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College  | Story  | 3/17/2023

Team Sheet: Duke

Craig Cozart     
Players Mentioned: Jonathan Santucci, Alex Mooney, Andrew Fischer,  Alex Stone, Adam Boucher, Devin ObeeAidan Weaver

What Happened: The Blue Devils played very well all three games as they opened ACC play at home versus Wake Forest. While they lost 2 of 3, they were quite honestly just a hit or two away from winning the series or even coming away with the sweep.

Carrying Tool: Balance. This club is blue collar, and they play the game the right way. They really perform well in every aspect of the game, and just a well-rounded club.

Concerns: The corps of freshman arms in the bullpen. This isn’t much a concern as it is a curiosity to see how this talented group holds up over the grind of the ACC season. Owen Proksch, Edward Hart, James Tallon, Kassius Thomas, Andrew Healy, and Aidan Weaver are all talented arms that have defined roles. Head coach Chris Pollard put them in the right situations to be successful and this group has an exciting future ahead of them.

Best Player on the Field: Jonathan Santucci. The talented LHP showed that he is a frontline, Friday night starter with the mentality and stuff to back it up. He was dominant for much of his outing, especially the first inning where he punched out the side in order with nothing but his 94-96 mph fastball.

Jonathan Santucci, LHP
Santucci took the ball in the starter’s role for Duke in their first ACC contest of the season and the strides he had made in the last year were very evident. The 6-2/205 LHP is tremendously athletic and took with mound with an aggressive, attacking mentality from pitch one. He punched out the side in the first inning using nothing but his fastball and worked at a furious pace as he attacked Wake Forest hitters with heaters in the top of the zone. He quite honestly dominated one of the best offenses in the nation the first time through the lineup. While he had a career night with 11 strikeouts, he got the no-decision after going 4.1 IP. He only allowed 3 hits, but his 4 walks helped contribute to eventually giving up 4 earned runs. However, anyone that saw his appearance would walk away knowing that Santucci is a star in the making and is just an executed pitch or two away from putting up nothing from zeros.

Santucci employs a simple delivery as he works exclusively from the stretch and uses a small rocker step towards the 3B line when there are no runners on. He loads strongly over the rubber with a quick belly high leg lift and carries his hands tight to his belt. He breaks from there and works into a medium inline arm path, loading his hand quickly before accelerating through a low-3/4 arm angle. He rides down the mound aggressively in his legs and does a good job creating distance with his glove side. He braces well and works vertically over his front leg to a consistent release point. While his FB didn't show overwhelming spin traits, he did get ample swing and miss with hitters consistently missing under the ball. His heater sat in the mid-90s all night and peaked at 96 mph several times paving the way for much improved secondary stuff. His slider has made massive strides since we saw it last spring and it played equally well to hitters on both sides of the plate. It was a mid-80s offering with tight, abrupt two-plane break. He landed it backdoor to righties seemingly at will and left handers had a difficult time pulling the trigger on it. While he used it only sparingly, his CH is a solid pitch in the low-80s with arm side run and was a good addition the second time through the order to RHHs.

Santucci is on the fast track to becoming one of the most dominant arms in the ACC if not the nation. He has refined all aspects of his game on the mound since his freshman campaign and there is every reason to believe his stuff will continue on an upward trend. If he continues this trajectory, he should get plenty of consideration as a first day pick in the 2024 MLB Draft.

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