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April 19, 2012
Southern Section Catchers to Watch: Part One
6.) Mark Sanchez, Santiago Sr.
No, not that Mark Sanchez. Santiago's version is less hyped, but still very good. The 6-foot senior is a very good all-around backstop, flashing top hitting and receiving ability. For the season, Sanchez is hitting .429, with four homeruns and 11 RBIs. He hasn't gone yard in 11 games, however. Sanchez needs to rediscover that power swing for the Sharks to make a move in the second half of the season.
7.) Ryan Dixon, Lakewood Sr.
It's not easy to find catchers with a good frame who can hit, but Dixon has the tools to eventually develop into a frontline catcher at a college program. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound senior is rail-thin and needs to add strength, but he has a sweet hitting stroke. Even better, he swings it from the left side, adding to his value. Playing for a program as strong as Lakewood in Southern California means he'll be seen by scouts, and he's certainly helped his recruiting cause this year by hitting .400.
8.) Ryan Lillie, Vista Murrieta So.
If Lillie's sophomore season is any indication, the 5-foot-10 sophomore is going to be a star. Lillie has stepped right into the Broncos' team as a second-year player, and has hit .500. Lillie has also been solid on defense, where he's allowed just a couple of passed balls this season despite his relative youth. If Lillie can continue to grow and develop physically, he could climb up to near the top of this list next season.
9.) Jake Welsh, Loyola Sr.
This much is for certain with Welsh: he can hit. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound slugger is strong and smart at the plate, and has struck out only five times so far this season. Welsh's biggest question mark comes at the defensive end. An enormous emphasis is placed on a catcher's defensive value, and right now, Welsh is a bit raw. He's hidden somewhat defensively at first base, but it's much easier to find a hitter at that position. If Welsh can improve his defense at the catcher position, he has a bright future.
10.) Garrett Dean, Alta Loma Jr.
Dean doesn't garner much interest in the press or from scouts playing for a smaller school, but the 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior is athletic and is an excellent receiver behind the plate. He's got a ways to go in the weight room, but has shown the ability to handle the bat. Dean is hitting .605 on the season so far, displaying excellent pure hitting instincts. If he improves his strength, he'll be a candidate to play for a smaller college in the future.
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