By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
(March 23, 2014) – After a brutal winter, the slowing snow will soon come to a stop which can only mean one thing: baseball season. Regularly scheduled and already scheduled makeup high school baseball games in Loudoun County will take off in full force in the coming weeks. After selecting my Top 5 Pitchers, a few weeks ago, it is time to acknowledge the second half of the pitcher-catcher battery.
With the help of Stone Bridge High School sophomore and Loudoun County baseball guru Reilly Molthen, I have compiled part two of the Baseball Scouting Report with a look at catchers, and the No. 1 backstop is Garrett St. Laurent of Freedom High School.
1. Garrett St. Laurent (JR) 6’3″ Freedom
Not only does Garrett St. Laurent have the coolest catcher’s gear in Loudoun County his big, athletic frame has everything you want to see in a catcher. The junior – who is built and plays similarly to the Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters – has a pop time of just about two seconds and absorbs the ball behind the plate with soft hands. On the offensive side, St. Laurent is a pure line drive hitter who has quick hands through the zone which extend through contact. St. Laurent is not a guy you get out with pitcher’s pitches as he eats up pitches down in the zone and has extreme pop to the power alley in right center. Look for St. Laurent to help head coach Jason Treon and the Freedom Eagles improve on a 14-8 season in 2013. An early college commitment has landed St. Laurent at the Virginia Military Institute where he will begin his collegiate baseball career starting in the 2015-2016 academic year.
2. Brendan O’Brien (SR) 5’10″ Potomac Falls
A left-handed hitter, Brendan O’Brien has extreme power to his pull side which should be extremely helpful in a league which will feature many right-handed pitchers this season. O’Brien has a straight up-and-down stance, but establishes a power stance before ripping pitches up the middle and toward the right side. Do not be surprised at all if O’Brien led all the catchers on this list in extra-base hits this season. After strapping on his shin guards and chest protector, O’Brien adds a quiet weapon behind the plate for the Potomac Falls Panthers – who won the Dulles District championship in 2013 before falling to Woodgrove High School in the Region II semifinal – but has some real life in his arm.
3. Brady Kaplan (SR) 6’ Tuscarora
A true student of the game, Brady Kaplan is an athlete you want behind the plate simply because of his leadership qualities. He hits No. 3 on this list not only because of his solid defense but because of his bat. Kaplan needs to continue working on hitting off speed pitches, but with time will use his core and short hands to hit breaking pitches to the opposite field. Defensively, Kaplan becomes compact and creates an easy target for pitchers to hit. He blocks the ball down and in front of him, and provided his arm soreness from this summer does not return, has one of the strongest arms on our list. You could put a fixed target at second base and Kaplan would hit it time and time again. The Tuscarora Huskies finished 7-13 in 2013, but will come back in 2014 with a much more experienced team.
4. Zack Costello (JR) 5’11″ Loudoun County
Another solid defensive catcher, Zack Costello is like Kaplan in that he landed on the Top 5 list because of his offense. Costello is short through the zone, has a little jump to his swing and has quicker hands swinging the bat than any other catcher on the list. The junior has power to the middle of the field and should have an above-average on base percentage near the top of the Loudoun County Raiders’ lineup. Last season first-year head coach Nick Price started Costello at catcher instead of the Raiders’ go-to catcher in the previous season Josh Martin. Price’s decision should pay off as Costello will continue to improve at catcher with the more live reps he gets.
5. Chad Koehler (SO) 5’11″ Heritage
Probably the best defensive catcher in Loudoun County plays for Raider head coach Nick Price’s brother in rival Heritage High School head coach Ryan Price. You will not see too many base runners attempt to steal a bag when Chad Koehler is behind the dish. With quick pop times, downhill blocking and a strong arm, Koehler is able to command Heritage High School’s defense from the catching position. The youngest catcher on our list, Koehler started as a defense-only catcher for the Heritage Pride – who finished last season with a loss to Loudoun Valley High School in a VHSL Region II quarterfinal – in 2013, but Price will most likely ask him to pick up a bat this season. If he proves himself in the batter’s box this spring, look for him to crawl up this list next season and help the Pride for years to come.
Others to Watch:
* Hunter Gore (SO) 6’3″ Loudoun Valley
If you have advice for my Top 5 outfielders or infielders feel free to contact me.
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!