Janzen Keisel NLI Interview

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

In today’s edition we talk to 2021 Janzen Keisel, RHP 6-3 185 from Gunnison Valley HS. Janzen has one of the more interesting stories, and because of that story and his personality, you just can’t help but root for the kid. But it also helps if you’re talented, and talented he is. 

Keisel verbally committed to Brigham Young U, the fall of his Sophomore year. Janzen, like most Utah players, has the ability or even better than most in some areas of the country, but fly under the radar, due to misconceptions about the state of Utah. Well this is a story of going after what you want and taking your talent and showcasing it, by attending a BYU summer camp and his ability did the rest. A small town kid armed with a FB up to 95, did what any kid from a mere population of 3,585 people (The town grew by only 300 new residents this past decade) does, he had to get out of town and play better competition. If the talent was there, no population status should hold anyone back from their dreams.

I’ve known Janzen for the last couple of years, and spotted him at a February event in Mesquite, NV, while working as a staff member of an event put on by Mountain West Baseball, while I was an MLB Area Scout. My bird dog, Sam Swenson (HC of the Utah Marshalls) told me that I may want to go over to a field and watch the then skinny RH’er warm up in the bullpen. What I noticed was a loose, whippy fast armed kid with the ability to move the ball and spin a CB with tight depth. As I stood behind him and peered over a near fence, I asked him “who taught you to throw your CB” and his reply was “no one really, I’ve just always been able to throw it”. This peaked my interest as he hadn’t really been schooled on any finer points of pitching, he just had raw talent. Here are his responses. Enjoy!


REPORT: 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. An XL frame at 603 185 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 swing/miss tendencies. 

ME: What year in school did the recruiting process begin for you and what was the feeling like, knowing that a school(s) had interest?

Janzen: I really didn't know if schools had interest. I was at a BYU summer camp in July 2018 and the coaches were watching me and said they were gonna offer me and wanted me to come to their September invite prospect camp. Two months later they offered me at that camp. It was kind of a shock to me, because I was just trying to make a varsity team as a freshman that past spring and when the offer came, everything just started to come into place and happened really quick. 

ME: What club teams were you involved with as a youth, and were there any of your teammates that have gone on to play college baseball, or committed this week as you have?

Janzen: When I was young I played on a local travel ball team in my hometown called the Gunners and then started to play for a team just south of Provo (home to BYU) called the Payson Hitmen. As a sophomore I started playing for Mountain West Baseball. Creed Mogle (Columbia Basin CC) was my catcher and fellow Gunnison teammate. I played with Mason Strong-C/UTL (BYU) Chandler Reber-CF (BYU) and a host of others who have signed this week to play college ball. 

ME: With a FB up to 95, have you always thrown hard, or has it been a gradual process?

Janzen: I wasn’t really clocked until my freshman year and I was 86-87, I’ve always worked on location, mechanics, and pitching, instead of focusing on velocity. The first time I touched 90, I hit 91, the fall of my sophomore year and my velocity continued to climb over time. Just before my arm injury in July of 2019, after my sophomore year, I was clocked at 95. 

ME: So you sustained an arm injury to your throwing elbow and subsequently had Tommy John surgery. When did you have the surgery and what was going through your mind at that time. 

Janzen: When it happened I was kind of in shock. I didn't know where my career was gonna go at that point. I knew I had to work hard to get back to the level I was at and I had the surgery in August and was lucky to have the doctor I had, to motivate me and get me back to the level I’m at right now. The recovery period was targeted for 12 months, and I focused on meeting that goal and felt like I met that goal, but I'm not fully 100% where I know I can and want to be. I’ve exercised caution, while looking to keep my arm healthy moving forward in the future, and I know my best is yet to come. 

ME: Who has been your biggest influence coaching wise and what was it, that made them unique or helpful? 

Janzen: I've had tons of coaches that have played a big role in my life. My Dad is the biggest influence though, with finding ways to research and help me to better myself physically and mentally to be the best version of myself on and off the field. Bob Keyes (A leading biomechanical expert) the owner of Mountain West has also been a big influence with helping me with my mechanics and staying on point, so that I stay healthy in my mechanics. 

ME: Who is your favorite MLB team and why?

Janzen: The Yankees. That's the team I watched growing up and I just admired how they approached and played the game. 

ME: Who is your favorite player and why?

Janzen: Derek Jeter - I would see quotes of his and how inspirational they were and just how fundamentally sound he was in playing the game. 

ME: What made you decide to commit to BYU, and what made it stand out to you?

Janzen: The #1 thing was the coaches and their personalities and attitude toward the game and how they went about their business. The atmosphere there with the staff and the campus as well. Everything about BYU was what I was looking for in a program. 

ME: If you were to describe yourself as a pitcher, what would your strengths be, and what do you need to improve upon to realize your potential?

Janzen: My mental aspect for the game is strong and anyone that steps into the box, I have the confidence to get them out. It doesn't hurt that I have above average FB velocity to go with it. I feel physically ready, but I can still get bigger and stronger and I can still see myself making even more improvements, to be that next level type player 

ME: What piece of advice would you give to players coming from Utah, to help them get recruited, with having college level ability already a given?

Janzen: Getting your name out there with PBR and the things they are doing, plus going to bigger camps at colleges that you want to go to. I would say going to bigger events throughout the four corners, that will test your abilities and give you a baseline of where you are at talent wise. Coming from a small town, I had to create my own opportunities and I had to do unique things that others who had better facilities didn't have to do. I had to travel to the bigger areas to get seen and test myself against the better competition. 

NOTE: Janzen should be an inspiration to kids that don’t have some of the luxuries others do in more high profile areas of the country and state. It was a blessing in disguise that he was rehabbing from an injury while the game was shut down last spring, but now that he is fully healed and ready to go, it should be really interesting to see where his senior campaign takes him. With a strong showing in front of a plethora of MLB scouts at the Arizona Sr. Fall Classic, where he turned heads, Keisel will be a high profile arm to watch in the four corners for 2021. Best of luck Janzen and keep chasing your dreams!