Utah Scout Blog: Scouting Crimson Cliffs HS

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

This week was filled with a local practice and a couple of HS fall games, involving Orem, Hurricane and Crimson Cliffs HS in games played at two locations in the southern Utah area. Crimson Cliffs in its second year of the school's existence, has a playing surface that’s college level. This ballpark will be the host site for PBR Utah’s first ever event, the Fall Prospect I.D. This event will be held on Saturday November 21st and is open to all HS age classes, to identify potential college level talent in the state.

Crimson Cliffs played a 7 game abbreviated spring schedule, before the CoVid19 pandemic shut down spring sports across our nation. The Mustangs went 5-2 in its inaugural campaign as a new school in the St. George, UT metro area. The school is headed by two very experienced baseball minds in Head Coach, Justin Abbott (former D1 RHP and Rangers farm hand) along with Mike Gargano (former Cardinals MiLB RHP). Abbott is also the former Layton HS head coach. The two coaches started the SBA Rebels, a well run travel ball organization years ago in the local area. The Rebels had teams ranging from 8U-14U. Gargano is also a former head coach at local Pine View HS as they won two 3A state titles in 2015-2016 with Dakota Donovan (current Angels minor league RHP) leading the efforts. Gargano then took his coaching abilities across town to Dixie State U as their pitching coach, and for one season tutored RHP-Dylan File, one of the Milwaukee Brewers top 30 prospects, who this year was invited to the Brewers 60 man player pool.

The Crimson Cliffs program is a well run and very well coached team with discipline and solid fundamentals. This program is young and doesn’t have any seniors, but has 3-4 players in the ‘22 and ‘23 classes that will see college baseball in their futures. Video was taken of these players, however the Orem pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone and pitches to hit were hard to come by. It’s expected that these players will be in attendance at PBR Utah’s first event.

One player who stood out and has been seen by this scout since he was 9 years old is Petey Soto Jr. 3B/SS (R-R) Crimson Cliffs 2023, who lines up at 3B, next to another sophomore who plays SS. The two players will move around the infield based on who gets the call on the mound on any given day. A second player that caught my eye and comes highly recommended by his coach is Canyon Kutch, C R-R (R-R) Crimson Cliffs HS 2022, who also plays for the very competitive Team Utah 2022.

Petey Soto Jr., SS/3B, Crimson Cliffs HS 2023.

A slick fielding INF at 5-9 145, has a lean, even proportion frame with abv avg athleticism and can play all 9 spots on the Diamond. Soto can handle 3 INF spots along with CF and makes all look as if it’s his primary spot. A quick twitch live lower 1/2, allows for graceful defensive actions and his feet/hands have a chance to play abv avg in time. His hands are smooth/quick and he plays from the ground up, while syncing his hands and feet, in getting off strong accurate throws across the diamond. The arm is avg by MLB standards now and will definitely be plus in the near future. A 60 yard dash time of 6.94 should improve even more over the next few years, as he fills out and continues to add size and leg strength. The bat has some Latin type flair in that he can be a free swinger and then also grind out an AB and spray LD’s to all fields. With a young immature body now, Soto can lift it out to the pull side when he squares it up. A conventional RH even props square stance, he gets quality separation and takes an aggressive, but lengthy pass at the baseball, with a fast bat. It will be fun to see where the versatile, athletic, flashy INF takes his game in the future.

Canyon Kutch, C, Crimson Cliffs HS 2022

DEFENSIVE Evaluation - Kutch is a 600 170 med even prop frame with some twitch in his lower 1/2. The presentation behind the plate, shows that of a schooled and talented receiver that has flexibility and moves well laterally. Features a solid setup to receive and sits low with the bases empty in giving a good target. Holds the target out front and waits for the ball to receive. Little to no glove or head movement and stuck pitches thru out my look. His active lower 1/2 allows to get wide in his base w/his backside up and into proper position to come through the ball, to get off quick throws to 2B between inns. He is quick to drop and handled many balls in the dirt and didn’t allow a runner to advance. The arm is fringe and should tick to avg in time. Showed the ability to work with pitchers and communicates with hand gestures and non verbal cues to help his staff work down and thru the mitt. With added looks with the bat, a more complete eval will be posted soon. Definite follow for any college looking for catching.