High School Top 100 Scouting Reports: Catchers

See also: Middle Infielders Scouting Reports
See also: Corner Infielders Scouting Reports
See also: Outfielders Scouting Reports

1. Bryce Harper, CC of Southern Nevada
2. Stefan Sabol, Aliso Niquel HS, Aliso Viejo Calif.
3. Micah Gibbs, Louisiana State
4. Yasmani Grandal, Miami
5. Cameron Rupp, Texas
6. Rob Brantley, UC Riverside
7. Blake Forsythe, Tennessee
8. Michael Kvasnicka, Minnesota
9. Alex Lavisky, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio
10. Will Swanner, La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, Calif.
Last year's class of high school catchers was one of the deepest in the decade. Twelve prep catchers were taken in the top 10 rounds, the second-most (tied with 2002) since 14 were taken in 2000. Plus, the 2009 total doesn't include talented catchers drafted after the 10th round, like Austin Maddox, Michael Zunino, Michael Ohlman, Josh Leyland, Andrew Susac and Sergio Burruel.

This year doesn't compare in either top-end talent or depth. Last year's early high school Top 100 featured seven catchers in the top 50. This year's list just has Stefan Sabol, who could move to the outfield, and Justin O'Conner, who only started playing the position this summer and will be featured when we profile middle infielders. Here are scouting reports for this year's top high school catchers.

Stefan Sabol, c, Aliso Niquel HS, Aliso Viejo, Calif. 10
Born: Feb. 2, 1992. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Commitment: Oregon.

Stefan Sabol (Photo by David Stoner)
With Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and professional wrestler Samoa Joe as cousins, Sabol comes from a physically-gifted family. He is extremely athletic in his own regard, with a tightly-wound body built for strength and speed. Sabol's mother is 100-percent Samoan and his father is 100-percent Croatian.

At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Sabol has broad shoulders, a trim waist, powerful legs and big, strong hands. While he currently plays catcher, his receiving needs a lot of work—leading many talent evaluators to believe his future is in the outfield. He has an average arm, registering pop times between 1.95 and 2 seconds, and his speed would play better there, as well.

While Sabol's reported 6.28-second 60-yard dash at the Area Code Games was suspect, he is an above-average runner with times that hover around 6.7 seconds. Because of his athleticism and strong hands, Sabol has a quick trigger and good bat speed. His bat stays in the strike zone for a long time, but his swing can also get flat at times. Sabol is regarded as a hard worker and is committed to Oregon.

Alex Lavisky, c, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio 56
Born: Jan. 10, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Commitment: Georgia Tech.

Lavisky will get a lot of attention this spring, as he plays on the same team as the No. 11 player on the Top 100, righthander/third baseman Stetson Allie. Scouts won't need to project whether or not Lavisky will be able to handle velocity behind the plate, as Allie routinely throws in the mid-to-upper 90s. Lavisky has an athletic build with a muscular lower half. He's an instinctual backstop with above-average arm strength.

"He gets a little long—he's got a decent pop time," a National League area scout said. "It's an average pop time, but I think because of the arm strength, it could probably improve with better footwork and just polishing up the receiving skills."

While his glove is ahead of his bat right now, Lavisky has strong wrists, good rhythm to his swing and projects to hit for power. He stays within himself, doesn't overswing and shows great leadership qualities.

"He's got good makeup," the scout said. "He works hard, trains hard. He was the quarterback on the football team all the way up until last year, when he decided to focus on baseball, so he's got that natural leadership ability. He runs the show out there and handles himself real well behind the plate."

Lavisky is a well below average runner and is committed to Georgia Tech. Because of his advanced age, he would be draft-eligible again as a sophomore if he winds up there.

"Alex has got a chance," the scout said. "The one thing he's got to do is show a little better pitch recognition and a little bit more consistent contact. But, he's another guy, you know, in BP you see some raw strength, some raw power and some bat speed. And he can flat-out catch and throw. Obviously, going to Georgia Tech, he's got nothing to lose with the success they've had with their catchers."

Will Swanner, c, La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad, Calif. 57
Born: Sept. 10, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Commitment: Pepperdine.

Swanner was one of the most improved hitters in Southern California this year, and he credits his progress to working with former big leaguer Deron Johnson, who led the National League in RBIs with 135 in 1965 while with the Reds.

Swanner has an athletic, projectable frame and shows good actions behind the plate. He is a fluid defender with a strong, accurate arm, firing straight throws to second base in the 1.95-2-second range. At the plate, Swanner loads well and has a slight uppercut with a high finish to his swing, meaning he stays on plane with the ball for an extended amount of time. His stride can get a little long, but he has power potential and is a very promising package, overall.

Swanner frequently catches his younger brother, Michael, at La Costa Canyon and both are committed to Pepperdine next season.

Kellin Deglan, c, R.E. Mountain SS, Langley, B.C. 66
Born: May 3, 1992. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Commitment: Florida Int'l.

It's no surprise Deglan is a catcher—both his parents played the positions, as did his two older brothers and his older sister was a catcher on her softball team. Deglan has several qualities teams love to see in amateur players—especially catchers. He has an athletic build that is loose, but also strong. He also has good arm strength and a powerful stroke from the left side of the plate.

While his raw arm strength is above average, he has some work to do mechanically with his footwork and transfer to cut down his pop times. Deglan hit cleanup in the Canadian Junior National team's lineup all summer and was impressive against older, more advanced competition. He'll have more opportunities to prove himself, as the Canadian Junior National team will head to Arizona March 15-23 to play eight college teams, as well as the Cubs, Brewers, Royals and Mariners minor league teams.

Deglan has been hitting with a wood bat since he was 14 and has a knack for squaring up the ball and has some power potential, but he can get too pull conscious and has a tendency to swing around the ball at times. Deglan is a slightly below-average runner, recording a time of 7.11 seconds in the 60-yard dash at the East Coast Professional Showcase this summer. Deglan has good makeup, is quietly confident and pitchers trust him behind the plate.

Like this year's top-ranked position player, shortstop Manny Machado from Brito HS in Miami, Deglan committed to Florida International, where he has a full scholarship.

Tyler Austin, c, Heritage HS, Conyers, Ga. 70
Born: Sept. 6, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Commitment: Kennesaw State.

Austin is a good athlete that can play either corner in the infield or outfield, but his future is as a catcher. He's a solid-average runner that ran a 6.8-second 60-yard dash at this summer's Tournament of Stars, which took place a few weeks before he played in San Diego as an Aflac All-American. Austin also has above-average arm strength and will sometimes take the mound.

At the PG National Showcase last June, Austin looked to fumble a bit with his transfers and still showed pop times in the workouts between 1.8 and 1.9 seconds, with accurate throws—which is rare when players are often trying to show off how hard they can throw rather than how accurately they can throw. Austin has some work to defensively and spent the fall working with former major league catcher Michael Barrett.

"I haven't seen him yet this spring, but that only matters if you show up and he can catch," a National League area scout said. "You can work with whoever you want to work with, but you've got to be able to catch. But, for him, could he be a corner guy? Possibly. He's got enough power to be a corner guy."

Austin's strength shows at the plate, where he's very coordinated with good bat speed and power and he's one of the draft's most uplifting stories after overcoming testicular cancer last summer.

Jake Hernandez, c, Los Osos HS, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. 77
Born: June 5, 1992. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Commitment: USC.

Hernandez is one of the premier defensive catchers in the 2010 high school draft class. Strong and physically mature at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, he has consistently recorded pop times in the mid to high 1.80s in recent showcases. Some receivers register low pop times with quick releases, others with a powerful arm. Hernandez has both.

No doubt, Hernandez' draft stock rose during a recent MLB Urban Youth Academy showcase in Compton in February, where he threw and hit well. While defense will always be the centerpiece of his game, Hernandez exhibited promise with his bat by driving a long triple to the fence in right center. Hernandez does not profile as a plus hitter, but his recent improvement at bat signals that he has the potential to be an everyday catcher, not just a backup or late inning defensive replacement.

Eric Arce, c/1b, Lakeland (Fla.) HS 78
Born: Nov. 29, 1991. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-9 . Wt.: 205. Commitment: Florida State.

Arce has a thick, stout build that is rarely seen in professional backstops. While he plays catcher now, he's not good at the position and will almost certainly have to move to a position that requires less athleticism—maybe even limited to designated hitter.

"He's a better hitter than anything," an American League area scout said. "He's only 5-10, so you really can't put him at first. Is he going to play left field, or is he going to DH? That's kind of where you're caught right there. He's not going to be able to catch in pro ball. The ability to hit is definitely his best tool and he's got some pop too—it's just a matter of who evaluates him and what they think of his defensive skill and where his defensive skill is best suited."

He has poor arm action, just pushing the ball and shows pop times around 2.2 seconds—well-below average. As expected, he's not much of a runner, either. At the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer, Arce ran the 60-yard dash in 7.28 seconds. That said, Arce is a quality hitter. He has a sound swing, uses his hands well and gets extended. He shows good bat speed, loft and power from the left side of the plate.

Shane Rowland, c, Tampa Catholic HS 84
Born: Nov. 22, 1991. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 175. Commitment: Miami.

Hailing from the same school that produced former first baseman Tino Martinez and current Twins outfielder Denard Span, Rowland doesn't have the physicality of others on the list, but he's a very good defender and hits from the left side of the plate.

Rowland is an excellent receiver and his hands work really well. He's had a good teacher, as his father, Donny, played five years in the Tigers system and is now a well-traveled scout. He was the Angels scouting director from 2000-2003 and is now a national crosschecker for the Yankees. He's not a runner—running the 60-yard dash in 7.5 seconds, but he has a strong arm with good carry and he'll consistently show off pop times around 1.9 seconds.

At the plate, Rowland starts with an open stance and will sometimes stay open during his swing. He's a little defensive at the plate, looking for a pitch to hit, but doesn't really attack the ball and use his legs well. Rowland's hitting could improve with some adjustments to his lower half.

Jacob Felts, c, Orangefield HS, Orange, Texas 88
Born: May 19, 1992. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Commitment: Texas.

Felts is a compact backstop committed to his home state Texas Longhorns. He's strong and athletic, with good blocking ability and a strong arm. He was one of the most impressive defenders behind the plate on the showcase circuit this summer, flashing 1.8-second pop times. He doesn't have the best throwing motion, but has quick footwork and gets rid of the ball in a hurry.

At the plate, Felts has a short, compact swing with strong wrists and forearms. He always keeps his nose on the ball and shows power to the gaps. He's a below-average runner, but is a tough-nosed player that shows the kind of high-energy play and confident swagger teams covet, especially out of a catcher.

Matt Roberts, c, Graham (N.C.) HS 92
Born: Sept. 19, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Commitment: North Carolina.

Roberts is one of the best defenders in this year's crop of high school backstops. He has a strong frame and good actions behind the plate. Roberts has fluid footwork and good balance. His throws down to second base are generally clocked in the 1.9-second range in games. He's a poor runner, running the 60-yard dash at the East Coast Professional Showcase in 7.5 seconds.

Roberts hits from a wide stance and takes a negative stride—meaning his feet are closer together when he swings than when the pitcher is in his windup. This changes his eye level as the pitch is coming in and gives him some problems, but it's certainly fixable. Roberts is pull conscious and sometimes gets around balls, but he has the size and strength to hit with authority down the road.

Case Nixon, c/rhp, Hillcrest HS, Tuscaloosa, Ala. 93
Born: April 16, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Commitment: Alabama.

Nixon is a two-way talent, and it shows. He may have the best arm strength of any catcher in the high school class, regularly reeling off pop times under 2 seconds.

Nixon's catching is ahead of his hitting at this point, but he can swing the bat a little too. He's a below-average runner, though, coming in at 7.21-seconds in the 60-yard dash.

On the mound, Nixon is 89-91 mph with a 72-74 curveball. He was the only freshman on Hillcrest's 2007 6-A state championship team. Nixon will be 19 on draft day, meaning he'd be draft eligible again as a sophomore if he heads to Alabama.