Team Preview: Desert Hills HS

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

Team Preview: Desert Hills HS

Players in Utah have been eager to compete for their high school programs and it feels as if we are getting close. 2020 saw the cancellation of the 2020 season, however as may approached, it began looking like Utah was going to be able to resume baseball activities  with the annual American Legion season. The UHSAA has announced that the first day of official team practice/tryouts will be Monday March 1st, with the opening day of the 2021 season on March 8th. Programs have been allowed to practice since the 1st part of January, with open field workouts, however there will be a two week moratorium of practices and coach involvement, between the dates of Feb 15-28. PBR Utah will begin its 2021 season coverage starting with our team by team previews, as we highlight some of the top programs statewide in our team previews. PBR Utah will also be publishing its state Power 25 rankings that will be updated every Monday once the season begins. Throughout the season, PBR will be pumping out coverage, highlighting individual players, games, rankings, scouting reports and nominating a player of the week. PBR looks forward to getting out there this spring to see some great baseball. 

Of Note: As we countdown to opening day with the team previews, we still have one big event to kick off the HS season with the PBR Utah Preseason All-State. This event will be the kick off to the season, as it's an INVITE only event of the top players in the 2021-2024 classes. 

School History: Desert Hills High School (DHHS) is located in St. George, UT and is the second newest of the five St. George 4A public high schools. Desert Hills nickname is the “Thunder” and its mascot is “Thor”.

Program History over the past decade: The Thunder’s first head coach was Jerry Beck (Played for me at Southern Utah U for two years, after playing the previous two at Snow College). Coach Beck had come from crosstown Snow Canyon HS, where in his four years as the head coach, he played for 2 state titles and climbed the mountain and prevailed in one. Beck then spent 8 years as the Thunder’s head man, and was it ever successful, as he guided the Desert Hills to four Region 9 titles, reaching the final four, on four different occasions, with two runner ups and two third place finishes! Along the way, he nurtured a local RHP that had moved into the St. George area from Kingman, AZ in future MLB pitcher, Dylan File at the age of 12. More on File below. The most recent head coach was longtime Desert Hills coach and now head basketball coach, Chris Allred, who led the Thunder to the 2018 and 2019 4A baseball state title games, losing one of the best HS baseball games I’ve ever seen. The Thunder lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to crosstown rival Dixie HS in a complete game masterpiece by pitcher, Dallen Turner (now pitching at Wagner College D1 in NY) and faced the Flyers in a rematch once again in 2019 and this time capturing the 4A state championship. 

Desert Hills has sent numerous players onto the college level to play, however two RHP’s standout above the rest in current Milwaukee Brewers top pitching prospect, Dylan File and current Cal Poly All-American, Drew Thorpe. 

SEE BELOW (File / Thorpe)

 (Pictured Above: Dylan File, Desert Hills HS 2014)

At Desert Hills High School: As a senior File was named Utah 3A First Team All-State and Region 9 MVP. Finished the year 7-2 on the mound for the Thunder with 0.63 ERA and five saves … struck out 123 batters in 66.2 innings … hit .400 with team-high 36 RBI.

At Dixie State University: In his three seasons in a Dixie State uniform (2015-17), File posted a 20-4 career record with a 3.71 ERA, and he is currently DSU's NCAA-era career record holder for wins (20) and strikeouts (193). In addition, File is DSU's career leader in innings pitched (245.0) and shutouts (3), second in starts (38), third in ERA (3.71) and complete games (6), fourth in strikeouts/9 innings (7.09), and seventh in total appearances (42).

He was voted Pacific West Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year and second team all-conference in 2017, earned third team all-PacWest honors in 2016 and was voted PacWest Freshman of the Year in 2015.

 (Pictured Above: Dylan File, Biloxi Shuckers - Double A)

Brewers MiLB System: Selected in the 21st round (No. 624 overall) of the 2017 Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft by the Brewers (Signed by Jeff Scholzen) File enjoyed a standout 2019 season in Milwaukee's minor league system, which started in Advanced Class A Carolina before he was promoted to Double-A Biloxi. He led all Brewers minor league pitchers in wins (15) and ranked second in the system in innings pitched (147.0) and fourth in strikeouts (136). File was a 2018 Midwest League All-Star and a 2019 Carolina League All-Star. In November of 2020, File was added to the Milwaukee Brewers MLB 40 Man Roster. 

 (Pictured Above: Drew Thorpe, Desert Hills HS)

Desert Hills High School -- A .390 hitter with 12 doubles and two home runs as a senior shortstop and pitcher under head coach Chris Allred at Desert Hills High School in St. George, Utah ... on the mound posted 7-1 record and 1.93 ERA with 67 strikeouts over 51 1/3 innings ... led Desert Hills to Utah state 4A title and 27-3 overall record ... earned All-Utah honors for third straight year ... as a junior compiled 9-1 win-loss record and 2.36 ERA ... struck out 83 batters over 59 1/3 innings, issuing just 12 walks, en route to first-team All-Utah honors ... pitched a no-hitter against Pine View in April 2018 with 12 strikeouts and no walks ... at the plate, Thorpe hit .395 with five doubles, two triples, one home run and 26 RBI with a pair of steals ... a .398 career hitter with 20 doubles, six triples and five home runs ... Desert Hills was 21-8 in 2018, finishing third in the Region 9 standings and capturing second place in the Utah High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs ... also recruited by Pepperdine, Utah, BYU and Cal State Fullerton, Thorpe elected to continue his education at Cal Poly "because I loved the area and the coaching staff, and I get an opportunity to receive a good education" ... played summer ball for Peninsula Oilers in Alaska Baseball League ... compiled 2-2 record, 2.48 ERA and pair of saves with 17 strikeouts over 25 1/3 innings ... also hit .239 with 16 hits in 24 games, including three doubles, and six RBIs.

 (Pictured Above: Drew Thorpe, Cal Poly 2020)

Should be Cal Poly's Friday night starter in 2021 after starting on Sundays in 2020.

Cal Poly Baseball Official Webpage

2020  -- Made four starts as Cal Poly's Sunday starter during true freshman season, compiling 1-1 record and 3.21 ERA before season was suspended due to pandemic ... earned win against BYU with eight scoreless innings in first Baggett Stadium start, striking out 13, two shy of the school Division I record, and allowing one walk and four hits ... suffered loss versus Baylor ... struck out eight over 6 1/3 innings against Baylor ... first collegiate start was versus defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt ... gave up two runs and four hits with three walks and six strikeouts over seven innings ... left game with 7-2 lead but received a no-decision ... finished with 31 strikeouts over 28 innings, walking seven ... did not play summer ball.

Head Coach: Kevin Cave (1st Year)

State Classification/Region: 4A / Region 9

Number of State Tourney Appearance in last 10 Years: 9

Number of Final 4 State Tourney Appearances: 7

Number of State Titles games in the last 10 Years: 6

Number of State Titles in the last 10 Years: 1

Number of Returning Position Players: 3-4

Number of Returning Pitchers: 1

Expectations for Upcoming Season: 

“Compete for a region title and play our best baseball in the postseason”

Team Strengths: 

“Deep lineup with good team defense”

Team Weaknesses: 

“Lack of pitcher with varsity starting experience”

Top Returning Players: (Click on highlighted name for that PBR players profile)

2021 Chandler Reber, CF, R-R 5-10 195 (BYU) The #4 ranked player in the class of ‘21 for the state by PBR. Reber just returned from an outstanding performance at the PBR Super 60 national event, for the top college and pro prospects in the country. Reber ran an event 3rd highest 60 yard dash at 6.53 and was in the top 10 exit velos at a max of 102 MPH. Reber will be counted on to provide instant offense in the 2-3 spot in the order. 

2022 Payton Gubler, SS/RHP, R-R 5’11 180 (BYU commit) The #3 ranked player in the class of ‘21 for the state by PBR and the #1 ranked SS in the class. Gubler is a dynamic two way player that will hit in the 2-3 spot in the order and serve as the ace on the mound as well, capable of touching 90 MPH with his FB. Gubler will form an exciting combination of athleticism and along with Reber, be counted on to ignite the offense. 

2022 Karson Irvin, OF, R-R 5-9 170 Irvin has an average arm with accuracy and is athletic and runs down balls in the OF and will keep extra base hits at bay with his arm strength. 

2021 Reggie Newby, 1B/3B/RHP, R-R 6-2 205

2021 Kaden Terry, LHP, L-L 5-10 170

2021 Jackson Turley, UTL, R-R 5-10 175

2021 Joey Brooks, C/DH, R-R 6-0 215

Top Players Lost from 2020:

Bryker Hurdsman, 3B/RHP (Dixie State University) On an LDS mission

Who is your X-Factor: 2021 Blake Gubler, OF, R-R 5-11 185


Coach Cave remarked that “Desert Hills will have a well-rounded hitting lineup w/good team speed and I believe we will play sound defense. With few pitchers returning that have varsity experience, that will remain a question mark”. 

As a pro scout and now with PBR, I've seen a number of these players over time, and they should be exciting to watch over the next few years. Desert Hills has played for the last two 4A state titles, winning it all in 2019. The Thunder are perennially ranked by other and most media outlets over the last decade, as a top 3-5 overall team at all classifications combined. Some of the reasons for this success is 1) the tremendous community support 2) the coaching staff and their pedigrees they bring to the table and 3) the baseball weather and amount of reps with baseball oriented kids that are in the St. George area. Good luck to the Desert Hills Thunder baseball team, myself as the state director for PBR, will be watching closely and monitoring all their players' progress moving forward.