MPH to the FB 79-82 that he throws for K’s and has angle and downhill plane. The CB 70-72 has some finish and TQ tilt with med and full depth at times. The CH also 70-72 is ideal with another foot added to the FB. Throws K’s with all 3 and has had success pitching for Mountain West and the Mets Scout Team ‘22 in AZ in the fall. With 2 years of HS remaining it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take another step with the FB and he knows how to pitch. 

Ashton has come out of the gate with a vengeance! It was a tough call between Johnson and Carston Herman for this weeks honors, as of this writing, today Johnson threw a 3 hit SHO over 7 IP with no BB and 10 strikeouts, putting himself in the lead for next weeks honors. His opening start last week was just as good, as he went:

IP 7 H 2 R 0 ER 0 BB 0 SO 11

It’s gonna take a huge performance from someone to knock him off the top spot for next week, as he still has one more start this weekend in a preseason tournament at Hurricane HS in Southern Utah and could add to his totals and potentially seal the deal!

Cameron Day RHP / 1B / Layton, UT / 2021

Day is a recent U Utah signee, who has a very bright future and a potential big arm, when all is said and done. With a FB up to 93-94 all summer/fall, Day didn’t disappoint at the Fall Prospect ID. A loose, flexible NWU med kick delivery that’s online and his arm is above his back shoulder at foot strike, getting into a power slot. With good ext. out front and a near “flat” back to finish, Day’s FB 90-94 with a spin rate high of 2219 on his best bolt at 93.6 MPH. The CB 71-73 had tight sweeping horizontal action vs vertical depth. The CH 79-81 had solid arm speed and the variation of his 3 pitch speeds, creating a lot of ground for a batter to cover. With good size, arm speed/strength and a FB up to 94 w/solid hand, eye to hit the mitt, Day’s 3 pitch mix has a starter’s role written all over him. He is not as squarely on area scouts radar as of yet, but based on talent throughout the region, he should and will be in time. This is the kind of arm that would’ve been my type in my past MLB scouting career, to take and watch him exceed expectations. 

In his opening start for the "Lancers" of Layton, the MLB draft prospect went:

IP 3.2 H 4 R 0 ER 0 BB 1 SO 7

Janzen Keisel RHP / SS / Gunnison Valley, UT / 2021

Have seen this young man since his sophomore year. A small town kid with a big arm and oozes proj strength and weight gains with maturity. A XL frame at 603 180 that’s long and lean with a streamlined athletic build. Features long arms and big hands with a loose wrist to spin the ball. Pitching out of the stretch at the moment, due to coming back from TJ surgery, his velo hasn’t missed a beat. The delivery is simple and controlled with a high flexible kick to delivery while getting into his legs and shows leverage and plus arm speed. The FB 90-95 comes out clean with riding life. The CB 78-79 spins with solid shape and tight biting depth. The CH 85 is still a work in process, yet he projects two above average pitches with S/M tendencies. Committed to BYU.

The fire balling RHP, who can run it up to 95 with a high spin rate of 2450, is the number one player in the class of ‘21 for Utah. He didn’t disappoint in his 1st outing of the year at Timpview, in front of a couple of dozen MLB scouts. His right arm and his ability to not only beat 2A schools, but virtually any school in any class he would pitch against is why Gunnison Valley starts off the year as the 15th ranked team in our Power 15 poll. In his outing for the week, he was:

IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 1 SO 9

Jaiven Ross LHP / 1B / Crimson Cliffs, UT / 2023

The Crimson Cliffs ace as a sophomore is a “pitcher” and can locate and mix and match his 3 pitch arsenal in keeping teams off balance. Though the velocity is yet to come, he does know how to pitch! His start on Friday night vs Tooele was a gem as he went:

IP 5 H 1 R 0 ER 0 BB 0 SO 9

Ross faced one over the minimum, in facing just 16 hitters in his 1 hit mercy rule SHO!


Garrison Sumner RHP / 3B / Westlake , UT / 2022

An XL frame with a lean athletic build with long arms and a strong lower 1/2, Sumner has the type of frame, arm action and arm speed to carry a bit more. With a tall address, then taking a simple side step to start a flexible high kick delivery, he shows a drop and drive style, while getting into his legs in pounding FB’s downhill and into the bottom portion of the zone. The arm action that was over the top and producing FB’s in the 84-87 range last spring, took a jump in the summer as he lowered his arm slot to a TQ and his velo jumped to 86-89 and 88-91 at times. The CB 74-76 shows TQ tilt and proper spin. At times it backs up on him to LHH, but when he catches it right, it has tight late depth and is a swing and miss pitch. With 2 years of HS remaining, it will be interesting to see where his development takes him. For now it was enticing enough to receive an offer and commit to the U Utah. Definite high follow!

The big arm and potential 2022 MLB draft prospect, has really made a huge jump since last summer and fall, when his FB was 86-89 for the most part. Saturday night in his win at Crimson Cliffs, as I was in attendance, the FB was 89-92 T93 and was “live” and tough to hit, as he showed tailing life and late hop in the zone. The walks are high and need to be kept in check, but you can’t deny a physical “what they look” type build at 6-3 205 with the potential to dominate when he’s throwing K’s. He went:

IP 8 H 6 R 4 ER 4 BB 10 SO 22

Struck out every out, but two over his 8 innings, that spanned 2 appearances for the week. 

2021 Kaden Terry, LHP, Desert Hills

The senior LHP, who's FB is in the 81-84 range, had a memorable performance and really pitched in his weekly outing, as he went:

IP 6 H 3 R 0 ER 0 BB 0 SO 12